As the year 2015 dwindles away, one would say it has been very eventful and fulfilling for Akagera Business Group (ABG). The Group continued posting strong growth trends this year while introducing new product divisions and latest of the diverse products they already have.
Last month HOPE MAGAZINE sat down with the Group’s Head of Marketing, MR. ROOPAK GORAJIA to get an insight of the dynamics of the market and operations for ABG. Below are the excerpts;
QN: As the year 2015 is winding down, may you briefly tell us how it has been in relation to your business landscape?
ANS:The year 2015 has been progressively rewarding, allowing ABG to implement and achieve most of its desired targets. We brought in two new divisions; Akagera Security & Safety Systems which is a one stop shop solution for handling all your security systems like metal detectors, fire alarms, safety alarms, GPS tracking, fleet management as well as different security products and services.We also opened a Wines & More outlet through which we bring in wines and liquors from Europe, with such brands as Astoria, Jack Daniel’s, Hennessey, Champagnes, sparkling wines, white wines and red wines whose prices vary from low to high range.
QN: When did you introduce the said new products and services and what has been the level of performance so far?
ANS: I could say that Akagera Security & Safety Systems was introduced in the first quarter of this year while Wines & More was introduced in the second quarter.
For Akagera Security & Safety Systems, the shop is at Muhima, Kigali, where we, as well, have a fully-fledged show room.We are also signing up with more brands like Garmin, HIKvision and other different brands in order to expand our reach.
As for Wines& More, we have an outlet in Kacyiru. We also supplyto different hotels, supermarkets and retail outlets.
It’s relatively early to say how the two business lines are performing, but we are confident that they are definitely going to grow.
QN: So apart from those two sub-businesses you have introduced, are there any other newproducts and services you have brought for your clients this year?
ANS: Yes, we alwaystry to bring something new and better for our clients. This year, in Akagera Electronics, we introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Edge from the Samsung brand. We also have new electronic brands we are now selling like Huawei, Alcatel, Beko, and Elekta.
QN: So what is the idea behind all this?
ANS: The idea of putting more brands into the market is to pretty much satisfy the whole market range, from low, middle to upper classes so that all our customers are catered for.
QN: How would you say you are contributing to better penetration levels of mobile phones in Rwanda?
ANS: For mobile phones, it’s a competitive market; there are many players in the market, we have many dealers out there as well. We are doing well, it’s a volume business because our margins are very low, so we push affordable pricing to as many people as we possibly can
QN: Did you introduce any new LED or LCD screens this year?
ANS: We introduced 4 large LED screens at the airport, which we believe travelers would enjoy watching. One is placed at the departure waiting area, another at the departure gate when you are about to board your flight, the other at immigration counter, and the fourth one at the baggage claim area.
We also installed massive LED video walls at the parkingarea. We want to approach all the companies in Rwanda to advertise their products and services on these screens because they have good viewership. It’s one of the new businesses we are bringing in to move forward with the ICT growth in Rwanda.
QN: That’s impressive.So looking at it from a wholesome perspective in terms of providing that variety of products, what drives you to introduce them to the market?
ANS: Our mission at ABG has always been to provide the best quality products, with the newest technology and innovations worldwide. We always strive to bring them to Rwanda while providing reliable and quality customer service. So whenever we find an opportunity to bring in a product that the market demands, we will always go into that business. We find out if there is room for entry for a good product in the market that the consumers will appreciate, if so, we bring it in.
QN: What efforts and resources have you expended in building good values of customer care and meeting customer satisfaction?
ANS: Customer care is a very salient practice throughout our Group. We have many dealers we supply to that are either based upcountry or in Kigali or in supermarkets like Nakumatt, Simba, Sawa Citi, that carry all our product lines.
The product lines range from electronics, vehicle accessories, and alcoholic goods to paint supplies. We offer all our products in every province and town. Rest assured that any town you go to, you will find our brands. This has a lot to do with service and making the products easily accessible for our clients. Furthermore, the products are of good quality, reputable brands and we have our service centers through which we supply to all our customers and give warranty on our products.
QN: Let’s look at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); how have you given back to communities with which you have worked over the years?
ANS: Yes, we give back to the common good of communities. The biggest project that we have supported was the deployment of a solar-powered container in Musanze. We gave all students’ laptops and teachers an electronic board panel where they are able to conducttheir lessons and control the screens of the children’s laptops. So, through solar energy, which is sustainable, this enhances learning, bringing technology into learning areas where electricity and Internet are not available.
QN: Any plans for 2016?
ANS: Plans for 2016 are to refine and strategize in making our credit facilities stronger and better in the market. We are not looking to expand into more divisions at the moment but consolidating our footprint. We are also directing our efforts on our real estate developments, which are Amarembo City Center, Kicukiro Green Solar Towers and Rebero Solar Village.
Amarembo City Center is to be built across UTC, where the Akagera Motors used to be. It’s going to be a three tower building of mix use – retail, office and residential to be completed in 4 years.
The Rebero Solar Village will be comprised of self-sustaining solar powered housing, while the Kicukiro Green Solar Towers will also be solar powered apartments.