Many know her as Alexes Promotions CEO. But her real name is Omobolanle Olatise. She is a very successful businesswoman who lives in London, where she is a big show promoter. But she owns a big farm in Nigeria where she does fishery, poultry and livestock farming.
The accomplished woman who has become a mentor to so many females who want to be like her runs her business here in Nigeria all the way from London. When it comes to Music promotion in London, Alexes Promotions is a name that comes to mind.
Alexes Promotions is a professional organisation based in the United Kingdom and promotes musical and cultural concerts both locally and internationally.
In 2019, she held one of the biggest music shows that had K1 the Ultimate perform live. The whole of London was shut down for her that very day. She also hosted the Ibadan Fuji king, Taye Currency before the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year.
In this City People Instagram Live Chat with City People Publisher SEYE KEHINDE, Mrs Olatise reveals the secrets of her success and why she had to establish a lot of businesses in Nigeria. DAMILARE SALAMI 08155134152 brings you the details of the interview, enjoy.
You do a million and one things together. How do you cope with all these?
Well, it has been God because I can’t do everything on my own. Sometimes, I wonder myself how I the strength to carry on but I know I love to work. If I don’t go out then I become very sick. I love to work, that is how I keep myself fit.
Many people know that you are a big music promoter but I also know that you have other businesses. Can you tell us about the various businesses you run in the UK and how you manage them?
My main business in the UK is Childcare. I’ve been doing that since the past 25 years. I run day nursery for younger children from Babies to age 16 years old. So we have different nurseries, some are for the younger ones while others are for the older children including secondary school pupils. That’s my main business.
What made you go into that kind of business?
I read Estate Management in Nigeria and I have a Master’s degree in it. But when I got to the UK, getting a job wasn’t easy because the majority of the coloured people won’t come to you to help them get an apartment. And so, while I was having my children, I decided to improve myself. I went for training and short courses. Then, I switched to childcare because I realized that a lot of children like to stay at the nursery; so I became a childcare provider.
Why then did you decide to veer into other businesses…? How come you developed an interest in other things?
A couple of years ago when my husband joined me, I felt that I now had the support I so much craved and then, the business had become so steady that majority of the people in the UK had identified me with that job so I diversified to event planning. I have halls people rent for parties. After that, I delved into properties, I buy auction houses, renovate and resell or hand it over to the council to rent to people that need houses. African shop is our new business, we just started that last month. We sell African foods for Africans and the Caribbeans.
At what point did you decide to go into business in Nigeria?
Actually, I would say I’ve been doing some businesses in Nigeria but I couldn’t concentrate because my only brother was in the US and my husband is here with me. My people and husband’s people are quite elderly so I wouldn’t want to bother them but some couple of months ago, I met K1 who sat me down and advised me on how to improve my Nigerian-based businesses. He encouraged me to come back home and develop my investments. My main businesses in Nigeria used to be real estate. I build hostels for students and houses which I rent out to families. I had a farm but I wasn’t very interested in it at that time. After the 6-hours talk with K1, my husband and I had a plan and we worked towards achieving the plan. To God be the glory, it is now massive. So the main business in Nigeria now is the farm and the school.
Tell us about the farm. How big is the farm and what areas do you handle?
The farm is quite large and we have different sections. We have the poultry section where we rear the broilers and pullets. The pullets are the layers. We have some sections for poultry, we have a fish pond and we do cassava and paper, we do corn, we do cashew and we have different sections of it. Our new addition is the hatchery. Before now, we do buy the day-old chick and that’s quite expensive. Now we hatch our own pullets and broilers and we do our own foods ourselves now.
What are the lessons you’ve learnt over the years about how to get going that people can tap from in terms of business, investments and what can be and cannot be done?
I’ve learnt a whole lot. I want women all over the world to use me as an example and do something for themselves. If you are married and you keep for your husband, it doesn’t really speak well of you. Women too can support their husbands because when there is money in a relationship, there will be no arguments. Some people criticize me for saying that all the time but that’s just the truth and I know what I’m saying. I’m a counsellor and I see a lot of couples argue every day. It’s not as if I don’t argue with my husband but because he is not financially stressed out it makes things a lot easier for us. As women, we have to be all out there for ourselves and our children as well when we can do it because a time is coming when we won’t be able to hustle anymore.
Let me take you back to march. I guess it started before March, the COVID-19 pandemic. How did you react when it first started?
