In this encounter with Funke Olaode, Shade Okoya who is the deputy managing director of Eleganza Industrial City Limited says beyond work, she relaxes in the company of her husband and children
At a glance, she has a physique that can compete favourably with super models, while her girlish look and fashion statement could make many young girls green with envy. Fair, tall, elegant and a head turner anytime any day, Shade Okoya could be passed for a 25-year-old damsel. Alas! She is a mother of four growing up children. There is no doubt that she has enjoyed and continues to enjoy good life. She is indeed living life to the fullest. Her sprawling abode tagged Oluwa Ni n Sola on Lekki Epe Expressway attests to her husband’s deep pocket. But what comes to mind when her name is mentioned? She is billionaire’s wife.
Period! Folashade Okoya, the youngest wife of business mogul, Chief Rasak Akanni Okoya, is a woman of many parts. She is beautiful, brilliant, industrious, hardworking and a resourceful individual whose entrepreneurial spirit is compared to none. Though because of her affiliate to the business magnate, she is somewhat misunderstood as one woman whose life revolves around fashion. No doubt, she loves jewelry, and has some of the best collections – gold, silver and diamond. She is also a good dresser who can’t be found wanting by fashion police. But beyond opulence and affluence, here is a woman with business acumen having learnt the rope under an industrious husband whose items under Eleganza conglomerate have become household names in Nigeria nay West Africa.
She has been married to Chief Okoya for over 16 years. Shade, in the early days of her marriage, was busy raising her young children. Her first daughter is 15 and the last one is nearing 10. She has plunged herself into the Eleganza business fully and she is currently the deputy managing director of the newly established Eleganza Industrial City Limited while her doting husband serves as chairman.
Eleganza has been around for over four decades controlling Nigerian markets and even extending its tentacles to other West African countries. But the new Eleganza industrial city which is built on 35 acres of land in Ibeju-Lekki is new, big and better. The whole idea of the newly established EICL according to her is to have household items in one compound. Not only that, they want to be able to give Nigerians and the West African countries what they produce locally at affordable price. “One of the dreams of the Chairman, and my husband, Alhaji Rasak Okoya, is to see that items being produced in the new industry become a household name. We produce luggage/bag that can be branded for companies, pilgrimage, government parastatals and family trip. We also manufacture over 68 different designs of standard chairs for churches, parties, eateries, hotels etc. We also have sets of coolers and food warmers in different shapes and design,” she said during an encounter with THISDAY.
Having learnt the rope of business under an industrious husband, she is no longer a stranger to the terrain even as she attests to the fact that consistency, not compromise on standard and quality have been the guiding principles that have kept the company going in the past four decades. And for the new company which is less than three years, she gives kudos to a forward-looking husband. “My husband who is the chairman is a workaholic and he is passionate about what he does. What keeps him going is to see his products in every household. This keeps him motivated to do more. I shop in Europe and I know sometimes it costs 200 Euro to get a chair. You can imagine getting the same standard for less than N3,000 locally. So, Eleganza is about touching lives positively,” she said.
Shade is gradually becoming a business mogul. How would she assess Nigerian career women? Adjusting her bangles as if looking for an answer. She said, “I am impressed with the way women are going. They are wonderful, hardworking and industrious. Nigerian women of these days don’t sit at home like the women of yesteryears. I am lucky to belong to the generation of hard working women. It means you can become somebody if you are focused and work on your dreams. With little or nothing, if you have passion for something and you do it with dedication and commitment, sky is just the beginning.”
Her effort as a business woman has not gone unnoticed. She was recently awarded the Honorary Doctor of Science in business management and corporate leadership from the European American University. The award, she said, came as a result of what she is doing in Eleganza. “It was a worthy recognition and I am grateful for it.”
When Shade is not busy in the factory with workers, she enjoys the company of her husband. Her children also keep her busy. And when she is not in the company of her children, she loves to sleep a lot.
How is life being married to one of the richest entrepreneurs in the country? “It’s been awesome. It’s been wonderful. The marriage has been smooth. I have been enjoying my marriage. He is my best friend. One good thing about him is that he doesn’t lie. When I met him he said if you want the marriage to work I have to learn the ropes. Learning the ropes means I have to imbibe and embrace hard work. As you know he is a workaholic and every moment with him has been wonderful. I pray to God to spend many more years together.”
And how would she describe a man she has spent 16 years of her life with? “He is my husband, my friend, my role model. He is a wonderful man. He actually employed me because if he didn’t have the foresight I won’t be here doing what I am doing now. He is a very hardworking man who has contributed his quota and still contributing to the socio economic development of the nation and reducing unemployment.”
Often referred to as brain and beauty by people, she says she is just a workaholic who creates time to look after herself.