Efe Ohwofosa: How He Overcame Poverty In Nigeria To Become Director, Bournemouth Chamber Of Commerce
By Victor Gotevbe,
Being born with a silver spoon is almost a guarantee for success. However, we have witnessed over time that some with very privileged background end up in pernury. Efe Ohwofosa, was not one of those born with a silver spoon. He was born into a poor family and was raised in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria with little or nothing. However, with hard work and dedication to his pursuit, he has been able to change the narrative and today he is a successful Business man based in the United Kingdom(UK). He shares with Diplomatic Watch in this interview, his journey into entrepreneurship. Excerpt:
How did you end up in the UK?
A few years ago, I travelled to the UK to visit my uncle and to explore opportunities for a better life. It was not that easy initially to acclimatize to a new environment or culture if you like but I didn’t relent in working hard and doing what it takes and require to fit into the system and community.
I discovered professional life coaching in the UK and I got myself trained. I am currently practicing it as a career. I help career professionals and business owners to lead better life style. Along the line I met my wife over here and we are blessed today with three children, which make me really grateful and thankful.
How did you rise to the position of a Director of Bournemouth Chamber of Commerce?
I have been serving as a Director with Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce for about 4 years now. The journey started when I went out into the community to network and socialize with other professionals and entrepreneurs in the Bournemouth business community.
At first, it was a bit intimidating and challenging for me as I was the only person with a coloured skin and with an accent in their midst. I started attending their local business networking meetings. An opportunity eventually came when they were looking for a speaker to present at one of the meetings, I took advantage of that and did a short presentation. That presentation got me noticed and drew more attention to what I do as a Coach, Speaker, Trainer and Business Consultant.
Within three months, another speaking opportunity came and I took it. Eight (8) months afterwards, I was nominated to be screened for the role of Director, and I was eventually accepted and made a Director of the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
Again, I am the first person from the ethnic minorities, the first and only African, the first and only Nigerian to have served and still serving as a Director in their 103 years of existence.
Over the last four years of my Directorship, I have organised series of training sessions and workshops with members of the Chamber and other local SME’s within Bournemouth.
What would the world look like if you achieved your vision?
I would envision more people achieving breakthrough and success with their personal and professional lives and businesses; when people are happier, more successful and more fulfilled. Businesses are growing and expanding by providing better solutions with their goods and services.
What motivates you to do what you do? Where does your passion come from?
My motivation comes from the innermost desire to make a difference in the lives of people and in the affairs of businesses and organisations. I love to see people succeed and grow. I love to help and see people live a fulfilled and happy lifestyle.
Today, I am grateful and privileged to be enjoying the growing recognition as a transformational speaker and competent coach from my clients. But I had to overcome poverty and repeated failures to do what I am doing today as a Career.
From age 13 to 21, I had to hawk groceries on streets in Sapele, Delta State in order to survive and I engaged in farm work in my village in Jesse, Ethiope West Local Government, Delta State, to help my siblings, my parents make ends meet and pay for my primary and secondary school education.
The tough time were however so unrelenting that at a point, my father fell ill and passed on. Then things got even worse, to the point that the girl I was dating, and dreaming of getting married to when I grow up, left me due to my poor background. At age 21, I suffered severe depression and was held down with suicide’s thoughts for several years.
My self-esteem and confidence dropped to an all-time low. I felt trapped and lonely, with no light at the tunnel. Then at age 22, I discovered personal development that got me into reading self-help books. The book that got me started in the right direction was one of Anthony Robbins’s books titled: Unlimited Power.
Three months into personal development, I wrote and published a 32 page pamphlet. Within a period of 12 months, I taught myself public speaking skills by reading books. I spoke to over 5000 students in the course of my travel to all the universities, polytechnics and colleges of educations in Edo, Delta and River States. I made several motivational speeches and I sold my books to the students. As a matter of fact, I sold over 6000 copies of my book within a period of 12 months, and that was how my entrepreneurial journey began.
I set up Destiny Resource Foundation (DRF), a not-for-profit organization with a team of five people with the vision to reach out to schools. We visited several schools and organized Teens Enrichment Programmes (TEP) with the mandate to educate, inspire and train youths on how to develop life and leadership skills that will help them succeed in school and in their future career pursuits.
Ever since then, I have developed this passion and obsession to help people succeed, grow and be happy. My passion was borne out of the pain of growing up in pain, poverty, frustration and with little or no advantages to advance in life.
After many years of toiling and frustration, I realised I do have choices, I do have a future and I started to work on myself to develop and plan ahead for the life I mostly desire- a life of contribution, success and significance.
Then, opportunity came for me to emigrate to the UK as I shared earlier, where I now run a coaching, training and consulting business working with career professionals and small business owners and helping to significantly improve their career, business and leadership abilities and results.
What do you fear most about giving a presentation on global stage?
Very interesting question! I don’t think I fear anything giving a presentation. I have grown, developed and invested a lot of time and resources to develop my professional speaking skills and ability. I can confidently say I can speak on any stage around the globe bearing in mind it is my area of expertise, interest and topic or subject matter I can study, research and present on.
On the contrary, what I will fear most about giving a presentation on global stages is when I did not prepare and research my audience before going on the stage to speak or present. Other than I that, speaking is my passion and what I live for as it gives me the privilege to give hope to people and transform businesses and organisations
In what way does the relationship between speaker and audience sustain you and in what ways not?
If I understand this question very well, I would say, as a Speaker, I have the responsibility to build rapport and trust with my audience and establish a good relationship with them. I do this in various ways, which include doing a research on my audience to understand their needs, desires, goals and challenges so I speak their language, customise my talk or presentation to meet their needs and connect with them.
Also, when I am onstage delivering my presentation, I commit to being authentic with my story, message and content which eventually help to build trust with my audience and help to sustain a good working relationship.
One of the best strategies I have used over the years to help build rapport with my audience is sharing my story of struggle, frustration, pain, difficulties and how I broke through to doing and living a different lifestyle today. Such method has worked for me very well to help inspire hope to people.
Who are some of the Speakers you admire?
I admire Les Brown, Brendon Burchard and Bishop David Oyedepo.
What do you want your audience to remember of your presentation? I would like them to remember that there is more to what they have done or achieved with their lives, business and career. Also, that they can become more, do more, have more, achieve more and give more. And that their past is not equal to their future.