By Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
Oluwatosin Fagbamigbe, is an enterpreneur and Chief Executive Officer of The Big V Pty Ltd, a startup based in South African, with business and interest in Nigeria. His startup specialises in automobiles, manufacturing, real estate and consultancy.
In this interview, Fagbamigbe x-rays his sojourn into business, while drawing a comparison between doing business in Nigeria and South Africa.
I was a partner and Assistant General Manager with BlessedBWTransport, a logistic company in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I was born in Ondo State and brought up in Ekiti. I have lived much of my life in the Western part of Nigeria cutting across Ekiti, Ondo, and Lagos states.
Presently, I am the Chief Executive Officer, major partner and shareholder “The Big V Pty Ltd. It is a South African based company, located in the city of Johannesburg, with five arms of business focus. The” V” is a Roman figure, representing the five phases of the joint ventures and also could mean the name of myself and my major partner that started with V. Our long time focus has been on the following independently before the recent consolidation to help move the brand forward as it becomes eminent. We are into automobiles, manufacturing of organic products, real estate, investment and consultancy. As Nigerians, we have to always forge ahead while hoping for the better. I obtained a degree in English and Literary studies and second Degree here at the Vaal University of Technology, with commitment of finishing the Postgraduate studies soonest.
In 2013, I was appointed by His Excellency, Amb Meddy Joseph Katwala, from Democratic Republic of Congo as a representative to the Presidential Investment Organisation under his leadership and an ambassador to United Nations. This organisation is responsible for the facilitation of Trade and Investment between Nigeria, South Africa and Democratic of Congo where a number of business relations and investments were established before the expiration of his tenure.
Recently, I was appointed the Global General Secretary of all the indigenes of Ise-Ekiti Kingdom in the Diaspora and as well as the Public Relations Officer of the Association of Yoruba Indigenes in the Diaspora (AYIDSA), Ekurhuleni District in South Africa.
In all honesty, a lot of things propelled my interest in business. First, my unending thirst for success amidst obvious darkness considering Nigeria’s situation emanated from a very close female friend who was also a secret motivator every time we talk. Another motivation was a number of uncles who are successful in their respective careers at that time and yet seeking more through establishing an empire. It wasn’t easy. Many waters have pass under the bridge, I must confess. Especially, if you have to source for capital with a blind eye to other fast lane because of your morals or upbringing while raising money. While I was an undergraduate, I began to think deep on how to become successful in a modest way. I ran through possible means with huge obstacles at that time. Then I left Nigeria through a friend who assisted with the visa facilitation at his own financial capacity in return of an unconscious favour demonstrated while he was leaving the country too then. On arrival, I worked as a cleaner at a TV station and studying a Diploma course in General Language Skill along side in SLC Melbourne City, for eight months. At this point, my aim was to be able to raise capital to pursue the conceived. This quest made me jump at every better offer presented by any company. From G4S Security Company, to Zayani General Construction and a few others all within the United Arab Emirates. In 2012, I arrived in South Africa with a reasonable capital after a few failed attempts to kickstart a few businesses in Nigeria as a result of absence and proper management. So, I registered a transport and tourism company where I bankrolled, operate and discharge the manpower required for a start, all by myself ,while testing the waters.
After, I got my conviction in the idea that it was good. I made efforts to increase the fleet of cars and it was prevented by the Taxi Association in Sandton City. In fact, I was specifically put in a box never to have more than three cars or shuttles as a foreigner. Probably, the fear of hijacking the entire market which was going to happen if they were not thoughtful because that was unconsciously my target. At that time, there was no Uber or Taxify in the transportation system. There were ups and downs that threatened and almost swallowed the resources. I had this resilient and persistent drive to achieving success amidst uncertainty. These wouldn’t let me give up on anything I set my mind to do. If I can think of it, I always believe I can do it.
Talking about the profits in business so far, well, others might see me and talk about good profitability in business but I feel I haven’t made it to the desired point or attained the stage where I want to be; hence, the doubling of efforts, scouting for business opportunities, ideas where investments can easily be guaranteed and reproduced with minimal risk of losses.
Comparatively, both Nigeria and South Africa have the strength that can favour businesses and weaken it, from experiences. A number of things have been obviously helpful all through the journey. They include a good system, like minds, government policy and friendly environment that allows businesses to thrive unlike what we have in Nigeria where things are totally different in reality and practice.
Growth of startup
The factors that facilitate growth of startups are government attitude towards, citizens, general developments, protection of businesses, measures towards giving financial aids that enable businesses to thrive and grow faster as long as the citizen approach the right authorities. VAT and other taxes also take from the profits, if your company has a VAT number registration. It is safe to conclude that South Africa, at all times, puts the interests of the citizens and businesses forward. You don’t need your landed properties or have a big fish as a guarantor with financial strength to obtain a loan business. All that matters is your business idea, plans and workable approach towards repayment for you to get finance from financial institutions. They become actively involved in all businesses they agree to finance, as the government runs a check from time to time to ensure the money given is judiciously being used, once you are given a loan. These are done without putting your party affinity or who you know in the country into play. Although, I have never got any financial assistance from government so far, even though I know a good number of friends in the country who are beneficiaries and have grown, as a result. My partners and I are strictly believers in starting small with little capital. re-invest through careful studies and diversification of the proceeds and patiently wait for the right time as we grow bigger.