INTERVIEWER: Please can you kindly introduce your selves to Viva Health and our audience
ROTIMI: My name is Oluwarotimi Oladokun Okula (Short form of my name is Rotimi Okula), I was born in Lagos, Nigeria about 44 years ago, the first child in a family of 9, born to a business man father largely into Oil and Gas Trading and a mother who worked 90% of her work life at University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos-Nigeria. Had my elementary schools in Nigeria, attended Nigeria’s foremost university Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife , Osun State graduated with as second class upper honours in Accounting in the year 2000, started working in the Banking and Financial Services industry in Nigeria in 2000, in year 2006 I became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
I worked in about 5 Nigerian banks namely Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank Plc amongst others, leaving the industry on a managerial level in 2013 after managing a key unit in Oil and Gas Unit, and two branches of banks in Lagos the economic capital of Nigeria. I relocated to Dubai, UAE same year 2013 to join my wife and start a family. In Dubai I had wanted to continue banking in the UAE, but the opportunities did not show up so I continued a business I had started with a couple of friends some years back with the group named called Le Groenland Group.We started with business advisory for Sub Saharan African businesses and businesses interested in Sub Saharan Africa.
INTERVIEWER: What specific roles do you handle in the Le Groenland Group?
ROTIMI: I am currently the Managing Partner of Le Groenland Business Solutions FZ LLE, Dubai the UAE arm of the business. I am also the Director , Strategy & Global Business Development of the Le Groenland Group. At the helm of Affairs Le Groenland Business Solutions FZ LLE, Dubai I drive our ambitious Medical Tourism & Facilitation services, Travels & Tours Business including other business broking services we render from the Gulf to Sub Saharan Africa and vice and versa.
INTERVIEWER: What is the vision of Le Groenland Group in the medical Industry in Sub Saharan Africa?
ROTIMI: Our company Le Groenland Business Solutions FZ LLE, Dubai is first of all owned by Sub Saharan African nationals, so we are sons and daughters of the soil. We are passionate about how our Sub-Continent turns out at the end of the day. To this end, our vision as a group is to be “ One of the foremost catalyst to the resurgence of the medical industry in Sub Saharan Africa’. It is our belief that the foundation to any progress is admitting & accepting where our medical industry is currently at whilst defining a clear path towards changing the narrative. Over the years our medical industry has performed at Sub Optimal level not due to any fault of our brilliant medical practitioners but due to lack of investment in infrastructure, social amenities , brain drain of available doctors (as a lot of doctors have had to leave Sub Saharan Africa seeking greener pastures, thereby increasing pressure on available doctors). We can lay this blame largely on our politics in Sub Saharan Africa, it is also our belief that whilst the politics is undergoing its challenges, we can still make a difference in spite of the daunting challenges facing us.
INTERVIEWER: What is your company doing differently from other players in this medical industry Sub Sector to stay ahead of competition
ROTIMI: First of all, we do not charge our patients any consultancy fee on advisory services we give as regards options of hospitals they can use, we also do not receive ANY Cash on behalf of patients as the patients pay for their medical procedures directly to the hospitals. We are hospital agents and we get fees from hospitals alone. In fact I can assure you that a patient cannot get a cheaper offer than what we will give because we have 47+ hospitals in competition for our patients and they typically give their best offer to us all the time.
INTERVIEWER: Your company appears to have a really ambitious plan , how exactly do you think you can change this narrative and challenge the status quo?
ROTIMI: It is important to note, that current owners of Le Groenland Group are not doctors, they are largely business people and financial services experts. However every business speaks the same financial, sales and marketing language and its our utmost belief that whilst we bring the business and financial expertise we have to Collaborate , Partner and Synergise with players in the medical industry. Whilst the medical practitioners bring the technical savvy, we bring on board our years on experience in business and financial advisory. We currently have over 145+ project managers across 22 Sub Saharan African Countries e.g Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, South Africa , Kenya, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Benin Republic, Guinea, Uganda, Botswana, Lesotho, Nigeria amongst others. A minimum of our 30% of our current project managers are medical doctors providing direction and hands on knowledge to the group. We currently have over 55 Hospitals, Diagnostics Centers , Health Management Organisations (HMOs) that are also our partners.
We have also a clear path towards achieving our long term goal which is drive foreign and local direct investment into the medical industry in Sub Saharan Africa, improving infrastructure and social amenities in the medical industry in Sub Saharan.
Our immediate goal (Short Term Goal) is whilst these challenges exist and our patients have to be taken out of Sub Saharan Africa, we plan to ensure our patients get the best quality medical care at the best price available through our over 47 partner hospitals in 14 countries globally such as USA, UK, UAE, India, Spain , Slovakia, Saudi Arabia amongst others.
At Le Groenland Group, we want to be in control of the demand for medical tourism services in Sub Saharan Africa. When we control demand which is outflow of patients, we can then get better negotiations on cost of procedures which is currently very high and unaffordable for most people in Sub Saharan Africa. We also are in partner with a Kenyan Hospital where we refer patients from other Sub Saharan African countries, we are currently working on signing the top 3 hospital in South Africa to refer patients from other Sub Saharan Africa so that we can reduce capital flight from Sub Saharan Africa. We are also in negotiation with a top Nigerian Cancer Facility, to bring patients from across Sub Saharan Africa countries, where we would handle their cases and where it is not doable we will treat the patient abroad via our 47+ partner hospitals.
