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lockdown education

May 5, 2020 Leave a comment
A major concern for me, over the past week, has been how to educate/stimulate pupils and students in Nigerian public schools during this extensive lockdown period. It’s my understanding that the children receiving any formal education right now are those in private schools. The private [primary and secondary] schools are about the only ones that can afford to implement e-learning protocols. However, the vast majority of Nigerian pupils and students attend public schools, so for the time being, most aren’t learning anything academic.

As a passionate advocate for continuous personal growth and development, my fear is a lot of them will lose a whole term, or worse, a whole year of school, and fall far behind (than they already are/were) their peers in private schools. So, in a bid to provide, in my small way, a solution, I considered some sort of YouTube channel, in partnership with teachers of basic subjects (like English Language and Math). However, there are 2 challenges.

First, there would either have to be enough content for classes by level, i.e Primary/Form 1-6, JS1-3 and SS1-3; or (the better option) classes by [broad] age groups, i.e ages 2-5, ages 7-10, and ages 11-15/16, for example. Secondly, there is the possibility that, because of their meager means, most of their guardians or parents may not have laptops/tabs and WiFi modems or smart phones (with enough data) to stream the content for long periods of time, talk less of several times a week. I concluded, since the target audience may find it challenging accessing online content, YouTube may not work.

Next, I considered working with a radio station, as this may be more practical for their parents/guardians. However, off the bat, the first issue is children have short attention spans, so without constant supervision, audio might not be too effective; especially for a subject like Math. This led to my final consideration.

Instead of subjects, the focus could be on puzzles and/or problems with quantitative and verbal elements [according to age groups]. They might not learn anything new, but those could help keep them sharp and mentally-stimulated. So maybe the best option for the masses would be to broadcast verbal and quantitative problems catered to various age groups on a regular basis – possibly, a different group at a specific time every weekday?

While seeking a partner for this initiative, I learned that 9Mobile Nigeria had begun providing free data to access certain e-learning portals to support the Federal Government’s e-learning program for students during this lockdown. Some of those portals include, MobileClassroom and Schoolgate. Kudos to 9Mobile for taking the initiative; wonder if and when the other national carriers (MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria and Globacom Nigeria) would make similar arrangements.

This initiative will, in no doubt, help those with access to smartphones, but those without access to those devices would still at a disadvantage, so back to square one. I wonder if there are those equally concerned and willing to partner with me or support the radio programing angle (#RadioSchoolNigeria), as a palliative/temporary measure, of course? Classrooms are still the best method teaching children and teens.

Please note that it might not be profitable, monetarily, but I do believe it would go a long way in leveling the academic playing field and enriching the lives of our younger ones.

think

March 28, 2020 Leave a comment

Pensive

Why are you in Nigeria?

I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. My answer is usually the same – I have some ventures I’m looking to explore. Sometimes, there are looks of confusion, heavy sighs, or just good old-fashioned disbelief and head-shaking. But, I understand. Someone moving to Nigeria from Canada, at time when people are leaving Nigeria for Canada in droves, is puzzling. I guess my “interviewers” are wondering whether I know something they do not. Maybe I do.

I lived in Canada for eight years, and within that period, started three different businesses there that did fairly well (most popularly, Pearl Kreations) before I moved back. I came here to set Nigerian subsidiaries and explore other possibilities. I did I come with a mindset to introduce new concepts, disrupt/turn things around and rake in millions? Absolutely. Have I been humbled? Most definitely. Have I done well? Yet to be determined. I’m joking; by God’s grace, I’m doing well. However, here’s what I’ve realized about entrepreneurship in the Nigerian economy – there readily is no reward or support for competence, effort and ingenuity. The system largely favors those with access to power/political connections and rewards them with highly lucrative government contracts and ridiculous grants. Vusi Thembekwayo put it this way – if you look at how the top 25 wealthiest and most celebrated people in your country made their wealth, you can easily determine the type of economy you live in. Did the top 25 wealthiest Nigerians all build their businesses from the ground up (without backdoor deals and government favors)? You decide.

Of course, there are/will be exceptions to the rule, and certainly, you can live comfortably as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a professional, like an accountant or architect. Anything other than those, would be tough, but not impossible. However, real wealth may elude you. As you may have concluded, there are very few entrepreneurs in this country who have built substantial wealth without connections or government contracts/favors. That says a lot about our business environment. This is particularly disappointing for me because a little over ten years ago, I had a totally different experience.

After running my first business for about a year, I applied to be a vendor for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I noticed there were vendors for all manners of merchandises, but no one selling button-badges (which was my product). I saw that opportunity and applied. I got a response requesting for, what then seemed like, all sorts of random documents. I can assume now, in actuality, they were probably things like business registration documents, bank statements and so on. I replied the email stating that I was a freshman at McMaster University, had started a small business, saw an opportunity and decided to take it; I had none of the documents requested of me. A few days later, I was approved! I got sent all the documents verifying my business community membership by mail, and a congratulatory email as well. Just like that, I got in. No connections; except God, of course.

