Tens of thousands of Nigerian graduates have remained unemployed over the years due to the lull in the country’s economy. But the good news is that some others have applied their innate talents to become entrepreneurs instead of waiting for white collar jobs that are not there in the first place. One of them is the 33-year-old Adewale Aladejana, a graduate of Mass Communication and CEO of Sapphire Scents. In this exclusive interview with the Publisher of Pleasures Magazine, Babatunde A. Olaoluwa, Aladejana unveils an amazing story of how he applied his God-given talent to perceive pleasant aroma, to build a multi-million naira perfume empire within a short-space of two years. This is a compelling reading for all, particularly those who are yet to use their talents to change their lives for the better.
Who is Wale Aladejana?
I am a young entrepreneur. I was born and bred in Ibadan, the present day capital of Oyo state, in South-West Nigeria. My father was a businessman, who later became a politician. I am the 7th child in the family of nine children. I attended Kings College, Lagos and later International School, Ibadan. Thereafter, I proceeded to Bowen University, where I earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Mass Communication. I didn’t want to work for any one after completing my compulsory one year National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) programme. However, at the completion of my service year, I started working at the Benin office of TY Danjuma Foundation. And I worked there for four years.
On what led to his transfer from Benin to Abuja
The TY Danjuma Foundation worked with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), and there were two organizations that we were working with that had issues with my supervisor. One of them was a lady that was supposed to provide funds to women living with HIV/AIDS. Since I used to go for monitoring of these projects, I noticed that there were lots of inconsistencies, and I began to talk to these beneficiaries, and they told us will pose as if she was giving them money – she will call a photographer –give them money, and take picture, and after taking the picture, she will take the money back, and put into her pocket. And that was very bad, and so, I reported her promptly to the office. And then, we had this other organization, and one woman there, did everything that she was supposed to do. For some reasons the woman was very stubborn, and very problematic woman. And so, my supervisor there didn’t like her at all. One day – that was in 2014, a letter came, and the letter said that this woman that did the project was to refund money to the Foundation because she didn’t do anything. And I was very surprised, because this was a project that I monitored. Now I went to meet my supervisor, and she said she didn’t know what happened. She said that it was the decision of the board. Of course, she sent the letter to this woman, and the woman begged, saying ‘I was surprise.’ She said the last message she got was that her next tranche of funds will be disbursed, so that she will complete the project. So, she said she was surprised to hear that after she had gone this far, she was being asked to refund the money. I now noticed that they were trying to put up a report to Abuja just to show that this woman was not fit. That was when I realized that there was a conspiracy going on. They just wanted to deal with this woman. But they didn’t see anything wrong with the other woman.
According to Adewale, the name “Sapphire scents’ was taken from the book of Isaiah 54:11
The fear of God is very important. The Bible says you should speak up for those who are oppressed, and those who have been unjustly accused. If you behave as if you didn’t see anything, God sees, and He will reward you. So, I wrote a letter to the Abuja office, and I entitled it, ‘for the record’ and I put the facts as I knew them. I wrote in the letter that we had issues with two organizations, and that if anyone should be punished, it is the woman that posed that she gave people money, and didn’t give them money. But this other one, you can see her project on the ground. And I sent that letter to Abuja, and when the letter got to Abuja, they said that I wanted to take my ‘Oga’s job, and that’s why I wrote that kind of letter. They threatened to deal with me. By the time they had a board meeting, they presented my case before the board. At that board meeting, the minister of state for health was one of our board members at TY Danjuma Foundation. So, after they presented my case, the minister of state for health looked at them and said, I know Wale, let me go and talk to him. He sent me a message that I should come to see him whenever I am in Benin. And I went to see him, and explained all that facts. And he came to the office and said, he just cancelled the whole thing. But these people were scared. My ED in Abuja who took the matter to the board, said a board member took up the matter to fight for this boy. But they didn’t know that it was God who did the fighting. So, they said, let’s transfer this boy from Benin to Abuja, so that he doesn’t become so powerful. So I was in the office one morning, and a mail came in, and the mail said that I have been transferred to Abuja office with immediate effect. I looked at the letter to see whether there were provisions for transportation, accommodation, but the letter just said I should resume in Abuja on Monday. Then I had a seven-month pregnant wife, Everything we had in the house was owned by the office, bed mattress, with the exception of a TV, washing machine, my books and clothes, and all these items were in a “Ghana-Must-Go” bag. So they gave me a date to resume in Abuja. So, I left my wife in Benin, because it was an official apartment, but they began to terrorise my wife. As God will have it, three weeks later, my brother got an apartment in Abuja, and so that was how I was able to take my wife to Abuja. We arrived in Abuja in a ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bag, with my seven months pregnant wife, my TV, washing machine. I used to tell people that one of the best things God ever did for me was to bring me to Abuja, but they didn’t understand what I meant. When I was coming to Abuja, God told me that ‘my thoughts for you, is for good and not of evil, to give you a home and a future and an expected end.”
