Simba Group, Nigeria: Strategy Written in Pencil, Values Engraved in Stone

Head of Strategy: Kunal Grover

Head of Strategy: Kunal Grover Simba is present in several sectors that are key to Nigeria’s development. Can you tell us about the group’s journey to this point?
Kunal Grover: The Simba Group has been operating in Nigeria since 1988. Our flagship company, Wandel International, started its journey with a simple idea: to offer our customers the highest quality products, sourced from around the World but customised to their taste, usage conditions and operating environment. The vision has expanded to include products and solutions, with a specific emphasis on service and innovation, but three decades later, this idea still represents our core philosophy. To what to do you owe the success of your businesses across industries?
KG: We place a lot of emphasis on the values established by our founder, Vinay Grover, which serve as guidelines for many of the questions our business leaders face. Operating in a continent of opportunity and challenge, it’s impossible to stick to one strategy. I believe ours is written in pencil, while our values are engraved in stone, and the latter guides our decision-making.

When it comes to selecting international partners, we identify companies which are aligned to our values, and share our vision for innovation, localisation and commitment to investing in after-sales support. We represent TVS Motors, part of the $8bn TVS Group, for assembling, distributing and servicing TVS motorcycles and tricycles in Nigeria. We also represent Mahindra EPC, part of the $20bn Mahindra Group, for agricultural equipment and mechanisation solutions. We partner with Luminous Power Technologies, part of the $25bn Schneider Electric group. What’s important is not their size, but that these companies share our values and are committed to sustainable development in their respective economies. The Simba Group has recently been recognised for socio-economic value-creation in Nigeria. How much of a role does this play in your strategy?
KG: The recognition is truly humbling and serves to reaffirm the importance of what we are doing. Socio-economic value-creation is fundamental to what we do. Our motorcycles and tricycles touch the lives of millions of Nigerians every day — taking them to work, to school, to pray — driving them, and driving the economy in turn. Our inverters and solar solutions bring light into people’s homes, and our agricultural solutions help improve efficiency across the agricultural value-chain, so that that the food they eat is affordable.

Our impact is even more direct in terms of the employment our products create, even beyond our factory walls. The riders of the motorcycles and tricycles earn a daily wage ferrying passengers to-and-fro. Then there are our dealers, microfinance partners and fleet owners who play critical roles in our value chain, and ensure that the vehicles are made available. Tens of thousands of mechanics and spare-parts dealers repair and service the vehicles and ensure that they are back on the road as soon as possible. How do you ensure your products are affordable and accessible by those who stand to benefit most?
KG: At the heart of our vision is a desire to enrich Nigerian lives — and that unambiguously means all Nigerian lives. While we have high-end inverter systems for large homes and offices, we also have solutions such as our Luminous DeLite range, which consists of affordable entry-level inverters and batteries which can deliver four hours of standby power to a small home. This comes at an accessible price point, but with the same level of service we assure across our product range.

We also recognise that some of our products are used in commercial applications, such as our motorcycle and tricycle taxis. Affordability is key, but so is ensuring minimal downtime for the vehicle owners, whose livelihoods depend on our products. Our leadership position in this industry is testament to the creation of an ecosystem consisting of affordable, quality products, backed by a network of service centres, and supported by mechanisms for providing access to finance.

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