Most often, Oyerinde Oyeyemi finds it hard to express himself but when it comes to making money and insurance, this Managing Director of Tolkun Global Concepts finds his muse. Right from his teen, before he acquired his numerous degrees, Oyeyemi has always had it in him to make money and compete with the crème de la crème of the society. His vision, he knew would not come cheap, but he was determined to make his mark. In this interview with Inspire, Oyeyemi narrated how he had to dump his job to be an entrepreneur.
Was being an entrepreneur your childhood dream?
Since I was a corps member, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had two good friends then, who had two ideas different from mine. One was bent on travelling out while the other wanted to work in a big firm. During my service year, I registered a company called Tolkun Global Concepts. What we do basically was to be an intermediary between insurer and insurance company. This was because during the service year, I served in an insurance company. After the service, my wife said she didn’t want to live in Kaduna. So I talked to my boss and found myself in marketing department here in Lagos. While I was working for my boss, at the same time, I had my company. So when I got here, I was even going to other insurance companies to tell their staff to buy insurance from my company. I would sell my company shares to other people, then one of those companies managers asked me to come work for them. That was how I was asked to come for interview without submitting application, I was made head of marketing. I knew that there was no way I would make the kind of money I want if I work for someone, so, I had to resign. Then I started my own, the first contact I made then was Rosabon. From there I grew.
How did it grow?
Along the line, I found out that mobile money is actually working , so I ventured into it. What I did then was going into the informal sector, advising them to open mobile accounts with us. I was helping people to make money. Then I created a business idea, a community where people can come together and help each other. The community was just for business. It was called Business Associate System Cluster. It was a free community to join, but to taste of the benefits you must upgrade your system. By that, any business done by the community, there is a share coming to you. We also promote the service of every of our member. So far so good, we have been able to touch lives; creating an avenue for them to make money. I sell insurance policies to them. Through the community, they can also get better insurance policy from insurance companies because we also keep funds with them.
You work more like a bank?
After my school year, I knew I might be able to own a bank. I can get partners who can do what banks are doing. That is the reason we have different partners we are working with. After school, I found myself in the insurance world and I grabbed the opportunity. I studied further on it and I am here. I have just finished a client business that required counter indemnity.
Why didn’t you study insurance in school?
Studying Banking and Finance was not by chance. As a child, I wanted to study accountancy like my dad, and then changed to study banking and finance with the aim of owing a bank. The second was that I wanted to be like the flashy respected men in the society in those days. But those perspectives changed as I grew up. It was when I was in the university that I discovered that I can’t be rich working for someone. You can only be rich when you work for yourself. You can be satisfied but not rich. Because there is no amount of salary anybody can pay you that will make you rich. But as an investor, you can be rich anytime. As a businessman or entrepreneur, you will know that networking can make you rich in a second. As a businessman, I am an opportunist. You must be very fast to take an opening. For me, I take risk a lot. I did rice business not long ago and I didn’t break even. But I learnt my lessons. I am a jack of all trade and master of some. But I made sure I don’t invest borrowed money in new business. It should be a business you have test run. If I had taken a loan for the rice business, may be by now I will be in debt.
What is the greatest challenge in your business?
One of the challenges we have is people taking loans and diverting them. By the time you take loan from our partners and divert it, It is going to give us a bad image. The client would think we are in with the defaulter and might cut the bridge between us and they will blacklist us. Then we would need to go the extra mile to make sure that you pay back the loan. The other challenge we have is people not knowing how a consultant firm works. We go extra mile to make sure that they do understand us. Some clients would think because they have registered with us, they are automatically getting any loan they need from any finance house. If anybody wants any facility from any finance house, the person should be able to meet up with the loan requirements. And if they don’t get the loans, they will blame usbelieving that we didn’t push for them.
How have you been coping with giving loans?
We are strict on pushing for our clients to get loan and when we do we make sure that we go through your cash flow. We expect every client to give us his or her cash flow. What we do right now is that if you tell us that you are producing bottled water, and you need loan, we mostly pay it to their suppliers, that is the person who you are supposed to pay to get your needed material.
Do you think you made a mistake to be an entrepreneur?
No! We grow everyday and learn every day, I can assure you that if I come back to this world again, I would still be an entrepreneur. If you want to get there, you must be a networker as an entrepreneur. People say networking is a scam, but I say it is the best business. There is something I call partnership reward, it is our own way of networking. Being an entrepreneur is something that gladdens my heart because you can never get broke. Most of my friends have asked why I don’t always go off-season? I have never been broke, that is the meaning.