Oxford International Group is not a scam: The Oxford Story
#FeatureByOIG: What is OIG, when was it established, and what was the rationale behind creating a firm with multiple business units called OIG?
Yes, OIG is a Marketing company. The breakdown of the acronym simply means Oxford International Group. The international element is valid for the presence of our clients and referrals abroad. At the time, we had customers in the UK, and the USA and other parts of the world.
How many businesses or business units does OIG have?
Business Units? I wouldn’t refer to them as business units. I am sure you understand how a Marketing firm operates, where all units are given specific names to differentiate them by location and by Market segments.
I understand that the organisation began as a Real Estate Marketing company...
Yes, that is true. We started as Oxford Commercial Services which is a Real Estate firm established in 2016 with the singular goal of supporting the government in reducing housing deficits, which had been our goals and vision. We had about 28 Estates locations across Four states, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Rivers and Abuja at the time.
The business began as Oxford Commercial. Upon the influx of Marketers, a success from our business model and hands-on Marketing Training Programs especially the New Entrepreneurs Training. We created OIG out of Oxford Commercial to manage the units which had scaled.
It was pertinent to differentiate the Marketing Company from the Real Estate Company. In 2020, the world was faced with a global pandemic, most businesses
were re-branding, we also re-branded Oxford Commercial, which now became Oxford Real Estate and Facility Management Limited. Link:
Reports on different platforms has it that the Marketing Company that does Real Estate, has business expansions, you want to take us through that?
The expansion of the business began in 2020. It’s common knowledge that most businesses suffered from cash flow issues hence our decision to go the Information Technology route as everyone went online. What we did was to diversify into other businesses that would generate more income in preparation for the next 5 years.
We had a business forecast since 2016 that was to last till 2021. When 2020 came, it came as a shock to everyone, most businesses especially ours at the time was supposed to average information from 2021, but when it came in 2020, we had to divest into Agriculture, Oil and Gas, and other businesses; our expertly thought-out position through our Research and Development Department who advised on mitigating risks instead of concentrating our funds on Real Estate, hence, we took a decision to take a chunk of our portfolio in Real Estate and invested in other businesses.
Let me take us back a bit. The Marketing Company selling for the Commercial Real Estate firm. OIG is the Marketing Company, Oxford Commercial is the Real Estate firm. So, the Marketing firm sells everything for Oxford Commercial, and because of the Marketing structure and system you have subsidiaries and teams - Marketing teams which then form groups and these groups have names.
To divest in 2020, mitigating risks there was a need to penetrate into the Technology market and consider other opportunities which led to Agriculture and such. That was the expansion. Is it fair to say that monies were collected or received from the public?
In 2020, a lot of people didn’t have money. We didn’t do more with people investing, what we did was divesting our business which enabled the expansion for people to partner in 2021.
When you say invest, did people invest in Real Estate?
Yes. For instance, I might try to do figures but I would need to be careful. In2020webroke down the Real Estate business and took a chunk of it to invest in other business opportunities, our preparation for the next 5 years.
By doing that, we opened up the Agric space, the Oil and Gas space, and other businesses we went to at thetimewhichled to requesting for people to partner with us on those businesses we had opened.
Most of the businesses we created in 2021 had a 5 years forecast plan that can takeover the business space. I want you to imagine a business forecast in Oil and Gas.
We started in 2021 with One fuel station bought and one other on the lease after which we started pulling in trucks; we were doing 6 to 8 trucks a week and then the forecast is for us to be a major player in the industry in 5 years, investment in the tune of 1 to 6Billion.
That was our process for every one of our businesses. We weren’t going to proceed into 2021 without a forecast as we did in 2016 which almost took us out of business in 2020 as a result of the global pandemic.
Our rationale about spreading our risks positioned us to forget funds from other businesses in the event where the Real Estate market fails; the research at the time hinted on the downward slope on the real estate market as a result of the pandemic.
At the end of every year, we interface with analysts and in 2021, experts hinted at people investing in Agriculture, Information Technology, and then Construction. Obviously, if we invest 500 Million in a business and we get a forecast of getting 5 to 10 Billion. I wouldn’t do it by myself, I would seek partners.
Everyone that does business with Oxford, has an agreement signed between both parties which makes them partners. The agreement states clearly the purpose of the partnership as well as the duration and profit sharing at the end of the period.
At what point did this upset the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC)?
