Dr Richard Okoye, who rejected an offer of 20 million US dollars from a corporate group in Dubai in 2012 who wanted to take over his “Save A Life” mission, in this interview, shares how he went on to build a multi-million dollar empire. His story is a motivation to African youths.
Dr. Richard Okoye is the chairman of “Save A Life Group” consisting of Save a Life Medisoft Limited (a software developing company based in the USA), Save A life Group of Hospitals and ISO Certified Groups of Hospitals with zero hospital-acquired infection status, equipped with the first digital Cardiocare lab for heart, neuro and cardiovascular diseases, kidney dialysis and transplant facility, spine, orthopaedic and painless minimal neuro-plasma surgeries, IVF and so on.
Dr. Richard Okoye is the author of 25 best-selling books and presenter of the popular radio-TV show “You and Your Health” running in Nigeria and Ghana.
The planned launch of the digitalized hospital
We are set to launch the first fully digitalized hospital in the world, the first digital medical university and research institute which includes amongst other specialities medical hardware and software technologies and as the founder of the first medical app “Dr saves a life” app that comes in different languages including Nigeria’s major languages.
We are also set to launch the first 5G compatible robotic surgery equipment in Africa. In my effort to build a robust healthcare system in Nigeria, I have sponsored the training of doctors in areas centred abroad and also supported various hospitals in healthcare improvement and equipment
How did you overcome the temptation of rejecting the offer of $20 million?
I actually didn’t see that as a temptation because money was not the driving force. There was no personal ambition trying to fuel the acceptance of such. What I would rather say is that passion revolutionizes the healthcare system in Africa and overrode the ambition of the acquisition of that money at that particular point in time.
Going by your humble background, how then were you able to grow your success story from that point till now?
When people have a vision, talent or potential, they usually see capital or when it has to do with the bank, you’re talking about the issue of I don’t have collateral on the basis of background. Although there is one fundamental thing I want to let you know about.
There is what is called universal currency. Universal currency for the pursuit of any global vision is not money but a track record of trust.
Financial integrity is the most important dimension of it. If I look at how we started in 2010, I borrowed 500,000 naira from a microfinance bank.
Then we paid back. Not just only paying back, we maintained a relationship with the bank. They saw our track record. When they saw the way we were going, they gave me 6 million naira. From that 6 million, we grew and our track record was there.
One interesting thing I want to say is, not everybody may believe your vision, not everybody may believe your potential because when they moved us to a commercial bank hoping that the bank would have a bigger capacity to be able to fuel the vision but unfortunately, they turned it down possibly because they didn’t believe in the vision.
That brings us to the fact that it does not matter even when people don’t believe you continue what you are doing because the most fundamental thing in vision is abundance by the time or in the beginning. The great thing about vision is even when other people don’t believe you, still believe in yourself.
Incidentally, a man with a dog eye, the MD and CEO of Access Bank, Dr Herbert Nwigwe, when he came in and saw the carcass, believed in it and he was able to support us with funding to finish.
So the track record enabled us to have billions of naira projects with Access Bank. I didn’t need to be the brother or know the CBN governor or know all the people in Aso Rock for me to have access to CBN. It had the same track record, the universal currency.
Also when we needed to have a 900 million naira project the CBN naturally came in because the track record was there. The currency of trust is what most young entrepreneurs tend to lack.
Are you saying your relationship with the banks had nothing to do with collateral?
The truth of the matter is that no bank is interested in selling your property or the collateral you have and all that. That is why most times they want you to have your financial projection. Can we see this thing you believe in? Let’s see how you came up across a couple of months or a period of time.
They are not saying that immediately you start, you have to become a billionaire or you have to show billions. They want to see the consistency. They want to see your financial integrity.
You had lots of opportunities for you to remain in the United States of America and to become a citizen but you are still here in Nigeria. What convinced you to stay here?
I would say that I have a personal belief in the predestination of purpose. Jesus made a statement. He said for this purpose and cause was I born and I looked at it as if God brought me and made me be born in Nigeria, then there is a purpose for which I am here. Having the opportunity to travel to the USA and several other countries, it’s not about ideas.
That will only give me the opportunity to pick up some ingredients that will enable me to fulfil my primary assignment. So, having whatever we are doing in the United States and all that does not negate the fact that there is a reason to be here and most importantly, let me tell you something.
Nigeria is the richest country in the world. I don’t stand to be corrected because I know what I’m talking about. The fact is that Nigeria is very rich. Rich in problems and however, it is looking for those that will solve these problems and you can be one of them.
So seeing the situation in the respect of young people running out of the country is because I will say they have not seen it well.