My name is Mrs Rita Okoye. I am married to Munachi Okoye and we have three lovely children. I am the CEO of Majestically Rare Limited and we help business owners penetrate into the challenging but lucrative Nigerian market and capture market share. We also manage the entire process of product launches and corporate events for our clients.
QUESTION AND ANSWER:
Q. Please take us through your background and how you got to (the country you lived in before coming back home)
A. I was born and bred in London. At the age of 11+ my parents sent me to Owerri, Imo State to do secondary school. I did 4 years of secondary school there before returning back to London at 15 where I finished the rest of my education. I also spent my adult life working there before returning to Nigeria.
Q. So, the big question, why did you move Back to Nigeria for good?
A. It was never in my plan at all. It was my husband’s idea. He had been visiting the country for 5 years and after years of travelling to and fro, he convinced me to return back home with him. A great opportunity came up for him with a bank, so we all relocated in 2008.
Q. Are there similarities between the country you moved back from and Nigeria?
A. Yes and No. We live in a gated community in Lagos and the power and water situation in our estate is one of the best in the country. This is probably why we have not moved anywhere else since we moved back. We have access to most things, more shopping malls are popping every other day. I also like the fact that we still eat mostly organic food here, so I probably have clearer skin, the sun helps too.
The big difference on the roads is the driving, nobody obeys the traffic rules.
Q. What are the challenges you’ve faced so far since moving back?
A. It has been difficult building new relationships considering that my family and good friends and husband’s siblings are all in London.
Q. What were your expectations and fears when you decided to move back?
A. My biggest fear was security. I had been told that armed robbery was rampant so I was naturally anxious. I don’t even think much about it anymore.
Q. When did you move back and what have you been up to since you moved back?
A. I came back in the summer of 2008. My background comes from working at the BBC for several years in marketing and events. I started work a year later of returning back to Nigeria for a customer service training consultancy. We went around the country training front facing staff who worked for banks or corporate organizations. I also worked as Head of Events for an NGO, planning and implementing large conferences and coordinating the logistics for high profile international speakers.
I started my own business in 2012 as an Events and Publicity Planner. In the beginning the challenges were finding ones niche and building business contacts. There has been a lot of sacrifice but it’s been worth it. I have been very fortunate to organize some high brow events like the 50th birthday of a commissioner for Imo State. I have also worked with a well known magazine to plan their 9th anniversary party. I have planned several annual conferences and acted on behalf of corporate clients as a PR consultant.
As part of my business, I have acted as a spokes person on behalf of business owners both local and abroad and helped them launch into the Nigerian business market. I am focused on helping their smooth entry. I also host one on one coaching for business owners who require effective marketing and publicity strategies for their brands.
In my spare time, I am committed to Raising Confident Girls in my community. I plan events to equip girls to become great leaders. I currently write a column for girls in the Guardian Newspaper Nigeria called Valuable You. I also write a blog called Valuable you. I founded a facebook group called Raising Confident Girls. With over 300 members, we discuss and provide solutions on ways to Raise Confident girls in the 21st century.
When I am not working, I am attending high brow events or exploring Lagos with my family. So as you can see my hands are pretty full but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q. Coming back to Nigeria, did you ever feel like you needed to readjust to life back in the country?
A. I needed to understand the way people think here and their mannerism in order to adjust. You know that saying,’ When in Rome act like the Romans (Laughing)’. You have to be slightly bolder in this environment to stand the heat. Correction, you have to be very bold.
Q. How do you deal with issues such as traffic, lack of basic infrastructure and the power situation?
A. At first those issues irritated me but you soon adjust. You don’t really want to get high blood pressure because of traffic or lack of infrastructure. With regards to the power situation, aside from a generator, I would say an Inverter is a must have. It has really improved the quality of our living. Inverters are silent and the battery life can last a long time.
Q. If you had to do this all over again what would you do different?
A. Nothing really. We were quite fortunate to have a soft landing. Everything has fitted in the way God ordained it.
Q. Finally, what advice would you give people moving back to Nigeria from the Diaspora?
A. As my husband would say, moving back is not for everyone but if you are moving back, make sure you do your research to find out your place in this environment. Don’t just automatically think that just because you have been abroad your skills will be valued here. Find out what the gaps are and come back to make a difference. In conclusion, I would say that coming back to Nigeria has given me the opportunity to really live my purpose. Because of the terrain you are almost forced to really explore all the skills and gifts that you have.
Be prepared to go through some challenging times but I believe that whatever you go through is all part of refining you and making you a better person. Don’t believe everything that is said to you. You really have to make your decisions based on what you see and sometimes what you don’t see.
In conclusion, I would say that coming back to Nigeria has given me the opportunity to really live my purpose.