HGCP 2021 Participants: Seclot Vet co-founder Olasunbo Atekoja shares how Seclot is providing security through address verification

I sat down with problem solver Seclot VET co-founder Olasunbo Atekoja to discuss how she is building the footprint of Nigeria through address verification.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Olasunbo Atekoja and I am  a co-founder of Seclot VET. I graduated with a degree in business Administration and Management 8 years ago. I have worked as an assistant supervisor with a fast food outlet, cash consultant with a Lagos state hospital and I am currently a country manager at Seclot.

I spend my free time listening to music, going on road trips and spending quality time with my family.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

My biggest achievement is having overcome the fear of moving from paid employment to self employment, makin the leap to from regular income and structured work t the uncertainties of entrepreneurship such as business regulatory acts and stiff competitions.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is having the power to dictate how I spend my time, which allows me time to care for my household as well as the vastly available networking opportunities with other businesses and entrepreneurs.

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

The first and major challenge I faced as a founder is managing the team, some of the vetters are older men who find it difficult taking orders from a younger female and thus questioned my credibility as a manager, which is frustrating.

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

Seclot Vet is building the footprint of Nigerians one step at a time leveraging physical address and identity verification. 

We carry out employee verification, guarantor verification, NIN verification, driver’s license verification, Voters card verification, NUBAN verification and BVN verification. We perform physical address verification to confirm the authenticity of the information you’ve received from people you are working with in a seamless and effective manner. After using technological best practices to keep tabs on people we verify for our clients, we also provide after service support for them.

You can learn more about us by visiting our website at https://vet.seclot.com/, you can also follow our Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/seclotdotcom/. You may also direct enquiries to  vet@seclot.com.

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

Considering the state of insecurity in the country, we created a company that could reduce this insecurity by  ensuring there is enough data for security outfits. We needed the name of the company to sound reassuring to our clients,  hence the name Seclot which literally means Security for the Lot.

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

We have carved a niche for Seclot VET by ensuring we are registered as a security technology company. We do not only verify addresses and identity, we keep a repository of data which can be used to track the footprint of people over a period of time.

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

In 5 years time, we have a vision to have built the footprints of over 10 million Nigerians leveraging physical address verification.

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

The most significant thing we did in growing our business was to increase our customer base to 1,600 while also applying to accelerator programs to scale up the business.

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

The top 3 skills needed by any entrepreneur are marketing, people management, and bookkeeping. Entrepreneurs should invest their time in these activities (acronym KEN):

Knowledge – research on your industry and best practices;

Exposure – start marketing early and get feedback from potential customers and;

Network – meet with people that are in your field or related field.

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

The trick I have discovered is that I have control only over myself and my actions, so I don’t get unnecessarily worked up over other people’s behaviors. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, I go to my place of relaxation.

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

The best advice I would love to share is “If you want to go fast, move alone; if you want to go far, move with a crowd”.

 

Olasunbo is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program preparing Seclot VET to build the footprint of Nigeria.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Co-founder Amanda Etuk is solving problems one delivery at a time with Messenger.ng

I sat down with problem solver extraordinaire Amanda Etuk, to get to know her and learn more about Messenger, the delivery business she co-founded.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Amanda Etuk and I’ve always been inspired to solve problems. I consider myself a full Nigerian, my father is from Akwa Ibom and my mother from Kogi State. I was born in Makurdi, Benue State and grew up in Lagos and Abuja.

I am excited by change and being a part of something great and this makes logistics and supply chain a perfect industry for me. During my spare time, I try to create processes that allow me to have maximum time for relaxation. I typically love to stay in bed, watch series and eat a lot of food.

I am a published author with two books so far; one is on personnel management for the delivery business space and the other is so far left; an erotica under a pen name. 

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

My background is in Pharmacy from the University of Lagos. After working a few years as a Pharmacist, I went on to get a postgraduate in Global Supply Chain and Logistics managementand then worked at a Supply Chain and Logistics company as the General Manager. After this I co-founded a delivery business with my brother where I manage modern trade supply chain for major household brands. I also work on last mile deliveries focusing on expansion plans for Messenger.

