Meet our Mentors
Name: Adebowale (Debo) Omole
Place of Birth: Nigeria
I was born in Kwara State, Nigeria and have lived in different regions in the country including the north, middle belt and south-west of Nigeria. I also spent parts of my childhood in the United States (America). My growth in different localities has given me a fairly broad multicultural experience in terms of relating and interacting with people. Before relocating to the United Kingdom, I lived and worked in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria. I miss the buzz and energy of Lagos. Swansea is calmer and safer in contrast to Lagos, but that is the difference between highly populated areas and less populated cities.
I moved to the UK due to family and educational reasons. I did my MBA (master’s in business administration) at Swansea University and found that there were lots opportunities here that were not yet tapped into especially in the BAME communities. Secondly, I have young children that were born here and not quite ready to be integrated into life back in Nigeria.
In my spare time, I enjoy researching into historical events. I am quite fascinated by King Henry VIII whose reign shaped England and the church in a lot of ways. I enjoy watching movies with historical relevance and biographies as well as reading articles and books that deal with people management, business ideas, biographies and general knowledge. I also enjoy cooking which is one of the reasons I founded an African food business called Twale Cuisine.
I am a trained Facilities Management professional with a background in Estate Management. My strongest skillsets are in Leadership, Operations and People management. Developing these strengths and qualities has also meant that I have over the years developed good communication skills, customer relationship management (CRM) and strategic planning. Above all, the driving factor underlining my skillset is that I believe people deserve to be treated fairly and with respect. I am a customer service focused person. Everyone I interact with is a customer and they all deserve to be treated well.
My goal for the future is to build multiple companies in the UK and in Africa that will make successful people out of the less privileged. My focus is to help people understand they do not need to write themselves off, I want my companies and partners to teach and show people they can be successful if they want to be. This is one of the reasons I joined the board of the YMCA Swansea. In more specific and immediate terms though, I would want to have at least 3 branches of Twale Cuisine in England and Wales by the year 2021.
Before now, I was involved in a customized card making business while on my first degree. It was my first venture into entrepreneurship and it was quite an eye-opener. It was fun and equally challenging. On reflection now, it was a venture born out of the necessity to augment money to help me get through school. The business gave me my first lessons in performing a SWOT analysis, marketing strategy, time management and another very vital lesson i.e. not to take orders you are unable to fulfill regardless of the pressure you face from the customer to do so. It was a good business, but I had to stop it when I left school.
I got the idea while conducting a research for an assignment during my MBA at Swansea University. Though I had initially thought it a problem that there was no African eatery in Swansea at the time, my research revealed how much of a problem it was and how much of a potential there was. Information about the gap, numerical evidence and data with one to one consultations through a market test confirmed an African food business was a good idea.
Where did I get the confidence to start my own business?
I drew on the experience of my card making business. I also took small initial steps to test the market. This combined with the feedback I received gave me all the confidence I needed to start. Furthermore, I trusted the outcome of my research.
BAME business persons do not have a lot of support available to them in terms of access to finance and the right mentors. In a way, I have seen there are a few cultural differences that serve as a hindrance in communicating effectively with would be mentors and potential customers. There are people out there willing to help but both the helping institutions and the BAME people seeking assistance both need lots more education on how to effectively access resources.
In addition, a lot of BAME people simply do not know what is available to them and they suffer in silence while some institutions through no fault of theirs also have systems set up that instantly disqualify would be BAME entrepreneurs. So, it would make a lot more sense for these institutions to meet BAME people personally to develop unique solutions to help access the right resources.
As a person, I have been turned down for finance on a lot of occasions and I have now had to explore more expensive options. I have also had a business mentor who understood the basics of food business but could not appreciate the uniqueness of a model built around African Food. My business is growing but at a painful pace. I am quite resourceful and determined and I am optimistic we will eventually hit our targets.
Among the challenges of running this business are the affordability of an appropriate premise and limited capital investment. Having a business premise that meets our food preparation and cooking needs would also make things easier. Once this is sorted, all others will fall into place. We are currently using a domestic kitchen with the approval of Swansea council and we are restricted to what we can do.
A typical day starts off with a brief team meeting. I then have a physical kitchen inspection and review paperwork to ensure all necessary data and health and safety checks have been accurately recorded. This is followed by a quick look through the financials and then we move on to light cleaning (as most of the heavy cleaning would have been done the night before). Food preparation and cooking commences and when the meals get to a point, we have a quick social media catch-up on our different platforms. We begin taking orders and fulfilling them. Where possible, I fit in meetings during the day.
By end of the day, the accounts are reviewed, major food prep for the next day is done and the kitchen is cleaned. Before closing for the day, another catch-up on social media and the news is done to keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening around us.
If someone asked me about starting a business I would say to them that you must ask yourself and know why you want to go into business. It comes with being honest with yourself, do you want to use your business to make a difference or are you in it purely for the money? The answer will indicate if your business will be sustainable and successful because businesses tend to adopt the personalities of their founders. If you know why you want to go into business, then you can make things happen.
Contact Twale Cuisine:
Telephone 0785 - 690 - 6562