YEMI ABRAHAMS – GOD, LIFE, BUSINESS AND MUSIC
Popularly known as dcomputerguru, the 31 year old Adeyanju Adeyemi Abrahams, or Yemi, from Nigeria is a graduate of Computer Science, certified Google Digital Marketer, a Volunteer facilitator at Ready Set Work (RSW) Lagos State University Campus (an initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Education), head of Technical department at Classic JAMB CBT Center, CEO of Cititech Communications, president of De Royal Family interdenominational Youth Forum, music manager at Blaze Records, bassist, inspirational speaker and serial entrepreneur. He also has a Diploma in Theology. We were curious to learn how such a diverse profile came about and so we asked him.
Computers, Theology Music and Purpose… that’s an interesting combination. How did you get there?
I finished high school in 2003, at the age of 15, with the desire to study medicine and surgery, but unfortunately that year I failed my West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) examination I had to retake it the following year, but I failed again so I had to wait another year. While I waited, I found out that my church was looking for young people who they could train to play musical instruments, so I applied in order not to waste my time at home. That’s how I began my journey into the music world. I trained well enough to start going for events, I joined two different bands, attended rehearsals and so on. It wasn’t easy at first. I had some challenges at first, people didn’t like the way I played but I persisted and got to the level where I played well.
I tried several times from 2005 to 2007 to gain admission into the university, but nothing was working. I was very frustrated and at this point wanted to give up academics. Most of my mates were graduating that year and I hadn’t even secured an admission for myself! Then, one day I had a dream and I saw myself preaching on the altar to multitudes of people. I didn’t understand this dream, so I went to my senior pastor and told him. He said, ‘It’s God’s call’ I told him I don’t understand, ‘The only call that I can relate to is the call to a higher institution.’
That year, in June, my brother finished school and said he and a friend wanted to set up a computer training center at Ogun State and that he would need me to work with them. I shouted “Yes, I’m in!” Because I knew this would be an opportunity for me to gain more knowledge while working and that was where I became very solid in the use of computer systems. By the time 2008 rolled around, I had decided not to do JAMB, instead I applied for direct admission to Lagos City Polytechnic Ikeja to study computer science. I chose to take weekend classes so that I could work during the week in order to pay for my tuition, since I didn’t have anyone who could sponsor me. In order to pay for my annual tuition I worked in a school as a teacher, I was a paid instrumentalist in Redeemed Church, I helped students to do their assignments – for a fee… and by 2010 I finished with Upper Credits.
That’s how the serial entrepreneur bug bit you?
(Laughs) Yes o. I worked in a school as administrator and IT head until 2012, then I got an idea. My salary was very low at the time and I thought to myself, can’t I start a tech business?
Is that where Cititech was born?
Yes. I started to do my research, since I didn’t know anything about business. Then I went to the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria to pick up a business registration form. The name Cititech Communication was approved among all the other names. I got the business certificate for Cititech in October and decided I would resign in January the following year (2013). I started to save the little money I could raise that year to do documentation, branding, purchase of equipment and in January i resigned and started the business inside my room as I couldn’t afford to pay for a shop or office space.
What services were you offering?
At the time I could not offer many services due to finance, I was only able provide basic services such as typing, printing, photocopy and repair of computers. It was a serious struggle. Awareness was very low and only friends and family were patronizing [my business], just to encourage me. But I continued. I was broke, I had no sales, I went many days without food, as every little thing I earned kept going into the business – yet I couldn’t see the effect.
What kept you going?
Determination. I had so much belief in myself and in my business. At some point, some of my friends saw the way I was struggling and advised that I should abandon the business for a while and look for a job. But I knew the business was my life and I wasn’t ready to quit. I kept holding on and then in 2013, God opened my eyes to see that He had called me into the youth ministry. He showed me, spoke to me, sent different men of God to confirm it… I remember on one occasion, a pastor sent me a message on Facebook, saying “Yemi, I don’t really know you, but God asked me to tell you there is something He has called you to do, but you are running away from it. Just hear this, God said you will never be successful at anything you do, until you do what God has asked you to do.”
So, in 2013, I told my senior pastor, Rev. Omojola, that I wanted to go to a Bible School. He supported me and gave me part of my tuition fee for the Bible training. I finished and started an interdenominational youth ministry The Royal Family, in 2014.
What turned things around for you?
Knowledge. In 2015 I discovered an influential digital marketer in Nigeria by the name Stephen Akintayo. I applied immediately, though I didn’t have all the money. They designed a payment plan for me. That training transformed both me and the business. After the training I opened up a bulk SMS site for my business and started social media marketing. I applied all the principles taught and Cititech Communication gained massive online recognition. I started getting calls from online clients for services. I applied for more training the following year and in 2017 I applied for engineering training in Ikeja, in 2018 I applied for Google Digital training online course and got certified, I applied for a degree course at National Open University, I’m in year 3 now… I applied for mini importation training under Stephen Akintayo and have started training people now and in the same 2018 Cititech Communication’s first store was opened. Every year I make sure I keep adding to my knowledge base so as to keep being relevant in life. I also learned how to repair laptops and phones.
