Fearless and Bold: Iheoma Obibi Opens Nigeria’s First Online Adult Novelty Store

Founder, Intimate Pleasures

Founder, Intimate Pleasures

The inspiration for my business came after I attended a breakout session organized by Life Coach, Esther Passaris, at the African Feminist Forum in Kampala,Uganda (2010). 

At the time, I had a growing customer base but did not know how to take the business idea to the next level. Passaris got me to identify obstacles preventing me from implementing my goals. The limitation of course, was in my mind – I was afraid and extremely fearful of operating out of my comfort zone.

Today however, I have moved forward with the business idea, worked hard to overcome my fears, and I have not looked back since.

How did you come up with your business name?
Intimate Pleasures is a sex-positive adult novelty store for women and their partners. The name Intimate Pleasures Desires of the Heart came after speaking with friends, my husband, and researching what competitors had named their business. I needed to be creative.

Who is your target market?
My customers are women. Cultural norms coupled with religion means that regardless of age, women are yet to enjoy or make demands of a sexual nature within their relationships. My business takes a holistic approach to supporting the sexual health and intimate needs of the Nigerian woman. A woman should be entitled to a healthy sex life. She should also have the ability to ask questions in a safe space without being judged.

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Why sex toys?

Those of us in this business say, “adult novelty toys” rather than “sex toys.” I started this business in 2010 and competition is fierce.

Why not adult novelty toys?  There is a need for the products in the marketplace and I am comfortable selling them. I ask my clients, Is the sexual experience enjoyable? Can it get any better?

How have you financed your business?

I funded this business with my savings. I also asked my husband to assist with his line of credit. Recently, I asked a few friends for a soft loan. I bootstrap – ensuring that any money earned goes back into the business. This means making sure that financial obligations to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are met, even during months when I have no sales. So far, it has been both stressful and rewarding.

What is your competitive edge? 

Intimate Pleasures is Nigeria’s first adult novelty store. In addition to this, our business activities are as follows: (1) we organize a quarterly “wellness and intimacy ladies only” afternoons, (2) we offer counselling services and are often invited to speak to groups of women, men, or couples on a diverse range of issues, (3) we organize bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and (4) as “Madam Butterfly” we are on several radio shows giving advice and answering general questions regarding intimacy. As you can see, we do not only sell adult novelty toys, we provide a sex-positive holistic package.

What is the long-term plan for your business?

Initially, counselling was not part of my business plan but I had to re-visit this idea because it is what my customers want. Customers want to speak with someone about issues related to sex and intimacy.

What challenges do you face?

We have several challenges. The first is challenging the perception that I can start a business focused on selling adult novelty toys in Nigeria. Also, the distribution channel. Some local firms are not time efficient as I would like. The first local courier my company used, closed down. Now we are revisiting how we want to engage partners in the distribution process.

The eCommerce part is a challenge. Nigerians still do not fully trust purchasing anything online. Lastly, the Nigerian market is flooded with fake adult novelty toys. This confuses customers who may not be able to tell the difference between the fake and real toys. Fake toys are dangerous.

What key things have you learned since starting this idea?

(1) Be honest about your capabilities. You will need a clear assessment of yourself to run your business. For instance, there is no need engaging in PR, if you are timid and shy. Be brutally honest with yourself and then begin to do the work.

(2) Understand financial planning and its implications for your business. I had to learn this as it was necessary for my business growth.

(3) Be patient. Not everyone will work at your pace; therefore don’t get upset when a key person works at a slower pace than you.

(4) Use social media as a marketing tool. I quickly had to learn what Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages could do for my business.

(5) Network. Network. Network: Networking has helped me get the word out about my business. I have learned to become my own advocate. My business is extremely personal, therefore it is important to explain the why of my business.

 

What five (5) things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?

1. Learn how the tax system works. The system here in Lagos, is almost geared for penalties and little way is made for SMEs.

2. Develop a business and strategic plan.

3. Be appreciative of your family. Family is important so be grateful and humble. It is important to know this because they are the ones to sooth your frayed nerves after a stressful day.

4. Get insurance. You need to know where to get insurance from. This will affect your products in terms of pricing especially if your business involves being couriered to you through customs.

5. Know your competitors. You need to know who your competitors are and how the market is shaped because you will always need to be innovative and up-to-date on products that you sell.

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?

Yes, you need money to start a business, but is it possible to bootstrap your ideas? Start small and work your way towards your identified goal. You can also hold on to a part-time job if you have one.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?

Young Africans can support each other by speaking up about their experiences, and being passionate about implementing their goals.

How many jobs have you created so far?

Since we started, we have created about ten (10) jobs, including but not limited to hiring a lawyer, web designer, operations manager, and a dispatch rider. Also, we use part-time staff for trade fairs and public events.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?

