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Ikoni International: From nowhere to leading veneer producer

Sometimes simply following your gut leads you to unknown territories and unheard business opportunities about which you have not even imagined in your wildest dreams. Entrepreneurs Tarun Singhal, Sanjay Gupta and Suresh Agarwal did exactly same by founding their own company – Ikoni International in the West Central African country of Gabon back in 2015. Four years down the line the company has emerged as one of the leading veneer and sawn timber production factory in Gabon SEZ (GSEZ).

Ikoni
International

  • Monthly production
    22
    containers of veneer
  • Total workforce
    150
  • Total area
    20,000
    square meters
  • Forest allotted to the company
    50,000 ha

Ikoni International was a part of Gabon SEZ pavilion during DelhiWood 2019. The samples of veneer and sawn wood displayed by the company’s stall received stupendous response and constant across the counter enquiries from Indian plywood and furniture manufacturers.

Explaining the product range of his company Sanjay Gupta, the Founder-Director of Ikoni International said, “We basically deal in veneer and sawn timber. The company produces veneers from world famous wood species like Okoume, Sipo etc. We make Sawn Timber from various species of woods from deep concession forests of Gabon. Major species used are Okoume, Padouk, Tali, Beli, Bilinga etc. The company has got its own forest allocation of 50,000 Hectare in the forests of Gabon.”

Ikoni International’s factory is spread over 20,000 square meter in GSEZ and has a workforce of around 150. In 2017, the company produced around six containers of veneer per month. The company was able to double the production in the following year. Banking on its four production lines, the company currently produces 22 containers of veneer per month.

A banker, a corporate executive and an automobile dealer came together exploring their hidden fortunes and set up a veneer factory in the land of opportunities – Gabon SEZ. In less than three years, the factory is now a leading supplier of veneer to the Indian subcontinent.

While these production figures sound interesting, the beginning of Ikoni International was equally fascinating. Five years back, Mr. Gupta was a banker, Mr. Singhal was associated with a corporate and Mr. Agarwal was an automobile dealer. On a summer troll with his family, Mr. Singhal accidentally visited DelhiWood held at Pragati Maidan where he came to know about GSEZ. At that time, GSEZ was just a couple of year old and was looking for Indian entrepreneurs to set up their business units in this virgin African country. Post-show, on GSEZ’s follow-up, Mr. Singhal seriously thought of bidding adieu to his mundane job. He subsequently convinced Mr. Gupta, his friend, to join him. Mr. Agarwal was simultaneously evaluating the potential of GSEZ and met Mr. Singhal and Mr. Gupta co-incidentally on their maiden visit to GSEZ. No one among these three had a background of woodworking or furniture industry.

Mr. Singhal said, “We never had a core competence in woodworking. But as two of us had engineering background, we grabbed the skillset over the time. To be honest, veneer and sawn wood production field is pretty simple. The best thing of setting up business in GSEZ is you get all the support in setting factory and you receive all the government clearances in record time without any hurdles. We are thankful to DelhiWood and GSEZ for opening the doors of opportunity for us.”