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: Founder of KIDSREADART Ogechi Ogbaragu is making Africa better by teaching kids to read

I sat down with Ogechi Ogbaragu, the founder of KIDSREADART to talk about how her passion to help African kids create a better Africa by teaching them to read.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Ogechi Ogbaragu and I’m  the founder of KIDSREADART. I am an Early Years Accelerated Reading Expert, a certified Early Childhood Practitioner, Montessori Directress and Jolly Phonics Specialist. 

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

As a teacher in the early years I found out that a lot of parents were worried about their kids’ reading struggles and would go all out to see their kids be able to read. Most of the time they would enlist me to teach their kids privately. Over time I saw it was a common problem as kids who could speak very well struggled to string two words in a book correctly. I thought of ways through which I could help more kids overcome this challenge in a fun and engaging manner, which gave birth to KIDSREADART.

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

The reason I keep doing what I do is that I want kids to enjoy the thrill of reading a storybook, I don’t want to see any child discouraged from furthering their education because they lack the basic literacy skill of reading. I want to see well-read kids that are inspired and motivated to aspire to greater heights by the stories of those who challenged the status quo, I want the African child to see themselves as the agent of change that Africa and the world need to make our continent better. 

All of these keep me going knowing that I’m making a difference by contributing my own quota to help the African child succeed.

Describe a typical day for you.

A typical day for me starts with my personal time with God, after which I start working on the resources for the program. I check up with my team to ensure that they are on track with their deliverables, call clients and follow up with leads.

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

My biggest achievement is the birth of KIDSREADART especially because it was born out of nothing, from having no idea on how to go about it to overcoming the problems with the developers, designing the lessons and finally seeing it come to life.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

Sometimes I love snacking on a bottle of peanuts while reading supernatural fantasies on Radish or Dreame, other times I watch Netflix or play with my kids.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

My favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur are having time for myself and my family, getting to meet new people all the time, continually learning new stuff  as well as getting paid for doing what I love doing doesn’t seem like work.

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

KIDSREADART is a reading program designed for African children between the ages of 3-8 years which teaches them how to read and spell difficult word formations through animations and games for a great and fun reading experience.

You can learn more about us and our program by visiting our website at https://kidsreadart.com/or follow us on our Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/kidsreadart/

Have you always been entrepreneurial, what led you to taking that first step and setting up your own business?

I haven’t always been an entrepreneur , I used to work a 7-5 job before the Covid 19 pandemic changed the entire world. It was during the pandemic that I decided to walk down this path and I began by signing up for an accelerator program with The Founders Institute Lagos where I shared my ideas and was guided on how I could bring it to life. We got incorporated in November 2020 and started developing content by January and went live in July with the first 2 modules while we continued working on the last 2 modules in the background. The last 2 modules are still in development and will be released very soon.

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

I have carved a niche for KidsReadArt by making myself an expert in this field by taking feedback  from the success stories of the parents I’ve worked with. I design and sell literacy resources for teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers that has generated funds and have recently started a Teachers Training Program for schools who wants to use our reading program. We ensure that we help not only the learners but the teachers and parents who use our program.

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

First getting the required funds needed to develop the idea was a huge challenge. I also had problems with the software developers and learning about the business side of managing a business.

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

In the next 5 years, KIDSREADART will have become the foremost reading program in the country, used by schools as a learning resource and by parents as an after school program in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. 

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

Expertise in the chosen business, commitment to see it thrive and passion for your business, without these you can easily get discouraged when you encounter challenges. 

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

First talk to GOD about it because God always has a way of bringing things to life even when you don’t know the next step you should take.

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

Know your business. If you don’t know research and learn, join an accelerator program like Founders Institute and a business development program like HGCP to get business guidance and great mentorship deals.

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

What I do is to log out of social media for a while, switch off my phone and just sleep to clear my head for some days.

What business-related book has inspired you the most? 

No Excuse and Eat that FROG both by Brian Tracy.