We have to encourage an enabling environment for organic innovation to take root and develop. Often times, getting the needed support is tedious and exhausting – we have to support our entrepreneurs.

 

We are currently the only www.lelo.com distributors in Nigeria. Products can be purchased at www.konga.com/intimate-pleasures

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Learn more about Intimate Pleasures here:

Phone: +(234) 0818 480 8686

Website: www.myintimatepleasureshop.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/naijadesires

Email: sales@myintimatepleasureshop.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/naijadesires

 

 

 

 

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African Girls in Technology: WITIN Forum Uncovers New Innovations

by Olufemi Omotayo (Director – AWP Network)

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Nigerian girls are techies too!

Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN) provides networking, entrepreneurship, and professional development opportunities for women and girls.

WITIN educates, inspires and equips women and girls to pursue and keep careers in STEM while embracing the emerging tech market as inventors and innovators. WITIN’s most recent initiative, Tech 4D is an annual forum that explores current technological trends and needs of society.

The organization partnered with local schools such as Honeywell College, Vivian Fowler girls, International School Lagos, Princeton College Lagos, King David Model College, Our Lady of Nigeria Secondary School, Delta state; Mastermind College, and Doregos Private Academy.

Students designed mobile applications that tackled problems within their communities. Their solutions addressed issues like the calculation of electricity bills, entrepreneurship, fashion and style, career decisions, fitness and diet. Other mobile applications included tackling depression, safety and transportation, situation reporting, and shopping.

Last year’s winners represented Nigeria at Technovation 2013 and emerged top 10 globally, beating China, India and Jordan. The girls pitched their traffic app at the Twitter headquarters in California in May 2013. Hon (Mrs) Abike Dabiri-Erewa presented certificates to last year’s winners as well as this year’s participants.

Mrs Dabiri-Erewa spoke briefly on how technology makes an impact in the lives of young women. She spoke passionately about the missing 200+ school girls in Borno and the killings in Nyanya, Abuja. She charged women to come together and get more involved in governance.

“We need a Nigeria that will give girls a future. We need mothers who believe in the progress and security of our children.”

Mrs Nkemdilim Begho, MD Futuresoft gave a brief presentation encouraging girls to pursue a degree in STEM fields.

Susan Schorr from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) talked about empowering more women to embrace technology. Vicky Sleight spoke on the benefit of being part of her organisation, the GSMA; while Rachel Thomas, the president of Lean In Foundation talked about how people can form ‘lean in’ circles.

Girls gave their project presentations in the morning session. The women gathered in the afternoon to explore how to make better use of technology. Mrs. Iyabo Funmilola Osifeso, Permanent Secretary at the Lagos State Education District VI waited after performing her ‘motherly’ role in the morning and was an active participant in the afternoon session. Ms. Chioma Okoli, Head, Google Apps Enterprise, Upperlink Limited and Ms Odukoya of MTN Nigeria took participants in different practical tech sessions.

Mrs Martha Alade, WITIN Chairperson/Founder, also emphasised on the myriad of opportunities technology offers. In a brief conversation with the AWP Network, she said, “we should have rewarded the girls for the apps they’ve created but we could not get the needed support, despite writing to many organisations.”

“Yet, we should be happy because the event is a huge success,” she said.

The event could yet be described by how Mrs Begho concluded her presentation.

She quoted Ray Bradbury:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

 

Language and Culture – How Genii Games is Using Technology to Spark Innovation

IMG_0572[1]Innovator and entrepreneur, Adebayo Adegbembo founded Genii Games shortly after participating in the tech-in-education hackathon organized by the Co-creation hub.

Genii Games is the parent company of Asa – a growing collection of interactive mobile applications that teach Nigerian culture and languages.  Asa uses animation, voice, text, colorful graphics, and interactive games to capture the interest of its target audience. These games are available across multiple mobile platforms (Android, iOS, and Blackberry.)  Asa has earned recognition from the Etisalat Pan-African Prize for Innovation, the BlackBerry10 mobile app competition, and the Mobile Web West African mobile app competition.

How did you come up with this idea?

Genii Games was born out of the tech-in-education hackathon organized by the Co-creation hub in Lagos. The goal of the hackathon was to come up with solutions that addressed issues in the education sector.

I always had an interest in culture, child education, and languages so I focused on that. I wanted to start a movement that encouraged Nigerian children to learn more about their cultural heritage.

Agreed – we live in a global community but that shouldn’t mean that we forget about our culture. These days we focus on, and want everything western. Not many African children take the time to learn their own language. Nigerians would rather learn the Chinese, French, German, or Spanish languages but what is wrong in learning Yoruba? Igbo? Hausa? Or any other local language – absolutely nothing.

I believe that our local languages should remain relevant. It is part of our identity.

What did you study in college?

I studied Surveying and Geoinformatics at the University of Lagos. I have also taken some certification courses in computer programming, graphic design, and animation.

