Petroleum and Logistics Limited.
She is a typical example of a young
woman who is taking advantage of ‘common sense’ to enrich her life and
impact the world. How she became the CEO of her oil firm truly
demonstrates and remains a case study for young Nigerians who are aiming
to extend their frontiers in entrepreneurship.
WHEN Damilola Owolabi introduced herself as the Chief Executive
Officer of Dreg Waters Petroleum and Logistics Ltd., she sounded as one
of those children born with the silver spoon who succeed by milking
their parents’ wealth. But after further conversation, it became
apparent that Damilola is one lady who knew early in life what she
wanted and went after it doggedly. The success story of the 24-year-old
indigene of Kogi State has not been a cheerful ride. And despite coming
from a modest background where she had to pay through her nose to
complete her degree, she has been able to stand tall.
“My parents were civil servants. So, as a family, we didn’t have much
but we were happy,” she explains. “My background was such that we were
taught to trust God for everything. There was nothing like malls,
vacation or outing of any sort while I was growing up.”
Interestingly, at age 10, all Damilola requested and desired, as a
birthday gift from her parents, was a small shop. She started business
when she was in primary school and has kept to this path ever since.
Indeed, she developed a deep passion for entrepreneurship since she was
an eight-year-old, when she started exhibiting a tendency in this
“I should say I actually developed interest in business at the age of
eight, when I was still in primary school. Then, I would sharpen
pencils for my classmates, who would pay me in return. On my 10th
birthday, I remember asking for a little store from my parents where I
could sell stuff after returning from school.
“In the university, I was practically running a plaza in my room as I
was selling virtually everything people needed. My mates and friends
named my room Dami’s Plaza. The business was successful to such an
extent that I could afford to pay my school fees in some situations when
my parents were short of money. I attended a private university; so it
wasn’t easy for my parents. My goal then was to leave school with a
profit of about N1million but I left with N700, 000,” she says.
In 2011, immediately after her graduation, Damilola, who read Public
Administration at Madonna University, Okija in Anambra State left Lokoja
for Lagos upon realizing that the latter is a home of opportunities.
But her early days in Lagos were that of great disappointment and
regret. On arriving in Lagos, she met a young man who introduced her to
fabrics business and was to assist her. Unfortunately, however, the male
friend ran away with her money.
Recalling the sad incident, she narrates: “I intended going to Ghana
to bring in fabrics and different stuff to sell in Lagos, but I was
robbed and all the money was gone. That experience made me feel like I
had reached the end of the world because that was virtually everything I
However, rather than give up, she decided to give her dream another
shot. So, when she was to go for National Youth Service, she borrowed
N10, 000 from her aunt to buy waist bags with the intention of selling
them to other corps members. That turned out to be the remedy to her
financial problem, as she recorded a huge success.
“With the profit, I was able to pay back my aunt, make up for my
bills and still had little money in my account,” she recalls. “After
NYSC, I got a job as a sales representative in a telecoms company, which
was good for me because I enjoyed it. But I later resigned. I left
because I wanted my own company.”
Damilola explains that Dreg Waters Petroleum and Logistics Ltd was
established three years ago to fill a vacuum in the oil and gas sector.
Her mandate was to simplify the processes involved in acquiring licences
and permits to operate an oil company in Nigeria.
Prior to this time, she had undertaken an entrepreneurship course at
Fate Foundation in a bid to improve herself. This not withstanding, she
still had no idea what kind of business to venture into.
“I was no longer in a school environment where I had a ready
clientele to sell to. So, I needed to find a way to fit into the Lagos
environment and get to know the things happening there. I met a friend
in the oil and gas sector who complained to me about the difficulties
involved in procuring his importation licence from the Department of
Petroleum Resources (DPR). I told him to give me some time and I would
get back to him, though I didn’t have the faintest idea on how to help
him. Neither did I know then that I would end up in the oil and gas
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