Tag Archives: African entrepreneurs

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Announces US$10 Million Investment for African Entrepreneurs

The Founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has announced US$10 million in funding to African digital entrepreneurs. Jack Ma, the Alibaba Group founder and UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) special envoy, challenged African entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities presented to them. Ma described African entrepreneurs as being “first class” and is calling on innovators to look at challenges like lack of infrastructure and poor logistics as opportunities.

For the next 10 years, African start-ups will have the opportunity to compete for US$1 million funding each year given by The Jack Ma Foundation Netpreneur Prize. Set to open in 2019, the contest is set as a pitch competition, and the 10 internet-led small businesses which make it to the final will receive investment for their businesses. It doesn’t just stop there, the finalists will also get mentorship from a dedicated community of African business leaders.

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Jack Ma, Founder and Chairman Alibaba

“As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand the importance of getting support during the early days,” said Ma. “This prize demonstrates our support of a next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa that is paving the way for a better future and impart positive change in their communities.”

Jack Ma visited  Africa for the first time in 2017 and says he regrets that it took him this long to visit Africa, but he’s making up for it by supporting young African entrepreneurs. He says that the prize is meant to “further [Africa’s] digital economy through local entrepreneurship.”

Even Ma admits, that compared to similar programs, $10 million doesn’t seem like much, but the significance of the Netpreneurs program is that it highlights the parallels between Africa and China.

Sharing his story of how he became an entrepreneur in China 19 years ago, he inspired young entrepreneurs to take advantage of their environment. “This is where I see Africa, full of problems, but full of opportunities,” Ma said in an auditorium at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he was the keynote speaker.

“The same questions people are asking you now, how can Africa have internet companies, how can you do ecommerce, you don’t have credit cards, you don’t have government support, you don’t have anything, that’s the opportunity,” he said, adding that entrepreneurs “never complain, but make other people complain”.

“So, today Africa you don’t have bank accounts —  a lot of people don’t have bank accounts. You don’t have logistics, you don’t have the credit card system. This is opportunity, go build up (on) this”

He predicted that in 10 to 20 years Africa will have “10 or 20 Alibaba companies” and called on African governments to create tax policies that favour small businesses and startups. “Its the entrepreneurs that will drive African economies,” he said.

“This prize demonstrates our support of the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting positive change in their communities.

“I am inspired and encouraged by these entrepreneurs who, together, will help build a sustainable, inclusive economy for Africa and for the world,” he added.

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Applications for 2019’s contest open in January and the pitch competition will be broadcast on television in the second half of the year. Applicants must be African nationals and the finalists will be selected by a team of judges across five regions.

Watch this space for further updates on the Netpreneurs prize.

Calling All Entrepreneurs – Apply Now for Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme 2018

Are you an entrepreneur? In other words, do you spend time trying to provide a solution to a problem in the market? The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme – TEEP  is for you!. Stand a chance to become the next grand African entrepreneur.

The annual programme offers 10,000 aspiring African Entrepreneurs an opportunity to benefit from $100 million grant to create 1,000,000 jobs and contribute $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy over the next 10 years.

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Application Period: Interested entrepreneurs will be able to submit their applications to join the programme as from 1st January 2018 until Midnight WAT on March 1, 2018.

Opportunity is open to: All citizens (18 and above) and legal residents of all African countries with businesses that operate in Africa.

About Entrepreneurship Programme: Nigerian billionaire investor and philanthropist Tony Elumelu has committed $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over the next 10 years. Elumelu made the commitment on Monday during a press conference in Lagos to announce the launch of The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP). The programme has run successfully since 2015 and has given upcoming entrepreneurs a great start.

The multi-year programme comes with training, funding, and mentoring. It’s designed to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Date Founded: 2015

Programme: Funding for African Entrepreneurs

Slots Available: 1,000 positions available annually for 10 years

Value of Programme: The 1,000 start-ups selected from a pool of applicants across Africa will participate in a comprehensive programme which will include;

  • A customised 12-week business skills training course
  • Start-Up Enterprise Toolkit
  • Mentoring
  • Resource Library
  • 2-Day Boot Camp
  • Seed Capital Funding
  • Elumelu Forum
  • Alumni Network

Duration of Programme: The programme will identify and help grow 10,000 start-ups and young businesses from across Africa over the next 10 years. These businesses will in turn create 1,000,000 new jobs and contribute $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy.

