HGCP 2021 Participants: Chika Nwajoku is tackling Nigeria’s unemployment challenges through Shoemaking with NCR Design Limited

I sat down with the founder of NCR Design Limited, a company created to foster socio-economic growth and help mitigate Nigeria’s unemployment challenges through Shoemaking. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Chika Ruth Nwajoku, a women and youth entrepreneurship advocate and the founder of NCR Design Limited, a company created to foster socio-economic growth and help mitigate Nigeria’s unemployment challenges through Shoemaking. 

I am graduate of soil science from the federal university of technology and a professional salesperson who has built her career in a variety of industries.

I am passionate about empowering women and youths in the communities who are denied access to education because of poverty, early marriages, and the patriarchal nature of the society, with the skill to establish a career in small and medium businesses to enable them to be financially independent and contribute to economic development.

I acquired a shoemaking skill during the mandatory National Youth Service Program in 2012 and has since used her work at NCR Design Shoemaking school to improve the lives of women and youths in Nigeria by enabling them to produce and export standard footwear products through training, job matching opportunities, mentoring, and access to quality and affordable raw materials.

Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?

I wanted to create value with something that I was passionate about.  I have always loved shoes but became increasingly interested in shoes when I joined shoemaking CDS group during my days as a Youth Corp member in 2012. 

I started to dig deep into the art of shoemaking, read about master shoemakers, the business of shoemaking, its rewards, the challenges, and opportunities… just everything about it.  It was fascinating to say the least.  It had never occurred to me that I could make a living out of it because interestingly, I am a graduate of Soil Science so academically, nothing really linked to the career I have now.  But growing up I loved making things.  I loved art.  I loved creating, but somehow had forgotten about it during my years as a student. My joining the shoemaking CDS group made me remember how much I loved crafts.

I further enrolled for advanced shoemaking classes at Pretty and Chic vocational centre, Ikeja. Lagos state, after which I used my allowance from the NYSC program to acquire start-up equipment.

After my parent’s disapproval to follow my passion of setting up a vocational training centre, I secured a job as a Business Development officer in 2013, and after a job loss experience in 2017 and another year without securing a job, I used my personal savings of 150,000 naira, making use of my sitting room to establish the business, in 2018 when NCR Design was incorporated.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

One of my biggest achievements is establishing this business, securing awards and other recognitions for outstanding contribution to community developments. NCR Design emerged Winner of the top 10 startups of the Year 2021 in the Entrepreneur Africa Award. We’ve also featured in publications and Television stations, locally and internationally.

I would say that we have done tremendously well in ensuring that our work contribute to community development and to the sustainable development goals by empowering Nigerian youths and women with the skill to fight poverty, hunger, and gender inequality through volunteering and collaborations.

Since the business was incorporated, we have been involved in trainings, mentoring, volunteering and collaborations with NGOs and other organizations to empower Nigerian women and youths, especially the vulnerable ones with the skill to pull them out of poverty and start a new lease of life through shoemaking.

Achievement is not just about the happy, shiny things it is also about withstanding tough times and challenging situations, so handling challenges, complexity and change is also one of my biggest achievements.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

It’s the responsibility of building something of meaning & impact. Learning every day and working in a team to help people.

I am deeply invested in and passionate about the service that I offer. Making a difference and having a positive impact on someone else’s life is my favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur.

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer

NCR Design is a company created to foster socio-economic growth and help mitigate Nigeria’s unemployment challenges through shoemaking.

NCR Design was incorporated in 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria with the sole objective of offering its students personalized hands-on training on the different aspects of shoemaking from appreciation of equipment and materials, pattern drafting and design, lasting, stamping, threading, dying and quality controls, etc.  Our courses are built on an active, experimental, and practical learning session, known to combine design talent with technical knowledge of Shoes models and delivered by instructors with demonstrable practical experience in the field of footwear production.

We provide free accommodation, mentorship, and internship opportunities.

Where can people find out more about your business?

We will also be launching our official website shortly, in the meantime if you would like to connect with us, please google search NCR Shoemaking school, or do so via our email at ncrdesignlimited@gmail.com, or any of our social media platforms.

 We are on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/ncrdesign, on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ncr.design and on Twitter at  www.twitter.com/NCRCrafts.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

By remaining consistent with our brand promise, we have established and positioned ourselves as one of the leading shoemaking schools in Nigeria. We provide mentorship and internship opportunities, free accommodation during training, also our training facility, tools, and equipment is available to students who completed their training for one year.

Focusing on quality customer service and growing my team have been other direct avenues for growth. Giving back to my community and being socially responsible is another great way I grew my brand and showcased my business values. 

What’s been the most significant thing you’ve done to grow your business?

Networking is one of the most significant things I’ve done to grow my business, making the right partnerships, and knowing my business community. I took the time to network and built relationships that could potentially build my business because I knew that having a strong network could lead to new customers, partnerships, employees, and even investors. 

Leveraging social media was another significant step. Diving into social media seemed daunting at first because I thought I had to have experience with it to leverage social platforms, but it appears it’s as simple as opening a business profile and beginning to grow a community of customers and  establishing a consistent schedule my followers and customers could expect.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

You can be anything and everything you set your mind to, with the right amount of ambition, commitment, dedication and of course, hard work you will do it.

First things first, you need to realize what that best version of yourself looks like so that you can figure out how you can take the next step o become that person. It is all about your mindset and reprogramming your mind for success. 