How did you come up with the name of the company?

Do you mean Genii or Asa? well, Genii comes from the word ‘genius’ and Asa, means ‘culture’ in the Yoruba language.

Who is your target market?

Genii games serves middle to upper-class parents with children ages 2 to 12.

How have you financed your business?

I have raised funds from friends and family. The Co-creation hub has also been very helpful – connecting us to various funding streams. Also, we have received funding and support from the Tony Elemelu Foundation, the Blackberry10 Mobile App Competition, and the Etisalat Pan-African Prize for Innovation.

Customer acquisition and retention is also very important to our business. Customers pay to download our mobile apps. We charge 99 cents for each purchase. We are also moving towards mobile advertising.

What is your competitive edge?  

We have a comprehensive and strategic approach to teaching language and we use interactive gaming technology to drive interest in our products.  More importantly, we are content developers. To increase our customer base, the content that we provide has to be stimulating and engaging.  Our prices are also affordable.

What five (5) keys things have you learned since starting your business? (1) Entrepreneurship is a journey.

(2) It is important to create value and provide solutions.
(3) Trust and credibility are crucial to building a solid customer base.
(4) It is important to build a system and product that works.
(5) To make money, have a sustainable business model.

 

What key things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?
(1) There is no such thing as overnight success.
(2) Have confidence in your abilities. It is important to build your self-confidence. The truth of the matter is that if you do not believe in yourself, it becomes more difficult for someone else to believe in you.
(3) Keep a journal. Entrepreneurship will make a philosopher out of you. Owning a business is an exciting journey and writing in a journal encourages you to reflect – that way you can look back 10, 15 years from now and see how far you’ve come.
(4) Collaboration is essential. Leverage on the strength of others to make a difference. Don’t be opposed to sharing your ideas.
(5) Make use of social media. Use this platform to expand your network.
(6) Know your strengths and weaknesses.
(7) Build a solid team – I don’t believe anyone can work alone. We have to learn how to work with others and collaborate. Accept that you do not need to have all the answers.
(8) Hold on to your vision, don’t be afraid, and run a purposeful course.

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What challenges do you face?
1) Finding the right talent. It is not easy to find people with the right set of skills. We are constantly on the lookout for graphic designers, voice over artists, and content developers. We welcome people who can deliver and willing to work hard.
2) Marketing Support: we want to create awareness and would like more Africans in the diaspora to learn more about our work.

What advice do you have for young people looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
I want young people to know that you do not need to have money to start a business. All you need is an idea, passion, and the right set of skills. Sit down and think about what it will require to bring your ideas to life – this is where the work is.

Bringing an idea to life doesn’t require money, it requires creativity. So be creative. Don’t pressure yourself to know it all. Also, be willing to put in the sweat equity. I find that many people are unwilling to work hard for what they want, they’d rather see all the obstacles and complain rather than the numerous opportunities.

Many young people in Africa have the erroneous notion that business is solely about retail and that’s why we have so many people in the retail industry. Our idea of business should not be limited to buying and selling clothes, shoes, and handbags. We have to think differently and dream big.

How many jobs have you created thus far?
Genii Games has created five (5) jobs. We work on a per project basis and hire as we grow.

How can we support and improve innovation in Nigeria or Africa?
Innovation is not about being perfect. We need to understand that it is okay to fail. Hubs are a starting point to spurring innovation. This is how we got started at Genii Games so I am a fan of hubs. Also, we need to revamp our education system. There are many people with potential here in Africa – we have lots of young people here and we have to work hard to ensure that their skills and talents don’t go to waste.

We are the one-stop shop for Nigerian languages.

80 percent of our customers are Africans in the diaspora.

Contact Genii Games here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/geniigames

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Genii_Games

Website: http://www.geniigames.com/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVMNi4lvy1c

 

 

 

 

Voices of Young African Entrepreneurs: The Rave about Printivo

Printivo

 

 

 

 

Satisfied customers have raved about Printivo.com on social media. We followed the comments and reached out to the company to learn more about the services they provide.

Printivo.com is recognized as Nigeria`s leading online print provider. The company works with a community of designers who upload their portfolios to a database of customized templates. From this, customers are then able to make design selections.

Olu’yomi Ojo founded the company early this year. We meet with him to ask a few questions about his company and learn more about his strategies for growth and sustainability.

How did you come up with the name of your business?
Printivo for me means awesome print. Instead of saying “print it,” we tell our customers to “Printivo it.”

What does your company do?
Printivo.com is disrupting the Nigerian printing industry through its efficient printing process, wide range of design templates, and internet reach. We take away the hassle and stress of having to find quality printers in Nigeria’s busy cities. Our product line ranges from letterheads, business cards, envelopes, greeting cards, paper bags, and jotters – we will continue to expand our product range.

