Monday, 13 March 2017

RUBBING MINDS WITH ENTREPRENEUR IKE AIGBOGUN.

Ike Aigbogun is the CEO of HSEWise, an organisation that teaches health and safety in schools. She is a UK trained Biomedical Scientist, with a master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management. Popularly known as Prof Ike, the Edo State born beauty with brains shared with us her entrepreneurial journey.

HOL: What is your name, your academic qualification(s), State of origin and your business name, what is your business all about?

Ike: Thank you house of Lawof! My name is Ike Aigbogun also known as Professor Ike or The Prof. I am originally from Edo State. I studied in the UK and have a first degree in Biomedical Science from University of Bedfordshire and a master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management from Brunel University, London. I am also a UK certified Trainer and First Aid/AED instructor.
I have a blog called HSEWise where I am educating the general public about health, Safety and Wellbeing. I also write with Safety Professionals in mind where I share how-to guides and ideas on how to rock at the Safety profession.
I manage my family’s school and also run a project called Safe Schools where we are working to make the world a safer place by educating children. We
 teach children about safety so they can develop a safety mindset and be able to care for their and others health, safety and wellbeing. It doesn’t end there. We have developed a system called the School Safety Portal that is aimed at helping schools achieve and maintain a safe and healthy learning /work environment.
We have visited some schools in Lagos educating the children, teachers  and even parents on various safety topics such as Puberty and Sexual health, Road Safety, Early Year Hygiene, Hygiene and Hand-washing, Basic Life Support and a host of other
trainings and courses that we provide.

HOL: Impressive! How did you start your business and what prompted your interest in this line of
 business?

Ike: When I was working in the UK, we (my colleagues and I) were made redundant in March 2013. I immediately knew I had to go freelance as in my role, I had full control of my work and only had to give a monthly report. It felt a lot like working for myself and I needed to continue that way. I had a few contacts, so I started a company called Tiks Consult and was training people and doing a bit of consulting of small business and risk assessments of residential buildings. I also started blogging on Health, safety and Wellbeing on the Tiks Consult site.

In 2014, I started my NYSC and decided to run my
mother’s school. This meant the end of Tiks Consult. Running the school was a lot different from what I was now used to. I wanted to change it and make it the sought after school in the area. I rebranded the school and it had been a work in progress in the last 2 years.
Of course, I was missing Health and Safety so I rebranded and changed Tiks Consult to HSEWise and started blogging again in January 2015. I also introduced a Health and safety week in the school as I noticed many of the schools in Nigeria were not bothered about having a health and safety structure and many just got it wrong and had policies that did them no good.
After 2 successful years of introducing Safety in my school mainly by educating the children, I decided to start an initiative that would help me reach other schools and children. My belief was that if you teach the children, it stays with them and they practise it even as adults. It was easy to believe this as this has been my personal experience.I have been to several schools talking to their teachers, parents and children about various health and safety issues such as road safety, first aid and CPR, fire safety, food safety, hygiene, puberty and sexual health. Our work is not limited to these topics.We are currently developing a curriculum to help schools inculcate safety into their curriculum. This should be available by Summer 2017.
Prof Ike with some students.
HOL: How did you come about your business name?

Ike: It was easy. I had played around with different names and even prayed about it. I needed a name that would make sense and be accepted worldwide. I the stumbled on site called riskwise and immediately I knew I needed to add “wise” to my name. HSEWise represents Health, Safety, Environment and Wellbeing. Wellbeing shares the W with wise.
Even when I had Tiks Consult, it was so easy. I woke up one morning and the name just hit me. Training, Information, Knowledge and Skills! This was what I was providing so it just made perfect sense.
With Safe Schools, I needed a name that is easily recognisable and would help people easily identify what the business was all about. I needed a name that would easily identify us as people who kept schools safe. Parents, teachers and even school owners want safe schools so I was sure that the name would give us an edge over other providers. Being a school owner who is a safety expert makes it easy to get schools to buy into what we are doing as they believe we understand what they are about and the risks they really face unlike someone who has never worked in a school or owned a school coming to tell them how to be safe.

HOL: What challenges do you face in your business and how do you surmount them?

Ike: The main challenge is finding dedicated and talented staff. Many young people just want the pay check but not the work.  My last assistant made the job cumbersome. We weren’t making progress and I didn’t like that. I am glad my new assistant and administrator have been really good. They learn fast and are willing to put in the work. I love when they come up with suggestions and show they are keen for us to grow.
Another challenge is getting schools to pay for our service. Many of them want a free service but we are not a charity so we have had to turn down some of their requests. We cannot work for free if not we will shut down in no time. We also have staff to pay so we have to wise about who we do business with and charge reasonably.
I am extremely tech savvy so I have had no challenges with the tech side of things like building the website or managing social media. I actually have had to record videos of how things are done for example with hootsuite and canva and sent to my assistants so they can get on with the tasks. I can’t get everything done myself.

HOL: How has your business been fairing in this Nigerian economy?

Ike: It is a new business and we have had a slow start but we know things will get better as we are still creating our products and offerings.  Luckily we didn’t need huge funds to start off but to grow and actualise many of our projects, we do need to eventually seek funds. We are not moved by what the economy looks like, we will keep doing what we do and believe that those who believe in us will be willing to partner with us and work with us.

HOL: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Ike: I see HSEWise and Safe Schools becoming a global brand.
HSEWise already has visitors and readers from different parts of the world. A huge percentage of our visitors are from the United States, Canada, France, German, Nigeria and United Kingdom. We hope that in the next 5 years, HSEWise will be an online magazine that is read by people from all over the world especially Africa.
Safe Schools has a group on Facebook where we provide free tips and guidance. Most of our members are Nigerians as we target Nigeria schools. In 5 years, we should be in Schools in other African countries. We want to make the world a safer place though schools – one school at a time. That’s our vision.
HOL: Advice for upcoming entrepreneurs


Ike: Don’t give up. You might think no one sees or care but people actually do see and are watching. You might not get those likes thumbs up and comments but keep at it. When I was blogging I never knew people were watching until I started meeting people and they would be in awe. Some were surprised the famous Professor Ike was a woman.
I even got nominated for an award and won! Winning the award made me realise people are watching and that I should never give up! I even got contacted by the awarding organisation to collaborate with them and oversee the school safety awards category. It is a big deal and a great opportunity just because I stayed true, consistent and had integrity.
Integrity is very key in business. Never try to lie or cheat your customers. Give them what they have paid for and even more. If you still work, never try to cheat or steal from your boss. It is wrong ethically and morally. Be willing to make some losses knowing that the reward will be greater.
Another thing I will say is to be consistent and never give up. Be truly passionate about what you do so that when you aren’t making money yet, you will keep at it. 
Fazed by competition? Look for ways to collaborate with them and do great and mighty things together rather than try to war or sabotage them. Think hard and pray hard about new products and offerings. You need to continually outdo yourself so that you can remain relevant in your industry. 


HOL: Thank you so much Prof. Ike for granting this interview, may all your dreams and aspirations come through.
Ike: You are welcome.




No comments:

Post a Comment