Adesunmbo Adeoye


Adesunmbo Adeoye is the CEO and Chief Creative Director at Esob events and Founder of Esob Heroes as well as the brains behind the Inspiring Change Conference. A multi-passionate entrepreneur, she is a graduate of Accountancy and Finance and an alumna of Lagos Business School. As the convener and host of the annual Conference, she seeks to deliberately impact knowledge, inspire change and transform the lives of men and women in business, with a focus on nation building. Recently appointed as a Cherie Blair Foundation Brand Ambassador, she was also honored in London as a Goldman Sachs Star Scholar, one of the 10,000 women in Africa to benefit from the initiative, with impeccable results in business and her outstanding drive to mentor others to fulfill their true purpose. A mentor to many and a recipient of numerous awards for her dedication and contribution towards progressive initiatives and humanity in Nigeria, she talks about the inspiration behind starting the Inspiring Change Conference, why Nigerian businesses are not thriving as they should, how more women can get to the top and a decision she took that turned her life around amongst other issues.

Give us a peep into your early years and education, how was it like for you?
I grew up in a family where education was seen and mirrored as a huge asset and so I was privileged and supported to complete my diploma in Accountancy and Finance from the Great Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos after which I ventured into the banking world.

What made you decide on the “Inspiring Change Conference”? What is the inspiration behind it all?
I completed and was issued a certificate in Entrepreneurial Management in December 2011 by EDC Pan-Atlantic University Lagos, which came as a scholarship sponsored by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women initiative in Africa. After I finished, I thought of how I could pay it forward. I had that urge to see other women fulfill purpose in ministry, business and career, and this was what birthed the “Inspiring Change with Sunmbo Adeoye” initiative, in 2013. Out of my ceaseless desire to support entrepreneurial ideas, through mentorship, advisory services, free training, access to market and capacity building, the initiative established its vision in two folds in one year. This we achieved through the ‘Esob Heroes” annual “Inspiring Change Conference”; a platform where women deliberately connect with leading female entrepreneurs, draw strength and glean inspirations that will propel them to take the lead in their respective industries. Though women may sometimes be dominated by men, you position yourself for growth and gain opportunities and access to life changing information that will not only empower but move your world forward. The second part is through the “Inspiring Change Deliberately” movement, which seeks to educate the less privileged woman in business and the girl child, deliberately with a focus on nation building through entrepreneurial advancement training, free skill acquisition programs, mentor meets mentee programs and undergraduate blue print boot camp, to name a few.

There are several women-focused conferences in existence already; what makes yours different?
The Inspiring Change Conference is a one of a kind event and has been rated amongst one of the most inspiring conferences in the past five years. It is one of the most anticipated annual conferences that seeks to actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve the lives and situation of SME’s and celebrate women’s achievements. It has over the years become notable for its laudable impact amongst women and men as we not only have female attendees but also men who desire growth in all areas of their lives; be it in ministry, finance, business and career. Not to mention those who fly in from outside of Nigeria and travel in from other states too.

You describe yourself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur; take us briefly through your entrepreneurial journey?
As a young lady, with close to a decade of active service in the banking industry, my dream was to further become a successful business owner. In 2011, I resigned from banking, and applied for a scholarship at the Lagos Business School, under the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative. I was awarded the scholarship, and graduated with a certificate in entrepreneurial management. This experience did not only change my life, it also improved how I now structure my business. I can say now that I started off my entrepreneurial journey as the brain behind the Esob Global Venture, with one arm being the events management outfit. We also ventured into training of budding female entrepreneurs through the Esob Heroes platform and the initiative, which is the one that drives the “Inspiring Change Conference”, “Tweet Conference”, and the “Inspiring Change Deliberately” movement. I also run a weekly YouTube series, tagged “Inspiring Change with Sunmbo”, where I churn out short video messages of hope, restoration and transformation in business, relationships and many more.

