Oladele Saheed, a University of Ibadan first class graduate, is one of the linguists who believe that the falling standard of English should be given attention and on the other hand, Nigerian local languages be developed and promoted. Beginning from English, he has embarked on Practical Oral English Vision 2020.
According to him, the entrepreneurial lectures he received while at the University of Ibadan in 2009 and the teaching experience at OAU led to the emergence of Erudite Millennium Limited. The firm which was registered to carry out different language businesses as done in developed countries. Through his large-scale commercialization of language practice and Erudite Millennium state-of-the-art services, he believes that people’s use of English would not only be improved but also our local languages especially the endangered ones be saved.
As an entrepreneur who believes in taking the risks of establishing an ideal language firm in the country launched War Against the Falling Standard of English Project (WAFSEP) on the 15th of January 2013 with a 5-Month General English Course aimed at improving adults’ English.
Apart from organizing training for students at secondary and tertiary levels, Oladele Saheed, popularly called Erudite says his firm has trained private and public functionaries on guidelines for error-free communication. Today, those who have attended series of language trainings and workshops organised since the establishment of the firm are now change agents in different domains.
If there is a chance to start the business over again, Oladele noted that he would take time to raise capital to reduce the teething period because it is one of the key elements for starting and running a successful business anywhere in the world. “Getting capital was the most tasking part for me. I first took my proposal to some people I thought could help or partner with me but no positive results. Only few people can invest in new ideas especially when it is not connected to food or transport services.”
To him, aspiring entrepreneurs should start identifying gaps and begin to take risks. “If risk-taking were to be easy, everybody would be a boss. It may not be easy initially but once they survive the teething period there is permanent independence and smile.”
How did you start?
I discovered a gap which needed to be bridged in the language profession. We needed to add large-scale commercialization to the academic based language practice.
What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur, especially in Nigeria?
Clarity of purpose, interest, financial and communal support, risk-taking ability, courage and determination
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Over-optimism or fantasy. Lesson: I have changed from high expectations to low expectations.
What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Capital, determination, volunteering supports and encouragement from people around especially above you, accurate time and resources management, good leadership skills and team spirit
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
I leave the future to God Almighty but hope for the best from Him.
What was the major challenge you faced during the early stages of your business and how did you deal with it?
Raising the capital especially when I couldn’t find interest-free loan as a Muslim. As a result, I have been growing at my own pace.
How do you deal with competitions (in terms of market shares, pricing, etc) within your sphere of operations/market?
With Erudite Millennium Ltd as Nigeria’s first full language Company and its goal of language industrialization rather than the current specific language area small-scale commercialization, I will say there is no competitor for now. Some people in this part of the world can only proofread or edit not translate, interpret, engineer software for our local languages and document the many endangered ones. These and many more will create job opportunities for competent linguists and other language-related professionals.
Do you have to constantly change your business model to deal with competitions?
It has never happened to me for the aforementioned reasons and God endowed dynamism and wisdom.
Some say entrepreneurs are born, others say they are made what is your opinion?
I will say they are both born and made but I am more inclined to the former. I have never read a single book on entrepreneurship yet God is taking me and Erudite… to places. Kudos to the University of Ibadan entrepreneurship seminar of 2009 which formed part of my motivation.