By Enyeribe Ejiogu
The the true value of a person’s life is measured by the depth and breath of the lives such a person has touched, impacted and value created for the glory of God.
It is only in this dimension that the average person can understand the motivation of Dr. Humphrey Erumaka, Presiding Bishop and General Overseer of Wordbase Assembly, Lagos, to show his appreciation to God for sparing his life to reach a pivotal age .
On July 7, Bishop Erumaka will express the biblical counsel that “there is more happiness in giving than in receiving,” by giving young people who win a business idea a seed competition with seed capital to make the idea a reality. project and begin their wealth creation journey. . The competition is the brainchild of the Business Triangle Forum, an entrepreneurship and business support group created by the Pentecostal Church. In this interview, he sheds more light on BTF. Please read on…
The Wordbase Assembly has hosted the Business Triangle Forum (BTF) for some time. I know the church there used to organize the Heaveneconomics program. Is there a connection between this and the BTF initiative which has taken place almost every two months since last year? Does Heaveneconomics still work as a Wordbase program?
Yes it is. Heaveneconomics is entirely a church program, which focuses on teaching believers to understand and embrace the principles of Heaven and apply them in their earthly affairs. These principles include honesty, integrity, dedication and commitment to purpose and hard work. None of these things are contrary to the Bible. The Bible does not encourage laziness; on the contrary, it encourages diligence, for the gospel says, “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” It is then that God will “bless the works of your hands,” as the Bible says. Even the Bible warns those engaged in commerce not to use false measures to sell and defraud their customers. Therefore, heaven is interested in the economy. So when we hold Heaveneconomics, we are teaching people that it is God’s will that they prosper economically. Essentially, you must first play your part in doing something genuine that God can then prosper. That said, it is not enough to teach church members about wealth building without giving some of them some start-up capital.
In BTF, on the other hand, we don’t just talk about spiritual principles from the Bible, we bring in experts in various fields of business endeavors, to share testimonies of how they broke their rocks, so to speak, to succeed while deploying the heavenly principles I mentioned earlier. In some cases, one member’s business becomes a regular customer of another. There are instances where members who are professionals find opportunities to offer relevant services to other members, such as accountants helping to audit members’ affairs or tax advisers giving advice to ensure that our members pay the appropriate tax to the government. We also inform participants of business opportunities in their sector and try to connect those who wish to take advantage of these opportunities.
During the last session held in May, we had a resource person who came to teach our members how to participate in the oil and gas business with very little capital. He started very small and grew the company to become a major player in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry. These are the things we do in BTF. We also match members’ business ventures. For example, we had a resource person who talked about a special gum and explained how several people could join together to buy a container of the product to distribute. BTF allows people to interact and build business relationships through the forum, similar to how the Chamber of Commerce and Industry works. In other cases, if a member has a business opportunity and needs clarification, the person can call the secretariat to seek information and advice from other people who are already engaged in it, on the how to avoid the pitfalls and losses inherent in the process. , before investing in the opportunity.
Does the BTF provide referrals and confirm membership credentials to foreign embassies and agencies like chambers of commerce and industry do for their members?
Yes, the BTF certainly does. We give reference letters in situations where foreign embassies or agencies require certification of authenticity from our members seeking to establish business relationships with companies in the home country of the particular foreign mission. These reference letters reassure embassies that the member company is trustworthy and operates with integrity, in a transparent and honest manner. BTF management has made representations to the economic advisors of notable foreign embassies in Nigeria, such as the United States, European Union, China, Turkey, Indonesia, among others.
Who can become a member of the BTF?
Membership in BTF is reserved for born-again Christians who have learned through the gospel to reflect the principles of heaven, which I mentioned earlier, in the way they do business, so that in the end of the day, God be glorified. We teach members to demonstrate integrity, honesty and transparency in their business, and these elements are essential to building a good reputation for themselves and for the company.
However, participation in the forum’s bi-monthly meetings is open to the public, but an individual or their business must register as a member before they can access the full benefits of what BTF has to offer. When an individual or commercial business applies for membership, we naturally undertake a rigorous due diligence process to establish that you are who you say you are; banks call it KYC – know your customer. I value my name and reputation, so neither I nor the BTF leadership would like to be associated with questionable people. That is why membership is limited to born-again Christians who are committed to operating their business enterprises according to the strict and godly principles of the gospel and the leading of the Holy Spirit. BTF is incubated by a Pentecostal church and so you would expect nothing less in terms of ensuring that only people of integrity are accepted as members. Essentially we maintain and update a database of our members
Does BTF offer any sort of mentorship?
Absolutely. We bring in knowledgeable people who will tell you what they’ve done and freely mentor anyone who wants to get into the business. In this regard, we do matchmaking for mentoring purposes, where a member can be paired with a more established member company that has broad and deep experience in a particular industry. Participation in BTF initiatives allows people to interact and build business relationships through the forum in the same way as members of chambers of commerce and industry do.
Does BTF engage in business incubation?
What we do is called a partnership where a bigger member takes a younger member under their umbrella, to guide the younger member. One of our members who sells alloy wheels was introduced to a larger company, called Memose Group, which has a specialty division that refurbishes high-end SUVs like the Toyoto Prado and other vehicles of this category, so they come out almost new. One of the things that change are the wheels. This young man started supplying alloy wheels to the biggest company, and his business grew fantastically. Essentially, the most important member has become a key customer and ready-made market for their product.
Are there other things the BTF does to support its members?
The forum exposes members to international business opportunities. For example, we are planning a business trip to Rwanda. At the February forum meeting, we had a resource person who is a leader in the production of top quality leather footwear in Aba, Nigeria. He is a consultant to the government of Rwanda, which wants to replicate the world-renowned Made-in-Aba footwear in the country. In collaboration with this person, we are planning a trip to Rwanda, because a big market exists in Rwanda for shoes. Well-known shoemakers from Aba will be part of the trip organized by BTF, to present their products and get in touch with importers and distributors. This will be a great opportunity for Nigerian shoemakers to expand into the international market, especially now that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has been signed into law.
The next session of the BTF meeting will be on Thursday, July 7, my birthday. On that day, instead of receiving gifts from people, I will give grants to a number of young people, to enable them to finance their start-up businesses. On this day, we will organize something like what the Americans call Shark Tank, during which a person is allowed to present a business idea to potential investors. On such an occasion, anyone whose pitch excites and interests the panel will attract an equity stake from investors. However, in my own case, I will give reasonable amounts in the form of direct grants to young people who win the pitch competition that day as seed money to mark my birthday.
What inspired the BTF vision and when did it start?
This vision was inspired by my concern that churches engage primarily in prayer and fasting. Meanwhile, the Bible clearly teaches that God blesses the works of our hands. I worried because I believe we should do something that God will bless. I felt it was more about releasing people into a nurturing atmosphere, thriving by starting a business and running it well with godly principles. A college education is supposed to equip you to solve problems. Every problem is a business opportunity that will allow you to earn income by finding a solution. People pay money for solutions. So the fastest way to start a business is to solve a problem. Therefore, identify a problem and work out how your physical effort, skill, and intellectual input can solve the problem. From there, the solution can become a business enterprise.