What inspired you to start this business?
Printivo.com fills a need. We focus on SMEs interested in printing items at a reduced cost and with urgency. Our delivery process is fast, quick, and efficient.

Who is your target market?
Printivo focuses on SMEs, startups, and large corporations that needs to get printing jobs done quickly and efficiently.

How have you financed your business?
Bootstrapping. I launched printivo.com with my savings. We wanted to  ensure that we had an execution strategy and a solid idea first, before seeking funds for the business.

What is your competitive edge?
(1) High quality prints (2) Unrivaled turnaround time (3) Do-It-Yourself approach to print ordering (4) Wide range of print product design templates (5) Great customer service

What is the five (5) year plan for your business?
To become West Africa’s No.1 online printing solution.

Printivo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What challenges do you face?
While finding the right talent is a challenge for every startup in Nigeria, the lack of electricity has been an enormous challenge.

What key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
(1) Expect unforeseen circumstances even after crossing your “T’s and dotting your I’s.”
(2) The customer is the blood of any business.
(3) The business of e-commerce is more about people than technology.

What five things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
(1) Only build and develop products that people will use.
(2) Think about how you will make money. Think about your revenue source from day one.
(3) Build a business not just a business plan.
(4) Leverage on the Nigerian startup ecosystem, no tree can make a forest.
Lastly, it is important to note that this is one of the best times to build a startup in Nigeria. You are lucky if you have already joined the race (but don’t get too excited because to whom much is given, much is expected).

What advice do you have for young people looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
(1) Start from where you are and with what you have.

(2) The best way to build credibility is to start something no matter how small and grow with it. Also, do not be afraid to share your idea with people who can make it happen. A failed idea is better than an idea that never happened.

How can Nigerian youths continue to support each other?
Collaboration is one of the best ways to make greatness happen. Great things happen when people with different skill sets and experience come together to build – this is where innovation takes place.

How many jobs have you created thus far?
Printivo has created six (6) jobs. We also have several contract jobs. We are looking to expand and will continue to hire as we grow.

How can we support and improve innovation in Nigeria or Africa?
We need to start with the simple things. How can we talk about drones on a continent that still battles with polio, electricity, or bad roads? We don’t need to build cyborgs; we need to build businesses that will make life easier for Africans, simple things done in big ways.

 

Want to get in touch?

Printivo Limited
18, Bajulaiye Road,
Jibowu, Lagos. Nigeria

Phone: +234-1-3426975, +2348099561000
Facebook: www.facebook.com/printivo
Twitter: www.twitter.com/printivo
Instagram: www.instagram.com/printivong

Voices of African Women Entrepreneurs: Nollywood Producer Means Business

Co-Founder, Royal Arts Academy

Co-Founder, Royal Arts Academy

Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry is the second largest film industry in the world. Its rapid expansion is as a result of the innovative use and quick adaptation of new media and digital technology.

The AWP Network met with leading Nollywood writer, executive producer, and co-founder of the Royal Arts Academy, Uduak Isong.

Founded in 2009 with business partner, Emem Isong, the Royal Arts Academy offers courses on various aspects of the film industry with an emphasis on script writing, acting, directing, dance, and children’s theater. The academy’s mission is to train, develop, and improve the skills of actors, writers, and directors in Nollywood.

The Royal Arts Academy has produced films such as Bursting Out, Uyai, Edikan, Guilty Pleasures, Nollywood Hustlers, Waterfalls, Reloaded, Memories of My Heart,Timeless Passion, Kiss and Tell, I’ll Take My Chances, Okon Lagos, Holding Hope, Misplaced Affections, Okon Goes to School, Udeme Mi, and Kokoma.

Uduak Isong holds a degree in Communications from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and a Master’s degree in New Media and Society from the University of Leicester, England. Her short stories have won international awards such as the commonwealth short story competition and her film, Okon Lagos was nominated for best comedy at the African Film Festival and Academy Awards. In this interview, Isong shares business tips, challenges, and how she continues to push herself to be better.

How did you come up with the name of the business?
The name of the business? do you mean the Royal Arts Academy? My partner, Emem Isong, came up with that. The academy is her idea.

What inspired you to go into the Nollywood/movie business?
I have always been a writer so it is only natural to go into the movie business. I write everything from poetry to prose therefore, it just made sense to make the transition. Nollywood is lucrative and I found that I could express myself easily and without limitations or restrictions.

Who is your target market?
Everyday Nigerians. I write stories that the average Nigerian can relate to. I try to do more family stories. There isn’t a lot of that so I am making an attempt to fill in that gap – movies that the family can sit and enjoy together. I find that I can hardly watch Nigerian movies with my kids because many of the movies are not family friendly. I am always reaching for the remote to forward some [explicit] scenes.

