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Superpreneurs; The Master Key To Development


Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)

Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)

WE are presently on a new journey in which I have written about the role of private citizens in the national development process and taken our responsibilities to the next level. Entrepreneurs have a magnificent and extremely important role to play but I have reviewed the role of our entrepreneurs and created a new sub category of entrepreneurs which I have called Superpreneurs. These are men and women who go over and beyond the call of duty to contribute to national development with their skills, their business, their wealth, their knowledge, their networks and their time. Every City, State and Nation needs Superpreneurs, these rare business people who care so much about the system in which they are operating, their care is translated into investment in systems and structures that will keep the value chain going, not just for the younger ones coming after them but for the overall development of the entire nation. We must salute the Superpreneurs of Nigeria.

I am talking to the leaders now, and I have said that the good news is the Superpreneurs can be trained and created. In order to create an army of Superpreneurs which Nigeria needs badly, as we have too many unprincipled and unscrupulous business people who do not care about anything other than money and more money.

Step ONE: The board frame work categories of creating Superpreneurs starts with the mind-set. I outlined in paper two the 15 golden rules of the Superpreneur. Once Leaders are serious creating Superpreneurs that we must teach our people these rules 15 golden rules then we will be well on our way.

Step TWO: The second framework is the principles and characteristics of these Superpreneurs. You cannot expect to operate on this level without living by some principles. The principles I will outline here will ensure that young people that are being trained to become Superpreneurs will not be left out.

Step THREE: is about the innovation and opportunities available in Nigeria for a new generation of Superpreneurs.
I will take the next few papers to discuss the 15 golden rules as outlined in paper two

GOLDEN RULE ONE : Attitude and Initiative
The first step in the mind set shift for our new Superpreneurs is your attitude. The Super Entrepreneurs I have worked with in the past, ones I have met and admired, have all had the attitude of a winner. And they always take the first initiative, they do not wait for other people to get the job done they step up first and foremost present themselves for a new challenge and then they make it happen.

In developing the attitude for winners you have to first remove all doubt about yourself and about your product or your service. How can you expect to become a Super Entrepreneur, make loads of money, create jobs, change lives but you are wishy washy about the products you are selling.

The other day I was in a departmental store of a major chain in New York and I asked the attendant about a particular brand of perfume I was looking for, and his answer was “they don’t carry it anymore, these brands are all they have for now”. I was angry and upset for the store owners and their shareholders. He said “THEY”, who is he referring to as “THEY”? I thought he worked here. So I asked him. I said “who is they? I thought you worked here, or are you standing in for someone that went on a lunch break? He got the message and apologized. However the harm had been done, he was not committed to the store or the job that gave him a lively hood and yet he expected to make it big in life and conquer the World someday, not very likely. The attitude you display when you are working for someone else’s business will follow you when you finally get to work on your own business. If you gave it your best then you have set yourself up a great break through when it is your turn to get started in your business. If you show complacency, lack of commitment, and you just can’t be bothered, then expect that from your employees when it gets to your turn. However you will not even get that far in life. You poor attitude will make sure you never rise beyond certain levels. I can assure you.

When I left the United States to come back home to contribute to the development of my country, Nigeria, I met a country that was full of potential but with very few people who believed in the country. My first major assignment was the Chief Strategy officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Our securities trading was small, very few Nigerians invested in the stock market and even fewer invested from international markets. I sat back and took a long hard look at the situation on ground. I was just coming from a high profile job with one of the most reputable investment banks in the entire World, Merrill Lynch, I worked in the Boston office. At that time no Nigerian bank could match my remuneration I was getting from Merrill Lynch. The Nigerian Stock Exchange as a paying employer was even worst; they offered me a salary that was less than 5% of what I was earning at Merrill Lynch in the United States.

You could not really blame them, the stock market at that time was poorly structured, the brokers were ill trained and lacked deep capital market skills, very little money was coming into the market and this meant that the Stock Exchange could not earn big money, listing fees and transaction fees were already way too high and unbearable for investors. This meant that new investors were discouraged from coming into market; the overall transaction fees were high and unattractive. The regulatory situation was equally bad, brokers bought and sold the securities of investors without recourse to them, and when they got caught not much accountability was enforced. It was against this background that I had to make a decision……

Do I accept to work for the Nigerian Stock Exchange as its head of Strategy and Technical Adviser to the Director General with opportunities to help reposition the capital market of Nigeria, to support and drive the mobilization of investment for Nigerian entrepreneurs, lead the capital formation process and support sustainable growth for the Nigerian economy, while getting paid next to nothing. My salary when I started with the NSE was N50,000.00 a month ( i.e $250.00 a month). YES you read that right $250.00 a month not a day a month.

I was coming from a six figure income at Merrill Lynch, a nice office on the 18th floor of the Boston financial Centre tower,

I had a well-trained assistant who answered my phone calls and booked my appointments. My friends in boston would call in all the time just to hear that female voice say…….”Nicholas Okoye’s Office, how can I help you?”. I was going to leave all that and now I was going to take a job that had opportunities for National Development but no money in my pocket. I could off course go back to my super classy job at Merrill Lynch in Boston, where we played golf with some of the richest people on this planet, advised Nations on their economic development and investment plans, and worked with the internet entrepreneurs that were being developed at MIT and Harvard. The management of the Nigerian Stock Exchange prayed I would take their miserable offer even though they had nothing to offer except a fancy Job title, in the early days I did not even get a new car. The great news for the Nigerian Stock Exchange, and by extension, Nigeria, and the Nigerian economy is that I took the job. Why? You may ask. Well for one thing, some of the greatest national development work ever done in the history of Nigeria was done during that time I worked as the head of Strategy of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Technical Adviser to the Director General. And I do want to say in all modestly that I had a lot to do with many of those reforms. I saw all the problems of the Nigerian economy as challenges and I saw the opportunities inherent in them.

Let’s look at a few of them ……
Problem: Our Stock Brokers were poorly trained and had no sophisticated skills?
Solution: Well I personally set up a training program at the Stock Exchange for Stock Brokers and Capital Market professionals. This was on the 11th floor of the Stock Exchange for those who are reading this and want to remember those days. The bankers joined in too as they wanted to understand the stock and capital market better so they sent their professionals to attend many of my classes. In fact many of the CEOs and Executives of Banks today including Bisi Onasanya of First Bank, Hebert Wigwe of Access Bank, Uzoma Dozie of Diamond Bank and so on were our students in one or more of my classes held at the Stock Exchange, or off site locations.

Problem: We had little foreign investment coming into Nigeria and into the stock market.
Solution: I designed, created and organized the Nigerian Capital Market International Investment Road Show. I contacted all my old contacts in the financial world in New York and London, as well as the Nigerians in Diaspora community, of which I was a very active member when I was in the United States and that was it. We organized several investment road shows to cities around the world, New York, Atlanta, Houston, New Jersey, Washington DC, London, Bejing China, Johannesburg South Africa, Nairobi Kenya, Japan, Korea, France, Canada, Netherlands the list is endless. In fact in the four years I was Chief Strategy officer and coordinator of the International investment road shows we visited over thirty three cities in Nigeria, Africa and around the World selling Nigeria, selling investment opportunities and even selling our own people in Diaspora on how they should come back to Nigeria to make a contribution to nation building.

Nothing is possible in terms of Leadership if you do not have the right attitude and you cannot take initiative. In any organization or country, those who take initiative will always end up as the leaders. Remember that.

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