For Oyewole Raphael, a final year law undergraduate in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and CEO of K Starch Professional Drycleaners, it is good time in his new business. Raphael is not looking back in what started as a dream as his dry cleaning business is yielding gains beyond expectation.
Unlike his peers in school, who rely solely on parents and guardians for upkeep and provision of essential needs to make study smooth and seamless, Raphael started out by investing the “pocket” money given to him by his parent in a dry cleaning outfit, which now washes clothes for almost everyone within Ile-Ife.
According to him, what started as a dream has become a massive reality and as a lawyer in waiting, Raphael is already contemplating dropping his wig and gown and go for washing fabrics.
All these could not have been possible if the young undergraduate lacked leadership trait. For him, this achievement is possible because his enthusiastic nature has conferred leadership position on him.
“My enthusiastic nature has made people confer leadership on me at different times and I’ve served in different capacities at my faculty, fellowship and organisations. I’m currently serving as the president of Liberation Chambers, OAU, and the pioneer Chairman of Global Paradigm Shifters Nigeria (GPS),” he said.
On how he started and what it took him to venture into the unfamiliar terrain, Raphael said: “I started in December 2012. The initial capital was N100,000, It is just a start up business and we bless God, the business has been beautiful.”
According to the young entrepreneur, this is not his first time in trial and error in business. Prior to his settling down for dry cleaning, Raphael had ventured into all kinds of endeavour while in school. All of these were for him to learn how to fend for himself and take responsibility at an early age, something he believes had prepared him for the big stage he is gradually moving into.
“Before I go into that, it is important that I talk about the journey into the world of business. Since I got admitted into OAU I have been involved in a number of businesses. As much as my memory can serve me, I remember I have sold computers, phones, memory cards, cars, iron rod etc. The experience taught me a lot about sales and marketing. I learnt a lot far more than I ever learnt in the business schools or seminars I’ve attended.
“For a long time, I contemplated starting the dry cleaning business, which I just had the courage to start. But what became a dream for many years turned out a reality towards the end of 2012,” he said.
On the financial gains, Raphael said: “I would say the business is rewarding because it has really helped me in paying most of my bills. I am thinking of taking it to a larger scale and establishing branches in all major towns within the country.
“As I speak, if I have to quantify the whole asset based on how much I have realised and invested, it is something in the range of N800,000.”
On the challenges in the business, the entrepreneur said: “If there is one issue affecting this business, it is power supply. Over the years, the greatest challenge confronting most businesses in Nigeria is that of power and dry cleaning job is not an exception. It is well known that the major tools we use include washing machine and iron, which both use electricity.
Another difficulty encountered in the business is pricing. According to him, “Customers don’t want high prices but when there is no light we have to run on generator and this increases the cost of operation.”
Raphael urged young and aspiring entrepreneurs to prepare for the challenges of doing business in Nigeria. “My advice is that any individual who wants to venture into business must be prepared to face the challenges, weather the storms, understands the dynamics of the market he is venturing into and also be patient. When he has all of these, it is most certain that he would succeed,” he said.
While urging the young entrepreneurs to tread softly, he called on government to create an enabling environment for business to thrive, saying; “It is very critical. It will be of greater gains if the government can fix our epileptic power situation so that businessmen can, at least, make profits and not spend all his gain on diesel.”
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