Adamu Waziri sat down with the AWP Network to discuss what inspired him to start his animation company, which produces the ‘Bino and Fino’ show. The ‘Bino and Fino’ show is an African educational and cultural cartoon series about a brother and sister, ‘Bino and Fino,’ who live with their grandparents ‘Mama and Papa,’ in a modern-day city in Africa. ‘Bino and Fino’ have many adventures, where with the help of their friend ‘Zeena’ the Magic Butterfly, they discover and learn things about the world.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
EVCL stands for E-Black Visual Concept Links Ltd. We actually wanted the name E-Black but it was already registered. E-Black is the title of an original comic magazine that I wrote a while back.
What inspired you to start this business?
Prior to owning this business, I worked as an animator in London but found that no one in Nigeria would pay me the salary that I wanted, so I felt that the only option for me was to set up my own company. I did not, in my wildest dreams, think that I would end up running an animation company. I also felt that many people in Nigeria did not care about producing ‘quality’ animation hence, my goal was to create a company that provided a solution.
Who is your target market?
At EVCL, we produce animated content with a Nigerian or Sub-Saharan African flavour. Our goal is to produce shows that educate, enrich, and entertain. Currently, we produce the ‘Bino and Fino’ show. This animated show is geared towards families here in Nigeria and in the Diaspora – with children between ages three (3) and six (6). We focus extensively on educational content and our aim is to inspire young Africans. The secondary target audience are families who are interested in teaching their children about African culture, history, and languages.
How have you financed the company?
Bootstrapping – we have financed our business from a variety of sources. This includes funds raised through jobs, and of course, we have received extensive support from friends, family, and supporters.
What is your competitive edge?
The quality of work that we produce makes us competitive. Everyone on the team is keen on producing high-quality African-centred animation that is innovative and different. This is what sets us apart. Beyond that, I also want to highlight the creative talents of our team members. We push ourselves to do better. We are also not in this for the quick buck but we are in it for the long-term and that reflects in how we conduct business and more importantly, in the projects that we take on.
What is your five-year plan?
The five-year plan is to become a media content production outfit that produces entertaining and thought-provoking African animated content for a global audience. We want to provide jobs and a platform for animation talent in Africa.
What challenges do you face or have you faced thus far?
1. The lack of basic infrastructure such as power – we provide our own electricity and that gets very expensive.
2. Finding and sourcing the right staff – in an industry like ours, you have to hire the right people.
3. Finding distribution channels for our products.
4. Access to business finance.
5. Facing resistance from, and gaining access to, local industry gatekeepers.
What key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
*Be creative! – constantly think outside of the box
*Be patient! – things usually take much longer to happen and sometimes they don’t happen at all.
*Be focused! Remain focused on your goals.
*Above all, understand the importance of networking. Relationships are not always about what a person can do for your business right now. In fact, they may not be able to help now, but they may be able to support you at a later time.
What key things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
1. Is your business idea actually solving a problem? Speak to your market.
2. The journey will get very lonely…. You need passion to keep you going.
3. Be humble and keep learning. You never know where you might get help and knowledge from.
4. Be patient – things will probably take three (3) times longer to happen than you initially planned especially in Nigeria.
5. This is very important – the difference between people saying your business is cool and actually buying your product is a big one.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
Before you conclude that there is no money, do your research! There are grant programs and initiatives out there to support entrepreneurs. Also, think outside of the box. Reach out to friends and family members for support.
Sometimes the lack of money helps you come up with innovative strategies and different solutions. For most small businesses, the lack of money should not be a barrier to starting, although it might be a barrier to growing. The most important thing is to start. If we had waited for perfect financial conditions, we would probably still be at the drawing board stage.
How do you think Nigerian youths can continue to support each other?
The internet has opened up platforms for young people to discuss and organize forums. Youths also need to develop a culture of collaboration. Right now the feedback is that it’s a dog eat dog world but things are changing slowly. We should always remember that collaboration is key.
How many jobs have you created so far?
How can we support and improve innovation in Nigeria or Africa?
This is a big one. I definitely don’t have all the answers. There needs to be action from both the public and private sectors. The government needs to setup an enabling environment – this includes providing suitable infrastructure, enforcing business laws, and creating the right tax policies. Education also has a large part to play. I will say that the Nigerian public educational system does not foster innovation and more needs to be done on that end.