In an era of increasing youth apathy and economy downturn, Juwon Lawal, is a case study for youth aspiring to be great. The Kogi State, Nigerian born has no doubt carved a niche as a big player in almost every business sector with his ingenious venture in oil and gas, organic and non-organic food products, marine logistics and services, E-commerce, entertainment, feed mill, and information technology and services.
In his mid-30s, Juwon sits atop Africent Group, Oillets Services, S8 Contractors, and Cropyfy Incorporated. Lawal is the brain behind ABD Fuels, a bunkering firm that marketed and supplied marine fuels to ships in port and at sea along West Africa coast, which has now transformed to S8 Contractors. In this interview, the unassuming socialite, share the story of his trials and triumphs. Excerpt…
You launched ABD Fuels which was a unique initiative in the oil and gas industry. What is the latest about ABD Fuels and would you let us into the idea behind the new ventures, S8 Contractors & Company Ltd and Africent Group?
ABD fuel was a physical supplier of marine fuel and active provider of related logistics. ABD became a PLC company and was to be acquired by another firm looking to explore this industry and had always admired our expertise and goodwill but the deal was not concluded. S8 Contractors is now to take further the activities of ABD even though not at downstream but mid-stream and more of upstream logistics support services.
Was maritime business your original dream as an ambitious young man or you had other plans when you found yourself in it?
Yes, it was and that was much realized at the right time. It is still a passion and I still.
When ABD Fuels got transformed, did you have to start all over again or you were able to build on the original clienteles and what has the result been thus far?
No, we took it right from there and now we are more into upstream support services including mining onshore logistics services.
As an entrepreneur, what major challenges do you encounter regularly as you strive to be better than your last result?
Here are tons of challenges and challenges are good tools to grow faster than we even envisaged.
What were your goals at the time you came fully into business?
Our goal was to solve problems and be entrepreneurs that create meaningful ventures that would positively impact the society.
You have a new food company based in the United Kingdom, Cropyfy Foods Inc., is this business in joint partnership or a subsidiary of Africent Group. And what is Cropyfy all about?
Yes, Cropyfy is a food products and Delivery Services Company based in the UK. It is an affiliate of AfriCent Group by supervision.
How do you get motivated to keep at your goals?
As a genuine entrepreneur, you would face challenges and that increases the chance for growth and motivation. And you must surround yourself with highly positive people. Obaseki okays multipurpose production centres in Edo to boost activities of MSMEs
As a business investor, at what level would you honestly say that Nigeria’s economy is now growing, given the present condition she’s in?
Firstly, I’m very passionate about this country and I strongly believe in Nigeria and Africa at large. Economic growth is a challenge across the globe but we can do much better.
Small businesses are said to be vital to the survival of a nation, what is your honest view on this?
Small is powerful, so thriving small businesses are the true reflection of a country’s economic well-being.
You were among the participants at the 2018 and 2019 editions of the International Petroleum Week in London, what did you take away from this important forum regarding the future of oil as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy?
Yes, I mostly attend IP Week in London and to be honest, as a system operator, we exchange relevant ideas and these help to open rooms to inter-trades and service relationships among oil and gas players. Calibration of product, services will boost local, int’l trade – SON.
Do you have interest in active politics since you fall in the category of not-too-young-to-rule?
Well, I am a quiet politician but with no party alliance. I was born into politics because my late father was a local politician and very good at it. He was man of the people. Meanwhile, I’m not interested in politics at this time but will always support good governance and committed leadership in Nigeria.
What is the experience like at the recently concluded 2018 African Forum you attended alongside prominent business personalities from Africa, and its potential positive effects on Nigerian and African business climate.
The forum was very productive and enlightening. It was an inclusive African business gathering for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. The host president, His Excellency, Al-Sisi, should be commended for awakening the business and economic potentials of African nations.