Archive for May, 2019

  • Culinary Delights
    Circa Non Pareil

    Circa Non Pareil the unmatched luxury dining experience in Lekki Phase 1

    If you have passed by Admiralty Way lately, you most definitely have noticed a black building close to the Lekki waterside, not too far from the Ikoyi link Bridge. This majestic building that commands attention is Circa Non Pareil, the latest addition to the Lekki restaurant and nightlife scene. Circa Non Pareil is actually very befitting of its name. 

    Circa Non Pareil

    In French the word pareil means ‘the same’, so my expectation for a restaurant called Circa Non Pareil is that there would be no restaurant quite like it, an un matched experience so to speak, and after my dining experience, I have to say the restaurant is befitting of its name. My friend Bukky Karibi Whyte recommended the place to me and I’m glad she did. 

    Circa Non Pareil

     On this occasion, I went to Circa Non Pareil located on 12E Admiralty Way for a dinner with someone who I look up to and admire Uche Uzoebo. She is the Head, Distribution & Engagement at SANEF (Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities).

    Uche Uzoebo – Head, Distribution & Engagement at SANEF (Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities

    Uche is a woman who is truly making a difference in the financial inclusion ecosystem in Nigeria. It is always great catching up with her. 

     From the moment we drove into Circa Non Pareil, I took note of the warm and  professional nature of each member of staff. From the guard at front gate who greeted us, to the hostess who led us to the restaurant section of the building, to the waitress  who took our orders and the ground staff who went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable sitting by the outside terrace as we wanted to watch the sunset. The staff is very well trained and guest experience is key.

    Circa Non Pareil overlooks the beautiful lagoon facing the Lekki- Ikoyi Bridge and the sunsets can be quite breathtaking. Following  the beautiful sun set,  we went back inside and  ordered our meals. The menu at Circa Non-Pareil is exotic, it is exciting and mouth watering to say the least. They have everything from exotic steak cuts, shrimp-based dishes, chicken-based dishes and an array of smaller starters and drink options.

     The menu item that deserves a wow factor award is the N 90,000 24 carat gold plated Tomahawk, served with truffle, mashed potatoes, caramalised asparagus. Although I didn’t order it, out of curioisty I had to inquire about how often the item is ordered, and according to the waitress it is ordered at least once a day. According to research this is the most expensive single menu item in Lagos. The equivalent of  $300 for a one of a kind gold plated tomahawk.

    Circa Non Pareil

    N 90,000 24 carat gold plated Tomahawk, served with truffle, mashed potatoes, caramalised asparagus

     

    The executive chef Hadi Bazan is the mastermind behind the menu and we had the opportunity to talk to him towards the end of our meal. He is clearly passionate about luxury food experiences and I have a strong feeling that customers will keep coming back. His food is absolutely delicious.

    The menu has so many options and after some deliberation, I had the buffalo chicken wings to start and Uche had the snails. The chicken wings tasted just right and had the right amount of buffalo sauce. I am not the biggest fan of snails or escargot as it’s also called, but I actually enjoyed the small bite I had from Uche’s plate.  I decided to have the ribeye steak as my main meal which was very good. It was 500 grams of ribeye cooked to perfection topped with mason butter rosemary and it was served with caramelized asparagus and potatoes wedges. 

    Circa Non Pareil

    Uche had Circa’s tomahawk steak which was served with French fries and salad. She thoroughly enjoyed it. This meal is different from the gold plated tomahawk. Our meals were fresh and they came out on time. The decoration and plating of the food was stellar. Here is what Uche had to say about her meal

    ‘I really enjoyed my time at Circa Non Pareil, the food was delicious, the drinks were tasty and the service was impeccable. The view was spectacular and I will definitely be back’. Uche Uzoebo. 

    Circa Non Pareil is a multidimensional space split up into 3 sections, the indoor dining room which is on the ground floor, a second section that is more of a lounge area and the top floor rooftop which is one of their biggest attractions. 

