Osobajo Olufemi: At Bet9ja, We Aim to Change Lives

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Osobajo Olufemi is adept at marketing communications, brand management and social development. He has over 10 years’ experience in the marketing communications spectrum, including serving as head of the Marketing and Corporate Communications unit for Bet9ja, the official sponsors of Big Brother Naija 2019. He tells Azuka Ogujiuba why the betting company decided to be the headline sponsor of the show, about his growth in the corporate world and his childhood in Mushin

Tell us about Bet9ja? How long has it been in existence?

Bet9ja has been on for six years, and it’s also the second to come into business. We are centered on sports betting in Nigeria and we are the market leader in sports betting. We are number one in sports betting, anything sports, football, basketball, tennis, dog racing, horse racing etc. We are number one in that market in Africa.

What impact does Bet9ja have on our society and community?

If we look at the history of sport betting in Nigeria, it’s the fastest growing industry in Nigeria now. Our sole purpose is to change lives, whereby people within the community can play for as low as N100 and win N11million. Someone just last week won N11 million with a game of N200. That guy’s life has changed; he’s going to start up multiple businesses with that particular cheque. We pay 100% compared to others who put you on a payment plan. We operate a business where you put in your money based on the perception and knowledge of games that are about commencing/on-going, once that outcome becomes positive, you make a lot of money from there.

Is it another form of gambling?

It is gaming, there’s nothing against gaming. We as Africans have some negative conditions with gaming. Gaming is normal, though it comes with its own risks. Then again, nothing good comes easy. Everything you do in life is a risk, coming out of your house with a car not hitting you is a risk, walking under a bridge and a truck not falling on you is a risk, a cab man wakes up in the morning, he doesn’t know if he’s going to get customers or not is a risk, everything in life is a risk. But still, we thrive.

How do you control addicts?

Just like every habit, there are addicts, we as a business help people by providing articles on our platform, website where you can go and read up on responsible gaming. Again, we have other measures for consumer protection as regards gaming. It is responsible gaming, you have to put measures in place for control and consumer protection.

It’s all over the media that Bet9ja is the headline sponsor of this year’s Big Brother Nigeria; can you tell us why?

One of our major vision as a business, is to actually “change lives” as much as we can. The Big Brother Nigeria platform affords us that opportunity. If you are familiar with our history in relation to sponsorships, we tend to align with platforms that afford the average Nigerian youth the opportunity of a life changing experience and this is what Big Brother brings to the table. Whatever platform helps us in achieving this sole purpose of changing lives is what Bet9ja gravitates towards.

What are the unique things we should expect in this year’s Big Brother?

What I can give away is that, we will not approach Big Brother platform the same way everyone has approached Big Brother. We will give housemates a life changing opportunity, and not just housemates, but viewers as well. We have multiple games for viewers to play, simple games to give them a chance to change their lives. That I can guarantee. We are developing a lot of games for viewers and housemates to be able to make some level of money and provide an enjoyable experience for all.

What special features should people look out for?

The Big Brother platform is a huge bag of surprises on its own. The voice changes from time-to-time, tasks are different, emotions vary, etc. This year will not be any different. The involvement of Bet9ja as this year’s title sponsors will equally bring some level of uniqueness to the show and we can guarantee it will be something no one wants to miss.

Are you enjoying your job?

Yes! I’m having a fantastic time. It’s challenging as it should be because it’s a new industry, but it is exciting, it’s a unique industry on its own. It’s totally different, what works in Oil and Gas doesn’t work in gaming. It’s a different world entirely in terms of consumers’ behaviour and consumption habits.

How do you spend your free time?

I am a goof ball. I hang-out with friends and family, play video games. However, I hardly ever have any free time these days but, it is what it is.

Who influenced you, career-wise?

A lot of people have influenced me overtime during the course of my career. Some I know personally, most of them I don’t. Thing is, we live in a digital age where I can look at your career path via Linkedin and tailor mine in that direction. Currently, I draw influence from my current bosses (Mr. Soname and Mr. Ojuroye), they are fantastic individuals, they spotted an opportunity in an industry where it was practically nonexistent and grew the business from scratch to what it is today.

Are you a Big Brother fan? And what’s your general ideology of Big Brother Nigeria?

I personally have been a Big Brother fan since day one. We watch it at home. Everybody doesn’t watch Big Brother until some controversy happens and everybody starts to chip into it. I love the Big Brother platform, the concept is having people in the house and seeing how humans interact and co-exist from different backgrounds and cultures, I feel that’s what we need in terms of where we are now politically in Nigeria. Showing how we can co-exist from all tribes, beliefs and culture. Coming together as one in achieving a unique goal, it’s really not about winning money in the end. I mean, they are all winners just by being in the house.

What memorable experience has life taught you?

Growing up, we were not financially buoyant. My house wasn’t far from Linda Ikeji’s house; it wasn’t far from the high-rise where they used to live, practically on the same street. So growing up, you really don’t know/see anything about success so to speak. I saw peers gradually becoming a product of their environment. We were surrounded by poverty growing up until I attended Covenant, and that shaped my entire perspective to what life is, how you need to actually put in some work to make some money, how you need to stand out among your peers. I mean, let’s leave the spiritual aspects aside because that comes with Covenant University anyway, but in terms of leadership and how to take responsibility for your life and not depend on your parents on how to survive, that shaped my entire ideology about life and then it made me want more in life. I didn’t know any better before I stepped into Covenant and that still drives me till this day.