Pioneer and successful players in startup businesses have unanimously advised that success could only come in the way of upcoming entrepreneurs through passion and perseverance rather than the desire to get rich quick.
They gave the advice on Thursday at the breakout session on the WorldStage Economic Summit 2023 held at the event centre of the Nigerian Exchange, Lagos themed “The Game Changer.”
Moderated by the Editor-in-Chief of Global Financial Digest, Mr. Mayowa Oludare, guest speakers that took turns to share their experiences and address issues that were critical factors in understanding and running startup businesses to succeed were Mr. Tim Akano, CEO, New Horizons Nigeria; and Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi, Managing Director, HumanManager Limited who represented the Group Managing Director of SystemSpecs Holdings, Nigeria, Mr. John Tani Obaro.
Giving a presentation on startups as the game changer, Mr. Akano admitted that it was always tough at the beginning but that passion and perseverance would make starters to overcome any challenge that might come their way in the build-up stages.
Reliving personal experience, he said it took him over 12 months to convince Nigerians about his startup which he started about 20 years ago after resigning from lucrative jobs with Coca Cola and Dunlop.
According to Akano, it takes perseverance to overcome challenges and it’s not a bed of roses to scale various hurdles for anyone ambitious to venture into startups. But every startup entrepreneur must have it at the back of their minds that the reward for solving problems is money and therefore make problem solving their focus if they desire to make headway, he stated.
Sounding out would-be startup entrepreneurs against failure, he warned against partnering with wrong people and to cut off with negative individuals who were only good at seeing challenges but not solutions.
“Don’t make a company of negative people, particularly the learned and academic who are fond of analysis to paralysis, only rolling out problems rather than solutions,” he warned.
He also advised upcoming startups that there is nothing bad in sharing ideas with people who may not be experts to avoid discouragement by people of much knowledge.
Asked if it’s advisable to engage partners from the start, he replied that it might be difficult to build a company with just one brain.
“The fear is understandable, but there’s no straight answer to it,” he said.
He however reminded the audience that Google was a product of some students and professors and that therefore it might not be a bad idea to have partners who are like-minded from the beginning.
He advised the youth not to be dominated by fear of the risk of bringing in people to co-own startup businesses.
Speaking on the benefits of mentoring and mentorship, Akano argued that not everyone could be a mentor but real mentors were called to serve other people, with little concern for reward.
Describing how critical mentors are to the generation of upcoming entrepreneurs, he quoted a statement by Albert Eistein that ‘he sees far by standing on the shoulder of a giant’ to support his position on the significance of mentorship.
“One has to be very bold to seek help, and youths have to be disciplined, trust-worthy and have value to contribute,” he admonished.
Akano highlighted other challenges to upcoming startups as fear of the unknown, overconfidence about break-even which in most cases fail expectations, and cash flow, which according to him is about retaining cash coming in rather than just inflow of cash.
In her own presentation on ‘Journey from conception to launch, Mrs. Adekunbi Ademiluyi agreed with Akano that understanding and knowing one’s passion is key to upcoming entrepreneurs to achieving success.
“Focus on your goals even when your plan is cascading,” she counselled.
She outlined other factors for success in entrepreneurship as understanding and engaging with community; asking the right questions with ideation; challenging the status quo; listening to unmet needs and desires of the world; conceptualizing by shaping ideas into tangible, viable and scalable solution – determining solution that fits the problem; creating a value proposition; defining business model; and putting a legal structure in place.
Ademiluyi also recommended execution based on nurturing ideas, refining and bringing them to life, processing product development, building workable teams and planning resources.
“A successful launch isn’t where the story ends, going live aims at monetization, customers’ satisfaction and creating new markets,” she elaborated.
Asked how idea could be translated to reality, she recommended that a plan should be created, concerns should be shared, structure should be put in place, ideas should be shared, strategic partnership should be initiated, and knowledge of what moving from point A to B in the growth process meant and entailed must be established.
She mentioned the contributions of the government at encouraging startup businesses as instituting the Bank of Industry (BoI), Micro finance banks etc to ensure easy access to funding for financially deprived individuals that sought to go into startups.
