Home / Interview / Moving from an annual salary of $64,000 to starting my own business from the scratch was not a child’s play – Olamide Ayeni-Babajide; CEO, Pearl Recycling
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Moving from an annual salary of $64,000 to starting my own business from the scratch was not a child’s play – Olamide Ayeni-Babajide; CEO, Pearl Recycling

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Moving from an annual salary of $64,000 to starting my own business from the scratch was not a child’s play
– Olamide Ayeni-Babajide;
CEO, Pearl Recycling
Olamide Ayeni-Babajide can be simply described as a combination of beauty and brain.
Intelligent, hardworking and energetic Olamide is the Chief Executive Officer of one of the most popular recycling companies in Nigeria known as PEARL RECYCLING.
This lady, decided against all odds to leave her well paid job in her comfort zone and pursue her dream, even in the face of the global economic meltdown.
In this interview with OSUN CITIZEN’S Executive Editor, Dotun Olanibi, humble Olamide, a native of Aramoko-Ekiti in Ekiti state, a graduate of Computer Engineering, with international certifications from Cisco, Polycom and ISACA explains how it all started, challenges, passion, aspiration, relaxation and many more.
Enjoy reading.

As a lady, especially, a beautiful and social one, the least ‎job one can think you can do is recycling, what made you develop interest in this job?

I noticed that Waste management was becoming a constant problem in Nigeria. People have not fully grasped the concept of recycling as preached by some companies.

Unfortunately , government sanctions and threats wasn’t having yielding any positive effect so I came up with an idea of waste upcycling where people can see and appreciate what we convert their waste to, so that they can embrace waste recycling.

How did this recycling job start?

It started in 2012.

I had bought a wall décor waste and paid for importation only to realize that it was upcycled from waste.

I decided to start that in Nigeria with the hope of exporting it someday.

In an environment where accessing loans from banks and government involvement in the private sector is a nightmare, how have you been coping?

We were opportune to meet with angel investors who invested in our vision and supported us by making cash available in the form of grants.

We are also running a hybrid system of business so we are a profit making social enterprise.

As an entrepreneur, ‎what is your biggest challenge doing business in Nigeria?

Our challenge is the same as every SME’s in Nigeria and it’s the hostile business environment we run here.

Every factor that is meant to support SME’s are actually out to frustrate and kill it in Nigeria.

Starting from unavailability of electricity to disruptive rules and plundering tax law.

How have you been able to overcome or manage this challenge?

We understand that if we continue to complain and wallow in self-pity, we won’t make any headway so we decided to forge ahead, face the challenges head-on and keep moving.

For example, we had to generate our own electricity in order to keep the work going. Basically, we have been coping like every other SME’s and coping isn’t a good word for any business to use especially in this age.

When did you officially commence your business and how has ‎it been so far?

We became legalized to operate under the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in August 2016. So we are officially a year old.

It’s been adventurous. More like a roller-coaster but we are learning to navigate through the rough edges.

Why did you leave the certainty for uncertainty by leaving a good paid job for your own private business?

It will get to a point where you will understand that it’s important to live than to exist and doing what you love will bring the satisfaction that you longed for.

It was not a hard decision for me though because I have always been wired to take unexpected steps without fear but then, Courage has never been known to pay bills.

Moving from an annual salary of $64,000 to starting my own business from the scratch was not a child’s play.

How was it when you first started?

Then, it was a learning process. We started with research and analysis. We wanted to know the market impression and acceptability.

We didn’t set out to make money. We wanted to sample people’s opinion and see how they will embrace us. Fortunately, we had a massive acceptance and that gave us the leap.

‎Aside the grant you got, what was your start off capital, how many people did you start with and how many people are your employees today?

We started with a grant of two million, three hundred thousand naira and a personal capital of one million naira.

We started with two contract employees and we currently have five contract employees and many independent marketers.

We intend to expand and employ more hands.

 

 

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Have you ever been frustrated on the line of duty and the only thought that came to your mind was quitting and going back to taking up the paid job you left?

No. I have never thought of going back to pick a job.

I think it’s basically because I love the freedom I have with this job and I am not ready to trade it for anything.

I am also aware that money can frustrate you and make you want to pick up the life you abandon but I have found a way around that.

What’s your driving force; I mean what keeps you going?

Passion! Passion!! Passion!!!

Let’s get a little bit personal here, some people say you are stubborn, ‎are you truly stubborn?

Laughs…

I am not stubborn, well, depending on the context by which they are making the point.

Stubborn is relative. I am a well determined lady who is not easily swayed and I think that comes off as being stubborn.

You know, once you don’t easily bend to people’s opinion, they think you are rigid but it’s about personal values.

Tell us one country you have never visited before that you are dreaming of visiting?

China.

I love innovations and I see a lot of mind blowing innovations coming out of China.

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You are a stylish person and it reflects in your crafts, tell us, what defines your style?

Nature.

When you look at nature, it’s simple yet exquisite. Nature thrives in tranquility.

I love simplicity laced with luxury and it reflects in my style.

What do you have phobia for?

The fear of height.

That is why I am not fascinated about flying. I actually fear flying planes.

Because your job is very demanding, you run a busy schedule, ‎how do you relax?

I naturally visit beaches and parks to relax. I do that regularly.

I also take some days off during the week to go to the cinema.

What’s one thing you can never be caught doing?

Mortgaging my Integrity.

What’s the best lesson life has taught you?

Life is short.

No one is going to get out of life alive so why are you modest? Why are you afraid to launch your wings and fly?

Go out and be all you want to be.

At this time that getting a job in Nigeria has become a big issue, what advise ‎do you have for youths still running after the scarce while collar jobs?

It’s unfortunate that our educational system is training us to be employees rather than employers.

I want to tell them to look inward, acquire a skill and birth their own vision

Kindly tell us your growing up?

I grew up in Ado Ekiti and growing up was fun.

I learnt everything I know right now from the feet of my father.

I did my Nursery, primary and secondary Education in Ado-Ekiti.

 

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About Dotun Olanibi

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