By Moses Nosike
It is often said that the road to success is paved with a plethora of obstacles. For Aigbe Omoregie, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Paints, the road was not just tough and rough, it was filled with thorns and spikes. Born on March 11, 1981 into a polygamous family that barely had enough food to go round, Omoregie at a young age knew clearly that his path to a dream of success of any kind would require serious hard work and divine intervention.
While his mates and neighbors from the predominantly poor Benin neighborhood where he grew up bemoaned their fate, young Omoregie had an inner resolve never to lament but to find the noble path that leads to success. 40 years down the road, Omoregie is today one of Nigeria’s youngest most successful entrepreneurs with arrays of huge investments in the manufacturing and real estate sector. Aside from the impacts his business entities have made in terms job creation and poverty eradication, his humanitarian services have also earned him both local and international accolades.
The exemplary feats Omoregie has achieved in a short space of time came by dint of hard work and dogged pursuit of his childhood dream of becoming a great achiever. Buoyed by self -will to change his destiny for good, at 14, Omoregie began to explore his business acumen. After school, he would go to the streets to sell eggs. He started small, from his parent’s house, supplying ten crates of eggs daily to customers and gradually increased the number. With the proceeds from his egg sales, Omoregie was able to sponsor himself through primary school.
His secondary education was a combination of learning and trade. With the modest savings from his egg business, Omoregie soon ventured into the sales of fairly used clothing items like bags and shoes. He would purchase the goods at very low price from the then fast-paced Yaba Market in Lagos and travel back to Benin City, where he sold them for good profit. Through this enterprise, Omoregie paid his school fees and even provided a vital support system to his family while in secondary school.
While in the higher institution, Omoregie’s uncanny sixth sense for profitable ventures helped him to discover the mine in the sales of typewriters to students in his school. He combined it with photocopying and binding of documents and projects, all of which fetched him a reasonable income, while establishing his place as a student entrepreneur in his school. Upon graduating at a time when youths were only concerned about clinching white-collared jobs, Omoregie focused all his youthful attention on building and fine-tuning his entrepreneurial skills, gaining business exposure, meeting market needs, and creating job opportunities for others.
Omoregie’s rise to fame was not without setbacks and bitter experiences. As a quick thinking enterprising young man, Omoregie had gotten his fingers bitten and huge sums of money lost on several occasions during his early business ventures and experimentation. First he failed in a promising car dealership business due largely to government business policy instability. Then came other business ventures which though were very attractive but brought little or no profit on investment. Having seen it all and almost getting to the point of giving up, then came a solitary moment with God which gave rise to the vision for the paint business.
With his entire savings at that time-N18,000 and the help of a local factory manager, Omoregie started a paint company that has fast become a household name across the country. Today, Intercontinental Paints, which has grown to become one of the leading paint producers in Nigeria. Based in Lagos, the company employs over 100 people in various capacities. The company has further grown beyond the shores of Nigeria and expanded to East Africa with operations in Uganda.
Besides his paint making business, Omoregis has also ventured into the real estate and construction sector. His company, Dutch Constructions established in 2017, is on a mission to provide low-cost housing units to one million Nigerians, starting with 300-housing units currently being constructed in the heart of Benin City, Edo State. The company is also at the verge of starting new projects in some major cities in the country.
To inspire young Nigerians like himself, Omoregie founded two non governmental organisations; Under-20 CEO and the Young CEO Initiatives. These initiatives do not only seek to financially empower young people and small business owners across the country but also to link them up with capable mentors in their various industries. Several young CEOs have benefited immensely from the project.
Attesting to his prolific and inspiring entrepreneurial history, Omoregie was named by Forbes in 2017 as one of Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa. He was also nominated among the 100 Most Influential Young Africans by Africa Youth Awards, was a delegate at the UN General Assembly in 2017, and currently serves as an ECOWAS Youth Ambassador.
Omoregie is a nation builder, one who is an avid believer in the potential that lies in Nigeria and Africa. He spends most of his time giving back to society by helping to establish thriving start-ups that create jobs and reach out to the less privileged in the society.
At 40, Omoregie is a living testament that where there is a will, there is a way. His dogged resolve to establish himself as a change-maker is a chronicle that the generations coming will study and learn from. His journey of grit to grace further confirms that, indeed, something good can come out of Nigeria as he, undoubtedly, is among the league of Nigerians presenting a positive narrative on the global scene.
Omoregie is happily married and a proud father of twins.