How to Apply: All applications must be submitted online through the TEEP Portal. Answer a series of mandatory questions and upload additional documents and identification materials. You will receive a confirmation email within 1 working day of submission.

More details about the program, including eligibility and the application and selection processes are available on the Tony Elumelu Foundation website at: www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/TEEP.

Additional note:

  • In 2017, TEEP empowered 1,000 African entrepreneurs, selected from over 20,000 applicants, with start-up investment, active mentoring, business training, an entrepreneurship boot camp and regional networking across Africa.
  • Entrepreneurs, with an average age range of 21-40, from 51 African countries completed the programme and received $5,000 in seed capital for their start-up businesses.
  • The Tony Elumelu Foundation invested a total of $4,860,000, including $1,405,000 in agriculture; $410,000 in education and training; and $365,000 in manufacturing.  The sector-agnostic programme funded start-ups across a further 20 industries, all based in Africa.

These 15 Young African Entrepreneurs are Finalists for the Anzisha Prize 2017

15 young African entrepreneurs made it to the final stages for the Anzisha Prize 2017, Africa’s premier award for her youngest entrepreneurs. Run by the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, the Anzisha Prize celebrates and cultivates the next generation of young African entrepreneurial leaders.

“We are excited by the number of young women finalists and thrilled that the prize is contributing to their economic empowerment,” Anzisha Prize associate Melissa Mbazo said. “The success of these women-led businesses will be accelerated by access to Anzisha’s financial and mentorship support.”

Koffi Assouan, programme manager for youth livelihoods at the Mastercard Foundation, said the calibre and diversity of finalists was improving each year.

“As the pool of Anzisha fellows continues to grow, so too does their impact and influence on local communities and economies,” he said.

Selected from 14 countries, nearly half of all candidates are young women representing sectors as diverse as clean energy, agriculture, waste recycling and youth empowerment.

For the first time, candidates from Angola, Liberia, Mauritius, and Sudan entered the competition.

The finalists will fly to Johannesburg to attend a 10-day entrepreneurial leadership bootcamp where they will be coached on how to pitch their business to a panel of judges for a share of US$100,000 worth of prizes and support.

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Meet The  finalists for the Anzisha Prize 2017:

  1. Ajiroghene Omanudhowo, 22, Nigeria: Ajiroghene is the founder of three businesses operating under the parent company 360 Needs. ASAFOOD delivers food to universities, ASADROP is a logistics company specializing in parcel delivery and Beta Grades helps students prepare for their exams by providing computer training.
  2.  Victoria Olimatunde, 15, Nigeria: Victoria is the founder of Bizkids which teaches high school students about financial literacy, savings, money management, and small-scale business management. Bizkids encourages young people to create jobs as entrepreneurs, not just seek jobs as employees.
  3. Dina Mohamed Ibrahim, 22, Egypt: Dina is one of the founders of Metro Co-Working Space, which rents work spaces to entrepreneurs and provides workshops and resources from them to thrive.
  4. Edgar Edmund, 17, Tanzania: Edgar is the founder of GreenVenture Tanzaniawhich recycles plastic waste into cheap and affordable building products like paving blocks. GreenVenture helps people build houses while promoting environmental sustainability.
  5. Fadwa Moussaif, 22, Morocco: Fadwa is the founder of Boucharouette Eco Creation (B.E.C.)which empowers local women to become independent by using quality fabrics to revive the art of Boucharouette rug-making.
  6. Gerald Matolo, 20, Kenya: Gerald the founder of Angaza Africa Technologies, which makes briquette-machines, solid waste carbonization kilns, and processes biomass briquettes.
  7. Ibrahima Ben Aziz Konate, 22, Cote D’Ivoire: Ibrahima is the founder Poultry d’Or, a company that processes and distributes poultry products and agro-foods the same day.
  8. Ignatius Ahumuza, 21, Uganda: Ignatius is one of the founders of Art Planet Academy, which provides practical agriculture training in schools. Art Planet creates and innovates climate-smart farming technologies, tests them at demonstration farms and incorporates them into a practical agriculture training curriculum.
  9. Jessan Kumar Persand, 22, Mauritius: Jessan is the founder of Crab Aquaculture Project (Jessan Seafood), a business that breeds and raises crabs. Jessan produces about 2,000 crabs per month which are sold to hotels and restaurants.
  10. Maemu Lambani, 21, South Africa: Maemu is the founder of Fearless Trendz, a digital marketing agency whose aim is to transform growing and local businesses into global brands by using social media.
  11. Moonga Chowa, 22, Zambia: Moonga is the founder of Chilimba, a mobile platform that works on any mobile phone and allows savings groups to manage their contributions in an efficient and transparent manner, enabling them to migrate to safer digital money.
  12. Rebecca Andrianarisandy, 20, Madagascar: Rebecca is the founder of GasGasywhich supplies affordable, environmentally-friendly and sustainable bio-fertiliser made in Madagascar for Malagasy people. It is easier to spray on crops because it is liquid fertilizer. GasGasy acts as an insecticide and is gentle on the soil.
  13. Satta Wahab, 21, Liberia: Satta is founder of Naz Naturals, a Liberian cosmetics company that creates organic hair care products from unrefined shea butter and empowers young girls and women to feel beautiful and confident with their natural hair.
  14. Thowiba Alhaj, 20, Sudan: Thowiba is one of the founders of Work Jump-Up Sudan, an organisation that intends to empower university students by linking them with job opportunities. Their primary activity is to search for potential employers and encourage them to offer students part-time jobs.
  15. Vicente Zau, 19, Angola: Vicente is the founder of Vicente News Company, an online platform that aims to promote African music, mainly Angolan music, across the continent to encourage the growth and development of African music in foreign countries.Image credit: Anzisha Prize 2017

