Sunday, 28th May 2023


By Gbenga Adebambo
02 January 2016   |   6:00 am
2016: THE YEAR FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND NOT EMPLOYMENT!<em Welcome to 2016! The year of entrepreneurship and ideas. In life, real poverty is actually the poverty of ideas. Some people are so poor, all they have is money! You are not poor until you are without ideas; real poverty is lack of ideas and idea is…


Welcome to 2016! The year of entrepreneurship and ideas. In life, real poverty is actually the poverty of ideas. Some people are so poor, all they have is money! You are not poor until you are without ideas; real poverty is lack of ideas and idea is real wealth. People are as rich as the idea they represent. I have at several fora emphasized that we are fighting the wrong enemy in Nigeria. It is pathetic when some state governors believe that financial and material empowerment will eradicate poverty, poverty is not the state of your ‘pocket’, poverty is a state of mind. It is dangerous to help a man without an idea, fight ignorance and poverty will automatically disappear because poverty is simply a reflection of hidden ignorance.

The new phase of Nigeria is in the hands of entrepreneurs, we need more people that can create value, people that are power-house of revolutionary ideas, people that will create products that will appeal to global ‘consumers’. Every impact is a product of an idea, Mark Zuckerberg changed the social world with his idea of Facebook, Bill Gate changed the computer world with his idea of soft-wares and programming, Bill Gate has this to say about the power of an idea, “I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.” Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Inc. changed the world with a ‘mole’ of idea.

A man that refined technology, he was the set man behind Apple’s revolutionary products which include the invention of iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Steve showed the whole world that there is no limit to innovative thinking and that little is needed to change the world; that little is called an idea!

“I have always had men working for me whose skills were greater than my own; I am an idea man”-Walt Disney

Henry Seely met a ‘wrinkled’ world and gave us the electric pressing iron. Dennis Papin gave us the pressure cooker and Stephen Poplawski changed the face of household cooking with his famous blender! Fred Smith changed the way packages are delivered; he changed the face of ‘package delivery’, by giving us FedEx, an idea that his professors belittled as unworkable and he was given a mediocre score for this awesome initiative. That idea – to deliver time sensitive package overnight – eventually became FedEx. George Biro changed the world with his idea of ball point pen; he gave the world the cheapest and fastest pen. Most people live their lives to leave an indelible mark, but George left an “Indelible Ink”. In honour of a life that brought change, the first ball point pen was named “Biro” after the wonder boy.

In 1882, Henry W. Seely patented the electric pressing iron. Before his invention it was very difficult to keep clothes wrinkle-free. Many house wives of the time had to resort to hand pressing, rolling, or even clumsy and dangerous steam and heat irons. Seely’s invention made it easier for these house wives to keep their clothes pressed, and he helped revolutionize an industry, without his electric pressing iron, the laundry business would have been much more laborious and tiring. While the whole world stuck to charcoal iron, Henry changed the world by giving it a clean powerful, adjustable and labour saving electric iron. Life was made easy through someone’s idea. They didn’t make you roasting hot, and they didn’t carry soot or ash. As the advertisement says; they were better than three flat irons. Henry met a wrinkled world but left it smooth with an idea, with his electric iron. Imagine a world without a pressing iron, that gives you a picture of a world without ideas!
“No idea is so antiquated that it was not once modern. No idea is so modern that it will not someday be antiquated”-Ellen Glasgow

One of the most-fascinating stories of Nigerian entrepreneurs is that of Folorunsho Alakija, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “The heights that great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” The preceding quote succinctly describes the evolution of the woman that has now become the richest and most inspirational woman in Nigeria. Though without a university education, she decided not to follow anybody’s path but rather enthusiastically navigate her own. She developed and horned her entrepreneurship skills through daring experiences and several self-developmental opportunities. A woman that opened the floodgate and windows of opportunities for fashion designing in Nigeria, a profession that was lightly esteemed before her revolutionary advent into fashion designing in the 1980’s.