Small businesses are the backbone of any economy, and in recent years, it seems Nigeria has caught on. Things are still a little dodgy, with hints of favoritism here and there, but improving. I’m thrilled that with the impending COVID19 lockdown, so many people have gotten fired up to start a venture of their own, either to complement their income, or in transition from former employment. Whatever the reason, the best time to start is now.

However, in my experience, a lot of Nigerian SMEs aren’t equipped to take advantage of the new business environment and emerging opportunities. They are simply not very creative in their quests for business opportunities. They’re not entrepreneurial. I’ve discovered that what most people get into, and aspire to go into, once they have some capital is trading – purchase and resale of goods – and this makes them traders, not entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur is a word that has become so loosely used, people think it’s a synonym for business owner. The fact is, not every business person is an entrepreneur. By the way, with the way things are going, except you’re selling foodstuff or hygiene essentials, you’re in the wrong business (as a trader).

The truth is, people pay for solutions, and entrepreneurs are solution providers.

Entrepreneurs create products and/or services that meet the needs of people for a profit. Entrepreneurs meet needs and get paid for it.

If you really want to be successful and wealthy, as an entrepreneur, you need to solve problems.

We tend to think too small here in Africa. The average entrepreneur is scared to be ambitious. Rather than thrive, they’re content with surviving. Well, I won’t stand for it. I’m incredibly passionate about small business, and for the past three years, have devoted most of my time into Herança Financial, the venture through which I work with/help budding entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses. Coupled with my personal experiences, I’m somewhat of an expert in business (humble brag). So, with current state of the nation and the shape of the economy, I think now is as good a time as any, to share my knowledge and expertise with a greater number of people, and help them start the right way and avoid the unnecessary hardships that ignorance tends to lead.

First of all, I’ll reiterate. An entrepreneur identifies a need and works towards satisfying it, or works towards improving upon an already existing product/service, or creates demand for a product/service of value i.e. creates a need and provides the solution. The provision of the solution brings the reward – money. The bigger the problem, the bigger the reward for its solution.

Once you have a solution, please ensure the product or service has a Unique Selling Point (USP). A USP is the mark of distinction of any business. It can also be referred to as your value proposition. In all likelihood, your company won’t be the only one offering that product/service (at least, not for long), so it’s important to have either a feature, advantage or benefit that’ll separate your business from current and prospective competition. Without a USP, you won’t stand out. Please note, lower price is not a good strategy for a small business; it’s just not sustainable.

Next, identify your target market. Never make the mistake of assuming your product or services will appeal to everyone. You’re dreaming. However, your target customers will want and appreciate your products or services. They can be grouped into primary, secondary and invisible; I’ll explain later. Just know that they are the persons or businesses with the highest probability of buying your products or services. Once, you’ve identified them, profile them. Your profile should include their locations, spending habits, hobbies, and age group. These will help you know how much they would be willing to spend on your product/service and the best way to reach them. I like using Indomie Noodles as an example. Their target market isn’t everyone, it’s children. Children are their primary target market. That’s why their ads are so playful and colorful; why they invented “The Indomitables” (Superheroes) figurines and stickers; why their ads are on television and radio, not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (most children are not on social media). They have bigger sizes (like Hungry Man and Belleful) for adults, their secondary target market.

With the proper identification of your target customers, you need know your competition. Your competition is the person or business who offers the same products/services or benefits (as perceived by your target customers). They can be grouped into direct, indirect and invisible. Direct competition are those that offer the same products/services you do; for example, Coke and Pepsi. Indirect competition are those that offer the same benefits; for example, Domino’s Pizza and KFC – different products but same benefit (fast food). Invisible competition are those you didn’t consider. They usually the bigger players that have the capacity [and potential desire (especially if you’re successful)] to offer the same product/services or benefits as you. By understanding your competition, you gain competitive intelligence. Competitive Intelligence is the process of learning, collecting/gathering and using information about your competition for the purpose of growing your own business. It helps you to keep improving upon or redefining your business model, so you’re not easily surpassed.

I’m sure I’ve given you more than enough to think about, so I’ll stop here.

The first step is to sit down and think! Find a need, preferably in an area you’re passionate about. Ask God to reveal the solution to you, and provide you with the means to execute it. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about the idea, but the execution of the plan. And as you execute, remember, please think globally. Find the application of the solution not just within your locale, but regionally and worldwide. The world is bigger than Nigeria.

All the best!

flame on

February 7, 2020 Leave a comment

“Why are you in Nigeria?”

