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

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

Tell us a little about yourself.

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

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

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

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

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

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

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

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

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

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

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Turning my radical ideas into reality. 

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

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

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

What was the inspiration behind Origho Lagos?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HGCP 2021 Participants: Founder of Closer Adenike Bamigbade is all about the impact and value their products delivers to Nigerian women and girls

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

Tell us a little about yourself.

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

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

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

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

What do you feel are your biggest achievements?

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

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

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

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

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

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

Where can people find out more about your business?

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

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

and Twitter.com/closerng

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Small Businesses Matter”: Sparkle for Business Launches to Power Nigeria’s SMEs

Sparkle Business

Fact checks. Do you know that in Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% to the National GDP? They also account for 96% of businesses in the country, as well 84% of employment. You would think with these numbers we would have more small businesses thriving, but the reverse (sigh) is the case.

Apart from lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses grow, Small businesses are also challenged with making strategic decisions due to a lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business. Stuff like keeping records of your goods and services, managing your payroll and the people who work for you, making payments, and staying tax compliant are all things we need to stay on top of.

Now imagine having a platform that helps you store necessary business data, calculate the necessary payments, invoices, taxes, and provides you information and insights at your fingertips? Using technology and data, this is designed so you can make better-informed decisions on how you can create great customer experiences, motivate your team, and manage and optimize your stock of products or services.

We know these things matter to you, so let us tell you about Sparkle and their recently launched digital business management solution called Sparkle Business. Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sparkle MFB is a digital bank, a lifestyle and financial ecosystem providing seamless solutions to individuals and SMEs by leveraging on technology and data. Sparkle is founded upon the values of trust, transparency, freedom, inclusivity, simplicity, and personalization. Sparkle is also deliberately focused on female-owned businesses and how Sparkle Business can provide necessary solutions for them to scale.

Sparkle Business is way more than your regular business account. With small businesses in mind, now you can easily manage tasks like payroll management, tax management, inventory and invoicing, customer management, and much more, all taking place in the Sparkle app.

So, what does this mean for you as a small business owner? You can know and manage all your customers. Avoid miscounts and stock loss. File tax deductions for your business and staff at the click of a button. Send invoices from the comfort of the Sparkle app, with the freedom to do much more.

Interested like we are? Click IOS or Android to download the Sparkle app with the Sparkle Business update. Do not forget to share your experience with Sparkle Business with us and other small business owners. When you win, we all win. Keep leading!

 

“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.

Motherland Mogul Feature: Siyamthanda Makhwabe

According to a World Bank article published in November 2018 on women entrepreneurs and the future of Africa, enterprises owned by male entrepreneurs have more capital than women-owned enterprises.

This month, we shine the spotlight on a fierce lady who has bootstrapped her way into starting not just one – but two – businesses while holding down a full-time job.

Siyamthanda Makhwabe is a professional town planner, a wife and mother, owner of Kuhle Bags and Accessories and a town planning consulting business.

Fellow Motherland Mogul, Zimkhitha met with Siyamthanda to talk about juggling work, business, a kid, and a briefcase.


Siyamthanda at an on-site inspection

The Many Hustles of Siyamthanda Makhwabe

Determined to gain financial freedom, Makhwabe took the leap in 2019 to start two businesses while keeping her job as a town planner.

Leveraging her background in Town Planning and Housing, Makhwabe started a consulting business catering to SMEs and startups. Using the power of her network as a launchpad, she has run this venture in the past year purely by word-of-mouth and industry referrals.

In October 2019, Makhwabe diversified her business portfolio to include a fashion business named after her daughter, Kuhle. Here she offers affordable bags and accessories to South Africans online via social media.

She coverts a lot of customers via WhatsApp and uses Instagram to advertise what’s in stock, which markets she will be visiting and pop up stalls.

Showcasing merchandise at a weekend popup market

Entrepreneurship: A seat at the table

As a STEM woman working in a male-dominated space, Siyamthanda has not always found it welcoming. She explains that this dismissal boils down to the most basic things. For instance, in meetings, men are more readily acknowledged and engaged than women.

“When you sit at that table, it can be very easy to feel invisible and like a fraud, hence many women rather take the back seat”, she says, talking about the dreaded imposter syndrome that creeps in even when you know you have both the qualification(s) and relevant experience to be seated at the proverbial table.

With her ventures, Makhwabe has found autonomy and confidence in being a decision-maker and leader. This remains a key motivator for her in moving her business forward.

