When the Rains fell!

Love-People

I was awakened to a thunderous noise from my deeply cherished friends, some i had known since way back High school and the rest most recently. You could see the excitement on their faces, the joy and the scream.

“It’s your day baby girl, You’re finally going to be a MRS”

These reverbing words sent a cold chill down my spine, as i was nervous, disturbed about many things i couldn’t nomenclate.

As the movement, noise and traffic increased around the house, with my mischievous friends suggesting the best of make-ups to use, i thought to myself quietly.

“Could this be true? Am I going to loose my priced possession to the man I love?”
I wiped my face continuously in disbelieve, it was too good to be true.

This is the beginning of something wonderful and i have to give my best- in smile, in dance and yes in love.

I just couldn’t wait to see my beloved. Now it was time to be finally one with him.

As we got to the entrance of the church, with my hand locked into that of my gleeful father. The pianist played the song i had always admired on television but i still couldnt believe it was for me.

“Here comes the bride”

We patiently followed the rhthym of the song, as the congregation stood in awe, but truth be told my heart was impatient, it had run to meet him. His innocent and loving smile swept me off my feet. i just loved him more.

The priest could feel how desperate we were to get to the end of the ceremony. And as he said

“You may kiss the bride”
The veins of our mouth garnished with a deep love of over 2 years, got ready to express their mutual desire but The last thing i remebered was a distinct, manly violent voice that said “FIRE”

Did i just sleep again?

When i opened my eyes, the church was painted in blood, disarray, and sadness. My beloved was still beside me only that the bullets had taken his heart away. My eyes were soaked
I want to believe i was one of the lucky few that escaped that holocaust

43 years and still counting, i am still looking for the heart of my beloved. My only question was “Why didnt the rain fall a day before or a day after”

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RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS IN NIGERIA


By Gabriel Ogbechie

Good afternoon everyone. My name is Gabriel Ogbechie, I am the Managing Director of Rainoil Limited. Rainoil Limited is a company playing in the downstream sector of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. We’ve been in existence for about 19 years. The title of our lecture today is RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS IN NIGERIA: My Experience. 

So, essentially, we will be talking about running a business in this country from my own point of view. I am essentially going to share my own experience; it’s an experience that has worked, but I don’t want to delude myself by saying that is the only way through which it works. But let us learn from my own experience and see what we can get out of it.

I attended the University of Benin. I left the university in 1987. I took a degree in Engineering, I did my Youth Service in Kano, 1987-88. I worked briefly in Kano, then came to Lagos and joined the company called Pricewater House. I was in Pricewater House up until 1992, then I joined another oil company called Ascon Oil Limited. I was on a fixed salary of N30,000 a month. And I asked myself one very simple question: ‘Gabriel, what else can you do to make N30,000 a month?’ I asked myself that question as I believed then and I still believe today that anything you can do to make your salary can take the place of your job. If you are working in an organization; let’s say a bank and they are paying you N200,000 a month. Essentially, what they are saying is give us your time from 8-5, perform these duties and we will give you N200,000 at the end of the month. Anything you can do to make that N200,000 can take the place of your work. So, I asked myself that question: ‘Gabriel, what else can you do to make N30,000 a month?’ And I said if I could sell one truck of diesel, I will make one naira per litre and a truck of diesel is N30,000 litres. If I am to sell a truck of diesel and make one naira per litre margin, I will make N30,000, which was my salary. A truck of diesel, 92,93,94, was selling for N300,000. We were buying it for nine naira per litre and selling it for ten naira per litre making a one naira per litre margin. So, I said if I could sell a truck of diesel, I will make one naira per litre, which was N30,000. So, I set out to raise N300,000. But first things first, I needed to incorporate a company. So, 1994, I remember that my wife and I went to meet a friend who is a pastor and lawyer. We went to their house one evening and we started bandying names around. ‘Gabriel, why don’t you call it Gab Oil, why don’t you call it this oil, that oil and my friend said Gabriel, you know Rain stands for blessing, so why don’t we call it Rain Oil and I said you know what, you are right, but then instead of Rain Oil, we are going to merge the two together to make one word, Rainoil Limited, and that was how Rainoil Limited, was incorporated in November 1994. I got my certificate of incorporation, put it in the drawer and I called it step 1.

Remember, I had a hypothesis. The hypothesis was that if I could sell a truck of diesel in a month, I will make N30,000. So, I set out to raise N300,000. I didn’t have the money, I wrote proposals, I went to those who I knew had the money. I was so sure that it was going to work, but all I heard was come here today, come here tomorrow. Stories!