I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. My answer is usually the same: I have some ventures I’m looking to explore. Sometimes, I get looks of confusion, heavy sighs, or just good old-fashioned disbelief and head-shaking. But I understand. Someone moving to Nigeria from Canada, at a time when people are leaving Nigeria for Canada in droves, is puzzling. I guess my ‘interviewers’ are wondering whether I know something they do not. Maybe I do.

I lived in Canada for eight years and within that period, I started three different businesses there that did fairly well (most popularly, Pearl Kreations) before I moved back. I came here to set Nigerian subsidiaries and explore other possibilities. Did I come with a mindset to introduce new concepts, disrupt/turn things around and rake in millions? Absolutely. Have I been humbled? Most definitely. Have I done well? I believe I’m doing well. However, here’s what I’ve realized about entrepreneurship in the Nigerian economy: there readily is no reward or support for competence, effort, and ingenuity. The system largely favours those with access to power/political connections and rewards them with highly lucrative government contracts and ridiculous grants. Vusi Thembekwayo put it this way: “if you look at how the top 25 wealthiest and most celebrated people in your country made their wealth, you can easily determine the type of economy you live in”. Did the top 25 wealthiest Nigerians all build their businesses from the ground up without backdoor deals and government favours? You decide.

Of course, there are/will be exceptions to the rule and certainly, you can live comfortably as an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a professional – like an accountant or architect. Anything other than those would be tough, but not impossible. However, real wealth may elude you. There are very few entrepreneurs in this country who have built substantial wealth without connections or government contracts/favors. That says a lot about our business environment. This is particularly disappointing for me because a little over ten years ago, I had a totally different experience.

After running my first business for about a year, I had applied to be a vendor for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I noticed there were vendors for all manners of merchandizes, but no one selling button-badges (which was my product). I saw that opportunity and applied. I got a response requesting for, what then seemed like, all sorts of random documents. I can assume now, in actuality, they were probably things like business registration documents, bank statements, and so on. I replied the email stating that I was a freshman at McMaster University, had started a small business, saw an opportunity, and decided to take it; I had none of the documents requested of me. A few days later, I was approved! I got sent all the documents verifying my business community membership by mail and a congratulatory email as well. Just like that, I got in. No connections, except God, of course.

Small businesses are the backbone of any economy and in recent years, it seems Nigeria has caught on. Things are still a little dodgy – with favoritism here and there, but it’s improving. I’m thrilled that so many people, in recent times, have gotten fired up to start a venture of their own, either to complement their income, or in transition from former employment. Whatever the reason, the best time to start is now. Flame on!However, in my experience, a lot of Nigerian SMEs aren’t equipped to take advantage of the new business environment and emerging opportunities. They are simply not very creative in their quest for business opportunities. They’re not entrepreneurial. I’ve discovered that what most people get into, and aspire to go into, once they have some capital is trading – purchase, and resale of goods. This makes them traders, not entrepreneurs.

‘Entrepreneur’ is a word that has become so loosely used, people think it’s a synonym for business-owner. The fact is, not every business person is an entrepreneur. By the way, with the current state of the nation and economy, except you’re selling foodstuff or hygiene essentials, you’re in the wrong business as a trader.

The truth is that people pay for solutions, and entrepreneurs are solution providers.

Entrepreneurs create products and/or services that meet the needs of people for a profit. Entrepreneurs meet needs and get paid for it. If you really want to be successful and wealthy as an entrepreneur, you need to solve problems.

We tend to think too small here in Africa. The average entrepreneur is scared to be ambitious. Rather than thrive, they’re content with surviving. Well, I won’t stand for it. I’m incredibly passionate about small business and for the past three years, I have devoted most of my time into Herança Financial, the venture through which I work with/help budding entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses. Coupled with my personal experiences, I’m an expert in business. *Humble Bag*. So, with the current state of the nation and the shape of the economy, I think now is as good a time as any to share my knowledge and expertise with a greater number of people, help them start the right way and avoid the unnecessary hardships that ignorance brings.

An entrepreneur identifies a need and works towards satisfying it, or works towards improving an already existing product/service, or creates demand for a product/service of value, i.e. creates a need and provides the solution. The provision of the solution brings the reward – money. The bigger the problem, the bigger the reward for its solution.

Once you have a solution, please ensure the product or service has a Unique Selling Point (USP). A USP is the mark of distinction of any business. It can also be referred to as your value proposition. In all likelihood, your company won’t be the only one offering that product/service (at least, not for long), so it’s important to have either a feature, advantage, or benefit that’ll separate your business from current and prospective competition. Without a USP, you won’t stand out. Please note, having a lower price is not a good strategy for a small business; it’s just not sustainable.

