March 12, 2020

My entrepreneurial journey began at 12 – Deborah Ajayi, MD Omoshola Place

My entrepreneurial journey began at 12 – Deborah Ajayi, MD Omoshola Place

By Ayo Onikoyi

At 23 years of age, Deborah Erioluwapo Ajayi also known as Omoshola sits atop an empire of different business concerns in two cities of Abuja, Nigeria and Dubai, United Arabs Emirate. She’s touted in many quarters as the youngest and richest body and sex therapist in Nigeria. She’s the big boss behind the Omoshola Empire, a group of concerns into sex and beauty therapy.

Simply put, the Omoshola’s Place Chief Executive Officer sells aphrodisiacs. She also owns a farm in Karu area of the Federal Capital Territory where she rears livestock. She owns a body enhancement spa in Maitama area of Abuja as well as a salon and body spa in Dubai known as HBG Beauty Lounge at the Dubai Investment Park. And recently she launched the biggest African salon and spa in Dubai (Jumeirah).

At 23, it appears the world has turned her footstool upon which she sits. But Deborah Ajayi A.K.A Omoshola didn’t take the elevator or by sudden flight to be where she is, or had some mammoth wealth bestowed upon her by birth or luck, she bled for every naira she owns. According to her in a recent interview with VANGUARD, she revealed she had always been fascinated and obsessed with entrepreneurial. And along the way she made all the sacrifices to make the choices that have defined her life.

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“I started my entrepreneurial journey at age 12, I’ve always had the passion for success. I’ve always wanted to be independent. I grew up from an average background. I wouldn’t use the word “poor” but life was quite rough for me growing up and I envied rich kids around me. But never for once did I regret not being like them but I usually say I will do for my children what my parents couldn’t do for me,” she said

Continuing, she added, “ It all started from writing and selling story books in ministries after school at 150 naira each. People patronized me not because my stories were interesting but because I was so little and wanted to make money for myself. I learnt how to make beads and crafted them into so many things like bags, flower vases etc and also sold them to make money.

I have worked as a sales girl in a bookshop where my employer harassed me severally at age 14. I couldn’t tell anyone because I was scared hence I ran away from work. I got several jobs from ushering agencies where I ushered in events and get paid, it was a good one and I started mine. Afterwards, I started my modeling agency, formerly known as SNE Modeling Agency and now known as G&G Models Africa in 2013.

In 2015, I had met a lot of dignitaries form events and thought of starting my own Initiative.  Africa’s Young Fashion Entrepreneurs. I had so many lucrative ideas and I wrote several proposals to Heads of States, visited several governors for live presentation but all efforts were vain as they were never interested in any, all they wanted was to get in between my thighs, there was no encouragement hence I dropped.”

She said she even hawked snacks and cold drinks on the streets of Ekiti while schooling at Fabotas College of Education. She also revealed she dropped out of many schools.

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“I went for my remedial/ IJMB studies in Kwara State, Ilorin. While studying, I sold females wears and shoes in order to pay my rent, fees and feed,” she added.

In 2016/2017 she said she got admitted into Bingham University where she was studying Medical Physiology but schooling was quite expensive for her hence she dropped out. She also dropped out of many other colleges. Her fortunes began to change for better when she decided to take the bull by the horn.

At Bingham University I was paying over a million naira per session. I felt it was too expensive. I had a savings of 700,000 in 2018 and decided to invest it in my business rather than waste my time in school. I said to myself my first outlet will be in Maitama, Abuja. I went round and saw a place for 4,500,000 yearly (extreme) but I wanted it. I spoke to the management and pleaded for them to allow me pay monthly. I drove from Abuja to Jos where the landlord was based to explain myself and my vision. He saw me as a kid and encouraged me by accepting my terms (This was the push I needed). After paying 500,000 I had less than 200,000 left and I needed to fit the salon.

I went to the popular Wuse market in Abuja and took equipment on credit and promised to pay back and due date, I knew I was going beyond my boundaries but this is what I wanted. I was a debtor for months, I sold my first car (Honda accord 2002) to pay salaries and settle debts. The first few months were horrible as my income in a month was 15,000 or less and I needed to pay four staff 30,000 each.  I had enough reason to give up, but no, I didn’t” she said.

Deborah Ajayi was born July 11, 1996. She’s a native of Ijero local government area of Ekiti State but raised in Ojota, Lagos State.

She attended Victory Home School, Lagos where she finished her primary education. At 9 years of age, she left for Abuja to join her dad and  attended Junior Secondary School, Apo and concluded secondary education at the Government Girls Science Secondary School, Kuje, Abuja.

She also attended several high institutions in Nigeria but never finished  until she relocated to Dubai where she’s currently a part time student in IMT Business School,  Dubai, UAE.

She shuttles between Abuja and Dubai to run her empire of businesses.