So, I learnt my first lesson: people rarely give money to those who don’t have. Do I have a witness in the house? (All: Yeah)
 My office was in Isolo, Ire Akari Estate Road and I had a stockbroker who was on Bank Anthony Way in Ikeja. With as little as N2,000 in my pocket, I will drive from Isolo to Ikeja, meet my stock broker and say buy me 1000 units of First Bank;  1500, I will drive to Ikeja and tell him to buy me 800 units of Nigerian Breweries. By 1996, I was getting frustrated, I couldn’t raise the N300,000. One evening, I brought out my capital market file and I started itemizing all the stocks one by one: 1000 units of 7UP at 70k per share, N7000;, 2000 units of First Bank at N6 per share, N12,000; I itemized the stocks; it went into 2 pages. When I summed it up, I was surprised, it came to N497,000. I was shocked. Those were the days of shares certificates, not these days of CSCS. I gathered the shares certificates, took them back to the same stockbroker, he verified the ones he could verify, sold the ones he could sell and at the end of the day, I had my N300,000.
Now, recall that I had a hypothesis that if I sell a truck of diesel, I would have N30,000. So, I needed to go into the market place now to test this hypothesis. I went to a company in Ogba called First Aluminium. I had a classmate in the university who was working there. So, he introduced me to the purchasing manager, a man called Mr. Ojo. I was the sales man; I’m still a sales man. So, I had no much challenge. All I needed was for Mr. Ojo to give me an LPO to supply them 30,000 litres of diesel at N10 per litre, making 30,000. So, Mr. Ojo told me to come on this faithful Tuesday and pick my LPO. So, this day, I got to First Aluminium, very excited. ‘Ehn, Mr. Ojo, what’s up with the LPO?’ He said, ‘Gabriel, the LPO is not ready’. I said why? He said GM. I got up, he thought I was leaving. First Aluminium had a GM, his office was down the corridor, a man called… I didn’t know him as a person, but I knew him by reputation. So, I approached his office. He had a secretary who used to sit by the right side of his door. I knew that if I made the mistake of telling that secretary that I wanted to see the GM, that would have been the end of it. So, I approached the door. ‘Good afternoon ma’. Before she could raise her head to see who was greeting her, I had opened the door to the GM’s office. ‘Good morning sir, my name is Gabriel Ogbechie, my LPO is on your table. Please…’ He said from which company, ‘I said Rainoil’. He said, ‘Which one is Rainoil? We only buy from Mobil, Total and Unipetrol’. I did all the marketing I could do that day, he wasn’t ready to sign the LPO, Gabriel Ogbechie wasn’t ready to go anywhere. He was seated, I was standing. At some point, he got tired of me. He wanted to leave me in his office, so he got up. As he approached the door, I just used my body and blocked the door and said to him, ‘Help a young man who wants to grow, sign this LPO’. He looked at me long and hard, went back to his table, signed the LPO and said, ‘I don’t want to ever see you in my office again’. I said thank you very much sir.

I took this LPO, we made the supply. By the time we made the supply, price had moved; instead of N30,000, I made N45,000. I was so excited. We got the cheque December 1996, I cannot forget. It was an SGBN cheque. The cheque drawn on Societe Generale Bank, Oba Akran branch. You know when you start a business from the scratch, you remember some very minute details. By the time the cheque cleared, Christmas had come. 1996, we went on Christmas break, came back in January, did the second supply. This time, it was to Limca, on Abimbola Way, in Isolo. They paid cash, margin N60,000. It was working. The third supply was to one company called United Spinards, on Apapa-Oshodi Express Road. Margin N25,000. It was working. Meanwhile, I was still on my job. Warren Buffet, in one of his books, says if you want to test how deep a river is, you don’t go with your two legs. But by May 1997, it was clear that it was sustainable. So, I left my job to face the business squarely. From that singular seed of N300,000 in 1997, we’ve been able to grow the business to what it is today to the glory of God.

Today, Rainoil Limited, we own about 40 petrol stations spread across this country. We own a fleet of about 80 tank trucks which move petroleum products across the country. First thing first: a lot of people start their business because they want to be their own boss. Another reason why a lot of people start their own business is the economy; maybe the economy just thrusts entrepreneurship on you. In 2008/2009, when banks had a lot of problems that forced the consolidation, a lot of people lost their jobs, people who didn’t plan to do something for themselves suddenly found themselves on the streets. So, they had to do something for themselves.

Another reason of course is financial independence. If you run your own business, I mean, you have your own destiny in your own hands, your income is entirely up to you. My people say, When you are in paid employment, what Igbo man calls “money that is counted” (Ego aguu onu). When you are in paid employment, even if you earn N100 million per annum, which is huge, the salary is still a finite sum. Somebody still has to count it, to say this money is complete. But if you are running your own business, your income is entirely up to you. Another reason is freedom from 8-6 work. Another key reason people start their businesses is also to follow their passion. When I look around this hall, I see people like Zeb Ejiro, I can see Wunmi Obe. I mean, these are talented artistes. People who have followed their own passion. Then, in the 90’s, everybody used to tune their radios to listen to Larry Izamoje, and then I used to be confused if he lived in Lagos or Abeokuta. I mean, he could be commuting to and fro, Lagos to Abeokuta. All this is driven by passion. So, I am not surprised that he is successful and has gone ahead to build Brila FM, which is focused mainly on sports. He followed his passion.
Now, what kind of business should people go into? I tell people, the most important thing you need in any business you want to do is knowledge. A lot of people think it’s capital, but it is knowledge. When you put knowledge in front and capital is trailing knowledge, what tends to happen is that the knowledge acts as a protective shield over the capital. When you put capital in front and knowledge is trailing capital, what tends to happen is that you lose the capital to acquire the knowledge and what happens is we say you have learned the hard way. May it not be our portion to learn the hard way. (All: Amen).

