Global leader in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods market, Unilever Plc, has pledged to attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to Nigeria while underlining the company’s commitment to growing business sustainably and delivering innovative brands for Nigerian consumers.
Mr. Paul Polman, Global Chief Executive Officer, Unilever, made this pledge during a courtesy call to Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Governor-Elect, at his residence in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday.
During the visit, Mr. Polman reaffirms Unilever’s continued commitment to Nigeria. According to Polman, Unilever has invested over 120 million Euros in Nigeria in the last three years. The multinational company has also been able to attract about 80 million dollars in investments to the country.
“As we grow our business, we also want to showcase the huge business opportunities in Nigeria by inviting foreign investors to set up businesses in the country.
Mr. Polman noted that Unilever made a laudable step in this regard with the ’Partner to Win’ Africa Investment Conference that held last year. This conference brought together supplier representatives from across the world alongside Unilever senior executives to discuss investment opportunities and explore strategic partnerships.
He said: “For us, we will keep investing in Nigeria. We will also sustain efforts that attract other investors because we understand that these will create value for the economy.”
“Like many other countries, Nigeria isn’t without challenges. However, there is a need for greater drive to address the bottlenecks and bureaucracies that translate into lost time. These are discouraging factors for investors,” he said.
He stressed the need for a more competitive business environment, and asked the Governor-Elect to help improve the ease of doing business in Lagos, so as to attract and encourage investors.
While highlighting the company’s re-investment to its operating community, Polman spoke extensively about the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan (USLP), with evidence in key priority areas such as Improving Health and Wellbeing, Reducing Environmental Impact and Enhancing livelihoods.
“Through brands like Pepsodent, Closeup and Lifebuoy, we are actively driving habit and behavioural change enlightenment sessions in schools, with focus on oral and personal hygiene.
Also speaking at the event, Mr. Yaw Nsarkoh, Managing Director, Unilever Nigeria Plc, recounted a number of programmes and USLP interventions of the company. He stated that Unilever is already working with Lagos state, to reduce infant mortality by increasing mothers’ access to quality healthcare at the time of birth and in the immediate postnatal period.
According to Mr. Nsarkoh, the company is also looking at improving the food value chain and has engaged a number of women to help drive this initiative. With plans to increase the number by year end, more jobs opportunities will be created for Lagosians and Nigerians.
Having listened attentively to the Unilever team, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Governor-Elect, promised to ensure an enabling business environment for investors, stating that his administration will position Lagos for greater business.
According to him, the level of investments in Lagos reflects those of the country, adding that his party, having ruled the state in the last 16 years, has been able to attain huge level of investments seen so far.
“We know Unilever is a major job creator, and we hope that you will continue to create the jobs for Lagos citizens. We will continue to support you in this regard”, Mr Ambode assured the Unilever team.
He noted that his administration is particularly interested in increasing investments in Lagos, and he intends to create a one-stop shop in the Lagos State for Investor relations issues, as a step in the right direction.
“For the very first time Lagos will align with the centre. This synergy presents huge opportunities for Lagos and businesses alike, as we will now be able to deliver viable and beneficial solutions on shared pertinent issues” he explained.
“I intend to run an incentive-based government, rather than an enforcement one. We are willing to create incentives as long as people are ready to create jobs,” he stressed.
He added that he is ready to showcase Unilever and other companies and individuals that are selflessly contributing to the growth of the state and society.
By Goddie Ofose