Move Back to Nigeria is a new series on BellaNaija. The aim is to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them. The idea is to share their successes and their challenges as they made the decisions they did. A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora have questions about making a change at home in Nigeria. Many suggest really good ideas on how to make things better; others would like to contribute to making a difference back home but are just not sure where to begin.
Movebacktonigeria.com is the fastest growing online community of Nigerian professionals living, studying and working in diaspora.
This week’s interview features Micheal Adeyemi, a Business and IT Consultant who moved back home during particularly challenging times and now has a positive and interesting story to tell. He discusses his experiences so far and shares a few tips he’s learned along the way. We hope you enjoy his story.
Thanks for your time: Let’s begin with a brief introduction of who you are. My name is Michael Adeyemi. I’m a business and IT Consultant who advocates for the strategic use of Information technology in driving business processes. I consider myself a very positive person who always tries to see the best in every situation.
Can you tell us about your background?
I was born and bred in Nigeria. I started my higher education at the University of Lagos studying Mechanical Engineering but I eventually left Nigeria for the UK to attend the University of Portsmouth for a degree in Business Information Technology. My initial choice of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Lagos was because of my love for physics and also because I felt I already knew a lot about computers at the time and wanted to study something different. However, IT is my true passion and I can say it was definitely a sound career choice.
The ever-present IT bug at play. So how did your professional career begin?
I returned to Nigeria in 2008 and began a 4-month internship/ pre-graduate program with KPMG in Lagos where I was immediately put to work in an IT audit team for about 3 months which was a really amazing experience. I worked with fantastic and brilliant minds and at the time I was really amazed with the quality of people at KPMG. This made me recognize the need to further develop myself and prepare fully for the Nigerian Market, so I then went ahead to pursue my master’s degree even though whilst there I was offered an opportunity for a full time position. I decided to pursue my education first and in so doing, moved to the University of Nottingham for a year to study Management and IT.
How did you find your Nottingham experience?
Nottingham City is a great place with lots of history. I loved the town and loved the University experience all through. I was involved in almost everything during my time there and I have developed lifelong friendships and valuable networks.
So you returned home to Nigeria right upon completion of your Masters degree?
Yes, I returned home immediately but even before concluding the program, I had been applying for jobs and gotten a few offers, from UK and Nigerian companies. Although I was in the UK, I really and truly did not want to stay on there as I was a Lagos boy at heart.
‘A Lagos boy at heart’, how so?
Unlike the majority of my friends who were ‘Nigerian-London boys’, I always had a pull to Nigeria where I had my base and my networks. I knew how things worked in Nigeria. Also, before leaving for the UK I was already involved in some level of politics and was really involved in the youth movement for the 2003 elections. So being abroad made me feel away from home and I knew that I had to get back to where I could make things happen. One can argue that opportunities were also available in the UK but for jobs and career progression, I felt I would always be swimming against the tide. The UK is a developed economy and there’s obviously a lot of experience to gain there, but Nigeria will always be ours to fix and whilst it’s not the perfect place right now, it is home. It has been five years and I haven’t regretted the move.
That must be a worthwhile feeling. Let’s begin to retrace your steps, what did you do when you got back to Nigeria?
It’s pertinent to note that I moved back around the onset of the global credit crunch, which was a tough time for the job market as companies were cutting down on their employment quotas. So I joined the family consultancy business, applying my skills in IT training and Advisory. I set up my own unit, training secondary and university students on core IT skills in programming, networking, and IT certification courses. Interestingly, entrepreneurship and starting my own business never crossed my mind at the time and in hindsight, thinking about attending numerous interviews and being turned down, all I can say is that it was the hand of God all along. I eventually moved on to take up a role at a company called IBST Media (an independent media production house) as a business development executive and grew to become the business/project manager. The company produced TV shows such as Big Brother Nigeria, Dragons Den, Peak Talent show and many others. I learnt a whole lot there from my boss and mentor, Remi Ogunpitan. He instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me and taught me that ‘work’ is not work when you do what you love. I subsequently moved on from there to start my own company called Fidelize Global.
This is quite inspiring. Tell us about your company. Fidelize Global is a technology resource company that offers tailored IT services and solutions to small, medium and large scale businesses. We are keenly interested in supporting other small businesses as we understand the challenges small businesses encounter in carrying out their operations and processes and the ever growing need to stay competitive. For this reason I attended a course at the Entrepreneurship Development Center of the Pan- Atlantic University which qualifies me to be an SME ambassador and exposed me to the family of SME businesses in Nigeria.
From personal experience, I can say that true financial freedom is found in entrepreneurship and I am striving to grow and perfect my own business, whilst also willing to help others in their quest for entrepreneurship.
What has been your experience with running your own company in Nigeria?
I give all glory and thanks to God for keeping me on and strengthening me. I have had immense support from the people around me. As daunting as it may seem to start a business in Nigeria and do it properly, it is very possible. And as many challenges exist in Nigeria, so do the opportunities, although you certainly require a gut of steel to do business in Nigeria. Personally, I feel the start-up capital is never really the impediment to start ups in Nigeria, as about 70% of the factors involved in starting a business do not require money. The whole process requires a clear purpose, dedication and knowledge acquisition. So while I can say it has not always been smooth sailing, as we are all very aware of all the challenges that a business can possibly face particularly with regards to infrastructure, Fidelize Global is growing. We have recorded hard earned successes and are constantly increasing our client base, receiving positive feedback from clients and even quite recently got recognized by an international Oil company and the Lagos State Government for our work.
Certainly sounds commendable. So bearing all this in mind, where do you see Fidelize Global in the near future?
In the next 3-5 years, we intend to become a household name within my niche, which is supporting small businesses and also with the increased capacity to deliver solutions to large organizations as well as government organizations. I also want Fidelize Global to be the nesting ground for young IT professionals, and the one stop shop for IT Managed services for small businesses who want to outsource their IT department. We want to be able to service up to 200 to 300 small businesses, and have an in- house software development team to start working on our own proudly Nigerian solutions.
Goodluck with that and moving on to a different topic, how have you found the lifestyle differences since moving back?
When planning my move back to Nigeria, I had a purpose. I had pretty much retired from my social activities before leaving, so coming back was not to be play time for me. However, I have adapted to my environment, set my own personal standards and since most of my friends have now returned, Lagos has become a lovely place to be in. I personally think our penchant for constantly socializing is a way of blowing off the steam which arises from the hustle and bustle of life here.
Right! So on a final note, and seeing as your story will be particularly instructive for some out there, what advice would you give to other Nigerians who are considering making the move back home? Permit me to say that I am not an advocate for moving back to Nigeria if you don’t have a plan. If you are not ready to fail, accept failure, and learn from failure, then do not try it. Also, do not move back for sentimental reasons. You need a good plan, preferably not just plan A but plans A-Z and a thick skin to move back. Take your time to find your path and hopefully, success will come.
Thanks for speaking with us and best wishes moving forward. _____________________________________________________________________________________________
The primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section.