Mosaic Stories

    Olusegun Babalola

    As he was growing up, Olusegun (Segun) Babalola found himself traveling across Europe, exploring parts of the Middle East and Africa where he was exposed to different cultures and ways of life. His father worked in International Business, which allowed his family to travel the world and live in multiple countries. Segun, a native Nigerian grew up in Lagos, Nigeria until age 12. He moved to the Ivory Coast through age 17 and then returned to Nigeria. Segun studied abroad in France while in university and speaks English, French and Yoruba. He was always on the move and eager for adventure as he was growing up. Although Segun has been in the United States for 11 years, his adventurous spirit has driven him to create an exciting life in St. Louis.

    Segun first arrived in the United States to attend university at Southeast Missouri State University. He chose to study in Missouri due to family friends nearby. Segun eventually graduated and chose to move to St. Louis to begin his career. He visited St. Louis several occasions in the past to meet up with college friends, so it was a fairly familiar place

    Presently, Segun works for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership as the North County Sector Specialist in the Real Estate and Community Development department. He focuses on community engagement and redevelopment efforts throughout North St. Louis County. Also, he is attending Webster University to receive his MBA. In addition to his job and graduate school, Segun is an entrepreneur. He started his own event planning business called “Safari Events”.  It is officially registered in the state of Missouri and has been active for about a year.  He has already held numerous networking events for immigrants and young professionals looking for success in St. Louis and is hoping to continue to expand and grow.

    “We have social gatherings and network events. My business has been open for a year and in that time had a few successes. My niche has always been immigrants and young professionals. I classify myself as both.  I know and understand what people are missing in this city.”

    He mentioned his first intention for the business was for it to be directed toward immigrants, but it has evolved into attracting both immigrants and young professionals. He is able to relate to being a minority in the young professional world and wants to help establish young minority professionals into the diverse and corporate environment that is St. Louis. He knows networking is an important step to success and believes that people will connect on a social and professional level at his events.

    “I have learned to live my life according to an African proverb that states ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.”

    Segun started this business on his own and will continue to grow it as time goes on.  Meanwhile, he is involved in other organizations such as the Regional Business Council Young Professionals Network, Brand St. Louis, and the National Black MBA Association, all of which connect young professionals to each other and resources that they may need. In addition, he serves on the St. Louis Clean Energy Development Board. Given that Segun is passionate about networking and helping immigrants in St. Louis, he was eager to be involved with the St. Louis Mosaic Project.

    “When I first heard about the Mosaic Project I was eager to connect with their mission. This type of activity is critical for St. Louis if our state is to have economic growth we are competing on a global stage; therefore we cannot be isolated.” 

    He embraced the Mosaic Project’s mission to make St. Louis a more globally welcoming place for all people. He wants immigrants to experience one of his favorite characteristics about St. Louis, which is the welcoming approach of the city. In addition to the city being very welcoming, it is also diverse. He explained how his network is made up of both people who were born and raised in St. Louis and foreign born. He also loves the low cost of living in St. Louis, but would say the biggest advantage to the city is the size. He finds that St. Louis is not too small nor too big.  The size of the city is great for making professional connections and being able to get involved.

    He thinks St. Louis is a great city for immigrants to become entrepreneurs, but the one key to success as an entrepreneur is how willing you are to engage with where you are. Segun recalled some of the challenges he experienced when he originally came to the United States, and how he overcame them through integrating with different groups of people such as his fraternity in his university. This led him to understand the importance of being involved with the community you live in.

    With his positive energy and willingness to bring people together, Segun looks forward to welcoming more immigrants and helping them make St. Louis a home in the same way that he has claimed St. Louis.