Wed, Jan

You need guts and faith in God to run a Successful business

Mrs. Oludayo Olutoyin Onabowale has successfully run Treasure House School, Ilupeju, Lagos for the past five years. In this interview with Toni Kan, Mrs. Onabowale, speaks from the wealth of her experience, describing children “as treasures you can mould” —Mrs. Onabowale, Proprietress, Treasure House

When did you join The Fountain of Life Church? I joined in 1995.

In what department have you worked in the church? I worked in the Children’s Church, but now I work in the Welfare Department and I am the Head of Department.

Were you trained as a Teacher or Educationist? Yes. I have worked in this area almost all my life, I have a B.A in English and Education from Unilag after which I did a Master’s degree in Mass Communication. I worked briefly with my mum in her school and then went abroad where I taught in a Nursery and Primary School as well. I got married, I came back home and still worked for my mum for a while before I opened my own school five years ago and besides, my father is a Professor of Education in Unilag so I think it runs in the family.

This school started five years ago, what were you doing before then? Like I said earlier, I was running the school with my mum and I am still an Executive Director in her school (Phebean School) and I was doing educational supplies as well.

So how did you start, did you need to take a bank loan or what? My husband has been my major support. He saw how passionate I was in owning my own school so he helped me raise funds for the purchase of so many things here and I got an overdraft from the bank as well.

What were your challenges at the beginning? The major challenge was funding. What most people don’t understand in running a school business is that it is capital intensive; you have to get teachers in all classes whether there are children there or not and you will pay their salaries until you have enough children to fill up the classes.

Another challenge was getting approval from Lagos State Ministry of Education and before they do that, they will have to come and inspect the building to see if you have enough rooms and the required number of toilets and all that. Also getting dedicated and qualified staff to work for you and lastly power generating, infact we didn’t even fathom the challenge we will face in that area so that was quite tough for us at the beginning.

How big is your school? By the grace of God we have over a hundred kids and about 40 members of staff which include Teachers, drivers and all that. 

What do you need to run a business? You need to have guts, you need to have passion for that business because something needs to keep you movingeven when you are facing challenges and you also need to have faith in God to be successful.

Let’s say, I just finished school and I have come to you for advice on how to start a business, what advice will you give me? You have to be realistic about what you want to do, you need to have a good knowledge of what you want to do and be realistic about your finances. If not, you will just shut down before three months. You need to be hard working and to also bring God into your business so you can succeed.

You have been in Fountain for some years now, how has that helped you as a business woman? The teachings of Pastor Taiwo have helped me a great deal. He has taught me how to put God first in my business, to trust God to meet all my needs, depending on him alone, rather than on man and to treat our parents and staff the way we want to be treated. He talks of the law of sowing and reaping, you do to your staff and friends what you expect them to do to you and secondly we have a lot of Fountaineers as pupils and parents and they testify to our continuous advert in Fountain Magazine and we also have Fountaineers as members of staff and we have been able to get along well because we are of like minds as born again Christians.

Do you think the advert you put in The Fountain Magazine has helped you? Yes, because sometimes, some of them come in here before they actually realize I am a Fountainer. Advertising helps because you see the logo and it sticks and you just realize you have seen the advert somewhere before so it really helps.

At the beginning, how many children did you start with and at what point did you start thinking it will work? Before we opened, we advertised for a few months and the morning we opened, we had only one child that had registered but before the end of that day eight children had already registered so that really inspired us and I remember asking my head teacher how many children we need to have to be comfortable and she said like thirty and by the time we were thirty we were still moving the numbers, so I think it is a day-to-day thing. You see the children today; they are six, seven months old and later you see them like six, seven year olds running around the compound so that gives me a lot of joy. Most times, you may not wake up in the right mood but as soon as I step into this place I get happy because of the passion I have for the business I am doing.

You need to have guts, you need to have passion for thatbusiness because something needs to keep you moving even when you are facing challenges and you also need to have faith in God to be successful.

As a Christian business woman what scriptural verse do you apply in your business? Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength” especially going through the daily challenges of running this business because God has been faithful and I give Him all the praise for bringing us this far and we know the future is bright for us at Treasure House School and we thank Him for everything he has done for us.

What is your own principle as a business woman? You know I talked about the law of ‘sowing and reaping;’ how you deal with people is how they will deal with you as well. I believe in customer satisfaction because that is where the money comes from and we have to communicate our vision of the business to our employees so they can run with it and be able to capture their loyalty, take care of their welfare and see to their progress so by doing that they will put in their best.

So when trouble comes, what do you do? When trouble comes, I put my trust in God for both the small and mighty things.

Finally, why is it called Treasure House? For me, I see these children as little treasures, I see them as treasures you can mould, you know treasures are priceless, so you should take care of them. So this is like a house full of treasures.

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