Monday 16 April 2018 38 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Start-Up Digest ‘Nigerian start-ups need grants to scale through hurdles’ Elizabeth Anuoluwapo Dike is the executive director of Lizanu Indelible Needles, a firm that designs clothes for clients and helps them get the kind of designs they want. Elizabeth holds Bachelor of Science (Bsc) degree in Social Studies from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State, Nigeria. In this interview with BUNMI BAILEY, the young entrepreneur talks about her business, challenges and how government can help young entrepreneurs like herself. Tell me about your business, when you started and your background. My name is Elizabeth Anuoluwapo Dike. I am a fashion entrepreneur and my business name is Lizanu Indelible Needles. What I do is to help clients bring their designs to reality. There are people who prefer to have their own designs instead of having something common. So, what I do is to help them have the kind of design they want for themselves. I also create designs for clients. I started this business properly in the 2016. I have actually been doing it for a while, but I got to understand the business side of it properly in the year 2016. What inspired you to set up the business? I learnt how to make clothes as a teenager. The experience was what inspired this business. I was also helped by my mum. Initially I thought it was all about making clothes, but then I started seeing that there was more to it than just making clothes. I decided to design since I could be creative, moderately. What was your initial start-up capital? The United States Consulate General Lagos in collaboration with Field of Skills and Dreams VTE Academy has trained 121 budding entrepreneurs in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It was the second edition of the Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs and it took place last Wednesday. The up-and-coming entrepreneurs, selected from across Nigeria, learned how to transform their ideas into practical business plans, Elizabeth Anuoluwapo Dike U.S. Consulate, FSD Academy train 121 emerging entrepreneurs in Port Harcourt ODINAKA ANUDU manage business risks, navigate difficult moments, seek capital, and develop partnerships to help their businesses grow. F. John Bray, United States consul general, declared the workshop open and was joined by Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Rivers State deputy governor, and Ndowa Lale, vicechancellor of the University of Port Harcourt. In his welcoming remarks, F. John Bray explained that one of U.S. Mission Nigeria’s primary goals was to support Nigeria’s economic development. According to him, the U.S. Department of State always supported entrepreneurs all over the world through training and mentoring, while working with governments to create enabling environments and entrepreneurial cultures. “There is growing evidence that entrepreneurs the world over are the drivers of job growth. The United States government is firmly convinced that in addition to creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities, entrepreneurship contributes to political stability and a vibrant civil society,” Consul General Bray said. Leading business leaders including Tonye Cole, Sahara Group co-founder; Stella Okoli, Emzor Pharmaceutical CEO; Iyin Aboyeji, Andela co-founder; a Zizi Cardow, award-winning designer, and senior executives of prominent commercial banks mentored and trained the participating young entrepreneurs. The Conference was organised with a view to equipping the entrepreneurs with the requisite skills and entrepreneurial know-how to enhance their success in the business world. The first edition was held in Lagos in March 2017. I cannot give a specific amount because it was a gradual process for me. I got my tools and other things little by little. Like I mentioned earlier, patience was key. How would you say your business has grown since starting? I will say it is still growing. It has not grown to the kind of level I want, but there has been some improvement. So I will say that it is still growing because even growth does not just happen. It is The government can help by encouraging young entrepreneurs with grants. If I am able to get a grant, I could help others as I had always wanted to a gradual process. I have a bigger picture of where I want my business to be and I hope to achieve that soon. You have over a year experience in entrepreneurship. Why do you think most start-ups fail after five years of being birthed? Most start-ups need some years to actually make headway or have a breakthrough in businesses. So, if in about five years the business is tired or the person in charge is not patient, determined, zealous or even strong enough to hold his/her ground, then the business would simply not fly. Lack of patience, determination, focus and strength could cause a five-year-old start-up to fail. What are the challenges confronting your business? One of the challenges facing my business is lack of funds. Another is time and distance. If I have a trainee and the person’s location is really far from mine, it slows business and training down. How can these challenges be addressed? The government can help by encouraging young entrepreneurs with grants. If I am able to get a grant, I could help others as I had always wanted to. But if I do not have enough resources to even teach people, those who want to learn most times do not even have enough to pay to learn. So, if I have resources and can teach for free, that will be a whole lot of help, not just for me but for the people I wish to help too. What would you tell your younger self? I would tell my younger self to keep going, do not stop moving; be creative; be energetic; be focused and always be ready. Opportunities will not wait for you to get ready. So always be ready. Tech4Dev, Microsoft collaborate to train 500,000 youth on digital skills JOSEPHINE OKOJIE Tech4dev and Microsoft have partnered to train over 500,000 youths on digital skills through its Basic Digital Education Initiative (BDEI). In a statement made available to BusinessDay, Joel Ogunsola, executive director, Tech4Dev said that the initiative is an experimental learning program that is supported by Microsoft Nigeria to train young individuals in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions on foundational digital skills. Ogunsola noted that the move have become imperative in order to equip young minds with the requisite skills for the 21st century. “We are making ample investment in digital skills education over the decade through support from Microsoft Philanthropy to train the next generation of young individuals looking to be part of the fourth industrial revolution as well as adults who very much need the skills to fully benefit from new opportunities being presented by the fourth industrial revolution,” he said. He noted that the initiative was a result of Tech4Dev and Microsoft’s mission to solve the world’s biggest problems through technology. Also speaking during the training event, Akin Banuso, general manager, Microsoft Nigeria said, “in a world where digital skills are fundamental to success in so many environments, leaving people in the dark about this major part of their world amounts to an unacceptable gap in their education. We believe technology should be an equalising force in the world—inclusive, not divisive.” “So, we are investing our greatest assets—our technology, grants, people, and voice—to advance a more equitable world where the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone,” Banuso said. In his key note speech, Olusegun Mimiko, former governor of Ondo State encouraged the younger generation to join the advocacy and push for democratization of education at all levels. He further advocated for more female participation in tech fields. “It’s a time of intellectual domination. Women have begun to dominate, and they should get more involved,” Mimiko said.
