In this exclusive interview with The News Chronicle, Engr Sam Ekeokoli, CEO of Olivet Cloud Solutions Nigeria Limited speaks about software and technology developemnt in a global world and other issues
TNC: Good day sir, we are pleased to have you in our interview series today. Can you tell us about your company, Olivet Cloud Solution Nigeria Limited, what you do and the journey so far?
Engr. Sam: The name of our company is Olivet Cloud Solution Nigeria Limited, we have been in business since the last 12 years; the company was formed in the year 2011. We are into software engineering, cloud computing, development of bespoke solutions for various industries, and we are also into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) deployment.
We have our head office in Ikeja, Lagos, with branches in Abuja and Port Harcourt; a consultancy in United Kingdom and also United States. Oliviet Cloud Solution Nigeria Limited was found based on the ideology of bringing cloud solution to industries in Nigeria and overseas. We also offer specific software development, customization, integration of conference enterprise solution and IT business training.
We have leading partners like Sage, Zoho, Google, Microsoft, Market man etc. Our team of software engineers, IT experts, Consultancy are all certified. What we offer cuts across several industries like the IT, accounting sector, marketing, E-commerce, business productivity and so on.
Companies choose us because we have good customer-centric philosophy, we believe in helping our customers achieve their software goals, we have experienced professionals, we have fair pricing, we are highly productive and offer excellent quality and assurance in services.
TNC: Setting up a business in Nigeria is not easy, I must congratulate you for running Olivet for 12 years now, so what are the challenges you have encountered in running the business so far.
Engr. Sam: You are right, it is not actually easy to have grown the company, for example, we started with 3 staff in 2011 but now we have about 60 staff in five different locations. Just like other businesses, funding was a great challenge to us but by the grace of God, Tony Elumelu foundation was of great help to us.
Starting up, we did a lot of free events for customers in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt etc. through an initiative termed Get African Businesses Online (GABO) with the idea of attracting them; we did a lot of free services like Hosting, ‘Google my business’, Website Building and so on. So with that strategy, we were able to get huge cliental base like the Zoho, Sage, Google and so on, and get to this level that we are in now without any external funding.
TNC: So we can say that the passion is beyond just making profit, you are there for the customer, providing quality services, what more are the strategies that drive you and have kept you going?
Engr. Sam: The strategy that drives and sustains Olivet is meeting the IT needs in West Africa, especially deployed enterprise solution. Wherever there is business there must be an IT related solution for that business, and also we are focused on digital transformation; those are the things that have been helping us and keep us going.
TNC: It is evident that you have experience of IT on a global level, can you compare the IT services and reception in Nigeria with that which is obtainable abroad like the UK, US and so on. How do you see the difference, do you think Nigeria’s IT sector needs to step up or are they up to the standard.
Engr. Sam: Actually, In Nigeria for instance, We have the best brains and I believe in this country so much, but the main challenge we are facing in the IT sector is the issue of funding and again lack of belief in our local products; we always look to outsource. But thanks goodness, Nigeria is doing well, like when you talk about Unicorn, Paystack, Fluterwave, Olivet Cloud and so on, Nigeria is improving.
Another issue is the that of security, there are lots of cyber-attacks on Nigerian IT products, that is why people do not normally believe in Nigeria IT sector. Professionalism is another challenge in our IT sector, we have the skill set and the brain but lack of expertise and professionalism is a big challenge.
TNC: So what do you think about Entrepreneurship, do you think anyone can be an entrepreneur?
Engr. Sam: Entrepreneurship is built on sacrifice, and not everyone can be sacrificial. For example in our Company, in the first three years of our formation, none of us were on salary but we kept going. So not everyone can be an entrepreneur because it requires sacrifice, which not everyone can do.
TNC: What is your advice to the youth and those looking to venture into entrepreneurship ?
Engr. Sam: My advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is to be passionate, sacrificial and have the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom is entrepreneurship. In addition, he or she must also be a goal getter and a risk taker.