David Onamusi is a man on a mission. When he’s not working as a digital business analyst at Teva UK, he runs the Redefine Success Summit in Lagos, Nigeria. The annual entrepreneurs’ event focuses on the importance of health in business. “To me, Teva’s promise is about helping people to live better days. I see myself as one of the privileged ones – and this is my opportunity to give something back.”
Born in Nigeria, David is keen to put the skills he has learned at Teva to benefit the wider community and his home country. “I want to use my experience in the corporate world to help.”
David pays for the Summit out of his own savings. “This year we are hoping for more support, although we’re not looking at tens of thousands of pounds.”
His efforts support the World Health Day 2018 theme of #HealthForAll. It’s a pressing issue in Nigeria where life expectancy is relatively low – around 50 years of age. (Life expectancy is 81.60 years in the UK and 78.74 years in the US, according to the World Bank).
David explains the health situation in the country: “A lot of people in their forties are having strokes and heart attacks. A change in lifestyle could help, such as diet – eating less oil in their meals, getting more sleep.
Tackling lifestyle issues
“There’s also a lot of pollution with people living in poor conditions. Diabetes is on the rise. I travelled back to Nigeria and on the plane I was served tea which was about 60% sweet condensed milk and 40% sugar! More people are starting to drink dairy-free products such as soy milk but there is still a long way to go.”
David’s third Redefine Success Summit will be held in July 2018. The entrepreneurs that he has gathered work across the health sector as well as in technology, culture and personal development. They have been chosen because they all have a good understanding of a healthy work/life balance.
This year the summit will be held at the University of Lagos, one of the biggest in Africa, and around 300 people are expected to attend. Helping aspiring entrepreneurs is the aim, with a further emphasis placed on the health sector. Five speakers have been confirmed including a personal development coach, targeting mental strength.
One of the inspiring entrepreneurial examples David shares is that of a cancer survivor. “She was diagnosed in her thirties and now serves the top one percent of the rich in real estate properties. Her story of surviving cancer is amazing and will be encouraging for anyone going through something similar.”
Another entrepreneur that David praises is harnessing technology and health. “The ambulance service in Nigeria is quite poor. There could be a road accident and there’s no ambulance available to take them to hospital.
“There’s a lady working on a mobile app where you can call an ambulance service including various modes of transport including a ‘tuk tuk’ (a motorised rickshaw). The app is available for free and you can subscribe to have access to that service.”
Such inventions are vital in a country where the scarcity of medical facilities is a real problem, exacerbated by poverty.
“There is a public health facility,” David explains. “It is not free, as you have to pay for the bed, medicines. It’s at a public living wage, but many people do not earn a minimum wage. It’s relatively cheap but many people still can’t afford it, leading many to self-prescribe treatments. This can be dangerous.”
Doctors at government hospitals are in short supply, according to statistics from University Teaching Hospital (UCH). Even though Nigeria has 80,000 registered doctors, more than 50,000 are practicing abroad.
The country has also been hit by health epidemics. The World Health Organisation (WHO) was notified of meningitis, Lassa fever and hepatitis outbreaks by the Nigerian government in 2017.
At the Redefine Success Summit (https://www.redefinesuccesssummit.com/), David takes a session focusing on ‘holistic success’ to highlight physical as well as mental health. He suggests setting health goals such as exercise and medical check-ups on a regular basis.
“A lot of people go into business for many reasons, to make money, because it’s their passion, or to transform their lives. But you’ve only got one body to ever realise that dream. If your body shuts down, then that’s it.”
Breaking the silence
One of the taboo subjects that David tackles head on is mental health. His own experience has given him the strength and conviction to speak out. “I was diagnosed years ago with depression. I was five minutes away from walking onto a train track and somehow I didn’t do it.
“So I understand the challenge of a mental health breakdown. That’s why I talk consistently about holistic success. In Nigeria, we are hearing about more and more young people committing suicide, and it is alarming how many people are suffering from depression.”
The feedback from the summits has been good, encouraging people to build on their drive and confidence. David boasts about one success story: “One lady is currently growing her business - a mobile app for desserts - like an Uber for cakes! She is doing exceptionally well.”