How have you financed your movies/business?
I finance my business through my personal funds and family. My first movie was financed by family and I don’t stop borrowing from them. I always pay them back, so it’s easy to go back to ask for more.

What is your competitive edge?
My experience, my passion, and my hard work. Also, I have a very good team. Everyone that I work with is very passionate and dedicated – I am glad to have them on board.

What is the long-term plan for your business?
My plan is to make ‘that’ movie and also, to expand our distribution network. I would  like to own my own distribution network. As they say “content is king” but distribution is “king-kong.” I think that our movies can do so much better commercially but we have to do more to make sure that it becomes easily accessible to the consumer. People keep talking about better quality movies (I’m not sure what they mean) but I won’t raise my budget unless I am guaranteed my money back.

 

What challenges do you face or have you faced thus far?
The lack of electricity is a major challenge. Generators make too much noise. We make a joke on set that the software to remove the background generator noise is yet to be invented. The next major challenge is funding. I always work with a tight budget, it would be nice to have more than enough money at one’s disposal.

What five (5) key things have you learned since joining Nollywood?

I don’t know about five (5) key things but I have learned that all things are possible. If you want it badly enough, and you are willing to work hard, you will get it. No one will give it to you on a platter; you have to fight for it.

What five (5) key things do start-up movie producers/writers need to know?

(1) Just do it.

(2) Work with what you have and take it seriously. Sometimes people think that the movie industry is still an informal sector and that they don’t need to work so hard. Even though I am self-employed, I am always on time and ensure that I am in the office before 9am.

(3) There are no shortcuts to success. Acquire knowledge – this is important for a writer. You cannot be a writer, if you are not a reader first. Work for free if you must, the experience will come in handy. Sorry, did you say 5?

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?

Money is good but the lack of it should not stop YOU. Think of ideas that won’t cost much money. Save and work towards the big idea. Again, if you want it badly enough, you will work hard to get it.

I think young people want things to happen overnight. Well, it won’t. Tuface has history, so does Emem Isong. It’s a process, a journey, and young people must be ready to walk the walk. Okon Lagos was not the first script that I wanted to produce but I knew that no one would give a newbie like me more than a certain amount of money so I thought of an inexpensive script that I could easily raise money for. I still haven’t produced that first script – I am still waiting for the right time.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?

I want young people to know that an encouraging word can go a long way. I met a young man at TedXIfe, he owns a platform called Insidify. I supported him by advertising his business in my movie at no cost. Musicians also collaborate with us and let us use their songs for free. We must support each other. We are all we’ve got.

How many jobs have you created so far?

We work with an average of forty (40) crew members on each set and we probably shoot every other month – so that is 40 by 6 (240) crew members every year. The Royal Arts Academy has twenty (20) permanent staff. We also create jobs indirectly. For example, we host our crew in hotels while filming. Currently, we are filming in Bayelsa and have reserved about twenty (20) hotel rooms for about three (3) weeks. We spend money when we film, and we help keep jobs.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?

Less of the hate, more encouragement. We seem to concentrate on faults here, almost looking out for them. There are two sides to every coin, but we seem to prefer the complaints. We also need to remove the “class consciousness” from our minds. Class should not matter. If a good idea comes from Mushin or Victoria Island, a bright idea is a bright idea. I think sometimes we feel, if it didn’t come from us, we won’t support it or it can’t be good enough.

 

Contact Uduak here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uduakiki

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Uduakisong

Website: http://www.uduakisong.com/

Email: royalartacademy@gmail.com

 

 

Voices of African Women Entrepreneurs – I Am My Own Biggest Challenge

Founder, RSL Management Servies

Founder, RSL Management Services

The AWP Network met with Ronke Lawal, Founder of RSL Management Services and business mentor at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Lawal has served as a business mentor since June 2013.

Her company, RSL Management Services specializes in marketing, brand development, and PR services. The company offers a unique service to businesses committed to increasing the sales and marketing potential of their organisation without the pressure of big agency fees.

Since starting her business over a decade ago, Lawal has remained committed to giving back and inspiring the next generation of African women entrepreneurs. In this interview, she shares business tips, challenges, and how she continues to push herself to be better.

How did you come up with the name of your business?
My business name is derived from my initials. I wanted something that evoked power and certainty so I chose my name.

What inspired you to start your business?
I founded my company at a time in my life when I was hungry for change. At the time, I was not satisfied with my job and was working in a role that was not for me but paid the bills. For so long, I had suppressed my entrepreneurial spirit however, starting RSL Management Services was realizing my dream.

I started the business while I still had my job. I saved all my money, and drew up a concise business plan. When I started my business, my focus was to improve my networking skills (even though I was never taught how to network, I understood the principle.) Over time, I have realized that networking is crucial to my business growth.

Who is your target market?
SMEs with strong growth potential.