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

My bottom line is to be able to create a great life for myself and my loved ones. I want to create products and services that would serve people and still be very profitable.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

I have a lot of heart warming moments in my life but my biggest achievements are seeing projects that started as ideas come to life.

I am most proud of where Messenger is right now, we are the second largest partner for Jumia Food in Abuja, we have recently ventured into last mile cold chain and have a contract to move COVID samples for Medbury Medicals in Lagos.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is creating work place conditions that I wished for when I was working. It is having the power to make decisions and seeing the immediate outcome on my bottom-line.

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

Welcome to Messenger.ng, you can absolutely trust us with your deliveries.

Messenger.ng is a full-service logistics and dispatch company with key operations cutting across package delivery, cold chain solutions, warehousing and haulage.

We provide end-to-end delivery services and serve a wide array of customers including SMEs, corporate organizations and private individuals. Since 2018, we have ensured that clients enjoy smooth, safe and efficient delivery of packages without stress or worry, no matter the volume or location. We are focused on creating value for money and improving the logistics ecosystem in Nigeria.

We provide efficient logistics services to support your business. You can find out more about us on our website at  www.getmessenger.ng or connect with us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/messenger.ng/ or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/messenger-ng/.

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

We are doing well in the B2B space for last mile deliveries with dispatch bikes. I would say that we are making a name for ourselves as a reliable 3PL partner.

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

The most significant thing I have done to grow the business was to become unafraid to ask for help, especially when raising funds from angel investors within my network to fund operations and expand to Lagos.

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

As cliché as it sounds; PERSISTENCE. You decide your fate, if you quit, what else is there?

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

If I was given $1M to invest in Messenger, I would invest in tech to make it even easier to order deliveries or logistics like you would book a cab and the assets; motorcycles, vehicles etc. Talent would definitely be a part of the budget.

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

Scheduling. I love scheduling all my activities in advance, I am centered through the day and it helps me keep track of my deliverables.

What business-related book has inspired you the most? 

I’m currently reading “Leaving the Tarmac: Buying a Bank in Africa” by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and I am more inspired to take audacious risks.

Amanda is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program preparing Messenger to grow and keep impacting Nigeria’s delivery industry.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Big Mama Africa Biz Concept founder Ukamaka Okolo discusses her passion to provide good quality food at an affordable price through her food production business

I sat down with Ukamaka Okolo, the founder of Big Mama Africa Biz concept to discuss how she founded what she hopes will be Enugu’s food market hub.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m Ukamaka Okolo, the founder of Big Mama Africa Biz concept, a business which is all about farming; production of crops and animal processing and packaging. I am a fearless, energetic, resilient, God fearing woman.

I am a graduate of Applied Biochemistry of the Prestigious Nnamdi Azikiwe University. I have background in banking where l spent nine years and got the award as the Best Supervisor of South East Nigeria. I am a great believer in woman power; yes I believe that women are very powerful.

What is your why i.e. bottom line? and how do you stay motivated?
My why is to live a life that does not conform to stereotypes about women; I am working everyday to be a successful, productive, independent, financially free and Godly woman that other women can look up to and feel motivated to aspire to more than they imagined for their lives.  I don’t believe that anyone is here just to get by, exist and to make up population numbers, and my entire life is proof that everyone can live the best life they can possibly have. This hunger to change the status quo and become a pioneer and innovator is what drives me and keeps me motivated.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
The courage to step out of the banking industry to start my entrepreneurial journey is my biggest achievement as taking that risk allowed me the opportunity to truly start living my life fully, meeting people and expanding my network, getting more knowledge, and being exposed to enormous opportunities.

If you had to write a book, what would it be on and why?
If l have to write a book, it would be on the struggles of the average African woman. This is something close to my heart, to bring light on what women suffer through just for being born in Africa. This book would also serve as inspiration to how women can become pillars of society, and support each other towards making Africa a better place for our girl children to be born into.

