By Sam Fadipe and Godwin Onyemaechi
Let’s meet you properly Sir?
My name is Manish RohtagiI am currently the Managing Director of … Stallion Auto Keke limited and VON Automobiles Nigeria Limited. My companies, both the companies, one is dealing with Bajaj tri-cycle which is the world’s number one. The brand is one that is world’s number one across seventy countries both in England and Trinidad. Bajaj is the most reliable tri-cycle company in the world.
So, it is a great combination, I must tell you. while we are in Nigeria, we are doing like a … we have a complete range of commercial … starting from one company. We also have complete range of buses ranging from small buses to 56 seater buses both air conditioner and non air-conditioned. And we have people to help me perform my duties.
At what point did you decide to join Stallion group?
In the year 2019, Bajaj was looking for a platform in Nigeria exclusively for tri cycle business. And there is a Corporate like the Stallion Group … so, we have many people who applied for this partnership to join hands with Bajaj. Fortunately for us at the Bajaj family, we picked Stallion Group to become the partner. We are very thankful for Africa being the largest country in the continent to help us and choose us as their exclusive tricyle distributor for Nigeria.
I think there are very similar things when it comes to Stallion Group because the brand has been a grass root brand. It is a brand which is known for its high quality products. It is known for products which gives livelihood to very many people across countries not only in Nigeria. Similar to the ethos of Stallion Group. Then we also have a lot of products including rice and fish. We touch life of Nigerians every day.
So, by the house power brands, we have bigger brands like Nissan, Hyundai, Porsche, Changan etc. If you see the grass root touch points in CSR, you would know that we are truly interested in the community. We have the brand, we have offices, and just rounding off repair and maintenance for the customers, the distribution network and training of grass root Nigeria. both have jointly come into the Sterling. And I think that is why Bajaj have decided to go ahead with this. These are our similarities. And this is our window for both our partners.
How can you describe the journey so far?
So far it is great working with Bajaj. When we started, last year in the month of March’2020. We never … from April, May, as the case may be. We slowed down on the process because of the pandemic. But since then we have grown exponentially both in terms of value and market share. So, if you see our export market share of Bajaj, it has grown rapidly over the last one year. We have reached to perfect in terms of market share. We are very close to being the .. and if you see last three to four months export figures, Bajaj has grown. We move from position of second to an initial position. That is a change that we have seen. Apart from that, I think another more satisfying clause is, dealers, customers and freight forwarders who were actually not patronizing us before are now looking at joining us. Then, we can work together towards promoting Bajaj products in the market.
How can you describe tricycle business?
I think tricycle business is a business of people empowerment. So, if I sell one tricycle, I am empowering at least two to three people that is a way to make money. If you have four riders, one can make money at each time of the day. The mechanic makes money as well. It is an empowerment business so I feel that government policies are made in sync. I would say that the most important thing is that this is the requirement of pushing Nigeria in the public. For any economy to thrive, you need to have a better transportation system.
Unless you have a system where people can go from one place to another, tomorrow, you remove all the forms of transportation, you would find the GDP coming down drastically. Why did the GDP run down drastically during the pandemic, it was because there was no transportation. If you allow more tricycles on the road, Nigerian economy would thrive very fast because it give people the opportunity to move from one place to the other very fast. If you restrict them to go from one place to another, you restrict the transport system. If the economic system is restricted, that economy would not go anywhere. So, what the government needs I think is to reach of to all the stakeholders in the country to find a way to regulate the business ecosystem. If this is well regulated, it would yield not only economic value to the Nigerian GDP. I think the thing is to regulate them and allow them to thrive the economy of the country. Even our marketing plan are also inspired by our CSR.
Talking about the economy, how can your brand help in building the economy of Nigeria?
I think tricycles are going to be an integral part of the Nigerian
economy. I say this not because i am in the business. If you know what parts we are in and you want to go to a remote place in Ajah access roads and other places, Ikorodu areas, their roads are very narrow and would take only tricycles. Tricycles are made for these kinds of roads. You have bumps and all sort and I think even see the ban as a restriction in industry. Tricycling is the best empowerment investment for anyone and I think it is going to thrive. Anyone who is unemployed, anyone that is looking for a startup, anyone who wants to start earning from tomorrow and at least you are able to feed your family. Before anything else, if you do any other business, you would have to wait for some time before the you can generate the money. But with tricycle business, you start getting the fruits from inception. So think of those families, those kids who don’t have anything to eat, somehow they would be able to manage to get something with their tricyles.
How is your company giving back to the society interns of CSR?
As a group, we have something on certain government
initiatives. So, around that we have two hospitals, two primary schools, we also have some scholarships for the technical training for the people. So, and during the pandemic we did a lot of donations. Not only for the rice and fish but also for the ambulances to many states government. So, that is also what we believe in giving back to the society. We are working on a flagship programme, of our education of some of our mechanics and drivers going forward.
even our marketing plan are also inspired by CSR. Right now we are doing a lot of women training and they learn how to drive. We organize different things and we are about to get drones. So many such girls who used to earn twenty forty thousand a month or used to work as a housemaid for somebody, now they are able to get up to 120/130 thousand a month because of this. So, our marketing programmes also have integrated with CSR.
have our plans initially and that is why we did not commence operations in April, May and June.
How will you describe Nigerians?
I think I describe Nigerians as very humble and I would say honest. I will also say integrity wise that some of them are one of the most with integrity in the world. I think jointly we need to breed a culture of hardwork which is little bit missing. Many of us want to have … which I would say unless I am able to feed my kid properly, it would not be nice to relax. So, I think on the overall, it is a very loving country. I really enjoy the company of my colleagues. Many of Nigerian staff who have grown tremendously over the last three or four decades. Many of them have moved with me in Stallion and they are doing fabulous now. I really think this is the right time to come over here and this is the right place where jointly, it is also new learning for me but I also can share my experience and my understanding with many people around.
Who is your favourite Nigeria footballer?
My favourite Nigerian footballer is JayJay Okocha.
Talking about insecurity in Nigeria, what advice can you give to the government?
I am not in a position to advice the federal government or the state government because they are a lot of wise people over there. But I think my philosophy goes in a way that if your stomache is empty, and if you steal a bread, it is neither a corruption or an act of stealing. It is the responsibility of the society to provide food for the person.one has to be very very clear what policies we are implementing in a way that the poorest of the poor gets to move up and crosses the line of burden. So, many many Nigerians need to move up. One has to work towards that.
If we are able to achieve that we will see… . today, you don’t have anything to do. Whatever you get, you do that. That is why I always say that sometimes, some of the policy makers may decide to ban something. At the same time, one had to think that what is going to be the output of this. If there are ten thousand people working on this particular line, those guys need to have an alternative place you organize for them. You don’t have any right to cut them out. In fact, the right to employment is very particular. I urge Nigerian people and civil society of Nigeria to start up right to employment. If not for 365 days, at least for 100 or 200 days. Each and every person should get employment based on some minimum amount.
Do yo have a Nigerian Wife?
(laugh). No for now.
How do you relax?
For me, my relaxation starts with when I see my wife and my daughter brought up happy. Not only them but if my maid is happy, my driver is happy that is my biggest relaxation. I always want to see people around me growing with me.
What is your priceless possession?
My priciest possessions in life are my wife and my daughter.
What is your favorite Nigeria food?
Because I am a vegetarian, I don’t eat chicken and the like. I don’t consume Nigerian food but initially when I came I liked chapman but because of my sugar levels I don’t drink that. But I liked that.
What’s your favorite color?
All colours and particularly blue.