As someone with years of entrepreneurship experience, what are some of the challenges you would say Nigerian entrepreneurs go through?
Our economy as we all know has depended too long on Oil and just recently, agriculture. The increasing need to diversify from its dependency on oil has now caused the government to support entrepreneurship, but we need laws that encourage and support the aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria, to develop and execute business ideas. I usually say anyone who starts a business and thrives in Nigeria is King because its not as easy as it looks. We need laws that protect intellectual property from people who feed largely from plagiarizing the finished work of others. We need access to loans that would not enslave the borrower by the huge percentage placed on it, but easily accessible with no outrageous requests for collateral as equity. I know Lagos state is trying through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, Lagos State Chamber of Commerce, as well as other state agencies, to encourage indigenous businesses with grants, but we can do much more. We also go through managing to thrive amidst major infrastructural deficiencies in the economy, like power, multiple taxations, different levels of charges from different government parastatals that frustrate the little effort and investment of our small businesses. There are also the government policies that are usually just announced without proper discussions and deliberation with local investors, who are usually affected negatively. All of this and many more are the challenges we face as entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

How can we help more women succeed in business and career? What are some tips you would give women entrepreneurs so they can succeed better?
Be forward thinking and seek new ways to doing what you are doing. Collaborate with like minds and those whose goods and services compliment your vision. Learn more and keep growing, because you are only as good as your last training. Put a working structure in place so the business can live beyond you and finally, rest and delegate as much as possible. You are first the business, so take your health and wellness seriously. These few tips should help you succeed better in business.

Interview by Tobi Awodipe for Guardian Nigeria

Propelled by the need to be there for my boys on their special days, especially birthdays which I was deprived of by my banking work schedule. I decided to start throwing a class party And the very first one I did was for my son who turned 5 in the month of january.

The beauty and joy of finally being there for them, made me put in the very best concept together to ensure he gets a wow celebration even though the budget was slim.

Most kids in his class were wow’d too and I deliberately put my business flier inside the goodie baags so their parents can contact me to replicate saame celebration for their children.

And it worked. Because I later got to know through their class teacher that parents were calling to find out what was special about nino’s class party that made their kids insist they want his kind of party. And thank God, his party was in january, I soon had client for the whole year calender starting with 2 in the month of february.

This particular event taught me a huge lesson. And thats because I goofed at delivering. It was for 2 clients, same school but 2 days apart.

I had hired a new vendor to make the birthday cakes a‎nd gave her the different dates for the celebrants.

She wanted to exceed my expectations and so she delivered the cakes 2days earlier just to convince me that she could do so.

You should have seen the disappointment on my face when I realised the problem that would cause since I didn’t have an appropriate storage for cakes ‎and I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to even tell how it can be preserved.

To make matters worse, she made a huge sized cake that didn’t even fit into my medium sized refrigerator and at that point I knew I was in for a lot of surprises. I gave her the feedback from my experience and what my fears were and She assured me that if I opened up the cake to natural air, ‎it will be preserved. I did as adviced and that only caused more damage, as ants found their way straight to the iced fondant on the cake and in no time, made it their play ground.

I couldn’t wait for the days to pass so I can deliver the cakes and conduct the class party.

The first was a huge success but the second was not and that’s because the celebrants mum noticed the cake was spoilt and was so agitated that it was delivered for small kids to eat.

She feared they were going to get sick had she not noticed the slimy effect on the knife she dipped into the cake to cut it. I apologized, took the blame, assumed responsibility by replacing with a better ‎cake few days later but the damage had been done and my client wasn’t pleased with what went down on her daughters birthday. Although she thanked me for going extra mile to replace the spoilt cake, she also adviced never to use unreliable vendors and suggested to me other bakers she has used in previous times. That meeting ended well with a new list of reliable vendors to my list.

Soon after that episode, I needed to regain some sort of confidence that I could still do well in this new venture I have chosen, I continued my daily bbm broadcast, advertising with excitement my events planning prowess. I even uploaded pictures on my social media page, telling my friends what we are capable of doing with a slim budget at esobevents, and the effect of the party on the child.

This pictures and post attracted a lot of parent who’s 9-5 schedule also deprived them of being there for their kids, or who couldn’t throw a large party because of minimal budget.

From sorting and packaging the children party packs, to the cake and their favourite carton character, i was soon becoming the “go to source” for a good quality children’s party.

From class parties, I was recommended for ‎house parties and later large children’s party because I wouldn’t stop talking about how good we are at handling that social aspect.

At one of such ‎parties, I would act as the Mc, dance with the kids, paint their faces and create activities just to manage the budget.

It was fun for me and I didn’t put to thoughts the energy involved . Most times,i’ll return home tired with only N5000 ($10) as my take home. Out of which I’ll have to pay some of my team members and also transportation which later leaves me with a profit of less the ($3) at the end of the day.

I landed my big break December same year when I ventured into packaging hampers for christmas and distributing it to corporate and high networth individuals, I submitted proposals through my network of friends and always drop my ‎contact card inside the parcel.

