Saturday, 17 November 2012 00:00
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My dream was to be a banker - Saheed

In 1989, he started out as a waiter serving small chops at parties and high class events. Today, Saheed Kekere-Ekun sits atop Saheeto International Limited which has grown into a reference point when it comes to finger foods. Recently, he commissioned Saheeto's Place and an ultra modern Industrial kitchen on Lagos Island in a well attended event which included dignitaries such as Chief Bode George and a host of others. He spoke to BUKOLA BAKARE on his foray into the business in a bid to be an entrepreneur and independent.

YOU have been in the small chop business for a while. How would you describe the journey so far?
It has been an encouraging journey. When I started, I never envisaged that it would become a big brand like it is today, but with God on my side, a dint of hardwork, honesty and dedication, he has helped me thus far. Running a small chops outlet is not an easy task and you will agree with me that it is not easy but when I look back at where I am coming from and where I am going, I have every cause to thank God.

Many of your customers already know your brand name when it comes to the small chops \business. You recently commissioned Saheeto's Place as well as an Ultra Modern Industrial kitchen. What should your customers expect now?
We are coming out stronger, better and bigger. We hope to promptly deliver our services to customers. We've been known for that over the years and will just improve on it. We also want to embark on massive production and distribution of our items. So many things will spring forth from now on.

Can you cast your mind back to when you started out?
Oh, yes. I remember vividly that I started out as a waiter and I never thought that it was going to be hugely successful like this. I was just determined to become a banker after school.

So, what happened, why the deviation?
Initially, I got employed at Peninsula where I was trained as a cook and from there, I started getting involved in the business and from there, I began to say to myself 'Let me try this out since I don't want to work for anybody, I wanted to be on my own. I wanted to make people feel good through my line of business. I haven't looked back since I took that decision.

When was your first majorjob?
My first majorjob was in 1991. If I remember correctly, it was the wedding between Dr. Bukola Saraki; the immediate past Governor of Kwara State and former Miss. Toyin Ojora. I had been contacted to supply small chops and finger foods at the wedding. Needless to say that it was an over-whelming experience for me. Till date, they are still one of my major clients. The event also paved the way for more high profile events and clientele for our company.

Obviously, there are challenges in this business?
Oh, yes, there are. Just like most businesses, it is fraught with numerous challenges. One of the major bottle-neck is traffic and vehicular movement. You can imagine trying to meet a deadline at an event and there's traffic, you begin to grapple with how not to disappoint your customers. It would also interest you to know that the Okada ban has taken its toll on our business, including other limitating factors but we still keep looking unto God and hope for the best.

Give an insight into your background?
I went to Saint Gregory's College and The University of Lagos and I am presently running another course. I'm also doing so many other things academically and I believe that I'll still soar to greater heights.

At a point, you contested for a seat in the House of Representatives, Lagos Island Constituency on the ticket of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) but lost your bid. Are you still actively involved in politics?
Yes, I am still actively involved in politics and we are coming out stronger and better, so I am definitely still in politics. I may have lost out at the initial stage but that hasn't deterred me. Rather, the experience has made me a better and more focused individual.


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