- Mrs BOLA OKOLIE, CEO Of BONIX Drinks Reveals
Mrs Bola Okolie is the CEO of Bonix Drinks, Nigeria’s number one drinks service provider. The company is a pioneer of many ideas that have now become a trend in the drinks service business in Nigeria and has become a role model for many women.
She is a trained nurse and a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. She started her business in her University days while helping her late mum who was selling soft drinks at Tejuosho market, back then.
From a humble start, Bola, who runs her business with her hubby, Bernard Okolie, has built Bonix Drinks into a big brand of international standards.
With over 2 decades in the business, she has equipped herself with the latest foreign training and courses, which had rubbed off positively in the way she had been running Bonix.
Recently, City People Assistant Editor, SUNDAY ADIGUN, met with this epitome of beauty and she opened up on how her brand, Bonix Drink Company became No 1 in that sector. Excerpts.
How did Bonix Drinks business start for you?
I started very early in business. It was actually my mother that sells drinks; I was helping her to sell but at the end of the day, I ended up helping myself.
How long was it?
That was about 23 years ago. I started selling with my mum since the age of 8 years old.
What were the things you are selling?
Pure water. In those days, we must run after Molue to sell water and drinks that was where I started from, that was my humble beginning.
How has that humble beginning contributed to your status now?
God has been so faithful; He has taken me so far to where I am today. I give Him all the glory. The difference between then and now is the grace; God gave me the grace to go to school and I started doing something different from the usual way and not just putting Coke or Fanta on people’s table. It’s a different ball game now because we go abroad to see more. We go to conferences. We watch how they do there. We go to their clubs. And we know back home we have people that can afford the package. So, we bring those concepts back home. The difference between then and now is a very long margin. We do drinks, but it’s not just about putting coke on the table but putting it on the table with style.
Bonix drink is everywhere with a different concept. How were you to get those concepts?
Like I said, I travel a lot. I go abroad to see the way they do their things in lots of places like lounges and conferences. I see a lot of things there that I bring back home. And sometimes, I just sleep and wake up and I think of what I dreamt about, put it into existence and it works.
There was an event I saw you serving palm wine. What really inspired that?
(Laughs). Sometimes ago, I went to Ago Iwoye for a party, as I was sitting down before the party started. I saw a lady with Calabash on her head hawking palm wine and I said to myself, I can actually do this at any party, and that was how I started. I got the concept from Ago Iwoye with the lady hawking palm wine and it worked. Some of our concepts are very unique and I always use my girls to spice it up with their dancing and I have also taught them the manner of approach when attending to people. You know men feel more comfortable when ladies are serving them, just the way it is abroad. When you go to their nightclubs, you would see those beautiful ladies serving you, well respected and mannered. There is no embarrassment in you serving people. And I do train my ladies. Every Monday, we must meet to talk about our last event, our mistakes and way forward. We would make sure we talk about what we did last week whether it’s right or wrong so that we can be better. I keep tutoring them what I have learnt over time from overseas. I try to impact it on them. Every year I send 4 of my waiters for training in Dubai. So, they can have international knowledge.
All my girls are very bold, they don’t shake, they don’t fidget, they always discharge their duties as expected of them and that has helped me so far. At least if I cannot send them to America, I can send them to Dubai to God’s food and drinks, a conference and exhibition every year for more knowledge, more training.
How did the name, Bonix come about?
My name before I got married was Bola Oni. So, I just wrote Boni and I added the X that was it “Bonix”.
What more should we expect from Bonix?
I just pray to God to give me more money to execute some of the worst concepts I have. You just watch out.