By: Hilary Sparks-Roberts, Executive Director
Michael Obi’s love of business started with a car. Or rather, many cars. Michael’s father owned an auto mechanic’s shop in Nigeria and it quickly became the family business. As the youngest son in a family of eight, Michael spent his summer vacations helping his father fix and sell cars. Michael’s entrepreneurial spirit was reinforced by his mother who owned a food supply business.
Michael came to the United States when he was 18 to attend the University of North Florida’s Coggin School of Business where he received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an MBA in Finance. One of Michael’s first jobs in the United States was bagging groceries in Albertson’s – a major grocery store in Florida. Because he was new to America, he often couldn’t understand what people were saying in their Southern dialect. He dreaded being asked to find the price for something indecipherable like “spageddy.” And he equally dreaded being misunderstood by his customers.
Those days are long gone. After 17 years as a banking executive, Michael now serves as the chairman and CEO of Spectrum Global Solutions, LLC. Spectrum helps companies succeed by improving their performance and growing their revenue. Through Spectrum, Michael owns several Little Caesars Pizza franchises in the Cleveland area and plans to open additional stores in Nigeria. Michael also serves as a consultant to the Urban League, the President’s Council Foundation, and of course Social Venture Partners.
Michael’s on a mission to support and expand the minority entrepreneurial community in Cleveland. He sees it as his life’s calling “to advance African-American businesses and change lives in the process.” He aims for transformational change using novel problem-solving approaches. The phrase “it can’t be done” always revs his engines and motivates him to prove the negative.
Introduced to Social Venture Partners by Partner Shilpa Kedar, Michael served as a Fast Pitch coach to Katie Mang of Voolla, one of our presenters at bigBANG! 2014. He got so excited by the work, that he joined as an SVP Partner later that same year.
Michael is an entrepreneur by blood and upbringing. Optimism, tenacity, compassion, and pragmatism color his actions as a businessman, father, husband, friend, and SVP Partner. SVP is enriched by his presence.