By Amin Kef Sesay
NP Sierra Leone Limited (NP-SL Ltd) is currently a very reliable source of drawing inspiration by indigenes that have big dreams of coming together to establish a company which they may want to see grow exponentially into becoming a towering business entity. Without any gainsaying, there are many useful lessons that aspiring entrepreneurs could learn from NP-SL which would definitely serve as a roadmap to navigate through the business landscape in order to crystallize their dreams into reality.
The company was founded decades ago by thirty-five Sierra Leoneans who were erstwhile employees of the British Petroleum Company which decided to fold up and sell its shares to the Government of Sierra Leone. Based on technical advice, the Government also decided to sell its shares and the 35 former workers bought those shares to set up what became known as the National Petroleum-SL Ltd. It must be highlighted at this juncture that the company is a private-owned business entity and the Government has no hands in it, does not decide how it is operated and grappling with challenges.
One of the underlying factors that have been noted for the meteoric rise of the company could be attributed to the selflessness of its shareholders. These ambitious Sierra Leoneans were so dedicated to the cause of catapulting their “baby” to higher height to such an extent that they put all their best initiatives into play that culminated into the company becoming a formidable force to reckon with.
These fine business initiatives were well implemented to the letter which led to the realization of fruitful dividends. Selflessness, in this context, could mean putting aside ego, working with a collective sense of purpose, brushing aside deceit, greed and ready to give as well as take. This could be the first Lesson.
The next lesson borders around enhancing customer care with the avowed objective of giving optimum satisfaction. The Shareholders and various Management teams harnessed this so well to an extent that they have succeeded in broadening their customer base. As far as they are concerned it is the interests of customers which are paramount and therefore everything must be done to ensure that those interests are given due consideration whenever decisions are taken to push the company forward.
It is in this regard that the shareholders decided to go in for modern calibrated pumping machines which are capable of churning out the right quantity of fuel that a buyer puts in for as well as displaying the price. These machines make fuel transactions become very transparent, thereby giving customers satisfaction and confidence that they are deriving their monies worth.
Within that realm, the Shareholders also thought it prudent to introduce NP Smart Card which is now in vogue. This Smart Card can be used to purchase fuel, petrol and diesel, with ease avoiding the hassle of having to be rushing to the banks to re intermittently withdrawing monies for the purpose of purchasing fuel. The card could be credited with a certain amount of money and whenever transaction transpires the amount utilized is debited. Its greatest advantage is that it avails the holder of the Smart Card the opportunity to programme or budget him or herself to purchase fuel on a periodic basis.
NP Gas is now going like hot cakes on the market. It is a cooker which has been proven to be very effective in terms of performance. Manufactured in different cylinder sizes it has been attested to be environmentally friendly in terms of less gaseous emissions that could pose health risks. NP Gas can be secured at all the leading Filing Stations of the company and its authorized dealers.
With all these attractive offers, there is a lesson that enhancing customer care, is very key to the growth of any business enterprise. Aspiring entrepreneurs could learn from this.
What also has been identified as a good business initiative which the company has mastered so effectively has to do with promoting the country’s Local Content Policy. The intent of this policy is geared towards ensuring that we make proper use of our local resources, human as well as material, in the production chain. It is against such a backdrop that the company limits employment opportunities to qualified Sierra Leoneans instead of bringing over expatriates to perform tasks that could be better done by indigenes. Knowing that they are employed by an indigenous company such gives the employees the sense of ownership and the extra motivation to give their best to the company.
Another Lesson: Make use of local resources which could be cost effective instead of spending much to use expatriates just for the sake of showing off. Besides, monies, in the forms of salaries and end of service benefits are retained and not taken out of the country. It gives any company operating with such a policy a nationalistic flavour.
To give back to society, in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility, brings with it respectability and integrity. It is very important to be in a position to always assist residents in communities where a business entity operates or to the country as a whole.
From all what have been said so far, it could be seen that NP-SL Ltd has valuable lessons which aspiring entrepreneurs could imbibe and infuse in their activities if fruitful dividends must be realized. Indeed, NP-SL Ltd is really a source of inspiration and a reservoir of good business initiatives.