Oshiobugie: OAP who quit paid employment to start cheap school for orphans
One of the hallmarks of great entrepreneurs is their ability to sustain their vision and remain resolute even in the face of setbacks.
This best describes Zion Oshiobugie, a former on-air personality who, at one-point in life, got sacked by his employer. After searching endlessly for another employment without finding any, he took up menial jobs to survive. Today, he has emerged from that setback to become a success story.
Oshiobugie, a serial entrepreneur, is the founder of Clever Minds Integrated Services, a consultancy firm he started in 2017 with a seed capital from Tony Elumelu foundation. His outfit provides educational training and other allied services. He was born in Kaduna State, Nigeria, to a middle-class family and as the second of five children, he lived a reasonably simple life until things went awry.
He recalls that while growing up, his father lost his job at one time and life became progressively hard, especially in light of the constant religious and political crisis that bedeviled Kaduna. His family had to move to Warri in Delta State while his mother became a petty trader, with each of his siblings taking up menial jobs to survive.
He says that in a bid to survive, he resorted to carrying cement blocks as a job while assisting his mother in hawking plantains.
While hoping for the better, things grew worse as he eventually became a houseboy for a distant relative. It was during this stormy moment that he made the resolve to become successful.
The graduate of electrical engineering, who wears a cap as a school proprietor and prides himself as a social edupreneur, explains that his love for education dates back to 2010 while working as a school teacher.
“I first conceived the idea of starting a school in 2010 while working as a teacher in a private secondary school. I noticed the lack of quality education in the riverine and poor communities in the Niger Delta. I was moved to tears and got stirred up to start a school that would provide the right education,” he says.
But he could not immediately implement the idea to start a school because of lack of funds.
“Not too long after, I lost my job as a teacher. It was suicidal for me because I felt all hope was lost. I looked at the job and typical of people in paid employment, I saw it as my only source of livelihood. I was depressed and frustrated.”
Interestingly, in 2014 he got a job as an on-air personality in a radio station, but that did not last long as his desire to solve a problem in the educational sector kept driving him.
In 2017, Oshiobugie voluntarily exited his radio job to start Cleverminds Nursery and Primary School, with a vision to cater to the needs of orphans and the vulnerable.
“Our school, situated in Edjeba community of Warri, a poor community in Delta State, offers quality education for a very cheap amount of money, and is free for orphans.
The vision is to make education affordable to low -income families where they will access free basic nursery and primary school. Today we are up and running with more than 167 pupils,” he discloses.
The Cleverminds founder says his goal is to educate over 20 million children in the next 20 years and to use education as a tool to end poverty and joblessness.
The Tony Elumelu foundation and Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) alumnus says he understands that life challenges are surmountable but advises that one must be are armed with the right information and surround oneself with the right mentors.
“I learnt that things happen in life. I also learnt to respect my parents because when these things happened to me, I lost everything except the love of my parents and the mercy of God. I have failed at other little things, but I have succeeded in more things,” he recalls.
The entrepreneur has, for his hard work and outstanding contribution to the educational sector, received several awards and recognition. Among them are
the Pace Awards for Mentoring and Educational development by Delta State Ministry of Education, and Glazia Person of the Year (2017) alongside other top players in the industry. His transformational work in the education sector has also been recognised by the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC), in addition to his free school for orphans which has received leadership recognition by the Delta State Governor.
Speaking on what he plans to achieve in the next five years as a passionate educationist, he says, “My plan is to build a chain of low- cost schools in the most rural parts of Africa to ensure that every disadvantaged child across the continent has access to equal education and other opportunities.”
On his advice to young and budding entrepreneurs, the entrepreneur says, “Be a problem solver, not a job seeker. Think of a problem you can solve that can help millions of people and you will definitely become rich. Gone are the days when you graduate from school and get a readymade job. It is now the turn of entrepreneurs and problem solvers.”