Braving the odds to abandon a well-paying job in the corporate world and delving into the grossly unpopular and under-rewarding (at least in this part of the world) tourism industry, tourism entrepreneur and blogger, Michael Balogun features as Explore’s diamond in the rough personality (Read an interview with our last personality here). Micheal Balogun shares his story below:
Micheal Balogun, a very inquisitive young boy was among the millions of children who sat glued to their black and white television sets whenever the famed hero series- Robin Hood was being aired back in the 80s and early 90s on Nigeria Television stations. Week in week out, he savoured the show with puerile fascination and secretly wished to someday grow up to be like Robin Hood, even though deep down, he knew that the heroic displays and awesome settings were nothing but a fiction.
As an adult in 2003, travelling for the first time to the United Kingdom, he naturally made the Robin Hood Castle inside the Nottingham Castle his first port of call, and was fascinated by what he saw. The Castle, the dungeons all existed in real life! Robin Hood wasn’t just a fiction after all.
He thought that If the Robin Hood Castle indeed existed, then other ‘surreal’ creatures and monuments he saw on television must exist too. He therefore decided to take a tour of London to see the city first hand.
The London experience ignited a passion in Micheal Balogun; a passion that laid hibernated until it found expression starting five years ago.
“Everywhere in London is a tourist haven as there are several sights to see. I’m an outdoor person and I love to explore, so I thought to myself that if hospitality could thrive this big in London, then it can as well thrive in my country with its size and several beautiful sights. I decided I would replicate everything I saw in the UK in my home country Nigeria. We must tell the Nigerian story. As long as we don’t tell our story, strangers will distort it for us.
Leaving my well-paying job for tourism was unavoidable. The longer I stayed at my job, the more irritated I got, because I knew tourism was what my heart wanted. Tourism for me is working and having fun at the same time. Getting to meet people from other countries and learning about things directly from the citizens of the country is fun for me- breaking grounds and discovering new places that are yet to be discovered and sharing information with people in Nigeria and all over the world.”
Micheal Balogun’s passion has begun to pay off, with many accolades and sponsorship following in quick succession. In 2015, his company, Tour2nigeria won a N100,000 cash prize at ignite contest for business startups in Nigeria.
Months later, a bigger reward yet followed his hard work as he got selected by the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Project (TEEP) as one of the 10,000 best business ideas in Africa. The selection came with a 5,000 USD reward and another potential 5,000 USD if he advances in the project.
With honours like these coming from home and abroad, it’s only a matter of time before Micheal Balogun blossoms to become one of Nigeria’s and indeed Africa’s most celebrated tourism entrepreneurs.