One of the things we need to understand is that we have brands that allow for referrals; Marketers posting videos and saying the wrong things all for their commissions. Imagine a marketer selling biscuits and advertising that the particular biscuit has a larger volume of sugar. Brand control was our point of error.
We know what we do and what we do has nothing to do with the Capital Market. Overzealous referrals had made remarks like; bring your money, and we will help you turn it over. What are we turning?
We are not the banks; we don’t turn over money. Our clients understand that our relationship grew from the point of Real Estate transactions as a Real Estate Company that divested into other businesses where no agreement showed Capital Market and, not anytime a suggestion of us having a license.
We are bold to say that bulk of our clients are family and friends. Hardly would you hear a client say they don’t know anyone in Oxford, hence the confidence and comfort in doing business with us. Regardless of what the referral or marketer must have said, our due process allows for a signed agreement (it’s never a verbal agreement, it’s a signed agreement) showing what was agreed; what we want them to do with us, the period, and the exit strategy.
Our obvious error with S.E.C was the use of billboards which we sincerely apologised for. You would agree that Marketing teams would go all out to gain top of mind adverts; fliers et al. We had smaller organisations as well who partnered with good intentions for the purpose of sensitising the general public on interesting business opportunities they had with Oxford.
Brand control was a major issue and an area of challenge which we have put in check now. A term of settlement allowing us go back to our Real Estate Business, and our Agriculture Business, to regularize and pay our clients was reached by both parties.
When did the issues with your brand begin?
The regulatory body began having issues with our brand when Marketers and referrals started pulling on a flier that showed extremely high returns. We had a product at the time that read 48% returns; profit from one of our businesses. However, people didn’t read the duration, which stated 16 Months, not 12 Months.
The moment everyone saw 48% they threw caution to the wind to check what the duration was - because it doesn’t sound realistic, hence the conclusion that this business, service or product is a SCAM.
How so? For everyone who does Real Estate business, it’s common knowledge that 48%in the period of 16 months is practical. Additionally, we are not the Bank nor Capital Market related; as a credible organisation, we don’t subscribe to making a profit of 100%in 16 months and then giving you 2%. We don’t think that’s fair and just.
There have been a couple of reports online – on Social Media and blogs, that monies gotten from partners are utilised for frivolous spending, opening of new offices, maintenance et al; all of which constitute 50% of monies received. You want to speak to that?
First, we will like to highlight that not everyone in Nigeria is a business manor woman. Having said that, the plight of businesses and its ease in Nigeria is popular knowledge to all. However, only people with vast entrepreneurial knowledge understand the dynamics of doing business.
The banks are suffering today. Overheads in the country is huge. In 2021, we’d spent so much on Diesel as well as this year. You don’t except customers to walk into uncomfortable offices - all because, hey ... Diesel is N800.00. Overhead costs on employees as well.
Every business you invest in produces a cost of funds; we didn’t go to the bank for loans, we spoke to partners, drew agreements, and engaged in businesses to pay in due time. If we don’t engage in any business and frivolously spend their funds, what did we show them before they committed the funds? That’s the question.
For a company that has existed since 2016 with clients who had engagedpartneredandhad done business with us for more than 5 times, in Nigeria and abroad. Some of our clients still believe in us, they understand that this is a phase and we will get out of it.
When our balance sheet was Twenty Million, no one considered us fraudulent, when we pitched at Two Hundred Million it was the same, at the point of scaling to TwoBillionthenews fell on us as scammers. Our business journey is a story of growth and resilience.
There’s something you do, that makes you grow overtime and I do not think that in Nigeria, a fraudulent company can survive 5 years. Oxford would be 6 years old; you possibly can’t scam people on the first year, second year, third year, fourth year, or fifth year; please show me that company.
After the issue with the Securities and Exchange Commission, our businesses are still on, we are still engaged in Real Estate, our Farms are still operational, in partnership with people. True, we suffered a major hit in 2022 as a result of S.E.C; it’s affected our cash flow and business.
We are not goingtoshyawayfrom for the truth, it wasn’t a good year for our stakeholders, people who believed in us, our Mothers, our Aunties, our In-Laws who brought their monies in - it wasn’t a good year. We need to realise that Oxford isn’t a business reliant on investors monies. We had done business before investors came into the narrative. We didn’t grow from earning One Million to One Billion by just walking it through.
