Can we meet you sir?
My full name is Olufemi Ademola Babalola.
What are the things that you are into?
I am a principal partner of pentagon Engineering consultant, chairman FB contractor, chairman of Jogor center and Director with PJs.
Can we know how your growing-up time was?
I think I had a very humble background but it was tough, I would not say that I was born with any spoon silver, gold or wooden. I would say that I have parents that provided opportunities for me, that gave me all that I needed to survive and excel in life, my parents struggled to give me a good education and through the grace of God.
How difficult or easy was your for starting point of your career?
Yeah, it was difficult, I left school at the time Nigeria was at it lowest edge, at the mid-80s, at the time that all hope and aspirations of a Nigerian graduate was dashed and it was like going into the wilderness. We didn’t see any hopes but we believed that things will be okay.
How did you find it easy along the way?
We started, along the line we fell and got up again, business is like that.
How many times have you failed since you started your career?
A Couple of time, unfortunately I do not keep records of such things because when you say fall down it does not mean the business has failed or that you run out of ideas but when you hit some walls, you get discouraged and you could make up your mind that you would not do something again but something in you will ginger you up that my friend just get up and keep going. But when you hit some disappointments or loose some opportunities you feel that maybe I should just stop this.
How is politics affecting the growth, development and economy of African continent?
It is affecting it negatively, I think relatively democracy is still new to African you are talking about less than 50years but unfortunately, most of the people formulating and implementing these polices, are people who have never run businesses in their lives or they have never practised in this part of the world, so they do not know the nitty-gritty of the problems, we should know that problems are peculiar to each areas. So the solution that applies to Nigeria’s problem is not the one that will solve all the problems.
Generally, for now politics is not impacting on business but I think we are moving to a time that businessmen that run businesses in Africa and have surmounted challenges are now going into politics. It is a case of replicating what you did micro in a macro way.
Why do you think some successful entrepreneurs vie for political position?
The truth of the matter is that, everybody now feels pained that if I put in so much energy and am doing this much and am not getting corresponding result and knows why we are not getting any result, and you feel that you should just stay and watch you then find out that each year you watch you lose much. You get discouraged more, you get convinced more that wrong people are there and that you should be there to formulate or run policies that will move the country forward. So people now feel that since they run the business and know where the shoe pinch, so why don’t we go into it and mend the holes in the shoes.
Do you think the economic and security situations in Nigeria and Africa would encourage upcoming CEOs?
Do not forget that every situation is an opportunity itself, so even the situation as bad as it is some businesses are thriving, some foreign are even coming to the system to be part of the players. So, not minding the situation, but that does not mean the security situation should not be solved, it does not mean the negative economic indices should not be made right, it is not enough to discourage people totally. But it is enough to make you feel like doing more or change your approach to the way you do business.
What are those things you have done in the past?
I am into engineering basically, engineering consultancy, engineering construction and management, the new name now is event management, we did not know it was event management at that time, we just wanted to provide a place for people to hire for events. Am into production, that’s an area that people do not know, I have a company we manufacture cleanse soap, it’s a lovely natural soap, is in the market we have been manufacturing it for some time now and its doing well, am into properties and estate as well.
Briefly, take us through the historical antecedents of Jogor Center?
When God put something in your mind you want to implement it but basically, God just wanted us to do something to solve the need of the people. I thought then that a time will come that the level of sophistication of people will extend to social reception, before then people use to have functions at open places with tents, some ugly looking tents, I felt that if the taste of Nigerians are getting higher by the day they want to ride the best car, fly the best plan, a time will come that they want to have their parties at the best places, they want to hold their functions at very comfortable environment.
What advice for African Youths, Despite the under development in most part of the continent?
They should take the bull by the horns, the elder ones would not relinquish powers to them, they have to fight and struggle to take charge of their destinies and that is the truth, we have a situation where people in their 60s, 70s are struggling for appointment with people that just left school. We should not forget that the graduation ages now are reducing, so there are so many areas that am looking at, one of them is reducing the retirement age, we need to accommodate the younger people, just give them opportunities.
The jobs are there but the economy does not warrant people to employee more hands, they should fight for space, otherwise the older ones will not do anything for anyone, you have to fight, when I say fight, I do not mean physical fight but you have to struggle make sure they are in positions of authorities and they are more, they can make laws and do things that will favour their generation.
What do you think can be done to promote African Economy?
What I tell people is that Africans have to trade among themselves, that is what we don’t do, we do not have intra-trading in Africa we need to encourage it, whatever am doing I should be able to sell it to Kenyans, Tanzania, cape-vadians and buy anything from them. The first thought on my mind when I need anything should be Africa not Europe, but unfortunately is not like that and that is how it is all over Africa until we start trading among ourselves African economy may not improve.
What should Africans expect from you in 2years?
In two years I expect to take my businesses to another level and probably to be in a position to make policies that will favour Nigerians.
Who is your mentor in the business world?
Honestly, I have so many of them but I try not to list out the names of my mentor because I find out that from time to time I have a change of mind. So I do not want to list names that when you see me next year I give you another name. I see new people doing different thing, so my mentor of today may have been old fashioned tomorrow.
What is your worth in US Dollars?
Is the number of staff that I have, I can conveniently say we are one of the private sectors that have the highest number of employees as far as Oyo state is concerned.
Are you aiming to be one of the richest men in Africa?
I do not know, I will love to be, because I am working and when you work you want a reward for it.
What will you tell an Investor about Africa investment Opportunities?
I will tell them that Africa is a green field, so the opportunities are enormous, Europe is saturated and America is saturated Asia is not settled the next destination is Africa probably Nigeria because of the population the opportunity is vast, we are just coming from our shell, and you can still steal ideas from Europe and come to replicate it here.
Why do Africans celebrate politicians rather than successful businessmen?
I don’t know the reason for that, people celebrate successful businessmen, people celebrate Dangote, Mike Adenuga, may be they celebrate politicians, but its for a while, because politicians of yesteryears are not known anymore, if I mention the names of some governor, so many people do not know them again. I think they celebrate successful business men more.
What is your parting words?
My parting words goes to the youth because that is my constituency, they should not be discouraged, though the rate of unemployment is very high and people must go to school, they should strive hard, be diligent and do not be discouraged, believing that one day they will cross the line.