Oluseyi Akinyoyenu CEO of ORYX Africa 
Home African CEOs Interviews Oluseyi Akinyoyenu Dishes on how ORYX Africa Navigated COVID-19 and Plans for 2021
Interviews - February 25, 2021

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu Dishes on how ORYX Africa Navigated COVID-19 and Plans for 2021

ORYX Africa, a technology firm based in Lagos, played an integral role towards facilitating remote working for other companies during the COVID-19 lockdown. In this interview with Business Elites Africa, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Oluseyi Akinyoyenu, tells us what they did, how the pandemic affected their operations, and how they navigated the challenges. He also talks about his company’s plans for the new year. Enjoy the read. 

BEA: It’s nice to meet you, Sir. Kindly tell us about yourself.

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: I graduated from the Lagos State University in 1999 and later obtained an MBA from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2008. I also have a postgraduate diploma from the University of Liverpool. Before now, I have worked in a number of companies including SAP, IBM, Globacom, and Nestle. I also served as an Executive Director in a few companies, including TL Registrars Ltd. I currently serve as the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of ORYX Africa, a technology company based in Lagos. I am also the MD of a people development company called 12:24 Limited. 

BEA: Tell us about ORYX Africa and what you do.

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: ORYX Africa has been in existence since 2004. I joined the company after I left SAP to help transform the business and take it to greater heights.

ORYX Africa is a SAP partner. It is also a Microsoft partner. We do develop our own customized home-grown solutions. For instance, we currently have a payroll solutions called “ORYX Payroll” and we are developing other solutions at the moment. We develop customized solutions for individual organisations based on their needs. We also sell, implement, and provide technical support on SAP and Microsoft solutions.

ORYX has customers headquartered in different parts of Nigeria and Ghana and have branches in different parts of Africa. One of our clients, for example, is a bank that is spread across Africa.

BEA: The COVID-19 pandemic affected a lot of companies in Nigeria. How did it impact ORYX Africa’s operations in terms of revenue stream and profitability?

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: Yes, it did. It affected us on multiple fronts. For one, it affected revenue because quite a number of companies were holding on to cash which meant that the ones that were planning to do new businesses with us put everything on hold. The ones that were already our customers were looking for how to reduce their spending. As such, they started renegotiating existing contracts. It also meant that those who required additional services found ways to cut those costs. Even those who were owing us refused to pay because they were hiding behind COVID-19 and claiming that they didn’t have money. All these significantly affected cash flow. But thank God for a good team and a good discipline practice that helped us to wade through the storm. 

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu with Omotayo Adegbola, the Chief Executive Officer of ORYX Africa

BEA: During this period when some companies were not paying you and trying to cut costs, were they also demanding for your services?

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: The fact that people were forced to work from home meant that companies had to up their IT infrastructure. That brought several opportunities our way. But then again, opportunities have a lifespan. If you want to buy an “ARP”, you don’t just tell me today that you want to buy an “ARP” and then you pay tomorrow. Most times, you go through a process. And the average process, for us, takes three to six months. The demand for our products almost tripled at this time just like you rightly observed. However, due to cashflow challenges, some organisations eventually resorted to very simple ways to meet their needs, even though we were able to close a few transactions during the lockdown period.

BEA: In the midst of the lockdown and its economic challenges, did you see any cause to lay off some staff or reduce salaries like most companies did?

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: So, the first thing we ensured to do was not lay off a single staff. Number one, we operate like a family. Number two, our staff have specialized skill sets that are not readily available; so we don’t just let people go. 

There were periods, during the year, that we all had to agree to take a cut in our salaries. Everybody. Because we carefully considered the situation – do you want to let some people go so that you will continue to pay the same, or do you keep everybody but everybody takes a cut? We considered these options and chose to go with the latter. But the pay cuts were just temporal because we had to find ways to manage the situation and ensure that everything returned to normal quickly. 

We also made sure that a few other things happened. Between March and July, we worked exclusively from home. I actually stepped into the office just once between March and July. And that was simply because I had to go pick up my cable when I was setting up the office in my house.  So, for all those months, people worked from home and what that did was to drastically cut down our operating cost. Eventually, what we ended up doing was to shut down our big office in August and got a small one instead. We figured that if we could function effectively for months, there was no need to be spending millions of naira in annual rents for a big office. The simpler and smaller place we got will serve as a convergence point for the team if we absolutely need to meet physically. We also knew that we still needed to maintain a physical office so that we don’t look like a scam. 

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Now, everybody works 95% from home. Our staff only meet with customers physically on a request basis. As you know, 99% of what we do is done online – Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, etc. So, there is absolutely no need to be meeting in the office every day.

BEA: Tell us about these partnerships you have with Microsoft and SAGE.

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: ORYX Africa specializes in the provision of business solutions. And prior to 2020, we went into partnerships with tech firms like Microsoft that could provide solutions that are needed by businesses to run end-to-end. For Microsoft, we have desktop licenses like Azure. For SAGE, there is “SAGE 300” which is a solution specifically designed for small and middle level organisations. SAP has solutions across the range such as “SAP Business 1”, “SAP Business Via Design”, and some specific solutions for HR and procurement such as AYIBA and Success Factor. 

One thing we did in 2020 was to temporarily streamline our business. And what that meant was that we had to drop some of the solutions we were working with such as “Oracle for Business” and a partnership we had with IBM. But we streamlined everything as part of our business survival strategy and focused more on our SAP business and the solution development business.

BEA: According to information on your website, your clientele is mostly comprised of top companies such as GTBank, AFEX, and Inlaks, etc. Do you also cater to smaller startups?

Oluseyi Akinyoyenu: We cater to exceptionally small and very big businesses. From the GTBanks of this world to organisations that have just five employees, we have them all in our customer-base. Some organisations that you may not even have heard about are also there on our list. So, our client-base is very diverse and widely spread, from banking to manufacturing, oil and gas to technology businesses. In total, we have over sixty active customers.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the rest of the interview on page 8 of our latest magazine edition: 54 Entrepreneurs and Brands to Watch in 2021.

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