Our Chairman’s picture in 2016 on the street of Ikorodu marketing Real Estate as displayed on one of the blogs. You can imagine him sweating on the street of Ikorodu as shown on those videos asking people to buy and invest in Real Estate with RealEstate captions on Shomolu made T Shirts; you can imagine same bloggers placing pictures of our Chairman’s designer suits in 2021 while in the office without connecting the dots.
We will like to challenge every blogger to investigate Oxford fromw hereit began in 2016. Days of dancing on the streets of Lagos just to convenience people that Landed properties is the best investment.
The S.E.C issue gave us a major hit, the PR was very bad, but today we are glad that we can continue our businesses, plead with our customers, make payments with payment plans; we have set up a number of External Solicitors Chambers in Lagos and Abuja attending to our clients to make life easy for them. We will like to assure you that none of our clients will lose their money.
Tell me, you’ve spoken about obvious mistakes; brand control and overzealous Marketers. Are there any other obvious mistakes the brand made?
Yes, please. As a brand, we took a decision to create a number of businesses, one of which is Finance. Our Chairman who has a finance background with active experience in Stock Brokerage, thought it was important that Finance is a business for consideration which led to engaging with S.E.C for an Asset Management license. We
didn’t engage S.E.C for licenses to do Real Estate investment. Our business model with Real Estate was simply; meet the client, discuss the opportunity, share the profit at a percentage which is covered in the agreement.
Unfortunately for us S.E.C frowned at the billboards and high percentages, resulting to halting the registration process. It is unfortunate that promoters of the Real Estate business are the same promoters pushing for an Asset Management license.
If we had engaged with a different brand, perhaps we wouldn’t have these issue. We took the license to establish an Asset Management Business. If you investigate, the only figure in the Asset Management account was the registration fee required for processing.
We went ahead to setting up an office for the commencement of business. If the license had been gotten, the narrative wouldn’t be the same. What we were indicted for is the billboards, regrettably what the billboards read, is great profit in Real Estate.
The billboards and fliers out there didn’t just major on Real Estate, it majored on Agriculture and I understand that there were fliers for Dredging as well as the information suggesting that your organisation has people investing in Oil and Gas.
It is important to understand that Real Estate cuts across all of the businesses that we do. If you speak to Agriculture, its acceptable that this is done on Farmlands, buying and selling of Farmlands. You purchase Farmland, you re-sell, lease, and cultivate on same Farmland then share the profit.
We will like the general public to know that because it’s called Farmland it’s tagged under Agriculture. For Dredging, the locations where our dredgers are present are bought for our estates. We partner with people who sell Sand to sell to businessmen and businesswomen in the Construction field and then share profit. All of these businesses find their expression from Real Estate.
We are open to other opportunities attached to Real Estate; the only area of Real Estate we didn’t consider was Construction, due to its duration for profit turnaround.
What are you doing to mitigate these issues; bloggers are having a field day. We understand that aggrieved customers keep crying at your offices, making live videos, clients constant troll your organisation on popular social media handles, and as reported, clients arresting Marketers? I also do understand that some clients have received their monies. Secondly, did S.E.C instruct that payment of interest should not be returned to your investors?
Okay. I will begin with answering the first one, clients crying, I will debunk that.
Our offices are open, we have the personnel, Customer Service Executives making calls, sending emails, and attending to clients. We have Senior officers open to meeting clients at our offices.
We didn’t stop at it, we employed the services of External Solicitors to look into issues that are a bit complicated; pros and cons where some of our clients would accept Cash in lieu of their funds or Lands in lieu of their funds.
So, we considered the evaluation which has gained us some success. Additionally, our Customer Service Unit have done a good job on following up with our clients, stating reasons for delay in payment while requesting for an extension of time.
A lot of people have gotten their payments, even as we continually appeal to our clients to believe in us. They would not lose their money. We also want to use this medium to appreciate some of our customers, they’ve been extremely understanding; customers who tell us, ‘it’s fine, we will roll over or if you have a landed property, give it to us, we will have you sell it when it’s time’.
On the issue of S.E.C, when you do a scheme that isn’t registered or licensed, they consider it necessary that capitals be returned to our Clients. But we are so keen that our clients would still do Real Estate with us benefit from us.
Thank you so much for your time, we do hope that the general public understands this. On a final note, would you say the Oxford International Group is a scam?
No, Oxford International Group is not a scam. As earlier stated, we appreciate real journalists investigating our brand as well as educating young people who would not prioritize monetization over true, intelligent, and prudent journalistic work.
Head, Corporate Communications
For: Oxford International Group
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