Former University of Sunderland student Les Ojugbana is well-known in the city for businesses such as his Gbana Security firm and Fitness 2000, which is renowned for providing free gym passes for veterans and people hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite living in Sunderland for 22 years he has always maintained business links with his home city of Lagos in Nigeria.

Now, he has teamed up with an old school friend to set up FarmAfrikOrg, which is aimed at helping create a self-sufficient Africa.

The Nigerian-based firm has recently secured several multi-million dollar contracts within the agricultural sector to supply both the Government and private sector with greenhouse farming equipment, expertise and training.

Les graduated from the University in 2005 with a Film and Media Studies degree.

Reflecting on his student days, he said: “Coming to Sunderland, for me, is about the people.

“I found I was always supported by the locals from the day I came to the city. I made a good bunch of both local and international friends, but the locals were the key for me.

“For someone like myself who had and still has the choice to live anywhere in the world, it is the locals that made me proud to say today Sunderland is my home and base for my businesses internationally.

“Ultimately, the University played a major role in constructing and packaging me into the man I am today, giving me the ability to work with a vast array and spectrum of people across the business world.”

Les added: “For any international students wanting to come to Sunderland, they will find a very friendly, inclusive and welcoming city – a city where you soon become one of their own.”

This message comes ahead of the University’s International Open Day, which is being held virtually on Wednesday (October 27th).

Last year, despite the pandemic, the University’s online international open days attracted record numbers, with a 10% increase in enrolments from overseas students.

Ian Moody, Deputy Director of International at the University of Sunderland, recently shortlisted as University of the Year, in this year’s THE – Times Higher Education – annual awards, said: “We’re really excited to be hosting our online International Open Day this week.

“It’s always a pleasure to speak to prospective students from across the world and have the opportunity to showcase our award-winning facilities and our highly ranked programmes.”