You see, there is money in this country. I love this country. There is too much money; money begging to be made. You need to see it. You see, what we sit down here and can’t see, expatriates come from miles away to pick money on our streets. There is money. Many of us here are Christians. The Bible says whatsoever you lay your hands on shall prosper. The key thing is lay your hands on what you understand. I went into the oil business because I worked in an oil company for 5 years. I didn’t have money then, but I saw money being made, I had the knowledge, I knew that if I could lay my hands on that magical N300,000, I would find my way, I would be able to navigate my way.
Tony Okoroji is here. He is a musician, he has got the talent and what he is doing is about music. I see a lot of Nollywood artistes here. These are people, they have the talent, the knowledge, they are working around the movie industry because that is the knowledge they have.
The other thing I want to talk about is how you can raise capital. A lot of people say there is no money. I tell people, first things first. If you want to raise capital, raise capital from personal savings. I will ask you a very simple question: what is the difference between N50,000 and N40,000? A lot of people will say N10,000. The next question I will ask is the person who earns N50,000, at the end of the month, naturally, he is broke; the person who earns N40,000, at the end of the month, he is also broke. But he is not dead. If you are the guy who earns 40k, at the end of the month he is broke, but he is not dead, so why can’t the guy that earns N50,000 save N10,000? It’s consumption pattern. Too many people are eating both their fruit and their seed. You see, very pretty lady, I like that your bag. It’s a pretty bag. I hope you agree with me? They say it’s a Chanel bag. It’s 100k, the other lady is carrying a bag, they say it’s a DG bag, it’s 150k. What is the difference? They are all bags. Somebody is wearing a shirt, he says it is Tommy Hilfiger, another one is YSL. What is the difference? They are all shirts. People are eating their fruit and their seed. But you see, there is what I call the mango principle. Let’s take the mango fruit for example. When you eat a mango, you enjoy it, at some point, you see the seed. Are you supposed to eat the seed? No! You can’t eat the seed. You see, that seed, whether you consciously till the ground and plant it or you throw it away, as long as it touches sand, it germinates and when it germinates, it gives you another mango tree. That, not only gives a complete fruit of mango, but gives it to you year after year, in perpetuity. But what is happening is that too many people are eating both the fruit and the seed. If you earn 50k and can’t save 10k, if you earn N500,000, you can’t save N50,000, because as your income increases, so does your taste and your appetite expand to accommodate that extra income. So, you need to save. People think that banks don’t give loans, but banks give loans if you understand the banking industry. Banks are desperately looking for people to give money to because banks won’t make money except they give out loans. The only thing is that you start your business with equity.

 That word capital stands for owner’s equity. Banks don’t give you capital, banks bring debt into the business. You start your business with your own equity, as the business begins to expand, you gradually begin to introduce debt into the business, to help you grow the business. You know, when you go to the bank and the bank says go and give me your one year bank statement, what the banker wants to see is you’ve been trading with N5 million; what have you done with N5 million? So, for the past one year, what is your credit and debit in your account? You go to the bank and say I’ve been dealing with N5 million, but in the past one year, I have been able to make extra N5 million, then I now have N10 million; if only you can give me N10 million, I can make N30 million. You don’t just walk into the bank from day one and say give me loan, I want to start a business. It’s difficult.
Another one, of course, is investors. You can raise capital through investors. You can get people to come and invest in your business. If you have a wonderful business idea, you can sell it to investors, if you are able to convince them. Of course, they can put money in your business. Another one is family and friends. Typically, if you want to start a business, the first person you sell your business idea to is your wife or spouse or siblings. If you don’t get support from your immediate family, then you have a very long way to go. For the employee, money is for consumption; people who are in paid employment, once they collect their salaries, what comes to their mind is, I want to pay my rent…
I tell people, money, for me, means nothing. It’s just a figure. N100 million, N200 million. It’s nothing, it’s just a figure. You must be able to see money and keep your cool and you must have the right mindset about money. For the entrepreneur, money is for production, for the employees, money is for consumption. People who are in paid employment, once they earn their salaries, what comes to their mind is I need to pay my rent, I need to keep a little bit of savings here, spend money on this. The enterprenuer always thinks of the next project; what do I do next with this money? I will give you an example, just imagine, you have somebody who is into real estate. You are into real estate, you are trying to build an estate in Badore, you’ve been able to acquire the land with your own money, you’ve brought your surveyor, your QS, you’ve done the design, they’ve costed it, it’s going to cost N800 million to develop the estate and then you go to the bank and ask for your balance, they scribble it for you, N200 million, you have N200 million in the bank, the project you want to do is N800 million. Do you have money? (All: Yes).

What makes you think he has money? A man wants to do a project of N800 million and he has N200 million in the bank. That guy is so broke. You have no idea; he is broke to the tune of N600 million. He doesn’t have money, because he is thinking of the project he wants to do. So, you must have the mindset and truly, he doesn’t have money and you know the funny thing is that when he finishes that project, he begins to think of the next project to do. Businessmen always think of the next project. You always keep thinking, because that is the only way to grow the business. I tell people, you either grow or you die. There is no remaining static. The only way to grow is to keep investing in the business. You must keep regenerating the business. The next thing is that you must keep your earnings in the business. If you are running a business, as you make money, ensure you don’t consume all what you are making. Keep your earnings in the business.

