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SIJIBOMI ‘ SUJIMOTO ‘ OGUNDELE @ 40 – THE CONCRETE ROSE FROM AGEGE WHO BUILT A MULTI-BILLION DOLLARS REAL ESTATE EMPIRE

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SUJIMOTO

 

Meet the 40-year-old Entrepreneur, a rose that grew from concrete – Mr. Ogundele, who built his company – Sujimoto Group, in few years into a Luxury Construction behemoth in Africa, focused on building extraordinary luxury edifices in premium neighborhoods across Africa. His look may be modest, but his ambition is taller than the Burj Khalifa. With a current project portfolio of over 450m USD, Mr. Ogundele is not slowing down anytime soon as he has risen above his current environment to start planning projects in the Middle East. Despite the economic barriers and challenges, the 40-year-old entrepreneur keeps filling his glass with new and more challenging projects not only in Africa but also in Dubai, Miami and Turkey. As a superlative Entrepreneur At 40, we had a rare chance to seat in a chat with him this young man from Agege, as he shares his journey with us, Meet Sijibomi Ogundele, Managing Director of Sujimoto groups. Excepts….

Tell us about your background?

My name is Sijibomi Ogundele. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Sujimoto Construction. We are based in Lagos Nigeria. I am Nigerian by birth and a global citizen at heart. I was born into a corporately dynamic family where my Father did a 9-5 as a Manager and my Mother was a full-time Entrepreneur. I grew up on the streets of Agege and attended state-owned Schools – Oko-oba primary School, Ijebu-ode Grammar School, Model College and finally then Angli Ruskin for my Law Degree. As the son of a woman who happens to be a trader, I was nurtured within the walls of Oke-Arin market, filled with enterprising Igbo traders—and that influenced my passion for business. I consider myself a multi-tribal Nigerian and multi-linguistic. I speak Hausa, Yoruba, French, Spanish, a little bit of Arabic and Japanese. I am a pan-African and a global citizen! Growing up, my biggest fear was Poverty, so I made a promise to myself to always push my limits and set goals greater than my imagination and I have been very lucky to have achieved them.

 What does attaining age 40 mean to you? 

It is a landmark age, not many people made it to 40 but here I am strong and healthy. I remain grateful to God for bringing me this far and for enabling me to win the ovarian lottery in the first place, I am profoundly grateful to my mother who took time to nurture me and impacted in me the life-changing principles that have brought me thus far, though I wasn’t born with a silver spoon the mother that God gave me is a diamond in the coal. For me, 40 is significant, because it is the end of one era and the beginning of another. Our parents gave birth to us and planned most of our first 20 years, then life plans for the remaining 20 years. So for me, one of my greatest responsibility is to take full charge of the next 40 years if God gives me the privilege. 40 for me means more expansion and diversification. This year, more than ever, I see my life taking shape and my vision taking direction. This new age allows me to see the world as a marketplace and export my vision to all the corners of the world because, what seems incomplete has now become abundant, the sky is the starting point for us at Sujimoto. I am exporting the Sujimoto brand abroad because we can’t become a giant by playing in the local league. It’s time to step up and move up! It’s also a wake-up call for me that the world is still ready for big dreamers and that there is still power in the audacity to dream big. 

People believe that one has a better chance of being successful if one is highly connected or one family is influential; how true is this?

Success is not served alacarte, it is a buffet! You have to go for it! Coming from an influential family or having the right connection with people at the top is not a bad recipe for success, but it is not a guarantee! I was not born with a silver spoon! I had no spoon at all! But my mother always say to me that if I should go to school, work hard, and stay committed, I would be able to build a successful business. Life has taught me that your location does not determine your allocation. The only remedy for success is hard work and an annoying spirit of never giving up!

 

What were the major events that shaped your childhood and upbringing? 