Nominate an Inspirational Entrepreneur for AWIEF Awards

AWIEF Awards recognises and honours women entrepreneurs and business owners in African across various industries. These women are those who, through their businesses hand economic performance have contributed to the African growth and development over time.
The candidate can be from any African country and can be emerging and established entrepreneurship in the private and not-for-profit sectors.
 AWIEF Awards candidates are women who have demonstrated outstanding vision and inspiration, and have overcome challenges to make a significant social impact and/or become successful in their businesses.
The areas mostly covered in the award are innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and socio-economic development.
2017 AWIEF Awards will be presenting the following categories:
  1. AWIEF YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
    This Award goes to a young female entrepreneur and start-up under the age of 35 years, who has demonstrated exceptional entrepreneurial spirit and skills to build and grow a successful and sustainable business or businesses, and is an inspiration to other young entrepreneurs.

  2. AWIEF TECH ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
    This Award goes to a woman entrepreneur who has used science or technology to create an innovative new business, offering new knowledge, service or product for solving extant problems.

  3. AWIEF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
    This Award goes to a woman who with her business has made significant social impacts in the community and has proffered solutions to social, cultural, technology, environmental or financial challenges with her innovative product or service delivery.

  4. AWIEF GLOBAL BRAND ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
    This Award goes to a woman entrepreneur or business owner who has created a world-class product and global consumer brand to take advantage of the powerful and rapidly-growing African middle class and the global luxury consumer market.

  5. AWIEF AGRI ENTREPRENEUR AWARD
    This Award goes to a woman who has achieved significant recognition and business success in the field of agriculture and agribusiness with a great impact on food security in her community or country.

  6. AWIEF EMPOWERMENT AWARD
    This Award goes to a woman who has greatly contributed and invested in inspiring, mentoring and empowering other women entrepreneurs.

  7. AWIEF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
    This Award goes to an established woman entrepreneur and business owner, a role model who has displayed exceptional business leadership in her field, excellence and outstanding business performance and achievements over time. This Award also recognises the substantial contribution made to job creation, the economy, the community and society at large.

Follow this nomination guideline if you’re interested in the award:

  • Nomination should only be made relating to achievements made by a female entrepreneur and national of an African country, with a registered business and operation in one or more African countries.
  • Nominees can be nominated or self-nominated.
  • You can nominate a woman entrepreneur for more than one category but you must complete different nomination forms.
  • You may be asked to support or verify the evidence you supply as part of the nominations you make.
  • Three nominees will be shortlisted for each category and invited to the AWIEF Awards on Friday 6 October 2017 in Cape Town.