Our Medium Term plan is start creating platforms where our medical practitioners can have opportunities to exchange ideas and knowledge with doctors in our over 47 partner hospitals in 14 countries globally. Infact we already started this, As at November 2019, in conjunction with our local partners in Nigeria we were able to bring a 15 member team which includes the board of directors of a major government owned hospital in Lagos – Nigeria on a tour and visit of one of our biggest Dubai Based Partner Hospital and it was an enriching and worthwhile experience for our Sub Saharan African contingent. We also plan to in the medium term, ensure to get good deals on medical equipments for our local hospitals in Sub Saharan Africa, this we will achieve by seeking the best options globally to purchase medical equipments.
INTERVIEWER: What has been the support you have gotten from the medical practitioners in Sub Saharan Africa been thus far?
ROTIMI: Overall it’s been impressive, the initial issue was getting our people to believe in our plans and not take us like an another medical tourism company that is just interested in making money out of the situation of Sub Saharan African nationals. First of all , we are sons and daughters of the land, the failure of our Sub Continent is our failure. So we have been able to cascade our thoughts and vision across Sub Saharan Africa and we have a large following with over 55 partner hospitals and medical facility, over 145 project managers across Sub Saharan Africa (including over 50 medical doctors partners). On the governmental level, we have had issues of our government officials in Sub Saharan Africa living in self denial, whilst these government officials know deep within themselves that these issues exist and practically do nothing about it, they take themselves and their families outside Sub Saharan Africa for treatment, they talk about Medical Tourism as detriment to the medical industry in Sub Saharan Africa whilst even the basic ailments they have , they travel abroad to treat. There is a famous African president who spends almost a quarter of the year in UK seeking treatment still claiming he wants to stop medical tourism whilst not improving the health facilities and amenities in his country. Sadly , if we do not provide these facilities, people will still seek these treatments outside Sub Saharan Africa.
INTERVIEWER: Your plans sounds very interesting and ambitious, can you tell us what you have been able to do towards achieving this goal and vision?
ROTIMI: One of the most critical strategy for us is building strong teams across Sub Saharan Africa, first stage for us is to have at least one Project Manager in each Sub Saharan African country. This project manager will have our mandate to set up regional teams that will be under his supervision across all states and regions in their country. Our immediate objective is to ensure that we are way above competition, delivery of our services, in terms of coverage in Sub Saharan Africa , content of our plans & use of information technology in rendering our services.
Last year 2019, we were on ground in Accra , Ghana where we presented to over 60 medical practitioners in Ghana our services at 37 Military Hospital , seeking partnership with them towards achieving our vision. We were also in Kigali, Rwanda were we met with Medical Directors of the top 5 hospitals towards collaborating, partnering and synergies’ across the value chain of the medical industry. We were also in 15 states in Nigeria, we had two presentations to 120 medical doctors in Lagos , Nigeria and over 60 doctors in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.
In this year 2020, we plan to cover at least two African countries hosting a minimum of 150 medical practitioners in interactive and brain storming sessions with a view to collaborate, partner and synergize towards achieving our vision for the medical industry in Sub Saharan Africa. This we plan to do on an annual and continous basis.
INTERVIEWER: A lot of people have asked what does your company name Le Groenland mean and whats the philosophy behind the name?
ROTIMI: Le Groenland in English means The Greenland , the Le is French, the Groenland is Dutch. Our philosophy is that Africa is green with opportunities, and this drives our business philosophy. Our plan is to champion this “Green Mentality” in Sub Saharan Africa. As Sub Saharan Africa nationals we should not have so much in valuable resources and at the same time lack so much.
At Le Groenland we believe if we start empowering people with the GREEN entrepeneurship mentality the politics will change by default. In plain terms it’s the Economics first , before the politics. If our people become less hungry the politics will naturally change, as there will be no insensitive to vote in bad leaders who induce helpless citizens with money to vote and keep them in power.
At Le Groenland Group, our strategy is to influence the right way, in a non violent , strategically the economic mindset in Sub Saharan Africa.
INTERVIEWER: Mr Rotimi Okula, thank you for your time and we are indeed impressed with the level of deep thoughts your company has put into your vision and plans for the medical industry in Sub Saharan Africa. It is most impressive that owners of these business are not medical doctors. This we think is stuff of genius and impressive.
ROTIMI: You are welcome, and thanks for the opportunity given to us to share our business vision. As a group , at Le Groenland Group it is our mission “To motivate and lead a generation of Sub Saharan Africa’s entrepreneurs to seize and optimize the vast opportunities within the region & across the world and in the process, combat poverty and improve overall quality of life. We are already grooming our over 145+ project managers on how to be entrepreneurs with the responsibilities they handle on our medical tourism and facilitation project and we are just getting started as a group.