First, I will say winning an ovarian lottery, been born by a champion like Idayat Adebukola, my mum wakes up by 4 am, sleeps by 10 and every weekend you will watch her working and calculating and counting her good. Also growing up in a business-dominated environment like Oke-arin dominated by Igbo traders helped shape my interest in entrepreneurship and my drive for success. Growing up and supporting my mother in a busy market like Oke-Arin greatly influenced by passion and interest in business, that was where I watched my mother who moved from being a small trader to becoming a major distributor for nestle, through that exposure to the open market principles, I had learned some vital business lessons, integrity, negotiation, hard work and a passion for what you do. Also, I grow up in a neighborhood where only 2 households had a generator set in a street of over 19 houses, so I made a decision that I was never going to be poor. Poverty has remained a major driver for me, I have always consciously driven myself to excel and surpass my last big success.

 

What drives you?

Poverty and the capacity to make an impact. Acquiring wealth is ultimate but For me When your neighbor is hungry, of course, your chicken is not safe. So, a rich man among poor people is a poor person, especially in mental poverty. At the tender age of 5, my mother would wake us up very early in the morning while my mates are sleeping and she would say to me: “Ajaniogun wake up, wake up! Ise l’ogun ise’. Meaning wake up Ajaniogun, wake up! Hard work is the cure for poverty, wake up! Even during the holidays, while my friends are busy playing Nintendo and going on holidays, I would have to resume work at my mum’s shop in Oke Arin, gradually learning the ropes and charting the path for my future! My mother’s words have been my driving force! Also, Value creation, Nobody likes anybody they don’t get value from. If you are my brother and you are not adding value to me, I am not ready to do business with you. Even though I grew up in Oke-Arin and Agege, I have traveled to over 40 countries and I have had the privilege of staying in some of the best hotels, experienced exceptional customer service and have seen some of the best architectural structures. This exposure has consciously elevated my standards and expectations in life. This is why when I go anywhere and things are not done up to the highest standard, I can’t resist voicing my discontent, and in most cases, I refuse to pay the bill for mediocrity!

 

Do you have any regrets or lessons at 40? 

Regrets? None. I see every event in my life as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Every setback has been a strategic way of God setting me up for greater opportunities. I remember when we had challenges with the Lorenzo Project as a result of the recession and the crumbling economy; people said nasty things about us. The competitors were very stiff because we were bold and audacious enough to challenge the norm with our BIG dreams, Sujimoto would have been a thing of the past if we didn’t persevere and see every disappointment as an opportunity! So, while it is good to have big dreams, ensure your passion is twice as big because life will test you because when the chips are down, the bills are not being paid, and the salaries are due, the only thing that will keep you going is the genuine love and passion you have for what you do.

 

What is your biggest strength as a luxury construction company?

Sujimoto is built out of the abundance of vision to set a new paradigm in luxury real estate. We studied projects from France to Italy and Dubai and New York and we decided to beat the best. Our vision for the next 10 years is to remarkably rebuild and turn Nigeria into a world-class country when it comes to Luxury edifices, We are holding this vision dearly and working on it firmly. I always say that we shall lower our standard for NO MAN. It means from foundation to chandeliers, compromising is not an option. When we started Sujimoto, we used 2 fundamental principles, first is integrity, the second is quality, combining these 2 philosophies, we knew that sky is a limit. Also, innovate or die trying! In a digital world where the attention span of the average person is 12 seconds, it becomes very critical for businesses to engage their audience constantly through innovative messaging, design and offerings! You can’t keep doing the same thing, over again and expect the same excitement as the first. It is important to shake things up a little bit with some excitement. I leanrt from watching an inspirational video that if you want to go far in life and business, avoid bureaucracy as much as possible! Pull down every stronghold of bureaucracy before it pulls your business down! At Sujimoto, we like to describe our decision-making system as a speed boat rather than a ship. This is because while a speed boat is capable of making quick and swift turns, a ship on the other hand is incapable of such flexibility. Swift decision-making in 21st-century workplace can be the difference between whether a business succeeds or the business ceases to exist! The choice is yours.

 

What’s your most memorable experience within the last 40 Years?