Rainoil is a company that we have grown largely with internally retained earnings. We make money, we keep the money in the business and we keep expanding the business, from one petrol station to 2,3,4,5, to 6. I mean, I look at the business today and there was no day we went into the market and just acquired like four petrol stations at a go. No, it’s one by one. You see, the beauty of it is that when you have one contributing to the pool, then suddenly you have two contributing to the pool, by the time you have up to ten, you will find out that the rate with which you regenerate yourself becomes faster, because you have more contributing into the pool. Another thing I want to talk about is that you must expand the business. I recall in 1997, I was living in Egbeda, Christmas day 1997, we drove all the way from Egbeda to Allen. Where were we going to? We were going to Mr. Biggs. We got to Mr. Biggs, there was no chicken, no meat pie, no doughnut, it was all finished. Why? In 1997, Mr. Biggs was a big thing in this town. In year 2000, I remember when Tantalizers opened on Allen Avenue, Tantalizers was such a big deal that if you go to Tantalizers then, there was a camera man there just to take pictures that you came to Tantalizers to eat fried rice. How many of you here remember? (All: Yeah).

Oh, we must have a bit of history because if things unfold too fast before us, if we are not careful, we miss some of those little things. But you see, today, if you go to Allen, there is Mr. Biggs, there is Tantalizers, there is KFC; going further down to Opebi, there is TFC, Sweet Sensation, name it. Whatever location you find yourself, it’s only a matter of time, competition will catch up with you. Any business you are doing, any location you find yourself, it’s only a matter of time, competition will catch up with you, because as you are making money, people are watching. Ah! This guy has a fashion shop on Akin Adesola, that place is booming. Before you know it, fashion shops will come around you. I remember around year 2005, we opened a petrol station in Asaba. This petrol station was a hit, we were selling 45,000 litres of fuel a day. So much fuel, so much money. We were excited, but the moment we opened it, we moved to the next location. Today, that petrol station struggles to sell maybe 20% of what it was doing then. Why? Because if you go there today, there are three petrol stations to the left of it, another four to the right and maybe five opposite the petrol station. Why? Because as that petrol station was doing well, the market was taking notice. I remember in 2010, we went to a place called Oghara in Delta State to build a tank farm. Then, Oghara wasn’t well known. Today, if you mention Oghara, everybody knows where Oghara is on the petrol import map in this country. But then it was a novel location. I remember when I fly into Benin then, and I am driving to Oghara, I will be laughing. I will say when will the industry realize this location? But in Oghara, at our gate in Oghara today, is a dual carriage way; at our backyard in Oghara is our own jetty, our own sea port. So, ships come all the way from abroad and anchor at my backyard in Oghara to discharge petroleum products. It’s a wonderful location. I will be laughing. Of course, when we commissioned the place in 2011, it was an instant hit, but you know what, we didn’t just sit down in Oghara and say this is where God has buttered our bread and this is where we will remain, even though it was an instant hit. We immediately started looking for another location. Within the next three years, we had gotten a location in Calabar, built another tank farm and moved on. Today, I go to Oghara; when we went to Oghara, we were practically the first and the only one. Today, there are eight tank farms already completed and functioning and maybe another five still under construction. But we don’t wait for competition to catch up with us. We have moved on. We’ve moved to Calabar. The one in Calabar, we have completed it and we have moved on. So, you must branch out. Don’t wait for competition to catch up with you. Then, of course, you also need to have what I call staying power. You know, as they say, hustle while you wait. Even when nothing seems to be happening, remain in the business. When you are in paid employment and you are on a fixed salary, they are paying you six million naira per annum, your income is N500,000 every month, it is fixed, it is certain like that every month. 

Companies don’t make money like that. When a company makes N120 million in a year, it may not make that next year. Some months, it may make N20 million, another month, it may lose N1 million, but at the end of the year, somehow, it adds up. So, it is staying power that keeps you going when you are running your business, keeps you going when nothing seems to be happening. Because you know, as they say, there is no going back to Egypt. You don’t put your hands on the plough and look back. Once you take that step of faith, that transition, leaving your paid employment to going to run your own business, you must keep looking forward. There is no going back.

On that note, I want to say thank you very mumuch

Culled From theyesng.com

Cosmic Cry


Feel the pulse of morn

Dew that reeds the sky

Breathing tenderness,

Softness, innocence

And pity!

Pity for the evil that lay

Lurked in the ways of man

Performed in the heart of the day

with ignorance, despair

And that little thing called Ego
Feel the pulse of noon

Scorch that sons the sun

Bleeding blood,

Anger, death

And hope!

Hope that sanity will thrive

Stupidity n longer dwells

As a celebrated turtle

Receding the race
Feel the pulse of the moon

Retracting like a petrified snail

lulling through the night

Scoping the corrupt

Dance to a sinister tune

drummed with a penchant for revenge

Violence and mischief

Rage clouds the mind

in anticipation for the morn
Only now does it bleed…

Please! Please!