Next, identify your target market. Never make the mistake of assuming your product or services will appeal to everyone. Your target customers are those who will want and appreciate your products or services. They are the persons or businesses with the highest probability of buying your products or services. Once you’ve identified them, profile them. Your profile should include their locations, spending habits, hobbies, and age group. These will help you know how much they would be willing to spend on your product/service and the best way to reach them. Your target customers can be grouped into primary, secondary, and invisible. I like using Indomie noodles as an example. Their target market isn’t everyone, it’s children. Children are their primary target market. That’s why their ads are so playful and colorful, why they invented “The Indomitables” (Superheroes) figurines and stickers, and why their ads are on television and radio – not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (most children are not on social media). They now have bigger sizes (like Hungry Man and Belleful) for adults – their secondary target market.

With the proper identification of your target customers, you need to know your competition. Your competition is the person or business who offers the same products/services or benefits (as perceived by your target customers). They can be grouped into direct, indirect and invisible.

Direct competition are those that offer the same products/services you do – for example, Coke and Pepsi. Indirect competition are those that offer the same benefits – for example, Domino’s Pizza and KFC – different products but same benefit (fast food). Invisible competition are those you didn’t consider. They are usually the bigger players that have the capacity and potential desire (especially if you’re successful) to offer the same product/services or benefits as you. By understanding your competition, you gain Competitive Intelligence. Competitive Intelligence is the process of learning, collecting/gathering and using information about your competition for the purpose of growing your own business. It helps you to keep improving upon or redefining your business model, so you’re not easily surpassed.

The first step to becoming an entrepreneur is to sit down and think! Find a need, preferably in an area you’re passionate about. Ask God to reveal the solution to you, and provide you with the means to execute it. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about the idea, but the execution of the plan. And as you execute, remember to think globally. Find the application of the solution not just within your locale, but regionally and worldwide. The world is bigger than Nigeria.

All the best!

ska redefined 2019

April 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The SKA Legacy is 10 years today!
How time flies, right? It honestly doesn’t seem that long ago that my dad passed! May he continue to rest in perfect peace.

There will be two (2) changes to the business (asides the switch in names and mottos) and this write-up from last year – Café Euphorie has become Bites N’ Treats (BNT) Gourmet Café, and from 2020, this write-up will be done at the close of the year (December 9th) to mark the initial anniversary of [my dad’s registration of] SKA Ventures in 1991. Asides from those, I’m still working on building the empire, and hope dad is pleased.

Creativity Beyond Measure

Profile

SKA Ventures goes over expectations and beyond imagination. It is constantly raising the bar for excellence in innovation and service. Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, SKA Ventures is a leading, privately-owned, diversified business conglomerate. It owns and oversees the operations of several companies with interests spanning various industries all over the world. Through the dedication of its employees worldwide, SKA Ventures remains one of the most admired, dynamic and profitable companies in the world.

 

History

SKA Ventures began from Pearl Kreations on Monday, January 28th, 2008 in Hamilton, Ontario, while Sylvester Kay-Adade was a freshman at McMaster University. Circa September 2009, the vision for The SKA Group was conceived. The following year, it was implemented.

On September 21st, 2010, The SKA Group was officially registered in Canada under the laws of the Province of Ontario. As Pearl Kreations became more successful, its profits provided the necessary capital for the exploration of new industries. The explorations birthed Property Management Firm, Ransrive Realtors, in November 2009; Think Tank, Sylver Productions, in August 2011; and Small & Medium Enterprises (SME) Advisory Firm, Herança Financial in April 2013.

During its expansion into Nigeria in 2014, it was discovered that The SKA Group could not be registered in Nigeria as his father, Sylvester Adade, had coincidentally registered SKA Ventures Limited in December, 1991. In 2018, The SKA Group adopted SKA Ventures as its new name.

Presently, SKA Ventures owns BNT Gourmet Café, Herança Financial, Pearl Kreations, Prestige Academy, Ransrive Realtors, Suave Clothing, Sylver Productions, and Vecasyer Hotels & Towers, as well as controlling interests in Centerprise, RCubed-Merit, and Spinners.

 

Mission

SKA Ventures will relentlessly provide superior quality products and deliver exceptional service, while thriving to be the best and exceed expectations in all its business and social endeavors.

 

Vision

SKA Ventures aims to be recognized as the global brand with a drive for innovation and heart after perfection.

 

Values

Integrity

We believe in consistency in the right values.

Fairness: There is no discrimination; everyone is equal and every job is vital to our brilliant success.

Hard work: Excellent results are not manufactured, but accomplished through hard work. We understand that and are very familiar with it.

Lawfulness: All our actions and activities are in total obedience, and in complete accordance with the law.

Quality: All our products and services are always held to the highest standards.

Leadership

We believe in leadership by example.

Accountability: We account and take responsibility for our actions, and conduct ourselves responsibly and transparently in all situations and at all times.

Entrepreneurship: We are creative, innovative and ready to take calculated risks.

Perfection: We are performance-oriented and put our best into everything.