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

Folorunsho Alakija is definitely my greatest influence in business because she defied the odds and that’s exactly what l am all about; she is a go getter, a fighter, a big achiever, a business mogul and more so a God fearing woman, she is indeed a perfect representation of the kind of woman l aspire to be.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The ability to see problems as stepping stones to greatness is one of the best things about being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to easily fall in love with problems, which is something I also enjoy about being one.

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

I actually find this question very interesting. In 2017 while l was still working as a banker and pregnant with my fifth Child, a colleague (former now) chatted me up for something (l can’t remember exactly what it was but certainly on the job) and called me mama Africa. l thought she was referring to someone else but she insisted she was referring to me and asked, “Are you not mama Africa?”. It was at this point that l got her point; I am pregnant with my fifth child and the fourth l would have in the bank in a space of 6 years. Ordinarily, l was slightly offended but after thinking it over l realized that it was the perfect name for my business business, something I had been struggling with for over 2 years. So I took that, tweaked it a little and Big Mama Africa Biz Concept was official. l am actually currently in the process of modifying it to Mamafrika foods. Indeed l am Mama Africa as l have seven biological children.

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

Big Mama Africa Biz Concept is all about food. We farm; we produce crops, animals and fish. We process and package high quality food. Big Mama Africa is also about crop production and reduce the dependence of food from the North. We want to make sure that people are able to get decent food with their hard earned money and we fill this gap by creating quality food at an affordable price.

Our vision is to become the best food hub in Enugu, South Eastern Nigeria and we have already started with the production of garri. At Big Mama Africa, we produce food at a great quality, I like to say we sell what we eat, so if if it’s not good enough for my family, it’s not good enough for our customers.  Though we currently produce garri, we intend to have the following products; fresh and dry corn, tomatoes, turkey and model a world class cattle ranch.

You can connect with us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/mamafrikafoods or follow my personal handle on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/ukamaka.ogbuokolo.

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

We have done extensive research in our industry for more than 6 months and have identified that food necessity is a
genuine need and people are willing to pay for our products. We do not undermine quality and we understand the power of good customer service. The combination of these three factors placed us at the forefront within two months of production. Currently, we have 3000 backorders for garri, which is our only live product because we have consistently delivered as promised.

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

Taking part in the nitty gritty of the business at take off has significantly helped to grow my business. I led the customer interviews, l was and is still part of the garri production process, l follow up and ensure orders are delivered as promised.

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

The best advice l have received in business is, “Think big, start small”. This is the force behind our launching out, without this philosophy, we would have waited till everything was perfect before launching, and things don’t really get perfect in life, all we can do as try to perfect them daily by constantly improving.

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

(Laughs) If l were given $1M, l would invest 50% of it in the farming project; acquire land (maybe a thousand hectares), buy modern machinery that would aid processing and packaging, set up world class cattle ranch and production of high quality cow milk (both fresh and dry). The other 50% will be used to kick start the construction and equipping of a world class hospital where lives will be valued and treated with utmost respect and concern. You would have noticed by now that l always use the word, “world class”, and that’s because l always go for the best.

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

In the next five years, this business would have become a household name in Enugu and its environs. We would have at least 50 of our products introduced to the market, having established ourselves as the food hub in Enugu. Our cattle ranch will be up and running. We would have empowered more than 500 women from the business, taking them out of poverty and giving them a better life. We are actually in the process of building a billion dollar company.

Ukamaka is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program working to grow and scale Big Mama Africa Biz Concept to become the best the food hub in Enugu and empower women to create better lives for themselves and their families.

HGCP 2021 Participants: CPHI Director, Elizabeth Shoyemi serves marginalized 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 Lawrence is helping people live healthier lives and 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 enable people 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.

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: Bethel Bekee, the founder of Whip-Smart Service Providers Limited on working everyday to improve families.

