For this quarter’s Supporter Newsletter, Windmill’s Development Officer, Janet Eremenko, met with Windmill alumnus and the newest board member, Dapo Bankole. They talked about his business, the value of helping others and staying true to oneself through it all.
You launched your business, Mopheth Systems, in 2015. Tell us about your company.
At Mopheth Systems, we essentially partner with small businesses that do not have the bandwidth or the financial reserves to have their own marketing or technology teams and to succeed in business; every organization needs a marketing and technology team. We are an integrated digital marketing and technology solutions firm with a passion for seeing businesses grow and scale optimally. We attract and funnel qualified leads to our partners and optimize and automate their business processes by selecting, implementing, and supporting applicable technologies that power their operations. We like to say, “Go rest. Focus on your zone of genius, and we’ll take care of your digital marketing and technology needs.”
Fundamentally, I am a business analyst, and this is what I have always done. When we join a team or a project, we quickly learn enough about it so that we can help move it forward. We support all types of businesses, from people who build golf courses to medical clinics to coaches and consultants to a business that automates laundry appliances in condominiums and apartment buildings. We have clients across Canada, the United States and internationally, as well.
What led you to start your own business, and despite all the challenges of the last year and the risks associated with launching your own business, it sounds like it’s been the right decision?
Absolutely. Our revenue did take a hit in 2020, but overall, we felt more profitable than in 2019 because we achieved more with less in terms of our corporate goals. Back in Nigeria, I had started my own business. I was working another job at the time, but I wanted to do more and so created my own start-up. Naturally, when we moved to Canada, we had to leave all that behind. But in 2014, I thought I’d see if I could recreate the business all over again, and so I restarted it as a side hustle. I don’t know what made me do it, but I incorporated the business in June 2015, perhaps with some inkling that something would go wrong. A few months later, I lost my job. This side hustle then became the only thing I had to fall back on.
Some people look at me, and they say: “Oh man, you’re so brave.” And I say: “No, I’m not that brave. I was pushed into the ocean, and I had to learn how to swim. I was pushed into it, and I had to survive. It was not sink or swim. It was swim or swim! Sinking was not an option.”
You also operate a podcast and community called Immigrant Life. What do you hope listeners take away from Immigrant Life?
I want people to thrive. Not to be perfect or necessarily be the next Warren Buffet. Thriving is a state of mind that lets you look beyond yourself and make a meaningful contribution to life even while you are on your journey.
I believe we have these cardinal areas of life; spiritual, financial, family, social relationships, work, physical and mental wellbeing. And it is important for us to know where we are in all those areas, to understand our strengths and weaknesses. We can all take even the smallest steps to improve ourselves in those critical life areas. At a certain point in the process, you stop merely thinking about yourself, and you can look back and see who is coming behind you. You might be able to help that person.
I believe I am building a legacy. When I take a path, if I make mistakes along the way, I like to look back and ask, “What happened there?” and if I have learned something, I tell others. It is just the way I have approached life.
So, what do I want people to take away from it? I want to arm them with the information they need to thrive in the key areas of life and to leave life better than they met it. To be better and to help others. Ultimately, that is the joy.
Are there things that Canadian-born people can do to help and encourage that kind of thriving for newcomers?
Fundamentally it is to be open-minded. Be willing to listen. Be willing to learn. Many people find it difficult to understand what it means to be an immigrant because they have never been uprooted from everything they have always known. But I have also met Canadians who left everything, went somewhere else, and when we talk, they can relate.
So how can people help? Be willing to be a part of this community. Join immigrants. Be a part of the conversation. Listen, hear them, ask great questions so that you can understand. Just keep open ears, open hearts. Once you learn, understand, and connect, whatever comes to your heart, just follow it. Be true to yourself. Honour yourself, and you will be fine.
You’ve recently joined Windmill’s Board of Directors. There’s a great deal to be said for lived experience and diversity of perspective at the governance table. We are just so pleased to have you.
Why did you decide to give back to Windmill, and what advice would you give to other supporters?
It was not something I was really thinking about. I encourage others to be courageous and just ask for something when they need it. So, when you asked me, I thought, why not?
I do not give because I have a surplus. I give because I prioritize, and if something speaks to me, I do something about it. For example, back in Nigeria, there was a cause I wanted to be a part of, but I had no money to give at that time. I so desperately wanted to support the cause of the corporate organization that was trying to fill a need. So, I went home, looked around at what I could part with and gave them my most expensive pair of shoes so that they could sell and get some money. There is always something in your life that you can use to improve yourself or the next person. It may even just be your time. But again, if it strikes you in your heart, just follow your lead.
I would say to other donors that when you think about what you want to do, start with why and be true to yourself. And when your reasons for participating or donating aren’t true anymore, then just stop. That’s okay to do because it’s honouring yourself and you’ll be better fulfilled as a person.