Ini Akpabio, The Hospitality Entrepreneur
Mr Ini-Obong Michael Akpabio is a hospitality and tourism specialist from Akwa Ibom State. Ini attended the Federal Government College, Kaduna, University of Lagos (Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration), and University of Surrey (Master’s of Science Degree in International Hospitality and Tourism). He returned to Nigeria and proceeded to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and got another Master’s in Business Administration in 1998.
Mr. Akpabio runs the Nanet Group, which specializes in Hotel Management, Catering Services, and Hospitality Consultancy Services. A subsidiary of the Group, Nanet Hotels manages a number of hospitality firms across the nation.
”NANET Hotel started in 1970, as the brainchild of my mother who was a full time house wife and needed something to do. On the advice of a staff at Barclays Bank then, she started a restaurant and later ventured into hotel management. Now, we are in full-fledged hospitality business. My parents represent the first generation of the company, while we are the second generation, and we already have a succession plan in place to ensure that the business is kept running. ”
What is the Nanet Strategy?
One of the things we have been trying to do over the years is to ensure that every hotel under our management has an entertainment aspect. We have successfully done this over the last ten years at the NAF club in Kaduna, where entertainment is a deliberate component of the hotel. At the Nanet Hotel in Abuja, we have the Nollywood lounge which is a melting pot for the Nigeria movie industry. In there, is a history gallery of the movie industry - actors and those that distribute the movies and promote the industry.
What can you say about the hospitality and tourism business in Nigeria considering the fact that you’ve been in it for a while?
There are challenges, and one of them is manpower, and to solve that manpower problem we hope in the near future to start a Hospitality & Tourism Training Centre. Another challenge is lack of constant electricity supply. The situation affects us adversely, such that, most times, we rely mostly on generators to power our hotels; and even when we are not at full occupancy, we must provide power. This is one area we hope government is able to resolve.
Sourcing finance is a problem as well. Our loans are short term, with double digit interest rates; making it an almost impossible situation for lenders. For the hotel industry short term is five years, medium is ten years, and then long term about fifteen to twenty years, so why can’t I go to the bank and request for a loan that can be paid back over twenty years? Not in Nigeria! Here we borrow money at very ridiculous rates and they want us to pay back in two years
Amidst these challenges were there times that you felt like backing out?
Yes, the times had to do with the critical issue of finance. You feel like you are in the wrong business.
What management policies have you put in place to ensure that Nanet is where it is today?
We have ensured a great deal of administrative efficiency. Building the organization devoid of tribalism, religious intolerance and all those other factors, we try to be as open as possible. We have created a working environment that trains the staff, gives them some security, and instils passion for the growth of the organization.
As much as possible, most of the things that cripple small organisations have been taken care of; issues like victimization and sexual harassment, and we have committees in place to ensure that discipline is enforced.
Our economy just has to be suitable for investments. Attracting foreign investment is not just about just giving incentives; it is about creating an investment friendly environment, and only government can put this in motion. If they can give us the foundation, I am very certain that we have enough entrepreneurs who will take advantage of all the opportunities.
Ini is a philanthropist, he loves motor racing, motor biking and traveling. He is married with 3 children.
Get The Street Hawker App Experience.