    Circa Non Pareil

    Circa is right in the heart of Lekki near the link bridge and overlooks the beautiful Lekki waterway. It’s perfect for a birthday celebration, a hang out with friends, a special event or even quiet meal by yourself or with loved ones. It also has perfect backdrops for the most beautiful pictures. You can follow Circa Non Pareil on Instagram @circa_nonpareil 

    I want to thank Mary Kay Obi who is the PR manager at Circa Non Pareil. She graciously assisted me with my reservation. You can follow her on Instagram @mknonpareil. I would also like to thank Dzifa Abequaye who is the customer relations manager, who was ever so gracious and kind to my guests and I and also last but not least Chef Hadi Bazan for the mouth watering dishes. 

    The entire staff at Circa Non Pareil is well trained and professional. I have a feeling I will be back sooner than later.

    Please let me know when you visit Circa Non Pareil and tell me about your experience! 

    Total – N 67,700
    Chicken wings- N5500
    Snails   -N5200
    Calamari strips – N5500
    Rib eye -N19500
    Circa’s tomahawk steak- N32 000
    Rating 
    5 out of 5 stars
    (This review was done by Lehlé Balde for BusinessDay Media)
  • Culinary Delights

    La Taverna: bringing you a taste of Latin American cuisine to Lagos

    La Taverna is a Chilean, Italian and Spanish inspired restaurant located in Victoria Island on a secluded street called Balarabe Musa Crescent.

    La Taverna

     

    Chef Cristian Duhalde Diaz, owner of the restaurant has 23 years of cooking experience across several countries including Italy, Spain, South Africa, and Chile. The restaurant recently celebrated 6 years of operation and in Lagos that is quite a milestone, considering the turnaround of restaurants in the city.

    The name La Taverna means cave in Spanish so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Interestingly enough, when I ask my friends what their favorite restaurant in Lagos is, 4 times out of 10 the answer is La Taverna, therefore I was curious to find out why. The first time I went to La Taverna was with my friend O’tega Ogra, who works at BUA group. Ote considers La Taverna as his favorite restaurant in town, so I was excited to check it out.

    La Taverna

    O’tega Ogra, Group Head at BUA group

    The outside aesthetic of the restaurant is simple, which intrigued me to see what was on the inside. The interior has a very homely feel to it and as soon as I walked in, I understood why so many people I know say it is their favorite place to eat. I’m learning that most diners seek a wonderful, stress-free culinary experience but also want to feel comfortable and at home and that is exactly what La Taverna provides.

    La Taverna has a plethora of menu options ranging from authentic Italian Pizza to all the different kinds of pasta you can imagine: Fettuccine, Alfredo, Penne.. the list goes on. There is also a good variety of meat, seafood and poultry bases dishes. I had a hard time picking what to eat but opted for the chicken Milanese which was very tasty and equally pleasing on the eye. The decoration of my meal was so beautiful, I almost didn’t want to eat it. O’tega opted for the seafood pasta. My first time at La Taverna I found that the service was good, the sous chef made recommendations on what to eat, which I appreciated. We came on a Tuesday which was rather quiet, but perfect for dinner conversation.

    La Taverna

    Interestingly enough, I came back to La Taverna the following week with my friend Chinonso Arubayi, who is a media personality and the founder of Look Art Me which is a cosmetic brand that women around Nigeria are starting to love. I came back because I enjoyed my first experience so much that I wanted to explore what else was on the menu. The food at a Taverna is carefully and tastefully made. Each bite excites ones taste buds and the food is very well marinated with the right amount of spices. Chinonso and I opted for a chicken pizza which in my opinion is the best pizza in Lagos because it it is traditionally made. Too many fast food restaurants have ruined my pizza experiences, as they often sell commercial pizzas that don’t taste good and are overly thick. Here is Chinonso’s take

    I love the ambiance, it’s very cozy and homey. I appreciated the clean creative plating and food presentation. The food tasted as good as it looked. We had continental/Foreign meals which i enjoyed because it tasted continental yet warmly spiced to satisfy my acquired taste for spicy food”.

