Mitchell Elegbe is the MD/ CEO of Interswitch. An integrated payment and transaction company in Nigeria. He is a graduate of Electrical Engineering from the University of Benin. He was formerly with Schlumberger Wireline and Testing, and Telnet, an ICT engineering and consulting company until 2002, when he started Interswitch Group where he is currently the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
As a student, he loaned money from a friend to begin a cassette recording business: he’d go to Onitsha, buy high quality audio tapes and then go back to a recording studio, record on them and sell in school. “Not too long after wards, other students began doing the same thing, recording on tapes of lower quality, which totally wiped out my profits. Then I switched over to selling shirts. This is how I learnt how to read a market, and also time management, lessons that have become invaluable to me today.”
The last child in his family, he was raised by his uncle, his father having passed on when his mother was pregnant with him. It was from his uncle, who now played the role of father in his life that he learnt family values. Hear him, “If you are looking at rich from the terms of material wealth, I won’t say I come from a rich home but if you are looking at rich in terms of values, yes! While having wealthy folks can help one to succeed in life, it is not a determining factor – I know of people who came from very poor homes who have made it and others from rich home who lost focus, so I think it boils down to the individual, yes! Money helps but money not being there is not an excuse not to make it”.
A man of possibilities, Mitchell believes the color of one’s skin is not a factor in the quest to succeed. “I just came back
from a trip to Bahamas and found out that most people on the Island are black, one question I kept asking myself is how these people are different from us? People say there is something wrong with the black man but here is Bahamas not too far from the US, and making things happen, so it has nothing to do with the color of our skin, my motivation comes from the challenges from the environment, there are problems here and these problems need to be solved. That motivates me.”
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