Caleb Oni – His Journey of Self-Discovery

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    Caleb Oni
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    Caleb Oziegbe Oni, born June 6 1991 is a Nigerian serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of TokunboStores an ecommerce platform for Tokunbo products, Gadgenode, a tech firm, and Odita Properties, a real estate firm.

    Oni, a native of Edo state is the eldest of four children. Growing up in the western part of Nigeria, Ilorin, he attended his primary school education at St Joseph Primary school and completed his secondary school education at Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Model College. He then went on to acquire his BS.c in Business Administration from Bowen University. As a kid particularly during his secondary school years, he was an introvert. He had a difficult time establishing any form of closure either with friends or family.

    In so many ways this affected him, he suffered from deflated self-esteem, found it difficult to express himself and with limited words daily. Oni acknowledges his journey to self-discovery was only possible as an introvert. It encouraged him to develop a character of research and self-education.

    Oni enjoyed being in control of his finances from a very young age, doing business was always a part of him. While in secondary school, he would conserve his provisions only to sell to other students who have exhausted theirs. While in his Second year in the University, Oni discovered that his school had no system that kept track of events going on in school and also, provided students in and out with trending information. So, he decided to set up a magazine company that would solve this knotty challenge. Despite being a promising idea, Oni didn’t get the support he needed, especially because his father was against the idea of running a business in school.

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    If there was anything Oni was gifted at doing, was observing his environment and discovering challenges and creating solutions. Just a year after dissolving the idea of creating a magazine, Oni was inspired with another business idea. But this time was a little more personal. Caleb Oni was an anti-bully, he hated being mentally manipulated and anything that had to do with social stigmatization and discrimination.

    Just 2 days before his secondary school graduation, he lost his younger sister. He said “the loss of my sister led me to depression. She would cry to me sometimes when she returned from school because she suffered stigmatization and discrimination due to her health challenges.” So, he sought to create a social media app called Said-Hi from the word HIV/AIDS because it seemed to be the biggest issue on ground dealing with Stigma and discrimination. He recruited a team of programmers from each continent of the world to fulfill the task. Though, the project is yet to be completed.

    He visited several organizations to sell the idea in order to raise capital all to no avail, a popular global NGO even made an offer to buy it off, but he refused and this has led him into myriad ventures. He worked in Networking Companies (Trevo LLC and Salad Master), which improved his marketing skills. This brought him out of his introverted shell building his courage, confidence and a network of professionals and entrepreneurs.

    While working with networking firms, Caleb Oni started an online based store known as Tokunbo Stores, where people can purchase fairly used/preloved items. The platform was created based on the fact these products are budget friendly and the knowledge that most Nigerians would spend less on new products. With Tokunbostores, Oni intends to change the narrative surrounding preloved items and believes it will serve the 80% of Nigerians living below a dollar per day.

    Experience they say is a teacher, but Caleb Oni doesn’t only learn from his bitter experience, he tries to prevent them from happening to another. He founded Gadgenode on the note of phone-theft. In two weeks, Oni, his friends and girlfriend lost their phones to theft. After sharing his bitter experience with friends and family, his only thought was how he was going to prevent stolen phones from being resold as a way to curb the menace. Just in a few weeks, he assembled a team of friends who founded Gadgenode, a mobile app that will enhance the security of mobile devices and gadgets from being resold and also tracked.

    Caleb Oni

    The young serial entrepreneur is also the founder and CEO of Odita Properties, a real estate company focused on real estate investment portfolio Oditaproperties.com.ng. He believes real estate can play an integer role in creating generational wealth especially for Africans.

    Oni’s entrepreneurial inspiration dates back to 2003, while he was in JSS 2. He said “The first video I ever watched from a computer was a video of an artist, late David Bowie. It was an interview with MTVbase in 1999, he was talking about how the internet will change the world. I loved everything I heard and all I wanted was to be a part of it. Two years later I got to know about Facebook, I loved how it worked, how it connected people. That was what induced the idea for Said-Hi and other businesses.  Said-Hi became something I could use the internet to achieve in the course of trying to connect the world in one voice to end stigma and discrimination.

    Caleb Oni acknowledges the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg as a big influence to becoming an entrepreneur. He also noted David Bowie and Bill Gates as his inspiration while growing up as a kid. He adores his mentors Jack Ma and Elon Musk. Oni has always desired to make an impact in the lives of other people. He said, “It has never been about making money, I just always wanted to do something meaningful and give value to people’s lives. Initially I wanted to be a priest, I mean a Rev. Father, my ambition changed but not my goals.”

    Caleb Oni
    Receiving his ‘Made in Black’ award from Guinness Nigeria

    He has been specially recognized for his works and ideas.

    In 2015, he was among the 11 people awarded ‘Made of Black’ by Guinness Nigeria for his business idea Said-Hi, because of its impact.

    Oni believes Nigeria can become a world power but only if the youths are empowered. As an advocate for youth empowerment, he co-founded an initiative with his brother called We Are The Leaders Of Tomorrow (WATLOT) with its operations still underground while expanding its scope. He said “I believe in a collective way of transforming the mentality of Africa, that we are not meant to be dormant and controlled. Oni emphasized that Africa is regarded as Alkebulan, the ‘Mother of mankind’ but is yet to utilize the numerous resources; When Africa embraces its root, only then can Africa be great.

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