If you had to write a book, what would it be on what and why?

It would be on THE GUIDE TO EMPLOYMENT THROUGH HANDWORK.

The book would encourage women and youths in the communities, especially those who are denied access to education because of poverty, early marriages, and the patriarchal nature of the society, to establish a career in small and medium businesses to enable them to be financially independent and contribute to economic growth through handwork.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

To be a successful entrepreneur in my industry, one must be Creative, always looks at the big picture. Creativity and vision often lead to the invention and discovery of new things. One facet of creativity is being able to make connections between seemingly unrelated events or situations and one must also be willing to step outside their comfort zone for their ideas to come to fruition.

Another skill is being a strong communicator and a good listener. You simply cannot manage a great team or provide a great customer service if you are not an effective communicator. 

Perseverance is another great skill to be a successful entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must maintain optimism and perseverance. Remember that you only fail when you stop trying. Persistence is the key to success.

What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

I would recommend entrepreneurs invest their time in finding a Mentor: Despite challenging conditions, there are always experienced people with often decades of experience to impart. Consider their advice and do not be afraid to challenge opinion.

I would also recommend entrepreneurs invest their time in building strong, active networks.  These networks provide referrals, collaborations, and other opportunities. They offer morale support and positive influences.  I am a true believer in the adage, “Your network determines your net worth.”

Another recommendation is that they never ever stop learning.  Those that think they know it all when starting-up are in real trouble.  

Chika is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program to scale NCR Design Ltd to tackle youth unemployment on a large scale in Nigeria.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Executive Director of the Centre for Population Health Initiatives (CPHI), Elizabeth Shoyemi discusses how CPHI serves marginalized and underserved communities by providing for their sexual and reproductive health needs

I sat down with the Executive Director of the Centre for Population Health Initiatives (CPHI), Elizabeth Shoyemi to get to know her and the inspiration behind CPHI.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Elizabeth Shoyemi. I am the Executive Director of the Centre for Population Health Initiatives (CPHI), a non-governmental, non-profit organization that caters to the sexual and reproductive health needs of Nigeria’s underserved and marginalized populations. 

I am a Public Health Professional; I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, Master’s of Science in Public health from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and currently studying at Nexford University for a Master’s in Business Administration. 

I have over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector. I worked with the Population Council, DeltaWomen NGO, and the Nigeria Youth Aid Programme. I have also volunteered with the Society for Family Health and Youth Empowerment Foundation. At CPHI, I lead a diverse team of health care professionals creating positive impacts in the health sector.

I am from Akwa Ibom state, and I live in Lagos State, Nigeria. I am a mother of two children.  I am committed to saving living lives and ensuring that a healthy society is achieved. 

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

My biggest achievement is the birth of CPHI, and being part of the growth process.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

In my spare time,  enjoy watching movies, particularly drama and travelling to new places. 

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is creating innovative solutions that enable me to feed my passion of saving people’s lives. 

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

The Centre for Population Health Initiatives is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that uses multi-dimensional approaches to meet underserved communities’ sexual and reproductive health needs. It was established in 2020 and has reached over 30,000 with sexual and reproductive health interventions.

CPHI provides clinical and community-based services ranging from prevention, screening, and treatment for various sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. In addition, we provide vaccination for Hepatitis B, mental health support, cervical cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, and general wellbeing.

Our clinics are located in Lagos and Rivers states. These clinics also serve as hubs for research, safe spaces for social activities, and capacity-building activities. All our services are provided at no cost to the client; we operate weekend and after-hours services. We also have a web application for appointments.

Where can people find out more about CPHI?

You can learn more about us on our website at https://cphinigeria.org. If you’d like to book an appointment for our services, you can do so through our web application at https://posha24.com/

You can also connect with us on social media. We are on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cphi_24/, on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/cphi.lagos and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/centre-for-population-health-initiatives/mycompany/?viewAsMember=true.

You can also reach out to me (Elizabeth) directly on WhatsApp at +2348062952246, or connect with me on  LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabeth-shoyemi-17508a40/, on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/elizabeth.asuquo and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/elizabethshoyemi/.

You can also get hold of me on email at eshoyemi@cphinigeria.org 

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

CPHI is known to reach the underserved communities, including sex workers, LGBTQI, people who use drugs, adolescents, hard-to-reach young girls, and women. These populations face daily stigma and discrimination in various forms, and they are usually left out during program design interventions. CPHI acknowledges the sexual and reproductive health issues they face, which poses a public health challenge, hence the need to address them through innovative solutions. Our services are specialized, client-centered, zero cost, and hitch-free. 

What has been a make or break moment in your entrepreneurial journey?

Being in the non-profit sector where I solely depend on funding and grants, my make moments are moments I receive a “Yes” to a submitted grant application, and my break moments are the periods I receive a rejection mail. The make moments reassure me of the future, while my break moments remind me to keep pushing and be a better version next time. 

What’s been the most significant thing you’ve done to grow your business?

I have expanded the scope of services through partnerships and secured funding to sustain the service provision and the organization for at least two years. 

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, you must have good communication skills, negotiation skills, and Problem-solving skills.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

Be open-minded, make learning part of your lifestyle, and focus on how to grow your business, not your competitors. Rather than focusing on your competitors, conduct research and focus on creating your own unique selling point. 

What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?

I have discovered that networking is essential. It’s not enough to gather contacts but to ensure that you have active connections with the contacts. Setting short-term and long-term goals ranging from personal, family, and business to work towards it through daily tasks and to-dos is key for success. The management of the business can be overwhelming; creating time for self-care and learning is vital. 

