Elkanah Mowarin needs no introduction especially if you are into the business of networking and integrated marketing.
Elkay, as he is more fondly called by friends is also a key player in our today’s entertainment industry.
EOM(Economic, Operator and the Market) business networks, the company he heads, is a multilateral integrated marketing communication company. Located in the Surulere area of Lagos State, the company has been in operation for more than two decades.
But the story today is not about, Elkay’s regular business transactions.
It is the story of a man who has suddenly woken up to pursue a life long passion. The smooth talking and baritone voiced gentleman is branching into beauty salon business.
He shares his dream with Ope-Oluwani Akintayo
How true is the story that you are venturing into beauty business?
I’ve been into the business of style for more than two decades. And in business, you have the vertical, horizontal and competitive opportunities. Being in this field for a long time now, we’ve been managing the image of people and organizations.
What we’re trying to do today is, taking advantage of the vertical and competitive advantages as they present themselves to us. Over the years, we’ve been communicating the information of people’s brand, now we want to express it in the physical way.
So, salon business being unisex is all about making your hair, face, nails, and making the body feel and look great. It’s an extension of what we’ve been doing over the years.
We’ve taken a cursory look at the Nigerian beauty business and have noticed that there’s a vacuum. An average Nigerian woman expects value for her money. It’s not enough for a lady to walk into the salon and just get her hair done.
It involves image management. So, we’re creating a homely environment where with top-of-the-range products and services woud be made available for the use of our customers. You’ll be shocked that when you visit some of the top salons that we have around, someone is cutting your hair and is talking with another at the same time.
We’re trying to create a conducive environment where Nigerians can be proud of. Our services are going to be affordable because we’re taking advantage of the goodwill we receive from people.
Have you got a name for the salon?
For now, we want to keep it secret. As a matter of fact, this is an exclusive information for the Vanguard Newspapers because I have never shared this with anyone.
We are introducing a total style solution that has never been experienced in this part of the world. We are partnering with some other beauty organizations outside the country, to give you simple hairstyles that is handy and has never been found elsewhere, except you insist on sticking to what you’ve been used to.
We want to brand you with your looks, give you a signature that people will admire. Essentially, we’re not opening a salon but a style solution place. We’ll look at shape of your face, stature and complexion and suggest what hairstyle/cut, eyebrow, nails etc that fits. It’s trying to give the best for less.
Somebody once said that looking good is good business. It’s going to be a one-stop shop. What we’re doing here is a pilot because we’re planning a massive outlet at Lekki.
When are you starting off?
We expect that all things being equal, the outlet will open at the close of the second quarter of this year.
How has the experience been like since your incursion into media/communication business?
From my perspective, it’s a wonderful experience. Media in Nigeria is doing well when compared to other African countries, except for South Africa which is advanced. We have intelligent, resourceful and had working people. People like Wole Shoyinka and Chinua Achebe are part of the media and among the best in the world. But we can do more if we have better enabling environment.
Government has a responsibility of creating the right environment for media to flourish in Nigeria. Because if media is to succeed in Nigeria, it has to be managed by an organized private sector. When media is managed by the state, it is always guarded and doctored. And there’s a global cliche that says ‘government has no business being in business.’
Media is huge. It contains movies, music, television, radio, newspapers and all manner of entertainment. And if the government can allow the private sector to manage it, foreign investors will come in and you’ll be amazed at how much we can earn. The interesting thing is that lately, we’ve seen more licensing of radio stations.
So, we have more FM stations to choose from because different stations will offer different services. It’s also interesting to know that for the first time in Nigeria, we have a government that released about 200 million dollars for the entertainment industry.
Controversy seems to trail the fund over whom actually released the money
Yes, I agree with you. It was a World Bank initiative. But the World Bank can’t deal with an individual. And that brings us back to the fact that government has to create the right environment so that investors can come in.
But government made it look like they actually released the money . . .
The thing there is that, the World Bank can’t deal with an individual but with the government and bodies with organized structures.
In my capacity as the president of INTAPPAN, we’ve tried to get a World Bank grants but they’ve continued to tell us that they won’t give us funds until we organize ourselves. I’m not sure that President Goodluck meant to make it look like the fund was donated by the Federal Government.
But if that’s the case, I’m convinced that the government of Nigeria has the capacity to set aside 200million dollars for the entertainment industry because it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what the country has. I’ve been around the world and I’m yet to see a country, except perhaps Russia, where Nigerian movies are not watched.
Our music is all over, our doctors are everywhere, we have penetrated the globe. So, it’s no longer a local but an international industry and it’s worth billions of naira.
But everything is left in the hands of the government, to create the right environment for the media to flourish.
Because of the money released to the entertainment industry by the World Bank, there has been a sudden proliferation of bodies in the industry. What’s your take on this?
Again, it all boils down to government creating the right environment. If you go to Europe, US even in South Africa, you’ll find organized structures where the tiers of entertainment come under. So, if an organization doesn’t belong to any of those professional bodies, they can’t practice. But it’s not so here.
So, the government has to put up legal frame work. Once that is achieved, you won’t have the problem of duplicity of bodies.
What were those challenges you faced and still facing today as a practitioner?
I believe that there can’t be achievements without challenges. But God gave us the strength to overcome them. One of our challenges was that, as an independent producer in Nigeria, one is expected to develop a concept, produce the programme, shop for sponsors and at the same time pay the radio and TV stations to air it.
But thank God that some stations have now began to partner with us.
Another area is the problem of indebtedness. When you carry the advert of a company, some of them end up not paying for more than five years. How do they expect you to pay staff and run the company?
And in the past, we used near obsolete equipment, today we are more advanced.
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