I went for a follow up of my proposals one day and in the midst of the meeting , my proposed client mentioned that he will like to celebrate his wife and needed someone who can put things in place for him. And I said that’s what I do as an events planner.

He told me what he wanted and sooner we were already on the planning and execution phase.

My ability to deliver exactly on the brief made me become their official events planner.

From surprise parties, to official meetings, corporate ‎seminars And lots more, i started gaining hands-on experiences and I was excited I was finally doing what I envisioned to do. I was so happy someone gave me a chance to serve and so I out did myself at every opportunity. Working over night to ensure all i’s are dotted and T’s crossed. Paying rapt attention to details and sometimes Sleeping at the venue to ensure workers don’t fail to do the work assigned to them.

Sometimes, I goofed because I didn’t understand pricing and so i’ll pay so much for the effort without a good knowledge of what payment structure was applicable to the service rendered.

By this time I was simultaneously running a course on entrepreneurial management and we were encouraged to use the services of our course mates.

This I tried and while some delivered, some start up used it as a way to reap money off me without delivering on the quality I expected.

This broke my heart and I decided i’ll never engage anyone if I’m not sure they can deliver on my expectations.

Having graduated with a certificate in entrepreneurial management, through the Goldman Sachs scholarship scheme for 10,000 women in Africa, I was paired up for mentorship with funke bucknor, who had that time was an already established events manager with several experience and top notch luxury events to her credit (including the presidents daughter’s wedding).

I ‎was privileged to be graduating with her on the same day but she couldn’t attend due to her busy schedule and so I kept giving her updates on the phone about the happenings at the hall of graduation, just to see if she could still meet up.

This act of kindness gave me closer access to her. I remember visiting her at the office to discuss some of the problems I have encountered and asking how she feels I could handle it.

Funke was ready to walk me through it and soon after I would attend conferences put together by EDC for people in my sector and i’ll learn more.

Often times, we meet up at this meetings with other events vendors and planners, and I started networking, and meeting reliable people in the industry.

In class, we will take on practical events case studies and plan to perfection with the brief given. This phase marked the beginning of a whole new level in my events planning and management career.

Later on in the following year, I set up a training arm of my events planning company, to share the knowledge I have acquired with other budding event managers and I leveraged on relationship to get experienced and leading events practitioners on board as ‎facilitators and they obliged. This include Funke Bucknor of Zaphire events, Olufunbi Akinyosoye of Dunamis events, to mention a few. They never charged for it and this kindness i’ll forever be grateful for because they showed up as scheduled and gave the students their very best.

It was a 3days eventful training and I used my experience in banking as well as my experience at other learning institutes to put together what I call a complete academy.

My mum had a vacant flat at her house and I pleaded to use the space for 3days before she rents it out to the final occupant, ‎she noticed my dedication and tenacity towards ensuring this training turns out a success and accorded me all necessary support.

I was allowed to use the space for free, and I sort the support and advice of my life coach who released his projector, and gave me some hands to support with logistics. We rented tables and chairs, printed training materials, bought generators and airconditioner to ensure we had a hitch free and conducive learning centre. Having completed the first 2days successfully, my mentor adviced that we take the 3rd day which is the graduation day to a more conducive facility and we ended up renting a hall in ikeja .

We projected 50 students but we had in attendance 12 students, 8 of which registered and 4 others attended free of charge. We didn’t make profit off this training but it gave room for impact, as I was also impacted and I used the medium to learn more and also train my staff/team member.

Today esob academy has broken even,we have graduated ‎several men and women. We now have a more structured classroom, and a detailed itinerary for field work, and practicals.

Esobevents on the other hand, now offers more than just class parties. We Plan,Style & Coordinate all types of
?Social Events.
And we are willing and ready to Give you a “WoW+1” event experience. Call ? +2348023199887 ??

So if you’re considering the entrepreneurial journey just because you want quick money, think again. ‎Or your own desire to quit the 9-5 schedule is so you can have enough time to sleep and wake up anytime you like, Think again.

Entrepreneurship isn’t about being the Boss only, noooo, it comes with Huge responsibilities , dedication and most times a 24hours discipline. You are going to fail sometimes, loose customers or even get disappointed. But in all you’ll gain experience, win some and above all you’ll be fulfiled.

Still considering Entrepreneurship? RETHINK…..

And see you at the inspiring change conference 2017 on march 4,2017 by 10am at the Wisdom Arena.

I’ll be waiting to share with you more practical insight that can help ‎your entrepreneurial journey.

Admission is Free but registration is required. Click here ‎https://t.co/1KIBGekvhN