Ogechi is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program working to grow and scale KidsReadArt to become the best reading program in the country, used by schools as a learning resource and by parents as an after school program in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. 

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: 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.

HGCP 2021 Participants: Stella Arukwe chats about running an innovative e-commerce platform that does not just sell products but delivers experience.

I sat down with Stella Arukwe, the co-founder of Latalata and Kishers Limited; an innovative retail and e-commerce platform in Nigeria.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Stella Arukwe, the co-founder of Latalata and Kishers Limited.

My work experience, skillsets and interests span different sectors and industries. Over the years, I have established my track record as a marketing expert, brand builder, strategist, wordsmith, inimitable communicator and now l am gradually establishing my footprint into the field of entrepreneurship while creating social and economic impact through my businesses.

I am a graduate of English Language and Communication Arts from the University of Lagos in Nigeria, and Brand Communication from Vega Brand School in South Africa. I am a mentor, and an advocate for youth and women empowerment.

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

My entrepreneurial journey started way back when I was a kid. I dreamt of being the boss of my own businesses, and building business empires. However, after I graduated from the university, I started my career in marketing and communication where I grew through the ranks. I have now accumulated over 10 years working experience in brand management, market penetration and conversion; of which 8 years have been in managerial positions where I led teams, managed successful brand initiatives with proven revenue increases. It was during this time that I also established a consulting firm.

Fast-forward to now, I have co-founded an innovative start-up, Latalata and Kishers Limited and will definitely be founding moe businesses in due time. My philosophy of solving problems, and creating value guides and propels me in my pursuits and achievements as an entrepreneur, which is the foundation on which my business ideas and ventures are founded.

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

My ‘why’ is tethered in ‘solving problems, creating value as well as helping people work better and  live happier lives. I believe in building an idea from the scratch and nurturing it to grow with a combination of the right mindset, skillset and team members. So long as there are people in the world, they will have needs and problems that need to be solved. This pushes me to create ideas and solutions that will metamorphose into businesses. In building these businesses, I want to leave legacies. I want people to read my success story and be motivated by them.

      What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

      In the course of my career both as an employee and an intrapreneur, I achieved track records and milestones. I have worked with large corporations where I launched notable products and brands in Nigeria and other African countries. Some of the brands include Flour Mills of Nigeria, Golden Penny Pasta, Toyota Nigeria and its subsidiaries, Unity bank formerly FinBank, IHMS HMO, NIC, Uganda, Global Trust Bank a then subsidiary of NIC to mention but a few.

      On the flip side today as a full-fledged entrepreneur, I lead a team in one of the most thriving, mid-sized marketing consulting firm in Lagos Nigeria as the founder and head of Client Services.

      However, one of my greatest achievements so far is co-founding a blossoming innovative e-commerce business in Nigeria from scratch to the point where it is showing reasonable growth potential. I believe that the future is bright and promising for Latalata and Kishers.

      Another one of my  heart-warming achievement is the courage to author my first book, and finally, being awarded the opportunity to be in the High Growth Coaching Program 2021.

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

        Addressing issues of the mind would be my major focus as I strongly believe that everything that hinders an individual from attaining his or her summit stems from the mind. As a matter of fact, I just finished writing a book centred around FEAR which is currently being published as we speak.

        What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

        The journey and experience of being an entrepreneur is mixed with ups and downs. Being an entrepreneur has availed me the opportunity to curate ideas, create values, and co-ordinate people and processes. It is interesting to see how a societal problem and seemingly simple idea, when worked on by a team, becomes something that can be ascribed as a “business”. It is difficult, tasking, and attention-demanding but it is indeed fulfilling.

        What was the inspiration behind Latalata & Kishers?

        Latalata and Kishers is a business created out of the typical problems consumers go through.

        The first motivation to go into e-commerce was when my husband bought a Samsung LED Television in 2015. For him to hang the TV to the wall, he needed four pieces of a particular bolt called “M3”, we both became so frustrated as he frantically searched through endless online and physical stores without success.

