In this exclusive interview with Akaolisa Emmanuel and Chikamso Okoye of The News Chronicle, Mr Oyewole Joledo, founder and CEO of Servelead Global Limited, speaks on how the company has managed to serve humanity without going under and other insights into the mission of the brand
TNC: Good afternoon Mr Oyewole, we are glad to have this discussion with you. We will like to know about Servelead Global, what is it that you do, I see that your portfolio is quite broad, so kindly explore and let us know more about it?
Oyewole: Thank you for featuring me, it is a great pleasure. Basically, Servelead is a company built on the desire to do good. The idea is global prosperity for all, doing good in a sustainable way, instead of constantly having to help people with handouts; you rather provide them with jobs and sources of income. Servelead Global started in 2018 when I returned as a Mandela Washington Fellow, I realized I really had to give back to the community. Looking at the challenges Nigeria was going through, I thought there could be a way out if everybody was involved in the solution making process instead of being at the receiving end. We started with training courses for people because Servelead represents Servant Leadership (‘Serve’ and ‘Lead’), it is just an ideology of people giving back to the community. Currently we run two companies in one; Servelead Global is the one into business development while Servelead Humanitarian is the one that is into humanitarian activities, giving back to the society.
TNC: Some of these services you offer are not tangible or physical per say, they are more of intangible human development impressions, Nigerians love to see things physically, so how has the reception been amongst the youth, do people really understand and accept the great value of what you offer?
Oyewole: Yes, the truth is that people can teach about the mind and all that, but if that passion cannot translate to finance and aid you pay your rent and workers, it is nowhere good at all. We currently employ over 40 persons here, apart from our other establishments, so I think it is enough evidence to say that something is working here. It is not just about the mind stuff, a purpose or desire, but how you can practically experiment it for good. We currently have a logistics firm that handles logistics around Abuja – Timewise Logistics, and a farm in Kuje that produces 50,000 catfishes every 6 month; we also have a Techhub, so these are the physical aspects that really get people paid, it is not just about the hype and all but how you build business that not only develop people but feed them, help them meet end needs and then impact positively in the society.
TNC: We know that setting up something like this is not a day job, more so in a country as tough and handicapped as Nigeria, what has been the challenge so far?
Oyewole: I think the first challenge is when your mindset is not put right before going into the business, jumping into anything that comes your way can warrant failure. For instance, you are already used to bypassing traffic, then you must have opened your mind for bypassing general procedure that has been laid down. I am not saying it has been easy because we face challenges at times, but the good part is that our business was not just built around Nigeria but on a global standard, so most of our partners are foreign, and to get something like that is on merit, you have to prove your worth and excellence, deliver and get credits. The Nigerian system has flaws but we don’t wait for it because our mindset has been set beyond and right from the beginning.
TNC: It is interesting to see that Servelead is multidimensional, dealing with humanitarian and non-profitable missions, while also having the business aspect like the farm in Kuje and the Logistics aspect also, so apart from these ones do you have other streams of income; and secondly, was the business set up here in Nigeria or abroad?
Oyewole: Everything was registered and started here in Nigeria but of course funded by couple of international partners. We are a social enterprise model which means that every time we make profit, the business aspect will take about 10 to 15% and give back to the community. We have a school in Kaduna south that we partnered with a certain NGO abroad, and that school is completely solar powered and houses 200 kids on scholarship, which is funded by an international company we manage, so some percentages of their revenue goes to keeping that school going. So we have different streams of income but our main aim is giving back to the society.
TNC: Sometime last month, your company hosted a seminar for new entrepreneurs, content creators, digital marketers and so on. What is the driving force behind this?
Oyewole: One thing we always tend to do is contribute to the balance of the ecosystem. There are tons of people moving out of this country, these are people who are supposed to help contribute to the salvaging of our challenges, for example in the tech space there is massive brain drain. We ask ourselves – where are those places that have felt a pinch and needs reinforcement? We then bring in professionals to teach other people those skills so as to replace those that have left and also help them build a career for themselves. So that is why we do these things, to help balance the ecosystem and impact the society, it is always about giving back to the society.
TNC: You spoke about training people in character and mind, today we see a lot of people criticize the government and bring intelligent ideas, but when they go there they become part of the corrupt system. Maybe the system is too strong for an individual to unbundle, so is there like a mechanism for ensuring that people do well whether in government or any leadership position.
Oyewole: The first and simple mechanism is the family and background you spent the first 10 to 18 years of your life in, where you started from. If you grow up in a family or system that is corrupt it will show in your conduct. Someone’s environment contributes a lot to who the person becomes. The family is most likely to blame or be praised when someone behaves in any way,
When a person is already soaked with the negative morals of the society, if the person now gets into leadership, it is not the system corrupting him or her but the system amplifying what is already inside of the person. So, tackling corruption should start from the base level of the family, the schools and every nuclear part of the society.
TNC: About entrepreneurship I will like to ask, in Nigeria, government telsl people to go into skill acquisition, I do not know if it is a means of them running away from their obligation of providing job for the people; so what is your take on entrepreneurship, do you think it is what anybody can do or are there special considerations to it?
Oyewole: We often like easy paths, everybody wants to hear those five steps to becoming successful but we forget everybody has their own processes and fate. When I started I thought I could be just a humanitarian, I did not initially want to do business, but if I kept using my pocket money to do my humanitarian works I will end up badly, so I decided to build businesses, I researched how businesses work in different places. The government will always want the best route, but the best thing is getting someone that is trained, competent and has the skill set to do what is required. That is always the start of a good business. In this continent, businesses survive in the hands of those that know their ways around, it is not a five point fix-all situation, an entrepreneur needs to be dynamic and robust.
TNC: As we round up, I would like to know where you see Servelead Global in the future, and also what you have to say about the Nigerian situation with the election at hand?
Oyewole: About Serveelad in the future, I am concerned about the humanitarian space because of the lack of work in the society, I see the company not just contributing to Nigeria but Africa as a whole, helping people, giving them jobs and scholarships and improving their standards of living all over Africa. About the election, I do not think I have something to say because I am not into politics, but I will advise people to really know that their votes will determine the next four or eight years of their lives, they should value those votes.