We inspire and promote reputable leadership in Africa and the World at large – Mr Talabi Taiwo, CEO, Talabs Educational Academy

In this exclusive interview with The News Chronicle, Mr Talabi Taiwo, CEO and founder of Talabs Educational Academy leads us on his journey into the Study Abroad/Student Recruitment Industry, his thoughts on the huge number of people leaving Nigeria, qualities of a good entrepreneur/ leader and other issues

TNC: Good day Sir, Thank you for this opportunity to have this discussion with you. First, we would like to know a little about you, your organisation, Talabs Educational Academy, how it started and how the journey has been so far.

Mr Talabi: Thank you so much for having me, my name is Talabi Taiwo Olusheyi Michael. To the glory of God, I am the CEO of Talabs Educational Academy, a study abroad agency that recruits students for further studies abroad. We have partnerships with Universities and other higher learning institutions in the United Kingdom,  the United States, Canada, Australia and many other parts of Europe and the world. Over the years, we have gained an impressive reputation as one of the top-performing student recruitment agencies in Nigeria with a record number of students in the UK, which probably has the highest number of enrollments from Nigeria.

The journey into Talabs Educational Academy is quite interesting; it all started when I was an undergraduate and had planned to further my studies abroad. The agent that I consulted billed me fifty thousand Naira which was quite outrageous considering that our currency was still valuable at the time. It was surprising that the services he billed me for were processes that I could practically complete by myself. So, I had a rethink – why pay for services that I could provide not only for myself but for other people who would be willing to pay for such services?  With this realisation, I got to work learning about how to process international admissions;  I even got an admission offer for myself but I eventually decided against it and instead focused on assisting people with their ‘study/travel abroad’ needs. At the start of the business, I charged comparatively low rates because I had fun meeting the needs of a lot of people while also gathering the experiences that have helped me in managing a successful business today. Straight after graduation, I set up the business full-time, and this is how far we have come.  Looking back, I can say that we have carved a niche in this business from such a humble beginning.

TNC:  That is quite an interesting story. Considering how challenging it is to manage a profitable business in Nigeria, could you tell us about some of the hurdles you have faced so far?

Mr Talabi: As we all know, every business has its risks and challenges –   Talabs Educational Academy is no different –  however, we have been able to manage them and build a reputation for efficient service delivery and customer satisfaction. I can confidently say that with over two decades of experience under our belt, we have developed quite the resistance to the turbulence of Nigeria’s economic climate.

TNC: we understand that you own and manage other businesses apart from Talabs Educational Academy. Could you tell us more about this? 

Mr.Talabi: Yes, there are other things we do apart from Talabs Educational Academy.  We have 3T Travels Nigeria Limited which handles the part of our services that involves air ticketing and visa assistance., We also have the VIP Protocol International Magazine, simply known as VIP Magazine, which is a lifestyle and celebrity journal that captures very important people, moments and stories.  The magazine features exclusive interviews with important personalities in society. The mission of this organisation is to inspire and promote reputable leadership in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large.

TNC: Quite a good job you are doing with the Educational Academy, VIP Magazine, 3T Travels and so on. I must congratulate you for creating employment opportunities through these establishments. How do you manage the workforce?

Mr Talabi: I must confess that it has not been easy. But we have a great team with brilliant minds and everyone is focused on their tasks and deliverables. This helps to manage the workforce and keep the business going.

TNC: How would you assess the reception of your business here in Abuja? With your current range of clientele, would you say that you are doing well?  

Mr Talabi: To be clear, we have carved a niche in the industry and our services are accessible, but I have also decided to selectively market our services towards a targeted economic class – the high-income earners who can easily pay the bills required. As earlier mentioned, at the start of the business I was attending to everybody, but as time went on, I had to shuffle and make adjustments. The study/travel industry is lucrative but very demanding, so I have streamlined my clients to those who know what they want and have the resources required to meet these needs. . I can assure you that our reception here is quite impressive – situated at the heart of Abuja (Central Business District), being able to pay rent and salaries of many people is not an easy feat. I can proudly say that we are doing well, we are widely accepted and our client base is good.

TNC: For an industry as competitive as the Study/Travel industry in Nigeria, what makes your organisation stand out from the rest?

Mr Talabi: First, I must mention again that we have been in the business for 22 years, and not many agencies can boast of such experience in the study abroad industry.  Additionally, I have visited over 30 countries of the world attending training, seminars, workshops and countless partnership meetings with institutions of learning across the globe.  Our track record speaks volumes, we are tested and trusted in this field with a 99% success rate in the business. We have many things to show, many in the industry may not even be able to assist themselves in certain aspects, talk more of assisting someone out of the country. So our experience, history, credibility, track records, success rate and so on are the things that make us stand strong and stand out from the rest.

TNC: From your story so far, it is right to address you as a serial entrepreneur.  Here in Nigeria where in what many perceive as a dereliction of duty, the government urges youths to take up ‘empowerment skills’, would you say that entrepreneurship is for everyone or just a select few? What is your take on this?

Mr Talabi: As a matter of fact, entrepreneurship is not for everybody, it is for a select few. You must be a good manager to be able to manage a business and to manage a business, you must be able to manage yourself and the people around you to bring results and impact to society, be it morally or financially. Being an entrepreneur requires a firm grip on the principles of good leadership, laser focus, grit, resilience and above all passion. These and more are the qualities that make a good entrepreneur.

TNC: Thank you for that piece of advice. We would like to hear your view on the ‘Japa Syndrome’ currently sweeping across the nation. While it translates to more business for you, could it be more damaging for the country?  Tell us what you think about this situation.

Mr Talabi: In all honesty,  it is disheartening seeing young, brilliant and talented Nigerians checking out of Nigeria at such an alarming rate.  When the people who are supposed to fix the nation are running away from it, it means there is a serious problem, the government should look into it and do something to make the country more appealing to Nigerians.

On the other hand, I have been abroad and life over there is easier, with many opportunities than what is currently obtainable in Nigeria.  So, it would be quite unfair to discourage someone from travelling overseas and exploring their chances.  For instance, while Nigeria’s educational system is crippled by incessant ASUU strikes and other infrastructural inadequacies, foreign institutions offer better educational standards and ensure maximum exposure for their students. I can only advise Nigerians seeking greener pastures abroad to avoid lifestyles that create a bad reputation for our country. So, it is really sad to see that our best brains are leaving, but we don’t have much of a choice.

TNC: Finally Sir, I would like to know your opinion on the sundry national issues, especially the forthcoming elections. As a well-meaning Nigerian, what is your advice to the citizens and government of this country as the general election draws near?

Mr Talabi: My advice to Nigerians is to have their PVCs and know that their PVCs are their rights and the only means of influencing the politics of this nation.  Nigerians should go out and vote their conscience on election day. And the government, I advise that they give us a credible election that will produce the choice of the people.

TNC: Thank you Mr Talabi, it has been a wonderful and explosive time with you, it is our pleasure. Have a very good day. >>

Subscribe to our newsletter for latest news and updates. You can disable anytime.