Victor Agbugba is the Chief Executive Officer of Afribarn Limited, a start-up that encompasses the best products made in Africa and sold to the global community. In this interview with PAUL OGBUOKIRI, he discusses the second subsidiary of the company, Afribarn Auto Parts launched last week. Excerpts…
What is Afribarn all about?
First the name was derived form Africa and barn. A barn is a place where you store your best farm produce and as such, Afribarn is a start-up company that encompasses the best products that are made in Africa and sold to the global community. We have an e-commerce marketplace website, www.afribarn.com, and an IOS and android mobile app that allows local vendors and manufacturers to be able sell and transact with the global community with ease of shipping logistics and secure payment systems. This July, we launched our second business subsidiary, Afribarn Auto Parts. Just like the marketplace provides the best product from Nigeria and Africa, Afribarn Auto parts utilizes its relationship with the United States to provide the best auto parts at an affordable price to Nigerians. Nigerians can now enjoy the satisfaction and guarantee from using Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part and genuine new auto parts as replacement parts for their auto mobile.
Who is Victor Agbugba and what is your relationship with Afribarn?
Un-regrettably, I am a Nigerian; born and raised in Lagos, spent two years in Abuja before I went to study in the United States. I received my Bachelors and Masters degree in Electrical Engineering after which I was opportune to work as a Product Development Engineer and a software Engineer in my final two years of a six years career at Intel. During my final two years at Intel, two of my friends, Ikechukwu Nwosu and Ofure Ukpebor Okoronkwo and I co-founded Afribarn. I also happen to be the Chief Executive Officer.
Let’s talk about, Afribarn Auto Parts! Where does it source the auto spare-parts it sells in Nigeria and why?
Our products are sourced from the U.S. and are of the highest quality. This is because the quality of auto parts that gets imported into the U.S. are top notch to none.
Why should a motorist buy from Afribarn?
When you buy from Afribarn Auto Parts, be well assured you are buying the best; the same quality and OEM parts that came with the car. We offer 100 per cent guarantee and warranty depending on the product. You do not have to worry about fake, ‘belgium’ or ‘tokunbo’ parts. No need for you to bring your old parts and search around the whole spare parts market with stress and most times when you find one that fits, the used ones does not last and the new ones are fake. With Afribarn Auto Parts, we just need the name, model, and year of the car to locate the part you need. We can also locate the parts you need with the VIN of your car or part number.
Where can a customer in Lagos locate you?
At the moment, we are located at Abuja and our contact is Primus Mall, Suite A9
Plot 2, 1st Avenue. Gwarimpa Estate II, Abuja FCT.
What of customers outside Lagos?
We ship to Lagos and nationwide.
Why did Afribarn delve into this line of business and what difference does it intends to make?
While in college at the U.S., whenever my parents visit me from Nigeria, my Dad usually buys lot of auto parts when returning. When I also visit Nigeria, I usually buy some for him and my friends. That prompted my team and I to do more market research into the auto parts industry and we discovered that there are so many fakes in Nigeria. For instance, the assumed best brake pad in Nigeria can take you back and forth in a 16 hours journey from the North or West to the East or south and after that, the brake pads are worn and you have no choice than to replace them if you like your safety and don’t want to destroy your disk rotor. We came to the conclusion that most Nigerians don’t mind paying a little more for quality and durable spare parts.
What future plans does Afribarn has as regards manufacturing of Original Spare-parts in the country?
I am a strong believer of Nigeria, Africa and its future. I hope that Afribarn will one day manufacture some of these auto parts. We have the natural and human resources to do so and eventually be a major supplier and exporter to foreign countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, etc at a cheaper rate compared to China. At the moment, China is the number one producer of auto parts in the world; Japan is there too but no African country. I believe we can do better and improve this sector globally. The benefits which includes but not limited to economic, social, infrastructure and the availability of authentic auto parts it will provide for Nigeria is undeniable.
What is the future of the Nigerian auto industry like?
I hate to say this but we are limiting ourselves. Nigeria is so blessed not to be a major global leader in any sector aside from crude oil that we chose to be involved in. We have perfect industrial weather all year round. The likes of Innoson Motors and home gown manufacturers should be encouraged and aided to produce high quality products to meet international standard; China did that and they are a global force now.
The Nigerian auto industry is pretty large but we are mostly consuming from foreign countries and not giving anything back globally. A collection of different Nigerian companies manufacturing these products will not only improve the auto industry but it will increase the standard of living in Nigeria. Who says Toyota cannot ask Nigerian companies to supply them fuel pumps, tires, disk rotors etc.? I believe it is possible. It is true the government can help but we have a lot of wealthy individuals that can get the ball rolling.