Mrs Folorunsho Alakija is a Nigerian billionaire, oil tycoon, fashion designer, an astute entrepreneur, philanthropist and executive director at FAMFA OIL, an indigenous Nigeria oil and gas exploration and production company. A bundle of inspiration to the African women, her tenacity and her undaunted nature helped her to meticulously navigate her way to the top that was culturally reserved for men in the African environment. A woman that dared to venture where men were afraid to tread! Alakija’s fashion sense was inspired at a very young age from days spent with her fabric merchant mother, though her passion for fashion designing went unabated with time but her total obedience to her parent eventually made her navigate a route strange to her ‘destiny’ but nevertheless necessary in molding her into becoming one of the 100 most powerful and influential women in the world (Forbes, 2015).

Alakija started her career as a secretary at the erstwhile International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, one of the country’s earliest investment banks, but moved to England in the early 1980’s to study fashion design at the American College, London and the Central School of Fashion, fulfilling a lifelong desire to return to that part of her childhood. On returning to Nigeria in 1985, Alakija began what became an award-winning, pioneer fashion institution, Supreme Stitches, from a 3-Bedroom apartment in Surulere, Lagos. One year later, she emerged as the nation’s best designer and a household name, catering to many society women and Crème de la Crème of the society. The business thrived and bloomed as Alakija quickly made a tidy fortune selling high-end Nigerian clothing to fashionable wives of military bigwigs and society women. While she was building her fashion brand, Alakija applied for an oil prospecting license- an expensive permit that allows for oil exploration in a specified area, and her big breakthrough came in 1993 when her oil company, FAMFA OIL, was giving an oil prospecting license which later became OML 127, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks. Her tenacity and audacity knew no bound as FAMFA went through turbulent and titanic battle to drill the well before they actually found oil.

The financial risks taken was colossal enough to discourage ordinary players in the oil industry as it eventually took many years before they actually found oil! Though she had her stake in the oil industry challenged by powers and principalities but her perseverance and undaunted nature helped her reclaim her stake from the government through a lengthy court battle against the forceful acquisition of her 50% stake in the license. In May 2012, the Supreme Court voided the government’s illegal acquisition of a 50% stake out of her original 60% stake in OML 127.

In 2012, Alakija became the first person to dethrone Oprah Winfrey as the richest black woman in the world. In 2015, she was listed in the Forbes list of World’s 100 most powerful women in the world alongside with Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé Knowles, Nancy Pelosi, and Queen Elizabeth II. During the 2014 UN International Youths Day celebrated at the university of Lagos, a highly elated Alakija motivated and inspired the students to always think beyond the box to impact the world, She pointedly advised the students in her words: “I never went to a university and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly, while a university degree is important and can significantly improve one’s prospect in life, hard work and persistence are the most crucial tools for success.” In a sincere bid to give back to the society, she founded a charity organization, Rose of Sharon foundation, which gives out small grants to widows and orphans. The organization also nurtures female entrepreneurs.

“Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle”- Ken Hakuta

The issue of young people running after money without any definite and concrete plans to add value to the world is appalling! So many young people have fallen into the ‘club’ of those termed GLOBAL LIABILITIES! It is demeaning that many youths stoop so low to chase money through fraud, embezzlement, ‘internet scam’, corruption and many more. Let us rebuild our world through novel ideas, seizing opportunities, creating value and creative innovations. I sincerely pray that 2016 will be your year of open doors and divine opportunities in Jesus name. Amen.

Gbenga Adebambo is the Dean of Schools at the Educational Advancement Centre (EAC), an author, youth specialist, international coach and the Editor-In-Chief of MAXIMUM IMPACT MAGAZINE. He is also the founder of the youth ministry called STOP ‘T’(Seeing Tomorrow’s Opportunities and Potentials Today), a ministry that is involved in discovering and nurturing hidden potentials in youths in order to equip them for tomorrow’s challenges, opportunities and responsibilities.