People

Like every family, we trust respect and trust each other, and that attitude flows right from the top to the branches. The people make the company, and our people are the best employees, executives, and partners; hence, we are the best company.

Service

We make everything about our patrons because it is.

Community: A good community produces good people. Our people are good people because they come from good communities. In order to maintain the balance, we give back through caring for the environment, maintaining old and raising new fundamental structures, and providing basic necessities to lacking communities.

Customers: Customer service is paramount to us because without our clients and customers, we would be non-existent. We are committed to continually provide value through our products and services.

 

SubsidiariesEvery business venture is held to the highest standards, operated efficiently, and pacesetters in their respective industries.

BNT Gourmet Café is the chain of state-of-the-art cafes designed for and with the quintessential business executive in mind.

Herança Financial is the global, small business advisory firm which deals in the provision of top-notch advice and solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Prestige Academy is the educational institution which delivers quality, unparalleled educational services. These services include entrepreneurial education, financial management education, middle school education, high school education, private tutoring, and renowned etiquette & grooming classes.

Pearl Kreations is the collectibles company which manufactures, retails and supplies superior quality pin back button-badges for a variety of corporate events and personal purposes.

Ransrive Realtors is the property management firm which provides temporary and permanent accommodation through the letting and sale of commercial and residential properties.

Suave Clothing is the unique clothing venture which retails luxury accessories from reputable brand names, manufactures and sells its own line of bespoke dress shirts, dress pants and suits, and provides wardrobe consultation services. It also produces a biannual online style publication called The Suave Series.

Sylver Productions is the innovative firm which provides unique products and services that meet untapped customer needs. It developed, manages and operates proprietary services like CityMail™, TixItUp™, Datlik™ and Wefyl™.

Vecasyer Hotels & Towers is the collection of the most stylish hotels and resorts worldwide, which offer 5-star accommodation with first class professional treatment and services.

 

SKA Ventures also has partial ownership of:

Spinners (75% ownership), an agency which provides expert advertising services and solutions to its clients. It also uses its ace designing skills and creative wordplay to make befitting logos, catchy names and impressive slogans for its clients’ businesses, events and products;

RCubed-Merit (51% ownership), an outfitting firm which highlights and optimizes the potential for various living spaces by redefining the outlook of the rooms, offices, homes and work spaces through the reorganization and restructuring of their overall presentation; and

Centerprise Global Resources (49% ownership), a personal development agency focused on better self, better employees, better business.

 

All subsidiaries operate independently, but are monitored and regulated from its headquarters, SKA Tower, under the leadership of the Chief Executive/Group Managing Director.

punch

February 17, 2019 Leave a comment

I was recently classified as one of the young Nigerians doing well [in his field] by Punch Newspapers and interviewed.

I was asked to share some of my experiences and offer advice that could inspire others.

I was both honored and humbled to be sought out; most of all, always grateful to God for every opportunity.

It was a long one, so the whole interview wasn’t published, but below is the unabridged version of the interview; after it, is a link to the actual publication.

Can we meet you?

Certainly, my name is Sylvester Kay-Adade.

I’m a business consultant, investment banker and serial entrepreneur.

 

What stirred your interest in what you do?

I can’t put my finger on exactly what stirred up the passion for business in me, but what’s got me going is the need for improvement in industries that I find interesting.

 

What is your educational background?

I’ve had quite a journey, educationally, so I’ll stick to the relevant bits.

For high school, I attended Federal Government College, Lagos, and Southern Ontario College, Hamilton. For college, I attended McMaster University and Mohawk College for Social Science/Psychology and Business Management respectively.

 

What is your current position?
I’m the Principal Consultant in Herança Financial.

 

How old are you?

I’m 31 years old.

 

What is your work history?

Most recently, Risk Management and Consulting at Kedari Capital from 2017 till 2019.

However, as a serial entrepreneur, it’s been quite a list, but the most popular are Brand Manager at Pearl Kreations since 2008, and Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Centerprise Global Resources (in partnership with a friend) since 2016.

 

What is your current position and what factors are responsible for your accomplishments?

I’ll focus on Herança Financial, where I’m the Principal Consultant.

I’d have to state passion, persistence, and networking as the top 3 factors, for me.

I’m incredibly passionate about small business – every aspect of it. It’s what I love to do.

I am persistent – I’ve drafted business plans and business proposals pro bono. I’ve taught classes, spoken at seminars, and written articles. I never give up.

I’m reserved, so networking didn’t, still doesn’t come easy, but it’s one of the best ways to meet people and talk to them about yourself, and what you do. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed, people get excited about what you’re saying if you’re also absolutely psyched about what you’re telling them!

 

What is your job description?

Herança Financial is an SME advisory firm.

I spend my time offering advice/developing business ideas, drafting business plans/proposals, advising on expansion plans, and generally providing solutions to various business issues.

