This interview brought some things into sharp focus for me and I realised that I didn’t know it all. Here are some things I learnt for the first time:
What kind of business do you run?
I’m into haulage of goods.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the term, tell us what it entails.
Haulage is transporting goods by road or rail for other companies or for one’s own company. In my case, it is by road. I have large trucks that move goods all over Nigeria for various companies.
For how many years have you run this business?
Well, this will be my fourth year in this line of business.
So you have been able to study the lay of the land. Who will you say is your fiercest competitor?
I will say Dangote. LOL, because he has everything on point. Actually, I see him as more of a role model but he better watch out!
Nice, so how many trucks do you have?
Presently, I have two trucks running steadily. I have plans for expanding my fleet.
Do you have any other business interests?
Yes I do. I am a business man at heart and I am definitely looking into expanding into other profitable sectors.
Well I want to go into agriculture. Aquaculture and snailery to be precise. I have done a lot of trainings and research in these fields and I see it as an untouched but very profitable venture both locally and on the international level.
Good choice. I’ve also heard that quails are prolific breeders. Heliculture is another good choice. So do you have a farm already?
I’m presently in construction mode having just acquired the land which is to be the farm. The structures are in the making and in the nearest future, we shall open officially. I picked up the interest from my mum who has a mini farm and I realised that it is very profitable if you know how to go about it.
That’s nice. So in the next few years, what should we expect from you?
By God’s grace, our name will be on the lips of everyone both locally and on the international field.
How easy has it been setting up a business in the Nigerian environment?
Well business in Nigeria has been challenging to be honest. There is no encouragement from anyone, the government inclusive. In the transport sector, we have terrible roads and the risk factor in the conveyance of goods is always present. Again, the ‘Nigerian factor’ is always present in all you do. But still the success at the end of the challenges encountered makes the whole exercise worthwhile.
Given the opportunity, would you do it all over again given the odds? If yes, why?
I will do it again. These are my reasons: firstly, I am a Nigerian and there is this certain ‘never say die’ attitude of ours that makes us keep going. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Again, you must know that a life without challenges is not a meaningful life. Also we have to make a difference when the odds are stacked against us. It is what keeps the nation alive. Better to be a boss in my land than a boy in someone else’s!
Hehe! Is there anything you would do differently if you are presented the opportunity to restart your business?
Yes… before you can say you’re a success in any field, you must have made several errors and mistakes. If I had the chance to start all over again, I would remedy those errors. Then I would really listen to people already in that field because in some instances I did not. I chose to do things my way and got knocks for it. Also, I would not delegate much work to people that aren’t necessary to have around. I will do things myself.
You realise you cannot do everything yourself, right?
I do but one should delegate only the necessary. It is a business where you have to be present on most occasions and do things yourself if you want it done right.
You’ve not told us about yourself. We would like to know who you are.
My name is Afolabi Akiwumi, an indigene of Abeokuta in Ogun state but I am a Lagos boy. I’m in my early 30’s.
Most people in the haulage business are diabolical, any merit to this?
We are in Africa, being diabolic is a part of our culture as some believe. In fact I think it is not limited to the haulage sector. Nigerians attach diabolism to all aspects of their lives which is for those who believe in it. But personally, I wasn’t brought up that way so I don’t believe in it. And my religious upbringing forbids it so it is a No-No. All you need is effort, diligence and determination coupled with God’s grace then the sky is not your limit but the beginning.
Any advice to those who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?
Don’t ever limit your imagination. Think big and work hard for what you believe in and never give up. Pray.
You sound religious. Are you religiously inclined?
I must thank you for making the time.
The pleasure is all mine.
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