Responding to the question about the fintech sector being dominated by technical people, she said it was because investors and venture capitalists always looked for technologists and that those that applied for their jobs were people with a background in financial technology.
To halt or curb the “japa” syndrome currently depriving Nigeria the services of her bulk of professionals, Ademiluyi submitted that it’s a global challenge that’s not limited to Nigeria alone. However, she saw an opportunity in the challenge
“In every problem there is an opportunity. It’s a global issue. There’s even domestic japa where people resign their jobs and prefer to work on their own. There are opportunities in Nigeria, we only need to adjust ourselves to curb the lure of japa,” she reasoned.
To further curb the phenomenon of ‘japa’ she called on the government at all levels to improve on infrastructures for people to be interested in the country. She equally advocated improvement of the educational system as well as the social factors.
In his opening remark, the President/CEO of WorldStage, Mr. Segun Adeleye said WES 2023 was accommodating a special breakout session tagged Startups on WorldStage with the Theme: ‘The Game Changers’ for founders, startup enthusiasts, corporates, angel investors, and media to network and chart the way forward.
He said, WorldStage, a globally focused media group with strong business/economic contents, is leveraging its capacity to engage the emerging startups and project them for global visibility.
“Data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicated that unemployment and underemployment rates increased to an all-time high of 56.1 percent in 2020, pushing 133 million Nigerians into multidimensional poverty with economic growth not inclusive as it faced key challenges of lower productivity and weak expansion of sectors with high employment elasticity,” he said.
“Getting the youths to work must be an immediate task for the government and will be driven by fixing productivity through combinations of policies that cut across some strategic sectors of the economy.
“Many startups that need to be encouraged are developing technology to solve identified problems in payment systems, insurance, agribusiness, e-commerce among others. The beauty of their emergence is that their concepts are globally acceptable, making them eligible to expand to other countries while attracting foreign exchange and creating new jobs.”
Aleph Paves the Way for MSME Success in Nigeria with Launch of Aleph Express
Aleph Group, Inc, an ecosystem of global digital experts and technology-driven solutions that enables the growth of digital marketing, has announced the launch of Aleph Express, its proprietary solution for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) in Nigeria.
In one simple and intuitive app, Aleph Express provides a platform for MSMEs to create and maintain a free e-commerce website, create a product catalog, set local delivery options, manage, record and process orders while gaining meaningful insights to drive growth.
Most innovatively, Aleph Express provides one unified inbox that integrates Whatsapp, Messenger, and Instagram, to enable businesses to efficiently engage and sell – all in one place.
In addition, Aleph Express provides local payment solutions and support, creating a holistic offer for Nigeria’s thriving MSME sector.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria is home to more than 41 million MSMEs and contributed 49% of the country’s GDP in the last five years. 42% of MSMEs in the country – equivalent to more than 17 million businesses – operate within the wholesale and retail trade industry.
However, 97% of Nigeria’s retail industry is made up of traditional – largely offline – channels. Aleph Express’ solution, which takes all the heavy lifting out of starting and managing an online shop, will offer an opportunity for retailers to evolve traditional retail channels and capture online growth.
The launch of Aleph Express forms a key part of Aleph’s strategy to provide localised and actionable technology for advertisers and MSMEs alike. From its teams on the ground, Aleph offers unrivalled, local support to enable its partners to overcome in-market challenges and create valuable opportunities. Aleph, through its legacy brand Ad Dynamo, has been supporting Nigerian advertisers since 2009.
Matthieu Laporte, Vice President of SMB at Aleph, commented: “Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the Nigerian economy. With Aleph Express, we enable them to create digital storefronts to attract more customers not only in their neighbourhood but across the country and the region.
“Our dedicated local teams support businesses and entrepreneurs new to this form of commerce and aim to onboard 10,000 monthly active merchants by the end of 2023.”
Approximately 90% of MSMEs in Nigeria use social platforms in one way or another to connect to customers, Aleph Express is a one-stop shop to accelerate businesses’ outreach to clients and potential new clients across the country.