     

    Chinonso Arubayi, Media Personality and Founder of Look Art Me

    This time, Chef Diaz was around and he took some time to tell us some heartwarming stories about his move to Nigeria 6 years ago and his passion for food and hospitality. He now calls Lagos home and is not going anywhere any time soon. He relocated 6 years ago, opened the restaurant and has fallen in love with Nigeria. It was great to see the passion he exuded as he described the various dishes. The recipes at La Taverna each have a special story, some ingredients are from Chile, some from Italy and others are locally sourced. He kept going to each table to ensure everyone was fine and took time to chat with the guests, which is something I don’t see too often. For some restaurant owners, it’s a business but for Chef Diaz, it’s a lifestyle and it is evident.

    L-R – Chinonso Arubayi, Chef Cristian Duhalde Diaz owner of La Taverna and Lehlé Balde

    La Taverna has both indoor and outdoor seating areas, it is popular amongst both local and expatriate communities and often organizes weekly themed nights. The restaurant’s popular pizza meal deal is on every Wednesday and Sunday. On Thursdays, it’s ladies night at La Taverna! The ambiance is calm yet exciting. The service is good, the servers are efficient and friendly and the food came out in no time. They also have a large variety of drink options for those interested.

    I definitely will be making La Taverna a regular on my list of go-to places and I am glad to have discovered this restaurant. If you get the chance check out La Taverna, let us know about your experience.

    Follow us on Instagram @bdculinarydelights

    Photo credit to Wale Kadiri

    Total for both visits

    Chicken Milanese – N5500
    Seafood Pasta – N5500
    Pizza  –  N4500
    Penne Pasta -N5500
    Calamari Ajillo-  N4000

    N 24 000

    ( This review was done by Lehlé Balde for BusinessDay Media)

  • Culinary Delights

    Maison Kayser a taste of Paris, in Lagos

    Founded by Eric Kayser in Paris in 1996, Maison Kayser is an authentic artisanal French Boulangerie, meaning that bread and other baked goods are mixed and baked on-site all day long.

    Recognized as one of the most talented artisan bakers of his generation, Eric Kayser built his reputation on his passion for bread, the quality of his products and his incredible skill to combine authenticity and innovation in the world of French artisanal bakeries in cities like Paris, London, Dakar and now Lagos. Eric Kayser Lagos opened its doors late last year and was a welcome addition to the budding Lagos restaurant scene. Located in Victoria Island, on Bishop Aboyade, a street in the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Victoria Island, the new bakery/ bistro seems to be the new hot spot for pastry and gourmet lovers around town. Having visited the well-known French bakery/bistro in Dakar and Paris, I was excited to see what the Lagos franchise had to offer.

    Maison Kayser is known around the world for delicious and authentic French pastries and gourmet food. As a Senegalese I appreciate pastries, as it is a part of most people’s daily food back home.

    Maison Kayser

    My typical breakfast is often a croissant and some tea and some baguette with strawberry jam and butter. This is due to French influence during colonisation, and I must say it’s one of the good things they left behind.

    While there are many bakeries/boulangerie’s around town that have attempted to replicate an authentic French croissant, in my croissant hunt around Lagos… most have fallen short. In fact, I have only found two places in Lagos to buy an authentic croissant and Maison Kayser is one of the two places.

    For this edition of Culinary Delights, I visited Maison Kayser with a friend of mine who works in broadcast media. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, so naturally, I was really excited to catch up over delicious food. Upon entry, the vibe at Maison Kayser exudes modernity, bright lights, and is very spacious. The ceilings are large and have a very inviting feel about it. The restaurant is separated into 3 sections, an indoor seating area, a terrace seating area and bar located in the center of the restaurant. To the right of the main entrance, you will see an impressive selection of pastry and bread options as well gelato. As we made our way our waitress brought over the menu. There are so many delicious and healthy options, so I decided to help my friend out and order for the both of us. I decided to have some freshly squeezed orange juice while I decided what we would eat. The menu is Is easy to read and the options are clearly laid out. I find the menu simple, classic and not too busy and the great things is that there is something for everyone.

