By Henry Ojelu
At the peak of the last recession which ravaged the resources of many nations and businesses, Dr. Oyeleke Ajiboye took a bold decision to leave a well paid job to start his own company- an engineering firm.
Eleven years down the line, the Harvard trained scholar has transformed the business entity, Efficacy, into a highly profitable group of companies comprising Efficacy Construction Company, Leron Concept Limited (Integrated Farming, Oil Plantation), Efficacy Homes UK, Efficacy Homes LLC ( a real estate company in GA, US), Metro Quarry Limited and Metro Agro Food Processing Limited.
Aside his business acumen, the multiple awards winning businesman has also impacted many lives through promoting education, empowering and engaging youths and widows through his Oyeleke Ajiboye Foundation. In this interview, Dr Oyeleke shares his pathway to success.
I started my education at Nigeria Pre age International Home School Ipaja, Lagos, following which I gained admission into Command Day Secondary School, Ikeja. By the time I got to JSS 2, things became very tight at the home front. I had to take public transport or sometimes trek long distances to school, engage in menial jobs including construction labour, hawk food items in other to make ends meet. As a result of my mother’s trade in Amala, several people knew me as ‘Omo Alamala’.
By the time I got to SS2, paying school fees became very difficult hence I had to transfer to the closest school in Ipaja, Community grammar School. I attended class three days a week because I had to work on other days. Thankfully, I was still able to do well in school. I was also unable to pay for WAEC when the time came but for a good Samaritan who was also my teacher.
The turning point
Growing up was rough but one of the things that kept me going was my conviction on what I wanted to be in life. I knew I didn’t want to be a nonentity. There was peer group influence but God helped me. The turning point was when I surrendered my life to God. It was there and then, my life started having meaning. Our experiences in life have the potential to positively shape who we become depending on how we relate to these experiences.
I got admission into Lagos State Polytechnic and later proceeded to University of Lagos where I studied Electrical Engineering. When I got to year three, I watched a video on how to be financially independent and that video transformed my life. During my year 4 industrial training, I started learning how to repair computers. From there, I started working with cyber cafes, repairing and installing inverters. By the time I got to year 5, I had a lot of customers and started making a lot of money that I was able to afford a car. I understood the value of time and hard work and was doing well in school. Everybody has an excuse to give in life. Being successful has to do with who you are. Stop giving excuses. My strongest motivation has been the word of God. It defines the path my life can take and who I can be.
My first business
I started my business when I was in University of Lagos as Efficacy Engineering. Immediately I graduated in 2006, I got a job in a construction company, switched jobs and in total worked for 3 years in a corporate environment before starting Efficacy Company officially in January 2009. Starting my business was a defining moment for me because I was really scared of leaving my corporate job.
Efficacy Group over the years has become a leading provider of human needs and wants, having expanded to different sectors to ensure that such needs are provided with guaranteed customer-satisfaction and high returns on investment across board. We started with one sector of the group in 2006 as Efficacy Engineering and the growth since inception reflects our success in managerial structure and renowned customer-centric culture. Today, we have active companies in various economic sectors including Agriculture, Environmental health, Healthcare, Real estate, Oil & Gas, Building & Infrastructure. Our processes and operations are based on strong ethical and corporate governance principles driven to create value for our stakeholders, shareholders and partners. With a testimonial record of over a decade, we actively seek out investment partnerships with high net worth individuals, privately owned businesses and companies, both foreign and local.
Running a business is extremely psychological and emotionally demanding. There is need to balance competency with character and charisma all the time. Business has thought me patience and humility. As they say, customers are always right. I started my first business over a decade ago, and have founded two other competitive businesses that have grown to be competitive in their industry till date. Growing a business is not about luck, it is about faith. Unless you learn or hear directly from entrepreneurs, you will never have an idea of the kind of fears, frustrations, anxieties, struggles and discouragements they go through. An entrepreneur must be armed with faith at all times; it is your secret weapon.
I have good mentors that have been with me through thick and thin. Having a mentor is a delicate process. Your mentor must be someone who genuinely have your interest at heart and not someone doing it for the game. Your mentor must be someone that wants you to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, some mentors want you to make the same mistake to take the glory and show that they are better than you. Pick a mentor that understands and moves with the trend of things, loves you and doesn’t compete with you.
One of the problems with business is managing growth. You must research and plan the growth of your business at intervals. When you are after the growth of your business, you could experience financial, legal, staffing, resource and supplier problems among others. For business growth to be successful, it should be sustainable. Another determining factor is how often you change your strategy. If you manufactured a product and its selling so well and making money and you continue with the same strategy for two years, you are likely not to make money again from the business because others would have copied you. Changing an organization’s strategy can change the way the organization operates, altering everything from organizational structure to the daily routines of employees. Studies have shown that only 30 out of 100 businesses survive till the third year. Employees and Clients management can be delicate with a potential to kill the business if not properly managed.
Advice to Entrepreneurs
I had about three years work experience in the corporate sector. As a result of this, I had to do a lot of reading to understand entrepreneurship better. This is something most people don’t do. I also enrolled for an MBA in addition to getting three other masters and a PHD degree. Entrepreneurs need to be deliberate about acquiring knowledge. Experience is very expensive. Saving and reinvesting into the business is also very important. Saving money can help you become financially secure and provide a safety net in cases of an emergency. Reinvesting into your business is essential to any company that wants to grow and take in additional resources and capital that would otherwise grow the business. Work as if everything depends on your hard work and pray as if everything depends on your prayer
I attended a program four years ago at Stanford, and one of the speakers said ‘Entrepreneurs will find more joy and fulfillment when they start doing businesses that impacts people’s lives’. This birthed our new watchword ‘Doing Good, Doing Well.’ Our Vision is to be a global conglomerate delivering quality, timely and cost-effective products and services across Africa and beyond. In a few months, we are aiming to become Efficacy PLC. We are focusing on doing things to impact the masses in real estate, energy, healthcare, mining and environmental health.