 

What motivates your work?

Passion and a drive for excellence. I love what I do; it gets me up in the morning. And whatever I’m involved in must be done right, mediocrity upsets me.

 

What are the challenges you face on the job and how do you surmount them?

The greatest was self-doubt. Every entrepreneur has those moments when they panic and question themselves. Sometimes, it was like “I hope I know what the heck I’m doing”. Those were times when my faith in God, His words concerning me, and His plans for my life were tested. It might sound corny, but I learnt to trust in Jesus and talk to Him more, confess God’s word over my life and make positive declarations daily. One of my favorites is: I am the most excellent of men and my lips have been anointed with grace since God has blessed me forever – Psalm 45:2.

Another challenge is getting people to pay for services rendered! It’s ridiculous. Nigerians have to be one of the toughest people to get your money from. I’ve worked with some micro enterprise owners and some politicians, the same thing! I’ll have to get back to you on that one when I figure it out.

 

What are some notable achievements you have recorded?

In 2010, through Pearl Kreations, I was nominated for Business Owner of the Year at The Future Nigeria Awards. Also through Pearl Kreations, in 2009, I was admitted into the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Business Network. We also worked with the Jim Ovia Foundation for a Youth Empowerment and ICT Event in 2013.

 

In what ways do you think the government can encourage the youth?

I think the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN) initiative that President Jonathan launched was a brilliant initiative. I learnt a lot of young people benefited greatly from it. Though, there could have been better checks, because I know of a few who squandered millions. I thought YouWiN! Connect by President Buhari would be better, and it started off that way, but I read it ended seemingly being some sort of scam.

I think the government can focus on educating youth on business and entrepreneurship, right from secondary school level, if possible. Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for a 9-5 and there very few jobs out there. Even if you’re a salary earner, nothing wrong with multiple streams of income. Our youths can be inspired from a young age to be business owners and employers.

I also think programs like YouWIN should continue, and grants (not equity funding) should be offered, possibly in tranches, to those with good business plans.

 

What aspect of your career do you enjoy the most and how has it impacted your life?

Like I said, I’m passionate about small business. I love to sit with entrepreneurs, watch their eyes twinkle as they share their dreams (it’s like the beginning of a great story every time), help expand their minds/visions, develop a feasible plan with them, and help make those dreams a reality. The impact has just been the immense feeling of fulfillment.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d have to keep to myself, but I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what God has in store for me.

 

What are some of the qualities you think a leader must possess in other to be successful?

I think a leader has to be a teacher and also teachable. A leader has to be kind and respectful. A leader has to be willing to serve and build others up. A leader has to inspire, not only through words, but through action.

 

Was there any incident that changed the course of your life?

By God’s grace, I have experienced great growth in such a short time, through dogged determination and the most random acts of kindness. One that changed the course of my life was my encounter with Suzanne Bourret. Suzanne is/was a journalist. We met at an event showcasing African cultures. I was there selling the most unassuming products, button-badges with flags on them. She was intrigued. She chatted with me for a bit and asked to interview me. My first interview. Before I knew it, I was answering questions, doing a photo shoot, and in a few days, I was on the pages of The Hamilton Spectator (one of the biggest and most widely read newspapers in Ontario). That article was the beginning of great things. I’ll always be thankful to God for that.

 

What are your other interests?

Board Games, Card Games, Charades, Movies, and Tennis.

 

Who are your role models?

I have a bunch of them because I admire different aspects of their lives, but I’ll name a few: My dad, Late Mr. Olukayode Adade, Mr. Elon Musk, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Mr. Jeff Bezos, and Ms. Oprah Winfrey.

 

How would you advise people who aspire to follow in your footprints?

In 2008, a few months after I started Pearl Kreations, I applied to be a vendor for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. I was turned down because I didn’t have business registration and other requirements. I felt deflated, but I snapped out of it. I knew getting in could work wonders for my business. I wrote back stating I was a student entrepreneur and shared the link of the newspaper article I was featured in. By God’s grace, about a week later, I was admitted.

You can’t give up. Yes, it takes time, but if you’re passionate about it and it’s solving a problem/improving a solution, hang in there. Never worry, God’s got you.

 

This is the link to original publication.

 

tides

December 25, 2018 Leave a comment

I have noticed that some of the best things in life happen when you least expect them. You might have been working so hard to attain a certain goal and it would seem like nothing could ever come out of all the effort. Suddenly, the tides change.

I have many, but I’ll share one. An old one, but drives the point home.

In 2008, barely 4 months after I started Pearl Kreations (Pearl Creations, at the time), a friend sent me an ad for an African Culture Festival seeking vendors. The vendor application was a bit pricey, but I scrapped some money together and paid; hoping to make more from sales.