    After some serious deliberation, I opted for the quiche as my starter which is a savory dish consisting of a pastry crust filled with eggs, milk or cream, and cheese, meat, seafood or vegetables. Quiche can be served hot or cold. It is part of French cuisine but is also popular in other countries.

     

    My guest and I shared the quiche which was very filling. I almost could have left my order at just the quiche but for the purpose of this column I decided to have the Chicken Milanese as my main meal which is crunchy panko bread crumbs, salty parmesan cheese and a tender, juicy chicken breast served with a side of penne pasta. The food tasted very fresh and was equally as easy on the eye. My guest opted for the fillet de poisson which French is grilled fish. My guests’ food looked beautiful and tasted very nice too. I love the effort and detail they put into the food at Maison Kayser. The food is beautifully made and is very picture-worthy. The entire aesthetic of the restaurant makes you want to snap snap snap!

    Maison Kayser

     

    The food came out in a timely manner and the service was excellent. The waitress was courteous and knowledgeable on the various options.

    We also loved the fresh juice options and kept ordering more.

    Maison Kayser is the perfect weekend brunch or lunch spot in Victoria Island, you can come here during the week for a quiet meal by yourself or for a business meeting, or even for a birthday lunch. You can also pop in and order your pastries and gelato to go, specifically for your home parties or events. I often pick up pastries for weekend breakfasts at home.

    At Maison Kayser, the management and staff are visible and hands on, which is what I find makes the place work so well. I definitely recommend Maison Kayser.

    Let me know about your experience, when you visit.

    Follow us on Instagram @bdculinarydelights

    Rating

    4.5 out of 5

    Total 

    Chicken Milanese N4500

    Poisson Grillé N7000

    2 Orange juice N 1800

    Pineapple juice N1800

    N16 900

     

    (This  Review was done by  Lehlé Baldé for BusinessDay Media)

  • Culinary Delights
    Memories of Ethiopia

    Memories of Ethiopia – bringing you a taste of Addis to Lagos

    I would like to start this column by wishing everyone observing the Holy month of Ramadan a fruitful fasting period. Ramadan Mubarak!

    In every cosmopolitan city in the world, you are likely to find an Ethiopian restaurant,from Toronto to New York to Johannesburg, Ethiopian cuisine has been one of Africa’s biggest exports.  I am excited to tell you about a different kind of African cuisine in this edition of Culinary Delights’ cuisine and culinary experience from the corners of East Africa.

    The land of the Amharic language, Ethiopia. Ethiopia is known for many amazing things, the world best long distance runners, Ethiopian airlines, coffee, and food amongst other things.

    Memories of Ethiopia

     

    When I first discovered ‘Memories of Ethiopia’ I was pleasantly surprised that an authentically Ethiopian restaurant could do well in Lagos just  the same way other Ethiopian restaurants are successful in other cosmopolitan cities.  It is encouraging that African cuisine is making its away across various African countries. It’s the true essence of Pan africanism being able to enjoy different aspects of our diverse continent freely. Memories of Ethiopia offers a true culinary and cultural experience and as luck may have it, they are having a popup stand at La Taverna in Victoria Island. Having tasted this culinary experience about 5 times, I wholeheartedly recommend this pop up happening on Sunday, May 12th at 1 pm and 7 pm.

    Memories of Ethiopia

     

    The main dish is called Injera,the most popular dish on the menu, is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture that almost every household in Ethiopia will have every day. Teff flour is the main ingredient of Injera.  Like a sourdough starter, the flour is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days which makes it have a mild sour taste. After the fermentation,it is mixed with wheat and millet and baked into large flat pancakes. Similar to a French crêpe, the Injera is poured onto the baking surface, rather than rolled out.

     

    The bottom surface of the injera, which touches the heating surface, will have a relatively smooth texture, while the top will become porous. This porous structure allows the injera to be a good bread for scooping up sauces and dishes. Injera is best served with various meat sauces or vegetarian sauces.