Stephen Newton, Managing Director – Sub Saharan Africa at Aleph, added: “The launch of Aleph Express is a premiere – we are proud that Nigeria has been selected by Aleph as the first market to launch.
“This also marks a milestone in our offering, as Aleph Express is specially tailored for small and medium businesses, enabling these entrepreneurs to leverage the power of social platforms for their growth. With our local team standing by and supporting SMBs, I am confident that we are spearheading a revolution in this field.”
Maida Pledges Support Meta on Undersea Cable Initiative
Dr. Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said the support of the Commission awaits law-abiding investors like Meta, (formerly Facebook), which responds positively to Nigeria’s desire for investments that promote the agenda of government to achieve a robust digital economy.
Maida, who spoke when he received a delegation of Meta, led by the company’s Vice President for Africa, the Middle-East and Turkey, Kojo Boakye, when they visited NCC’s headquarters in Abuja, said the regulatory support to all investors, including operators in Nigeria, will be predicated on their playing by the rules and regulations guiding the sector.
He said the Commission places a lot of premium on compliance to industry laws, regulations and guidelines as such will also engender a level-playing field for all licensees and other stakeholders in the industry for sustaining a healthy competition and guaranteeing a sustainable growth in the Nigerian telecoms sector.
Boakye informed NCC boss that the purpose of the visit was to congratulate the EVC on his appointment by the President and to intimate him of ongoing efforts to land 2Africa Cable in Nigeria.
At 45,000 kilometres long, Boakye said the 2Africa submarine cable will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), Asia (via Saudi Arabia), and Africa.
He said the system will go live in 2023, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables currently serving Africa, with a design capacity of up to 180 terabytes per second (Tbps).
Boakye stated that 2Africa will deliver much-needed Internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, supplement the fast-growing capacity demand in theMiddle East and underpin further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for billions of people, especially in Nigeria.
He solicited NCC’s support in sailing through all necessary legal and regulatory hurdles in landing the submarine cable to complement existing backbone infrastructure in Nigeria.
He also said Meta, through a consortium, plans to land 2Africa cable simultaneously in Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States “in order to ensure those not yet connected are connected while those already connected are given opportunity for enhanced and affordable access.”
MTN PR Manager Earns a PhD as Pan-Atlantic University Convocates 11 Doctoral Graduates
Lakinbofa Goodluck, MTN Nigeria’s PR Manager, was one of 11 doctoral graduates at the Pan-Atlantic University’s (PAU) convocation on December 2, 2023.
He was awarded a PhD certificate for his laudable research thesis on Nigeria’s film industry titled ‘Defining the Christian Film in the Nollywood Film Industry’. He sought to understand the meaning-making process between the filmmaker/creative collaborators and the audience through the lens of genre.
Amidst the vibrant event, where attendees adorned varied hoodies and regalia, the university celebrated a total of 206 graduands. These individuals were acknowledged for enduring academic rigour and demonstrating mastery of knowledge and the requisite character to contribute meaningfully to society.
During his address, the Pro-Chancellor of the university and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN, commented on the potential interference of artificial intelligence on learning. He emphasized the importance of experiential learning to foster independent analysis and thought.
“It is only in continuing to challenge students to analyse, evaluate and create that we can maintain the core essence of tertiary education and produce graduates who are equipped to navigate the complexities of the future,” he stated.
PhD is the peak of formal education and only intensely disciplined, determined and curious people dare to attain it.
Reflecting on the significance of achieving a PhD, Lakinbofa shared, “This is not just a personal achievement; it’s a tribute to the relentless pursuit of knowledge and the boundless curiosity that drives me. Exploring the intricacies of Nigeria’s film industry in my thesis was a rewarding journey into the world of genre and audience engagement.
“As one of the 11 Doctoral graduates, I stand amidst a cohort of individuals charged to contribute significantly to society. I acknowledge both the burden and the fulfilment.”
Given the rapid progress of the Nigerian film industry and its substantial contribution to the nation’s economy, Lakinbofa’s study promises to provide stakeholders with invaluable insights.
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