Good afternoon, Sir. People generally regard Twelve Baskets Foods as the number one Small Chops and Grill in Nigeria, What would you say attributed to this opinion?
People are entitled to their opinion, but there is a saying that states that the voice of the people is the voice of God. So if people are saying that, that mean God has done it for us. If they say it, we can accept it, but the attribute of being number one comes from God. Nobody crowns a man, if God doesn’t allow.
Sir, would you say you have attained your zenith at this point in time?
Nobody arrives until it suits the Lord. We keep on trying and trying our best, but for now, I think we are just starting freshly. The moment a man feels he has arrived, it means he has started dying. So we haven’t arrived at all. But we thank God for where we are right now, because where we are means a position, not where we are going to. So we have not arrived.
When would you say, you started Twelve Baskets?
We started Twelve Baskets in 2003, so we are celebrating any moment from now, Twelve at Twelve. So it was about 12 years ago.
A lot of people see you as King of Small Chops in Nigeria; how do you feel?
Like I said, kings are being crowned, and when people see you as king and there is no crown on your head, you should appreciate it – that God is ministering something to the people. So if they see us as number one, if they see us as king, the glory should be to the Lord, because I’ve not contested to be crowned for anything.
What would you say is the secret of the success?
The secret of the success is Jesus; without Jesus there is no success. The bible says: This book of the law shall not depart out of your hand; thou shall meditate in it day and night so that thou will do according to what is written in it. And you shall have good success and make your way be ahead. So there are bad success and good success. And good success is from the Lord.
You have done a lot of job for banks, corporate organisations, media houses, and so on. How do you source for all these, how do you source for your clients?
We don’t source for client, God directs client to us, most of the time. When we get clients, we don’t even know where they are from, because some people will say ‘I just like your food’, and I would say, Which food? And some would say, ‘I just like your meal’, and I would feel, like, Which meal? So we can just say that invisible publicity has been done by God and most times, God uses invisible people for us and from that, people usually appreciate the company. So, sourcing for clients, I can’t say this is how. I do my best but God has crowned it with success.
Tell us the most exciting moment being a caterer?
The most exciting moment, it cannot be counted, because I have a big catalogue of my exciting times. When I have event is my exciting moment, so if I begin to count, we might not end this interview. Every event gives us joy. So this makes me feel that God is still on the throne. So it gets me excited that we are working; it gets us excited. So there is no particular exciting moment – every job that we have, every customers that comes in get us excited.
Would you say there is any particular point in time you get tired being a caterer?
Tired? There is a popular saying that says, if you are to acquire your desire, all you need to do is to require and not retire..I never got tired; rather, I keep on looking for new ideas based on the possibilities, working on my strength and my opportunities. I cannot get tired, by the grace of God, because it’s what I’ve been given to do for people and make a living and bless lives. And that is what I’m doing. So, at any point in time, instead of getting tired, we receive strength from God.
What does money mean to you?
Money! Money! The Bible says, Money answereth all things. Money answers so many things. When you are looking for answers to some questions, money can do. Without money nothing can be done. Money gives answer to poverty. Even to people that are doing the work of God, money is important to them – for evangelism and the rest of it. And the same thing applies to Islam. Anywhere money is; an answer to that problem had just surfaced.
Every entrepreneur has his or her breakthrough. When would you say your breakthrough came, and how did you feel when you made your first million?
Breakthrough might not be in terms of millions; breakthrough might be in terms of strength and success. At times, the million might not be the breakthrough terms. It might be having a good staff, having a stable staff, having a stable quality contros, having a stable product that people will buy. So, those are the things that will give you the millions. For example, if you say breakthrough is when you make your N10 million, to some people it is one million dollars. But what brings in the money is the real breakthrough. So I want to thank God that he has given me constant breakthrough over the years – breakthrough in terms of quality control and happiness. Most companies in our nation have bad staff, but we cannot understate the fact that there are bad staff and good staff. Let me now conclude the whole scenario by saying that the best breakthrough is when my good staff’ leave and God replaces them with the best.
