Soaring In Business

A wise man once said “If you want to go to the moon ask from people who have gone there”.

Some people do not succeed in their endeavours because of lack of empowerment be it spiritual, financial, intellectual etc.

This month being the month of “Empowerment to Soar”, we have the honour of featuring the CEO of Grofaz Global Ventures Ltd and the mastermind behind the magnificent structure of RCCG Believers Parish Ajah.

A successful engineer, serial entrepreneur and minister in God’s vineyard, he’s popularly known in RCCG Believers Parish as Deacon Ojo.

We discussed business, entrepreneurship and he gave out some trade secrets in succeeding in business.

Happy Reading!

Let’s meet you Sir

My name is Mr Jacob Ojo Ojonugwa. As for my spiritual rank you can say Deacon Ojo. I’m an engineer. I’ve worked in Shell and Techno oil. Infact, the first experience I had when I came back to Nigeria to serve was with PW civil engineering and building contractors in Sokoto where I was retained as the head of concrete section. But let’s talk about business because I’m more of a business person.

(laughs)

What gave birth to your business?

Back then when I was on campus in Canada. I had an opportunity to meet with a lot of boys that were made already, and I began to wonder how a boy of 20 years can be cruising around. Each time I had an encounter with them, what they say is “I’m on my own”. So, I decided within me that when I get back to Nigeria, I would be on my own.

But being on your own means you must be empowered and to be empowered you have to work first while having that goal that you want to be on your own. So even while I was working, I had an entrepreneurial mindset. I decided to plan for my business. I sat and looked at the services I was rendering for my company and the profit they make. For example, if we have an installation project where we would be paid 100 naira per stand and we could do about 4 installations a month which is 400 naira, my salary wasn’t up to 1 naira even though I had a driver and car. I was the principal engineer and installer, so I knew my job. I realized I could make more being on my own. That gave birth to my company- Grofaz Engineering.

Also, I came up with the idea to run a security firm when one of my uncles wanted to contest for a state governor back then. That gave birth to Afro Trans-Atlantic Security Services.   

When you made the transition from a salary job to business how did you manage financially?

It wasn’t easy but I was determined to do it. See, success is about determination and business is like a wheelbarrow which you must push for it to move. Like we were taught in school, you have the original sound and reflected sound. You must apply force on the original sound to get the reflected one. I registered my company while still on salary job. I didn’t just jump out from nowhere to do business, but I started from where I was connected. I told my boss I didn’t want to be his staff anymore but wanted to do business with him. I told him I wanted to be his contractor. And then we agreed, and I was getting about 8 times my salary in a month. With that start up, I had funds to fly. The first 3 months, after I began, I was paying my staff, I was now a contractor to my former boss and ran my company. So that gave me a soft landing from the beginning.

What year was that?

In 2004.

How do you manage your staff?

I give my workers job security. When you carry workers along, they can do anything for you; don’t make them feel inferior, let them understand it’s our business. I don’t take decisions alone. I seek ideas and contribution, so everyone feels among.

A man told me, “You hire and fire until you get the best hands”, but I believe in build what you have. One of my staff says he has a phobia for heights, and I asked if he has phobia for money too. (Laughs)

L-R Deacon Ojo being interviewed By Miss Precious Olabisi and Mr Matthew Jukun

How have you been able to run your business in a country like Nigeria where we have inconsistent policies?

Running engineering doesn’t have much challenge. All you need is to know your job and have capable hands. One of my saddest moments was when I erected some structures in Ogun state and all of a sudden, some powerful men said they wanted to build a road. We refused and few days to Christmas the structures were brought down. But I’ve been able to overcome because I believe in God and I’d advise people not to put all their eggs in one basket. Try as much as possible to work with the agencies that would enable you to soar in business.

What are the benefits of diversifying in business?

A lot of it. If you don’t get here, you get here. That’s why I can never be stranded. My clients who use my security services pay every month. One of the benefits of diversification is you will never experience empty hands. Sometimes when I want to pay my children school fees and the security companies haven’t paid, I take from engineering money. At the end of the day you are kept busy. When you diversify you meet new people. In my cold room business for instance, I’ve had the opportunity to know fish dealers all over Africa.

I also plan to have a restaurant, fashion factory and a host of others. Plans are ongoing. In the next 10 years by God’s grace I expect my engineering company to be one of the foremost in Nigeria and the security company to be recognized globally that’s why I named it Afro Trans-Atlantic.

I would have loved to be a senator or governor of my state but my good friends and elders who I look up to counselled me that it is easy to compromise.  

So, I’m a jack of some trades and a master of some which I’ve jacked. (Laughs).

What’s your advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?

My advice is don’t just believe that it would happen in a day. Because I made it in few months doesn’t mean you are going to make it in 3 years. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t just leave what you have because you want to do business. Keep your job. Young people should build themselves first, have a foundation, read, make sure you’re educated and know the business you want to do. I have never taken a loan before.

For my security company, I went for a course and earned a certificate capable of enabling me to run it. For other things I want to do, I’m already going for trainings on them. Before I established my cold room business, I went for trainings. If you allow people to run the business for you, they’ll run you down. Study your proposed business like a wife/husband you want to marry. Do courtship with it and get experience on how to manage and meet with people.

How do you handle competition?

Know your job. In engineering, we don’t even do advert, the job speaks for itself.

“Who built RCCG Believers Parish?” “Wow Grofaz Engineering”.

“Who renovated Kogi State Complex Beach?” “Oh! Grofaz.”

So, engineering is all about competence. Engineering is seeing is believing. The technicality speaks for and markets itself. Likewise, in my security company, the services you render speak for you. When we were building Believers Parish, Pastor just came and said he wanted a decking and already there are existing pillars. I did the new decking, from there, another engineer called me and said he wanted the same decking somewhere else and I did it. In engineering, competence is the father.

What has been your biggest challenge in business?

I had power problem with my cold room and lost a lot of fishes. In engineering, when I watch a structure levelled down, it gets to me. There was a time I had spiritual challenge too because I wasn’t spiritually empowered then. I left all the offices I had and came to work as a driver in Believers Parish for about two years and each time I was praying, God was building me. The day I graduated God told me, you are now 200 years old spiritually. As I do my business, I make sure it doesn’t affect my spiritual life. As a Christian there are some things I don’t even dare.

What are the steps taken to enlighten youths about business and empowerment in Believers Parish?

We have the Business Empowerment Scheme that allows some of our youths go for training. People have been trained in handwash and soap making, media training, photography and others.

Most of youths in Believers Parish are connected to me in one way or the other. Many might not know what I do for a living, but they know Ojo as a person. They even call me “Baba awon boys”. I find time to be available for those who need me. My father told me to be careful about those behind you than those ahead of you. If you organize a seminar for entrepreneurship, I’d make myself available.

Again, it’s not all about training, but about foundation and preparation. Lay a solid foundation for whatever you want to do. The reason you see some youths floating is because there’s no base. Some fail to learn, some are not meant to be entrepreneurs. They are salary wired. Business is a risk, so if you must succeed in business have a solid foundation and be prepared to take risks. Thank you.

Thank you for your time Sir.

We hope you learnt something. Don’t forget to share.

Till next time.