‘How Stone Cafe Ibadan became a huge brand name’ — Asiwaju Segun shares his journey

The founder and CEO of Stone Café, Mr Asiwaju Segun Olalere, is planning to celebrate first year anniversary of the Ibadan’s premium and most euphoric all-time chill spot and in an interview with newsmen, shared his memories, academic qualifications, career experiences and how his firm is rounding off the year with the presence of Fuji Maestro, King Wasiu Ayinde Mayegun on 27th December, 2020. Excerpts below:

Tell us about yourself

I am Asiwaju Segun Olalere. I was born in March 14, in the city of Ibadan. My parents are from Ibadan, Oyo State, Chief Kolawole and Lola Olalere; both of which are late, of their blessed memories.

I grew in Ibadan and I have outstanding memories of the ancient city. I lived at several places in Ibadan and mingled with all manner of people. This made me a very sociable person and equally understanding of diverse characters. This, I now enjoy in the business I presently do.

Tell us about the schools you attended with courses attained

I attended Queens of Apostle, Oluyoro, Oke-Offa, Ibadan for my primary education. Bashorun Ojoo High School, Ashi, Ibadan was where I had my secondary school education, but I left at form 4 to continue and finish at Loyola College, Ibadan.

For my tertiary education, I went to The Polytechnic Ibadan, where I bagged my OND and HND in Marketing; University of Greenwich for my B.A Hons in International Business and MBA from the same University.

I also have a diploma in project management amongst other certifications here and there. We never really stop learning.

Congratulations on the setting up of Stone Cafe. Tell us about it?

It’s always been my dream and desire to have something like this, especially something befitting for Ibadan.

I have traveled a bit and I have always cringed at the fact that just about anything goes in my beloved city, despite the profits the owners rake from Ibadan.

So, from the get-go, we had it in mind to do something that will be a sort of tourist attraction; something people would really wonder if it’s really in Ibadan. And to the glory of God, this has been the case.

That’s why we ensured we added “Ibadan” (Stone Café Ibadan) as a suffix to our brand name from inception so people would know it’s actually in that same ancient city.

Furthermore, we also wanted to ensure people actually get value for money and exceptional service for their patronage, so it won’t just be about a topnotch ambience.

And to the glory of God, we have been successful at this. Special thanks to the people of Ibadan and beyond for accepting what we came up with and associating with our brand. We promise to do even much more.

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How did you set it up? And when did you open it?

Mr. Segun: We all know how difficult it’s for start-ups in Nigeria. No one wanted to help and it was almost impossible getting credit facilities.

I relocated in 2014 from the UK to set up the business here and like we learnt in business school, I knew that location was very pivotal to the business. In fact, it was the most important in my order of importance. And to the glory of God, I got the property in 2014 and then came through almost insurmountable mountain.

It was hard to get funds to continue. There seemed to be a brick wall every I turned. I quickly become the butt of jokes, and many thought I was mad for holding on to my dreams. First year become third year and the project looked very bleak.

But I kept my faith and head up high. Everything I earned went into the project.

There were many days I would come here all alone , break down and just pray and cry! God was all I had and my heart I poured out to Him often.

I will not hurriedly forget how many friends told me to let go of the dream and the ones who even offered to buy it off me, but I kept moving, even though it was like a crawl. I just wouldn’t let go of my dreams.

It took 6 long years! And that’s why I say to everyone out there to never give up on themselves. I had many moments of doubts but I held on regardless.

To everyone reading this, never give up on your dreams! God makes no mistakes! If He gave you the dream, He would come through for you.

That’s where I got the name from; “the stone the builders rejected, has now become the chief cornerstone”. Holy Bible

Finally, we opened Jan 3, 2020. Exactly 6 years after and we have been growing in leaps and bounds

How do you see Events and Entertainment business in lbadan?

I laugh when people say Ibadan is an emerging market. Ibadan has been a major commercial nerve for years but many haven’t taken proper cognizance of this.

There are a plethora of multinationals in the city. There is no bank without several branches here (some of them few meters apart) and you would be amazed at how many highly sociable people in Nigeria who have one or more homes here.

From personal study, I have seen that the “open day” of many businesses in Nigeria rake in more money here than anywhere else.

The narrative of Ibadan people only being “Amala eating people” is long obsolete.

So this is my call to everyone out there looking for a viable place to do business, Ibadan is the in-thing! The seriously untapped goldmine.

It would also amaze you the relative peace we enjoy here; the ease of vehicular traffic and the attendant low cost of getting things done.

We will be having as we round off the year, the very Fuji maestro; King Wasiu Ayinde Mayegun on the 27th of December at our place to serenade our esteemed friends and family of the Stone Café brand.

For Table reservations, pls call 09027727773

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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