DEJI FISHO INTERVIEW
Q: executive director strategy microfinance bank, executive vice chairman Chelsea microfinance bank, executive vice chairman excess energy. I know you are into investment and I know you are an author, but let’s talk about fortis.
A: I think it’s fairly simple, for fortis most of the hard work has been done and it’s been set-up. We face new challenges everyday and figure out a way to sought them out and also sought out how to move on to the next thing. I am learning also how to do things and how to do transactions.
Q: what is your everyday like?
A: every new day is different, typically I wake up say my prayers, I start to make my phone calls and also do my emails, At times different things on a particular day. At times I come to the office and do things with my assistance and we set the program for the day, deal with issues that needs attention, like we take in things from partners in the various ventures that am involved with sometimes we resolve issues with high profile customers. So essentially it goes on like that, I tend to function project by project. There are some projects that we have started and we are taking it to advance level, there are some that we are cooking and we are also taking time to perfect them and it continues, the day ends about 9 and 10pm or whatever time we call it a day.
Q: what does business mean to you?
A: business to me is adding value. Essentially when I speak to people I say entrepreneurship is about value creation. All of us have the value to be entrepreneurs, now we have an interesting situation in Nigeria; there are opportunities everywhere health, education, aviation, and SMEs. There is something for everybody, you just put yourself forward to do what you can and be mindful of the fact that you are not going to be here forever.
Q: what would you say to a young Nigerian that wants to become an entrepreneur?
A: I will tell a young entrepreneur that first you can do it. You don’t need any unique set of skills or any special certain advantages just set your mind at it, be determined that you want to do this and you will be on your way. You will have challenges just as it happens in life, and just as you deal with the issue of living so also you deal with the issue of entrepreneurship and then you go with the flow. Entrepreneurs are not extra ordinary people, you don’t need to make first class in school nor have an entrepreneurial background. Entrepreneur is all about adding value, creating value and making a difference. You come into a function and you leave it better than you met it. I will tell a young mind that you need to start listening to your heart, because we all have a unique attribute, know what you are good at and you can take it to the next level.
A: I come from a civil service background, but my grandmother was a trader. I have always admired entrepreneurs and I studied quite a bit. I say to people that the entrepreneur is the only person who feels extreme pain and extreme joy.
Q: how did you get into banking?
A: when I left university it seemed prestigious to join the financial centre plus I have two degrees in business. I came up with two of my partners and we started the microfinance bank. For me we will still explore ideas to be able to make a great difference.
Q: tell us about facing challenges
A: every man would choose his job. I say to people I love to give myself options so that people don’t make decisions for me. The journey has had its ups and down and it will continue to have it challenges, and I know it’s all worth it for couple of reasons and it keeps me going. I think that everybody has a journey; this is mine and am glad.
Q: how do add value to the society
A: Most Nigerians are actually below the poverty line, the essence of the microfinance bank is to help the rural person and the youth, and we try to engage them, we help people with skills, train people with values and set them in the path that they want to go in their chosen careers.
Q: are you saying the challenges we have in Nigeria is an opportunity to do well
A: that’s what am saying, the challenges that we do have in this country are opportunities for entrepreneurs to express themselves. If you live abroad you do not have these challenges. The problem is here and the solution is here too.
Q: what does success mean to you?
A: success for me is a journey, it is ensuring that you are able to make a difference, impacting people and making sure that people around you become better, you realize very quickly that money by itself doesn’t give anybody contentment.
Q: you sound like you are having fun doing business in Nigeria.
A: am a Nigerian on all sides. If I wasn’t crazy about Nigeria I would have issues. Nigeria is blessed, the weather is fantastic, and everywhere in Nigeria you will find solid minerals. We just need to look inwards and see that we can make this place so much better.
Q: how did you become an author and wrote the book switch
A: switch is an imagination of my thought, I read a lot and I like to write. Switch speaks to personal leadership, it speaks to the Nigerian in you, it speaks to us becoming better. I know we will get there.
Q: is lack of infrastructure in Nigeria an excuse for a young person not to do well.
A: the truth is, we’ve got our challenges and so all of us leaders not just the government, we’ve got to be able to play an enabling environment for the young people to express themselves, but the situation as it is, is not a reason not to move forward. Some people have down well in spite of the environment, so you can do it just believe in yourself.
Q: how do you relax?
A: I play golf when I have the time. I also enjoy reading and I follow history. I like open space, from time to time I get away from the hustle and bustle and relax my soul.
Q: how has it been mentoring the youth?
A: fantastic! About 70% of Nigerian is young, that is huge potential energy that leadership must take advantage of. One good thing about these young people is that they are ready to learn.
Q: ten years from now, what are you seeing in the future
A: I think that this economy would expand and I hope that we are able to utilize the energy of our youths that very important so that we can compete with countries like china and India. I think that democracy would have been better and I think we would have been better and I think we would have a better country.
Q: talking about taking risks. I know you love bounty jumping, tell us about that
A: you know I wanted to be able to face some of my own fears. I like to push the button that’s why I went bounty jumping (laughs).
Lara: its been so nice talking to you Mr. Fisho, thank you and very well done.