What business-related book has inspired you the most? 

Silences in NGO Discourse: The role and future of NGOs in Africa by Issa Shivji and The Third sector: Community organizations, NGOs, and non-profit by Meghan Kallman.

Elizabeth is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program to grow herself and prepare CPHI to grow to new heights

HGCP 2021 Participants: Founder of Disney Foods NG Omolara Olayinka Lawrence talk about her passion to help people live healthier lives, and to help women and youths become better versions of themselves

I sat down with Omolara Olayinka Lawrence, to get to know her and the Yoghurt manufacturing company that she founded, Disney Foods NG.

My name is Omolara Olayinka Lawrence, the Founder and CEO of Disney Foods NG, a Yoghurt manufacturing company duly incorporated in 2019.

I am a graduate of Economics, an alumnus of the Enterprise Development Centre (Growth Enterprise Program) and the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, a prolific author of seven books and a skill acquisition enthusiast with over 15 years experience across roles and industries.

I have trained at least 4,000 women and youths to become productive in their respective fields within the last 2 years through my NGO, The Faith and Business Initiatives. I am a Providus Bank SME Ambassador and a Coca-Cola Foundation Grant Awardee.

You can connect with me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/omolaraolayinkalawrence/.

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?

My drive is to help people live healthier lives, and to help women and youths become better versions of themselves.

What motivates me is knowing that I am creating value that keep our customers and clients satisfied.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Starting my business from zero naira and seeing it metamorphose to what it is today. All we had then was suppliers’ credit.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I love playing board games such as scrabble, chess, monopoly and so on, because they bring excitement to my family time, and they help to boost our language skills. I also love visiting Nature Parks; they enhance my creativity

 If you had to write a book, what would it be on what and why?

I am currently writing another book (my eighth) titled “INFLUENCING YOUR MARKETPLACE.”

The title is pretty self explanatory as to why I am writing this book and speaks directly to my WHY; to clearly explain how my readers, women and youths especially, can discover who they really are, how they can maximize their potentials and influence their respective fields of endeavors positively. Simply put, the book intends to expose how one can become a better version of themselves.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur centres around these two words: Creativity and Co-ordination. 

Creativity speaks to my ability to create products and values that bring satisfaction to my customers; and co-ordination is about my ability to co-ordinate people, procedures and processes in business.

What was the inspiration behind DISNEY FOODS NG?

About 3 years ago, my mum had a craving for a healthy drink, and being diabetic, there weren’t a lot of options available to feed her craving, and the Yoghurt idea was birthed in my mind. I learnt how to make it and began producing it for her and others around me. The positive feedback encouraged me to engage in it as a business solution.

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

Disney Foods NG, since inception, has been providing healthy treats to our numerous customers, and we propose to surpass your expectation. We have a unique signature recipe using natural sweeteners, flavors and preservative.  

You can browse our product offerings on our website at www.disneyfoodsng.com. You can also connect with us on social media, we’re on Instagram at www.instagram.com/disneyfoodsng/ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/disneyfoodsng/.

We’re also on YouTube, you can subscribe to our channel at www.youtube.com/disneyfoodsng/.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

We have a wide range of SKUs (18 different flavors) which give our customers so many options to pick from. Each Cup of our Parfait has as much as five or more ‘different’ flavors. The feedback we get from many of our satisfied customers indicate that it is cost effective for them to have over five different flavors (varieties) for the price of one.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Customer Service Skill
  2. Adaptability Skill
  3. Emotional Intelligence Skill

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

We should shun the Crab’s Mentality; we should desist from running others down. Rather, we should focus on helping one another grow; women supporting women should be our watchword!

What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

Entrepreneurs must invest their time in both personal and business development activities.

If an entrepreneur is not growing personally, they may not be able to drive their business growth strategies. But if the entrepreneur grows as they should, it impacts positively on their business.

What business-related book has inspired you the most? 

The Enemy Called Average by John Mason

 

Omolara is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program to develop herself and her business and position Disney Foods NG for growth.

Disney Foods Nigeria

HGCP 2021 Participants: Anita Nchat Kevin talks about her passion to help people achieve their goals that led her to start Amina Dyslexia Center

I sat down with Anita Nchat Kevin, the founder of Amina Dyslexia Center to talk about how her passion to help people achieve their goals led her to start Amina Dyslexia Center.

Tell us a little about yourself.

 I began my career in teaching a few years ago. I was drawn to the education space because of my ability to identify people’s needs and help them achieve their goals. This led me to find solutions to help the dyslexic children I taught, which ultimately led to my starting Amina Dyslexia Center.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Amina Dyslexia Center has been up and running for over 2 years now, within this period the center has won 3 awards and numerous recognitions.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

When I am not working at the center, I am hiking or watching romcom movies.

 If you had to write a book, what would it be on what and why?

Well, I would like to write a book that will help parents to properly educate their children. From my experience working with dyslexics, I realize there is a need for parents to understand the importance of augmenting teachers’ roles in educating children. 

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

In between searching for a job and developing my teaching career, I came across a quote by Richard Branson which says “When you are given an opportunity, take it, then go learn what to do”. I took the bold step of starting Amina Dyslexia Center and then learning how to run a business which has proved very rewarding.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is all about growth. The process refines my creativity and improves my confidence, it allows me to become a better version of myself daily.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

Before Amina Dyslexia Center, I had a 7 to 4 teaching job and on the side, I had a popcorn bar so no, Amina Dyslexia Centre is not my first business, I had a series of side hustles right from my undergraduate days.

