In the often turbulent waters of Nigeria’s entrepreneurial scene, few stories shine as brightly as that of Segun Adegoke, the visionary CEO and founder of Baay Projects Limited and Baay Agro Limited.
Segun was raised by his grandmother in a rural community with less than 10,000 population, which would initially seem like a limitation for a boy with a global domination ambition. But Segun’s humble beginning would turn out to be a blessing. It laid the foundation for the new grounds he’s breaking today.
In this enlightening conversation, he delves into the intricacies of his transformational journey, sharing insights into the pivotal role of his early experiences and the challenges that have punctuated his path.
He also offers candid perspectives on Nigeria’s complex real estate industry. He reveals his company’s strategies to navigate the terrain of distrust and investor apprehension, placing transparent communication and unwavering commitment to honesty, consistency, and accountability at the forefront.
Few people have successfully transitioned from employee to employer phase, especially in a harsh economic climate like Nigeria. How did you make that shift?
Segun Adegoke: Pre-pandemic was the tipping point when I decided to seek more knowledge. I had asked my then-employer to allow me to work while I studied for my Master’s Degree, but they wanted me full-time. I was forced to choose between pursuing my Master’s degree or sticking to my job. I decided to go with my Master’s and immediately registered a limited liability company, Baay Projects. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit unexpectedly, so we did not start full operation until 2021 (post-pandemic). It’s been tough, but remember that only the tough people make it to the top. So, with a clear vision, calculated risks, hard work, perseverance, and a bit of luck, we are thriving.
How do your early experiences shape your vision for the future of agriculture in Nigeria, and what strategies do you employ to bridge the gap between rural farming and modern agribusiness practices?
Segun Adegoke: Smart Farming practices is pertinent for social-economic growth, food security, and small-holder farmer’s prosperity, and these are the bedrock for us at Baay Agro. My background in agriculture and entrepreneurship as a whole was crude, as I lived with my grandmother.
However, I had the vision to do business on a larger scale because my grandmother had the capacity and competence even as a woman and had prepared me that no success is too huge for a passionate and hardworking entrepreneur. Small-holder farmers and urban agricultural practices have a long way to go.
In developed countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, UK etc., agriculture is an integrated service that’s all-encompassing – agro products from rural centres are processed on-site and directly headed to the store for direct consumption, unlike in Nigeria. Deploying agents who could bridge the information gap in several agro-producing clusters in Nigeria is one of the methods we adopted, and the importance of our involvement in an integrated services approach to agriculture has shown the small-holder farmers the possibilities in their sector.
As you know, the real estate market in Nigeria is marred by a high level of distrust and investor apathy. How is Baay Projects navigating the terrain to win?
Segun Adegoke: Miscommunications often lead to wrong perceptions and then to distrust. Effective communication and transparency between stakeholders (real estate entrepreneurs and clients) is the bedrock of our success story at Baay Projects. Again, the real estate sector is influenced by several external factors, which is where commitment comes into play. Being committed to delivering on promises and meeting investors’ expectations regardless of other external factors has made Baay Projects a reliable partner. By prioritising our clients and protecting our investors’ interests, we continue to build trust and confidence.
What red flags should investors be wary of before investing in Real Estate in Nigeria?
Segun Adegoke: Real estate is first a business that requires patience. Investors who are short-term return-driven might burn their hands, so it is pertinent for real estate investors to understand this and be weary of fast return promises. Also, the policies (due diligence and compliance) surrounding different value chain in real estate is another important key indicator while investing in real estate. It’s essential to examine the team taking up leadership responsibilities, their track record, success stories, expertise, resourcefulness and motivation, as this drives every action.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in business, and what lessons have you learnt?
Segun Adegoke: I always say that the major challenge in business is human capital. Money is easily managed but not the people. Any organisation that wants to thrive requires the best team. Finding committed, experienced, ready, and loyal human capital is increasingly difficult, which is pertinent to business success.
Another is the lack of easy access to Funding and excessive lending interest rates. No organisation can thrive without Debt Funding, Equity Funding, or some sort of money collection from other parties.
However, agreements and terms surrounding such Funding accessibility and the interest rate on such Funding are excessive. Structuring the company is also key to growth and success though it may be tough but the lesson is with continuous dedication, clearly stated vision, focus and bits of luck, success is achievable.
How are you coping with the cost of business in today’s tough economy, and what survival strategies would you recommend for small business owners?
Segun Adegoke: The whole world is facing inflation, however, the present economy locally is not helpful. Cutting down operational costs, learning to refrain from excessive budgets, looking to earn forex, and diversifying to edge against sector inflation are key strategies our teams have deployed both in the real estate and agricultural arm of our company.
What project is your company undertaking, and where do you see it in 5 years?
Segun Adegoke: Baay Projects just delivered its maiden real estate Project, Pacific Court, at the Atican Beach Estate Okun Ajah. It’s 10-unit terrace duplexes and triplexes. Another is Green City, a landed estate development in Agbowa, Epe. We also have Capital City. Both projects will be launched officially on August 31, 2023. These two land estate development are targeted towards real estate investors who want to secure their future with real estate. These two projects would deliver over 240 homes in five years with a minimum of 500% money-on-money return. Baay Projects also plans to launch a middle-class housing development project in the last quarter where middle-class income earners can own a home in the expensive city of Lagos with a mortgage partnership to make payment flexible for our clients. The vision is to contribute to Africa’s infrastructure and residential real estate development needs and make the common person a landlord.
How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team, and can you share an example of how embracing innovation led to a breakthrough moment for your company?
Segun Adegoke: Continuous learning is important to drive innovation. We ensure to bring in human capital who are open to learning and up to date in their respective. We are also keen on investing in the professional development of our team. Our team members are supported in obtaining professional certifications, and we see them competing with other industry leaders. This is a testament to our commitment to human capital development, which is foundational to the success of our maiden project, which we started as three units of duplexes but moved to 10 units even in the same project timeline.
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