    While Ethiopian food may be different from most Nigerian dishes, I believe food should be an adventure so I invite you to join me at the Memories of Ethiopia pop up this Sunday at  La Taverna Restaurant in Victoria Island this Sunday, May 12th to truly get a taste of Ethiopian cuisine. You can find the details in the flyer below. See you there!

    Memories of Ethiopia

     

    Contact 

    www.instagram.com/memoriesofethiopia

    (This review was done by Lehlé Baldé for BusinessDay Media)

  • Interviews
    Uzoma Dozie

    An Interview with former Diamond Bank CEO,Uzoma Dozie

    Uzoma Dozie is known as a banker, tech-savvy investor and a gender and financial inclusion advocate. With the recently concluded Diamond and Access Bank merger, many are wondering what’s next for the former Diamond Bank CEO.  In this interview with Lehlé Baldé, he talks about what’s next for his career.

    Excerpts 

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Your father was fondly known as PGD recently turned 80. Happy belated birthday to him. Can you tell us about some of the biggest business lessons you have learned from your father?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : He has a few great phrases and one of them was when he started Diamond Bank. He would say, “This is not a SPRINT, this is a long RACE, so whatever we do, we are trying to make sure it’s sustainable into the future.” It wasn’t about quick profits, it was about building something that would last, so whatever we did, we knew it had to be sustainable.

    The second is about contentment and not being too greedy: regardless of whatever the situation is, you should be confident and comfortable. Being comfortable and being content is a good platform for you to take the next step.

    There was a time we worked together in the same office, I was in financial control and he was the CEO of the company. One day I rushed up into his office and I was complaining about something; and he said to me, “sit down, Uzoma, everything you’ve told me now, I already know, if only you can help me and tell me what the problems are and offer a solution.” That was a learning point for me. Being solution-oriented is something that he really passed on to me, that’s how Diamond Bank started, looking for a solution.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Many were taken aback with the announcement of Diamond Bank and Access Bank merger. Now that the merger process has finally been completed, what are your thoughts on the process and will you be taking up any role in the newly consolidated bank?

    (Uzoma Dozie) :People would be surprised because I would say we were the leading retail bank driving financial inclusion, and new innovation and technology to create a customer experience, and so, people will ask if you are making this statement, then why are you now merging with another bank, is the bank distressed? Is there a problem? I’d like to take people back. Our objective was always to go beyond banking. We are trying to create a platform for our customers to access the market, and when you think of it, with the Diamond Bank and Access Bank merger, we are trying to create access (no pun intended), for our 17 million customers. With this merger, we are giving our customers access to the market in both a local and global sense.  Access Bank has done well in creating and setting-up a footprint in areas following the trade route, so imagine your customer accessing a much wider trade route that extends beyond Nigeria, for export, and also the import of raw materials whether it’s in London, in Asia or Dubai.

    We are following our ‘beyond banking’ ethos and thinking about financial inclusion and how to bridge the gap. It creates a one-stop shop for everyone, as we are still following that same status of going beyond banking, providing access for our customers and prioritizing financial inclusion. Access Bank has existing relationships with Airtel and Diamond Bank has an existing relationship with MTN. These companies are spread across Africa and for us, the dream is being able to connect people not just from city to city but from village to village across the continent.

    Connecting someone from a village in Nigeria to a village in Zambia, for example. Regarding my role, once the merger was successfully completed, I stepped down from my role as CEO.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) :  You mentioned INNOVATION, you are obviously very passionate about TECH. You have a track record for leveraging tech to drive processes and people. Where would you say your passion for tech came from?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Tech is an enabler. Personally, tech helps me connect with people. When I was CEO of Diamond Bank, having the ability to talk to anybody in the organization empowered me; so instead of relying on people, I can actually connect directly and vice versa (people also can connect directly to me), and technology enables that open-door policy which is required for creativity and innovation.

