Entertainment, Interviews, People

‘2014 was one of the worst years for entrepreneurs’ – SOLA FAJOBI

SOLA Fajobi is the CEO of Digital Interactive Media, the producers of Nigeria’s leading reality shows, The Next Movie Star and Super Mom. Sola, as he is fondly called by his colleagues, told ENCOMIUM Weekly why 2014 was one of the worst years for entrepreneurs and his plans for this year’s edition of Super Mom and much more…


How are you preparing for this year’s Super Mom?

We just started 2015 and after Super Mom ended in October 2014, we always celebrate our winners the following year.  It is during the winner’s party we will unveil the plan for Super Mom Season 6.  Last year’s edition was Season 5 and we celebrated the fifth anniversary, and basically, we have done a whole lot that has to be done.  The first two editions was for regular mothers, the third edition was for celebrity mothers, the fourth edition was for The Heart of Gold Mothers that take care of children that are not their own and the fifth edition was about Fantastic Father.

The experience has been fantastic for us and we are looking forward to taking it to the next level from the Season 6 this year.  So, we will unveil the plan by March/April.

Would you say Super Mom has given you fulfillment?

Oh yes!  It has given me fulfillment.  If you can recollect all my interviews for the past three or four years, I always talked about how Super Mom has added value to me as a business person and my personality.  And personally, the fact that we are celebrating mothers for their sacrifices onto their children has also become a blessing to my life personally.  What we found out is, when you do great things, great things will also come to you.  Personally, it has given me fulfillment from business stand point and it is going to be one of our leading brands in Digital Interactive Media.  We have Next Movie Star and a couple of other stuff.  Super Mom is going to be one of the best two within the organization.  Yes, it has given me fulfillment.

A lot of mothers have told you their stories, which of the stories touched you most?

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer that because all the stories have their uniqueness.  When you look at the first edition, the winner had to resign as a hotel manager to take care of her son because the son is physically handicapped.  The son can’t go to school and cannot live a normal life.  She took the son to school and would wait till he closed in the afternoon and took him home.  However, to make life easy for her, she wove her business around her son’s school.  She did that during the son’s primary and secondary school and the young man was able to go to higher institution.  He got married and started living a normal life.  The next season had a similar story.  One mother with eight children lost her husband and she had to take care of the children to the extent that the last child has graduated from the university and all of them are doing okay.

If you look at Season 3, the winner was Cobhams mom.  She also had to resign so that she could take care of Cobhams.  In the course of that, she found out that he liked sound and she started buying him musical instruments right from his childhood and that built him to a music producer.

If you see the Season 4, a woman despite all the challenges in her home, environment and family, she still stayed strong to take care of destitute.  She became hope for the hopeless.  If you look at the sacrifices she made for herself and her family, you will be amazed.  She provided for these people.  Last year’s Father’s edition, all the top three stories are amazing stories of fathers.  Either their wives died or deserted them and became wayward.  They focused their attention on training their children and all these children have become successful.  For me, I can’t pick a particular story.  These stories are amazing, awesome and they teach us something.

Looking at all the fantastic stories, do you have plan of turning them into movies?

Yes, there is a plan to launch it this year.  It is called Mother’s Tale.  It will be on TV and sold as movies afterwards.  We have all the stories.  We want to turn them into a 13-week series.  We will start the shooting this year and launch it on TV next year.  The last season of Super Mom we celebrated our fifth anniversary and shot a movie for mothers called Nne, to reward our loyal viewers.  We gave them Nne.  We will be releasing that too this year on DVD.

How is the show faring?

It is doing okay.  Of course, the Nigerian economy has not been encouraging in the last few years, but I can assure you it is okay because we still have the same set of sponsors right from the first Season.  We had Promasidor and Procter and Gamble and these are the same sponsors we have till now because we are delivering values to them.  What is not necessarily changing is the business and money.  Though the cost of doing the show is increasing by the day, the amount I paid to air the Season 5 of Super Mom was double the amount I paid for Seasons 1 and 2, but the sponsorship money is not doubling.  Those are the challenges we face.  But in terms of sponsorships, it is okay.  I will score it average.

What are your expectations in terms of sponsorship this year?

One of the reasons we are going to start the drive very early is to get more sponsorships for the show.  We are putting a lot of drive into making sure we get a lot of sponsors so that we can cover up the cost of running the show.

Should we expect major changes in the show this year?

In terms of format, there won’t be any change, but in terms of content, there would be changes.  We have Average Mothers, Celebrity Mothers, Heart of Gold and Fantastic Fathers.  Definitely, we are coming up with something unique this year.

In what ways are you making every participant a winner?

This is something we have brainstormed about already because from Season 1 to 5, we noticed that when we reward the winners, there is not so much to give to others.  Aside giving them gifts from the sponsors, we have decided to do some things differently.  We just don’t want people to be desperate in telling us stories that never existed.  People might go to the level of adding salt and pepper to the story to make it interesting.

We would find out because we do a lot of research.  We go to a lot of witnesses to find out if those things truly happened. The ones we disqualify are those that share half truths or total lies.  I am assuring that this season, every participant will surely be a winner.

Nigerians are earnestly yearning for the real Super Dad, should we expect Super Dad?

We are working on it.  We will give them Super Dad very soon.

Can you assess 2014 business wise?

It was one of the toughest years for entrepreneurs.  The cost of doing things increased while the revenue base did not increase.  It was not a fantastic year despite all the boom in economy through oil and everything.  I think insecurity and Boko Haram insurgency affected entrepreneurs.  A lot of advertisers had to cut down their budgets because the projections they set for themselves were not met at half year or third quarter of 2014.  2014, we thank God we are able to outdo the year.  Nothing negative happened to us.  It’s enough to thank God. But the business point was nothing to write home about.  We hope and pray that 2015 will shine into the Nigerian economy.

Were you able to achieve your set goals?

I think I was able to achieve about 70 per cent. I can’t tell you I achieved 100 per cent of my set goals.  For instance, we wanted to launch the Wow Kids, who will love my children.  We have recorded about 15 episodes, a good platform for children.  We were ready by mid-year but from the business stand point, we could not go ahead. It was also one of the projects we did not launch in 2014.  For Mama Bomboy, we had to suspend it in 2014 because we realized it wasn’t a favourable time for it, and it is a daily five minute TV drama series that requires advertisers support for it to be sustained.  We also suspended our two TV stations in 2014, Odua TV and V Channel.  We just went on a break because we spent so much on running the TV stations.  Most advertisers have not plugged into the digital platform.  They are still hooked on the terrestrial TV.  Instead of spending money on those stations and not making the money we decided to suspend it in 2014 and bring it back.  We’re still planning to bring it back this year.

–               AJOKE ONITOLO

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