Two days are memorable in my life; the first is the day I left Zaria and came to Lagos because I was missing my Mum. I was only 7years old. That decision changed my life forever because all my siblings were in the north, but my mother love made me take a bus from Zaria to Lagos at 7. After school, my mother had no other choice than to bring me back to the market with her, what looked like a punishment then was a business apprenticeship that’s shaped my destiny forever. The second was the day I left Nigeria in search of greener pastures. I was only 16 years old. It is memorable because that experienced opened me up to the world and shaped my view and perspective about life, my experience and my introduction to luxury.

 

What is your achievement with Sujimoto?

About 6 years ago, I declared my intention to redefine luxury living in Africa, starting from Lagos. We started with just 6 staff and 1 project, but today we have numerous projects all around Lagos, Abuja and Dubai. We are taking Abuja by storm with a Luxury Residential Tower- QueenAminaBySujimoto – the tallest residential building in the north; Sujimoto Diamond City (SDC), a 38,000m2 development in the middle of VI. We are also looking at a new estate of 520 exceptional luxury villas. (add the s hotel) We also have a world-class 6-in-1 Mall coming up in the heart of the Ikoyi; and our Sujimoto Dubai Project! All set to launch officially in 2021! We have built our team from 6 staff to over 200 professionals comprising a team of international and local experts, over 100 skilled individuals, putting in approximately 124,000 hours of hard work. We have adopted a client-oriented customer addiction perspective to feed the ever-evolving appetite of our clients, putting integrity, value creation over profit maximization. We’ve made Home Automation the minimum standard for luxury development and brought the immersive experience of an IMAX Cinema to the comfort of customers’ homes. Above all, we have added value to customers, developed and changed the lives of our staff, and as a brand, we have grown from an Iroko tree to becoming a forest.

 

Sijibomi Ogundele

Sijibomi Ogundele

 

What are the challenges you have faced in the past 6 years in business?

I must say that our Critics are our biggest motivation, without them, we would not have come this far. I started Sujimoto Construction in Nigeria over 6 years ago and it has been the most difficult 6 years of my life. And also because I wasn’t born with silver, I had to prove myself 3 times over, work harder 3 times more, and keep proving myself over and over again. Let me take you on a journey. 2016 and 2017 were probably the most difficult and challenging periods of my life. I had conceived and developed the biggest project in my life, over 90 Million USD to build the tallest residential building in Sub-Saharan Africa – the LorenzoBySujimoto. I invested all my money, time and passion into this project. Unfortunately for me, as a result of the economic downturn, my Saudi Investors pulled out. The economy was so bad and things became very rough. I had to refund over 450m to off-takers, out of 11 off-takers, I will never forget 3 of our off-takers who said go ahead we are with you, especially Dr Greg (Daddy Ero). On the verge of almost giving up, I visited him crying even and he told me his own story and encouraged me to move on. Immediately after that meeting, I reassessed my plans, reviewed all my decisions, identified my pain point and made the much-needed adjustment. The media was on my back, critics kept saying (we told you he couldn’t do it), Riding on the wings of criticism and media backlash, I found courage again and conceived the GiulianoBySujimoto project in Banana Island. 20 months after, the Giuliano has metamorphosed from a proof of concept into a proof of product! Home to music entrepreneur Davido, Fully sold-out 6 Months before Completion. Many said all sorts of negative things against us, but today, we are building 6 of the most audacious projects in the whole of Africa – the LucreziaBySujimoto in Banana Island; Leonardo in Banana Island; Giovanni in Ikoyi; The HQ in Ikoyi; The S-Hotel Ikoyi and QueenAminaBySujimoto Abuja! Not to talk about our sujimoto tower in Dubai 44 story building. These are incredibly challenging projects that will revamp all sense of mediocrity in the luxury real estate industry, and we plan to complete all these projects before the end of 2023, some of them will be completed next year.

 

Tell us a bit about this Dubai project, how is it possible for a company like yours to leave Africa and build in Dubai?