How have you financed your business?
My business is completely self-financed. Now, this has its pros and cons but it has meant one thing: I am completely and utterly focused on the continued growth and success of the business.

What is your competitive edge?
I am an authentic and integral business owner. This means that I do not say that I can do something unless I can. I am transparent and I work with my clients to get the very best out of their marketing campaigns without promising them the world. This sets me apart from my competitors and highlights my values in business.

What is the long-term plan for your business?
2014 will mark ten (10) years of being a business owner. I am focused on what’s next. I want to work on grassroots issues.

What challenges do you face?
I am my own biggest challenge. I have had to constantly coach myself to believe in myself and in all honesty, I think that there have been stages in my business life where I have actually sabotaged my own success. I got in my own way because I felt like a fraud when I started to become successful. Perhaps other women can relate to that feeling of constant self-doubt and uncertainty.

It can be the most detrimental of all obstacles, everything else can be overcome through practice but it takes a lot to silence that voice that tries to convince you that you are a fraud with your own success. It may not always be silent but I recognize that voice now and know what to say when it starts up again….”I am worthy.”

I have come to realize that there are absolutely no guarantees in life and that you have to create your own path and follow through with it. Always learn from your mistakes and  pick yourself back up. I have been able to stay focused and motivated, despite the challenges.

What five (5) key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
1. I am fully responsible for my own success and happiness.
2. Even though the customer may not always be right, they deserve the best that you can offer them.
3. Money matters!
4. Though Number 3 is certainly true, nothing means more than finding something you love and deriving true happiness from it (the money will always come.)
5. To never step over others through my journey to success. I believe that supporting others is a sure-fire way to receive so much more in life.

What five (5) things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
1. Find out what you really love and enjoy doing.
2. Find a mentor or mastermind circle to help you along the way.
3. “Keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind.” Do not focus so much on the lack of money that it will stop you. There are so many opportunities and ways to start a business with minimal budgets. There is no excuse, but once you start making the money from your business, stay sharp and focused on long-term growth.
4. Set objectives for your business and be flexible.
5. Be humble enough to ask for help but not so modest that you don’t let your business shine!

What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
Be creative! Start the business in steps and stages. Also, look for investors even if it’s from friends or family (however, make sure you get agreements in place before borrowing any money.) Look for grants and funding opportunities in your local area.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
We can support each other by sharing our stories. By working together to create a better image of Africa and by being positive about what the future holds.

How many jobs have you created so far?
Around ten (10) over the course of my business career.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
Innovation comes from an environment willing to embrace change. With the willingness to embrace change we can improve sustainable innovation for future generations. This is an exciting time for our generation and organizations like yours are making a superb difference to how we view enterprise and innovation across Africa.

 

RSL Management Services

Contact Ronke here:

RSL Marketing Management Services
Website: www.rslmanagementservices.co.uk
Twitter: @ronkelawal @rslmanagement
Phone: (+4420) 07984 141 169
152-160 Kemp House,
City Road, London EC1V 2NX

 

 

I Want to Start A Business But I Have NO Money

untitledThe AWP Network receives letters and emails from young Africans in various parts of the world asking if it is possible to start a business with no capital.

Haleemah, a young woman based in Nigeria writes, “In a situation where the person has an idea, skill, and passion but no capital, what do you suggest that they do? How do you suggest they start a business with no startup capital?”

The AWP Network poses this question to Nine (9) Young Innovative African Entrepreneurs and here is what they have to say about starting a business with no capital.

Oluseun Onigbinde, co-founder and Lead Director of BudgIT, a civic startup company focused on promoting good governance states, “I believe that you need money to start a business. My advice is to start small and more importantly, focus on delivering value. Also, there is something called “reputation quotient” which means, using the power of your networks. When you have a brilliant idea and you are persistent enough, I believe someone will buy into it.”

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, CEO of award-winning company WeCyclers states, “the easiest way to get funding is to build a team. You will be surprised at how quickly your idea takes off when you have a solid group of people equally passionate about your idea. Also, like our parents say, two (or more) heads are better than one. The diversity as well as the expanded network will amplify your chances of funding the venture.”

Adamu Waziri, creator of the ‘Bino and Fino’ show, an educational and cultural cartoon series says, “before you conclude that there is no money, do your research. There are many grant programs, business competitions, and initiatives out there to support entrepreneurs. Also, think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family members for support.

Popular Lagos twitter handle @GidiTraffic states, “I created @Gidi_Traffic out of nothing. The only thing I had then was a mobile phone and internet access. Money is not an excuse. If you have a good idea, money should never be a hindrance. When I created @Gidi_Traffic, I did not plan to make any money. I only wanted to help commuters’ deals with the traffic in Lagos. Do not let money serve as a hindrance to your goals. You do not need money or large capital to start your idea. Make sure your idea is feasible and simple enough that it can be implemented. ”

 

No Money Rapelang Rabana, Founding CEO of Yeigo Communications and ReKindle Learning states, “money is not everything. It is a false comfort. Money will not stop a “real entrepreneur” from starting a business. Work until you have saved enough – find investors, ask friends and family, borrow. Money should not stop anyone from fulfilling their dreams.  Money is an accelerator – whether you are going in the right or wrong direction, money simply accelerates you in the direction that you are already going in.

