Bola Akindele: Corporate strategist per excellence speaks on success story of Courteville
BOLA AKINDELE is a senior executive with over three decades of professional experience spanning audit, banking, e-commerce, entrepreneurship, and technology. He is the Founder and Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solutions, a Nigerian Stock Exchange-listed company in the ICT sector.
Incorporated in 2004 as Courteville Investment Limited, the company went public in 2009. In 2011, it underwent a name change to its current appellation, Courteville Business Solutions. The company is an ISO 9001:2008 certified e-business solutions development company, and the patent owner of the award-winning AutoRegTM Business Solution Platform.
Akindele has captained Courteville Business Solutions Plc since its incorporation in 2005: A very successful e-business solutions development company that is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
His ISO 9001:2008 certified company is focused on process re-engineering in both the private and public sector by providing cutting edge solutions to complex operational challenges, through the development and delivery of unique business solution models, revenue stream improvement and cost management processes.
“We are a 20 million dollar company that has 1, 200 shareholders with an exemplary performance record. We have been profitable every year since 2008 and we have paid dividend to our shareholders for the last 5 consecutive years,” Akindele tells Commerce & Industry in an interview.
He noted that his company has registered tremendous expansion over the last five years and is now show-cased as a model at the Nigeria Stock Exchange.
Courteville is well known as a trusted company with a reputation for adopting fresh thinking in providing and delivering definitive and innovative e-business solutions in its unmatched areas of expertise, ranging from the design and development of customized software and mobile applications, through data capture services, retail business channel delivery services, and dedicated & cloud hosting services as well as tax administration consultancy services.
He also noted; “Courteville’s unique selling proposition is that we apply local ideas using local talents to handle local challenges.” Currently, Courteville has almost 5, 000 processing points across Nigeria, some 200 employees and about 10, 000 others who are engaged indirectly across various states.
The company’s undisputable flagship solution is the AutoReg ™, a business solution tool, through which it has created the largest data capture and process platform in sub-Sahara Africa.
AutoReg is the Automated Vehicle License Registration and Renewal System, and a business solution that has been launched successfully in many states across Nigeria.
The company is also involved in other e-commerce business solutions that include AutoRegLive Webpeople, Egole Shopping Cart, Mobile Application for Reading Materials, SMS Marketing, Students’ Parent-School Education Administration and Monitoring System (P-SEAMS) amongst others.
Fundamentally, Courteville remains the preferred partner for governments, government agencies and companies seeking for business process re-engineering, empirical statistical information and market penetration
But getting here hasn’t been a smooth ride all the way. He contends that he had to circumvent some initial challenges. “One of the main challenges that I faced at the onset was when I had to do business with my friends. Some of them could not distinguish between friendship and business,” he said. Making them pay for services that his new company would offer became a tall order, but he had to overcome this, eventually.
After its successful private placement exercise in the year 2008, Courteville went on to list its shares at the Nigeria Stock Exchange. The Company listed 3 billion ordinary shares at 2.5 Naira per share.
With a presence in 20 states in Nigeria, over 200 franchises and a strong presence in Africa, Courteville is keen to spread its wings in Africa. It is also set to invest $5 million in the next five years in the Caribbean.
Given that the GMD is very impressed by a number of African countries and with a momentum that seems almost impossible to beat, the next stop could just as well be – yes, you guessed right – Kenya and Rwanda.
“If we have to come to East Africa, then Kenya is going to be the place where we must place our regional hub.” And by being a member of the East African Economic Chamber of Commerce, there is every indication that Courteville is keen on this regional market.
To Akindele, regional integration is very key in the future of Africa’s prosperity. But then again, he believes that just being in such a trade block like the East African Community is not the only thing.
“We are too few and too small to make an impact even when we come together as small regions within the continent. We must embrace the bigger continent of Africa in order to really prosper,” he argued.
With a population of 1,032,532,974 (2011) Akindele noted that Africans should really take advantage of this huge market.
“Look at the European Union, despite their challenges, they are still growing, they are still sticking together.” This is certainly a lesson that the African continent should take in.
Akindele believes that it is the high time that Africa reviewed its post-colonial mentality. He bemoans; “It is still very hard for the Francophone countries to do business seamlessly with the Anglophone countries, yet we are one Africa.”
Bottom line, one thing stands out as tall as the magnificent Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, Bola Akindele, is one of Africa’s finest sons!
Bola holds a B.Agric in Animal Science from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He earned a master’s degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Lagos. He has been conferred as a Fellow of both the Institute Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation. His other professional affiliations include longstanding memberships of the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and Institute of Directors (IoD). In recognition of his pioneering leadership role in online learning in Africa, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Ravensbourne, a university-sector institution in the United Kingdom.
In extension of his civic commitments, Bola sits on the Advisory Board of the Enterprise and Parliamentary Dialogue International (EPDI), a UK-registered independent, not-for-profit body set up to establish a transparent bridge of understanding between parliamentarians and enterprise. He has the distinction of being the only African on EPDI’s Advisory Board. He also sits on the Board of Advisors of the East Africa Business Network (EABN). In that capacity, he enjoys the honour of being the only person of non-East African origin to occupy that position.
On the scene of global business executives, he is an active member of the World Business Forum (WEF), Africa CEO Forum and the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF). Bola began his professional career in 1987 as an audit intern at KPMG Peat Marwick, Ani Ogunde & Co. In 1989, he joined the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where he rose to become a Treasurer/Financial Controller of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS). He served as a Bank Examiner at different times.
In 1993, Bola was headhunted by Oceanic Bank Limited. During his career at Oceanic Bank he held the positions of Head of Operations, Chief Inspector, and Head of Credit Administration & Loan Recovery at various times. In 2000, Bola resumed at Fountain Trust Bank Plc. as the Group Head of Lagos Island Business Group. Later, he was appointed as the Group Head, Commercial Banking. He left the services of Fountain Trust as the Divisional Head of Markets. In 2004, after twenty years of creditably acquitting himself with increasing responsibilities in different organizations, Bola decided to venture out on his own to build an institution that would make its mark for innovation, service, and the value of its franchise. In the same year, he opened Courteville Investment Limited to offer corporate finance services and business process reengineering consulting to organizations.
Bola has attended courses in Financial Services, Human Resources Management and Logistics, Risk Management and Bank Fraud Control & Prevention, Information Technology Systems Audit, Strategic Customer Service Management and Treasury Management at leading institutions in Nigeria and overseas.
Bola recently completed his doctorate program in Business Administration at the International School of Management, Paris (ISM). He is an alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School, London Business School, and INSEAD, Fontainebleau. Under Bola’s leadership, Courteville Business Solutions Plc. has grown its profit every year since it began operations in 2004. It has been recognized by the Nigerian Stock Exchange for its consistent punctual filing of returns.
In the area of corporate citizenship, the company has received commendation for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.