The story of the 33-year-old Special Adviser to the Enugu State Government on SME Development, and Director-General, Enugu SME Center, Hon. Arinze Chilo-Offiah, is one driven by passion and belief.
Despite these two factors being great foundations of success, for Hon. Chilo-Offiah, they mean the drive to reconstruct his immediate society and the confidence that one reconstruction after another can make a great society. For Hon. Chilo-Offiah, success is moving from private investment banking to public service, because it meant moving closer to the grassroots; moving forward to the immediate society, and moving towards the best sources for reconstruction and policymaking. But there’s never a story without a journey, so how did a private investment banker become a public servant?
Hon. Arinze Chilo-Offiah describes the period of his occupation as a private investment banker as “highly instructional and technical.” Being his first official job after he graduated from the Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Insurance, he attests that: “It provided this hallowed space for me to grow and develop. I had a firsthand experience of what internships felt like at prestigious organisations. The Bank of America, located in New York, and the Lexington Insurance in Boston gave me one of the best training I needed to excel in the world of Investment Banking. Then I went on to work at the Merill Lynch Bank in New York and remained in the sector for ten years.
However, his achievements and experiences were incomplete without the significant factors; passion and belief. He was far away from home and didn’t have direct access to imparting his immediate society. Due to his love for his home country, he returned to Nigeria and, with his impressive investment banking experience, started working with Vetiva Capital Management, a boutique investment bank where he worked for over a year before proceeding to Afrinvest West Africa Ltd.
The turning point drew nearer as the desire to give back to society heightened. Chilo-Offiah was ready to give back to his fatherland under any government in the Nigerian nation, north, south, east, or west. He believed he could contribute effectively from any region in the country, irrespective of tribal or religious dispositions. The transition began when he got an opportunity to serve as an investment manager for the Anambra State Ministry of Agriculture and later went on to assume the office of the Executive Director for Anambra Small Businesses Agency.
Being the first to take on this role, he used the office to make a great impact on the business sector of the country. It was under his leadership that the president named the Anambra Small Businesses Agency the Best SME Agency of the year in 2019.
Due to this magnificent record, Chilo-Offiah was instated by the governor of Enugu State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in October 2019. He was inaugurated as the Special Adviser to the Governor on SME Development, and Director-General, Enugu SME Center. Since the inauguration, Hon. Chilo-Offiah has been providing innovative ideas and executing revolutionary projects that have been setting Enugu on the global map through SMEs.
Explaining further on this angle of development, he stated, “The focus of every development should start from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises because they are the bedrock of every economy. If you boost the SMEs, you boost the economy, and if the economy is boosted, there is global development.”
The journey so far has seen partnerships with private firms like AutoEase Ltd, Fenix Intl, Utiva, Jobberman, Wicrypt, amongst others, in the bid to make society better. This is a journey that every member of the Nigerian community should be proud of because, with every step in the journey, the dreams of making Nigeria a better ecosystem materialises.