By NBF News
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Funke Nwankwo
Mrs Funke Nwankwo, the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Quest Publicis Advertising, says the economy may grind to a halt except the Federal Government improvised the implementation of various reform programs, as a big boost to growth and development.

In this interview with Daily Sun, the marketing communication strategist lamented that government has failed to adopt the right reform approaches that could resuscitate the economy, rather it has continued to operate a one sided system that has restrained economic growth.

According to her, the nation has failed to experience any positive growth in its economy because of the mono-economic system of over dependence on oil, and this provides less than 25 per cent of the GDP, despite providing 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and 65 per cent of government revenues.

She also spoke on banks' roles in assisting small-scale businesses to contribute to economic growth, how well advertising agencies have contributed and the differences and recognition created by Quest Publicis Advertising to the growth of the economy, AAAN membership, challenges facing marketing communications and doing business in Nigeria.

My name is Funke Nwankwo, I attended Ajayi International School, Victoria Island, after which I moved to Aunty Ayo Girls' Comprehensive Secondary School, Keffi, Lagos. Later on, I proceeded to the University of Ibadan where I studied Psychology for my first degree. I went back for my Masters degree also in Psychology but I majored in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

I started my career with Insight Communications in 1995, as Account Planning Executive. While I was performing that role, I actually performed the role of Client Service, unknowingly, alongside. With this, my employers quickly moved me to Client Service department, where I managed some key brands in key sectors. In eight years I rose to the position of Account Director at Insight Communications, after which I moved to SO&U-Satchy and Satchy as Associate Director, Client Service.

Then, I managed the team that was in charge of the biggest telecom brand of that time. We also have some other accounts in oil and gas sector, food and several others. After that I left SO&U in 2007 and joined Quest Publicis Advertising as the Chief Operating Officer, after one year I was promoted as the Executive Director.

About Quest Publicis Advertising
We are into marketing communications business, whereby we develop communication strategies for our clients, using some relevant marketing communication tools to position our clients' businesses or brands effectively in the minds of their target audience, so that we can create a mutual beneficiary relationship between our clients' businesses, or brands of the target audience.

Ultimately, what we are looking at is for the target audience to embrace our clients brand or service in the face of competition. Marketing communications is broad. We have advertising, PR, events, direct marketing and others. Inasmuch as we focus keenly on the advertising, but all of these mentioned are inter-related and inter-woven. So, we also offer these to our clients, it depends on the need of the brand in question.

Basically, when I got unto this career, I wouldn't say something in particular attracted me because, after my masters degree, I definitely was searching for employment. However, when I left school, I had opportunity to interact with some guidance and counselors that told us about some relevant courses in the university, and I learnt about my course, Psychology, and some other social sciences.

Talking about how I got attracted, I saw an advert in the paper by Insight Communications and I looked through. They said they were looking for account planners. What got me interested was that they specified that whoever is applying for this job must have a social sciences background. I had to look at the requirements critically and I began to do my research, and that was how I applied for the job and I got it.

Problems affecting economic growth
Basically, being petroleum based economy and hobbled by some political instability/corruption and poor micro-economy. These are the major factors militating against the growth of our economy. Because if you noticed, before democracy was re-instated in 1999, they did not diversify the economy. They only concentrated on the oil sector for revenue generation and this remains a major mistake. It remains a great impediment to the growth of this economy.

Fixing the problems
Improving the economy can be achieved through the introduction of various reform programs. I know between 2003 and 2007, the nation attempted to do an economic reform. That was when National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) was introduced.

What is the aim of NEEDS? It was to raise the standard of living of Nigerian populace through various reforms, either through privatization, diversification of the economy, deregulation, and liberalization and so on. When government did that, they were hoping that they would be able to create new jobs, like about seven million jobs. Actually, it was not quite achieved but I think it is still in process.

Also, the need to re-strategies and take focus off the oil sector and boost the other sectors of the economy, especially the agricultural sector. If the government can focus attention in these reform programs, I think we can have improved economy because the country has solemnly been over dependent on the oil sector and this provided less than 25 per cent of the GDP, despite providing 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and also 65 per cent of government revenues.

We need to focus on other sectors. For example, the subsistent agricultural sector is not meeting up with rapid economic growth. Nigeria is used to be among the key countries known for food exportation. But now, we import some of our food products, which is not supposed to be. We should give other sectors room to grow. We should be able to boost other sectors of the economy, that way I know there will be much improvement in our economy.

Banks assisting young businesses to kick start
Banks should be able to offer support to young businesses in terms of long term loans. But if you know what is obtainable right now because of the reforms, they don't really want to get involved in long term loans. They are only involved in short terms, in order to see how they can recover their money quickly. But this can not work out well to the upcoming businesses.

They need to look at that area to see how they can assist young businesses to grow by offering long term loans. They can also do some other programs like some banks are doing, for instance, like Access Bank organizing a program for young entrepreneurs. They have to present their proposals to the bank that access it to know if it is viable, then they support it. So, more banks should key into this in order to help young businesses.

AAAN membership
Recently, my Agency got inducted as a member-agency at the 37th Annual General Meeting/Congress of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) that took place in Ilorin Kwara State. With this new development; I am sure that this will afford us the opportunity to participate fully in all the association's events including but not limited to LAIF Awards, where we can showcase our good works and hopefully win some awards for them.

This will also most definitely impact positively on our business as we will be able to officially participate in prospective clients pitches. This will as well give us some level of recognition and exposure within our industry. And just to mention that I am currently an ex-officio member of the AAAN executive board.

Creating a competitive edge for your clients
With our marketing communications strategy which is to give our clients the edge, we need to be able to proffer solutions for their brands to grow. We should be able to present initiatives that will give them some robust profile in the market place, so that their consumers will be able to embrace them in the face of competition. At the end of the day, it is going to add to their bottom line.

Definitely, that is what any client and business owner will want to look out for, as it is affecting their bottom line, they are also adding to the growth of the economy. Again, talking about us as marketing communication outfit, we also work with some government regulatory bodies like NAFDAC. So, we ensure that we take all our creative materials to NAFDAC for approval. By so doing, we are also contributing to the development of the economy, to ensure that there is best practice in all areas of our businesses.