Interview

February 4, 2021

I earned N200 daily as labourer, now I own construction company — Muibi Hammed, Destiny Crest boss

I earned N200 daily as labourer, now I own construction company — Muibi Hammed, Destiny Crest boss

Muibi Hammed

Muibi Hammed

By Josephine Agbonkhese

When Muibi Kehinde Hammed started working as a bricklayer earning N200 daily, he couldn’t dream of owning a company. Survival was more important to the then undergraduate who could barely feed, than running a business.

Today, however, the 28-year-old who now holds an OND in Mathematics & Statistics, a B.Sc in Business Administration and an M.Sc in Project Management, is CEO, Destiny Crest Limited, a construction company borne out of his passion for construction. In this interview, Hammed shares his entrepreneurship journey, challenges, and vision for improving the construction industry in Nigeria. 

What motivated you to start a construction company at the age of 26, considering the intricacies of the industry in Nigeria?

My motivation was drawn out of passion. After secondary school, I realised that I had a passion for bricklaying and site construction. So, I went to a man who wanted to build a shopping complex, and said to him, “I will work on this building project for you. All you have to do is feed me.”

We agreed on a N200 daily pay. In five months, I completed the project alongside an acquaintance. Although it was not the best construction job, it was a stepping stone and a wonderful experience for me.

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From there on, I moved on to a company that sells building materials; where I spent six months since the ongoing strike in higher institutions persisted at that time. During this period, I had conversations with engineers, developers, builders and other professionals in the industry.

My relationship with them and the experiences I got from our conversations stirred my interest in starting a construction company. I started the construction business four years ago, but Destiny Crest was incorporated in 2018.

Tell us about your background…

I lost my father almost immediately after I got admitted into a higher institution. Since then, I became the breadwinner of the family. My life started as a construction worker because things were so tough that we could barely feed.

Through menial jobs, I sponsored my education through the polytechnic. During my course of study, my weekdays were for studying, while weekends were for bricklaying jobs and mathematics tutorials.

After my Ordinary National Diploma,  OND, I got a banking job as a contract staff. After working in the bank for a year, I wrote an examination, passed and became a full-time employee. I spent six years working as a banker but that wasn’t my dream; so, I started developing a business plan for my construction company right from the bank.

How did you secure your first contract without having a professional experience in the field?

The first contract I got was a building plan design job through a friend. After delivery, the plan turned out to be beyond the expectation of the client. Due to the excellence of the job, the client offered me the complete building project to manage.

In a short time, the building was ready. The client was so impressed with the work that I got additional payment. It was an eye-opener for me. It amazed me that I could make so much money so easily; that was what resuscitated my interest in the construction industry.

When did you eventually start the company? 

I partially started the company in 2016. There was no defined plan, so, I was a contract construction worker for people. To me, it was the beginning of a new life, and getting people to trust me because of my credibility and honesty was all I wanted to achieve.

How did you manage to attract such big brands considering the pandemic that hit 2020?

Our results! Results don’t lie. After working on the Sugarland Estate project in 2018, my confidence and creativity improved. Since then, I have worked on several other exceptional projects. We are particular about what we deliver to our clients.

Even during the pandemic, renowned companies in Abuja have offered us jobs, choosing us as an outstanding construction company fit for their project.

How have you tackled the problem of trust and funding required to operate a successful construction company?

I believe so much in possibilities, and that belief system has made me the entrepreneur I am today. I have maintained good relationships with my clients, and in return, they have hooked me up with so many investors and financial institutions.

What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

There is only one definition of what a risk is, and everyone has had their share of taking risks that can either make or break them. For me, starting a company is a risk on its own.

Every project is also a risk because the projects have to be completed despite the increase in the cost of building materials, coupled with clients’ unwillingness to pay extra. I have had cases where I had to complete some projects with my money.

What innovations are you bringing into the Nigerian construction and real estate industry?

We are not a regular construction company. We treat our employees and workers well; which is why I devised a “work-shift” method (morning and evening shifts) for our engineers and workers. They are humans; and no matter how strong they claim to be, we should not treat them like machines.

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We are taking the construction industry into an extra dimension, creating a foundation for our workers. It is something we have started working on. The foundation will cater to their needs and that of their families, provide them with food when they are working, and protect the interest of their families (insurance) against accidents that may occur on the job.

In what other ways are you giving back?

Presently, I have nine students on fully-funded academic scholarships, and I have pledged to train them to the university level. Two of them have graduated. I have seven left at different levels.

What was the criterion for choosing these nine people?

I look out for struggling families and help them carry the burden of education for their children. I have suffered before. So, it is easy for me to identify people that need help. I also pay house rent for people who cannot afford it.

Does your academic background provide a push or support for the business you do now?

Yes, it does because I know so much about so many things. I still apply the things I learnt in school, and also in my experience in banking, to my business. Everything is relevant to running a business. Also, picking relevant ideas and applying them to my business, has been one of the things that make the company successful.