DEADLINE FOR NOMINATION: 19 JUNE 2017

You can nominate a candidate for AWIEF Awards: Click here for more information and to nominate!

Application Open to $10k Africa Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) Entrepreneurship Award

Applications are now open to the Africa Finance and Investment Forum (AFIF) Entrepreneurship Award 2017, offering African-based startups a financial contribution of US$10,000 for a project of good impact.

The 2017 edition of Africa Finance & Investment Forum and to empower sustainable development and economic growth, innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa, AFIF Entrepreneurship Award 2017 will be given to African startups as an offering of financial contribution and exposure / visibility to African Small Business Enterprises making an impact.

Application Deadline: 19th December, 2016

Eligible Countries: African countries

To be taken at (country): AFIF 2017 will be hosted by the Strathmore University (Nairobi)

About the Award: AFIF 2017 will attract over 300 delegates from all over Africa, Europe, America and Middle East. A pre-conference training will be held on “A Road-map for Entrepreneurship Growth” (13th -16th February 2017). The training will be addressed exclusively to AFIF 2017 participants and will be divided in two linguistic groups (English and French).

A special emphasis is laid on entrepreneurship and innovation especially on access to finance in key sectors such as energy, water, ICT, health and agriculture.  What role will Africa play int he 4th industrial revolution? Questions like this will be addressed in AFIF 2017. The 2015 award winner was Lazaro Mwakipesile, founder of Raphael Group Tanzania,who specialise in food grains processing and distribution.

“The AFIF Entrepreneurship Award aims to spotlight leading innovation private sector projects happening today in Africa. This is the moment when entrepreneurs can showcase their remarkable achievements, where partners and participants get to know about outstanding projects which are pushing boundaries in their community and country and where other entrepreneurs can be inspired and receive much-needed know-how,” says Inês Bastos, senior project manager at EMRC and head of AFIF 2017.

Type: Entrepreneurship

Value of Program: The prize will be given to an existing African small-medium business, who will receive a US$10.000,00 cash prize, year-long media promotion support in and out of Africa, free participation in the AFIF 2017, including the pre-conference Training.

Duration of Program13 February 2017 – 16 February 2017

How to Apply: Application must be sent to EMRC (sa@EMRC.be) by December 19th, 2016.

Visit Program Webpage for details

Award Sponsor: Rabobank Foundation.

THIS IS HOW YOU CAN APPLY FOR THE €20K COINTREAU CREATIVE CREW GRANT

Apply for this grant and take a step towards achieving your dreams!

How ambitious, avant-garde and authentic are you? Dare: How innovative and driven are you? Create: The quality of your presentation and the quantity of elements created to make your dreams come true. The program is open to all creatives who have a dream they want to materialise: whether it’s launching a clothing line, opening your own restaurant, or becoming a professional photographer or filmmaker.

Remember when Betty Irabor of Genevieve magazine and other Nigerian fashion industry members launched The ‘Dream, Dare, Create’ initiative? Click here if you missed it. The Funding grant initiative was inspired by the work of Louisa Cointreau, wife of the founder of the Cointreau brand Edouard Cointreau, well known for her tireless feminism.

The initiative which will see one Nigerian entrepreneur awarded 20,000 to support a creative project is now receiving applications. Nigerian creatives from any field – Cointreau mentions cocktails, food, art, music, design and film – are invited to apply for the grant.

Following the successful launch of the global philanthropic programme Cointreau Creative Crew in Nigeria in April 2016, CCC aims to use this initiative to promote promote the development of women’s creative freedom and expression as well as encourage women to work towards taking their initial dream and turning into a tangible creative reality.

The lucky entrepreneur will win a prize of  €20,000 as a means of support towards their creative project.

The grant is not only limited to women, men are also encouraged to apply.

We dare you to apply and dare you to dream. Tell a friend and share to someone who is looking for funding to advance in their business plan.

Here is how you can apply below:

To apply click here http://cointreau.com.ng

All applicants must be over 23 and resident in Nigeria.

Don’t forget to use the following hashtags –> #CointreauCreativeCrewNG #WillYouDare #DareDreamCreate

Apply Now and Win a Spot in She Leads Africa’s Accelerator for Women-run Businesses with GT Bank and Work in Progress!

