Adebola Adebajo-Olowa, owner of Vitality Growth Services Limited shared with the Today’s Showers Team how the idea to start a business was planted in his heart and how he ventured into his business with Ilupeju as his chosen location.
Tell us a little about yourself (background, academics, etc) and how this business started?
My name is Adebola Adebajo-Olowa. I was born and bred in Lagos. I started my primary education at St. Catherine Model Primary School, Surulere. I had my secondary education at Ijebu Ode Grammar school and then, I proceeded to the University of Ibadan to study Economics. After my first degree, I advanced to do an MBA in Human Resources. It was while I was in the University that God gave me a company name called Vitality Growth with a vision which I kept firmly in my heart.
I worked for some years in various companies in Human Resources, Logistics & Supply Chain, and e-Commerce. In 2016, Jumia Nigeria was looking for a Franchise Partner in Ilupeju and other close locations like Gbagada, Oshodi, Mushin, Ebute Meta, etc. God arranged our meeting and when the opportunity came, I didn’t hesitate to key into it and that is how Vitality Growth Services Limited started.
What influenced the choice of the business among many others?
My experience and passion for Logistics and Supply Chain informed my choice of business. I have worked as a General Manager for a Logistics and Oil Servicing Company here in Lagos with branches in Abuja and Port Harcourt. So, I usually travel a lot to see my clients. We provided services in terms of taking expatriates from point A to point B. We also did delivery services; sending dispatches, and leasing vehicles in the said Locations. Then I also worked with an e-Commerce company that specialized in e-Channel businesses so that gave me an insight and also influenced my choice of a business partnership with Jumia.
Where are you located in Ilupeju and why did you choose Ilupeju for location?
We are located at 14, Olowogbowo Street off Coker Road, Ilupeju. The business location (Ilupeju) was chosen by our client (Jumia). At that time, Jumia needed a presence in Ilupeju because they wanted to reach the Ilupeju environment to fulfil the needs for the third-party Logistics. We also service Gbagada, Oshodi, Mushin, Palm Grove, Onipanu, Anthony Village, and the other side of Ajao Estate from Ilupeju.
What products & services does your company offer and who are your Clientele?
We offer Pick-up and Delivery Services on behalf of Jumia Nigeria. We are Jumia’s face in Ilupeju. We ensure that people from all these locations mentioned earlier are well serviced. People who chose Pickup option on Jumia website are well attended when they come into our Hub to pick up their items while we also deliver to people who chose the delivery option on the Jumia website.
We ensure that the packages get to everyone who has ordered on the platform the same day, depending on the arrival of the packages to the Hub. We deliver items to customers’ homes or offices based on the address imputed at the point of order. We use different means of transport for this purpose for prompt delivery depending on the packages to be delivered. We deliver packages such as TVs, Washing Machines, Freezers, Gas Cookers, Playmat, Phones, Wristwatches, Palm Oil and a lot more displayed on the Jumia website.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
I could say the Covid-19 affected our clients as there was a significant drop in orders as expected because of the restriction in movement but we were able to attend to everyone who ordered for drinks, foods and all sorts of household essentials according to the Lagos State Government regulations.
How did your company feel after the total lockdown?
The lockdown was eased gradually with restrictions. Everyone felt the effect of the pandemic, people didn’t have enough cash flow to order items. Another challenge was that most of the banks had IT issues whereby customers get debited when they transfer money and the money doesn’t get to us until 24 hours later while some were reversed to the customer’s account. Then banks worked skeletally, so we were unable to collect cash from customers after the lockdown.
However, the favourable effect was that the price of fuel was reduced and we were able to reduce our operational cost on vehicles and motorcycles.
What strategy or strategies did you use during this pandemic to sustain your business?
The strategy deployed was enquiring from Clients if they were comfortable in picking their orders or they prefer the delivery options. We had scenarios where customers would tell you to deliver their items but when we get to their location, a flimsy excuse would be given as to why they don’t want the item anymore. So, before dispatching a delivery agent, we would call to confirm the customer’s interest in getting the product.
We also educated our staff on the safety measures to follow as per the pandemic protocols and gave them palliatives so they were motivated to put in more effort in delivering top-notch service to our customers.
Could you tell us the challenges the company has faced or is still facing?
One of the major challenges is that some potential customers don’t know Jumia is in Ilupeju. Then, some people don’t know how to place orders online. It is challenging but we usually educate and help them where necessary.
We also have issues with the epileptic power supply. But that has been mitigated through the provision of alternative power. However, considering the cost of petrol, it has not been easy. There are also times we experience a reduction of orders and we would still have the same amount of operational cost, yet with limited revenue.
Furthermore, the business is sometimes affected by the weather, especially heavy rainfall. Our dispatch riders can’t deliver during a heavy downpour so we have to wait for the rain to subside and there are days when it rains for the best part of the day. Customers order must not be tampered with even by rain, this can lead to rejection by the customer or even damages.
One major challenge is usually during Black Friday when we have a larger quantity of items to deliver with less manpower due to wear and tear of our bikes because they are mechanical wired equipment meant to function for a specific load capacity so they just get faulty and it slows down delivery.
Do you have any project you are currently working on?
Yes, we have some internal projects we are working on at the moment. We are trying to expand, based on location. Once the economy opens up, you will surely hear from us, you will see that Jumia is moving from this present level to the next level.
What vision do you have for the company?
Well, we have a vision to expand in terms of logistics services to other businesses apart from Jumia. In this environment, you will need us to help you deliver different items. We are free to assist once it is within the geographical location we cover.
What advice do you have for upcoming entrepreneurs?
The advice I have for other entrepreneurs is to be a go-getter. Don’t be afraid to take risks; don’t be afraid to take on challenges. It is going to get better. All of us cannot just sit down and keep complaining about the country.
The economy presently is not encouraging entrepreneurs and there several challenges facing SMEs. Sincerely, Nigeria has some challenges, but we can make it better, we can make it work. So many people fizzle out when they see challenges, but when you have the God factor you will surely make it. There is nothing impossible once you believe in God; He will surely make it possible.
Then, have a vision, write the vision down. Just like Habakkuk 2:1-4 says, you need to write the vision down, then run with it. You need to run the vision; you need to have a passion for the vision. Many of us lose our passion because of the challenges and what going on.
Also, you need to focus on self-development. Build the right character and don’t feast on your revenue; explore, invest what you have, something great is about to happen in that business. And don’t forget to save for the rainy days, just like Joseph did. There were 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine in Egypt and by storing up during the years of plenty, they could cope during the years of famine. The years of famine will come but you need to invest for that purpose.
Always remember that it’s only God that will determine how many years of plenty you will enjoy and when the famine will end. Note that with the love of God, you will surely conquer and that no weapon fashioned against you shall prosper. Thank you and God bless this Church for this opportunity.