I sat down with Bethel Bekee, the founder of Whip-Smart Service Providers Limited to get to know her and find out more about her business.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in River State and then I relocated to Lagos about 3 years ago. I am the last born of 5 siblings. I am very passionate about family because family is the basic unit of life and I have great affection for children. I love to travel, I love studying and enjoy cooking. I am the kind of person that jumps into every available opportunity and sometimes I create my own when I need to.

I worked with international organizations for over 5 years before  I started my company Whip-smart Service Providers Limited.

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

I’ve always been resilient and persistent, a go-getter. As soon as I graduated, I made sure that I became independent. I started working at a hospital where I would get referrals from consultants. I have had the privilege of working in one of the best pediatric hospitals in Abuja. It was such an amazing experience because my love for kids is just enormous. It was while I was working there that I got another referral to enter into the NGO space. It took about 2 years for me to finally take the bold step of resigning my good paying job where I was close to getting promoted to start my business. It was a tough decision but I am glad that I made it. 

What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line?

The fact that I’m helping families is so fulfilling, I am driven by the knowledge that I am helping young women to better themselves and families to thrive and groom their children into adults that will one day contribute positively to society. In my line of business, everyday you get to see a different version of yourself, and seeing a better version of myself everyday is one thing that motivates and drives me to go out there each day to conquer.

Describe a typical day for you?

I start my day by praying as soon as I wake up, then I’m ready to go. At the office I start by reviewing work from the previous day to ensure that tasks are completed as they should be. Once that’s done I look through my to-do-schedule made the previous night and ensure I carry on those activities diligently. 

I show up every day motivated, and I reward myself for jobs completed. I like to surf the internet every day to learn something new. My work involves a lot of creative problem solving and leadership skills.

After work, I go home where I take a little nap to rest before I begin planning for the next day. In the evenings I either read a book, watch tv, or take an online course before I sleep. 

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

In 2017, I got two certifications from University of Washington, which was a big deal for me. I now also have certifications in sales and marketing.

Starting up my company in 2018 was one of the bravest steps I ever took and one of my greatest achievements. In the last 3 years, we have served over 400 families and we’ve mentored over 400 staff and helped build their professional skills.

I am also proud of the fact that I’ve built a strong team responsible for following up, staff management and supervision. We have developed better strategies to meet our weekly and monthly targets, and it’s been tremendously encouraging to meet those numbers. We’ve advocated for a number of domestic staff and have pretty much done everything possible to dignify the profession.

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

My dad, he is an engineer whose job is dedicated to solving problems and improving lives on a daily basis. He has a great work ethic which I admire very much.  

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The best part of my job is client satisfaction, just seeing the gratitude and knowing that I did something that will change someone’s life for the best.

My least favorite part are the endless activities that form part of the journey to client satisfaction. There are so many things that have  to be put in place for a customer to be satisfied. It is a tough task especially if you’re like me and you’re always striving to be the best at what you do. 

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

Whip-Smart Service Providers Limited is a domestic staffing recruitment company. We help families and homes recruit skilled, experienced domestic staff and caregivers. We carry out  background checks and medical checks. We train, supervise and monitor our staff, then outsource them to clients in need. We offer our services for the least amount of money, and we do this by offering different packages for different clients. Our mission is to help our clients get the right help for their family.

You can see more about us on our website at https://whip-smart.org.ng/ or like our Facebook Page.

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

Consistency, remaining consistent makes all the difference. Every entrepreneur must stay consistent in their journey, they must be patient and resilient. Give your best everyday to your business and someday you will see your business grow and all your dreams come true.

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

a) Critical thinking (b)  Customer service and C) Analytical problem solving skills

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

You must realize that being a business owner can be a lonely journey. It is all about rocking the boat. You have to consistently and bravely go against the tide and take a risk, which is something a lot of people find very uncomfortable.

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

UNLEARN, LEARN, RELEARN and KEEP ON LEARNING. That’s it.

What business-related book has inspired you the most? 

