Published On: Wed, Nov 30th, 2016

Dazzle carpentry has trained over 300 carpenters- Says founder

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founder-of-dazzle-furniture-and-carpentry-oji-chukwuemeka-donojiFounder of Dazzle furniture and carpentry, Oji Chukwuemeka Donoji, in this interview with Tobias Lengnan Dapam and Mashe Umaru Gwamna said Dazzle has trained over 300 carpenters in the country and empowered young people. He also spoke on other sundry issues confronting the industry in Nigeria. Excerpts:

Sir, tell us bout Dazzle furniture and Dazzle carpentry?
Dazzle furniture Ltd is a manufacturing company based here in Abuja; with  our factory situated  in the city centre where we do our furniture manufacturing.
It is also an indigenous company where we produce affordable goods and services to corperate as well as individuals across Nigeria, while we also look forward to export our services international.
Dazzle furniture Ltd specialises in quality  product, for residential apartments and commercials.
We work with our unique team of architects who do the drawings – they are full of experience in all that we are doing.
Dazzle furniture started in 2009 and incorporated fully as a liability company in 2011, we  are fully in to furniture manufacturing.
With that, it gave birth to a child called Dazzle Training Limited (is a training school where we do Dazzle carpentry by training people to be carpenters.
Our major vision is to change the ideology of people towards carpentry and shape their opinion to view it as a good business in Nigeria.
Also, our school is making a generation of better carpenters, to enable them analyse details of their work, draw the way architects do. That’s the kind of attitude a new generation carpenters should have.
We have been training for a long time but not properly done or organised because we are training them and paying them at the same time.
But presently, we are training students on scholarship. We recently gave scholarships to 20 students. The idea is to make those 20 persons to be the image of our pilot  programme.
Dazzle Training Carpentary school has highly qualified professionals and non -professionals working together.
Most of them are not just schooling but  they came to the school  out of passion and seriousness of achieving their goals and dreams.
If Dazzle training school has huge funds we could have offered more scholarships opportunities but the sponsorship came solely from Dazzle furniture Ltd for our pilot project and no assistance from anywhere.
What would you say about the Carpentry industry in Nigeria ?
Carpentry in Nigeria is actually a huge industry. If we look at the numbers of imported furniture in Nigeria, you will discover that we are not doing much. If we start enhancing carpentry in Nigeria, I don’t think we will import carpentry furniture again. Presently, many people come to Nigeria to do carpentry.‎ They see that Nigeria has a virgin market.
The industry has not done 50% of what it is supposed to do in this country. So, the more we produce new  generations of carpenters the better for us to create the product and also create the services.
What do you think the Nigerian Carpentry  Industry needs?
Fristly, the Nigeria Carpentry industry needs professionals. It needs graduates and professionals in the Carpentry Industry and the Furniture Manufacturing industry. When we have professionals, it means our project in Nigeria will be handled by professionals.‎ The problem we have in Nigeria is that we award contracts to unprofessionals to execute.
For instance,  you will see someone who  is in to road contracts handling contracts for  Carpentry  jobs and that’s why most of them don’t deliver. This industry doesn’t need that and doesn’t need quacks as well.
Secondly, we need to have an organised association. If the Carpentry industry has a regulatory body in Nigeria, if a project is not properly executed, you will known who to fall back to.
‎Engineers have a regulatory body, COREN, builders have NOIB and BACSAAN for Artisans. The Carpentry is in need of that urgently.
Thirdly, Government should support Carpentry to give it a boost and life.
The federal government should also look at stopping or banning the  importation of furniture  to encourage local production.
The  government should empower the Carpenters to create jobs for the unemployed in Nigeria. Government at all level should patronise indigenous products to boost local production.
Also, well meaning Nigerians including Senators and members of the House of Representatives can empower youths from their constituency. At Dazzle we are open to all forms of partnership that can help develop the country and take the youths off the street.
If the government partners with us even after the training, they can give those carpenters job opportunities to execute.
How many people have you trained so far and what is your staff strength ?

So far we have trained over 300 persons and we have another 20 on scholarship and they will graduate by 17th of December, this year. Our current staff strength is 40 permanent staff. We also have contract staff and casual workers.

Considering your passion in helping young Nigerians, what would you like the government to do for your company?
Well, if the government will help us to sponsor this programme, we don’t need to take school fees or ask people to pay. That means every three months we will train people by admitting them free of charge. If we continue to take care of this programme alone it will be too much for us but if the government can partner with us, through some of its agencies like SMEDAN, ITF and other government relevant agencies, it will help boost our stand.
Government can   also sponsor us by giving us monetary support to be training certain number of persons, 1000 persons in one year or 6 months depending on the duration they want. The government can decide to say individuals or persons that want to do carpentry to go to Dazzle carpentry training limited.
Our programme is 30% classwork, 70% factory work which is working experience.
We also take them to sides to see what is going on and also give them room to venture in Nigeria by taking them to various programme, events to see how they can do their business.
We also want to create a bank of Alumni. If a person graduates from Dazzle carpentry limited, we can help them access opportunity elsewhere or employ them in our company when the need arises.
You have foreigners in your company. How were you able to get them and how are you able to maintain them?
We have partnership in Turkey where we do our business as Dazzle Company limited. Most of our business comes from Europe, Turkey is a nice location, it falls between Asia and Europe. In Turkey you can access whatever you want from other parts of the world.‎ This is a global village and the internet provides anything we want. If you have internet you can access any one you want to bring. If you bring anyone to Nigeria is not for them to work and leave, but is to keep them. The idea we give them is to train our people so that by the time they leave, we can have Nigerians who can do that same service which they brought. It is not easy to maintain them. They are expensive because we pay them in dollars and some came in to sell their products for us and set machine and go.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
Now I am seeing myself as a serial entrepreneur and this will not stop me from doing my architectural project. We also have an architecture firm which is different from Dazzle furniture. I want to be a serial entrepreneur and not just to sit on board but hand over to someone to run. I am impacting in to the lives of many so that one day I will have somebody who will be able to run the project for me. All this business I have set up, they should be running auto run, I must not be there for the business to survive. I want to look back and see my staff, trainees doing well and running the business activities day to day.
One thing I want to achieve in all my businesses is auto run and if they are on auto run then am free to do all I want without thinking whether the business will survive without me or not.
At the weekend I received and award for my creativity from the Governor of Kano state. My dream is to continue to grow and do more things in the country.
What’s your message to Nigeria youth who are admiring the carpentry industry?
The simple word is determination and focus- then you can talk about passion and creativity. If you focus on the job, sky can never be your limit but you can go beyond the sky. In the carpentry business, you don’t just wake up and say you want to come out big. Start as small as you can with that word focus. Carpentry is very vast, it will take you from kitchen cabinet, furnishing homes, furnishing industry, going to building shops, beauty houses, designing clubs, and others. Focus should always be the watch word.

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