How did you come up with the name for your company?

The center is named after my cousin and best friend Amina who passed away when we were 10 years old.

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

At Amina Dyslexia Center, we work to improve the learning abilities of people who are dyslexic. We do this through our 4-hour school system which assesses the condition and design individualized education plans for each student. We administer these plans using technology and multi-sensory tools.

You can learn more about us on our website at http://www.aminadyslexiacenter.com/ or follow us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/aminadyslexiacentre on Facebook and at https://www.instagram.com/aminadyslexiacenter on Instagram and finally, at  https://twitter.com/AminaDyslexia on Twitter.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

Being a dyslexia advocate and starting a center solely for dyslexics and other oblivious learning challenges is a niche in itself in Nigeria’s education space.

What challenges have you faced first as a founder and then as a female founder?

Each time I try to share my success and accomplishment in business I ma perceived as being proud or boastful, especially by other women. This has taught me to keep my achievemets to myself for fear of being mislabeled.  

What’s been the most significant thing you’ve done to grow your business?

Using technology in marketing, dyslexia assessment and teacher training has brought in significant growth for Amina Dyslexia Center. It has enabled us to reach a wider audience and has simplified our processes, especially the assessment process.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Being a business owner means you will most likely act as both a supervisor and as part of a team, and you will need to rely on effective leadership skills to help motivate yourself and your team.

Owning a business can also mean taking care of the financial aspects of your organization. You must develop financial skills even if it means learning from scratch.

Finally, there are many aspects of building a business that require making difficult decisions. Finding solutions to obstacles and using creative thinking to develop plans and strategies is very important to achieving your business goals.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

Be consistent, success does not happen overnight.

What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, what is your favorite book)?

Guy Kawasaki’s The art of the start, I love this book for how it simplifies the processes of starting a business.

Anita is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program working to grow and scale Amina Dyslexia Center to help Nigerians learn better and become the best version of themselves without being hindered by learning disabilities.

Amina Dyslexia Center

HGCP 2021 Participants: Akpevweoghene Erica Ogodo talks about her vision to give people an opportunity to consume healthy, natural foods through Spyce Republic by Erica

I sat down with Akpevweoghene Erica Ogodo of Spyce Republic by Erica to talk about how her passion for creating recipes and new spice blends inspired Spyce Republic.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Akpevweoghene Erica Ogodo. I was born and raised in Warri, Delta state. I’m a graduate of English and Literary studies, a mother of two cuties and an avid foodie. I am passionate about creating recipes and new spice blends.

When I’m not busy with Spyce Republic, I host events and engage in creative writing. I’m an introverted extrovert (lol). One minute I’m the bookworm, the other I’m the party girl. I enjoy working in an environment that thrives on individual creativity.

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?

I stay motivated by the fact that everyday is a new day to do something better and be someone better. I see the rate of food fraud in urban communities and how much the urban population rely on others for their foods and I believe that creating an opportunity to consume healthy, natural foods that are free of adulteration is the best way to go. The fact that we are able to serve consumers through our healthy food brand and also make the rigorous process of preparing African meals easier is all the motivation I need to keep doing more.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Setting up my business late in 2019 was the biggest decision for me and I consider it my biggest achievement. Since we launched, we have been fortunate to serve lots of households through our products, we have offered free mentorship programs on spice production and how best to set up a food business and we have been able to educate lots of people on the importance of healthy food consumption. Through my business, I have been exposed to mentorship programs, including She Leads Africa’s High Growth Coaching Program, that has helped me understand the concept of entrepreneurship and in the long run, we want our business to be an all woman organization that would create gender equality and empowerment.

If you had to write a book, what would it be on what and why?

As a matter of fact, I just started the first chapter of my autobiography. A lot of people who know me personally always ask me to write a book about myself. I think my story would be worth reading as it centers on what a lot of women silently go through , the chains of society, developing your voice and breaking free.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The 5 star part of being an entrepreneur is the fact that I’m doing something I’m very passionate about. A lot of people eat just for satisfaction. For me, when I have a bite, I love to analyse the flavour and spices that went into preparing the delicacy. I love what I do. I’m also ecstatic about the satisfaction I give my customers when they use our products.

Another aspect I love about being an entrepreneur is being able to set the pace and be responsible for my business. It has helped me think in and out of the box and also helped me become a people person.

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

At Spyce Republic, we offer consumers top quality indigenous spice blends, food condiments, beverage mix and natural sweeteners in order to promote healthy food consumption. We believe that Nigerian traditional meals can easily and conveniently be prepared no matter how busy our daily lives may be. Our products are crafted to make home cooking easy, enjoyable and stress free.

Our services include customizing our products to suit our customers diversity and demands, sourcing, processing and packaging products for clients and also private labels.

Experience the magic of African flavour today by letting us cater to your taste buds.

You can get in touch on the streets of Instagram and Facebook at www.instagram.com/spycerepublic and www.facebook.com/spycerepublic. We just recently launched our website and although it is still under construction, you can check us out on www.spycerepublic.com.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

In my kind of business, consistency is key. We have been able to retain the quality of our products despite economic threats like inflation and this has helped us retain our customers. We also believe in the diversity of our customers. That is why when a customer approaches us and demands a customized spice mix, we happily oblige them. Consistency, diversity and customer satisfaction remain our guiding principles.