Quell this evil

#SpotOn With Bongwong Justin

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The tempests of youth are mingled with days of brilliant sunshine.-Luc De Clapiers

Happy new month to our esteemed readers, in this edition of #SpotOn, newly-appointed Global Head of Events, World Merit, Bongwong Justin, takes us on a personal and insightful journey through the paths of active youth volunteerism and social innovation.
I first encountered Bongwong under the auspice of Ashoka/African Changemakers Network in a community that exhumes energy and passion to see change come to Africa not by dreaming of it or mere wishing but then taking the initiative to ensure it becomes a reality. He is one of such people who has taken it upon himself to lead change in Africa starting from his home town in Cameroon.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

Who is Bongwong Justin ?

Bongwong Justin is the Co- founder of EFAO working on rural education and has contributed on quality education of children in about 11 rural schools with about 600 children having access to education today. The initiative that led to the creation of Banten community Library was to impact on the life of Marginalized children in Cameroon as we campaign to impact on the lives of the underprivileged.

He has passion in promoting World Merit Propaganda which he calls the only way for the hope of mankind, as he moves from Head of Advocacy and Partnership Committee to join the Global Marketing team.He was Delegate in the 2016 Youths speak forum powered by AIESEC and the MilliMUN conference in Baku.

Looking forward to be a great global citizen is all he wishes as he looks forward to engage all the Youths at all angles of the world to fight for SDGs till 2030 with 360 Conference in UN.

-What’s your lifelong passion and what are you doing to bring it to reality?

Coming from a rural area in Africa has been a great opportunity to identify the problems of my people, Coming from a problem region has made me to become a solution. As M. Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” .Therefore I have pledged to be change I want in the world through volunteerism.

In 2006 being so passionate about community development at that time when so many children in my community were not still able to go to school because of one reason or the other. By then I was still studying to obtain my advance level certificate from Government Bilingual High school Kumbo in Cameroon. I had a vision to improve the situation of less privileged children to gain the opportunity to attend school in suburbs as prevailing situation was too critical.

Many children study in the rural areas and majority of them do not have the means to finance their school needs. I have joined so many youth networks to make this dream a reality. I think my journeyto put an everlasting solution to the problems faced in rural education should be an integrated approach with international community. As it is being said “Think globally and act locally’’ I have alway followed the advocacy of Nelson Mandela. He started from his  local community and Dr Bernard Fonlon did the same too in my community.

 Coming from a rural area in Africa has been a great opportunity to identify the problems of my people, Coming from a problem region has made me to become a solution.

How did EFAO come to be and what has been its achievement so far?

My mother was very good at subsistence farming where she educated us all with my father as he could not make it with his retailing business at the time. I use to feel bad when I was at school and others were not at school. In 2003 we could not  boast of 4 advanced level learners from my village in the Cameroon general certificate studies but after consistent advocacy in my community people have opened up to take school serious either because of EFAO  that started as a family initiative or because of Globalization.

In our house our father (Bongwong Aloysious) use to keep our books for previous classes in his room in his Red Cross box where he had been keeping his valuable documents when he was a volunteer. One day I said why keep these books to waste while lower income children were facing problems with books? Secondly we were left in smaller classes but we were not using these book. Then I decided to take these books out and started sharing to the poor kids in 2006 and it was generally successful.  This initiative led to Bongwong’s Family Academic award. From there My Sinior Joachin Nsofini a PhD student in Waterloo, Canada  and Bongwong Albert from SHUMAS Cameroon were always there to support. From Family it became a community campaign in Banten Village in Bui Divison.

It is through this initiative that more than 600 kids are looking forward to gain quality education as goal 4 of the SDGs.

 

If you were the president of Cameroon what is the one thing you will like to change or see happen?

Even though I have a degree in Law and Political Science, I am not interested in being the President of Cameroon but Presuming I am one, I will make the system of equal opportunity, address the issue of sustainable cities, ensure sanitation in cities and solve regional inequality because it is only developing in a binary city format which shall not be a good thing for the future we are dreaming of.

I will improve on youth participation in public action and SDGs, change the curriculum of study and make the study more practical than theory so as to make youths not just certificate holders but economic operators. That is what will achieve sustainable development goals from no. 1, poverty to partnerships (goal 17). I will increase also the investment budget and reduce the retirement age in government.

Lastly I will create institute of Social innovation and SDGs and empower the youths with skills and resources and also promote informal education. I will empower the civil society to solve global challenges.

 

How did you become the Global Head of Events at World Merit?

My appointment to the five member Global Marketing team can be essentially traced to my community endeavours. The experiences made me to be stronger than ever before. Ever since I joined the world merit community, I have remained committed and always love what we do because of the passion I have for such an incredible movement.

In 2015 precisely on the 12th of July I organized an event in Banten Community, in Cameroon to engage youth in volunteerism and promote community development by building their capacities. This was called the “Young African Leaders Initiative Youth Forum”, because at that time I had just completed e-learning courses with YALI on Leadership and Civic engagement and I wanted to maximize this new learning. This event was what led me to ever know about World Merit.

Someone introduced me to the Cameroon Country rep. to World Merit. We shared contacts and he told me to follow up on World Merit. In January 2016, Together with some Cameroonian Youths our country Representative selected carefully World Merit Cameroon team and we democratically took responsibilities as World Merit Cameroon Board Members. There at World Merit Cameroon I was Head of the Advocacy and partnership committee. After I had signed in the virtual site where I came across so many millennial fighting and promoting Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

It was a dream come through to me joining such an energetic community. World Merit Platform www.worldmerit.org is where I meet all the youth leaders of the world. I have more than 1000 friends in the platform and it happened that every member is credited with points for whatever you do in the platform like posting of pictures of activities you do in your community. As CEO of EFAO I have been updating whatever I do to the World Merit community.