The event was to start at 9:00am, but vendors could set up from 8:00am. It was slated to end 4:00pm. From 9:00am to 4:00pm, I didn’t sell one $2 button. There was interest from attendees, but no one bought a button. In my head, $60 down the drain. The closest I got to a sale was the surprise visit from the Ambassador of Lesotho to Canada. She wanted some with her flag, but I didn’t have any. I had never actually heard of Lesotho before then. I had Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and other popular African countries though.
I apologized and her PA left me the Ambassador’s card. I emailed and sent some to her for free later on that week, I think.

At about 3:30pm, when I was thinking of closing up shop and heading home. I was approached by lady who seemed genuinely impressed by my flag buttons. She (Suzanne) and I had a pleasant conversation. Afterwards, she wrote down some questions and asked me to answer them as simply as possible. When I looked puzzled, she explained she was a journalist with The Hamilton Spectator and wanted to write a piece on me.

The Hamilton Spectator is one of the most widely read newspapers in Hamilton, and possibly, the GTA – Greater Toronto Area. I answered intelligibly, she invited me for a photoshoot, thanked me and left. Later that week, I went for the shoot, and a day or two later, I was featured.

This was 2008, before my dad passed and I did an honorary name change, so I still went by Olusola Adade. This piece announced me and Pearl Creations to Hamilton, the GTA, Canada, Nigeria, and the world. I made way more than $60 eventually! Through this article, I was admitted into the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Business Community in 2009. It also got me nominated for Business Owner of the Year at The Future Awards Africa in 2010.

Things may be terrible, but God can turn any situation around, like He did for me. Trust Him!

Merry Christmas!

patriot

August 15, 2018 1 comment

For the longest time, I considered myself unpatriotic. It stemmed from a complete disdain and disgust for how things always seemed to work in Nigeria. It wasn’t just the state of the country, it was unapologetic irresponsible behavior of most of those in power. I knew things could be better because from an early age, I was fortunate to spend my summer holidays in the western world and exposed to life in a developed environment. I wondered why Nigeria wasn’t the same. I mean, I learned in primary school that Nigeria has, apart from crude oil, arid land, bitumen, coal, gold and lots more. Nigeria has the makings of a super power, but remains an under-developed country. After the era of Nationalists like Nnamdi Azikwe, Tafawa Balewa, and Obafemi Awolowo, its leadership was consumed by insatiable greed – one after the other, looting millions of dollars from a non-dollar-spending economy, treating the national treasury as their personal piggy bank – to the detriment of their own people.

I noticed the imbalance in wealth distribution from a tender age. The very first time the reality dawned on me, I was on my way to school, in an air-conditioned car, with my dad. As usual, beggars would approach the car for alms. However, on this particular day, an elderly beggar walked up to the car, put his palm on window, and caused a smudge. I remembered thinking, Yuck, didn’t he have his bath? Then, I started thinking about all the things he wouldn’t get to do – he probably would live his  entire life without riding in a car, learning how to drive, being driven, or even enjoying a ride in an air-conditioned car, and none of it was his fault. It made me sick.

As I got older, I realized, or rather, it seemed obvious things would never change. Coming to that conclusion, I felt Nigeria was a disaster, and like so many young people, wondered why I had to be born Nigerian, instead of being from somewhere in the United Kingdom or United States. I became so disconnected and didn’t want to have a thing to do with Nigeria. I never saw myself as someone interested in fixing things, but I grew into someone not even remotely interested in making things better. As far as I was concerned, I was simply whiling away time in Nigeria until it was time to finally leave, either through my Master’s or some act of God. I wasn’t even interested in learning to speak or understand any Nigerian language; I made an active effort not to. In fact, Yoruba was the constant red in a sea of blue or the only F in the midst of As in my results all through high school, and I was never fazed. My WAEC result was no different.

At some point, I felt Nigeria was being ruled by people from impoverished backgrounds. That seemed to be the only logical reason why the moment these people got into positions of power, they would decide to alter/change the course of their future generations by shamelessly syphoning millions. I thought, if only Nigeria could have someone from a wealthy family, or at least, someone who could not be fazed by money, finally, things would work. I didn’t know how wrong I was.

I left Nigeria to redo Grade 12 at Southern Ontario College (SOC) to increase my chances of getting into an ivy-league Canadian University. While at SOC, most of my classmates included those who had finished from schools like Atlantic Hall, Grange, Greensprings, Lagoon, Olashore and co. In my mind, these were the cream of the crop. There were few very government-educated people, except for me from Federal Government College Lagos (Ijanikin) and some ladies who finished from Queen’s College. I was finally among people that think like me, or at the very least, those with similar backgrounds. To my astonishment, during a conversation about whether or not to move back to Nigeria, one of the students I met there, who was quite possibly from one of the wealthiest families, said if he got into office, he would take his cut of the national cake. For those who may not be familiar with that phrase, he basically said he would loot too. I was shocked, especially because his father isn’t a politician or politically-connected, so what corrupted him? This was a pivotal point in my life. It became obvious to me that corruption transcends education or pedigree, it is a mindset; a mindset that had, unfortunately, already eaten into my generation.

