ROLE MODEL OF THE WEEK, MR DEAN OKAI – SOCIAL & BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR AND OWNER OF SUITS DIRECT

I am Dean Okai, I am 42 years old and originally from South London. I grew up on two housing estates in South London until I moved out of my Mother’s house at 18. Young Men don’t necessarily make the best decisions and me moving back to New Cross to be around certain friends wasn’t the smartest.

Within a couple of years I can say that I was surrounded by petty criminals on the establishing rungs of the ladder. Yet regardless of the environments and circumstances I found myself, I always knew exactly who I was going to be and where I was going to be. I had that same spirit in school, when I would hear teachers tell me I couldn’t do this or that.

There was never a stage in my life when I would base what I was capable of, based on other peoples limitations. Everybody you come across that is threatened by your confidence will try to convince you out of your position, by selling you fear and doubt. Don’t buy it, there is something innate in your spirit that knows your path and destiny.

Having established that at my core I was always a big brother and an entrepreneur, I made a decision that no matter how many businesses I had that went down and how much I lost a by product, that I would never sit still and continue evolving and sharpening my pencil with regards to mastering business processes and acumen.

In the year 2000, I lost two phone shops in South London after three burglaries that left me with £260 in my pocket. My MO was always to get a job for six months and take advantage of all of the resources around me to re-establish myself and save the stake money to bet on myself again. I’d make myself as small as possible and save until I reached my number and then leave for another Dean Okai adventure.

You will find a common thread with many entrepreneurs in that we have had many incarnations to give us 10,000 hours of practice, to master our environment within the business landscape. There is nothing easy about being in business, because as business people we are choosing to be problem solvers. When you look at the matrix of challenges in front of you such as a shrinking economy, new technology that reduces your customer base, marketing that has become more streamlined to attract niche markets, all whilst paying the commercial land lord, who is raising the rent.

 

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Did I mention that you have to do all of this and manage the dynamic of personalities within our companies and manage Family life at the same time. Having a job is not practice for running a business. This upsets many people with jobs, who have aspirations to get off the plantation and become architects of their own destiny. You need to just do it. Do your research, surround yourself with expertise, emerce yourself in the industry you want to enter and be aware that you have a number of transferrable skills.

 

Because of my experience I have always been aware that I had a number of transferrable skills, which is why I never listened to anyone else about the limitations of my capabilities. I was encouraged to get a job and work for someone else from my earliest memories, this is how we first betray our children, which is why I home school my son and enable him to be an entrepreneur.

 

Getting around to my current business, Suits Direct on Camden High Street, which was only an opportunistic means to an ends to provide a daily income, whilst pursuing everything else that I do. It provides me with choices that enable me to advocate on the ‘Transition of the Black Pound’ projects, raise and spend time with my son to guarantee that he will permanently be his own boss. As Black people we need to practice self preservation that serves our Families and our collective interests first.

 

As Men we are obligated to pay the rent and feed our Families, whilst climbing the ladder to fulfil our dreams. Being an entrepreneur is the perfect way to do that, which is why I advocate for teaching our children to be financially literate and run their own businesses. From the age of 9 I always wanted to work for myself, inspite of the fact that my Mother always encouraged me to get a proper job. My son will never know the pressures of those conflicting interests and be happy to follow the desires of his heart.

 

Dean Okai

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About Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez

Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez is an International Award Winner, Published Author & Poet, Broadcast Journalist, MC and Youth Empowerment Consultant . He is also The CEO of AFRICA4U and The Founder of Africans in The Diaspora People also see him as a Cultural and Social entrepreneur, which means he is skilled in working with many different communities, bringing people together in successful focused events. Tony has organised many cultural events …involving both BME and mainstream communities. He is skilled in hosting events that reinforce community cohesion and bringing different kinds of people together. He has organised events in The UK, The U.S.A, Holland, Germany, Eastern Europe and Nigeria and has visited over 18 European Countries. Tony has also organised The Black History Month Celebrations at The UK House of Parliament for three years in a row (2013,2014 and 2015). He continues to promote the true life and success stories of Africans in Europe and Africans around the world and has organised several small scale literary and awards initiatives aimed at empowering young people. He has also spent time as an International broadcaster and was The Producer and Presenter for AFRICA4U International Radio Talk Show at Reading4u Radio Station for nearly three years. Tony has interviewed high profile Members of Parliament, Distinguished celebrities and some of Africas best musicians including Ivonne Chaka Chaka and Kanda Bongoman. He has also been a guest on BBC Radio on numerous occasions to discuss the community cohesion events he organises at UK House of Parliament and also to recite some of his published work in memory of Nelson Mandela, 50 Years Anniversary of The race relations act and major community issues. Tony has also a Guest on popular Radio stations in Nigeria and The States In the last few years he has been very passionate about Youth empowerment, community cohesion and cultural intelligence. Tony was born in South London and has lived in several parts of England and Nigeria . He started writing at the tender age of nine, a habit he expressed with creative enthusiasm. Tony writes Poetry, short stories and proverbs on personal development. He is currently working on his 4th book which will also be his first novel. He is also into Public Speaking at Special events and Social functions and is a Mentor for young people in the UK Community. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Lagos, Nigeria in English and World Literature. He later went on to attain a teaching qualification at The Frances King International Training Institute, South Kensington London, it was here he studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He also studied Web Design at The City University in London. He published his first book in June 1999 called “The Beauty in the Dark” (A Collection of Poetry which received critical acclamation in many circles around the world). .Tony’s aim in life is to inspire the young generation and to encourage the youth to make the very best of their dreams and aspirations,. He published a 2nd book in June 2009 called ” The Sound of Running Water” – A Family gift book of proverbs and quotations on Personal Development and Positive Thinking . In December 2009, he published his 3rd book called “One Moment of Peace”.- A collection of Poetry inspired by personal experiences and spiritual growth. Besides the fact that the Artist has won International online awards, he is mostly inspired by Life experience, love, music and cultural awareness. He was Resident Poet at the 5th London Poetry Festival in 2009 and has been a guest on BBC Radio on very many occassions including The famous Anne Diamond Show. He has also been a guest on a few SKY TV stations and several International Radio Stations around The World On Wednesday the 30th of October 2013, Tony Tokunbo Fernandez organised his biggest event ever- The Black History Month Celebration at the House of Parliament. The Special Guest on the day was The Minister for Sports and Equalities MP Helen Grant and Key Community Ambassadors in The Black Community
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