If you were given $1m to invest in Spyce Republic, where would it go?

If I’m given a million dollars I’m definitely going to invest 50% of the money in Spyce Republic. Aside from producing African product ranges we plan to eventually branch out into producing what we call healthy snacks made with organic ingredients. Also, I’d invest in setting up a dates palm plantation to promote date farming in the country.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

In the next five years we hope to become a household brand with our products seen in the shelves of top supermarkets within and outside the continent and in the pantries of the majority of Nigerian homes. We also hope to serve Africans in the diaspora to give them the feeling of home away from home.

What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?

Hmm, I wouldn’t call it a trick exactly but I can say I have learnt to think more critically. I am naturally a liberal and artistic person, but being an entrepreneur has improved my problem solving skills and has helped me view situations from different perspectives.

Are you a reader, what is your favorite book?

My favourite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’m in love with the classical era of arts and literature.

Erica is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program working to ensure that Spyce Republic becomes a household brand with products in the shelves of top supermarkets within and outside Africa and in the pantries of the majority of Nigerian homes.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Oghenetega Gbadagri, the wellbeing entrepreneur who founded Nigeria’s foremost on-demand spa: The Mobile Spa

I sat down with Oghenetega Gbadagri, the founder The Mobile Spa to get to know her and her journey as a wellbeing entrepreneur managing one of Nigeria’s most on-demand spa.

Tell us a little about yourself and your business.

I’m Tega, I am a wellbeing entrepreneur and the founder of Nigeria’s foremost on-demand Spa: The Mobile Spa. I am certified by the International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC UK). I am also trained and hold certificates in various therapies including – Massage, Facials, Collagen Induction, Electrocautery and Advanced Dermapeeling.

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line and how do you stay motivated?

I am committed to helping people improve their skincare and wellbeing by making spa services easily accessible to them in their personal space.  

I stay motivated by surrounding myself with positive and supportive people, practicing gratitude, regularly reviewing my goals and progress, celebrating my wins no matter how little, and investing in my self-care & well-being.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Growing The Mobile Spa brand to include other team members is my biggest achievement. The Mobile Spa travels to our client’s location to deliver spa  & wellbeing services.  In the past, the cost of transportation from our primary location to different parts of Lagos was a huge challenge. Some areas were farther and the cost of travel sometimes matched the cost of the service which left us unprofitable. 

 In 2019, I was able to decentralize our take off points and set a flat rate for transportation, exclusive of the service charge which covers for the cost of travel to and fro the client’s location.  

Currently, most of our therapists are equipped to fulfil appointments taking off directly from their residence across 12 different parts of Lagos Mainland and Island respectively. We make use of the Uber & Bolt Car Hire system.  This has helped us reduce cost and have a predictable transportation cost per location. Thus scaling up and increasing profit.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I enjoy watching romantic movies and spending time with my family

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

 Creating solutions that improve people’s wellbeing!!

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

The Mobile Spa delivers massages, face and body treatments to clients in the comfort and privacy of their space – home, office or event.

We believe that customers should not encounter the stress of commuting to and fro different locations in order to get rejuvenated with spa treatments, so we make high quality spa services accessible & convenient.

We transform their spaces into a spa in a way that is minimally reversible without clogging their spaces or getting in their way. 

The Mobile Spa was launched in 2014, for some years, I was the sole therapist delivering these on demand services. The Mobile Spa now has over 15 wellbeing therapists serving various clients across Lagos.

Where can people find out more about your business?

You can find us on our website at https://themobilespa.com.ng/. You can follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/themobilespalagos/.

You can also reach out to me directly on Whatsapp at +2349029542951, send me a DM on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tegagbadagri/ or connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/oghenetega-itec-uk-24a166b1/. You’re also welcome to send me an email on tega@themobilespa.com.ng.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

We offer a wide range of treatment options cutting across massages, face & body treatments as offered at the day spa. Our clients enjoy the same benefits of a spa treatment in the comfort of their space.  We create memorable spa experiences wherever people want it by transforming their space evoking the physical and psychological effect of getting rejuvenated.

We have set up spa in the most unusual places – at the beach, parties, offices, conferences, fairs,  rooftops, resorts and we have also been to movie sets.  We are the go-to for on demand spa services.

If you were given $1m to invest in *business*, where would it go?

I would use the money to build an aggregator app available in major Nigerian cities that connects individuals and corporations to therapists that are available to offer on demand spa and wellbeing services within 60 minutes of booking. The money would be invested in app development, recruitment, training & development, marketing and spa supplies.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Planning; delegation and the setting SMART goals

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

 The best advice I’ve received is that as an entrepreneurs I should build a business that can thrive without me by setting up relevant systems and processes.

What business-related books have inspired you the most? 

 There’s actually quite a few, but my current favorites are 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; Traction by Gino Wickman and Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow.

What advice will you give young entrepreneurs who are just starting out?’

Focus on the things that you’re good at and outsource your weaknesses – If booking keeping, graphic design etc. are not your strength, don’t get stuck on doing everything yourself. Find experts that offer these services for a small fee, it will help you focus on your core business and improve efficiency.

Oghenetega is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program working to grow and scale The Mobile Spa.

SHE LEADS AFRICA AND DARLING COLLABORATE TO INSPIRE CONFIDENCE IN YOUNG AFRICAN WOMEN

She Leads Africa in collaboration with Darling (Godrej Africa) champion young African women across Africa through the year-long “Confidence in Action” campaign starting in August 2021.

