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MFBs helped to boost my business, MD, Optimal Barbers

Mr. Adeyemo Ajibade,is the Managing Director, Optimal Barbers. In this chat with Franklin Alli, he speaks about his passion for the business which he says he started with N100, 000, 11 years ago , and is now worth N5 million. He also calls on Lagos Signage Advertising Agency (LASAA) to reduce the cost of signage for small businesses.

Barbing shop

Who is Adeyemo Ajibade?
I am a young man from Oyo State. I am a little bit above 30 years and I graduated with a degree in Mass Communication, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ijere, Ogun State, in 2005. I did National Youth Service (NYSC) in 2006, in Sokoto State.
When did you start the business, and how has it grown over the years?

I started this company in 1999, before I secured an admission to study at the polytechnic. I started with less than N100, 000 which I secured from my relatives and friends. Today, the business has grown and is worth N5 million in assets and liquidity. As you are probably aware, I have three branches spread across Akowonjo in Alimosho Local Government area, Lagos State. For instance, one is at Jimoh Akinremi Street, another one is on Akowonjo road, and this present one at Flourish Plaza, 22 Road, Gowon Estate.
What motivated you to invest in this business?

I have always had flair for barbing. I was into the business before I went to study at the Polytechnic, and even while I was on campus, I was selling GSM phones and telecommunication equipment. I employed people to run the barbing saloon for me.  When I came back, they not only delivered good returns, they have expanded the business, too. Based on this, I reasoned that if these guys have expanded the business, what stops me from expanding it more?

So, I embarked upon further expansion of the outlets. Often times, during peak periods, we have more than twelve customers waiting to be attended to, so, that was the motivation. I resolved that if we can be getting such patronage daily at our Akowonjo outlet, we had better replicate it by spreading our services to other areas.

Barbing shops are like stones found everywhere, what edge do you have over other competitors?
What distinguishes our service is our professionalism, our professional touch to every client we treat. We employ technology as its being done in developed countries. For instance, we usually sterilize clippers before using it on another customer, and we give our customers a wash with deodorants that kills bacteria, etc.  So, our professional touch is the cutting edge we have over competitors in the market.

How many people are on your payroll?
As at today, I have 17 people on my payroll, and my target is to increase them to 50 people by the end of this year. I’m optimistic that we’ll meet this target as we’re embarking yet again on further expansion. At this point, I’m really saying a big thank you to our microfinance bankers such as IMFB, AB Micro Finance, Gapbridge, etc. Without their support, we won’t have come this far.

For instance, the facility here is worth N2.5 million- rent, equipment and other accessories. Truly, microfinance banks are the best in the country. They have help small business owners like me to grow.

Did you have any regret working for yourself, instead of being in an oil/ gas, or banking environment?
Not at all. This is because no paid employment can give me what I have today. First, being my own boss, I have my time, and in addition to what I make from the business, I have people to call on “you do this and that for me.” I’m grateful to God because He opened my eyes to see opportunities in this business, and I really thank Him for the foresight and direction.

I hope our young people would realise the need to learn a trade before or even while undergoing studies in their chosen fields of learning. I encourage young people to be humble, think inward and go entrepreneurial so that if education or your certificate is not bringing money, the trade you have learnt will give you money.

What are the challenges in the business?
It’s is lack of electricity. I don’t mind to pay a bill of N20,000 monthly if electricity supply is constant as in Ghana, South Africa and elsewhere. Presently, I spend N45,000 on fuel every month, and the generators keep getting faulty and you have to service them.  I have two generators at each outlet, and that is raising the capital. So, if electricity is regular, it would be better for small businesses.

However, at Optimal Barbers, we don’t charge our customers extra money whether we are on public power supply or alternative power supply. We charge a flat rate, or same amount.

Another big headache to us is the Lagos Signage Advertising Agency (LASAA). You had problem locating this place because there’s no sign board. If I should mount a sign board now, the Agency would come running after me, and from the research I made, it cost more than N30, 000 to mount a 3X6 sign board.  This amount does not include other levies you have to pay to the Local Government in terms of shop permit, etc. So, at the end of the day, you would have spent, at least, N100,000. So, LASAA should reduce the cost of signage for small businesses. This is to encourage the growth and expansion of indigenous entrepreneurs.

What plans do you have for the future?
I want to build a befitting corporate head office that will be a one stop shop for barbing saloon that can accommodates 15-20 barbers at the same time, and a boutique and deodorant shop. I need N15 million to execute the project but microfinance banks don’t give such credit facility. With N15 million, I’ll be done with the project.


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