Bimbo Oligbinde was a reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) before she decided to risk the deep waters of following her dream of floating her own company, Melethsey Media Limited.
What made you drop journalism?
I didn’t totally drop journalism. However, I found a dream and vision that became bigger than mainstream journalism. I still operate in the media industry. The industry has become bigger than news investigation and reporting now. I simply shifted my tent to another aspect of the media which focuses more on strategic publicity for increased visibility for small and medium enterprises and improved sales of their products. At the initial stage of my entrepreneurship journey, I published an online daily news magazine, in which I had a column that provided publicity and adverts for small and medium businesses. However, that magazine is on hold right now. We hope to revamp it soon.
What is the inspiration behind Melethsey Media?
Melethsey Media Ltd was inspired during my days as a business correspondent with the News Agency of Nigeria. My job functions involved me working closely with several small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and the chambers of commerce; reporting their activities, advocating for them and generally publicising them. Beyond the problems of lack of capital and poor infrastructure, SMEs often found it difficult to connect with customers. The apathy for made-in -Nigeria products; the wrong perception that Nigerian products are of poor quality made it difficult for SMEs to survive. These businesses had to suffer stiff competition from imported mass-produced Chinese goods; which were often of lower quality than the locally made products. However, there were many people who desired to buy quality made-in-Nigeria products as a replacement for the Chinese products that had infiltrated the Nigerian market. The SMEs seemed invisible; their products are hardly found in major open markets. The popular Nigerian-made products in the market were manufactured by large and renowned businesses. So, in 2015, I resigned from my job to create better visibility for SMEs, connect them to customers and ensure they sell enough products that would guarantee profits. My passion about SME growth and my strong believe that they are the drivers of the nation’s economy made me establish Melethsey Media Ltd, as a brand development and management business for SMEs.
What is the concept of your business?
Melethsey Media Ltd started out as a publicity company focusing on promotion of SMEs, however, it has metamorphosed into a brand development company. We are concerned about the all-round growth of small businesses. We help mould them from idea stage to product launch but our services are business-specific. They are tailor-made for each SME we consult for. Our strategy is to help entrepreneurs think big even when starting their businesses small. We help them build businesses that are sustainable and scalable. Business growth, as we have realised is beyond selling and making profit. A boom in sales or an increased demand for a company’s product can make the business crumble if it is not well structured to withstand the sudden boom. At Melethsey Media, we offer a total branding package to businesses; from the conceptualization of the business idea, to its registration, to its corporate identity and structure. From getting a bankable business plan, to conducting market surveys for their products and services, to the look and feel of the products even to the eventual launch and sales of such products, we offer a total package service to our clients. Our monthly SME Series is a brand building training that develops the capacities of business owners and creates opportunity for networking among them.
I chose entrepreneurship because it offered me an opportunity to proffer solution to a problem I detected. All over the world, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. I also chose to become an entrepreneur in other to add value to people. My business is more or less is a clinic for small businesses. Our consultation if focused on how to ensure growth of new businesses and how to revive existing ones that are dying. SMEs are needed for industrial revolution that will create jobs and expand our wealth as a nation. I couldn’t watch them die. I had to do something. Melethsey Media Ltd is my own little contribution to enterprise development in Nigeria.
What was your mission initially?
My life’s mission was to become a lawyer; a social activist championing the cause of women and children. If I didn’t venture into journalism and entrepreneurship, I would have been a lawyer and a voice of the voiceless.
Aside deciding to stand on your own, what other decision led to your success?
Deciding to stand on my own was a difficult decision to make. I had to leave the security of a Federal Government job for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship. I didn’t totally understand where I was going; I only had a dream and the conviction that the dream was going to come true. However, I am a resilient person. I never give up until I achieve my goals. Impossibility doesn’t exist in my dictionary of life; I just keep trying until I get it done. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail or how often I have to cry myself to sleep out of frustration, I just keep trying. My relentless nature also contributed to my success. However, I must say God rewards persistence.
How did you make a success of this and his do you keep it going?
Melethsey Media Ltd is not where I desire it to be but I’m grateful to God for how far I have come. The first year of the business was tough; very tough but God helped me. However, the first breakthrough came when my business was selected among the businesses that had the potential to transform Africa by the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2016. The training I got, the networking opportunity with fellow entrepreneurs across Africa, the mentoring from successful entrepreneurs and the seed capital I got from the entrepreneurship programme gave my business a huge leverage. We are about launching an entrepreneurship app which would be a hub for African businesses. This could not have been possible without the support of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Your activities seem to only be in Lagos, do you go to other states?
Our activities are not limited to Lagos State. We have clients in other parts of South West. We just got another client in Abuja. With the launch of our app, our services will even extend beyond the borders of Nigeria.
Have you ever had to turn a client down?
Yes, severally. Any business which doesn’t operate in line with our major core value; integrity, is turned down. We cannot promote shady businesses. We cannot promote illegal products or products that could be harmful to consumers.
Do you render support services for new businesses?
Yes. We render services to lots of new businesses.
What is your advice for people who have business ideas but don’t know how to move it?
The first thing is to overcome your fears and doubts. You can never know how good your business idea could be if you don’t try. The best way to know is to just do it. Entrepreneurs should stop being too hard on themselves. They should not be afraid of failure. No successful entrepreneur got it right at their first attempt. If they all did, what would their stories be?
The many failures and the ability to overcome them is the success story people want to hear. Lastly, people should not go into business all because they want to make money. Entrepreneurship is about value-creation and value-addition. Focus on adding value to people, money will chase you.
Bimbola speaks with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE of The Nigerian Tribune