‘Government needs to focus more on entrepreneurship to employ Nigerians’
Eniibukun Adebayo is the Chief Executive Officer of the first dry cleaning academy to be unveiled in Nigeria, in this interview with Victor Gbonegun; he spoke on the need for the academy, how entrepreneurs could thrive in Nigeria as well as their expectations from government.
Despite increase in the calls for self-employment, becoming a viable entrepreneur has over time been described as very challenging. What do you think is really responsible?
Most people don’t go into businesses where they have the competency, passion and hope. I think the best thing is for people not to go into venture that they do not have hopes and expectations that are beyond the ordinary. They should learn to build things step by step and to be a realist so that when we start taking business decisions, they would be decisions that would yield fruitful result.
From my experience, they should not expect to sow tomatoes and reap yam. What your input is, in a business is what you must expect. People must not look at the success of other people as yardstick for theirs because the circumstances, knowledge, education, health, strength and supports differ. Wisdom to direct is key for success in business. If you have knowledge in a particular field, you should be able to use it and share all to the advantage of your fellow countrymen. The secret and the ideas that make you outstanding must be shared to make others successful.
The basis of the trade on which you have made your mark must be impacted on others for the overall growth and development of the people and your country.
Things like the secret of leadership in business, real and true success that would empower people greatly must be passed to others.
Entrepreneurs must contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country as well as its total growth and development.
What inspires the setting up of the dry cleaning Academy?
The idea is targeted toward ensuring the acquisition of needed skills and professional standards in the dry cleaning and laundry industry. The Vision is “to be the re-engineering and re-defining factor in making quality fabric-care affordable to all and the mission is to establish a self-sustaining organization, pioneering the promotion of international best practice in Dry-cleaning, Laundry operations and allied services in Nigeria.
A few of us that by Gods’ grace are able to go to America and London to get trained in Laundry and so we are too small and so we said instead of going to these places to train, let us set up an academy for our people.
CleanAce School of Dry cleaning academy would offer the best education in dry cleaning for both fresher’s and the experienced alike.
The school would offer courses that will train its students in the art of becoming specialist dry-cleaning technicians. It would offer highly interactive and practical courses, where students will be exposed to professional standard practices, in-service practical classes in customer service, the fundamentals of dry-cleaning and Laundry, quality finishing and pressing, inspection, quality control and packaging as well as customer service. We also plan the following professional and entrepreneurial programmes in; CleanAce SoD technical, laundry and dry-cleaning professional certificate diploma programme for graduates and non-graduates and we will also set up an entrepreneurial mentoring and assistance programme in conjunction with consulting facility. The official launch for the academy comes up ending of November at Surulere.
What innovations are you deploying for the academy and how are you going to sustain it?
We hope to bring people in from various part of the world that would train people on the professional ways of doing the job. Currently, there are no structure non-regulations for the industry; everybody is just doing it on local level that we also hope to correct. Now you are going to see boilers for sanitizing clothes. People that studied physics and chemistry and other sciences would see real engineering available for cleaning hundreds and thousands of clothes everyday without fading the clothes. The kinds of chemical that will use that will not damage the garment.
We would train Nigerians on the need to produce clothes that have clear labels. A lot of people take clothes to dry cleaner and it get damaged. We are putting in place an insurance policy through the academy to regulate such an experience. We are to ensure that peoples’ investments in their wardrobe last longer.
How many people do you plan to train and what does it cost to set up an academy and the plan for sustainability?
If you look at the standard equipment put in place, rents and light infrastructure, then we will be talking about the range of between N48 to N50Million and we are still not done. We hope to impact as many as possible. In Lagos alone, we have over 6,000 dry-cleaners and that is not enough for the entire population. We are employing over 100 staff and we hoped to train thousands of people. Our brand is a very high brand and it is for everybody and the entire Africa. The project is not free but it must sustain itself and so sustainability would be based on a fraction of what it talks to set up the business and keep it on. It is not-for-profit but it will not make a loss. It is a legacy we plan to leave behind and not a competition.
The Academy is quite uncommon, how qualified are your teams to manage this brand and maintain a hinge over would be competitors?
I got my calling clear early in life that what I needed is not endless degrees but business knowledge and intelligence. I attended Lagos Business School, I attended senior business management programme, I attended the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC); an entrepreneurial arm of the Pan-Atlantic University and currently I am the alumni president for over 50,000 entrepreneurs that have passed through the system and of course they can not put someone who is not smart to head them and I have been the chair for over three years and planning to hand over very soon. I attended Stanford Business School in United States of America and I also attended the dry cleaning and laundry institute in Maryland, America where I bagged a professional certificate in dry cleaning. I can tell you the success of our brand will tell you about our competency. I started the dry cleaning business in my own personal apartment with my own bare hands and I was going from one office to another to pick up clothes until we were able to get the first stall about twelve years ago in FESTAC and from there we have grown to over twelve branches include office in Abuja to the glory of God.
In terms of supports for players in this sector, would you say government is doing enough? And what would you be suggesting to government on ways to better the plights of the operators?
Government needs to focus more on entrepreneurship to employ everybody. Government is trying, but they need to focus more on the sector because the future of the country is more on the small and medium size enterprises although they might not make big profit but would keep everybody engaged from the grassroots to the people in the urban areas.
The moment people are engaged, they would not have time to think of evils, corruption and with a good judiciary system that will make even the government accountable every citizens in turn would live right. The government should create an enabling environment with regards to providing the basic infrastructure like; constant power, security, not too harsh business policies, reducing stress involved in getting funding from banks and so on.
They must also ensure that there is equity in the benefits that the citizens should derive the government. The small and medium scale enterprise must be allowed to appreciate by making attractive to the youth who still prefers to join the Labour Force than setting up their businesses.
What is the future of the entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
Well, the future is very bright. Now the focus is shifting towards that direction, good things can only start small. Most of the big offices and companies in America, China and other countries today started very small. Nigerians should focus on the micro and small expecting to grow bigger.
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