Siyamthanda’s Top Tips for every Hustler

Here are Siyamthanda’s top tips for female entrepreneurs on the building – not only a sustainable – but profitable business, from the ground up:

1. Before you throw money at it – innovate

There is a temptation to think that money will solve your problems. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to learn how to be scrappy. Think on your feet, look at the competition and see how you can offer more value to your customer base.

2. Stay learning and find mentors

As you grow your business, you will find out there is a lot you don’t know. It is necessary to stay curious, take short courses and prioritize soft skills. A mentor also gives you an edge in the game. Having someone who’s been there in your corner is invaluable. It’ll save you money, time and headache.

3. Never stop networking

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.

Reach out to those in your market and those outside to get inspiration and to see what is out there. This will help expand your mind into untapped segments.


Zimkhitha‘s Notes:

My interview with Siyamthanda was eye-opening. I think it is important to emphasize how necessary it is for female entrepreneurs to be more transparent about their experiences. The hustle does not always look glamorous and that’s okay. To all you Motherland Moguls out there, keep on SLAying and exuding your #BlackGirlMagic!


Ready to take your business to the next level? Join the Motherland Mogul Insider program.

How to overcome the fright of starting a business

If you have decided to ignore all the advice of well-meaning individuals and friends and have still gone ahead to start a business this year, you must have some real guts. Starting a business is no easy task. There are endless challenges that often discourage you from even starting. 

When looking at all the challenges entrepreneurs face, it’s easy to question how your business would thrive. If your business was a soft, supple, newborn baby, your goals as a business owner is to see that this business survives its first years. 

But how do you achieve this and start your business like a boss?


1. Face your fears

Spending nights rolling on your bed, worrying about your business goals won’t make you cause you to achieve them. Unfortunately just thinking about your business will not turn it into reality. You may have several doubts about the likelihood of people getting your products and services, but until you put your business out there you won’t know for sure.

Start by creating your sample products, sell them to family and friends and get feedback about them. With every action, you take you to become less and less afraid.  Every action you accomplish will help your confidence grow and you’ll begin to see your fear diminish.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference on the success of your business. There are people who would do nothing to encourage you and will not give any positive feedback. If you stay close to such people, you will begin to doubt your ability to reach your business goals. 

The truth is, the people closest to you may be more susceptible about your business than strangers. Expect it. They may not believe in your ability to drive your business to fruition, you shouldn’t make it your aim to prove that point to them.

On the other hand, having a supportive people chip in a suggestion or two will stir your faith in your business, you’d start to believe in this brand becoming tangible as you hear them talk about it like it already exists.

3. Be Patient

If there is one thing you will most likely encounter, is roadblocks! And when you do, you will need lots of patience. When things get tough, don’t through your hands in the air and shout “I don’t have time for this”.

Firstly, try and understand that the problem you face is not always your fault. If you cannot go through the problem, find a way to go around it. Do not compare yourself with what you see on the news and social media. Seeing everyone move on a much faster pace may be discouraging. 

When you do his a roadblock on your journey, figure out how to deal with it while putting other aspects of your business in track. You should always be ready to take off when the roadblock is removed.

4. Dance upon disappointment

As an entrepreneur, managing disappointment is a skill you can’t afford to live without. So what if things do not work out as you plan? What if a key team member decides to leave at the last minute, or a trusted supplier fails to supply your ingredients on time? What would you do when people fail you?  

You cannot always control all circumstances when working with people. When things go wrong, you shouldn’t beat yourself over. Try and come up with new alternatives. Though this may be tough, it will become a lot easier if you stay positive about it. 

Take a break, play some music and dance away your disappointments. You can also create a warm environment where everyone can come together and decide on the next steps for the business will be.


If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your start up story with us.

Quick Maths (1): How to generate income to start a business with FDSH Asset Management

Smart moves early in life can pay BIG long-term…..

Now, what’s the point in looking good and slaying when your bank account isn’t smiling back at you? Listen. This is the year to SLAY 100%, and we’re ready to show you how to make money moves the right way.

So, are you ready to cash out like Cardi’s got nothing on you?

We are partnering with FSDH Asset Management Ltd to share with you a 4 part downloadable guide to enable you to boost your finances. We want to make sure that every Motherland Mogul is prepared to master the money world. 

