Abiola Abdulkareem is an attorney originally hailing from Nigeria. More recently, he immigrated to the United States from Oxford, England. Upon earning his law degree, he obtained a Master’s degree in oil and gas law from the University of Wolverhampton, UK. Abiola Abdulkareem is a trained legal professional with a history of providing competent and dependable legal assistance and support to a wide range of companies, non-profit organizations, and individuals. Sometime in the future, he plans to run for political office in Nigeria.
Abiola Abdulkareem also created the Jagunlabi Foundation, a charity whose mission is to provide basic needs for impoverished people. The Jagunlabi Foundation is currently feeding about 300 people each day during the month of Ramadan, and it plans to initiate more such programs in time for other holidays.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
Starting my own business has given me the independence and freedom to make my own money and be my own boss. I employ people and give them direction. It gives me a good feeling to know I have taken charge of things. I didn’t have this opportunity in the UK. When I was there, I didn’t have the drive. I think being in America has created that drive within me, because this is a much better environment for being an entrepreneur.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I love it because I get to deal with different people every day. I get to solve their problems. That’s what brought me into law as well. I get to be there for people and that’s what I do. I do what’s best for them.
What keeps you motivated?
My four children. I want to be there for them. I want them to be proud of me, to turn around and say to others, “That’s my father.” I read Barack Obama’s book and he talked about his dad in glowing terms. I want my kids to look back and say great things about me
How do you motivate others?
I think I’m good at talking to people. I think my success motivates them. If you do well, people will see that. And who doesn’t want to do well? I come from a very humble background, so people can take inspiration from my success because of that. They can look at me and say, “I can make it, too.” Nothing can stop you if you are ambitious and driven. Your dreams are valued as long as you’re willing to work and do the right thing.
How has your company grown from its early days to now?
I started this business in 2016. I used to do everything by myself, but now I have three people on my staff working for me. We make sales every day. Last year was a big year for us. We really came on strong, I think, mostly because of COVID-19. A lot of businesses provide similar services to ours, but many of them took last year off for fear of the virus. We were able to step up and fill in the gap.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
My father. He is very hardworking and very prayerful. Those are the traits that I really want to instill into my children, as well. I want to encourage them to put their principles into action and to be straightforward. Don’t play games with people. Be very honest. Don’t cut corners. Then, surely, you will put yourself in the best situation in life. That is how my father has lived his life.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I think I’m very straightforward. When you are straightforward, people tend to believe you because they trust you. Trust means they’ll work hard for you and rely on your judgment. They will be on your side. Also, I’m very honest with people. I don’t try to cut corners with them. I pay hardworking people a good salary because they deserve it. I’m prayerful in my faith, and I’m very friendly. I can engage people in conversation and be interesting.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Go to school and study hard at whatever subject you love the most, but always develop a solid plan B—a different option on the side. There may be a niche for you to develop that you can use as a fall back plan. Also, if you work hard at something you love, you can’t go wrong.
All these big corporations are set up for their owners and executives to become billionaires so they can go sit down by a beach somewhere. If you work for them, you work to forward their life’s goals while they enjoy the life they want. But you can also do that for yourself. You can be your own boss. Maybe do something on the side, whether it is fashion or sports or music or building content, there are so many options out there. Find your niche. There’s something for you. And get up early!
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
My previous relationship. When that broke down it was really tough. But I am moving on. A relationship can be a really great thing, but if it crashes it will definitely affect all areas of your life. You start to wonder how you’re going to get things done. But glory be to God, everything is back to normal. I have found some happiness now. I have some trusted hands that are helping me with my business. All that being said, challenges can help you grow. That’s the beautiful thing about a challenge; in overcoming it, you’ll be able to find some inner strength inside that you didn’t realize was there.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My children. I have tried to raise them right, and I’m really impressed with who they are becoming. The other day, my son said, “Oh Daddy, I came across the foundation’s website. I want to chip in 50 pounds.” Of all the donations that we had, that was the most touching. For my son to see the point of what I was trying to accomplish, and to want to chip in his own money—that was beautiful. And very sweet of him.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
You should be able to be there for yourself. People can’t always be there for you. They have their own things to do. Don’t rely on others to be there for you. Find a way to be there for yourself. Make sure you can stand on your own—that you can take care of yourself first—before you step out to help others.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
The religion of Islam. I try to make sure my actions revolve around my beliefs. My religion defines me. I pray five times a day. This is Ramadan right now, so we are all fasting.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
I am considering going back to Nigeria and possibly running for political office. I think that may be the future for me because I feel a new calling for me in terms of helping others. I’ve been fairly successful compared to other people, but I feel I should be able to do more than I’m doing right now. I want to go out there and do more to help people, inspire people, and then lead people, possibly.