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I started business by hawking pepper on the streets of Benin-City — Joseph Osawaru

…Says, “We are bringing Wizkid to Benin in December”

By Ayo Onikoyi

Joseph Osawaru is the owner of Exquisite Homes 2 Hotel and Lounge, situated in Benin City, Edo State. He’s also a philanthropist and has been active in youth empowerment. In this interview he opens up on his hospitality business, his plans for entertainment growth in his State and his humble beginnings;

•Osawaru

How did it all begin for you?

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was born in the village because my parents were farmers, so when I came to Benin, I started with “Garri School “ then there was no nursery school. I did all  manners of petty trading after school hours. I started hawking from my primary school, I started with pepper, vegetables then I graduated to selling candies, biscuits and chewing-gums in the traffic. Bendel Line (now Edo line) and Ogbe Stadium used to be our preferred location to hawk. I used to trek  great distances to sell my wares. I had no option then because my daddy said that he had a lot of children so everybody should go and fend for themselves. I was paying my school fee through my petty trade but I had the belief that I had a great future.

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What makes your Exquisite Homes 2 Hotel and Lounge different from others?

Exquisite Homes 2 Hotel and Lounge is a very unique place. Looking at the edifice, we try to bring in a new innovation in hospitality business because when you travel abroad, you will see different hotels and structures, so I decided to bring this one to my State (Benin City,Edo State). Most of the hotels we have in Edo State don’t have lounges. You don’t expect your guests to lodge and be looking for where to hangout and have fun. We decided to bring this concept of having an hotel and a lounge on the same spot. Since we opened, we have had 50% patronage which is very good for a start.

During your opening ceremony, you brought Zlatan Ibile and a week after you brought Naira Marley and other notable comedians to party here; what are you trying to achieve with these entertainers?

Our people here love entertainment and since it’s a new place I decided to bring in the rave of the moment in the entertainment industry, Zlatan Ibile, the Zanku Master and Naira Marley to come and thrill our people and make them feel what’s happening at Exquisite Homes 2 Hotel and Lounge in the heart of G.R.A .When we brought Zlatan, we didn’t collect a dime from our people, it was a free show so we also brought Naira Marley back to back, it was free show as well. I want to give back to my people, make them happy and music is very key to achieve this. Like one of my friends will say “A soul that does not love music is dead”. We will not stop here so we are planning a big one in December to bring in Kiss Daniel or Wizkid. In fact, we are in touch with Wizkid, just waiting for him to give us a date in December. We have done it before and we will do it again.

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Some say you’re an entertainer, some say you are a businessman while some say you are a philanthropist, who is Joseph Osawaru?

Well, they’ve said it all. When you’re dancing on the street, you cannot rate the level of your performance,  it’s only the spectators that can rate how well you have danced or not When you are good, people must know and when you’re bad people must know it and they will say it. The reason we are diversifying is to empower my people and create jobs to help ease the burden of the government and to reduce crime because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. As some of our people are working here, I don’t think they will be thinking on how to commit crimes so I’m just a partner in progress. I’m not going to stop here,  with God, we will build five-star hotel in the next two years, All these are just to empower my people at home before we expand to other states.

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