You used to do bulk SMS, what changed?
Yes. I always study trends. At a point there was an increase in SMS charges by the NUC and some new laws came into effect which affected the speed of delivery of SMS. Most of my clients were not willing to pay the new prices and I also could not guarantee customer satisfaction with the changes in service delivery quality. I had lots of customers: hotels, churches, businesses and individuals, but I had to shut it down. It’s not the only service I provide.
Yemi, you’re a tech guru and also a gospel musician. What’s the connection?
Passion. I have so much passion for music. It’s one of the things I love doing. I am always happy doing music. I am always happy operating the computer. These two are born out of passion regardless of the challenges. So my determination is always stronger than the urge to quit. I had challenges too while developing my skills as a bassist. I remember many times sound engineers would unplug my guitar claiming I was playing rubbish. I would even be asked to drop the guitar because I wasn’t good enough. But instead of quitting, it pushed me to learn more, oftentimes rehearsing overnight so as to improve my skills.
What role does music have in your line of business?
Well presently I am a music manager, I have over 5 music artistes I manage, among who are Femi Omitiran and Ezekiel Okesola among others.
Music plays a huge role in my line of business. Music taught me how to be persistent, patient and connect to my customers.
So it’s a separate business from Cititech?
It’s a subsidiary of Cititech. Blaze Music Management, Blaze Records. We will be inaugurating it officially this year.
As a worshiper of Jesus doing business are there any spiritual principles you apply to your business and how do you provide kingdom solutions to your clients… Christian or not?
Well. As an IT expert, one of the core values of my business I am so particular about and I emphasize with all my workers is integrity and diligence. If I were to behave as the people of the world are doing, I would have made millions through manipulation. I have had several opportunities to do so. But I am not looking for quick money, I am trusting God for lasting wealth.
Over time we have earned our customers’ trust, enjoyed repeated customers and 50% of our new clients are referrals from current customers. The scriptures say, if you see a man that is diligent in his business he will stand with kings and not with ordinary people. Jesus said let your yes be yes and no be no. These two spiritual principles Integrity and Diligence are part of our core values at Cititech Communication.
What is it like for young people in business in Nigeria and even Africa (if you have had interactions with them)?
I don’t really know of Africa in general but I have a few friends in Nigeria who are into business. Financial challenges have been the major problem faced by young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Lack of capital. Despite the creative ideas, many do not have the capital to start or to continue. Loans for business in Nigeria have high interest rates and lots of procedures and documentation.
Despite the financial challenges we are still surviving in the bad economy of the country. But there are few opportunities. Nigeria is widely populated. If entrepreneurs can position themselves properly we will get large customers. Secondly Nigeria is a consuming country, we like to buy things a lot. You are certain of making sales if only you can connect to the right customers.
You recently got engaged, congratulations. Tell us about it please.
Thanks. I didn’t know that I would get engaged last year. As at August 2018 I didn’t even have a girlfriend!
It was just God. Around 3 years ago she was doing her IT at Guaranty Trust Bank of Nigeria, Ikotun Branch. That was where I saw her first. I just got attracted to her but didn’t have the opportunity to meet her. I didn’t see her again till around September 2017. Sometime in April 2018, i met her again at a love feast and told her of my intention to marry her, but she gave me a capital NO.
I kept calm. We became intimate friends. We talked a lot, we played a lot. But after a lot of back and forth on the matter, on November 15th 2018, she replied, yes. January 3rd 2019, I brought her to meet my parents as the lady I want to marry. They prayed for us. Later that day, I followed her to go see her dad and told him of my intention to marry his daughter. He gave his consent and prayed for us. Friday 4th January 2019, I proposed to her, and she said “Yes.”
That’s so beautiful. Any last words to young Africans in business out there?
My last words for young Africans in business are: many times you will feel the severe urge of quitting and giving up. Don’t ever give up on your dream, don’t give up on your destiny.
Keep moving, keep trusting God and very soon you will get to your desired destination.
God bless you Yemi, and thanks a lot.
You are most welcome.
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Chioma Phillips is the Editor of Msingi Afrika Magazine and the host of Msingi Afrika Television. Her hope is to see the Truth shared, with all who will listen, for the transformation of the people and the continent of Afrika - and the world. She believes passionately in the critical role that Afrika and Afrikans have to play on earth right now and hopes to ignite the spark that will cause them to see and believe who they are, so that they can live out their Truest lives for the remainder of their days.