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Changing people from employees to entrepreneur giants is my goal – Bola Adeboye

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BY ISHOLA BALOGUN AND EBUN BABALOLA
Bola Adeboye is the  founder, Spark School of Entrepreneurship, a not – for-profit organisation whose objective is offering entrepreneurship training and development for young and aspiring businessmen and women.

Bola Adeboye

He is also the National Coordinator, Professional Forum for Good Governance in Nigeria. He was recently appointed Vice-President, Global Business Network International with headquarters in Europe.  He is a member, Chartered Institute of Bankers and an Associate Member, Nigeria Institute of Management.  He is our role model of the week.

Quitting banking job for his passion
Right from the time I was in the banking sector, I had been setting out some ideas which gave me a leverage to be able to stand on my own once I retired. I set up FOKAS while I was a manager in the bank, then Spark Consults which I operate till date.

By the time, I retired, I had been involved in entrepreneurship training.  I helped to start  many business from the scratch. And I’ve grown them to successful limelight. All my life, I have been involved in entrepreneurial activities.

His Inspiration
While I was in school, I decided that I would not be demanding money from my parents all the time.  I said to myself, that I needed to have a mind of my own. So, I started selling salad ingredients while in school and after school. Also, my room mate and I were involved in film show business for students.

So, I’ve been an entrepreneur trainer for over 30 years. It always strikes me that one should be involved in activities that will boost and develop one’s intellect.  I founded School of Entrepreneurship for the purpose of training people. Many people think that capital is the important thing to start a business. No, it is not the important factor in starting a business. What an individual needs is an idea to start up a business. Most successful business all over the world started with little or no capital.

Training young entrepreneur
Principally, we take aspiring entrepreneurs merely because the interest has to be there in the first place.  Most of us in school were trained to get a job after school but that is not an entrepreneurial orientation. An entrepreneurial orientation is starting a business of your own and making profit and employing people to work for you.

So, what we do is to change your focus from employee orientation to entrepreneurial orientation; knowing that you are an employer of labour; managing resources; and all the factors of production are under your control. You have to look for land, capital and people that would work for you.

So, the first thing is to work on your mind-set and create an entrepreneurial mind-set, after which we take you to an entrepreneurial skills drilling: how to start the business; how to write your business plan and feasibility study; how to finance and source for partners to run the business.

We also talk about  types of business organisations that are existing, how to create synergy and strategic alliances in business; how to create customer value; how to market the product; how to build ethics and integrity around yourself and the business.

We talk about globalisation and international marketing and teach people management tools including management by objective, total quality management, service excellence amongst others.

His target?
People with vision. Those who are tired of white-collar jobs and I say it is not a crime to leave your unprofitable white collar job and stand on your own. We accommodate people who are aspiring entrepreneurs, civil servants, retirees, young graduates, corps members, school leavers, cooperative societies, trade union members, clergies.

You might be able to have the mind-set of not being tied to a corner. Some people are tired of waking up so early in the morning and getting home so late at night. The Nigerian environment is so unbearable that you rarely have time for yourself and if you have, then something must be telling you that it is time for change.

Challenges
I had one or two experiences that could have caused me a set-back but I was determined to be free. It teaches problems are ingredients to success. But only if you are determined and believe in the cause you are fighting.

Again, there were times when the bank where I worked needed a huge deposit in form of liquidity and I was given the task of pursuing some targets and God helped me, I was able to surpass the target given. It was a big challenge but I succeeded.

I was also privileged to have gone for World Bank Standard Training on Project and Financial Management during my National Youth Service Corps, at the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank, now Bank of Industry where we helped many industries on the need to establish companies.

That exposed me in my early stage of life.  I crossed to United Bank for Africa, UBA, and I worked there for nine years and rose to a Senior Officer and from there, I moved to Trans International Bank as a Senior Assistant Manager and within one year, I was promoted and posted to Apapa branch as manager where I rose to Senior Manager level.

I helped to turn  around the bank I was attracted by Oceanic Bank and became one of their Executive Management Officers.  I was there for three years before crossing to Peak Merchant Bank where I rose to become the number three man in the organisation.

Then, I retired to my own Mortgage Bank.  Focal Savings and Loans limited. So, all my life, I’ve been a banker. While doing all these, my passion for helping others to start their businesses never waned.

Physical challenges
I was diagnosed for having glaucoma in the year 2000. But, I became fully rehabilitated and it never  affected me. Though I can’t read very small print and for me to recognise an individual, he or she must be closer to me, but I have extra-ordinary sensory gift that makes glaucoma so infinitesimal to me.

With the aid of modern technology. I have many gadgets. I have an electronic video writing aid that enlarges whatever I want to read or write to my adjustable sizes. I was with Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo who gave me a writing machine and all I needed to do is to dictate whatever I wanted to write and my secretary writes out my message.

Profile:

NAME:     Bola Adeboye
AGE:     50s
PROJECT:     Entrepreneurship training and
skills development for young
and aspiring business men and
women
PASSION:     Service to humanity

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