        Secondly, we have identified that people worry about what to gift to loved ones or even their boss and colleagues. This was a constant debate in the office whenever my colleagues’ birthday approached. We deliberated what to buy, whether it was unique enough, obviously the budget, how useful the item is and many other concerns.

        In 2016, we came up with the idea for Latalata and Kishers and later fully launched in October, 2020 when the “go-to” e-commerce platform for essential products in Nigeria was born. Through our value proposition of being innovative, we are creating value and trust for our customers.

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

          Are you looking for value that helps you live and work better?  Do you want a great shopping experience with ease and fun, less stress, less time, and more saves? What about giving that perfect gift within your budget with the assurance that the receiver will appreciate and use it? You have a better choice at www.latalata.ng. We are your ‘go-to’ innovative e-commerce platform in Nigeria and beyond. At latalata.ng, we don’t just sell products. We deliver value, quality, and convenience at the best prices. It’s all here. Own It.

          We are an online business, so we are available 24 hours, every day of the week on our website at https://latalata.ng/. You can also call us or chat on WhatsApp at +234-702 500 3511. You can also direct your queries to our email at hello@latalata.ng

          We are also on social media, we are on Facebook at https://facebook.com/latalataNG; on Instagram at https://instagram.com/latalataNG; on Twitter at https://twitter.com/latalataNG and on LinkedIn at https://linkedin.com/c/latalataNG.

          You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/latalataNG

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

          Trust and Innovation. This is what we want to be known for.

          We do not debate our integrity. We are willing to take a temporary loss of income in order to maintain our integrity. We know that trust is a major element in e-commerce which is  lacking in the industry at the moment, and integrity is the currency to earn it. We want customers in the next 2 years to say, “if it is Latalata, no stress. But for other online stores, no way!” 

          We do not want to be seen as “that online store”. We do not just sell products. We deliver experience. To make this happen, innovation is key. The Gifting platform is one of such innovations to deliver this promise. There are other innovative e-commerce solutions we will roll out in the next few years.

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

          Technology, merchant recruitment, merchant inventory, hiring, funding, and logistics and delivery issues have plagued us in the recent past. We had challenges getting Latalata website run the way we had envisioned. Getting the right persons to work on the software we needed, at our lean funds, was a tall order. 

          Hiring the right persons with the right skillset at our funding capacity was also a challenge. We also had, and still have, challenges with the deliverable of various third-party logistics companies. Finally, being a female I’ve also observed that most merchants do not take me seriously when engaging with them for the business.

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

          We are working to position Latalata as the first choice for every online shopper in Nigeria. In 5 years, we envision to have grown significantly including having our brands, “GiftPass”, “Kishers-Mini”, and “Hampers” be operational and also having established our “Criss-Cross” business model.

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

          Our growth so far can be attributed to keying into a market spaces that has a lot of potential.as well as the ability to see opportunities in existing problem areas. W e also focus on creating consumer-focused, market fit products using technology to address the customer pain points.

          Furthermore, working with a vibrant team that understands the vision of the business has propelled us to push the boundaries in order to achieve the results we have recorded. Our strategy to start with electronic appliances also paid off as electronic appliances are very profitable and sellable products. With this, we were able to make sales in excess of N13.6million ($27,000) in six months.

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

          Leadership, critical thinking and strategic problem-solving and planning skills. These skills are necessary for an entrepreneur to stand out and also be able to stand the test of time in the business environment and become successful.

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

          I apply my LCD formula (Leverage, Collaborate, Delegate). 

          I leverage technology, software tools, and strategies that have been tested over time. This relieves me of stress and helps me towards efficiency and productivity. I look out for opportunities and avenues for collaboration with other like-minded entrepreneurs and businesses that have creative ideas and innovations that will convey value to my business. I also delegate and outsource some tasks to capable hands. These guides me to stay focused on my core area; part of which includes driving the overall success of the business.

          Stella is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program scaling up Latalata & Kishers to get to a place where they are described as the most innovative e-commerce business in Nigeria.

          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.