Learn how to generate funds to start your business with @FSDHCoralFunds. Click here for more: bit.ly/FsdhGuide1 Click To Tweet

Topics this 4 part series will cover:

  • Seed Money: How to generate income (capital) to start a business.
  • Diversifying: Different ways to save and protect savings (for low and high-income earners).
  • Bottom Line: How to use your business net income to your advantage
  • Emergency Funds: Why you must have some investments.

Now let’s talk about you.

You’re about to start a business but you need capital to begin?  Girl, we’ve got you! In this first downloadable guide, we’ve done some Quick Maths for you, highlighting how you can generate capital for your business or launch your new project.

First, you need to understand that money does not come for free, as a MotherlandMogul, you have to know what your options are, and work towards them.

After reading this first downloadable guide, you’ll understand what moves to make to get closer to your money goals.

But what’s next after you get that capital and the bills start rolling in? We have more juice coming your way.

To continue learning basic principles that will lead to a happier and healthier financial you, get prepared for our next guide. Because girl, we’re going deeper.

FSDH ASSET MANAGEMENT LTD  – FSDH AM is a wholly owned subsidiary of FSDH Merchant Bank Limited. They are one of Nigeria’s leading asset management and financial advisory firm.

FSDH AM is versatile in financial transactions and investment strategies that meet the need of investors in an emerging economy like Nigeria. They recognize that today’s investors need the services of dedicated and expert professionals to provide them with intelligent investment counsel.

Therefore, their strategies are dedicated to preserving investors’ wealth while maximizing the value that they receive.

Once you’re through with this guide, visit FSDH Asset Management Ltd to know more and get all your pressing questions answered.


 Getting access to this guide is easy: just fill out the form below to join our community and get access to this guide, remember this is only part 1, there’s more to come – so stay updated. By joining our community, you also get to enjoy our AWESOME weekly content as well.

8 Innovative Ways to Fund Your Startup

Dear Motherland Mogul, anyone who said starting a business is fun and easy told a fat lie and worst still, have never started a business.

One of the biggest hurdles an entrepreneur in Africa (or anywhere in the world) has to cross is the hurdle of financing their business. It’s the reason why many fabulous and potential million dollar ideas die every day or remain mere ideas.

Like it or not, money is everything in an entrepreneurs world. Without it, ideas are buried and passions are watered down while frustrations set in, making even the strongest of personalities call it quits and go back to their corporate jobs.

I’ve come up with 8 innovative ideas you can use to fund your startup without necessarily borrowing money. Depending on your situation and kind of business, you’ll find at least one or two you can apply immediately to get your business running.


1. Sell your valuables

Yes! You saw that right. If you’ve been struggling with acquiring funds to finance your startup and nothing seem to be working, maybe it’s time then to look inwards.

Search your house thoroughly for any valuable item that could fetch you a fortune when you sell…that gold wristwatch, expensive jewelry, MacBook, or iPod, whatever.

It’s time to let them go for the bigger stuff. If you aren’t ready to get rid of these precious items to make your ideas work, then it doesn’t matter what you say, you are not ready for business! Or better still, you are not convinced about your ideas.

Entrepreneurs are people that can give everything including their lives for something they believe in. That is one skill you need to survive in this overcrowded business space.

2. Dip into your savings

This is what your savings are meant for: to invest in opportunities and ideas that can transform your life and change your world. Your savings are not meant for spending, fixing urgent situations or paying debts.

You can have separate savings for that but primarily we save to invest. Just in case you don’t have any savings, you might want to take some time making some money at first. So try to get a job where you could work for some time and save before starting your business.

3. Your Rich Friends

What big money is to you is nothing to some of your rich friends. You know this is true. Instead of dying in silence and wondering if they will be willing to help you, swallow your ego, take the bold step and pitch your ideas to them.

You’ll never know if they’ll support you unless you ask. If one rich friend says no, walk up to another until all of them have said no and at that point, you know something else is wrong. Maybe something that has to do with your approach or the feasibility of your ideas.

Your friends should be willing to help you make your dreams come true especially when they can. After all, what are friends for?

4. Crowdfunding from family and close relatives

Crowdfunding is a good fundraising alternative for entrepreneurs. It involves raising a small amount of money from a large number of people. Crowdfunding can be done through online platforms.

The best people to start fundraising from are your family and relatives. You can start by listing down all those who can potentially fund you and write down how much you think they can conveniently donate.

Once you’ve located your potential donors, go reach out to them. Pitch your ideas so that they know what you’re capable of doing. For some other family members, you can ask to instead borrow money and then pay as your business yields profits.