Monday 16 April 2018 Olawumi Ogunbode How Olawumi Ogunbode makes money from soaps, shea butter, honey Angel James dients such as egg white and lemon. In 2013, she commercialised her products and created awareness on them. Ever since then, her sales have gone beyond her expectation. She is happy to have attracted many Nigerians to her Nigerians do not appreciate their own locally made products because we do not believe in each other products. The young entrepreneur did not stop there. She committed time and resources to learning about black soap and she now has her own recipe, which is different from others. “I started my business with less than N5, 000, which I used to buy materials. My black soap business alone is worth over N100, 000. I have two employees and source materials from factories where they are produced in the country. My black soaps are unique because I check the skin texture and complexion coupled with other requirements before production,” she says. The entrepreneur believes that time will come when she will go into mass production and will have general products for oily skin and dry skin, among others. Olawumi has been able to create awareness through word of mouth, social media, her website and referrals. She says the business is lucrative as women will always want their skins to glow without wearing makeup, adding that men also patronise her because of the quality of the products. The entrepreneur has long-term customers and says that Nigerians have not learnt to believe in their own products. “I do not really have problem with the shea butter and other products I make, but my major concern which is the black soap. I notice that people prefer to buy soaps from Ghana and the UK, but my soap is as original as those ones from abroad,” she states. The young entrepreneur is planning to expand across the country and ensure that every household uses her products. “My long-term plan is to run the business and be the leading brand. Nigerians do not appreciate their own locally made products because we do not believe in each other. We do not know the efficacy and worth of our local made products,” she notes. She urges the government to empower local entrepreneurs to produce more, while calling for a better business environment for entrepreneurs. Josephine Okojie Kenechukwu Chibuikem Okafor is a Mechanical Engineering graduate of Landmark University. He is the founder and CEO of Ezra Footwear, a start-up shoe manufacturing business. Kenechukwu was inspired to establish his business by his parents and his love for leather products. The achievements of his parents motivated him on a daily basis and in 2016, he established Ezra Footwear. He is also the founder of Ezra farms. The young engineer started the business with his entire savings. According to Kenechukwu, his business has grown since starting and demand for his products is also rising. He tells Start-Up Digest that he sources his raw materials from local markets across the country and also imports some of them. “We source for most of our materials from local markets and also import from Indonesia,” the footwear maker says. Kenechukwu recently won the Entrepreneurs Organisation’s Global Students Entrepreneurship Awards (EOG- SEA) (Nigeria chapter) and represented the country at the global finals in Germany. Kenechukwu states that the footwear industry has Start-Up Digest Ol awumi Ogunbode is the CEO of Jarah, a subsidiary of Shadonai Resources Limited that produces skin products such as soap, honey, carrot oil, coconut oil and shea butter, popularly known as ‘Ori’. A graduate of English from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Olawumi started her business while a student. Her desire has always been to be part of the made-in-Nigeria project. “I started my business in 2013 with the desire to change the type of soaps in the market, which often contain harsh chemicals that could cause skin irritation. I noticed that most of the bathing soaps in the market were produced using chemicals that were harsh on the skin. I decided not use any soap that I did not know how it was produced. Then I started working on my skin and people started coming to me for advice,” she explains. The young entrepreneur had been using black soap since 2001 until she decided to incorporate natural ingrethe potential to diversify the country’s economy away from oil and earn huge foreign exchange for Nigeria, adding that what is required is the support from government. The young entrepreneur assures that the country has what it takes in terms of raw materials and the needed skills to be footwear manufacturing hub in Africa. When asked about his expansion plans, he says, “I have scheduled a lot of expansion plans which I have already started working on through the help of my parents who has been supporting me from the beginning. Currently I am making efforts in securing more machines for production and also expand the factory space.” “I also intend to start training other youths on footwear manufacturing. I am saving towards achieving all this within the shortest possible time,” says Ekenechukwu. Answering questions on the challenges the business is facing, Kenechukwu replies that rising cost of raw materials remains the major issue. He adds that prices of every material needed for production of footwear has risen in recent times. This has increased his production cost at a point when customers are reluctant to pay more. Also, he stresses that his inability to meet up with the huge demand for his product is a challenge. The young entrepreneur wants the government to improve on the ease of doing business so that cost of production can decline and BUSINESS DAY 39 ‘Start-ups need to be competitive to increase survival’ We source for most of our materials from local markets and also import from Indonesia,” the footwear maker the country’s products will become more competitive. He states that the issue of competitiveness has been a major factor hindering the growth of the country’s footwear industry as a lot of foreign shoes are cheaper than locally produce ones. The engineer-turnedentrepreneur said when production cost is cheaper, Nigeria’s shoes will compete favourably with the imported ones. Kenechukwu also urges the government to assist start-ups with finance. “A lot of Nigerian youths have wonderful business ideas but the finance to bring them to bear is what is lacking, forcing many to never establish their businesses. But if government can start supporting start-ups with finance, many of them will establish their business,” he says. He states that government has not given enough support to the leather sector, stressing that a lot of footwear makers in the country have shut down due to harsh operating environment and lack of government support. “A lot of people started footwear production line and were forced to close down because they could not cope with the economic situation. The footwear industry can be a good source of export for Nigeria with much support from the government,” he says. On advice to other entrepreneurs, he says, “We all go through bad days. I have been through a lot of bad times, but what matters is not how hard you fell but how you got back up.”