His talent for perceiving pleasant aroma
It was on April 1, 2015 – my wife’s birthday – that I wanted to appreciate her. I went and bought a costly gift, and by the time I did that, I had exhausted my salary for the month. One day someone applied a perfume and I asked him the brand name, even though I recognize perfume the same way I recognize faces. If I perceive the smell of perfume, I can tell you the name of the perfume, and country where it is made. So, I perceived the odour of this special perfume, and the person who wore the perfume said it was made in the Middle East. Fortunately, I had a friend living in the Middle East, and I asked him to buy a bottle of that particular perfume. When he brought the perfume, I started making use of it, and I liked the aroma. I thought of where to get this same perfume in Abuja here. I went to the popular Wuse Market in Abuja because I felt that there were chances that some people could be selling something close to it. I was able to buy about six bottles of what looked like that same perfume. And after doing my research, I found out that it was made from something in the Bible that is called aloe. Then I continued with my research until I made my own perfume, and was selling it in bits. I was making little money from the product until one of my customers who trusted my ability told me I could get raw materials to make the perfume from the Middle East. Yet the problem was that I had no funds to start with. But to my amazement, my man of God, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, of Coza gave me the sum of N1 million. I utilized the money very well, and from there, I turned the business into a multi-million naira company.
Several people were requesting for large quantity of the product because the moment they perceive our products from people, they want to have it. One day someone came and requested me to make a special perfume that will make him stand out at the meeting he was to attend. I did it for him, and that was the beginning of great breakthrough. That customer told me that when he stepped into the meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, the official residence of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the First Lady (President’s wife) requested to know the name of the perfume that I wore, and from there people in authority became our customers.
My ultimate target is to be the leading perfume manufacturer that will be patronized all over the World. At the moment, we have 16 different brand names, and we are working on some others. And today, we have captured the Nigerian market, and if you capture the Nigeria market, you are in business. We have over 170 million people in Nigeria, if only ten percent of that population patronize you, you are made. But because we want the World to know that great thing also come from Nigeria, we want to reach other parts of the World. At present, we are working on South Africa, UK and the USA. Hopefully by next year starting from January, we will have our products there.
The big names that patronize him
We are still counting, but by the grace of God we have former Presidents in Nigeria and Ghana using our products. President Olusegun Obasanjo had personally interacted with me on our products and he encouraged us greatly. General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has also discussed with me and he gave us full support and encouragement for what we are doing. Ghana’s former President, J.J Rawlings of Ghana even amazed us. He said he keeps the perfume on his table so that anybody who comes to him can see it. We are grateful that what started only two years ago, has been appreciated by African leaders. By the grace of God, our product will be the leading perfume in Africa. Most celebrities in Africa use our product, and we hope to open up the continent market. That is why I sincerely appreciate you for locating us with the intention to assist us blow the gospel of the product.
To the glory of God we have made use of social media more than interpersonal marketing strategy. First our products speak for us, we haven’t experienced situation where our products will be rejected, people always ask for more, that is the first marketing tool, the other is the social media, we have over five thousand followers across the various social platform, we do a lot do advert there. That should be a lesson for many people, some spend hours chatting and posting personal pictures but we do a lot of our products there, again your coming here today is another great exposure to our products.
AS earlier said, we are targeting the whole World, starting with the African market but it is a lot of challenge, goods move freely from UK to US, from UAE to UK but it is difficult for goods to move from Nigeria to the UK and US, also the Borders are not business friendly, the ECOWAS status does not encourage Business transaction to flow well, Government of various countries in Africa need to identify the business potentials and allow genuine businesses to move without much bottleneck.
I have received good encouragement from people, I mentioned earlier the man who connected me to Middle East, then my Pastor, Pastor Fatoyinbo, and my mentors, I see that young people don’t appreciate mentorship, I see it as learning institution that cost nothing. My Pastor prayed for me and I can see the work of the prayer. These are greater helps than money. Those who ask for money lack ideas, a man of idea will always look for someone who will speak to his life. This is my greatest source of help and God and Angels.
His message to other entrepreneurs
Sincerely, there is no best way to success than entrepreneurship. That is the future, but we must obey certain principles:
1. Make it accountable; don’t run your business as a sole person who can just dip hands into the money.
2. Don’t cut corners, Pay your taxes, we pay our taxes, the records are there.
3. Respect people and your staff; remember they are the one doing the greater part of the work.
4. Be responsible and take blames where necessary
Corporate Social Responsibility
You know we are a very young company, just two years but in that area, we set up a foundation. Today, through that Foundation we have been able to sink bore holes in a town in Niger state of Nigeria. We distribute food materials and clothing items to the people there having identified this problem there. We are presently building a school for them. By the help of God we will do more.
Time for his family
My office is very close to my house, so I am like always with the family the whole day yet working. My wife whom I will appreciate greatly is the GM in charge of Saphire. She has been very supportive, and I see her as a major pillar to the achievements we have made within two years. Most time we travel together as business partners yet family, so we are always together. I resume work as early as 6:00am and at times my wife is there before me.
The business as the hand of God
God has been the source of my inspiration In the first place, my ability to smell things come from Him. I thank God for His grace.
Contact Sapphire Scents:
Facebook. Adewale Aladejana
Mobile:+234 80 38519881