5. Leverage on funding opportunities 

Governments, NGOs and other private and public bodies are providing support to entrepreneurs all over Africa. Since more people are participating in entrepreneurship, these bodies come up with initiatives and CSR projects to provide financial support to budding entrepreneurs. Be sure to leverage these opportunities when they show up.

Other funding opportunities include idea-pitching events. For example, the upcoming SLA Accelerator gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their ideas. Then the top selected ideas get to win large sums of money, partnerships, and mentorship. 

Such events provide you an opportunity to not just fund your business when you win, but also learn from your mistakes if you lose. In the end, it’s a win-win situation where you get to build on your ideas either way. 

6. Partnerships

Regardless of the kind business you run, a partnership is a smart way of funding your startup. Strategic partnerships will not only afford you funds, but also help you leverage the experience, expertise, resources, and network of the other party.

Just make sure you go about it the right away and involve a legal personnel in all your dealings and agreements. 

7. Microloans and peer-to-peer lending

While I always discourage small businesses from starting up with loans, at times, that might appear to be the wisest step to take. Microloans are small business loans offered by microlenders to help small or relatively new businesses finance their business.

As a new business, you might not qualify for a bank loan because of the collateral requirements and others. But with microloans, you can get your business started without acquiring too many debts or paying high-interest charges.

Similarly, peer-to-peer lending is a new debt financing method that provides a platform where lenders are connected to borrowers. You don’t need a financial institution for a p2p lending. The interest rates are also at an all-time low and less risky and safer than other methods.

8. Angel and seed investors 

Angel/seed investors are wealthy and affluent individuals who provide a business startup with capital or funds usually for a convertible debt or ownership equity in return.

Most small business owners don’t buy into this idea of business funding. This is because it involves sharing their business ownership with another business even if it’s a small percentage. However, you will consider this option when you think of the bigger advantage, to you as an individual and to your business as an entity. 

 In conclusion

No amount of funds will cover up for your incompetence, ignorance or poor products and services. At the same time, nobody will be willing to invest their money in a business you’ve not invested adequate time and effort into.

Test your ideas. Hone your craft. Know your industry. Understand your target market. Study your competitors. Identify trends. Research. The goal isn’t 100% perfection but at least do so much background work that anybody will want to invest in your idea. Life is not a dress rehearsal, neither is running a business.

So before you go about looking for funds to finance your business. Ask yourself one very vital question? “Is your idea worth investing on?”


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Elom Ayayee: Photography for me was a fortunate accident

Elom Ayayee never thought photography would be a part of her life. Her career path was in international relations, policy, linguistics, and publishing. But her love for beautiful images in magazines ignited her desire to pursue a career in photography.

She wanted to recreate these looks which seemed limited to only models for the everyday woman who could be a wife, mother, entrepreneur / employee, believer, citizen and role model.

Elom started with no knowledge of photography. She didn’t know how to take photos and had no clients. But with time, constant practice and determination, she opened her photo studio Elom Ayayee Portraiture where she takes magazine-worthy images of women to remember for the rest of their lives.


How did you start your photography career?

Photography was a very fortunate accident and I fall in love with it more and more every day. It’s all about meeting someone for the first time and finally creating a timeless piece of art that speaks to the essence of who they are or who they want to be in the moment it was created.

To me, that is the amazing power of portraiture. Photography for me is the power to exist in time. It’s a way to say “I was here. I lived, I loved, I hurt, I suffered, I rejoiced, I was silent, I was loud. I held this space”.

Why do you focus on women?

I started photographing family and friends and before I knew it I had a client base. My move to photograph women was not just a great business plan. But, it was also a way to highlight these women who are sometimes invisible in the roles they play. Women often get lost in their responsibilities and forget to appreciate themselves.

My initial desire was to give women just one day off. A day to get pampered and remember and document who she is outside of all the hustle.

To get her hair and makeup done and the most beautiful images of herself that would be loved and cherished and appreciated for all time.

What were some of the hurdles you encountered and how did you solve them?

Marketing has been the biggest hurdle. I’m naturally a very private person and 90% of my client base is from referrals. Putting myself out there is still a very uncomfortable experience for me.

That being said, my target market is small and very specific so that tends to minimize the effort I would otherwise have to make in marketing myself. It’s a lazy way of marketing I guess; give great service and let happy clients do the talking for you.

How do you get your photographs to spread your messages?

I don’t create my photographs for the general public. I create images for my clients to hang on their walls in their homes – this is very intimate and private. Images that hopefully their great great great grandchildren will see and talk about.