    Why is technology important, especially in Nigeria? There is no other way to include people without technology. Without technology, there is no inclusion; no inclusion for health, social or financial benefit. Before Diamond Bank turned 25, it took us 20 years to acquire 4 million customers in 300 locations, and in the following 5 years, we tripled that number just by using technology.  Nobody came in person into Diamond Bank anymore, and they opened their account online by themselves. We took banking to the marketplace, created new opportunities, and that’s the beauty of technology. People talk about technology taking jobs, but on the contrary, we created new jobs, new opportunities, a new type of banker and we would never have been able to do so without technology. Financial inclusion is about scaling; scaling could even be cost-effective, and the only way to do that is a DIGITAL DRIVEN MOBILE strategy.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Diamond bank was a driver in the Financial Inclusion space when you were CEO, what were the biggest challenges you faced in implementing financial inclusion as a core focus?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : The biggest blockage was people because you have to convince people to change and see where the future is. The mindset we adopted was that we were going to take from our existing capital and invest in financial inclusion because we needed to invest in the future, which is the excluded populations. We came up with a Beta proposition which targeted excluded populations and linked opening accounts an financial literacy for them. We opened about five hundred thousand accounts and we discovered that being financially excluded doesn’t mean you are poor, it just means that institutions have not provided an enabling ecosystem for them to be comfortable, to trust, to be convenient.

    The second is REGULATION, the regulatory system has actually come a long way from the mindset of 5 years ago and we realized that without social inclusion, there is no economic prosperity because you are going to have bottlenecks. We need a new breed of people who will shift the paradigm from leadership to see that we have to take this risk, and the risk isn’t as precarious as it seems if you consider that the banking industry, as we know it, is long gone and it’s highly concentrated in terms of exposure. Less than 500 businesses count for over 80% of the exposure, which is highly concentrated.  We need to diversify and build that capacity of the ecosystem. That’s where I see a lot of bottlenecks because the people that actually adopt technology and change how they do things are actually at the bottom of the pyramid. This is why technology is going to be an enabler in driving financial inclusion because there is no alternative, so when I look at what we did with the Beta proposition, we were just replacing one financial institution with another. One that provided certainty, one that provided more trust and the ability to save and transform lives.

    (Lehlé Baldé) : There’s a growing number of  Fintechs, how do you think  Fintechs will change banking in the next 10 years?

