Raymond Onovwigun is founder and CEO at Romco Group, which trades and processes non-ferrous metal. Founded in 2015, it now employs over 180 people in Nigeria, over 50 in Ghana, and another 15 in the UK and is on track to have revenues of £40m by the end of this year. Ray has a fascinating journey that has taken him from South London, to founding a successful plumbing business while still at university to his current quest to help to close the sustainability gap in Africa.
Our conversation starts with his Nigerian heritage, how he learned the meaning of hard work through following his mother around in her cleaning business in London, what interested in him in plumbing and how he perceived a business opportunity. This was his gateway into waste management as he saw the massive amount of waste in the business and that there were means to solve this problem sustainably.
He saw the opportunity to recycle scrap metal in Nigeria on a trip there and his business started on a small patch of land behind a gas station belonging to his aunt. The start was slow, and we hear how plans were briefly derailed by a near fatal bout of typhoid and malaria. This setback motivated him to raise capital in London in order to properly build out the business, which he did starting from that small patch of land and ultimately expanding it.
We start about how he built this business through winning the trust and support of backers who saw his drive and ultimately who identified with the vision statement. We talk about the importance of having a vision or a charter and set of values that is an anchor as to how a business will be run, and the value system which includes integrity, efficiency, boldness and sustainability.
We move to discuss Africa and why Raymond believes that is it the biggest gap in sustainability infrastructure, and the huge potential that the continent holds in terms recycling. We speak about the lack of capital flowing to African ventures, and how perceptions of the investment opportunity can get distorted.
We ultimately talk about why this business marries each of the E the S and the G – the environmental impact of a sustainable recycling business, with the Social impact of the employment created and the business provided to a generation of African entrepreneurs and the Governance impact of a business that is values driven.
This podcast series is brought to you with the kind support of:
Romco Metals, producers of truly green aluminium, copper, and other non-ferrous metals from the African continent, dedicated to decarbonising supply chains across the globe by recycling our way to a sustainable future. Romco: Invest, Reduce, & Grow; and
Mbuyu Capital Partners, an investment company focusing exclusively on Africa, managing portfolios of funds and direct investments for institutional clients and impact investors.