Professional groups which require expansion may need to adopt the estate valuers’ strategy of raising extra income through the establishment of a venture
Professional bodies by their nature are conglomerations of highly-trained and skilled individuals in particular fields of endeavour. Such organizations are meant to coordinate the activities of their members and seek their further professional development.
By their organizational set-up, professional bodies are not charity organizations buy at the same time they cannot be called profit-making ventures in the strictest sense of it.
They get the bulk of their funding from members’ subscription and supplement this with publications of educational materials for the use of members and students, while some get rental income from the development of their head office complexes. But a great majority of them are still grappling daily with the basics of existential.
However, a professional group is taking its destiny in its own hands by looking into various avenues of generating extra income to run its programmes without imposing extra burden on members.
The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers a couple of years ago came up with a number of initiatives aimed at swelling its purse.
It incorporated the NIESV Ventures as its business arm to concentrate solely on commercial activities and followed up on that with the establishment of a Research Foundation to study various aspects of the profession and topical issues, and provide a database for the built environment as well as generate vital data on key indices, including land tenure and management, mortgages and other relevant issues for use by governments, professional bodies, market analysts and other stakeholders.
The NIESV Research Foundation was to carry out its task using institutions of higher learning, which were to be funded to carry out research on specific topics.
While the NIESV Venture has taken off and is already operating, the foundation is still bedeviled by some teething problems.
President of the institution at the time, Chief Dosu Fatokun, gave the credit for the establishment of the NIESV Ventures to the Executive Council.
He said, “The former President, Chief Charles Adebiyi, must be commended for initiating the idea. And the idea is to improve the financial position of the institution and provide the avenue for expansion. Adding that, “As to the share capital, about N5million was set aside for the take-off of the venture.
“On what we are doing at the new firm, first, we want to start with the little things that members require, like the press unit. As professionals, we expect them to be wearing badges of NIESV, T-shirts, and annual calendars with diaries. We believe that we can do this at a cheaper cost, not only for our organizations but for sister professional groups too. As time goes on, we want to go into the development of estate, either for members or for sale. So we have short, long and medium term plans for the development of the venture”.
The firm’s decision-making process rests with the Board of Directors with the current President of the institution as the Board Chairman. A full-time General Manager leads the management staff to execute board decisions.
On the current level of activities at the company is quite encouraging. The share-holders are the members of the profession. They have to capitalize the operational expenses. So they really do not expect much profit yet. At one of the earliest AGM, the company returned a loss and that is expected for a very young company, but definitely, hoping that at the next AGM, they expect to make profit.
From a start-up capital of N5million, the company’s share-holders fund, according to the NIESV President, should have doubled by now.
To cut the costs associated with setting up a new business, NIESV Ventures started operating from the institution’s former National Secretariat in Lagos, which is now a liaison office after the relocation of the head office to Abuja. Though arrangements are on to get another office for the firm on the mainland in the medium term. But the long-term plan is to move to a section of the institution’s Lagos State Branch Secretariat at the Ikeja Central Business District which then was under construction.
The past President of NIESV said that he institution decided to embark on the venture because of its increasing financial needs ant its numerous programmes like establishing libraries in schools, giving books and scholarships to students, having exchange programmes with other parts of the world and building houses as well as engaging in management consultancy services.
He advised similar professional bodies struggling with inadequate finances not to unnecessarily raise members’ subscription fees but to be creative and think of alternative means of generating income.