    (Uzoma Dozie) :It’s already changing it, that why we adopted a ‘beyond banking’ philosophy: it is not just about providing banking services, it’s about doing more for the customers. If we were just providing banking services to customers, that means we only know a fraction of his daily life, a fraction of what the customer does, and that’s why we implemented a mobile-first strategy. We designed our mobile app as one that is easy to use. Our competition was always going to be CASH, how fast can you make a payment or achieve an outcome with your mobile phone versus CASH. Your competition is always going to be cash. Part of it is also education, financial literacy and record keeping. If all records are there for you, when you want to borrow money from me, I don’t have to ask a lot of questions, I can actually see it, and create a profile for you.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Another thing Diamond bank was known for is that it’s a gender equal workplace, a bank where women occupied many top positions. How important is it to empower women in the workplace?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Nigeria is 50% women, Nigeria is also 50% Muslim and Christian, so if you don’t have a deliberate strategy to include everyone, if you are only providing solutions with male-led bankers, it means that you miss out half the population; so it has to be deliberate. We live in a society where men are supposed to wash cars and women wash the dishes, and we have to change that mindset. It’s about inclusion, it’s about ensuring we capture as much data to provide the right solutions for people. If women feel like they have an environment in which they can choose and decide whether they want to pursue a career only or pursue a career and a family, then there is longevity for them in that organization and it also leads to greater participation from women in the workplace.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Your show  ‘TechTalks’  interviews some of Nigeria’s top tech entrepreneurs. In your opinion, what does the future hold for tech in Nigeria?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : We have a lot of Fintech companies in Nigeria, my concern is always, once it gets to a critical scale, I hope that they would have put in what it takes to go through that phase, that is where they now become like an Access Bank, for example, whereby you have all the managerial issues, regulatory issues and how you put that structure in place to manage it. The Fintechs are making a lot of impact, people like Paystack, Flutterwave, are doing a lot of things that are actually making other players sit up and take note – both financial and non-financial organizations. The other concern is investment.  Fintechs are filling important market gaps and collaboration as well as open systems are going to be key in the sustainability of these Fintechs. The CBN has come up with a great KYC (Know Your Customer) system, where KYC level one does not need anything to just open a bank account, and truly that’s how we opened 10 million accounts. Now if you want to reduce BVN (Biometric Registration) at that KYC level, they are just going to destroy the whole system and it’s not about just the regulatory bodies coming together and saying they want to achieve XYZ% this year, so how do you work together to do that? Bringing it from Tax laws that would now reverse any good work that any bank has done, especially when you have over 17 million unbanked small businesses, that’s where the engine of growth is in Nigeria. The opportunity to employ just one more person, if 17 million businesses do so, that accounts for 17 million employed people. The focus should be on SMEs.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : How will you use your wealth of experience as the former CEO of Africa’s fastest growing retail bank and the platform that you stand on, to impact lives going forward? What’s next for you, what do you have in the works?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Inclusion is very key, and I think there is a lot of profit, both financial and non-financial, in investing in that space and building solutions in the financial inclusion space.  Diamond Bank started by identifying a segment of the population that nobody wanted to bank because they thought it was too expensive due to their lack of literacy in technology.  There is no economic prosperity without social inclusion. My plan is to create a platform that helps the disenfranchised segment and there are quite a few financially and socially excluded groups in Nigeria. People are socially excluded because they are not financially literate and also because they don’t trust financial institutions.  The plan is to build a platform that goes beyond banking and incorporates solutions to some of the bottlenecks. A financial platform, a payment system, one that is focused on small businesses, focused on women because research shows if you look at the adopters of technology, women and youth make up a high portion of that segment. I want to go beyond a transaction, connecting to an outcome. People want to be happy, people want to feel safe. We need to start getting comfortable with things that are futuristic; future intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, robotics, AI; those are the things that will help us include millions of people in a cost-effective manner. truly, you can’t do it any other way, you can’t use people.  I want to play a role in building that platform, and I love competition. When we first started the retail game, we spoke to a CEO who said there was no business in retail banking here, but today, there is no bank in Nigeria that does not have a sale/retail strategy, because of that where the opportunity is. A corporate client can access money how they like, and they can even lend banks money.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : What does Uzoma Dozie do in his spare time?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Now that I have spare time, what I try to do is play golf, I play tennis, read and I do a lot of photography. I have taken a lot of pictures I need to process, so I’m going to do that and take more pictures.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : What do you photograph?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : People, places, things, situations and I want to now dive into moving pictures. I also think that is what the future is too. People don’t read anymore, so if you want to connect to people, you need to do it virtually and it cannot be too long, as people no longer have the time. Anything more than 5 minutes is a waste of time. So, if you can do a brief movie indication in 1 or 2 minutes and teach people without actually interfering with their lives, you create a visual connection with them.

    Using visual to tell a story makes a great impact, and that’s what we did at Diamond Bank; that’s where the leadership comes from.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) :As a tech enthusiast, what are some of the apps on your phone that you use every day?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Other than writing, I take a lot of pictures, If you go through my pictures, you will see what my day was like, and you can visualize it as well. I have my pictures in sections, I have my money folder, I have a social folder, then I have my office folder, then there is information in everything I find interesting), there is a whole folder for golf, and for media and photography as well.

     

    (Lehlé Baldé) : Are you an iOS or Android user?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : Six years back, I was completely 120% an iOS person,  even if I saw a faster innovation coming from Google, it was innovation that wasn’t practical every day, so it was nice to have Apple that focused on what you need to have; very simple. Then I began to feel trapped, old system, not able to access the new innovations millennials try, and our business moved as we tried to do more things on mobile – we wanted to make sure we knew what our customers were using, like then Blackberry, then google, then iOS, we now have to start focusing on the apps, the system that people were comfortable using, because it was cost effective, which was Google, so I bought a Google phone. I moved out of the iOS ecosystem so I will actually be able to build an open platform. And if it’s not an open platform, I’m not interested. So now I use the iPhone for my personal lifestyle, photography and creative because that’s what they are good at. So for me, it’s iOS for my lifestyle and google for my business.