In this Platform I have been credited with more than 62,000 Merit points and 8 badges of achievements. I have achieved this throughout my tireless efforts online to update whatever I do. The mission of world merit won my heart beyond my imagination.

 I will improve on youth participation in public action and SDGs, change the curriculum of study and make the study more practical than theory so as to make youths not just certificate holders but economic operators.

What are your advice to African Youths?

Africa is blessed with so many talented youths who are ready to work towards SDGs but it will not be of any help at all if they do not lead their futures themselves and at the same time lead the destiny of the world by engaging in Sustainable Development Goals either directly with World Merit at www.worldmerit.org or indirectly in a synergy or partnership.

Moreover, let us study in class and think of the impact to society and not on the Certificates and titles. Let African children be architects of their destinies and take democratic principles serious as a civic responsibility because politics at times has been a great problem to equal opportunity, favouritism and corruption that has pushed so many meritorious youths to the wall and in that respect has been a failure to see them realizing their potential.

Since I started working with these great youths in networks like Young African Leaders Initiative, African Change Makers Initiative and now Ashoka Network, I have realized that there are so many powerful ideas coming from youths in the civil society sector.

This is a clear sign that youths are determined to stand and fight together global challenges. I therefore advise them that there is a common achievement or success in businesses that addresses societal problems. Let us learn to volunteer and develop society, do charity together with social entrepreneurship. Let‘s develop the knowledge and skills necessary for successful strategic leadership performance, within the context of dynamic local and global challenges with social entrepreneurship. Set goals and develop flexible strategies for satisfying diverse stakeholder and partner’s demands across and other value adding systems.

Equally as a social entrepreneur on SDGs I advise all the social Innovators in Africa to join world Merit as Local Partners and indirectly will impact on change for themselves and for the society. We have 17 sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030.

We must not fail dear mother Africa, because we have promised and failed during the Millennium Development Goals on the 2015 deadline. So this time with all youths taking lead in the Sustainable Development goals from Climate change (Goal 13) and so many others. World Merit will develop a lot of strategies to help them realize this dream.

Follow the action connected on their platform and see what “Recycle Up Ghana’’ could do with Sampson Oboh colleague from Ghana. That means as Millennials we are possible. So let everyone get up and take action on these goals and keep the world a better one for all.

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs in the comment box

IITA Youth Agripreneurs 2016

hello_tractor_final_smallIITA Youth Agripreneurs is partnering with Hello Tractor to train young Agripreneurs in Nigeria on the use of a ‘Smart Tractor’ designed by the company. The training which will commence in September after the project launch in Abuja on Monday, July 18, will bridge the gap in the use of ICT and mechanization in agriculture.

The Hello Tractor project funded by USAID is another self-developed proposal of IITA Youth Agripreneurs after the Community Youth Agripreneurs project. The Hello Tractor which is a two year project project will give IYA the opportunity of providing training for 100 youths on the business of owning, maintaining, utilizing and promoting services for a fleet of smart tractors. IYA will also support the participants in facilitating formation of individual and group-based enterprises to ensure more engagement of youth in the agricultural sector.

The training workshop which will take place in three different regions: Ibadan Abuja, and Kano will range from lectures, case studies, brainstorming, discussions, group exercise, demonstrations, debates, and videos. Training contents for the workshop will include curriculum, such as agribusiness value chain, use of ICT in agribusiness, mechanization in agriculture, networking skills, entrepreneurship, introduction to tractor and implement maintenance, business management, risk management, organizational/administrative development, business model/plan and marketing. . All these are expected to aid the youth in sustaining a productive and competitive tractor agribusiness enterprise.

Applicant must meet the following criteria.

  1. Youth between age of 18-35
  2. Interested in practicing Agribusiness and developing the capacity of others.
  3. Educational Qualification(NCE, OND, HND, Bsc)
  4. Interested in owning and rendering services with Fleet of SMART tractors.

To apply, please click this link: http://goo.gl/Wvrlmk

How Great is Your Idea?

When I was much younger, I heard someone say all human beings are entitled to 5 minutes madness daily. I don’t know how true that is, but I think its absurd and scary. It means someone who lives for 70 years has spent about 127,750 minutes in madness; approximately 90 days as a mad man.
Contrary to that, I believe every one is entitled to a life time of greatness.

Greatness is a choice, you too can be great.

Ever wondered how people develop multi-billion dollar ideas? You read someone’s story and wish you had the idea instead, in some cases its a very simple idea and you feel you could have done better if you were in the person’s shoes.

The secret to being great is execution.

Execution starts with a paper and biro or any writing material, even your notepad, thanks to technology. Every now and then, ideas popup in our heads, great ideas that we neglect.
How do you know an idea isn’t great if you never executed it?

To execute that idea that came jokingly which probably has the potential of greatness, the first step is to write it down.
No matter how good your brain is, you are bound to forget some things every now and then, and if not the entire idea, some key elements.
When you write it down, you can always go back to it, re-read, develop, make it better and plan towards it.

