February 16, 2022

As business owner you have to foretell future — Omonike Fowowe, President EMR Group

Omonike Fowowe

Omonike Fowowe

At just 31, Omonike Fowowe is a  self-starter who has founded six businesses including EMR Group,  a general services and IntegratedMarketing Communications (IMC) company with subsidiaries in sales promotions, sales & distributions, product activations, as well as sales reps hiring & training.

The Osun State-born graduate of the Redeemers’ University,  who was not born with a silver spoon, opens up on how she rose to where she is today and the magic wand she used to forestall the economic recession. Excerpts:

When did you venture into business and what motivated you?  

After my service year in 2011, there wasn’t any attractive job to do then, so, I decided to set up my own marketing company by embarking on its registration.

 I went through hard times but I had the most supportive and strongest woman ever, as a mother. She raised my brothers and me to be independent. She always said nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. So, from a very tender age, I began to do a lot of things by myself. People marvelled at the fact that I  was just 25 years old.

Part of what you envisaged achieving before you turned 30 was to travel the whole world and still have a business running. Has that been achieved?

By the grace of God, between then and now, we registered and launched EMR Marketing Services in  Dubai last year and we celebrated our year anniversary on February 2, 2022.

We also sold our first luxury smart home in Lekki, Lagos. We have become the official Nigerian partners and sole representative for Dubai’s leading student exchange programs ‘Ms Consultants Dubai’.

How did you manage at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic?

 It was very challenging but we had some paying clients who were our tenants and had saved for their rent renewal prior to the Coronavirus incident. Their payment helped us manage the situation. Although we had to let go of some of the buildings used for our commercial and residential spaces to reduce our yearly expenditure; our accounting firm had to do a re-evaluation of the buildings. Not only did we have a situation of greedy house owners increasing their rent and frustrating our efforts in the midst of the pandemic, their properties also had alot of maintenance issues. For us it didn’t make sense to keep spending money on those properties, so we had to let them go. By doing this it helped reduce our cost by 50% . It also  helped in  taking out 40% of our defaulting subleased tenants

I always succeed in every situation. Although we lost a lot of millions in investment by letting go of some properties, we also gained by launching EMR  globally, by setting it up in Dubai.  We successfully finished our own personal smart home project which was sold for a very good price.  Now we are almost done with our luxury smart home short let spaces in Lekki phase 1.

 Coronavirus had no effect on our business at the end of the day.

What was the magic hand that sustained your real estate business when other players were depressed by the economic recession?

A friend advised me to set up EMR  properties and  when she realised how successful EMR marketing was, she told me to move into Lekki phase  1 from my two Bedroom high rise Dolphin apartment which I converted to EMR headquarters.

 I started a house search and I didn’t find a good place because it was overpriced. So,  I identified a need to create studio and one-bedroom apartments for the working class and commercial spaces for SMEs that will not only be affordable but will be well renovated without having the client pay a dime for renovation.

 When I started that in 2016, those who  met me  in the business realized my strategy and began to do the same but they hardly could meet up because of the cost of renovation.

When we took the houses on lease from homeowners, we had to spend like N5 to N10 million to renovate them. My colleagues called me a fool for doing that, but they never knew I was sowing seed. Guess what? It paid off as our  EMR spaces were birthed and we grew from having just one building to eight, with a minimum of 60 tenants. In fact,  we became the landlord with the highest number of tenants in Lekki phase 1. Despite the fact that we have reduced the number of buildings we currently manage, EMR spaces  Ltd still holds the highest number of tenants in Lekki phase 1, which was built six years ago.

 Another advantage we had renovating these house owners’ houses back in 2016 is that we don’t have to spend so much now that the dollar has gone up. Back then,  we had done retail pop , bathrooms, e.t.c. Today, renovating a standard studio will cost you a minimum of N500,000. That cost was saved by me when I started to do renovations then,  while my colleagues laughed at me.

 As a business owner, you have to be able to tell the future and prepare for it. So for us at EMR, the magic wand of still being frontiers and leading in our area of real estate has simply been planning ahead and maintaining one’s standard of operation.

Would you advise more women to go into business?

Yes. I don’t feel comfortable seeing a woman jobless. I have always wanted to make my own money and spend it the way I want. I don’t like begging or asking people for money . The last time I collected money from my mum was during my convocation at Redeemers University. Immediately I started my NYSC, the money I earned was enough and I managed and I invested every little kobo  I got into my business.

Every woman needs to work, it is very important. Things have changed. You can’t put all the responsibilities on the man. Seeing my mum fend for us all and others shaped my thinking of being a hard working woman. My goal is simple, I want to work hard so my kids will enjoy more than I did. As a woman, if you can’t work for somebody else, you can start a small venture. It is not always smooth but as time goes on, things will become better. I am happy watching female CEOs. They inspire me to do more and I always try my possible best to assist them where I know my help is needed.