Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Urenna Okonkwo, Cashmere App Founder Shares Lessons on Goal Setting

On November 6th, 14 females from various career backgrounds came together to discuss goal setting with Urenna Okonkwo, founder of Cashmere. Organised by Now You’re Talking, a community for millennial female leaders, Urenna shared her journey on being a tech founder and tips on goal setting. She is the mastermind of Cashmere, a savings platform for luxury eCommerce and one of the winners for TechWomen100.

NowYouAreTalking_Cashmere_App_UrennaOkonkwo-goal setting

What Cashmere allows millennials to do is to save up enough money for their luxury trips and luxury products. If you’re looking for a smart way to buy a Gucci bag in the future, you can begin saving for it without breaking the bank or going bankrupt. Her journey like many other founders started when she saw a gap in the marketplace for expensive luxury items and millennial money. She shared some incredible tips on being an entrepreneur and running her own business.

Here are the top lessons on goal setting from the event:

  1. Clear Planning – Always plan in detail and seek help when you can’t do it all alone. Look at your strengths and your weaknesses and understand what you can outsource. Be eager to learn and receive feedback
  2. Goal Setting – Always write things down
  3. Plan For The Week Ahead – Be very detailed in your planning even up to each hour of the day. At the end of the week, go through your list of achievements and understand whether you have achieved your goal of the week
  4. Be Mindful Of Your Time – We all know how social media can be a big distraction if we do not manage our time properly. Urenna suggests we set a time apart for social media use and also to track the time we spend on social media
  5. Calls And Email Are Better Than Meeting Up – Is the meeting absolutely necessary? Can you discuss the matter over the phone? How much of your time would this take? Urenna explained how she deals with time wasters or people who want to meet up for the purpose of meeting up to discuss “ideas”. She normally asks if they can send her a list of questions on the business idea / agenda of points to discuss in the meeting. If the questions or points can be answered via email, she sends her responses to save time and energy
  6. Schedule Time On Your Calendar – Urenna suggests that Calendly (free meeting scheduling app) has helped her to manage her schedules for meetings and calls
  7. Take Your Mental Health SeriouslyHappiness planner has been useful to create time and awareness of her mental well-being
  8. Have Your Accountability Partners – “You’re the average of 5 people around you” – Will Smith.  Your accountability partners are those who are equally as ambitious as you are and with whom you share goals. They will check on you to make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals
  9. Document Your Achievement – She finds that documenting her achievements makes her feel better and is also a form of self care to acknowledge your hard work
  10. Believe In What You Do Before Taking A Leap – Social media can be quite misleading in terms of what people choose to share and not share about their journey to success. She agrees that it can be difficult to take the leap, but it’s also very rewarding. In her own words “if it’s what you want and what you believe in, go for it!”
Lily Okorokwo and Urenna Okonkwo

Now You’re Talking will be running events in 2019 across London. Not just for the wisdom being dropped across the table but also for the connections and new friends you meet. Want to learn how you can effectively set goals and achieve them? Keep an eye out for future events.

Think of your future self today and do what you would do as that person, attend the events she would attend, do the things she would do and meet the people she would meet.

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4 Ways You Can Become an Intrapreneur in Your Organisation

A speaker once said that “it’s hard to manage entrepreneurs”. Why? you would ask. He explains that “entrepreneurs are always full of ideas” and it can be hard to manage there constant changing of ideas. If you’ve ever found yourself constantly making a list of ideas and adding to your ever ending to do list then, my friend, he is talking about you.

Even more, people with entrepreneurial traits don’t just like to have a vision or an idea, they also like to execute, create and implement those ideas and make an impact.

The notion that entrepreneurs have to go out there and conquer the world has evolved to entrepreneurs conquering the world through their employers. These are called intrapreneurs.

A simple definition I found here defines an intrapreneur as an employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation’s usual routines or protocols.

So how do you get about proposing an idea to your boss and getting their buy-in and support?

Have an Idea

First things first, dear intrapreneur – you must have an idea! How do you approach a senior leader within your firm and tell him/her about yourself without having an idea to bring to the table? Why should he/she listen to you? Carve time within his/her busy schedule to speak to you? Have an idea – not a complicated one. You should be able to explain your idea to a 10 year old – even more in one sentence. If you’re able to define your idea in one phrase then your boss / sponsor would be able to repeat the same sentence to others.

Build a Business Case

This may sound very corporate but you need to build a business case i.e. the why is very important. Have you read the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek? It clearly illustrates why your reason for doing or building anything is important and brings that into life with examples of companies that have done it well, such as Apple Inc. You can have a very detailed or simple but accurate business case. It should be reasonable, easy to read and understand. We can be tempted to be very analytical and go into deep level of details. It all depends on who will be holding your business case. What would they like to see? What’s in it for them? What’s their interest? By putting yourself in reader’s shoe you can identify areas you will need to prioritise when writing your business case.

