Interviews

For VFD Group, Africa is the goal – Adenubi

Adenubi

Niyi Adenubi is the Co-Founder and Executive Director, Institutional Business & Investor Relations of VFD Group Plc, a proprietary investment company based in Lagos. Adenubi, a trained investment banker with over 10 years of hands-on experience in Private Equity, Venture Capitalism, and Financial Advisory started his banking career in his mid-20s in London and at various instances, he has played specific oversight on Corporate Governance and Financial Advisory roles to numerous firms both in Nigeria and in the United Kingdom, most notably with the Royal Bank of Scotland and ATOS Consulting.

In this recent interview with Eleni Giokos of CNN Marketplace Africa, Adenubi, bares his mind on a range of issues including the success of the Group’s digital bank, V bank, and expansion plans.

Excerpts:

At what point did you begin to think of starting a firm?

In my mid-20s, I was an investment banker in London. After about three or four years in investment banking consulting, I started thinking about my country and the continent. I started thinking of how to build businesses and create values in that space. My only expertise is investment banking so very quickly I set up an investment management firm called Paragon Partners and since that time we created 10-year strategies to build out initially a financial service holding company now a diversified investment company looking at financial services, power, education, and media – which is VFD Group.

Reading through the VFD Group corporate strategies, it is interesting to see a word about holding a positively socially conscious ecosystem. Do you really go in with this socially conscious kind of agenda?

I think the balance is extremely important. When we came up with those concepts, for us sustainability was very important. So, we want a sustainable business that is profitable but is also socially conscious. We are building people; we are lifting people out of poverty; we are giving people a chance to access capital either debt financing for their businesses or equity financing for their businesses as they go on to employ people. And those things matter to us because without that sustainability you cannot build that ecosystem and a country that has viable jobs for the young population. That was very key to what we were trying to achieve. However, if you do all those things and you do not make money you are also unsustainable

In terms of market shares, what are you aiming for and what is the next phase for you?

Some of that information is private and confidential but what I will tell you is that we are on track till half year 2021 to gain about 15per cent of the total banking market for our platform and once we do that we’ve ascertained that V bank is already a success. We would go from there to build. The initial plan was 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the initial banking market and either way, we are on track to meet that target even before half year next year.

What is the most exciting sector for you right now, where are you seeing the best opportunity coupled with the social impact you say. Where are you seeing the best alignment at the moment?

I will say easily it’s in financial technology. I know that’s been oversold but I think the story of Africa cannot over-sell the concept of involving 80 per cent to 90% of the entire population bringing them into the financial space and banking sector. Till today, I think we still have about 40 million accounts, out of a population of 200 million. We will probably look at the power sector too as it is also an interesting space; Fintech also, definitely; and as we go along, we continue to transition.

Clearly, you and your team are thinking of the long term so what is the plan in 5 to 10 years, do you want to be a Pan African banking giant or group across many sectors?

We want to be a Pan African Investment company. We are already looking at Ghana and we have started a conversation in Ghana. We are looking to deploy a small payment bank in Ghana using the V Bank platform. From Ghana, we also looking at Kenya- it’s a very exciting market. We definitely have ambition for Africa and if we get lucky in our lifetime, we will go global, but I am quite hopeful that we can land in Africa.

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