A lot of young ones in Nigeria were attracted by the success you made in creating a fantastic outfit like Twelve Baskets. What would you say is the secret of your success, generally?
The secret of the success is usually God; nothing but God. I have said it earlier.
You are using this opportunity to advise them, too.
One of the things they should learn is to put their trust in God, because he’s the one that gives a man power to succeed. So the source of the breakthrough is God, because without him I don’t know how we would have been able to come up with the Twelve Baskets idea. I’m a graduate of marketing, I am a chartered marketer. I would market round the Small Chops, so the idea, too, comes in. Even the name of the company comes from God. So at every point in time, if I want to attach success to anybody I just look at him. God has not allowed anybody to take his glory, so it has always been God all the way. We have to keep the company heading forward, and that is the soul of our business. I have Twelve Baskets Entertainment, by the grace of God we are running Twelve Baskets Academy. We have Twelve Baskets Properties, and now we are going into travels and tours, then probably Twelve Baskets Foundation will soon commence. But everything around all these innovations are Twelve Baskets. You cannot cut short the main aspect of your business, which is the Small Chops, but we do lot of things on the ground. Very soon we are going to blow it out so that the whole world will know God dwells in Twelve Baskets Foods.
Who would you say Role your role models are?
Role model! models are meant to be emulated. One of my role models is our father in the Lord, Pastor E.O. Adeboye. At any point in time you will always find me reading his books – how he started with a low life and is now at the top. If I want to choose any role model before anybody, it is Pastor E.O. Adeboye.
With how much would you say you launched yourself into this business?
It could not be quantified, I just knew I was making little savings and buying things and keeping them because I knew what God told me. Sometimes I wanted to calculate how much I used in buying those things but I could not, because there was no particular cash on ground; any little money I saw. I first bought pot, bought cooking gas, bought plates, put them in sack and kept it somewhere. At the end of the day I just started the business. But, if I have to calculate, maybe I will do that after this interview and will get back to you.
Can you quickly take us into your background?
My name is Afolahanmi Michael. I attended Holy Cross Cathedral as my primary school, and then later moved to Wahab Folawiyo High School for my SSCE. From there I went to Kwara State Polytechnic for my OND in Bus. Admin. Then I did my I.T. at Mobil Producing Lagos.. I later went back to Polytechnic for my H.N.D to study marketing. My wife’s name is Afolahanmi George Omolara, I have three wonderful kids – Abiola, Timilehin and Opemipo.
Sir, I have met you at different occasions, and you dress very good. Is part of the packaging or is it an in-born thing?
Fashion or dress code is who you are; anything we put on is what defines you. And the most important thing is that God has blessed me with a very fashionable wife. She used to run a fashion house until I dragged her into Twelve Baskets, but now we do the fashion thing together. It’s an in-born thing. Anything you see me do is what I want to feel that day, so what you see me wear is an expression of what I want to look like that day.
What is your advice to Nigerian youths, most especially those that want to become entrepreneurs?
One of the things I want to say to Nigerian youths is that, the moment you begin to believe in yourself you have started pushing Nigeria forward. Number two, they should believe in themselves and set out to look for role models that look like what they want to be.
Thirdly, the love for Nigeria and investing in Nigeria should be their real aim. They should not take Nigerian product and invest it abroad. No! They should invest all their talent here in our homeland, believe in themselves, and believe in what we do, because Nigeria is the greatest country. I’ve been to different countries in the world but there is no place like home; Nigeria is the best. So they should believe in what they do in Nigeria. So that Nigeria can be a better place.
So, Sir, any challenges so far?
Yeah! We see challenges everyday, but challenges are meant to take you from uncomfortable to comfortable place/situation, so we see challenges everyday because we run da- to-day activities in dealing with people and we are public servants. And as a servant you are always to face the challenges. So we appreciate challenge but, most especially, we solve the challenge by the grace of God. Challenges will challenge you to go higher up and we know by the grace of God, we are going higher. So we are good with challenges.