Since its inception in 2005, Profica has continued to expand its operational footprint across the African Continent.
Profica is on the ground in West, East and Southern Africa, offering property and construction consulting services including Project Management, Tenant Coordination, Development Management and Construction Management.
Profica committed to Nigeria almost 5 years ago. Having successfully managed projects in Rwanda, Angola, The United Kingdom and South Africa, Country Manager Malcolm Matanda and his colleagues realised the unique opportunities and potential challenges they faced in getting project management off the ground in Nigeria.
At the time of Profica's inception in the Nigerian market, professional project management was still a relatively burgeoning enterprise in the West African country.
Having committed to Nigeria with a dedicated team and office, firstly in Lagos and then by deploying staff on the ground in Port Harcourt and Abuja, the company's Nigeria operation has grown to become a respected industry leader, seeing the sun even in the shadow of the country’s economic downturn.
Investing in Nigeria
Breaking into the project management sphere within Nigeria would not have be done without extensive effort. Many South African companies had already attempted to make their mark in the country, and many failed. This was, Matanda speculates, at least in part as a result of a dismissive, saviour mentality - we are from a more advance economy and we are here to educate you on how it's done. Profica, however, knew to proceed with much more cultural sensitivity than their predecessors had shown and to grow local teams.
‘We came with a more inclusive attitude,’ Matanda says, ‘which was that we were aware of cultural nuances in our dealings. We made sure that we were sensitive to the cultures here. I say cultures, because that’s plural.’
We deliberately sort to hybrid our expertise within the specific context of the local cultures, as well as ensuring that our best in class internationally experienced managers worked with teams of local professionals to build a truly Nigerian business.
Their paid off. Soon, Profica Nigeria was a success. Contextually, Nigeria was enjoying a rising economy up until about a year and a half ago, ‘Nigeria’ was a buzz word amongst international companies looking to expand in Africa, and Profica Nigeria was happy to assist. ‘We were getting a lot of enquiries from international property funds and the like that were looking to enter Nigeria,’ Matanda says. ‘many believed that if you’re not in Nigeria then you’re not expanding.’
But as foreign exchange challenges arose, the international interest in Nigeria dried up seemingly overnight. For Profica Nigeria, this was an opportunity to adjust their business model. ‘Luckily for us, that made a decision early on that we weren’t just going to fashion our business to cater to international clients alone.
‘Even while the boom was happening, we made a deliberate decision to spread our portfolio to be both international and local.’ This proved an intelligent move, so that when economic difficulties eventually did present themselves, Profica Nigeria still saw funds from local investors. In the darkest moments of the economic crisis, ‘The local business kind of sustained us to a greater extent.’
Overcoming a stuttering market
In recent years, Nigeria’s oil and gas crisis has rocked what has historically been one of the country’s most profitable sectors. The fall in oil prices and challenges in obtaining foreign exchange, has created a situation where Profica Nigeria has seen their clients downsizing or shelving projects entirely, at least until the market re-stabilises. Though not an easy obstacle, the company has managed to soften the blow by diversifying their business.
‘As well as commercial office buildings, shopping malls and hotels, we’re also trying to diversify a bit more into other things, including road infrastructure construction projects, logistics and the Healthcare sector where Profica has global expertise. We believe in seeing the opportunity through the crisis.’ in spite of everything, Profica Nigeria has still managed to maintain its strength.
Matanda also doesn’t hesitate to admit that at least some of Profica Nigeria’s sustainability and maintenance of their network of clients has to do with being in the right place at the right time. ‘What has held us in this leaner time is that, in terms of partners, we made sure we were dealing with the top players of the sector in terms of partnerships with the right consultants, with the right clients. Part of their core function is to create development products, and if they stop doing that, then they’re stopping business. They’re not individuals looking to do a one-off project. These are the guys who are still around in this financial stress.’
Summer on the horizon
With oil prices slowly on the rise, Nigeria looks set to flourish again, and Profica Nigeria is looking towards a similarly bright future.
The company recently completed Owerri Mall, one of four shopping centres the company has worked on in Nigeria. Owerri is an upscale retail pavilion located within Nigeria that holds the potential to expand. The development created some 2,000 jobs for locals, bolstering the community and is contributing towards getting the country back on its feet, one project at a time. ‘It’s something anybody in this industry would be proud of, that our work has that residual impact.’
As the market ebbs and flows, Matanda likens Profica Nigeria’s continual success and efforts to maintain a steady influx of business to the changing of the four seasons. ‘The hard work we did during the summer period held us in good stead during the winter period. But effectively, once we move forward and hopefully spring comes, then back into summer, we will be looking to grow further.’ With Profica Nigeria’s track record, this next step seems incredibly achievable.