After his education, he worked in a clothing outlet in the UK before deciding to use his background in engineering to assist the health sector over there. That fetched him many contracts in different hospitals through referrals.He came back to the country three years ago to start another business he christened Larry Homes. He now shuttles between Lagos and London to ensure his projects over there do not suffer. Olanrewaju Kuye’s dream is to impact his constituency, Alimosho Constituency 1, if he makes it into Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015. In this interview he spoke about his life as an entrepreneur and how he made it. Excerpts:
Can you introduce yourself ?
My name is Olanrewaju Arestus Kuye and I was born on June 21st , 1970 in Lagos. I started my education at Mate Nursery and Primary School, Ketu but I had to complete my primary education at Maryland Primary School, Ikeja. I proceeded to Maryland Comprehensive High School where I completed my secondary education in 1987. I gained admission into The Polytechnic Ibadan to study Civil Engineering the same year, and obtained my Ordinary National Diploma in 1989. I did my one year compulsory industrial attachment at Kaffo & Sons Limited in Lagos, where I took part in different construction projects as a supervisor.
I went for further studies at Yaba College of Technology to obtain my higher national diploma in Civil / Structural Engineering and finished in 1993 before going for my national youth service in Benin, Edo State. I was posted to EHI Nigeria Limited where I supervised the construction of Ekenwan Road, Benin City.
I joined politics from school in 1992 as an undergraduate and as God wants it, but after the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election things were at a stand still and I decided to travel abroad to further my studies. I was admitted into the University of East London to study civil engineering and I graduated with a first class honours. I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Engineers (ICE), and The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Could you tell us how you became a businessman?
In London, I’m into health informatics. It’s a process in which we use different softwares to train the NHS staff in different hospitals on how to store patient records electronically. I would love to sell this initiative to my country but the issue of database will not let this happen yet, because we do not have a reliable database here. This business is not even done in Nigeria. I have plans of bringing this business to Nigeria and probably I have to speak to the government of the day about it. Before I embark on that, I need to check on what is happening in our state hospitals, our local government hospitals on how they keep their records. Right now, there’s no database in Nigeria. The only database available is those of our mobile phone companies and the banks.
What other businesses are you into and which of these is your cash cow?
I’m an engineer and that’s how I make my living. I do design work for my clients both here and abroad. To be honest , I cannot tell you how much I make from my most profitable business because as I make profit , I plough back into the business.
Could you tell us how you felt the first time you had a million?
I have been counting millions of naira for years. The very first time, I was on top of the world. I just sat back and strategized on how to spend the money. I bought landed properties. These days, if you don’t invest you won’t see anything to fall back on. The first time I counted a million, I was happy. I once worked for a clothing company and when they did sales promotions these clothes sell for a lot less. For example in the market, a jacket sold for 200 pounds may be sold to us for 3 pounds. When I take them to my friends I sold them for like 80 pounds each, so I made a huge gain. That was how I made my first million.
Would you bring your London business to Nigeria to help the health sector?
Health informatics is something I would like to bring to this country. Reason is this, someone can just slump on the road, and even if you want to help to revive the person, how would you help without knowing that person? There has to be a database to facilitate his/her treatment. If I can liaise with the government probably they will give me a go ahead to bring this vision to the country.
As a businessman what has life taught you?
Life has taught me to be steadfast , self-reliant and also be my brother’s keeper.
What vision do you have for Larry Homes?
I want the business to be one of the best designers and also to bring innovation into our engineering and construction industry.
What advice do you have for youths who want to go into business?
These days you see most youths trailing the fast lane. They want to make fast money, ride the latest cars but they don’t want to work hard to achieve these feats. The get-rich-quick syndrome is fast becoming the norm. My take is that youths should have determination and focus , they should have a mindset of turning one into two, then success will start knocking on their doors. They must be passionate about any business they intend to go into and learn all they can about the business. They must aspire to develop themselves. I have seen businesses that started with very big budgets crash by the way . So, start up with small money , you don’t need to wait for big money before you start a business.
You said you wanted your business in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a tough place to do business, but it’s much easier now to do business in Nigeria than it was some years ago. The banking system still has a lot to do in supporting entrepreneurs. The truth is that banks don’t want to assist beginners with capital.
Why do you want to go into politics
At the moment politics has been it for me. My mum has always been a politician. I want to emulate my mum and my grandfather who was a king. My grandfather was the Oba of Igbese in Ikorodu. I’ve been a politician since I was a student in the days of June 12. People believe that students are the backbone when it comes to politics. They came to mobilize us for politics. At that time, I was serving in Benin during the Abacha regime, but I had to leave Nigeria to further my studies. Ever since, I have been nursing the ambition to serve my people. In 2003, I came to Nigeria to contest an election, but instead I was helping people financially as well as studying the situation and I found out there’s a lot to be done in my area. Not that the people there have not tried but I know things can be better in Alimosho than what is on ground now. With my knowledge and capability, I will improve their lot by the grace of God . More people would desire to live in Alimosho. I am their Moses. I want to represent Alimosho Constituency 1 in the Lagos State House of Assembly. Alimosho Constituency 1 comprises Ayobo Ipaja LCDA, Mosan Okunola LCDA, Alimosho LCDA and Agbado Oke-Odo. I want my people to have three square meals everyday and the only way I can do that is for their voice to be heard in the House of Assembly and it’s going to be through me so that the government will know what is going on. A lot of people need help and I organized Larry Empowerment Forum, where we teach people vocational skills and we support market women and gave loans to people who want to start small scale businesses . We’ve also sponsored GCE and JAMB candidates and provided jobs for some graduates of 15 years who were unemployed .
How do you relax?
I won’t lie to you, there is no time to relax. When you do politics and business at the same time you have no time to relax. The only time I relax is maybe when I watch the premiership league.
Source : SunOnline