Oluwashina Olajide, the chief executive officer of Olageospatial global investment company, a leading real estate company in Ogun and Anambra states recently spoke with AKIN ALADE of Global Excellence on how he suffered before he was able to pay N25,000 school fees of Enugu University of Science and Technology and how broken home has made him aim big in life. He described his business life as a grass to grace story in this interview. Excerpt…
Could you tell us a brief about your educational background?
I studied Geography at Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State. I did survey and geometrics at Enugu University of Science and Technology. I attended Government College in Ekiti and I went to Comfort Nursery and Primary School in Ondo State.
Were you born with a silver spoon and how was your growing up like?
I was not born with any spoon at all; I have been through a lot in life. I am a product of broken family and early in life, my parents were not together and that really affected my growing up a lot. Payment of school fees then was hell and there were times I couldn’t afford to pay school fees even when I went to a boarding school. I could remember one of those days that my name was called that Fashina has not paid school fees. Because I could not pay the school fees, I left the school and I could not write my WAEC there but I proceeded because I have an uncle at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife then. I made up my mind even when I was sent out of school that I must have education by all means. My persistence led me to Lagos where I did menial work to get enough money for my GCE form. I have a passion for education and I worked at a video renter just to raise money.
How has your experience prepared you for your present achievement?
I think my experiences really prepared me for the worst and that is why I was able to study hard and become who I am today. I always read till late in the night. Due to the background I have, I believe personal development matters a lot and that has really assisted me in shaping my life. It was not easy but what helps me is determination and courage; I always believe that I would rather die going forward than going back and that really helped me in becoming the best of me. I always believe that with education, you can change your destiny and become a better person. A lot of books I read also sharpened my thinking and there are lots of proverbs that keep me going. I also have a lot of music that encourages me to become the best of me; I listen to a lot of music that can sharpen my future. I encourage myself that for the fact that I was born a poor man does not mean I should end up a poor man, but if you get to a level that you can take decision by yourself, at that time you need a decision that can take you out of poverty.
Why do you go to the east for your tertiary education even when you don’t have anything?
I am a Yoruba man and I have lived all my life in southwest, and I believe that if I want to be great, there is nothing that should limit me in life. I believe that for me to achieve my dream, I need a future concentration where nobody knows who I am and that prompted me to go to the East for my tertiary education so that there would not be distraction. I would be able to focus on my education.
Why did you venture into real estate even when you studied surveying in school?
Like I said, self-training is the best training; someone who struggled to pay school fess and did other things would want to justify the money and the stress he went through. Surveyors deal on land matters and I remember one of the things that built me is that immediately I got admission, I was curious to know how I would end. I was more concerned about what the future holds for me and from year two I began to meet with people that were far ahead of me and I dealt with successful surveyors we have in the country during those time. It was through my investigation that I discovered that many of these surveyors engage in land matters and selling of lands and taking it further by constructing buildings. Those professional backgrounds gave me avenue to know plans. Before I knew what was happening, I started growing gradually; my first company was opened when I was in school and I did that just because I saw someone I called one of my mentors making it big with his SSCE certificate. He was the one that told me that I can’t wait to become a graduate before I start doing something with my life and exploring the gift God gave me. He was the one that told me that he wants me to have a vision to be better than him and from that day, I began to think that it is not only about measuring land, you can do better. Also, my wife is a civil engineer and I am a surveyor and she was one of the few who encouraged me that the real estate idea can work.
At what age did you make your first million of naira?
I made my first million of naira at 27 years old. I started controlling millions of naira at 25 because that time, I had investments running into several millions of naira but it was in a gradual process. I didn’t go crazy because I had known my worth before that time.
What is your wife involvement in the business?
My wife has been complementing my efforts on the professional side of the job because she is a federal civil servant and she works with the Federal Ministry of Works. She just advises me when the need arises; the company has civil engineers that are on its payroll.
How did you meet her and what attracted you to her?
My meeting her was divine because I met my wife when I was in the final year and that time she came to serve in Enugu. At that time, I was still in school but just because I have started working in school, I have learnt everything about surveying. I was also opportune to be the one that used to do the services of road leveling, among others for FERMA then and because my wife was a civil engineer, she was always attached to me. I was always surprised when I noticed that she had completed her education and was already a youth corper at that younger age. She is from Ogun State and I am from Ogun State too. I made my intention to date her but she refused even though I was lucky to have her number. It was four years after I had graduated and served that I saw her number in one of the books I used when I was working with FERMA. That time, I had moved from Enugu to Anambra State, I made a call to her and we talked; it was during our discussion that I discovered that she was posted to Anambra the following day and the rest is history. We got married and gave birth to a set of twins and the marriage is over four years.
What are the challenges you have encountered in the real estate business?
I think my upbringing and the stuff I am made of have really paved way for me. I believe that with adequate knowledge about what you are doing, you can achieve success. The only little link the youth of nowadays have is that success is SSS; service, and sacrifice leads to success. I have always accepted things the way they are and you can always find solution out of any problem. I believe challenges are temporary and you can always get out of them.
Your happiest moment and the day you can never forget?
My happiest moment was the day I gained admission into Enugu University of Science and Technology. I can’t forget it because it looks impossible; N25,000 school fees was like N25 million then. It was almost impossible, I had to solicit help from uncles, friends and church members before I could raise the amount. But God has been so good to me because the head of students’ affair then doubted whether I would be able to cope but God assisted me to become who I am.
What is OGIC all about?
We coined it from Olageospatial global investment company and from our vision statement we said it all that we at OGIC, we envisioned to be a business empire whereby everybody can connect and invest to achieve venture. And that is the most important thing to us; OGIC is a company for everybody because it is a purpose driven company and one of the area will also think we should start from is the real estate. If you look from our vision, we are into many areas. Like the real estate, we believe in class and taste and we believe in making good things affordable. We believe in creating a payment structure that would be convenient for the people to build and have a roof over their heads.
Where do you have properties?
We are in two states which are Anambra and Ogun states. We have nothing less than six locations in Ogun State such as Obada-Oko, Siun, Sagamu, Itori and Sabo. In Anambra, we have in Awka, Onitsha, Iniwan, among others.
What is your unique selling point?
Our unique selling point is simplicity in class; our selling point is that we are bringing people of goodwill and professionals together. We are trying to create an estate where there is security, proper management, ease of buying land and provision of infrastructural development and building.
How do you want the government to assist the real estate sector?
Government does not engage in doing business; what government has to do is managing and creating an enabling environment for doing business. It is only the private sector that will drive development and where we need government is to make loans available; paving way for land acquisition so that those plots can be released for developers to bring development to the state.