She Leads Africa’s accelerator programs offers 10 women led businesses the opportunity to receive mentorship, training and potential investment of N 2million.

She Leads Africa has just opened applications for the She Leads Africa Accelerator, a 3 month program designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs. She Leads Africa is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young African women and their journey towards professional success.

The SLA Accelerator program  which is being run in partnership with Guaranty Trust Bank and the Work in Progress! Alliance (Oxfam and VC4Africa), is an extension of the She Leads Africa Entrepreneur Showcase, which made history 2 years ago as the first ever Pan­African pitch competition for women led businesses. Speaking about the new program, She Leads Africa co­founder Afua Osei said “the pitch competition was a great way to find and fund women led businesses but we weren’t able to work as closely with the entrepreneurs as we would have liked and help them hit key milestones. The accelerator will enable us to really focus on key areas the businesses need to improve on.” 

The 3 month SLA Accelerator will consist of 1 week residencies where entrepreneurs will receive training from the SLA team and their network of business leaders and experts. During these residencies, entrepreneurs will be focused on growth, marketing and distribution. “Entrepreneurs learn by doing,” Osei continued, “so while there will be some classroom time, the main priority is for entrepreneurs to actually do their work and immediately put lessons learnt into practice. We’ll be on hand to support them ­ the entrepreneurs will essentially have a team of live in consultants.”

After each residency, the entrepreneurs will return home for 3 weeks to implement the lessons they’ve learnt. During this time, they will be remotely monitored and also have access to a whole suite of online resources through both SLA and VC4Africa platforms. The Accelerator will end with a Demo Day where businesses will pitch to local and international investors and compete for N 2million.

This program is being supported by the Work in Progress! Alliance ­ a consortium of Oxfam, Butterfly Works and VC4Africa focused on driving job creation and youth employment in Nigeria ­ and lead sponsor Guaranty Trust Bank. SLA co­founder Yasmin Belo­Osagie spoke about this partnership: “We’re so excited to be working with international partners in the Work in Progress! Alliance.. GTBank was a lead sponsor for the least 2 years and we’re excited to extend this partnership for a 3rd year. Their support of SLA as well as their innovative platforms such as SME MarketHub make it clear that they are committed to supporting youth entrepreneurship in Nigeria.”

Entrepreneurs interested in applying should visit SheLeadsAfrica.org for more information and the application form. Submissions close May 31st at 11:59pm WAT.

 

 

“Female Millennials are Shaping the Future Workplace” – MTN

The female millennials – the tech-savvy women born between 1980 and 2000 – are radically shaping the future workplace and are using the ubiquity of broadband to change how societies live, work and play.

Mandisa Ntloko, Head of Marketing for MTN Business South Africa shared this interesting fact to the crowd at the maiden edition of the Leading Women Summit, an event that is co-sponsored by MTN Business and Forbes Africa to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Held on Thursday, 10 March in Johannesburg the event was themed: The Rise of the Female Millennial.

Key influencers from across various industries and delegates exchanged ideas and experiences and unpacked the phenomenon of the female millennial especially in Africa.

The discussion also went as far as examining how the changing female role will impact our world, as well as the challenges confronting those who will employ and manage this generation.

Ntloko told delegates that female millennials have found innovative and resourceful ways of using technology and connectivity in order to effectively juggle the multiple roles they play as professionals, mothers and spouses.

“This generation of women millennials refuse to be confined to one platform such as a desk to complete work tasks, instead they have led a shift to a computing paradigm where tasks can be performed  on the go,” said Ntloko.

Backing his thoughts with a study carried out by Ericsson, Ntloko says women are driving the uptake of smartphones and continue to lead many communication and daily life related behaviours on smartphones.

She warned that the evolving ecosystem will phase out certain traditional careers and spawn new ones that are in line with the requirements of the digital age.

Ntloko said that the future workforce will be characterised by a need for new skills set to meet the challenges of the digital age and the resultant changes in operational requirements. The challenge facing organisations will be to adapt timeously to meet the needs of this new generation if in order to maximise their chances of attracting and retaining talent.

“The new skills required will include including data analysis and visualisation, security management and digital business acumen. Other skills will be specialised, based on specific business activities,” said Ntloko.