I was heartbroken. I lost faith in my generation, in Nigeria. I became more resolute in my desire/decision to not return. I loved my country, and I could see its potential, but I wasn’t going to waste my time figuring out how to make the lives of millions of people better when I wouldn’t be able to identify a sect of people I could trust or depend on. I got into McMaster University for a degree in Psychology, started a business in my first year, started another, and then a third business working as a Business Consultant. My life was taking shape rather nicely. In the course of doing business, I came across some concepts I thought could be real moneymakers in Nigeria, so decided to move back for a year or two.

In the summer of 2014, I was blown away. En route to Nigeria, I stopped over in Dubai for an 18-hour layover. Right from the airport, you could already envision what’s to come. I had been through the airport a couple times before – Emirates is my favorite airline – but this would be my first time really taking a look around and leaving the airport for the city. As we being driven through parts of the city, I just shook my head in disbelief. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country just like Nigeria. Well, it isn’t even like Nigeria because they don’t have as many resources as we do, but the one thing we do have in common, they have utilized for the maximum benefit of the Emiratis. I’ve heard people say “Oh, it’s Arab Money”, if you never knew, Nigeria has Arab Money. Nigeria is disgustingly, filthy rich, but some of our leaders won’t let the country be great.

Someone shared an image of a newspaper story from 1973 with me on WhatsApp some time ago that surprised me. I have shared the excerpt below:

nigeria airways 1973

Can you imagine that? The UAE seeking advice from Nigeria. A little over 40 years later, Emirates is the world’s best airline and Nigeria Airways is defunct. What happened?

I honestly believe Nigeria could be infinitely better than the UAE, not only because of its natural resources, but also because of its human capital – the largest in Africa (180 million people); instead, majority of its people are suffering, living in fear, begging for food, sleeping on the streets and under bridges, and dying from thirst, starvation and lack of basic amenities. What kind of a life are my people living? I read recently that Nigeria has surpassed India as having the most people living in extreme poverty in the world – a prediction given by World Poverty Clock barely a year ago. What a shame.

It is pathetic the state this country is in. The average politician struggles to get into office simply to enrich him/herself, not the lives of the people who put their faith in him/her, the people who casted their one vote for him/her. They get into office and begin to misbehave, and if he/she is “magnanimous” enough to fix roads and provide basic amenities, people think he/she is a great person. I don’t dispute that such a person should be commended, but that’s the job they signed up for and what the resources at their disposal are meant for.

A few weeks ago marked my fourth year back home. I’ve thought about returning to Canada several times. I can’t even tell you how many people have asked me why I came from Canada to Nigeria, when people are fleeing/leaving Nigeria for Canada! I won’t deny that there is a sense of comfort owning a British, Canadian, or even, for now, American residence papers, and living a comfortable life, but no offense to anyone uninterested in returning, I cannot be selfish anymore. I can no longer act like whatever happens here is none of my business. I see people who through the actions of visionless leaders, have no/poor education, no exposure, no prospects, no future. I care that the average Nigerian suffers daily just to survive, while their elected leaders live in paradise. Granted, every Nigerian cannot be wealthy, that’s just the way the world is – 1% own 99% of the world’s wealth and all that; my point is the quality of life and cost of living of most Nigerians can be better. I cannot stand idly as our leaders abuse and squander the resources and potential of our nation.

This is not necessarily a campaign; anyone who knows me can testify that I’m most likely the least political person ever. Even if I were to campaign for anything in Lagos (I’m from Badagry), I can’t even speak Yoruba, not very well anyway, talk less of Egun lol. On a serious note though, ranting aside, I’m fed up and I just wonder if there are any youths like me out there – with a similar mindset and relatively strong moral compass – imagine what we could achieve if we band together. Things have got to improve (“change” has been marred by APC) and I certainly cannot do it all alone.

This is more like an appeal. If you love this country and want the best of it, love your people, your family and want the best for them, let’s stand behind a candidate with integrity, with a vision, with a plan, with a moral compass. Life can be better in Nigeria if we, as responsible youths, back such a candidate. Let’s stop voting for parties and vote for the individuals. Nigeria is not a two-party state. It doesn’t have to be one or the more. We don’t have to pick the lesser of two evils. We can make a difference February 16th by electing someone with a heart for Nigeria, a heart for the people, a true patriot. I won’t tell you who; if you know, you know. Fellow young Nigerians, let’s do Nigeria a favor and vote right. Let’s vote in a lion of a president; one without an evil agenda or complacent attitude. We owe it to ourselves and future generations.

God bless Nigeria.