”Stake almost everything”: Go for growth with Bunmi Lawson #SheHive Lagos

bunmi lawson go for growth shehive lagos

With a beautiful combination of effortless grace and muted seriousness, Bunmi Lawson, the CEO of Accion Microfinance Bank spoke to the #MotherlandMoguls at SheHive Lagos.

Her advice on growing a business was practical and actionable —it felt more like talking to a very logical, knowledgeable and completely objective friend.

The secrets for growth

When we think of growth, we often think of it in terms of money. Bunmi defines growth as knowing your passion, how to drive it and what sector you would be most required in.

What that boils down to is, to have a vision.

– Stake almost everything

At some point, if you’re really serious about growing that business, you have to stake it all and make a decision. No one can predict what the “right” decision is, we know.

What Bunmi learned in business is that waiting for everything to fall in place does nothing but prolong the inevitable. Eventually, you have to call the shots.

No option of going back

The best growth decisions are made with knowledge, skills, and intelligence. These decisions should be solid enough and touch your core values.

The moment you know what is most important and you are clear about your priorities, you know there is no turning back.

Get a great team

A great team may consist of staff, directors, mentors and shareholders. Whatever you do, be sure to surround yourself with the right supporters.

Partnerships are good and never compromise on the quality of staff.

bunmi lawson shehive lagos go for growthBunmi also shared information on some big breaks, particularly on going to banks for funding, seeking help for your business and making money.

Capital call

It may seem crazy to you but banks shouldn’t be your first point of call in raising funds for your small business. Funding a business is always very challenging, but personal savings and support from family and friends should come first.

You’ll learn as you go, that this is definitely a lot stronger than getting a bank loan you may never be able to pay back!

Technical Assistance

Before you can achieve the perfect business, you absolutely must get the right ”help”. The key to maximizing the effectiveness of any venture is to know how things work.

A well-planned business can also instantly move from drab to fab. Don’t underestimate the power of really knowing what to do.

Economic growth

At the end of the day, you’re in business to make money, right?

Then, start making some, no matter how little or scarce your resources are.

Bunmi’s final words to young #MotherlandMoguls was this. Your business may be growing super fast but if you don’t manage growth well, you’d spread yourself too thin and burn out. Always keep this in mind as you continue on your way to business success.

If you enjoyed reading this article then the next best thing is to be there in person for #SheHive Joburg!

8 things we learn from the acquisition of Kenyan beauty brand, SuzieBeauty

Suzie Wokabi

In 2011, Suzie Wokabi, founder of Kenyan cosmetics brand, Suzie Beauty, said the following about her vision for her brand: “My dream is to turn SuzieBeauty Limited into a household name for everything beauty on the continent, and internationally. I want to become the MAC of Africa!”.

Six years before that, she had returned to Kenya as a trained makeup artist looking to stock up on goods. She faced a number of challenges such as not being able to find the high quality brands she was used to. Where she was able to find them, they were often unavailable, overpriced, or counterfeit. So in 2009, Wokabi launched her own local brand.

Seven years later, she is in reach of the vision she set out for her company. On January 25th, 2016, SuzieBeauty announced that it has been acquired by regional manufacturing company, Flame Tree Group, pending approval of the competition authority. Suzie said the following about the sale of her company: “For me this is the biggest milestone so far.”
Suize Wokabi

Wokabi explained, “with the resources at Flame Tree Group, SuzieBeauty will likely expand its range to include skincare products such as cleansers, moisturisers and eye creams. There will also be investments into better distribution and marketing. In the long-term, production could be moved from China to Kenya”.

This wife, mother, daughter, and entrepreneur is trailblazing the way for other Motherland Moguls. There is so much to learn from the successful sale of Wokabi’s company. We’ve narrowed it down to just 8.

1. Do your research

In choosing to start a beauty brand, Wokabi did extensive research on the Kenyan beauty market. In an interview with How We Made It In Africa, Wokabi said the following: “My research shows that the development of products to fill our specific market needs has the potential of becoming a big and profitable business.”

She also did extensive testing of her products in the market before launching her business. She developed her product line and spent a year of testing on the market before launching in 2011 and beginning retail operations in 2012.

2. Choose to work in your passion

Wokabi once said, “If I did not completely love everything about SB and the beauty industry, I would have given up a very long time ago. I now understand why most startups fail. When you don’t have the passion and everything is an uphill battle, it becomes so easy to quit.”Suzie Wokabi

3. Dream BIG

From the start, it is clear that Wokabi had a strong vision for her company and brand. From her early interviews before the launch of her product line to more recent ones, the vision has always been, as she said, to “distribute Africa-wide. The sky is the limit”.

4. Know your magic

While strong on quality products, Wokabi has said time and time again that the affordability of her products is what makes her competitive in the local and international market.

When she was asked if SB stand out in the midst of international beauty brands that had recently entered the Kenyan market? She responded, “None of them will ever beat me in price. The whole point of SB is the affordability of quality beauty products.”Suzie Wokabi

5. Get help in your weak areas

Wokabi says she knew nothing about business prior to her endeavor. She has especially struggled with financials, an area her husband has supportive in.

6. Learn from your mistakes

While successful, Wokabi has never shied away from the mistakes and mishaps in her journey. After some false starts with partners, Wokabi made sure to engage differently with future partners.

She explained: We have had so many bad partnerships. We have had both equity partners and debt investors. There were just too many mistakes made. We were very particular about this one. This time we didn’t make any mistakes – and it feels right, completely.”Suzie Wokabi

7. Engage with investors and finance partners who understand your company and your vision

While in talks with Flame Tree Group, Wokabi was in talks with other potential investors. She had this to say about Flame Tree Group: “The chemistry has always been right from the beginning. So any challenges we ever came across, we would fix together.”

Flame Tree Group CEO, Heril Bangera, also had this to say, “We want to increase the brand’s presence in the market. We have seen the brand is successful, so there is an opportunity now to use that as a base to grow it within Kenya and beyond.”

8. Knowing that someone did it helps

Wokabi often mentions her role models, Bobbi Brown, in interviews. Bobbi Brown was an American professional make-up artist who founded Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Estée Lauder, the America beauty products giant, bought the brand in 1995, with Brown retaining creative control. Wokabi will similarly retain creative control of SuzieBeauty.

We wish Wokabi, SuzieBeauty, and Flame Tree Group much success in their new venture. What other insights have you learned from this acquisition? Share them below.