Reputed for squeezing water out of the rock, Ambassador Aare Afe Babalola, founder and chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), does not recognise the word ‘impossible’ in his dictionary. In his limitless world of possibilities, every idea could be refined to gold. This wisdom drives his investment decisions for the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Ventures, the business arm of the university.
Like tiny mustard, the seed capitals in the ABUAD Ventures have grown and flourished beyond imagination, churning out some of Nigeria’s top-rated brands, while also yielding optimum satisfaction for the university, parents, staff, students and the host community.
The ABUAD Ventures is a bold step towards achieving university autonomy. The vision is to ensure that whatever is needed is provided or generated within the university. The campus is fortified with a bottling water factory that produces ABUAD Table Water; bakery that dishes out ABUAD Bread, as well as a five-star hotel, printing press and laundry. These business outfits fuse together as ABUAD Ventures, providing quality services that have become a trending brand.
At the helm of affairs of ABUAD Ventures is a trailblazer and avant-garde business executive, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, wife of the founder and chancellor of ABUAD. She took up the mantle of leadership of the Ventures in 2011; and with a woman’s touch came the difference. She goes down memory lane on the fast-paced growth of ABUAD Ventures.
“Well, I took over the Ventures in 2011. We started with the printing press and the water. Then the thought of a guest house crossed our minds. We want parents who were coming here for the first time to have a place to stay within our campus. So, we decided to use the former buildings, two blocks, as a guest house so that parents could put up there when they come to visit their wards. We started with about 40 rooms; we had less than 300 students at that time.”
Today, the guest house initiative has grown into a 5-Star hotel.
Explaining further, the ABUAD Ventures CEO said, “In line with the founder’s vision for the institution to cater for the needs of campus residents, we started baking our bread. Same vision also facilitated the need for a water bottling plant. ABUAD bread and bottled water are the best in Ekiti comparable with only top brands in Lagos. ”
ABUAD is indeed a city within a city. The campus is a world on its own. It is a place embedded with everything that one needs to survive in life. ABUAD water factory provides drinking water for the members of the university community and also supplies water to the general public. The design of the bottle makes it easily distinguishable while the water quality has endeared it to the public. It is affordable and safe for consumption.
This bottled water plant has state-of-the-art facilities, approved by NAFDAC. The purity and quality of water produced in the plant are second to none. From faraway Lagos, there is a high demand for the water by distributors.
“Drilling the water went over 300,000 feet deep, with so many rocks crushed in the process. Unlike other water plants that use chlorine in water treatment, ABUAD Bottled Water does not have chlorine. It is a clean source of water enhancing healthy life and wellness in the community and beyond,” Yeye Babalola stressed.
ABUAD Bakery is a fully licensed and NAFDAC-approved bakery specialised in producing healthy and high quality bread and pastries. There is a saying in the host community that whoever eats ABUAD Bread will never hunger again. The bromide-free bread is of very high quality and has remained the market leader, competing with other brands from Lagos. At the moment, the bakery has about 15 varieties of products, some of which are already leading the market in the state and its environs. It also provides special products for events and ceremonies. ABUAD Bakery is presently expanding its market share with strong brand qualities which make it a sure success for marketers who may want to market its products.
Highlighting the qualities of the university’s cafeteria, the CEO, ABUAD Ventures, stated that, “I see to it that we give the best to the students because I eat from the cafeteria when I’m hungry and not ready to go to the house. I wouldn’t eat something that is not right; I give them what I eat. And if you want to confirm, go to that cafeteria, you will see the kind of meals, facilities and utensils in the kitchen as well as the ingredients they use; you would be surprised. When the country was economically friendly with less customs restraint, I used to bring baked beans, tomatoes, ketchup from America in a container to feed them. So, it’s a thing of joy for me to be in charge of these ventures, and ensure that everyone in this campus is happy. At times, there might be complaints here and there, but it is common among young people; nevertheless, we attend to their needs and complaints.”
