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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Omatek Group GMD Florence Seriki's Journey Into The World of Entrepreneurship

Meet Florence Seriki,  the Group Managing Director, Omatek Group of Companies, a Nigerian computer manufacturing company. Her inspiring story reveals that opportunities are all around us, but our ability to process such opportunities is what sets us apart from the crowd. She shares about her journey into the world of entrepreneurship. Read below and go here for full article:

“When I was in school as a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), I did a project that cut across the University of Ife and University of Lagos. Due to the sensitive nature of the project, one of my lecturers at Ife bought a computer; it was the first XT computer that came to the University of Ife. So, I had to learn programming and Lotus.” And even though she had no idea of how this knowledge would be useful to her after the project, her hunger for knowledge propelled her to equip herself with it.

“My knowledge of computer operations became useful when I was posted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) during my National Youth Service Corps programme. At NNPC, I found out that many executives just decorated their tables with computers, which they were not using. Once the secretary was not around, the boss could not work on the computer. So I told my boss, ‘Sir, I used a personal computer to do my project, can I teach you how to use the computer?’ My boss asked if I really could and I told him I could. So, I taught my boss. He told another director, who told another director. Some of them then told their friends in other organisations that there was a corps member that could train them on the use of computer. That was how I started training executives on the use of computer. Later, I also began to train staff of banks and oil companies.”

Her training programme  was so successful that before the completion of her youth service, she was able to open an office on Victoria Island where she employed staff she trained to train others. “As I was training executives, I realised that many companies did not have enough computers. I saw this as an opportunity to start selling computers. So, I started initially by buying foreign brands and selling to my customers. As a result of the excellent sales performance achieved by Omatek Ventures, we were appointed as a premium partner of Microsoft. By this time, we had annual sales revenue of over $1million.

“Up to 1992, key computer buyers in Nigeria were banks and oil and gas companies. They were buying only finished products. The oil and gas companies were buying only from their offshore companies. Therefore, there was no opportunity for Nigerians to sell to them. I started a joint venture with two Nigerian banks. Thus, we got concessions for oil companies to do business with us but we were required to have offshore affiliates. So, we went for offshore affiliates.

Omatek has turned out to be not just a computer company as it is pioneering innovation in power solution. The company is now into solar hybrid alternative power solutions with the deployment of LED bulbs for domestic and industrial use. Seriki’s venture into this line of business started following an insight she got after a meeting with the Minister of Power. “The use of our solar/LED solution can result in significant operational and maintenance cost savings for schools, public offices, hospitals, hotels, street lighting implementation, rural electrification and rural water system. This is also a cost effective, efficient and eco-friendly lighting solution,” she said.

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