My images are about time, legacy and emotion. All of my images say different things in the different homes they live in. I can usually tell by spending enough time with a woman who she wants to see when she looks at an image of herself. I pull on every resource within me during a shoot to be able to give her that.

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How do you improve your photography and get inspired? 

I do this every way that I can. I enjoy constructive criticism from people I look up to in the industry and my clients. I’m always on the internet trying to figure out how to get what I see in my head right.

My clients are all the inspiration I need. I’ve met such incredible people. Every woman has a story, every child has incredible potential. One day what I create for this person will be a timeless treasure to someone else.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?

Yes! I’m doing a series for women that I’m very excited about. It’s easy to promise to take the most amazing picture a woman has ever seen of herself when she’s been pampered and dolled up and looks like the jackpot.

Can I take the most beautiful picture of a woman make-up free? This is my challenge to myself and all my clients. So far, it’s been amazing. Women are so deep and they carry so much behind their eyes.

Each of my clients who have trusted me enough to put themselves in this vulnerable place has been won over. It’s literally the most powerful image you could ever take.

What photography gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best?

I started with a Nikon D3300 and I’ve always used natural light. My first studio was robbed and all my gear was stolen, that’s when I switched to Canon. I’m now shooting on a 5DMark iii.

I own a 50mm lens which I shoot 80% of my shots with and a 70-200 for my outdoor portraits. I use Adobe Photoshop for my editing.

What advice would you give young photographers who want to make it in this industry?

I really don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak for the whole industry, but I would say you need solid people skills and know the basic fundamentals of how to run a business. There’s a huge difference between a business and a hustle.

Also, advise often depends on what area of photography you venture in. So, the first thing I would say is, find your niche, and contrary to popular belief, the smaller your niche the better. Too many photographers are doing too many things. You can’t have it all.  Give great service. Master your craft.


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9 Business Lessons from My First Year of Business

Like many people, I was faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not I needed to attend business school to start my business as I had no experience. However, I finally decided to be brave and start my business without any experience.

In my one year since starting, I have learned the following lessons.


1. Never take things too personally.

When operating with people, it’s often very easy to make arguments, criticism and other relations personal. However, if you want to succeed in the business world, you need to remember that at the end of the day, how you deal with your customers and partners is strictly business and not personal.

2. Separate your business life from your personal life.

When you have a friendly relationship with your clients, it is very easy for the lines to get blurred. Sometimes, this can end up in sticky situations where one party does not fulfill their end of the deal. To avoid these situations, it is important to set the lines clear between your business and your personal life. You need to maintain a work-life balance.

3. Be clear about your job description.

As a service based business, one of my ethos is going beyond and above for my clients. Sometimes, this results in taking up certain duties (aka unpaid labor) that are not part of my job description. This can get overwhelming.

Therefore, it is important to be clear about ALL the services that your offer from the onset. If necessary, you should draw up contracts that reflect your services and your limits.

4. Review your prices regularly.

You might be doing yourself a great disservice if in a bid to come across as affordable you under-price yourself. It is important to review your prices as often as possible. Especially when you’re in an industry like social media where your responsibilities are flexible and subject to change.

5. Be accountable.

In the absence of a business partner or a co-founder, you need to learn how to hold yourself accountable. This can be as easy as setting small, medium and long-term goals and working toward them. These goals are important to give you a sense of direction and to keep you in check.

6. Toot your horn.

One of the few things I still struggle with is putting myself out there as I’d like for my business to speak for itself. But the game has changed and the internet is over saturated. The only way for you to be noticed or to come across as a thought-leader or an expert in your field is if you put yourself out there.

There are no two ways about it. Do you want to be the go-to person for a particular service? Put yourself out there and let people know.

7. Have confidence in yourself.

When you are running a business, you’re gonna need all the confidence you can muster for the tough days ahead. You will face people who don’t believe in your dreams and your plans may even fail. It is important to keep believing in yourself even when others don’t.

8. Find time to improve your skills.

Work/Life can be overwhelming sometimes and before you know it, three months have gone by without you learning anything new. In this ever-changing world, there’s a need to constantly improve your skills.

Thankfully we have the internet at our disposal but finding the time can be a challenge. To fix this, make a schedule maybe during the public holidays and learn something that would directly improve your daily activities.

9. Customer service is key.

Just because you’re not selling a product to a consumer doesn’t mean customer service is any less important. You’re selling services. Treat your clients with courtesy. Referrals are still king.


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