Based on the accolades usually received from the members of the public by the management of the university cafeteria especially during special functions, the ABUAD Ventures has decided to throw its catering doors open to offer services to the general public. The cafeteria has well trained, neat and hardworking staff who are capable of managing large catering events. The catering service leaves one with a mouth-watering experience with each meal. It is a taste and tell product that enjoy high market rating. The terms of services are also very considerate without compromise on the quality.
Within this campus in the ancient city of Ekiti is one of Nigeria’s leading brands in hospitality that provides cutting-edge luxury accommodations and delightful experiences. A five-star inn located in the vicinity of Afe Babalola University would thrill you beyond imagination and give you a unique feel-at-home experience.
Considering the serenity and peaceful environment in which the university is located, coupled with the high standard of services that the university is established to provide and which has not been replicated anywhere around, the university is very mindful of the lodging needs of its visitors. According to Yeye Modupe, ABUAD has provided very peaceful and cosy environment with adequate security where visitors can lodge while transacting their business with the university. Although the inn is located within the university premises, the privacy of the lodgers is guaranteed as students and non-staff of the inn are not allowed on the premises.
“The Inn serves varieties of local and continental dishes under the management of highly trained and cultured staff that are available at any time of the day or night. There is steady water and power supply, with the rooms fully airconditioned and furnished to high standards.” ABUAD Inn boasts of a swimming pool, gym and a wonderful restaurant. From laundry services to the elevators, it makes you feel at home.
Yeye Modupe disclosed that ABUAD printing press was the first digital printing press with facilities for digital colour separation in Ekiti State: “It provides high quality printing services, ranging from printing of books, posters, brand labels, among many others. These services are provided at affordable prices without compromise on their quality. Also, considering that there is 24 hours power supply in the university, the usual problem of low energy supply is completely absent. There is also adequate manpower for both day and night services.”
According to her, the press also has fully installed and stand-by machines for the various stages of printing works and does not require any outside support before a job can be completed.
“This means that jobs are completed and delivered promptly without compromise on the quality,” the CEO highlighted.
Among ABUAD Ventures’ range of services is also ABUAD Laundry. This is a fully equipped and well managed laundry service provider. It specialises in both industrial and household laundry services with fully installed machines and procedures suitable for all kinds of fabrics. It is manned by specialists with long standing years of experience in laundry services. Patronage for Laundry is fast increasing both from the campus and its immediate environs.
The rise of the business conglomerate is a testimony of the acumen, intelligence and ingenuity of the CEO, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola. She is a pillar of support to her husband and lots of people outside her extended family. Her husband in his autobiography – The Impossibility Made Possible, described her saying: “She is very caring…. She is more of a mother to me, my children and my extended family. She is a loving and harmless woman”.
She is never wearied in the pursuit of excellence. Call her a woman of steel courage, working long hours to achieve a good result. She is a goal-oriented person, who perseveres in her good work, no matter the sacrifice to her personal comfort. Her life is a long narrative of the unassailable qualities of a devout Christian, a loving wife, a virtuous woman and an entrepreneur par excellence.
She drank copiously from her husband’s fountain of industry. Her entrepreneurial skills could be seen in the successful running of many businesses in Nigeria and overseas profitably. Aside from her demanding role as the CEO of ABUAD Ventures, she is also the chairperson, ABUAD Integrated Resources, and the vice-president, Board of Trustees, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti.
Though a private university, Afe Babalola University is known for its not-for-profit philosophy. But customer satisfaction, social responsibility and the passion for quality inspired the establishment of ABUAD Ventures. The proceeds of these ventures are ploughed back to the university, yielding a value chain for the university community, neighbourhood and other stakeholders.
ABUAD is an institution standing on the golden tripod of Teaching, Research and Community service. Community service is at the heart of the institution’s activities. Since universities do not exist in isolation, various activities of ABUAD are tailored to enhance ‘town and gown’ relationship that would be mutually beneficial to all stakeholders. Like other universities in developed countries of the world, ABUAD has the mission of enhancing the good of the community, becoming a catalyst for the growth and development of not only Ekiti State but the entire country.