    (Lehlé Baldé) : You seem to have a signature style, you wear all black. Can we expect to see any pop of color this summer?

    (Uzoma Dozie) : I just can’t go wrong with black, there might be black with a hint of something, but essentially, my colour palette reveals my love of black; black is beautiful. Many colour pops that do creep into my signature style might reflect the essence of Nigeria.

     

    (This Interview was  done by Lehlé Baldé for Businessday Media)

  • Culinary Delights
    craft gourmet

    Craft Gourmet by Lou Baker a consistent Lagos favourite

    Craft Gourmet is conveniently located on the 3rd Floor, Mega Plaza on Idowu Martins Street in Victoria Island. It opened its doors in 2016 and it is safe to say that it has been a consistent favorite among Lagosians for over 3 years. Craft Gourmet is one of those restaurants that everybody loves because the team and owners have dedicated their time and resources to providing repeated excellent service and food. I can say I have been here over 15 times in the past two years. It’s one of the restaurants I go to the most.

    Craft Gourmet

    After a long week work week, there is nothing better than going out for brunch on a Saturday morning. Brunch has to be my favorite type of meal because it falls in between breakfast and lunch and can be a mix of savory and sweet dishes. On this occasion, my brunch companion was my friend Funke Shonekan who is the Executive Director at the Chris Ogunbanjo Foundation. We both love the food at Craft Gourmet and decided it would be a neutral place to catch up. Craft Gourmet’s interior reminds me of Paris in the summertime… it is simple, yet chic and elegant yet has a distinguished ‘home’ feel to it.

    Craft Gourmet

    Funke Shonekan

    As we were met by a friendly waiter who led us to our table we went through the menu and I decided to have the pulled lang burger with fries and freshly squeezed orange juice and Funke had the chicken penne pasta with a freshly squeezed green smoothie. absolutely loved my food, it was fresh, soft and very well marinated. Here is what Funke had to say about her experience.

    “I like the ambiance at Craft Gourmet, every time I have been there, the staff at courteous, the food is tasty and their portions are generous and filling. I will definitely keep coming back”. Funke Shonekan.

    Craft Gourmet

    Here is a fun fact… Craft Gourmet is one of two restaurants in Lagos that offer ‘Chicken Yassa’ which is a rice-based traditional Senegalese dish made out of chicken and caramelized onions. I have tasted both restaurants and Craft Gourmet’s chicken yassa tastes like an authentic meal made in Senegal. This might be because one of the owners is from Senegal. The restaurant is owned by a Lebanese couple and the woman, Loubna grew up in Senegal.  Let’s just say it has been wonderful to have a piece of home food here in Lagos.
    Craft Gourmet
    If I were to describe the food at Craft gourmet, here are the words that come to mind: fresh, wholesome, healthy, carefully and tastefully made culinary experiences. The owners have mixed fusion of Lebanese, African and Western cuisine and have cultivated their own unique Craft Gourmet style of food. All the recipes are inspired by Loubna’s delicious family recipes. Additionally, the staff is extremely polite, professional and knows the menu well. They also are very good at recommending food from the menu.
    Craft Gourmet is perfect for a catch up with a friend, a special large group event, a work lunch, a weekend brunch or even a weekday breakfast. They have a great variety of freshly baked pastries, including delicious mini chocolate croissants which are authentically made as well as fresh juices, mocktails, and cocktails. Some of the more popular dishes are the chicken and waffles, the English breakfast, spicy roast beef and the chicken avocado salad. I definitely recommend this restaurant and I look forward to hearing about your experience! 
    MEAL
    Pulled lamb burger and fries- N5200
    Fresh orange juice- N2500
    Chicken Pesto Pasta- N6200
    Cucumber, apple and ginger juice – N2500

    TOTAL– N16 400

    Guest

    Funke Shonekan, Executive Director, The Chris Ogunbanjo foundation
    Rating 
    4.5 stars 
    Contact
    (This Review was done by Lehlé Baldé for Businessday Media)