After you must have written it down, take your time to think carefully about it, then go back and re-edit the idea.

The next step is to write down an execution/operations plan.
Your plan could be to start the execution now, next 5 years, lesser or more, but most importantly, write down a plan with a time frame and a deadline. Often times, go back to the idea and just re-read for the sake of it, new ideas will definitely come out of it.

Whatever your execution plan is, be disciplined and work according to it.
This is where you need to combine hard wok, consistency and strategy to keep you pushing.

Greatness is relevant;

No matter how great your idea is, you need to clearly define the goal and the vision of your idea. No one else can see your vision clearer than you, no one else can execute your idea better than you.

The next step will be to seek opinions from those around you, could be parents, friends, mentors etc. Since its still an idea, you can’t patent or copyright just an idea, so be careful how you present it and who you present it to. Choose those you’ll work with strategically and tell God about it. You might also consider expressing your idea in Power Point to look more vivid, but most importantly, start the idea, no one will take you serious if you have not started something. A business plan and financial projections are also necessary, don’t skip that part.

Procrastination will kill the idea even before maturity.

Criticism is good; only if you use it to get better. So far you’re sure of your goal and vision, don’t let anyone discourage your greatness, they can’t see what you’re seeing. If you’re doing it for the right reasons, with the right attitude and the right people, You can and you will be great.

By Ehlwittee

#SpotOn With Tomi Ogunlesi

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My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.- Maya Angelou

In this edition of #SpotOn, an ad man sailing through the oceans of marketing and brand management, Tomi Ogunlesi delivers profound insights on tips and nuggets that has kept him thriving and pushing forward in his present path.

Tomi Ogunlesi who is the Corporate Brand Manager of arguably the leading electronic transaction switching and payment system in Nigeria, brings to bare the saying that success really is a combination of preparation and opportunity, having started acting on his passion, and igniting his creativity even when it didn’t look like the road to be taken.

He is a brilliant strategic thinker who has been able to express his creative prowess on brands like Intel, First Bank, Virgin Nigeria, Reckitt Benckiser and many others.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

 

Who is Tomi Ogunlesi in 140 characters?

I guess the descriptor on my twitter profile would be expedient, given the expected brevity of the response to this poser.

Ardent Student of Culture+Brands. Post Modern Marketing Strategist. Classical + Contemporary Pianist & Guitarist. Art Collector. Very Good Bad Guy! J

 

…..Are we out of characters yet?

 

How did growing up affect your choice of career?

I am not too sure about this, but what I can say in hindsight is that I think certain experiences along the line conspired to put me on the track that I’m currently on. Both of my parents were in the medical field, and I grew up on a campus-like environment in a house that was pretty much a library of sorts. My siblings and I used to compete to be first to read the dailies once they came in. Would say I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by a diverse repertoire of titles and subject matter ranging from such extremes as The British Journal of Psychiatry (understandably so, my father being a career psychiatrist), a good chunk of Sigmund Freud, C.S Lewis’ books to Enid Blytons (Famous five, Secret Seven, etc).

Also remembrance-worthy is that I believe my older brother, now a pretty acclaimed writer/journalist/blogger and social media ‘overlord’ sort of influenced me to start writing stuff from early on….I still have weather-beaten scraps of drafts of wannabe ‘Enid Blyton’ type stories I wrote back in the day, and Ah yes! I also used to draw all manner of stuff…..At the point of making a ‘career choice’, I remember being quite confused, being that I seemed to be interested in so many things but a common denominator was that whatever it was had to involve writing and being imaginative or ‘creative’. I was also discerning enough to know that the mathematically-inclined fields weren’t my strongest point. At different times, I was under illusions that I would be a medical specialist, a renowned economist or a NASA scientist, eventually sometime in the course of undergraduate life, I realized the world of advertising (even in the limited perception I had of it back then) probably held the allure for me….the rest, as is said, is history, lest I bore you with the detail!

 

What facilitated your interest in the creative industry?

I may have touched on some of these in answering the last question, and whilst I was persuaded that I could be ‘creative’ and I knew would probably fare better and be most engaged doing something eclectic, sometime in my 3rd year of undergraduate studies (studying environmental chemistry & toxicology in a University of Agriculture!), I began taking more than a passing interest in adverts.

By year 4 when I was going for what was known as the ‘SIWES attachment’ (It’s probably still called that), I had started actively building my own scrapbook of adverts, complete with headlines, body copy and art direction. I’d basically taken up the pastime of recreating adverts that caught my fancy, trying to string headlines that rhymed well enough and all of that kind of stuff. By the time I was back from the 6 month internship, I had become convinced that all of the NMR spectroscopy, hazardous substances management, analytical chemistry etc. wasn’t going to be my thing!

Lest I forget, from reading a lot of newspapers, I started noticing certain guys who were always in media briefing pictures and event photo-splashes, characterized by their mostly sharp sartorial looks, and the very interesting names of the firms they represented. Not like I really understood much of what they did at the time, but what was interesting to me was that there were a few of them I’d started to encounter in the papers recurrently, and the striking thing was that they seemed to have their fingers in many different pies, always being seen with different clients. I suppose that also struck a chord, and shaped my resolve to break into that business to really experience what those guys had. Funnily, as trivial or primordial as those motivations now seem, those where some of the things that really gingered my interest…It’s worthy of mention that the scrap-book of imitation adverts I started building as a 3rd year undergraduate was instrumental to my getting my 1st advertising job in Lagos about 4 years after, 2 months before I completed the NYSC. Of course, I quickly got to appreciate the more profound sides to advertising/communications once I was privileged to get into the mainstream .and there’s been no looking back since then.

