RESILIENCE IS ONE WORD THAT BEST DEFINES THE CHARACTER OF YEWANDE ZACCHEAUS, AN ENTREPRENEUR WHOSE EYE FOR DETAIL HAS HELPED CREATE A SEAMLESS EDGE FOR THE MANY EVENTS SHE MANAGES, WRITES FUNKE OLAODE
Given the huge crowd that swarmed Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos, on October 23, it seemed the entire city had resolved to converge at a particular spot.
They had gathered to celebrate Mrs. Yewande Zaccheaus, founder of the event management company, Eventful Limited.
The lines have indeed fallen in pleasant places for this woman of uncommon courage and determination, who despite the obstacles, has elevated events management into a glamorous vocation that could actually be run as a serious business.
What began as a small start-up 10 years ago has now grown to become a mighty oak. She, therefore, has every reason to roll out the drums to celebrate her achievement as an entrepreneur of note at the occasion which had in attendance the First Ladies of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola and Cross River State, Mrs. Obioma Imoke as special guests. The event was graced by other emiment Nigerians who included Chief Folake Solanke (SAN) and her parents, High Chief Bayo Akinnola and his wife.
In celebration of the milestone, the company assembled a crop of accomplished entrepreneurs and key public sector leaders including Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); minister of communication and information technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson; President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; pioneer Managing Director, GTBank, Mr. Tajudeen Fola Adeola; chairman of Inter-Switch Ltd, Mr. Dotun Sulaiman; Chairman, Vigeo Holdings, Mr. Gbolly Osibodu; Group Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Bisi Onasanya; lead consultant, Phillips Consulting, Mr. Foluso Phillips and managing director, Television Continental, Mr. Dayo Richie-Johnson to interact with guests on the necessary tips needed for aspiring entrepreneurs.
While the likes of Governor Fashola, Dangote, Onasanya, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and Adeola spoke via a telecast, others like Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Richie-Johnson, Oluwole Oshin, Kofo Akinkugbe, Nike Ogunlesi and Bolanle Koya took turn at the event to rub minds with guests on their journey through life. Governor Fashola’s speech dwelt on opportunities, Omobola Johnson dedicated her speech to leadership while Aliko Dangote shed light on the vision that has helped him grow his business to such an impressive height. According to Dangote, to succeed as an entrepreneur, one must think big, take calculated risk and be consistent. “If you think less, you may not go far; therefore, it helps when an entrepreneur thinks big and he is committed.”
Onasanya said the celebrant has redefined the events management terrain, adding that it is imperative for budding entrepreneurs to have access to finance. Another successful female industrialist, Mrs. Awosika, explained that having a clear understanding of what to do is a major factor. “You have to be knowledgeable about the area you want to operate. An understanding of where you want to play is a key success factor in business. In my view that is why Yewande has been able to redefine the events management industry, which was almost not existent when she came in,” she noted.
Speaking on her journey so far, Mrs. Zaccheaus said: “As a company, we are humbled to see ourselves as game changers. In the ‘80s and the ‘90s, high net-worth individuals and corporate bodies could do well with having just talented members of their families or staff in their corporate affairs departments to manage their events. More often than not, such individuals still keep other regular jobs or maintain other duties in the corporate affairs department. But today, the story has changed.”
For her, “Eventful Limited is not about party planning; but a company that set out to make a difference through big innovative ideas. We create an experience that is memorable, joyful and adds value to business and individuals”.
A 1982 law graduate of the University of Lagos, Zaccheaus obtained an LL.M from Cambridge University, England, in 1984. She began her career as a legal officer at the Nigerian-American Merchant Bank and later had a brief stint in private practice prior to joining Ecobank Nigeria Plc as the pioneer company secretary and legal adviser in 1989 where she obtained first-hand experience in handling corporate events.
She has brought unrivalled commitment, professionalism, and international best practice and immense passion for success into events management. Her wealth of corporate experience in events management has not only shaped the industry, it has also set the standard for others to emulate. Today, Eventful has emerged a clear leader in the events management sector, boasting of a robust clientele ranging from small to medium and large scale organisations across Nigeria and beyond. On her assessment of Eventful’s impact in the industry, she replied with a thoughtful look. “Events are about creating an experience. There must be an experience created for guests. They are sometimes meant to tell a story. A story that must be told with clarity. That story must be evident right through the conceptualisation of the event.”
Her mission, she added, is to re-evaluate the company’s vision after 10 years of operation like other successful brands in the world. “At inception, we set a vision to organise and deliver services with creativity and passion for ourselves and a mission to be the market leader in the events planning business in Nigeria. I will leave the task of judging whether we have achieved that to industry watchers and our clients.
“But for us, the burden of leadership that has emerged from our set mission is in itself a new mission which we must pursue vigorously over the next 10 years. It is a mission to help fill the skills gaps in the area of our calling so that the event planning sector can meet the market demands of our nation’s growing population and become a recognised contributor to the nation’s gross domestic product.
“I want to look back in another 10 years and see skilful event planners we have mentored serving different sectors of the economy. The potentials of some sectors of the Nigerian economy are such that, they will be under-served by available hands in the event planning business unless something is urgently done.” Through her company Eventful Ltd, Zaccheaus may have opened a vista of opportunities for other aspiring entrepreneurs who will be discerning enough to see the opportunities that exist for events management services in Nigeria.
Perhaps one sector that illustrates this projection best is showbiz. According to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, the Nigerian music industry produces an average of 550 albums of different types of music annually.
This means on the average, 225 album launch events take place every year. These albums’ launch events, though low budget events, are sometimes handled by aides to the musicians rather than professional event planners. Again, an estimated 1,200 concerts and musical shows take place every year and account for a combined turnover of US105.5 million dollars. Nigeria has the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood. Increasingly, film makers are realizing that film premier events require the services of professional event planners.
Without doubt, Zaccheaus deserves all the accolades she has received on the occasion of the celebration of her tenth year as an events planner. What an eventful year it has been for her!