Wey Education PLC (LON:WEY) Executive Chairman David Massie caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the expansion into Nigeria.
Q1: Some interesting new news out today, can you tell us about the announcement?
A1: We have previously announced that we are expanding into Nigeria and today’s announcement, the RNS put out, provides the detail on the deals we have done.
Basically, we have partnered with two parties. One, an established school called the City of Knowledge Academy (CKA), who will handle not only matters to do with educational licenses so that we’re legal but also assist us with curriculum and teaching, particularly the Nigerian curriculum. The second is an outsourcing agreement that we’ve entered into to subcontract all the local marketing and administration in Nigeria.
Q2: What will you be selling in Nigeria?
A2: Well, we already have some pupils in Nigeria who have come to us online and so, in the near future, we will be pushing our traditional British curriculum, secondary school, iGSCE, A-Level which we already offer. Now we will have these arrangements, we think we will have enhanced or better marketing in the local markets and we’ll also be able to offer students the opportunity not just to be home schooled but to attend a learning centre for lessons. That can either be in a centre that we’re opening in Lagos or at the City of Knowledge’s own academy, their big boarding school they’ve got, a little way outside of Lagos.
We shall start work now with CKA to build on that because we’ll start with the British curriculum, but the idea is that with them we’re going to take the Nigerian curriculum that they teach load it onto our online platform. So, from early 2019, we will be able to offer students the opportunity to study the Nigerian curriculum if they want to do that rather than the British curriculum.
Q3: Do you consider this a significant step for Wey Education?
A3: I think it’s another milestone. It will represent proof that we can expand the use of our platform, our technology, worldwide to products other than the British curriculum. CKA will be employing Nigerian teachers in Nigeria to do the teaching of the Nigerian curriculum but it will be Wey’s IT that’s used for delivery.
Now, obviously in terms of market size, there’s probably are a lot more teenagers in Nigeria who want to study the Nigerian curriculum than the British curriculum, so it opens up a new market for us.
Q4: Why outsource the marketing and the administration?
A4: Well, we’ve all heard of horror stories in Nigeria, but of course before becoming Executive Chairman of Wey, I spent nearly two decades working in West Africa, so I know the region and I know the risks well and I was keen to make sure that Wey was isolated from them.
By using a local partner, we gain their local expertise and isolate ourselves from local risk including local credit risk for example, we will only accept a student and allow him to come onto the platform when we know the fees have been paid. So, that takes away one issue of trying to chase money overseas.
Q5: Are you confident about the venture then?
A5: I think you should be judged by the company you keep. CKA, the City of Knowledge Academy, is not only an impressive mixed boarding school in its own right, but it is owned by Mrs Belo-Olusoga.
If you look up this lady you will find that she’s one of the most respected businesswomen in Nigeria, perhaps the whole of Africa. She’s currently Chairman of Access Bank Plc which is a listed Nigerian bank, I think it’s got a market cap of over $800 million and which incidentally has a branch in London but that’s by the way. She is also Chair of a substantial fund management company.
I feel honoured and blessed that she has put her trust in us and she is not only our business partner, but she’s agreed to chair our local subsidiary which I think gives it huge credibility.
The way I’d sum this up I suppose to say is we’ve put all the ingredients in the pot, now we need time for them to simmer and cook and I hope this business might give us all a favourable surprise in time to come.
Q6: Is there any news on your proposed JV in China?
A6: The RNS mentioned this today. We continue to do the legal work, China is complicated, perhaps more complicated than Nigeria and we need to make sure we get things right. So, I’ve simply said we’ll make another announcement in due course.
Q7: What’s next?
A7: In formal terms, we have a General Meeting next Monday which is to approve some proposals, the most important of which I suppose was to reorganise the share capital so that in the future, when the time is right, we can pay dividends to our shareholders. We are timetabled to make our Preliminary Announcement of the result for the year to 31st August 2018 29 October. Of course, it may well be, and I hope so, that we have something to say about China before then.
Q8: Is there any update on trading for Wey Education?
A8: To be fair to me, it’s the 19th September, we’re 19 days into the new financial year, let’s leave that, the Preliminary Announcement is the time to let everybody know what’s happening.