Story by Success Chima
I was not thinking of becoming the MD. I just thought it was a smart idea for the bank and it was something very little, we just needed to make it a service. They did not do anything wrong to me, they just gave me the idea that I could become an MD.
Necessity has been said to be the mother of invention. When the need for something becomes so much essential, you are forced to find ways of achieving it, – that is the story of the MD/CEO, Precise Financial Systems, Yele Okeremi, and his Co-founder, Phillip Ayeni when they were starting up Precise Financial Systems, an indigenous software development company that bridges the front-office and the back-office of organizations.
The small company that started in 1994 with just 8250 Naira is today one of the most recognized software companies in sub-Saharan Africa with different innovative and world-class software solutions that are being used by notable clients in Nigeria and thirty-seven countries of Africa and beyond.
The software solution company that is globally known for its innovative solutions now was not what it is today when he and Phillip started the company.
Yele who was a guest speaker at the Discovery for Men Conference at Fountain of Life Church recently said that he got the idea of starting a software company when foreigners from Europe would come with a briefcase to market and sell software to the bank where he was working then, and what they were bringing was not in good standing with what they were doing in the country.
“We were given the opportunity to develop in-house products for the bank, and I was fortunate to be in the bank in the 80s and early 90s. While many banks were buying other software, we were building, so I already understood a little bit of how these things could be done,
When these guys brought these softwares from Europe, I would look at what they were bringing, compare it to what we were building and I began to see that they were not in any way smarter than us. We would ask them questions and sometimes they would not even come up with reasonable answers. That was the moment I stood up to the responsibility”, Yele explained.
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He said that the only thing he could do when he knew that they were charging 1 million pounds was to cry.
“I realized that they were taking a lot of money that at some point, I began to cry because what these guys were pushing was not as standard as what my team and I were doing”
Yele revealed that what he did afterwards was to send a memo to the senior management of the bank to allow his department to become a company to serve the bank and other banks, but the management declined, saying that it was a political move to become the MD.
“I was not thinking of becoming the MD. I just thought it was a smart idea for the bank and it was something very little, we just needed to make it a service. They did not do anything wrong to me, they just gave me the idea that I could become an MD.”, he said.
The idea that was not allowed to fly at the beginning was what he said he turned to a company that has become global referenced today.
“When I realized that the bank was not going in the direction that I gave them, I spoke to Philip who was my colleague in the same department at that time, and now Deputy Managing Director at PFS now and a Chartered Accountant. I discussed the idea with him, he agreed, we spent one year preparing the business plan, and launched the company on 1st of March 1994”
Today according to Yele, the company holds to her credit numerous product trademarks that serve many financial and non-financial organisations that include the banks, federal and state government parastatals, insurance companies, oil and gas companies, telecommunication and IT companies, stockbroking firms, bureau de change firms, manufacturing companies, airlines, hotels, health management organisations, logistics firms.
He pointed that the company now works with many partners to deliver financial software services to multinational companies that include Microsoft Corporation, IBM, SAP, Ernst Reiner GMBH & Co. KG, Germany, Arit of Africa, and International Marketing Partners.
PFS has been recognized on various fronts in the software development and financial services space and a member of the Presidential Initiative for developing the software industry in Nigeria and a member of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s working group on Automated Clearing House and Cheque Truncation.
The company was recently celebrated by the prestigious Cfi.co Award in London as the Winner of the Best Banking Solutions Team in West Africa, the 4th IT Edge West Africa Convergence Forum also honoured the company as the Innovative Leader in Financial Software Solution and as the 4th of the top 50 West African IT companies.
PFS was announced the winner of BoICT Award as the 2013 Indigenous Software Company of the Year; Africa Innovation Awards 2014 winner as the Financial Software Solution Provider of the Year; International Business Star, Accra, Quality Awards 2014 winner as Best Software Company in Africa 2013 for software development excellence and sterling support services.
According to Yele, the company is still embarking on its mission to help its customers break barriers and change their status quo by providing simple solutions to their complex problems using proven technologies.
“We ensure that optimal technology is employed to have a straight-through-process, right from the transaction source up to the processing and reporting point. We believe that optimal technology does not necessarily translate to highly expensive technology. In doing this we employ the best in man and material resources”, Yele explained.
Yele is presently an Associate Professor at Nobel International Business School, Ghana. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the Swiss Business School, Zurich, Switzerland having previously obtained a Master of Applied Business Research from the same institution.
He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science (with Economics) from the Obafemi Awolowo University and a Masters in Business Administration.
He is an alumnus of the Wits Business School, Johannesburg South Africa, and Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA where he completed the Owner President Management Program. He is also an alumnus of INSEAD Fontainebleau, France where he completed the International Directors Program and obtained the Certificate in Corporate Governance.
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