Monday, 21 July 2014

How She Made Her First Million, Weeks after National Service

At the age of 16, when Dayo Abegunde entered the university, she was looking for ‘fresh, different and exciting’. So she never bothered with courses like Medicine, Engineering and Law that freshers were clamouring for. Instead, she applied for Veterinary Medicine because in her words, “The study of lizards and cockroaches could only be fun”. It didn’t take long before the true state of things dawned on her. Her sophomore theory classes were so long and deathly boring, that she wished she could change courses. The practical classes were not any better as the formalin-charged laboratories often led to fainting spells in some of the students. The spells which they called ‘baptism’ was usually the aftermath of logging long hours in class on an empty stomach. By her fourth year, classes began by 7 am and ended at 7 pm, every day. 

Even though the course turned out to be anything but what she expected, Dayo decided that she would still make the best of her situation. She began to search for what was in vet medicine for her. She cast her mind back to the 4 years she had spent in school and began sifting through her experiences for what obtained for her. Luckily, the vet medicine course includes three internships. Her second year internship gave her some on-the-job training on a poultry farm. Her third year internship offered her some laboratory experience and she worked in a vet clinic, for her fourth-year internship. Grades notwithstanding, her training in the University of Ibadan had afforded her no small wealth of practical experience.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Abiku businesses III

In the last post we examined how failing to grow or expand can kill a business. I also shared the example of my barber who finds it hard to leave the self-employment business model for the franchise model. The example actually got me thinking about our Igbo businessmen. As brilliant and dedicated as they are to the trade of trading, we don’t have any of their businesses equaling the feat of companies like Shoprite™ or Game™. In fact, Shoprite just opened its tenth Nigerian store in Ibadan and, guess what, it is their largest mall in West Africa! And they have four more stores in the pipeline for 2014. Those boys just keep popping up everywhere! We will examine one last reason why we tend to have a lot of abiku businesses in Nigeria.

Chief M.K.O Abiola was a business tycoon larger than his country of birth and even Africa itself. He had investments on several continents and in an array of industry sectors; from automobiles to agriculture, from publishing to banking, from aviation to shipping lines and so on. As a lad, I grew to know his vast business empire to include the likes of Concord newspaper, Concord Airlines, African Ocean Lines and Abiola Farms. But as I write this piece, sixteen years after his demise, they are no more. I also remember travelling from Ilorin to Ibadan in the late 80s and staring in wonder at the tin-clad factories of the Alata Flour Mills. Today the structures are still standing, but I can’t recall the last time that whitish smoke rose from its chimneys. The famous Odutola Tyres of the 1970s is also no more. The last time I drove past the production plant in Ibadan with my father, who speaks forlornly about their bicycle tyres, it was eerier than a cemetery. Need I say more?