Any of the books by Richard Templar. He has written great books for entrepreneurs and they’ve changed my life tremendously.

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

Cheer yourself up, pat yourself on the back and encourage yourself, then keep moving. Accept criticism as that will make you better. As an entrepreneur you must be selfless, don’t be greedy. Finally, appreciate your staff, every day. 

 

Bethel is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program hard at work to ensure that WhipSmart Service Providers Ltd continues to make a difference in families on an even bigger scale.

Whip-Smart Service Providers Limited

“I LEFT THE USA TO PURSUE MY PASSION IN NIGERIA.” MEET UGOCHI NWOSU, FOUNDER OF RELIANCE CLINICS

ugochi

Not everyone owns up to their purpose especially when it takes you from one continent to another. Ugochi left the United States to pursue purpose in Nigeria.

Ugochi is the founder of Reliance Clinics. She’ll be sharing insights into her life as a medical practitioner, health tips, the numerous challenges she faced and how she was able to overcome them. 


Who is Ugochi Nwosu?

I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I was 7 before my family immigrated to the United States. That was where I did all my schooling. After my undergraduate degree, I did my residency training in the States also until I returned back to Nigeria in 2019. This kick-started my goal to start a business that provided quality private healthcare services. 

What are you passionate about?

Healthcare! I really want to live in a world where everyone has full access to adequate healthcare. In Nigeria, the rate at which people in their early 40s and 50s die is really alarming. All of these can be avoided. 

I just want to help people live healthy and productive lives where they get to see their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Although this would be beautiful, it’s not easy. If people want to live till their late 80s, it starts from now. So, I want to keep educating people about this. 

What ignited the spark to start Reliance Clinics?

For me, the inclination to work in healthcare came since my undergraduate studies. I learnt about the possible challenges, the requirements and mapped out the areas to make an impact. It was important to be properly grounded in what I was planning to do to avoid making any silly mistakes.

I also worked with a whole lot of NGOs to ensure I had a feel of what I was about getting myself into. I didn’t really plan to start a business for myself. The decision to do that came after I kept searching for an NGO to work with but couldn’t find any at that point. This made me start looking for other possible opportunities

During my residency training, I met people who were interested in digital healthcare services and connected with them. They encourage me to just do what I need to do because no one makes actual change by talking and observing. It was great for me because I didn’t see myself as someone that could take up that level of responsibility upon myself. The plan had always been to work for someone who was already doing the things I needed to do. That’s basically how the business came alive. 

How was the startup phase of your business?

I’m not going to deny the fact that everything was new to me. Firstly, we had to scout for a suitable location, then we had to figure out a way to get supplies for the clinic and basically test these supplies yourself because everything had to be reliable 100%. 

For funding, I met the founders of a health insurance company during my residency training so things sort of worked out for me in the sense that they needed a trusted clinic that they could send patients to so they kind of gave me the initial funding for the clinic. 

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

One major challenge has been hiring and training staff. For those in healthcare, the quality of services offered has to be nothing but excellent. Most times, doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc expect some things to be done in some certain way based on what they’ve seen before or something which might not necessarily be the right thing. 

When you tell this category of people that there’s a standard that should be met and we’re not going to overlook that standard just because we’re operating in Nigeria, it turns into a situation where it feels like you’re telling them that they’re not properly trained or something so that was a major challenge for me. 

Another challenge we had, in the beginning, was dealing with patients and staff who were used to things being done in certain ways and then we do them in totally different ways. For instance, most patients that come to our clinic are used to being given so many drugs even for not so serious cases. When we give them just 1-2 drugs, they feel like we’re not treating them the right way or we don’t really care about their wellbeing which is why we’re given them little amounts of drugs and that’s not the situation at all. 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

When it comes to hiring, you have to ensure that those people actually have the skills they claim to possess. It’s mandatory that you do. I’ve learnt over time that you have to be very intentional when deciding who to bring on board, how to evaluate their skills and how to train them so that from day 1, they can actually deliver. 

 

Ugochi is a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.