It was forced on me by a friend who’s from the royal family, every time I saw reasons not to, he gave me the reason to start thinking global. It was during corona lockdown when I made numerous interviews on my vision and my dreams, Abdulaziz called me and told me about a 6500m2 land in the corner of downtown, and further speaking for almost 2 hrs on the phone, the Sujimoto tower is in the making and we are optimistic to launch it before October. In Dubai unlike here in Lagos, anything below 40 floors can’t be up in downtown so we going 44 floors of ultra-luxury residences, hotel suites and top notch retail. We are currently in talks with Fourseasons and Bacarrat for the hotels, also other Luxury retails like Graff private, Pateck Phillip, Vacheron costatine, vertu and many other ultra luxury retail brands. We also hope to have top restaurants like Cipriani, Nusret and many other. The Sujimoto tower will be the first af\rican tower in the middle of Dubai, the first African to build a tower in the middle east, it’s a project I’m extremely excited about because we have received a lot of support from our clients.

 

 

What does it take to build a successful business empire?

First and foremost, Integrity is a must-have! For me, Integrity is the currency of my business. If you don’t have a passion for your business, then it is better not to even start at all! For me, the most important ingredient of success is Integrity – being a man of your word and letting your word be your bond. In many occasions, when I say something, I make sure I uphold that promise, even if along the line it’s a loss, we will take it as a debt of integrity. But ultimately, quality is our business, and our model is entrenched in diligence. We always think about how we could do things faster, better and cheaper. At Sujimoto, we think customers first, employees second and myself third. We are not a profit-driven organization, first, we want to build the company for the first 10yrs, then later, we will think of profit.

 

What Should we expect from you in the coming years?

The coming years will be a very busy year for us at Sujimoto; aside from residential real estate, and our intention to take the Sujimoto brand to the capital of Luxury– Dubai, Sujimoto is divesting from Residential Projects with 80% of our real estate interest into Commercial Projects and there are 3 major projects in the pipeline already! First, is a luxury hotel brand called the ‘S Hotel’ – an African-inspired luxury hotel that borrows from the unique design and exceptional service offered by the Four Seasons franchise. Our intention with this is to bring the Sujimoto exceptional Hospitality to every major city in Africa and other parts of the world, reinforcing the notion of African hospitality with a mixture of 21st-century luxury experiences, making an exceptional customer addiction as its foundation… At The S, we are our client’s maid. The same passion with which we redefined luxury living in Nigeria, is the same passion we are bringing into the Nigerian Hospitality and Commercial space. We have toured some of the best hotels in the world such as the Address Hotel, Downtown Dubai, the Baccarat Hotel in New York City, and the Dorchester Hotel in London, and what we intend to do with the S-Hotel will be phenomenal. We are also building a world-class Plaza – the first of its kind, in Ikoyi and Abuja, with a 2022 projection for completion. This 6-in-1 Plaza by Sujimoto is a contemporary one-stop-shop retail and hospitality center, featuring innovative state-of-the-art equipment, rooftop lounge, and bar, premium restaurants, world-class gym, retail shops other premium features. Upon completion, each project should be valued at approximately N67 Billion, with a combined rental income of about N11billion annually. By 2030, we hope to have completed 80 different malls, hotels and residences, an estimated portfolio worth over $10billion. Breaking even is increasingly becoming difficult for young people in Nigeria.

 

Sijibomi Ogundele

Sijibomi Ogundele

 

 From your experience, what advice do you have for young Nigerian entrepreneurs? 