The campaign includes exciting initiatives like “Pass Me The Mic”- a dedicated video course series, the “Confidence In Action” virtual summits and “The Moment I” podcast featuring prominent African women and a pilot program to support entrepreneurs.

More information is available at www.confidentdarling.com

She Leads Africa is renowned for providing young African women with the tools and resources for success in their personal and professional lives. The campaign takes the vision a step further with Darling, a brand that is equally passionate about the success of African women. Darling helps African women present as their best selves physically and mentally and has committed to supporting partners who share that vision through its products and campaigns.

Ibironke Ugbaja, Regional Head of Marketing at Darling Africa says,

“We are really excited to work with She Leads Africa on the Confidence-In-Action campaign. Darling loves to see African women exude confidence and support them in going for their dreams and winning wherever they find themselves. We will encourage them through this project, and let them know they have it in them to go for it! That’s the goal, to help you ‘Find Your Beautiful.’”

The “Confidence in Action” collaboration aims to inspire young African women to take brave steps in their careers, businesses and personal lives. Through the campaign, young African women get to see themselves and their struggles with self-confidence reflected by African women from different walks of life and get insight on how to overcome these issues.

Another important goal of the campaign is to highlight that status or achievement does not prevent women from experiences issues with confidence. Thus, “The Moment I” video and audio podcast series features notable African women from countries like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as they speak about their journey of building self-confidence. Features include veteran Nigerian actress Nse-Ikpe Etim, South African media powerhouse Nomndeni Nonhle Mdakhi and more.

As Kofo Adebiyi, VP Content at She Leads Africa says,

“Young African women are incredibly ambitious, skilled and have a great deal to offer the world. Despite how awesome we are, we all struggle with moments of self-doubt. “Confidence in Action” is a unique year-long project to support women through these moments. We’re honoured to have a committed partner like Darling with us through the process. For me, Confidence in Action has been about making bold asks and constantly challenging what I think the limits are. I hope that through this project, women across Africa learn what Confidence in Action looks like for them and make bold moves at work, school and wherever they find themselves across the world.”

From August 2021, information about the campaign courses, podcast episodes and the summits will be shared via the She Leads Africa website, Instagram page and newsletter.

To learn more about the She Leads Africa x Darling campaign, please visit www.confidentdarling.com.

More about Darling

Darling is a global hair brand dedicated to providing African women with the trendiest styles and highest quality of hair at the best possible price. Darling is a subsidiary of Godrej Consumer Products.

More about She Leads Africa

She Leads African is a global media company that connects smart African women to resources, tools and advice to help them live their best personal and professional lives.SLA reaches more than 800,000 women across 35+ countries and 5 continents and has been featured in the Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Huffington Post.

For more information about She Leads Africa, join the online community at https://sheleadsafrica.org/community/ and follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Anita Dafeta talks about how her love for the different stories that emanate from ancient folklore inspired Origho Lagos

I sat down with Anita Dafeta, the founder and creative director of Origho Lagos to get to know her and how how her love for the different stories that emanate from ancient folklore inspired her to create  homeware rooted in African heritage.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the founder and Creative Director of ÓRÌGHÒ Lagos, a brand that aims to connect Africa to the world through contemporary homeware rooted in African heritage.

After completing my secondary schooling at Loyola Jesuit College Abuja, I obtained an International Diploma in Business from Oxbridge Tutorial College and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Sheffield UK. After my time at University, I worked briefly in London as an Accounting and Finance intern for a media company and later returned to Nigeria in 2015.

I have worked with renowned brands in various disciplines such as Tiffany Amber Nigeria, Capital Club Lagos and Ermenegildo Zegna. After returning to Nigeria from the UK I realised that there was a huge gap in the creative artisan sector in Nigeria and began liaising with artisans in areas such as woodwork, weaving, pottery and beading; thus the foundation for what has become ÓRÌGHÒ Lagos was forged.

I am a resilient and dedicated founder who is committed to immortalising our African heritage. I currently live in Lagos, Nigeria with my family.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I love art and music so generally I visit galleries, art exhibitions and listen to music from artists like H.E.R, Snoh Aalegra and Brent Fayaz. I’m a lover of 90’s music as well and I believe that great food is also a great time. 

If you had to write a book, it would be on what and why?

It would be a heartfelt, emotional but sometimes hilarious biography of my life thus far. Like how I got my fortune told at the Cirque Le Soir in London on Ganton Street…, still waiting for that to manifest by the way. But it will also have real, raw moments of hard work, tears and everything in between. 

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

I think my greatest achievement is starting a business and sticking with it through thick and thin, especially in this part of the world.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Turning my radical ideas into reality. 

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

We produce artisan made interior décor and home goods products that are rooted in African folklore, design and craftsmanship with the aim of connecting the world to our continent and immortalising our heritage in the home.

You can follow our Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/origholagos/ to keep up to date with our product launches and brand events.

What was the inspiration behind Origho Lagos?

The business is inspired by our African heritage and craftsmanship. I have always loved the different stories that emanate from ancient folklore and I thought it would be wonderful to integrate that in an authentic but new way through homeware.

How did you come up with the name for your company?

The name ÓRÌGHÒ Lagos is derived from my Itsekiri name Orighomisan which means “My head is good” in the native dialect.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

I believe there are individuals who want to own unique pieces of interior décor from Africa. Our craftsmanship is very well sought after all over the world. However, I believe we are still in the trial phase where we really need to get our brand out there and see what works. 