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 the perfect financial conditions, we would probably still be at the drawing board stage

Harvard MBA graduate and Sierra Leone based entrepreneur Daniel Osei-Antwi says: I believe that young people should take the time to find their passion. When you find something that you are passionate about, it won’t feel like work.  Also, having mentors help – I think that if you don’t have money, it is at least important to have a strong network.

Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa, President of Farmfields Agro-Allied Services says, “so you say you don’t have money, start anyway. Money will come and you may get it when you can show your value proposition. Start small but do not plan to remain small. Look out for funding opportunities and tailor your business plan to meet various funding criteria. Nigeria is the land of opportunities despite challenges. The journey certainly will not be easy but it is worth the try. Also, look out for opportunities from the government and the private sector – find them and take advantage of them. The Nigerian government today creates and supports many initiatives, so be on the lookout.

Peter Owoeye, CEO of BayRoyal International Limited – a mining company states, “I do not see money as an obstacle. The issue is that young Africans, don’t believe in themselves. So my advice is this: Believe in yourself first, take action second, then worry about money.”

Nkem Uwaje, Managing Director of Future Software Resources Nigeria Limited, and winner of the 2012 Etisalat Nigeria Prize for Innovation says: (1) Start small and grow big. (2) Try to fund your business yourself or ask your family and friends for money. (3)  If you really want something, believe in your product or business model and you will succeed. It’s just a matter of time and for how long you can endure. (4) Focus on your goals and don’t get distracted.

 

We hope that this provides a unique perspective to overcoming the fear of starting and encourages you to take the necessary step needed to start your business idea.  Don’t let money serve as a hindrance. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve your goals, and live your dreams.

We will follow up on this conversation with a workshop on crowdfunding. Please stay tuned for details. Want to add to the conversation?  please tweet @Africwomenpower. We want to hear from you.

 

 

 

Creativity and Enterprise: Finding Business Opportunity in Gaming

Muoyo Okome

Muoyo Okome, CEO of Mega Rock

Muoyo Okome is Founder and CEO of Mega Rock L.L.C., a company that develops games and entertainment applications for mobile devices.

Mega Rock Studios has developed several games to include Find the Words, Bike Race of Ninja Temple and its second part, A Harlem Shake Subway Run. With over 2.2 million subscribers, Mega Rock games are available on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Mobile game developer and techpreneur, Muoyo Okome earned a computer science degree from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. Founder of the AWP Network, Mary Olushoga, first met Okome in 2004 while serving as members of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Several years later, we are happy to reconnect with him to learn about what inspired him to start his business and to gain more insight into his company.

How did you come up with the name of your business?

I brainstormed a list of potential names off a few friends and family members. I also considered my demographic and ultimately just chose so that I could get down to business. The name of the business was not going to drive my results.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have always wanted to work for myself and I have explored a number of ventures. I became attracted to the mobile industry because it is a growing market with increasing impact worldwide. I also observed a number of small teams and companies having tremendous impact in the mobile applications space. I knew this is where I could succeed and have loads of fun as well.

Who is your target market?

Anyone who plays casual games on mobile phones. Right now, I am focused on Apple iOS, the most lucrative segment of the market.

How have you financed your business?

Bootstrapping – I have used my own funds. This business started as a side job before growing into something self-sustaining.

What is your competitive edge?

My ability to glean insights from market research and produce competitive products at a low-cost.

What is the long-term plan for your business?

My goal is to grow the business into a seven (7) and eight (8) figure entity. I also plan to expand into new categories and onto new platforms.

What business challenges do you face?

Frequent adaptation: the market is extremely dynamic. What works today will not necessarily work tomorrow so we are forced to constantly adapt or risk losing whatever success we have gained.

What five (5) things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?

1) Be Positive – Everything starts with an extremely positive mindset. You cannot succeed if you are not positive. This does not mean that you ignore the facts, but you need to develop a strong belief in yourself to succeed.

2) Maintain a positive cash flow – Embrace the minimum viable product and don’t blow all your cash on something that has not been tested and proven. You can play from a stronger position if you have traction, and even better, revenues.

3) Work Smart – Be as knowledgeable as you can in your field. Much of this learning will happen “on the job.”

4) Be willing to FAIL – Be biased towards action and  be unafraid of failure. However, don’t be reckless. Allow yourself to fail in such a way that it doesn’t take you out of business.