It was a shock. Because of my childcare job, the NHS and local authorities have been sending us emails to prepare our minds for it but it was a shock that we were asked to shut down and everything had to stop. When that happened, a lot of people were looking up to me for the idea as regards what to do and I became confused myself. Kudos to the UK government, I had thought I was going to be paying all the staff and I knew for sure that money was not going to be coming in. Luckily enough for us, the UK government opted to pay 80 per cent of the wages of the staff. It was a lot of relief for entrepreneurs in the UK because there was no way I would have been able to cope because I pay over 50 thousand pounds as salaries for all my staff monthly in all my establishments. I fell sick for some weeks because I couldn’t go out due to the pandemic and I am not used to staying at home. It was a shock but we thank God today, we are here and we are trying to go back to work. I’ve not resumed my childcare business though but some other businesses have started.
So what will be your advice to the people that are reading this right now? Some are frustrated because of the pandemic and have lost hope because of COVID-19. For some, things are not going well and they don’t know what to do next. What do you have to say to them?
My advice for everybody when things happen is to sit down, plan and focus on the way forward. The COVID-19 pandemic happened as a shock to everyone but in my own case, I just called my family, we sat down and planned on the way forward. I called my husband and two children and we talked about what else we could do to bring in money. There are several businesses one can do online. You can buy and resell on eBay, Amazon and other selling sites. Even if you make two or three pounds on your sales, it’s something. Don’t lose hope and say that everything is lost. I have a lot of people that have lost their businesses because of the pandemic but I keep encouraging them to get something else to do even if it is not as profitable as what they were doing before. We just have to carry on come what may because there are a lot of people that are depending on us for survival and we don’t have to let them down no matter how difficult things get.
Let’s talk about your growing up years. Where and when were you born?
I was born in Ibadan, I am also from Ibadan but I schooled in Lagos. I went to Barinde Nursery and Primary school and Queens School, Apata, Ibadan. From there, I attended Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos for my Master’s degree.
What did you study at Yaba Tech?
Estate Management sir.
Why did you decide to study Estate management at that time?
Well… I was born into a family of three children, two boys and I so I was like a tomboy, I love drawings, graphics, architectural designs, I love something very challenging, and because my dad was a builder, I had fallen in love with that kind of job. I was actually sitting beside Adron Homes boss when we were at Yaba Tech so King was my very good friend.
After schooling at YabaTech, where did you work before proceeding for your Master’s degree and eventual relocation to the UK?
I didn’t work at all in Nigeria. At that time, Nigeria had a military regime and I was an officer’s wife so I wasn’t working at all. But then, I do businesses; I go to the US, Dubai and the UK to buy some items and resell at wholesale prices. People from the city would come and pick up my items and sell at retail prices. I didn’t have any white-collar job apart from my youth service.
Is that to say you haven’t done anything with Estate Management despite your love for it?
No, I haven’t done anything with it at all and it’s so unfortunate but what can we do?
But you’re into Real Estate in the UK…?
Yes but the real estate I do here is just to by houses and resell them. It’s not like a proper estate management. Estate management involves a lot of things, it is very challenging and includes architectural designs with graphics and a lot of other things. But I can’t do all of that now. All I can do now is just to buy houses and sell them but I thank God.
We have about 5 months to the end of the year. What are we to expect from Alexis Promotions or from you as an individual?
I just finished a project regarding Alexes Promotions. There is a young boy called JBoy, he is 13 years-old and hawks on the street. One of my managers in Nigeria spotted him and because of my love for children, I had to adopt him when I saw his pitiable condition and put him in a school after doing all the necessary paper works. We premiered his song on the 28th of June. That’s the only project I’ve been able to do with Alexes Promotions but next year, I think K1 is going to come to the UK again and Teni too because we already paid her to come on the 30th of May but that wasn’t going to happen thanks to COVID-19 but we are going to fix another date for that God willing. For Alexes promotions, things are slow at the moment.
Ok how about the farming in Nigeria? What’s the expansion plan?
It is expanding beyond my imaginations. My husband’s family has mechanized farmland around that area and he always told me that that was his retirement plan because he is well-grounded in it. What we are planning to do now is focus more on the poultry and food crops. We just acquired more acres of land to take care of that, Doing business in Nigeria is very interesting if you have a good maintenance culture and because we reside in the UK, we know how to maintain things; the only challenge is that we are physically not present there but there is technology at work to help us monitor it properly. My staff are also doing their best. They are so loyal to me because I reward them a lot. They get cash gifts and other benefits and we have a very cordial and healthy working relationship.