Nigeria is blessed with an incredible amount of youthful and talented individuals, but Permit me to say that the biggest issue with this generation is the ‘entitlement mentality. NO ONE owes us anything but ourselves. And if we don’t make a sacrifice for whatever we want in life, what we want will become the sacrifice. The bar for opportunities can’t be set so low. This is a country that has produced the richest black man in the world, Aliko Dangote, I have always said to the Youths and in my previous interviews that lack of vision is proof of mental bankruptcy. I have traveled all over the world and trust me when I say that Nigeria is the biggest ground for uncommon Opportunities. This same opportunity is what brings foreigners to our land and makes them billionaires. Nigeria is the only land where the Lebanese man starts as a Trader and becomes an industrialist, or the Indian starts as a Storekeeper and becomes a Manufacturer. In Nigeria’s super-fast, hyper-competitive environment, success isn’t necessarily determined by your background but your backbone. Success is not served a-la-carte. It’s a buffet! The universe responds to innovation and inventions, not mere intentions and complaints. I tell myself every day, that If the Coscharis, the Adenugas, the Dangote’s and Alakijas can do it, me too, I can! The other point that is very essential is that readers are leaders and that reading two hours a day is 730 hours a year; 1,460 hours in two years! That’s almost equivalent to earning a Ph.D. and there’s no billionaire by mistake. If you see someone doing exceptionally well in any industry, invest your envy in studying him, not bringing him down. And don’t forget that the only person that can determine your tomorrow is the almighty God, so don’t allow anyone use bread to lick your soup.

 

How is the Sujimoto brand coping with the dwindling Nigerian economy?

It may be right to say that the Nigerian economy is challenged, but not poor. We have the largest economy in Africa by GDP, we are the most populous country in Africa with 12% of the total 1.2 billion population of the continent, we are the 7th most populous country in the world. A country with this amount of positive data cannot be described as being a poor country. I don’t see challenges but opportunities, its ok to blame the government or the banking system and many other excuses but you see in a bricklayer, I don’t have a lot of luxury to complain, where people see land, I see bricks and moter. At Sujimoto we are determined to keep sharing the positive stories of our success to encourage everyone and motivate every business to see the opportunity in our dare nation. . . PDP or APC, We have no preference, our only political affiliation is to Nigeria as a nation.

Business

Half-Year Performance: Transcorp Plc Shows Powerful Growth as Profit Leaps by 713%

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Transcorp Hotels

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) has released its unaudited results for the half-year ended June 2021, recording significant improvement across its major income lines.

The Conglomerate with strategic investments in the Power, Hospitality, and Energy sectors, recorded a profit after tax of N6.5bn, rising by 713% up from N0.8bn recorded in June of the previous year. Other key highlights of the result include the following:

  • Revenue rose by 53%, from N35.0bn in June 2020 to N53.3bn in the period under consideration.
  • Gross profit grew by 60%, from N14.7bn in June 2020 to N23.5bn in June 2021.
  • Profit before tax rose by 689% from N0.9bn in June 2020 to N7.1b in June 2021.

Commenting on the performance, Transcorp’s President/Group CEO, Mrs. Owen Omogiafo, reiterated the Conglomerate’s commitment towards producing long-term value and sustainable impact. “We are pleased to see the sustained growth in our group performance, which was achieved as a result of the improved performance across all the sectors we operate in. The revenue achieved in our power business grew by 48%, as a result of improved gas supply and increased generation capacity”, she stated.

Commenting on the hospitality sector, Omogiafo stated that the company’s strategic actions have resulted in a growth in revenue of up to 84%, despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the Nigerian and global hospitality industries. She expressed confidence in the company’s recovery strategies, citing the recent official launch of Aura, the company’s digital hospitality platform, as a testament to that confidence.

On the Group’s capacity to sustain its performance, Omogiafo said, “We do not plan to rest on our oars. We will continue to sweat our existing assets and explore new frontiers, as we continue to deliver on our purpose of Improving Lives and Transforming Nigeria.”

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Rethinking safe-haven assets and building resilient portfolios with Xend Finance

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As with most things in life, feeling overwhelmed as a newbie is simple, and this is especially true in such a volatile market as the world of cryptocurrencies. Regardless of the uncertainty and worries, the world of cryptocurrency has the potential to have a unique and substantial impact on anyone’s financial stability.

Government Bonds, treasury bills, and other forms of fixed income investments are undeniably considered as safe haven investments due to their low risk, but with inflation on the increase, the question arises how safe is money locked up for a specific period of time?