“Organisations need to be cognisant of the importance of creating an environment that allows employees to create their own career brand across functions, while at the same time fostering work-life integration and innovative work environments. At MTN Business, we use technology to enable and inspire sustainable growth and development of our clients,” concluded Ntloko.

Now Open! Apply For “Startupper of The Year by Total” Challenge

Total a leading international oil and gas company has announced it is accepting applications for its “Startupper of The Year” challenge.

The challenge seeks to “energize the ideas” of young people across Africa who aspire to start their own businesses and build a brighter future.

The challenge is open to entrepreneurs under 35 years of age who are currently preparing a business plan or are in the early stages of creating their own business and are citizens of any these 34 countries – Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea, Republic of the Congo, Reunion, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe, where Total operates.

In each of the 34 countries where the challenge will be held, a 10-man jury of businesspeople will receive and evaluate projects submitted by entrepreneurs after which 10 entrepreneurs will preselected for the finals.

Thereafter, the pre-selected finalists will be invited to present their projects orally to the jury, which will select up to three winners.

Each winner will receive the “Startupper of The Year” label, individual coaching and financial support for their project.

In Nigeria, each winner will receive NGN 6million, NGN 4million and NGN 2million respectively.

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12 Business Lessons We Learned From Ibukun Awosika

Mrs Ibukun Awosika made history yesterday as she became the first female chairperson of First Bank Nigeria. The appointment made waves and garnered numerous praises all over social media and beyond. As one tweet finely put it, Mrs Awosika dared to dream and dared to achieve. We’re inspired by her accomplishment and new assignment in the banking sector.

However, we did our own homework on the First Bank’s newly appointed chairman to find out how she has made it in business. Ibukun Awosika started her career as an Audit Trainee during her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at Akintola William & Co (now Deloitte). After her NYSC she moved to Alibert Nigeria Ltd a furniture company where she worked as a show room Manager for three months. She resigned from Alibert Nigeria Ltd at the age of 25 to begin her entrepreneurship journey. She started her own furniture manufacturing company; Quebees Ltd which later evolved to The Chair Centre Ltd.

Having faced ups and downs that accompany business operations, with Ibukun’s determination and focus, The Chair Centre Ltd is now a market leader in office furniture and banking security systems industries with a modern factory and office facility in Lekki, Lagos state.

Apart from her enterprising role,  Ibukun is a fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and a multiple award-winning entrepreneur. In addition, she is the First Nigerian recipient to be nominated for the prestigious International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award of the US Department of State in 2008.

Inspired already?

Here are 12 business and life lessons we learnt from Ibukun Awosika:

  • You don’t need to have a factory or cash to start your business but you have to be ready to learn the ins and outs of the business  “Do I have capital? No. The three and a half months were critical to my life story. Within those months, I saw the inside out of furniture making. I understood what is involved. Did I ever think I could go into furniture making before then? No. I never did. Not for a second did I think of doing that. But from the onset, I made up my mind that any customer who is interested in my product should pay 70 per cent upfront. So what do I need a start-up capital for? The customers provided the capital.”

    “Did I have a factory? No. Did I have workers? I could only afford to hire carpenters, but I didn’t have to pay them for one month. They operated from their workshop. Their service was in advance but their payment was in arrears. I also had labour in advance. Did I have the machines? No. But all the machines and machinists were available. I paid per unit of what they produced for me. I didn’t need a generator because they would provide their own generator. I was paying them for what they did. For spraying, I discovered that I could rent a spray gum on a day-to-day basis.”

