Kingsley Onalo is both an employee and an entrepreneur. “9am-5pm, I work for a well-known US Corporation, managing their European credit risk portfolio,and 5-9pm, I work for Hustlehive Ng (www.hustlehiveng.com) which I co-founded with my wife. I am also Director of a couple of UK-based businesses.”
Speaking about how he started, he says, “It starts with being born really. My cumulative life experiences have contributed in setting me on the path which I walk today. So it’s a bit difficult for me to answer the question. In 2005, I bagged a BSc. degree in Business Administration with a major in Finance. I spent a few months after my NYSC working with my Dad who is a major influence on me in my life and career. It did not take long before I got a job with a top Nigerian bank.
“Three years later, I went on to complete a Master’s degree in Finance and Investment in London, after which I went further to pursue a career in Credit Management. A strong desire for value creation ranks on top for me, and it is this desire to pool resources together and create something of value to society that gave birth to Hustlehive Ng, an online directory of Nigerian businesses and enterprises.
“With the growing access to internet services via mobile platforms in Nigeria, the ways by which people connect to businesses is changing, so we thought to launch a directory and put our own unique spin on it. The aim is to help connect businesses (regardless of size) with potential customers. We believe that our passion for excellence and delivering real value over money-making will drive the success of this platform.
The serial entrepreneur had a lot to say when asked about his challenges. “Well, to start with, I went through the rigour of education in Nigeria – boarding school far away from home, university also miles away. I have had different experiences in my work life – colleagues and bosses – the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve had to put up with working crazy hours to the detriment of other areas of my life. I’ve had disappointments and plans that did not go as expected.
“However, I am blessed with family, good friends, great talents and abilities. I work hard and with faith in God, and a positive outlook to life, I see these challenges as growing pains. After all, it is how we deal with/respond to the various challenges we face that counts. Interestingly, some people have called me an ajebo, yet the funny thing is that I grew up in Kiri-Kiri town of Lagos where I lived with my parents until I got married and left home (actually, the other way round).
So, no, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, and though my parents knew days of lack, I never felt it as a child. I give them full credit for protecting us. There were times they could not afford our school fees; times my siblings had to wear hand-me-downs because my parents could not afford new clothes. I remember my sister wore my handed-down uniforms (shirt and shorts) to school for a while, when her mates wore pinafores. I’m proud of the things my parents did for us and taught us which prepared us for life. So when people call me ajebo, I just laugh. I probably did all (or most of) the regular ajepako stuff that kids of my day did.”
He draws inspiration from God and his loved ones. “I’m a Christian, and my faith is very essential to all that I do. I draw inspiration from God, my family, my friends, and indeed from everything that goes on around me. Truth is there’s inspiration all around us: whether from children, animals, nature, events, etc. if we pay attention.
According to Kingsley, he doesn’t recall ever having a problem with self-belief. “I was very clever from a young age. I had a stable home, a decent education and a youth friendly church, and I believe these helped build my confidence and belief system. I topped my class through primary school. I remember one term where there was new kid from London in my class and I felt threatened, but I put in more effort and in the end, I didn’t have to worry about her.
“My first year in secondary school brought me right back to earth when for the first time, someone else topped the class. I was unaccustomed to the feeling and was so upset. I had to work hard to overturn that setback the following term. During my secondary school years, I was involved in student groups’ leadership including Christian groups, academic clubs e.g debate, press, etc. I believe all these also contributed to my development.
“Going into university and even beyond, I’ve never really doubted myself. That is not to say I have not faced bitter challenges, but I am grateful to God for my journey. I remember an occasion where due to my parent’s inexperience (I am my parent’s first child), I almost lost my University admission placement. Long story short, I had been offered admission but we did not know.
“So I resumed school one month to first semester exams. I had missed all the assessment tests which were about 40% of the total marks, and everyone I met advised me to defer the semester so that I wouldn’t fail. Bizarrely, my Dad encouraged not to defer the semester. He said to me, you can do it….and I did it. Results came out and I had a GPA of 3.5. Not bad for such a challenging first semester at the university. That episode was one that gave me a lot of self-belief.”
He believes that sound/quality education is very essential to youth empowerment. “Successive governments in Nigeria have failed in this regard. Although a number of non-govt organisations like churches are trying to help empower young people via various forms of education and enlightenment, I really wish that private sector organisations would do more to support youth empowerment through education. A well-educated youth population guarantees a good future for our society and economy.
Reach him on
Facebook: Kingsley Onalo