Rhema Rotimi Andero, a graduate of civil engineering from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State is the Chief Executive Officer of Royal KingGate International, a multifaceted firm that focuses on travel industry, agriculture, oil and gas, engineering and software development. In this interview with SULAIMON ADEKUNLE, speaks on his entrepreneurial journey.
Can you share with us, your journey into the business world?
I ventured into entrepreneurship the moment I discovered it was my gift and passion. I remember being a 7-year-old boy with my dad in his car. I saw some luxury buses traveling through my town and I told my dad that I would own a travel company one day that will serve local and international trips. Also, with a heart to help the helpless and care for those in need and to also be financially free, I concluded it was only by being an entrepreneur that could made such my dream a reality.
My first involvement in business was in 2012, when I ventured into a network marketing business. That was when I discovered my partners and built a team with them. I had to make several business presentations, traveled far and wide to acquire more entrepreneurial knowledge. I remember leaving Ibadan by 7pm to run back to Akure with my team members on a particular day because we couldn’t afford to sleep in a hotel in Ibadan. In 2013, I ventured into my kerosene business which had 800 per cent growth in just 4 months. I finally registered my business in 2017, got my TIN number and set up all necessary bank documents.
I was able to save up from my NYSC allowance which I used in registering my business name, the Royal KingGate International back then in 2017. I have always had the mindset that what will save Nigeria will be by having over 50 other business owners, embarking on business and industrial revolution like Dangote, Otedola, Tony Elumelu and a host of other successful billionaires here in Nigeria are doing. It will not only help the country but also encourage people to invest in the economy, provide jobs and create a sustainable environment for the country to thrive.
What was your startup capital and the initiative plan in entirety?
I actually started with nothing but my ideas. I attempted the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant on two different occasions with different business plans in Software Development and Waste Management but none was considered. So I had to come up with a strategic plan. I thought to myself, why not engage in marketing products, get part payment, import them from China then get full payment upon delivery and that’s how I started. I got samples of a unique reading lamp. I market them at some schools in Kwara State. Many were interested because of the uniqueness of the product, then my alma mata got interested in a half a million worth of Goods. The school decided to pay me 40 per cent upfront to supply them. I went through the whole process of importing my goods from China despite knowing no one there. I customized the lamps for the school, made the delivery and got paid and that was how I was able to generate a little capital to start trading and selling. I’m presently with an Australian Travel management company where I’m learning a lot about the travel industry. I have come to realise that you need to first learn and gain experience if you really want to build something beyond the norms.
What is the number of your current employee/contributor?
Well, I have five business partners that we work together. We are growing together and we are involved in various sectors ranging from the Travel Industry, Agriculture, Oil and gas, Engineering and Software development. These sectors are my areas of interest where I hope to become key players in few years to come.
What are your expansion plans?
I’m presently working with an Australian Travel Company here in Nigeria with offices in over 100 countries in the world. We provide travel services to multinational organizations. This affords me a lot of experience and lessons that is definitely going to stand me out in my dream of owning my own travel agency company. As Myles Munroe said, “Your work isn’t your job, focus on your Job while you nurture your work, when you are ready and independent, you can focus fully on your work”. Your work is your own business.
Agriculture is my next line of action. With about 40 per cent of Nigeria land as arable, less than 50 per cent of these lands are being utilised while less than 50 per cent of these farm products make it successfully to the market. I want to invest in agriculture to make a difference.
What are the major challenges you have encountered since you started your business?
Well, it would be access to financial assistance at the inception and also at instances of growth and expansion for business ideas. When you have the perfect idea but no financial support to actualize this and also access to business school programmes around the world can be so difficult to access especially because most are based on scholarships.
You know many times, the government aids and assistance are only louder on television than in reality. Challenges as we do know are only opportunities in disguise. I’ve learnt to look beyond my challenges and seek out opportunities to avert them and still get what I want. I remember My Dad applying for an Agricultural loan for a farm project in Kabba Kogi State, which we intend to work on together. Everything was perfect till they collected all documents and account details and that was the end of of it till today.
How do you think the government can address these challenges and many others you have faced?
The Federal Government I believe have good plans, policies and support for SMEs at the level of the presidency but attention needs to be given to how these funds are disseminated and shared properly with 100% accountability and transparency. Giving sewing machines, grinding machines, motorcycles are good and I consider them poverty alleviation programs but I believe grants and loans should be made easily accessible for young entrepreneurs with access to mentorship programs.
We need business schools that are quite affordable locally, where business enthusiasts can take courses and program so as to learn to become better at their trade.
We also hope more scholarship opportunities can be given to the masses that wish to attend business schools around the world.
How many awards and grants have you won so far?
All thanks to Total Business Solutions, Lagos, where I enjoyed a timely grant during an importation deal. I had financial crisis and all attempts on grants were not favourable until their intervention. Well, I believe when grants don’t show up, you surely need devise other means of livelihood and sustainability for your ideas and goals.
What advice do you have for other young people that are interested in what you do?
Firstly, we all need God to actualise our dreams and aspiration. Also, it’s essential that you find out who you are and what works for you. Don’t get swayed off your dream while trying to copy another man, what works for me will most likely not work for you. I believe we should write our own story.
You do not need to listen to everyone’s idea of how things are to being done and you also don’t need everything people say, just pick your own stones and work with it. I believe in partnership, work with people who believe in your dream, you do not need everyone, even if your best friend doesn’t believe in your dream, look for team members who can ride the tide with you. Finally, never give up on yourself or anything even if it seems all over, you just might get an extra time. Do not write it off yet. Take your time, learn the process of what you want to achieve, the most important part of the journey isn’t the journey itself but discovering the best route to your destination.
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