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Ruma’s Zeal For Excellence



After a lifetime of service in education processes in Nigeria, Dr Abba Ruma, retired from public service to continue in the same line in a different way. The only Nigerian who has had the opportunity of serving as minister three times under different administrations is today, charting a way for the mostly neglected group in society to have a chance at attending a private institution even if it’s in their remote settlement. 

You have to learn the art of patience to be an entrepreneur…

Venturing into knowledge capital business in Nigeria is not an easy task mostly because not many people see that as a business area. If you decide to venture into that area you need to speak with people of diverse competence from diverse areas so that you can come out with what is likely to be sustainable business like. So a large portion of my day is spent comparing notes on visibility studies and widening consultations with experts so that we can substantially minimise mistakes and ensure that we are on the right track.

   As entrepreneurs, we also hope on patience and incubation period. Most of the time, a lot of people are not patient and you have to learn the art of patience to be an entrepreneur. These are the activities that engage my mind on a daily bases. Travels too. To be a successful business person you don’t just sit in one place. You need to exploit advices, information from colleagues and people that have the experience and knowledge.

Our organisation is focused on packaging talents, knowledge and individuals…

Cherish Enterprise Institute is accredited and licensed as a vocational and innovative enterprise institute. Our organisation is focused on packaging talents, knowledge and individuals; women and youths, with different skills for competitiveness in our emerging economy. We started the project in 2012, with experiments on short term capacity development programmes on short key skills, mostly agricultural enterprise skills, food processing, tailoring, and construction related skills development. Our task is to look at how we can provide constructive engagement to a large number of youths, many of which have not even gone to school or have gone to school but did not complete a course to get a certificate. Or those that have completed a course but have no jobs afterwards. Our job is to train and certify them then link them up with opportunities along the line of the skills that they have acquired.

After skills training, graduates would really want to start off a business…

At the moment, we have been accredited to scale up by the national board for technical education to award diploma programmes admissible into 200 levels in the university. At certificate level, we have close to about 560 students after a three year experiment and in order to make this pragmatic, since we are involved in skills development and skills capacity development, we thought about closing the gap between access to finance because after skills training, graduates would really want to start off a business. So we have obtained a CBN license for micro finance bank where we can help our graduates.

We have also completed all requirements of licensing as an enterprise skills university. We hope to start a university programme in January 2019, after tidying up all the process needed formally.

   We are looking at starting off with about 15 courses and three faculties. Courses like business and entrepreneurship, information/communication technology, and basic and allied health courses are some of the ones we hope to start with. We also have, through affiliation, a college of distance learning and continued education that has just graduated about 117 post graduate students who want to be teachers, in affiliation with Ahmadu Bell University Zaria. One area that we thought was important to venture into providing functional and quality education for is teacher’s capacity.

We intend to exploit opportunities on CSR and other knowledge driven programmes…

We hope to become the premium skills university in Sub Saharan Africa. We also hope to be the best at being service providers of quality education to unserved and underserved children and youths who have not been factored into private institution development in Nigeria and West Africa. Everybody looks for a university in the city, one that focuses only on the education of children of the rich or those that can afford it. But there are some factor models that have made it easy for children from difficult circumstances and less privileged homes to have access to quality private institution, we hope to achieve that as a goal and an objective. Using the best of our knowledge capital disposition, we are looking at cost recovery centres that support the drive of exploiting Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, which has not been tremendously exploited in Nigeria. We intend to exploit opportunities on CSR and other knowledge driven programmes that would help to provide fertile access to quality education for less privileged and rural Nigerians.

Not every business idea should be discussed with any conventional friend…

Starting a business in Nigeria, especially in the area we are prospecting, faces the challenge of capital, Nigerian commercial banks do not have provisions for funding school programmes and development financial support does not appear to be forth coming either. Then there is the challenge of not getting inspiration from people who should inspire you because inspiration is part of business. You find colleagues and friends who try to discourage you because they do not believe your idea would work. It is important for people to understand that not every business idea should be discussed with any conventional friend. But if you are focused, you have your visibility correct, you have the best of experts supporting and packaging your business plan to drive your ideas, do not make the mistake of telling so many friends because they have the tendency to dwarf and constrain your capacity to make progress. You begin instead, to discuss with friends within the context of their persuasion. Those willing to support you on key businesses you continue along that line.

I structure my time to do a particular thing at a particular time…

I do a lot of exercising and I structure my time to do a particular thing at a particular time. Then give my family their time and my friends and associates too.

It’s good to have the best of visibility on what you want to pursue…

Youths need to widen their consultations and leverage, as much as possible, on ideas on what they want to pursue. It is good to leverage on the experiences of others, it’s good to have the best of visibility on what you want to pursue as a business and the patience that is needed for incubation. There is no business idea that incubates like the scratch on a match. In fact, if it happens that way you should be afraid of that business. Almost every business, micro, medium or big, must have some reasonable time for incubation. Most people that are looking for a fast track to business, one two seconds or 10 to 20 minutes business may end up crashing. It is important to be patient and passionate about the business you want to pursue.

Always ensure that you have the requisite mentorship on the appropriate packaging to enable you minimise mistakes and maximise gain to hit the right market context so you can keep scaling up in the business and market demands. It has been proven that even if you are doing it wrongly you would get it right. Others have tried. There wouldn’t have been aircraft, digital devices that we have today if not for the tenacity, the patience and resilience of entrepreneurs that are behind those products.

History is also a key element and factor. There must be the disposition and readiness of an entrepreneur that is willing to drive the process of a business to understand the yesterday of that business.