Oyenike Abiodun Adeleke is a business consultant, seasoned entrepreneur, politician and motivational speaker. She is also into entrepreneurship development, corporate branding and heads an NGO. Oyenike who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Market Link Global Resources, a marketing consulting firm and convener of Ibadan Entrepreneurs Network, in this interview with ROTIMI IGE, speaks about her journey so far and her future plans.
TELL us a bit about some of your projects?
I am someone who likes to be involved in positive things. I pioneered several initiatives such as monthly training and mentoring sessions for business owners in Ibadan, an online mentoring platform for entrepreneurs called “Talk2oyenike” and a television programme aimed at showcasing entrepreneurs and their success stories called “My story.”In December 2016, in recognition of my impact and contribution to economic development, I was honoured with an award by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Nigeria. I am a coach and speaker, with the mandate to help people reach their maximum potential.
How does a wife, mother, and church leader like you combine her responsibilities with the enormous tasks of heading the foremost assemblage of small and medium scale entrepreneurs – who are always having one talk, event or the other and politics?
It has been the grace of God, and my husband has been very supportive. My husband is my number one fan and encourager- and also my number one mentor. So, he has been able to help me to manage myself and my time. At times, when he sees that I need to rest, he ensures that I do. Sometimes, he even goes as far as keeping my car keys and making me rest. There are also times when he pushes and encourages me, telling me “You can do it. Go ahead, I am behind you!” So, managing everything and combining them is possible because I have a strong support behind me, and I can always look back to the support of friends, family, and especially, my husband. I will just say that when there is peace at home, you can achieve a lot more. I also have grown up children and I make sure I create time for them. They know that when mummy has to work, mummy has to work, and when mummy can play, mummy will play. So, I create time for everything.
Tell us about your new initiative, OJA and how was it birthed?
Oja started or was birthed by Ibadan Entrepreneurs Network. Ibadan Entrepreneurs Network was birthed by Market link Global Resources, and they are interwoven. The reason I started Oja was because in 2017 and 2018, we had series of trainings with a lot of entrepreneurs that kept saying that Ibadan needs to step up. So, we thought to train ourselves in order to get to a point where we would be able to measure up to any entrepreneur around the world. At the end of last year, I discovered that we had done a lot of trainings, and to some extent everybody had been able to acquire some knowledge. So, some of them started asking questions as to how they would make sales and turn all the knowledge gained into money. Then I thought of creating a platform for buyers to meet with sellers, like open markets all around the world. An open market is a market where people can sell anything at any price. So, we thought to come together and do this. Moreover, it gives room to healthy competition. Therefore, Oja is a concept for everybody that has attained a reasonable level of success in entrepreneurship to make money from their businesses. In other words, we help sellers meet up with their potential buyers.
What got you into politics?
It’s a miracle! It happened that my party, Alliance For New Nigeria (ANN) came to Ibadan and I joined them because I love their philosophies- and their presidential candidate, Fela Durotoye is one of my mentors. So, when I heard about it, I decided to join them and see what I could contribute. We then started meeting, along the line, I just decided to join the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ movement. Initially, it started as a joke, then after a while I questioned myself and decided to back out, but they wouldn’t allow me. About the same time, I listened to Fela Durotoye saying “You can do it!”, and encouraging young people to come out and run, if they wanted a new Nigeria. That got me to come out and I have not regretted it so far. Although, it has been challenging, it has also been interesting and eye-opening. I think I’m really enjoying myself
You pastor a church. People believe that the clergy should not engage in partisan politics. Is there any conflict – of value between your religious and political status?
No, it has nothing to do with my religion. We (Christians) have allowed a lot of things to go unattended to, and as a believer, I believe it is time for us as Christians to step out and also be a part of what is happening. A lot of times, we believe it belongs to a particular set of people who cannot be Christians, and that’s the problem that we are facing. So, it has nothing to do with my religious background or beliefs. I actually believe that being a Christian will help me to be a better person and build a new Nigeria because I have wisdom, my beliefs, and the fear of God. Therefore, I don’t think it should be a problem at all. I believe as Christians, we should be able to stand firm and support other Christians to run for offices. It is our time!
The average citizen’s perceptive of politicians (or politics) is unsavoury. How do you intend to live above the negative impressions with your style of politics now and if elected in the next elections?
We do not see politics as a do or die affair, instead, we see it as a means to serve and not consume upon our lust. Also, one understands that things have always been in a particular way, and it is difficult to go against the norm. But, I have people that I report to – people that are looking up to me – and I will not want to put them to shame. So, I will stand with what I believe, come what may. I’ll stand by my values and principles. I know that it might be a little bit difficult, but when more people like me come out, I’m sure we will be able to achieve the result. The passion and strength in a woman cannot be overemphasised. As long as she has the support of her husband and family, she will be a force to reckon with. Before I decided to join the race, I discussed with my husband and I have his full support. He’s my number one supporter and adviser. He has been an encourager and a supportive man, who believes in me and knows my capacity.
What is your idea about the not -too-young -to- run and how has it helped your campaign?
Not too young to run is a great initiative that has given the young intellectuals the ability to take part in governance by way of contesting for elective post which I also belong to. This should have long been allowed as it is now a global trend checking the case of other countries. Being involved in politics is an opportunity to give the girl- child the courage and strength, and also to make them see that it can be done. I am an advocate of Not- too -young -to -run and I will also ensure that I raise an army of young people who are willing and able to join me in this race. I love to say that what a man can do a woman can do as well! (my version) where there is good support. I have a dream, that one day, Nigeria will be a desirable country to live in.
And for this to happen, I, Oyenike Abiodun Adeleke will do my best. So help me God.
But if the government can provide a production hub, it will go a long way in helping the industry; it will create employment for people and create avenues where designers can showcase their work. If we have large quantities of things made in Nigeria and export them to other countries, it will boost our economy.
How have you been coping with the competition?
One of the things that AlabI Couture stands for is creating timeless designs. .We do all kinds of clothes for both, male, female and children. We are particular about the fit of our outfit on our clients.We also take out time to discuss designs with our clients. We could have clients who are not really fashion inclined, who come in with fabrics but don’t have a style in mind, after chatting with them, we will come up with a design that is peculiar and unique to them. So that at the end of the day when they wear such outfits, they stand out. And they are clothes they can wear for two or three years, because our outfits are timeless.
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