It is therefore important to build a resilient portfolio able to minimize risks and mitigate volatility, diversity into multiple unrelated investments, deliver steady returns and also able to recognize changing market conditions, new opportunities and respond accordingly.
Enter the world of Stablecoins. A less volatile cryptocurrency asset pegged to a cryptocurrency, fiat money, or to exchange-traded commodities (such as precious metals or industrial metals).

Compare to other forms of cryptocurrency assets like bitcoin, or altcoins the advantages of stablecoins are stabilized by assets that fluctuate outside of the cryptocurrency space that is prices are pinned to real-world assets.
Most stablecoins are pegged to the US Dollar as they are an easy way to get exposure to the crypto space without having to worry about volatility.

You can build a resilient portfolio with stable coins by having a good foundation on which you can build and protect your investment portfolio. This is necessary to provide a buffer when the markets are volatile or things go south.

These stablecoins also provide diversification as Investor Phillips Hodges mentioned in an interview emphasized the importance of balancing factors affecting the returns you can get across the different than the classes themselves. Stable coins also provide the extra diversification a portfolio needs to stay afloat in a stormy market, minimize losses due to their low volatility.

Be rest assured as an investor that your portfolio can only said to be strong when you have investments that can stand the test of time. Inflations and rickety market conditions.
If you’re a fund manager looking to get exposure to the crypto space through stable coins, send an email to [email protected] and someone would be in touch with you.

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Market formation framework, driver to optimally develop solid mineral sector- Ifie Sekibo 

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Ifie Sekibo

MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has said that the market formation framework is the key to optimally exploit Nigeria’s precious metal and solid minerals endowments. He disclosed this during a webinar organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development with the theme, “Financing the Solid Minerals Sector through the Capital Market and the Critical Role of Commodity Exchanges.”  

Sekibo explained that a fully established market formation process that would lead to having a Corporation as an integrated solid mineral institution like NNPC which allows the collateralization of assets those banks can rely on for alternative funding options.

According to him, this will guarantee other creative ways of raising funds for financing commercial activities relating to solid minerals and viable projects along its value chain.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said for the sector to be viable, it requires lots of converged government interventions because for any development focused sector to kick-off around the world, it needs government intervention to lay the foundation for the private sector and funders to step-in and pool their resources.

“Once, we can collateralize these assets, whether they are under the ground or being determined, you use different instruments to bring liquidity into them. Then investors will follow up once we have established there is enough they can explore.” the MD stated.

He further suggested that finance sector regulators need to expand their Prudential Guidelines to accommodate the instruments such that precious metal-backed or solid minerals-backed assets could qualify as part of the computation of liquidity ratios.

“Once banks start injecting their resources, customers would certainly follow that trend. You can start arranging for sophisticated solutions like bonds, bullion-backed assets and pension notes. Again, banks will have to be poised to hold the funding that comes from this sector; that way, they can open new transactional frontiers either locally or internationally.

“At the base of this, are the issues of pricing and integrity of the market. Once banks play in that sector and we have a government institution like the NNPC type to hold all this documentation, it would be very easy to establish price discovery on an ongoing basis. This will in turn attract international funders, hedge funds and retail investors. Today, we have retail bonds in the same way; we can have gold-backed or any of the solid mineral assets where retail investors can put in the funds,” Sekibo explained.

Meanwhile, it would be recalled that Heritage Bank Plc has said its involvement in the private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector.

However, he reiterated that a consistent packaged framework, which could only be held by an established government institution, as part of the layers of the framework, would help to tackle major challenges in trying to support Dukia Gold’s clients.

“With a consistent packaged framework, it will be easier for Dukia Gold and help in less spending. If Dukia Gold should speak of their challenges, they will speak about tonnes of documents they have to produce. But with a unified source of documentation, it makes the process easier and improves cost management. These are some of the challenges we have experienced in trying to support a few clients we worked with,” Sekibo stated.

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