Beloxxi Industries Ltd has partnered with the African Institute of Business Simulation
) to build a cutting-edge business simulation lab (BSL) where a new generation of budding entrepreneurs can apply their years of business studies to simulated real-life situations. Donated in February to the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Lagos, the Beloxxi BSL combines innovative thinking with market principles to produce graduates who are more confident and industry ready, or self-employable, before graduation.
Designed, furnished and equipped to create a conducive environment to integrate business theory with practice using business simulations, Beloxxi’s N50 million ($318,000) investment has produced a 53-seater non-traditional classroom facility featuring an electronic board that is fully integrated with the lab’s flat-screen workstations. It also includes a motorized projector screen, multimedia audiovisual systems, independent back-up power supply, and a wired and wireless internet system for accessing the facility’s web-based simulation software portals.
According to a statement by AIBS: “In the simulation lab, students are typically given case studies of the macro economy, a selected virtual industry, and of the simulated company that they will have to run for eight simulated years. Also, typically, their simulated companies have all kinds of problems: poor financial management, excess capacity, high inventories, declining sales, poor customer satisfaction, products failing to address the real needs of market segments, high staff turnover, etc.”
Students at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels will work in teams of six, each representing a student-business management team. Acting as managers, each team is required to run its mock company in competition with those of the other teams in a simulated industry. The students gain hands-on real-life experience by seeing the results of their business decisions, both good and bad, and learning from their mistakes and successes.
Obi Ezeude, President and CEO of Beloxxi Industries Ltd, believes that funding the new facilities at Unilag exemplifies the type of difference the private sector can make to support public education in Nigeria and other countries in Africa. With increasing pressure on government coffers coming from other, equally vital areas such as health, infrastructure and power, the initiative will hopefully inspire investment from other private sources into similar projects and collaborations to sharpen Nigeria’s edge in the education sector.
“The greatest asset that we have in this country is our human capital,” says Mr Ezeude. “We have a lot of young graduates who are keen to have an opportunity for a better life.”
The BSL forms part of Beloxxi’s comprehensive corporate social responsibility programme and firm belief in the value of education. Beloxxi employs local staff under clearly defined criteria: young recruits must possess the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) qualification, be living with their parents, and be ambitious to further their education. “We only employ young workers who want to study. If you get into a school, college or university and you work for us then you still get your salary uninterrupted while you study,” says Mr Ezeude. “What we are doing is creating a new generation who are our future leaders.”
The CEO established Beloxxi almost 20 years ago initially to import and distribute internationally branded biscuits and crackers. It has since grown into the largest cracker manufacturer in sub-Saharan Africa, producing high quality products at its state-of-the-art factory on the Agbara Industrial Estate in Ogun State.
Its signature Beloxxi Cream Crackers hit the shelves in 2007 and were an instant hit with consumers. Their distinctive bright blue packages carry the Nigerian flag, and are tagged “Proudly Nigerian”, with more than 80 per cent of the raw materials used by the company being sourced locally. “We had vowed that we were not going to give the Nigerian consumer anything inferior to the foreign biscuits we marketed,” says Mr Ezeude.
In helping to bridge the gap between Nigeria’s academia and industry, as well as encouraging the ongoing personal development of the company’s own staff, management at Beloxxi hope other enterprises will follow their lead and play a part in bringing out the best in Nigeria’s homegrown entrepreneurial talent.