I realized the world of advertising (even in the limited perception I had of it back then) probably held the allure for me

Motivation over the years…

Interestingly, for me, the dynamics of the world of marketing, brand management, advertising and the creative arts generally offers motivation in itself (even before any of the typical motivating factors such as financial compensation, awards and the like). The opportunity and leverage one has to infuse your thoughts and perspectives into the construct of brands, and to thereby shape experiences, culture, expectations etc. is fundamentally a motivation. The marketing/creative sphere is so lateral, iterative and engaging, as compared with some other more strait-jacketed fields of endeavor which are more linear in orientation (and less interesting, in my personal assessment).

I’m also spurred by the fact that there are so many possibilities in terms of growth and professional development prospects, and the realization that with interest, passion and continuous learning and exposure, one can take full responsibility for their self-development and career progress!

The reality is that once an individual finds their true spot, motivation becomes intrinsic, as frequently said, it’s just like getting paid as a bonus for doing what you ordinarily enjoy.

Your top three most inspiring books would be? 

Wow, I’ve got quite a bit of these, I’ll probably name more than 3

  1. Robert Kiyosaki’s books – ‘Cashflow Quadrant’ & ‘Dad, Poor Dad’…read these 2 books a long time ago, and the perspectives on financial literacy have been very liberating to say the least.
  2. Spencer Johnson’s ‘Who moved my cheese?’
  3. Malcolm Gladwell – ‘Tipping Point’
  4. And of course, from a professional POV, I cannot forget David Ogilvy’s masterpieces “Confessions of an Advertising Man” and “Ogilvy on Advertising”– despite the vagaries of time, the simple truths and insights espoused therein, about not only communication, but indeed human behaviour remain intriguingly relevant, moreso when you consider that these thoughts were penned at a time when marketing/communication was so straightforward, as compared to contemporary times.

The reality is that once an individual finds their true spot, motivation becomes intrinsic, as frequently said, it’s just like getting paid as a bonus for doing what you ordinarily enjoy.

What are the skill sets you think a lad interested in strategy and brand management should possess?

I would extend this beyond skill-sets to also mention attitude and a mind-set.

As regards the requisite skill-set to excel in strategy and brand management, I’d say the following

  1. Ability to strike a good balance between one’s left and right brains (logic and creativity…I like to call it a fair mix of ‘logic’ and ‘magic’)
  2. Necessarily, good communication capabilities – in writing, speaking, presenting (and listening of course!)
  3. A vast knowledge base – which can really only be acquired/broadened by learning, reading and getting exposure…it’s what’s also referred to as depth, and this is what separates a lot of high-flying folks from the rest, particularly within the context of our industry

 

On attitude, and mindset  (which is equally as important as skill-set, if not more…all the skills without the right attitude and mindset won’t get anyone so far, regardless of what field of endeavor they’re in!);

  • Real interest…or call it passion about what you do (or want to do)
  • Self-motivation…also stems from how much passion you’ve got
  • Open mindedness and a capacity to learn fast and to be comfortable with transition
  • A relentless quest for self-development and exposure
  • A resolute, somewhat persistent character (without the nuisance factor!)
  • Capacity to manage your expectations and also to quickly ginger up yourself and re-bound after disappointments….in reality, it’s a tough industry/circle to break into, and even tougher to break into the big leagues…there are bound to be plenty of disappointments…so brace yourself!
  • Also many young people manage to break into the industry only to realize that there’s so much hype…in reality, it may turn out not to be as glamourous as it looks from the sidelines….in many instances, pay at the early phases may actually seem like peanuts (when juxtaposed against the expectations and deliverables), and you’ll often have to roll up your sleeves to do dirty work. It’s called paying your dues 🙂 but remember, in the quest to build capacity, what you earn is secondary, initially, to the sheer extent of what you’ll learn! I never fail to emphasize this to upcoming folks…Take it from me… the fat paychecks and perks will become “your portion”, in good time, if you stick to the program!

 

In the quest to build capacity, what you earn is secondary, initially, to the sheer extent of what you’ll learn!

 

Candid advice to Nigerian youths.

Actively avoid the path of least resistance. To attain ‘excellence’, you’ll necessarily have to push yourself beyond personal boundaries and comfort zones so that you can achieve your aspirations, which have to be audacious but realistic, in the first place.

Another thing is that, I have noticed that it is very common for young people these days to feel that those who are in authority or those who are successful owe them something. I think it’s a problem that is generally endemic in these parts, and in fact does not characterize young people alone. Most people want an ‘easy’ way out. I think a change of thinking is critically required, especially among young people. Young people need to realize that they alone have ultimate power over their future and what happens or doesn’t happen to you. Take hold of your ‘destiny’ and maximize the opportunities, which are out there, though they may appear hidden.

The world owes you nothing, so manage your expectations and do away with the ‘entitlement’ mentality!

 

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs in the comment box.