5) Market Research – Let market research guide some of your decisions. Forget about what you and your friends like. Forget about personal perceptions and biases. Let market data lead you to the promise land.

How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?

Collaboration: Forming groups of entrepreneurs to exchange information including recommended practices, successes, and failures.

How many jobs have you created so far?

At any given time, I work with about ten (10) or more technology and design professionals around the world, primarily on a per contract basis. At this stage, it has proven an effective way to scale the business while taking on less risks.

How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?

I think you’d agree that there are quite a number of innovative projects going on across various hubs in Africa. We can help to support and empower these initiatives by exchanging ideas and partnering where mutually beneficial.

Also, it is important to remember that innovation is a risky business. Don’t quickly fall in love with an idea. When entrepreneurs do this, they are more likely to ignore telling information from market research. Also, it is cheaper to emulate a successful implementation and take it to the next level. Once you have proven sustainable success, it is then easier to take on bigger risks.

Mega Rock L.L.C.

Mega Rock L.L.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MegaRockGames

Website: http://www.megarockstudios.com/

A Young African on What Entrepreneurship Means to Her

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A young African participates in our photo essay series and shares with us what entrepreneurship means to her.

Name: Akachi Nwoke

Business Name: Visages Parfait Beauty Place

Location: FCT Abuja, Nigeria

What does Entrepreneurship mean to you: Entrepreneurship to me, means freedom. I am a young university graduate and a makeup artist from Nigeria. I share my story so that it may inspire other young people.

I want young Africans to know that we do not have to wait for the government to create jobs but with hard work, we can choose to be productive. We can learn a trade and carve a niche for ourselves. I have gone from being a jobless graduate to being an active entrepreneur. I know what it feels like to be jobless, helpless, and completely without money. But with my business, it’s been a total transformation. I have gone from being jobless, to being the source of help and financial support to my family. Because of my personal journey and story, some people see me as a source of inspiration. My advice to young people is to start a business, keep trying, and keep going.

I started from the bottom and I appreciate how far I have come. I take pride in myself and in my work. Determination, persistence, consistency, and constant practice along with the belief in what you can achieve, will get you far.

I am a makeup artist and I specialize in making brides look exceptional on their wedding day. I also give models the perfect look for photo shoots. Rather than remain jobless, I encourage young Africans to start a small business. At times, I am invited to speak at empowerment programs and I always say to young people, start a business. As a makeup artist, my business may not solve a world problem but if I am able to support my family in times of need – I think that’s a big step.

I hope that my story helps to sow the seed of entrepreneurship and teaches people that with hard work, anything is possible.

As a young African, my voice matters because I want to influence more lives. Through my work, I want to continue to inspire other young women, and encourage them to learn a trade, and start a business – get busy!  In Nigeria, we may not all get the government positions but from the little corner of our homes and private offices, we can change the world. My voice matters because if I never speak up, the voices of others may never be heard.

 

 

A Young African on What Entrepreneurship Means to Him

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A Young African participates in our photo essay series and shares with us what entrepreneurship means to him.

Name: Ahmadu Abdullah

Location: Kuje, FCT Abuja, Nigeria

What does Entrepreneurship mean to you: Entrepreneurship to me, means creativity. When people think of entrepreneurs, they think of someone in an office setting but this definition for me, includes the common trader on the street. The street trader also applies the same tested entrepreneurial strategies albeit on a different scale.

The first picture titled “Have a Vision,“ shows a mountain in the distance. This was taken on a local farm in Kuje. I believe that a business must have a purpose, goal, and target. The business owner must be willing to work hard towards his/her goals regardless of obstacles and difficulties ahead.

The second picture “Feed Your Business,” shows a woman tending to her chickens. All businesses require attention. Like chickens, they need warmth, feeding, and constant care.

The next picture shows a market scene. The typical market environment in Nigeria is usually very chaotic. As I walked through numerous stalls, I learned how important it is for businesses to stand out. In a highly competitive marketplace, an entrepreneur survives by being different. A lady I met at the market said, “what you offer and how you offer it may be the only reason you make a sale.”

The fourth picture shows commercial motorists popularly known as “okadas.” Here I learned how important it is to be patient and why it is important to choose the right location for your business. The right location for your business can help boost sales and may ensure an influx of customers with minimal advertising.   As it neared closing hours, I noticed that these men took up to three (3) times more passengers an hour than the regular run around motorists. Patience and location is valuable to an entrepreneur.

The last picture shows a vendor surrounded by his customers. A business does not thrive without people and more importantly, without customers. This vendor is surrounded because he sells information and he is informed enough to know what people want to read. Businesses thrive on informed decision-making and on knowing what customers want for the next big thing or better made product.

Entrepreneurship requires hard work, creativity, and critical thinking.

As a young African, my voice matters because I want to broaden my scope of experience and give back to society. I also believe that Africa could do better with a little more love.

 

 

 

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