Chris Gozie Ijeh, Lagos entrepreneur and Managing Director of FCI Smyle International, approached GroFin Nigeria in 2015 for finance and support of his business expansion project. Given his company’s brand reputation for quality and indigenous manufacturing and supporting extensive employment, GroFin did not hesitate to support his company with a sizeable loan.
An Entrepreneur from the start
Mr. Gozie Ijeh attended the University of Lagos from where he obtained a BSc. in Business Administration. He then joined “Just – Food Nigeria Ltd” as a marketing representative from the university campus and subsequently rose to the position of marketing manager. In 2007, he left formal employment to start his own ice-cream business, “FCI International”. The now fully owned indigenous Nigerian company with international partners has been operating successfully under Mr. Gozie Ijeh since.
Growing through recognition and quality products
Following its incorporation as a limited liability company in August 2009, “FCI Smyle International Limited”, would also obtain successful certification of its products by Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
In January 2010, FCI Smyle International Limited was specially invited for an exhibition of its products at a product expo organised by NAFDAC, where Smyle won all the taste sampling contests over competing products.
Set up to provide a unique brand of quality ice cream products in the Nigerian and International market, the company uses the best imported and local ice cream mixes as its base. Part of its business operations includes the import and distribution of industrial milk, which is an integral raw material, to hedge against price fluctuations as well as secure a huge price advantage.
Today, FCI Smyle International is a medium sized business with a direct staff strength of 41 operating from the company facility in Lagos. With 50 outlets in 8 states in Nigeria where Smyle ice cream and yoghurt are sold, the company’s vision is to make Smyle ice cream a household name and a top brand in the ice cream industry in Nigeria. As part of its expansion plan to meet the increasing demand for Smyle ice-cream, the company plans to increase its presence in few other states of the federation in the next three years, which will also entail the recruitment of additional personnel. The company is also well positioned for marketing activities with its experienced food specialists and marketing administrators.
Ensuring growth through business support
On the business support front, GroFin has advised the company on Food Safety Management under HACCP, in line with which the entrepreneur is purchasing a Dairy Labpro machine for milk content analysis. GroFin is also helping the company design and develop training programmes to equip the staff with the skills and knowledge to meet Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S) standards. Finally, GroFin is working with the entrepreneur to ensure that a proper HR policy is put in place.
Besides being principally involved in food provision, FCI Smyle has been playing a significant role in youth employment in the community. The investment will sustain 41 and create 17 direct jobs. The entrepreneur also sponsors deserving employees for skills development trainings, thus putting them in a position to enjoy a better livelihood than they could otherwise have dreamed of.