Imbibe Entrepreneurial Culture, Flying Doctors Boss Urges Professionals

Dr. Ola Brown

Martins Ifijeh

The Founder, Flying Doctors Nigeria, Dr. Ola Brown has urged professionals in various disciplines to imbibe entrepreneurial skills as it is the only way to achieving success in their callings.

Brown who gave this advice at the Lit subnational Tour in Lagos recently, organised by The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and the Lagos State government, noted that it was one thing to be professionally sound, but a different ball game to run the business aspects of various disciplines successfully.

She said: “For my personal challenges in my entrepreneurial journey, they actually haven’t been government related. I think the biggest challenges have been ‘me’ related and culturally as well. So, as I was growing up, my parents and I’m sure all of our parents were all used to telling us to study medicine, study engineering, study accounting.

“So, coming home to the Nigerian context and starting a business was actually quite difficult because I didn’t know very much about business. I didn’t know what I needed to do to get a loan from the bank. I thought that medicine and clinical practice prepared me for all the challenges.

“And if you look at it, the first air ambulance service in the world was started by a pastor. Dangote is not a chemical or structural limestone engineer or some kind of scientist that knows about the science of creating cement.

“He’s an entrepreneur and I think that if we can start to adjust that entrepreneurial culture alongside our professional skills, that would make business a lot easier for us.”

Drawing from her personal experience, Brown recalled that she had a most challenging experience at the early stage of her business life when she flew a patient from Nigeria to the UK for medical care.

She recalled: “I once transferred a patient to the UK for treatment and the patient ended up not paying their bills and I ended up being sanctioned because of it.

“It wasn’t a problem with my medical skills, it was a problem with my business skills and I was fully reinstated after the sanction but that painful period taught me that being skilled at the technical work of your profession is completely different from being skilled at the business of your profession.”

Speaking on ease of doing business, she commended the federal government, recalling specifically the visa on arrival reform and how it has enhanced her business.

“For me, visa on arrival has changed the way my business runs forever. Every year, there is this kind of pilgrimage that goes to the mountain in Chad to look at some historic thing that I haven’t properly researched, but they do a lot of mountain climbing in Chad and there are always accidents.

“So, can you imagine, trying to move an American or a European into a Nigerian hospital, you have to move them to the center of Chad first and wait two days for a visa there while the patient is critical before you can get them into Nigeria.

“And now we can fly directly there and bring them straight into Lagos, they get their visa on arrival when they get to Lagos and we can take them to hospital and I will tell you what that does, each of these patients are intensive care patients, they spend around $50, 000 each.

“So, you can imagine if we are bringing one thousand to five thousand of those patients every year into Lagos. It just props up my business.”