  • Your starting point is irrelevant. If you insist on doing the right things and doing it well
  • There is nothing like “this is Nigeria” and ” things are done in certain ways”:  “That is not a sustainable theory. No, Nigerians have value and it’s not right that Nigerians are corrupt people. There may be some corrupt people in Nigeria. Nigerians have integrity and value it. There could be some people without integrity, but such people also exist in other countries of the world – It’s not peculiar to Nigeria. Who you are is who you choose to be. Tell me a Yoruba or an Igbo or a Hausa man who knows where a thief is celebrated? Where is it honourable to do what is wrong in Nigeria? We need to change the image of the country from the bad image that the corrupt minority do. Every one of us should know that we need to seek knowledge to whatever extent possible. 
  • Who you are is who you choose to be.   “Tell me a Yoruba or an Igbo or a Hausa man who knows where a thief is celebrated? Where is it honourable to do what is wrong in Nigeria? We need to change the image of the country from the bad image that the corrupt minority do. Every one of us should know that we need to seek knowledge to whatever extent possible.”
  • Take a personal decision to be excellent in whatever you do “Seek knowledge to whatever extent possible. Take a personal decision to be excellent in whatever you do. Take whatever knowledge you have learnt here seriously. Seek knowledge to whatever extent possible. Take a personal decision to be excellent in whatever you do. My commitment is to deliver international standard and topmost quality business within Nigeria with pride without saying this is Nigeria. A time would come when the guy who knows the right thing would come up and when he does, he would judge by what he sees. It doesn’t matter if you can do better, he will judge you by what you have presented to him.”
  • Find your niche and challenge yourself to be the best in your field “My challenge to you is that whether you produce one product or a thousand; make the best of the best from number one so that if you get to the last, it would still represent the best that you are capable of doing. When you deal with one customer, do the right thing. You don’t know the “small” customer who buys a small thing today. You might think you know him because he’s a small man – tell me who knows the future of any man? The man you deal with today may turn up in 5 or 10 years time, based on your service he could come to order 5,000 or 10,000 units of what he bought from you.”
  • Invest in people “Your investment in people matters. The people I dealt with many years ago- doing their babies’ chairs and beds, are still around. Even when I said I was not doing any house furniture again, people thought I was crazy. In Nigeria, everybody does everything. They think you increase your chances of making more money than limiting yourself to office furniture. But I stood my ground. Sometimes you have to take a hard decision and when you take such decision, you have to stand by it. It’s not everybody who sees what you are seeing.”
  • The real world is full of challenges “There are challenges everywhere.You must have tenacity; you must have strength of character not to cheat. Don’t run at the sight of the first problem. He who confronts challenges wins, you must learn every day-you must seek in order to find.”
  • Do not despise the days of humble beginnings    “No amount of money can keep you away from your dream if you stay focused. If you start big, your problems too would be big. The best of your business plan is full of assumptions. You’ve assumed your market; you assumed your customers, you’ve assumed taste and level of reactions. You might think they would not want to buy. It’s better to test your assumptions small. There could be hiccups, but you can adjust. If you go out big, the cost is also very great and huge. Going to get huge machines, large place and if it turns out that your assumptions are not right, what happens? You can grow a business from within the business.”
  • Keep going, even when they call you names  “People called me all manners of names – you this Ijebu woman. I said to them, I was doing a business that was capital intensive when I had no capital. I allowed the business to grow itself. I was going out in taxis. If the car breaks down on the way, it not my business, I simply would go down and wave bye to the driver. What I always tell people is that if you have sand and you play with it, you have sand. If you increase the sand, you still have sand. If you add more sand, you still have sand. But if you make the sand into a block, you have a block. So never you talk about your sand until you have moulded your block. Sand in this sense is your disposable income. I could buy a car every two months if I wanted to. But a car was not my priority. The business was my priority. When I decided to buy myself a car, I bought a used car. My friends were harassing me. I simply ignored them. I knew what I was doing- I kept building.”
  • Invest Invest Invest        “I advise you not to eat up your profit. The day you go out for money, they look at the papers. Open an account for every penny that comes through your business. Don’t think about the COT. It will cost you more if you don’t keep your money in a financial institution.”
  • Nigeria is your biggest market    “I never wished to be a Beninoise, Togolese or Ghanaian or South African. Tell me how many countries have a population of 150 million? That’s what they call market. It’s not only the 150 million Nigerians; you are looking at the whole of West Africa. That gives you like 280 million. These smaller countries have less than the size of Nigeria; just add them to what you have. They don’t have your production capacity either. Go out there and conquer the world.”

Mrs Awosika has mentored and helped sevaral entrepreneurs start their own venture including Tara Durotoye, Founder, House of Tara.

All the quotes were culled from Mrs. Ibukun Awosika’s address as Guest Lecturer at the Second Convocation Ceremony of the EDC, Lagos on November 20, 2009.