Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims 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 regular interviews with individuals who have successfully made the leap, so you can learn from their experiences and make a success of your move back.
The Move Back To Nigeria series is a monthly feature on BellaNaija.
My name is Biobele Oyibo, I was out of the country for about 8/9 years. I did A-Levels at St Bede’s Senior School, a Degree in Law from the University of Kent and I have a First-Class Degree in Business Enterprise (entrepreneurship) from the University of Buckingham.
During my time at Buckingham, I set up a tech business called Bride Bells – which bridges the gap between weddings and technology. It’s an online D-I-Y wedding planning platform that allows wedding vendors and brides to connect, plan and collaborate more efficiently, using software as a service. I think it’s a platform that’s very likely to disrupt the wedding industry in Nigeria, and revamp the way weddings are planned.
I was selected to give a talk about my business to Prince Andrew (HRH Duke of York), the Mayor or Buckingham, and other dignitaries, and was further highlighted in the Buckingham Daily’s.
Tell us about some of your fondest memories from childhood before you moved to England.
To be honest, I had a quite interesting childhood, but can’t necessarily pick up on any particular memory. I’d have to say one of my best times were holidays with family, particularly those Christmas holidays, when we all went back to the village (Buguma, Rivers State). Spending time with my siblings, cousins, friends, there was never a dull moment – from acting plays, to playing games, to running from masquerades and dodging knockouts in the town square – there was never a dull moment.
What came next after your educational pursuit was over?
I’ve always been a big believer of moving back to Nigeria to settle down. As odd as it may sound, I’ve also never really been a big fan of having a job. I did a 2-month internship once, at a law firm, but running my own business has always been my goal. So, honestly, as soon as I was done with my education, I moved back to really focus on pushing my business in Nigeria.
How did you know the time was right to move back?
Once I could comprehend that I could make a difference in Nigeria, I started itching to move back. In fact, I was willing to implement some of my ideas while I was still half way through my education, but trust Nigerian parents; they always said, “finish school first”, Every time I heard that, the urge to move back increased.
How were the first few months being back in Nigeria?
While I was away, I came back at least once or twice a month, so there hasn’t really been much of a culture shock. The only things that I don’t seem to be getting used to are the extremely hot weather and the NEPA issues. I’m literally always craving something cold to drink.
I’m a sucker for fish! I love catfish! As much as I had always wanted to run my own farm, I think my subconscious chose fish farming, because I could easily access catfish – point, kill and make my own peppersoup.
And what propelled you to switch to the tech space? (Bride bells
I wouldn’t particularly say there has been a switch, I’m still very much interested in farming, but would like to do it bigger and better. I like to see myself as a serial entrepreneur or maybe, an opportunist. I saw the opportunity in the wedding industry, and saw the need for some extensive technology, beyond the simple vendor listing that’s out there. Besides, I think the tech space fits with my personality: fun, exciting and constantly changing.
In your opinion, what does Nigeria have to offer the entrepreneur?
It’s no news that Nigeria is a developing country. In my head, this alone screams ‘opportunities’. No doubt, the country can be a bit difficult, but I believe a whole lot has to do with positioning. Know what you’re trying to achieve, and position yourself in the right places to actualise those dreams. The truth is, the opportunities are available, the labour is here, and resources (although seemingly scarce) are available.
I always say to people, in the fully developed countries like England – what changes do you really want to make? How do you want to make your mark? In Nigeria, there is room for a lot of changes and development. Besides if I had to set my footprints anywhere, as cliche as it might sound, I’d rather it’s at my home.
Do you have any plans to “give back”?
Definitely! A lot of friends and acquaintances tell me I’m good at motivating people – I plan to explore this skill. I haven’t necessarily decided what exactly I plan to do to give back, but I certainly plan to make women and youths see that there is no glass ceiling. There are no boundaries – the boundaries are fictitious – and even though people think your goals are weird or unachievable, if you’re “weird” enough to think it, you can achieve it through smart and hard work.
So, are you back in Nigeria for good?
My next goal is to get an MBA, and I’m looking to take out another year to do that – not immediately, but soon. I planned to go to the U.S, until Donald Trump happened. But currently I’m really considering Insead Business School for my MBA.
What do you do for fun/relaxation in Lagos?
I’m a big fan of water sports and cocktails. So, you’d most likely find me out swimming, kayaking, on a boat or at a nice bar, having a chilled cup of long island ice tea.
Do you have any advice for prospective returnees?
Don’t be too worried, take the plunge – it’s worth it, eventually. But make sure you have a pair of shades and a lot of sunscreen to hand. Also, don’t just move back, do your research and due diligence.