Jim Products boss, Alhaji Mikhail Jimoh has highlighted the challenges of running the business and why his herbal products stand out among their contemporaries in Nigeria. He said these and much more in an interview he granted ENCOMIUM Weekly in his Sango, Ogun office recently.
What’s the latest from Jim Herbal Company?
Incidentally, we have come of age and perhaps I would say there’s nothing new other than the fact that we’re trying to perfect and improve on the existing products that we’re churning out to the public.
How long have you started the trade on a full scale?
On a full scale, we have been on since about 2002 and eventually, the company got incorporated in 2009. By 2002, we’re operating as Jim Herbal Laboratory Store. In 2009, we’re operating as Jim Products Limited. We’re into various forms of herbal related products. We’re engaged in herbal cultivation, researches as well as manufacturing of herbs based products ranging from oral care, skin care to even to the entire body system care. We’re nothing short of herbalceutical manufacturing.
15 years down the line, how would you describe the experience so far?
We have witnessed the ups and downs. And whatever happens within the economy will definitely have direct impact on anybody operating within the economy as it were. Even, expectedly in the recent times, it has been really tough when it comes to the rise in the exchange rate as it affects some of the inputs that we use.
Even though we’re not importing directly, we buy from the importers. When their prices are up, we have no other option than to increase the prices of our products too. And incidentally, we can also see the fact that the purchasing power of the general public is eroded. So, it’s having a very serious effect on our operations. And the issue of power supply in terms of electricity is equally affecting us.
Right now, we’re basically relying on diesel to run our generator. And we’re all living witnesses to the high cost of diesel and other related products. So, it has been quite tough. But in summary, when we weight the pros and cons of the whole thing, I would say it has been quite interesting.
Right now, things are gradually picking up and there’s a ray of hope such that if the government could really stand its feet by banning all the competitive products coming from overseas that are not really making the indigenous industries to thrive, I think it will really go a long way at compelling the people of this country to patronize made in Nigerian products provided they are good.
What’s the specific challenge that almost set you packing since you started out?
Fine, incidentally it’s the issue of funds. In the last 15 years, we have had serious challenges in funding our products. But thank God for Grofin, we’re opportuned to have a kind of support from Grofin Nigeria.
Grofin is more or less a finance and investment company that’s engaged in fishing out serious-minded indigenous manufacturers. They give us required support in terms of the equipment that we need to really meet up with our production. They even support us in the construction of our permanent site, so to speak. So, the company has been quite supportive. Most of Nigerian banks shy away from small and medium scale enterprises.
Maybe, in their own perception, the high risk they tend to have. But there’s this popular saying, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’. We’re all existing in risk. Our existence is based on risk. They can actually study the company they want to support. It goes beyond the idea of giving money alone. I must say these people come here twice, if not thrice in a month, give us the required advice.
And they’re even willing to give us the support to build up to the level of exporting our products. I think it has been really interesting working with them.
How many states in Nigeria do your products get to at the moment?
Presently, we’re in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Kano and Port Harcourt. And within a week to this time, we would also be in Abuja. We have perfected that, just for us to move down the goods there.
When you just started, we guessed you might have started with just two or three workers. What’s your staffs numerical strength now?
Presently, we have about 70 people working with us. I started even in a room, if I can recollect. What happens is that I have a very serious passion for what I am doing. Even, at the time I started, I was working in the bank. And if you have passion for what you’re doing, to me, working in the bank was more or less like having a fish that was supposed to be in water and you have it on the floor. So, it will not be able to thrive very well.
I left the banking sector at the prime time of its boom, that’s 1994. Some people thought I was even crazy. But I have seen the light in the tunnel. Even while working in the bank, I ran my business on a part time basis, especially paying attention to it on weekends. But when I saw that the thing was gradually booming, I needed to give it an adequate attention. I would say it has been quite interesting, but not rosy.
What level do you intend taking Jim Herbal Company to in the next five years?
Thank you very much. Like I said, we thank God for everything. We’re growing from strength to strength. I am foreseeing Jim products to be in every state of the federation in the next five years. Even, within that period, incursion into most of these neighbouring countries like Benin Republic, Ghana, Cameroon.
Can you tell us the specific impact of this ongoing recession on your business?
Recession has a very devastating effect on our business. Just like I said, most of the materials we use are imported. And we don’t import directly. At one time or the other, we had ventured into bringing in tea and all that. But when the exchange rate keeps going higher and higher by the day. You can’t even easily get dollar to buy.
So, the few people that are bringing these materials into the country sell at whatever prices they wish to sell. And we still want to remain in business without undermining the quality of our products. So, incidentally, the prices of our products go up. And initially, and prior to this time, our mission was to present our products to the common man at the most affordable prices.
So, it’s actually affecting our objective of being in business which is making the products as cheap as possible. We’re forced to increase the prices of our products to making it even unaffordable to the common man as it used to be. So, it reduces the patronage we’re supposed to enjoy.
And because of the passion we have to get people gainfully employed, we don’t want to retrench our workers because we trained them over the years. We don’t want a situation whereby we lay them off because the economy goes tough. But at a time, we’re forced to do one day on, one day off and the workers understood us then. Now, we’re operating shift, working day and night for us to meet up with customers’ demand.
What distinguishes Jim Herbal Products from other competitive products around?
Fine, the simple word is quality. That’s what makes us stronger by the day. Even as we have a lot of other herbal products competing with ours, we see ourselves as models and pacesetters in the presentation of qualitative products at affordable prices to the common man.
Yes, we have some other competing products but they’re not making a good match with our products, especially in the aspect of dental powder. We’re rigorously forging ahead to meet up with the likes of Unilver. I think we’re not doing badly in the business. We thank God for that.