What is your ‘why’ i.e., bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?

True motivation is generally hard to come by these days especially because we live in a hyper visible era with most people posting about their ‘apparent’ successes but not showing the true hard work that goes on behind the scenes. To keep myself motivated I try to ignore the vanity metrics and re-enforce my personal ideology that great things take time to build. I understand that I have a purpose bigger than just me and it has to be fulfilled.

If you were given $1m to invest in your business, where would it go?

I think the virtual art/NFT (Non-Fungible Token) space is a new but interesting sector to invest in.

What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?

I don’t have a lot of tricks up my sleeve (wink) but I believe in listening to your body and recharging when you need to. I also think you should always reflect on the end goal to remind yourself ‘why’.

Anita is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program scaling up Origho Lagos to keep on immortalising African heritage in people’s homes.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Founder of Closer Adenike Bamigbade is all about about the impact and value of Closer’s products to the lives of Closer’s girls and women

I sat down with Adenike Bamigbade, the founder of Closer to get to know her and how she’s empowering women to take charge of their menstrual health.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Adenike and I work in the social development space; so I guess you can call me a social worker. I work on ideas and solutions that solve critical issues that affect young people and women. I am working on three things at the moment; raising young anti-corruption champions, improving access to employment for youth and building a sustainable way to end period-poverty in Nigeria. 

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?

There are myriads of problems around us and this keeps my brain active. I am always asking; how do we solve these problems? Being an avid reader, I have read about how ordinary people create ideas that change the world, so this inspires me to keep creating, iterating and not give up trying to solve a problem I care about. 

Period poverty is a real issue in our world, though the main problem is poverty. However, menstrual health should not be dependent on how rich a girl is, because she is only obeying nature’s call and it’s not her fault. I have seen lots of campaigns around period-poverty, but I feel most have short-impacts, we need to create a more sustainable solution to solve this big problem. This is purely what Closer is here to address, ensuring women and girls have access to good menstrual health. 

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

Closer is a new business and I am overwhelmed by the acceptance everywhere I had the opportunity to talk about the idea. Working on the idea and seeing the idea come to life is my biggest achievement so far. We took our time to work on the product, identify the best suppliers and ensure the experience is great. For us at Closer, every subscriber is a real woman, and she matters to us dearly. For every profit on each Box of Closer, 10% is used to help a girl from disadvantaged home to be out of period poverty. The smile and excitement on the girl is one I can’t buy. Also, each girl writes a ‘thank you’ letter to each subscriber that donated towards her period box. 

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I enjoy the fact that I am adding value to people’s lives. Closer is all about our women and our girls. We are all about the impact and how valuable our products are to people’s lives, not the profit at all. As a business, we make profits, but the experience of our women and girls is fulfilling for me as the founder. 

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

As a woman, you ought to be in charge of your menstrual health. Closer conveniently gives women access to the best-selected products specific to their menstrual needs through a subscription-based platform.

A woman’s lifecycle is largely controlled by her reproductive health starting from puberty to menopause. She is an egg-bag and her dreams can be tied to how well she is able to manage her reproductive health. With Closer, we are providing access to organic sanitary pads, organic panty liners and very important products women need each month to be in control of their menstrual health. Closer wants more women and girls to show up whether the red-visitor is around or her belly is pumped with a baby or she is in her grey-old-days enjoying menopause. We deliver the appropriate intimate care kits women in each category need without any worry. 

Where can people find out more about your business?

At Closer, we want to take the stress off you every month. Start your subscription on our website at  www.closer.ng. We also want to be with you all month round, so ensure you subscribe to our mailing list where we unfold the little secrets women shy about.

You can also connect with us on Social Media on Instagram.com/closerng, Facebook.com/closerng

and Twitter.com/closerng

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

Quality, quality, quality. At Closer, we work directly with suppliers who are producing quality products. Our sanitary pads are safer for you and the environment. Our bikini shavers are healthier alternatives. We don’t do normal, we go extra to ensure we provide quality products. 

This has made us distinct. Also, we are in the big e-commerce health industry, but we narrow it down to menstrual health only. This is a niche with low penetration in Nigeria at the moment, the ocean is still blue here and Closer is positioning itself rightly in that niche. 

What challenges have you faced first as a founder and then as a female founder?

Human resource in terms of getting the right people to work on the idea. This would have been easier if there was enough capital to pay people, but I am willing to allow the business to grow and pay people at our own capacity. I do not want to take the risk of paying more than the business is making at the moment. 

If you were given $1m to invest in *business*, where would it go?

Closer is a subscription business solving an important problem. It has the capacity to scale. With an investment funding of $1m, we will purchase more assets to aid logistics and distributions and also increase marketing budgets. With this investment, we can reach 1 million women per month and that means at least 100,000 girls will be out of period poverty every month. 

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

Just start. I can be a perfectionist, so I always want everything to be perfect before I start. Launching Closer in March 2021 was not my ideal way of doing things but I obliged to the advice I got and I started. I noticed that I have learned so much from my customers than from the market research and survey I did in the past. So, I got real feedback which helped me tweak the products better. So, here is my advice to you as well, just start, it will get perfect along the way. 

What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

As entrepreneurs, we often create an idea that solves our own problem or someone we know. We then believe that other people are experiencing that same problem. When we are building a business brand, we make the mistake of creating a brand we love, not a brand that will appeal to our ideal customers. 

