Akomolafe Henrich is the Managing Director of Akotex Nigeria LTD, a company with a business focus in the elevator & escalator industry, construction & real-estate as well as robotics and artificial intelligence. Henrich recently made the Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’ list. In this Interview he shares his experience with YOUTHVILLE about being among the 120 singled out in Africa for their entrepreneurship strides.
What was your reaction when you found out that you were listed among the 2019 Forbes Africa ‘30 under 30’ list?
At first, when I was nominated, it dawned on me as the beginning of the reality of a goal which I set for myself in 2015. Finally making it to the list, I am indeed happy but not jubilant because I consider it only an attestation that I am on the right path to achieving my set goal of being on the Forbes billionaires list before 2030.
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How does being among the 120 persons singled out in Africa in your age bracket change the dynamic for You, Your relationships, and your business?
My age is a competitive advantage in the business juxtaposed with other competitors in the industry as logically, a lot of people would expect that I am more in touch with the latest trends. And of course; I am familiar with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Making the Forbes 30 under 30 lists has opened up new business and social relationships for me even in the past few weeks. It was a platform for introducing my business and my personality to the global world. Considering myself now an ambassador for my state, and my country, and particularly being aware of the great business prospects ahead, I have become more focused and determined in accomplishing my targets.
How do you cope being the boss of people older than you in a country like Nigeria?
In the business world, relationship is fundamental. Building strong relationships even with your employees is a path to success. If you know what you do and how to execute it, people will value you regardless of your age. Even today, many young Nigerians are entrepreneurs owning and managing their own businesses. A few others who do not own businesses attain a high position in their careers also at a considerable young age. Things are revolving. Age has nothing to do with leadership or followership; it is about intellect, abilities and qualities.
At what age in life did you know you were going to be an entrepreneur?
In my family, everyone is an entrepreneur. Even as a child I was introduced into the business world when my family began the Akotex potato flakes. I initially wanted to study economics since I knew I had a flair for business. Things changed in the university and I had to study engineering. Even as a computer engineer, I went ahead to take further studies in business and management. Incredibly, at 8yrs old, I knew I would be an entrepreneur.
In the future, should we be expecting you in Forbes Africa ‘40 under 40’ list? If Yes or No why?
Apparently, the next list is the billionaires list which is already a goal for 2030 and of certitude, I am working towards it.
Being listed has either directly or indirectly made you an ambassador or role model to young people. Does this add additional burden to you?
No it does not. Certainly many people look to me as a role model but I had always appeared to be not just a role model but also a mentor because my story inspires a lot of people and motivates them to do all they can as nothing is impossible to achieve. I see myself as an ambassador and I am open to interactive minds that have initiative and are willing to develop themselves.
What is your advice to young Nigerians who want to excel in the area of business?
Focus! Always keep focus to win. The power of focusing can be seen in light. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire. But when light is focused even more as a laser beam it can cut through steel. Nothing is as potent as a focused life. Just Focus!