Anita Toju-Amorighoye, Managing Director, Ayzer Centre (entrepreneurship centre) narrates how deep faith, strength and passion were instrumental to her professional and personal growth. Amorighoye, who rose meteorically in the banking sector before establishing Ayzer Center, offers realistic perspective for those seeking all-round growth.
As a teenager, I learned to live in a large family setting where I got to understand the benefits of selflessness and making myself available for the growth of others. I was nicknamed “Miss Fix It” because I loved helping people solve their problems. I derive joy from knowing my input could make a change. My problem-solving acumen was further nurtured when I studied Mathematics and Computer Science as a first degree. I carried on with these virtues throughout my stay in the corporate world. I believe this helped in carrying on with the vision of Ayzer Centre. I come from a military family. This helped me acquire the virtues of focus, tenacity, and discipline.
Defining strategies for my life
I lost my father shortly after I finished my Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, SSCE and it was a whole new beginning. My young widowed mum strove to provide for us in her best possible way, even though she had to cater for the three of us. All of us entered the university at once. I was the youngest but I understood our circumstances. I had to get my priorities in right. I chose to deny myself of some “niceties” by ensuring that I stayed focused to show gratitude for every investment my mother would make in me. This was a defining point in my life because I was barely 16 and wanted to live my teens out but here I was, defining strategies for my life. I am thankful it paid off. I got good grades and kick-started my career without delay. Life got me to understand how to set my eyes on the prize and press for it continuously even with some hard knocks along the way. It also taught me the value of nurturing relationships. Tragic incidents in life sometimes make or mar a person.
In life, people can do all the right things and still miss the goal. Additionally, I am a very self-conscious person. I always know what I have to do as well as the sacrifices to be made to get to where I want to be. For instance, I am quite cautious about how I represent myself anywhere. That is the reason I take extra precaution to ensure a good representation. One of the things I appreciate most is feedback about my activities because it gives me an opportunity for self-improvement. Mediocrity grows when people want everything to be convenient and easy. The other thing I can say is that I took a lot of faith-based steps in my career. That helped me to launch out into the deep and take on challenges that were very daunting and above my skills set. To me, promotion should be the reward for demonstrating ability in higher responsibility, not just meeting objectives. Leaning on my spiritual understanding made me see limitation and impossibility as self-made barriers.
Many times I left my comfort zone where things are working for a tough terrain and I actually got good results. It is in tough terrains that one actually meets the best of people. It is also in tough terrains that one stretches his capability and capacity. Such terrains afford me the opportunity to know how strong I am and how good the knowledge I have acquired over the years is. There were many instances in my career when I decided to step out of my comfort zone, by taking up daunting assignments. In most of them, I scaled through, though they took a lot from me but at the end, they added value to me.
Setting high targets
Without sounding too biblical, I draw my strength from the word of God in the Bible. To some people, the Bible is a story book, others see it as a manual for learning, while I consider it as a training school.
Everything that one is passing through, somebody had experienced it. One of the people I draw a lot of strength from is Bishop David Oyedepo. Regardless of what many people say, he started from a very humble beginning and remains a man who does not rest. He is always setting high targets for himself and never afraid of challenges.
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He is someone I can call a modern day Daniel. Any time he breaks a barrier, it teaches me a lesson that at no age should anyone be relaxed. From him, I learned that one should continue setting high targets if that person wants to really grow. I am endeared to him because the challenges he surmounts inspire me to accept greater challenges.
What comes through him are things that people have not conceived. Putting my feet in his shoes inspires me to do a whole lot and not to be afraid of anything. I am also inspired by every woman, who stepped out against all odds to distinguish herself in a terrain regarded as male dominated. Such a woman should be seen as an inspiration to any woman. Any woman, who sees no limitation in anything she wants to do, is an inspiration.
Life being so predictable
There is a watchword I use to guide myself and advise my mentees. I often tell them never to fear adversity for in the midst of it lies prosperity. Given this, I have had some very exciting times but one that comes to mind was when I built a very key relationship while trying to resolve a potential bank fraud. I met my husband. Life is a learning curve and is guided by perspectives. When someone thinks of missed opportunities as regrets, the person loses the chance to appreciate the underlying lessons that the situation affords.
Nobody can choose what people and life throw at her but it is up to the person to determine her response. With the benefit of hindsight, I see most of my seeming disappointments turning out for my good.
Just imagine life being so predictable to the extent that someone could predetermine the outcome of every situation that affects her. That would be pretty boring. I consider building a business or a career as nurturing a baby. As a new mother, a woman takes guidance from sources she feels have expertise in her area of need. This is also how I regard mentorship for entrepreneurs. There is no right mentor, but finding the best fit requires someone to first understand her Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT.
Mentorship is critical to growth
After that, finding individuals and collaborative environments that can help achieve personal objectives can be done. Mentorship is critical to growth. Lately, we see more communities mentoring their members not necessarily through hand-holding but bonding and shared perspectives. Through it succour, direction and counseling are provided. Skills and our shared passion Ayzer is a Hebrew word which means “Helper”. Over the years my team and I have come to appreciate the potential in people we meet. That has created vast opportunity for some people and for our country at large.
We have a teeming and enterprising young population to be envied. We have also seen a lot of small businesses thriving and competing favourably in the global market. Taking a closer look at them as well as other startups that have attained globally relevance, one will find a familiar trend. The trend is that though they started out with an idea and mixed passion to birth that idea, they also had a ‘Helper’ along the line to support them by giving the needed guidance and resources.
This will enable them to maximize their opportunities and develop viable products and services. The founders at Ayzer have a shared perspective that many home-grown businesses have the potential to become globally relevant, achieve sustainability as well as overcome the perennial challenges entrepreneurs encounter when doing business in our clime. Armed with that understanding, we came together, pooling our various skills and our shared passion to birth the Ayzer Centre for Entrepreneurship.
For us at Ayzer, our singular goal is to help individuals and businesses, be better positioned to achieve their strategic objectives. Our approach to achieving this is by focusing on three key areas of business need, finance, technology, and building entrepreneurship skills. In doing this, we facilitate capacity building and advisory services. We are also grooming a business community where we provide shared spaces to drive innovation and collaboration, encourage mentorship and related activities among our members.
We also organise networking events locally and overseas .that address business development and leisure. Clear understanding At the corporate level and individually we are engaged in various schemes and programmes to give startups the leverage in understanding and grooming the necessary skills required for running a business beyond technical ability. Getting a clear understanding of the key ingredients businesses require succeeding and driving them effectively are major hurdles to scale, because it largely predicts their fortunes. Every business must have a clear grasp of these two elements: Strategy and Structure.
Developing the right strategy helps the business to stay on track. Leaders should think like a navigator on a ship. They should keep building on their strategy to be able to create a niche. It also pays to focus overtly on competition rather than on providing solutions to customer needs. The structure of any business validates the opportunity and ensures its operability. We are committed to driving the focus on these two cardinal needs in the emerging ventures we have worked with.“