So, I will recommend two things; research and feedback. First, research to understand if this problem is a common thing indeed and how people are already solving it. Also, research on who experience this problem, it is likely that those who experience it are not the ones that will pay for the solution. Also, ensure you get people to help you interpret the responses you get. Get your friends, people with different perspectives and get their insights. 

Secondly, while you build, ask for feedback. Make feedback your food. Ask your customers to rate you, to share their experience and how they are using your product. Pay attention to the feedback and continue to tweak the products or services based on those feedback. 

What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, what is your favorite book) ?

I love Peter Druker’s books on management. What I have realized having read his books is that ideas are common, but a great manager is rare. As entrepreneurs, we are managing a lot of things at the same time. We are managing our customers, our staff, our finance, our suppliers, our market, etc. Each has its own tactics and ways of dealing with it. Peter Drucker spent most of his life studying management and he has broken it down through his books. 

Adenike is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program scaling up Closer to keep on changing the landscape of menstrual health for women in Nigeria.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Titilayo Taiwo on co-founding Africa’s leading one-stop talent marketplace

I sat down with Titilayo Taiwo, the founder and chief operating officer of Terawork.com to get to know her and how she co-founded Africa’s leading one-stop talent marketplace.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Titilayo Taiwo, the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at TERAWORK.COM LIMITED. I oversee TERAWORK’s operations; strategic partnerships and I’m also involved in building exceptional teams and driving revenue.  

I am a Biochemist turned Operations/Human Resources expert with over 10 years of experience that spans Wellness, Oil & Gas, Software Design & Development. I am also a partner and volunteer in various charity organizations. I’m passionate about youth empowerment and I’m very committed to building tools to help people work better together and more effectively. I also enjoy wining and dining with families and friends for relaxation.

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line? 

My ‘why’ is all about the vision and the impact opportunity, I am doing my part by using digital technology to contribute towards solving the long age unemployment problem in Africa. My goal is to see freelancers on our platform earn billions of  dollars while helping millions of businesses of all sizes to grow and achieve their goals. I wake up everyday to ensure that TERAWORK grows into a company that has real impact on the lives of millions of African sellers and buyers. 

On motivation I regularly review our goals and progress because I find that seeing progress is a great motivator in itself, and also goes a long way in improving my self-esteem.

How has your entrepreneurship journey been so far?

As a result of my hands-on experience, I’ve been featured on several entrepreneurship panels and master classes hosted by Enterprise Development Centre(EDC), Webtv, Churches, Schools etc. I was celebrated by Sterling Bank Plc alongside 5 other women nationwide during the International Women’s Day Celebration in February 2020, as a founder and a leader of a company that strives to give equal opportunities to women. I’m also in the 2021 Cohort of  AWS Activate Africa for Africa’s inspiring women start ups founders and leaders.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I’ve never wanted to be an entrepreneur, let alone a serial one. But I absolutely love it now and would never trade it for another occupation. I love the freedom of being able to be wherever you want, with whomever you want, doing whatever you want to. It’s truly priceless.

I love a constant challenge, and the endless opportunities to learn and grow one’s mind. I also love that as my business grows and becomes more successful, it has different challenges and needs that require me to adapt yet again and grow too.

But for me the best part about being an entrepreneur is being in charge of your own destiny. When we’re born, we’re placed into a custody of our parents. Then our society. Schools. Corporations. Entrepreneurs get to break free and take control of their own lives. It’s exhilarating and rewarding.

Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.

TERAWORK is a freelance marketplace that is helping small business owners by giving them the support and access to any competent talent they need to succeed. We provide businesses with on-demand affordable and quality freelancing services in legal, accounting, social media management, software development and 54 other service categories to grow. From the comfort of their homes and within a few hours, they can hire vetted on demand professionals which enables them to focus on building their businesses and save operational costs by 40%. Our Escrow system ensures that they don’t have to pay for substandard jobs any more. With TERAWORK value is guaranteed or you get your money back.

You can learn more and sign up by visiting our website at https://www.terawork.com/.

How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?

We did so by focusing on just one pain point – the hassle of hiring cost effective quality  talent. Our offering of on-demand quality and proven talent with an escrow system that  guarantees value or money back is unique.

What would you say has been pivotal to your growth and success so far? 

My growth mindset; my belief that skills are built, and that new abilities can be developed through practice and effort. I strongly believe in my capacity to learn and grow, and that my intelligence can be developed. I tend to persist in the face of setbacks, take on board and even invite feedback and find inspiration those around me. I see life as an endless opportunity to figure out new things and appreciate that failure is part and parcel of learning and progressing – it’s necessary and therefore not something to shy away from. I also understand that mastery of a skill takes persistence, practice and time.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?

It’s actually a quote by Steve Jobs, ”Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you; the aircraft, vessels, etc. And you can change it, you can influence it…, once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again” 

What’s your number 1 tip for anyone struggling to overcome entrepreneurial overwhelm and keep going?

Learn to do less; the first step to dealing with this is to accept that you’ll never get it all done. I know that’s hard to accept and say, but it’s a reality. Once we acknowledge that, we feel less stressed because we have less resistance to trying to do it to all.

Remind yourself every day that it’s not about getting more done. It’s about getting results that matter. “Do three things well, not ten things badly.” Then outsource, that is why we created TERAWORK!

Titilayo is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program hard at work to grow TERAWORK into a global talent marketplace where value is always guaranteed.