Identify a Sponsor

Once you have a business case, look into your network and research key sponsors for your initiative. It’s easier if your sponsor knows you and you have mutual areas of interest. If you already have an established relationship, this allows you to tailor your business case appropriately. Overtime, I’ll try to write in detail on how you identify a sponsor and scenarios that can occur.

Once identified, contact your sponsor and schedule a meeting. Briefly mention about your idea and the motive for setting up the meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I suggest print a copy of your business case or artefacts that you have prepared if it’s a face to face meeting. If it’s a phone call, then email your business case to your potential sponsor. Make the necessarily last minute set up to ensure a successful meeting.

Start with a story. It could be your story, or the story of someone whose life you changed. Whatever you do, tell a story. This will get your proposal to stand out and make an emotional connection. Describe what you do. This is your mission statement. It explains why you do what you do. You have to really outline the benefits for the sponsor you’re approaching. Don’t forget the financials! How much are you asking for? How much should your sponsor invest in your project and what’s the ROI (Return on Investment)? You have to prepare for questions around the company’s benefits. Describe your demographics to your sponsor and expect that it ends positively. If it doesn’t, seek another sponsor and take into account things you would have done better and make improvements as you continue on your search for sponsor.

Build a Team, Execute and Manage

Have you got your sponsor who is ready to commit financially? The next step for the intrapreneur is to begin to build a team. Working on a project while doing your full time job can be hard but it’s also very rewarding if done well. Building a team makes it easier, fun and educative. You get to learn from each other, share ideas, build and ultimately manage a team. And of course see your team thrive. Based on the plan you have put together, share your idea and get the support from your team as well. The whole point is to make sure your stakeholders are happy.

Ensure that people feel the liberty to be part of something great and bigger than them. Allow your team to also select key areas to “own” in the process and project. From my experience, people are most invested when they have ownership.

Lastly, reach out to your sponsor and provide bi-monthly or monthly updates to your sponsor to keep them in the loop. Agree with your sponsor on when and how they would like to receive these updates. Did I mention that you can have multiple sponsors as well? Yes you can.

Did you find this post insightful? I’ll be sharing some of my tips and lessons learned building and championing some of my projects including The GlowingColours.com.

What tips have you used in building your business or entrepreneurial project?

Gwen Jimmere Becomes the First African-American to Score a Patent for Natural Hair Product

Impossible is nothing! Meet Gwen Jimmere, a Detroit-based entrepreneur who has secured a patent for her haircare products.

Gwen Jimmere invented a new hair care product that serves women of colour. When she started she didn’t know it was going to be successful. Today Gwen is not only successful, she legally owns the intellectual property rights to it. There is more to it – we can officially say she is the first African American woman to hold a U.S. patent for a natural hair care product.

The natural hair industry is not one to be underestimated as the industry boasts of $2.7 billion under its resurgence. The Detroit belle found a gap in the industry and quickly intervened with her enterprise. After watching the documentary Good Hair by comedian Chris Rock, she quickly realised how unhealthy most hair products were to use. She also learned how the industry was often led and owned by those not purchasing the product.

In fact people like Gwen Jenner and the rest of #TemaNatural babes are leading the way.

“I grew up in a household where if you can’t find it, you can make it,” she says. “I created the Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment out of necessity. Having natural hair can be very time consuming and expensive, taking two or three hours to complete your hair care regimen on what we call wash day and costing hundreds in hair-care products each month.”

 She spoke to Entrepreneurs.com on how journey as a hair care product owner. Having just few hours to wash her hair, being a new mom, she realised some of the natural hair products lacked the natural ingredients that the hair needs.

So she figured she rather invent her own. As friends of friends — and strangers — started to buy her product, she knew she was onto something. In 2013, she formed her company NATURALICIOUS.

After losing her job as a global marketing director at Ford while being just a month away from finalising her divorce, the newly single mom put all of her effort into taking the leap. Today Naturalicious is two and a half years later, has hit the seven-figure mark with a product that’s patent protected and sold globally.

But obtaining a patent was no easy feat. As a single mom, Gwen couldn’t afford the fees to hire a patent lawyer. Instead, she spent six months researching and studying how to file one for herself. She did spend what was needed on filing fees and hired help researching prior art. It also helped that Detroit also has a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — one of only six in the country.

“I saved between $8,000 and $18,000 by filing on my own, but it did take me six months to learn patent law,” she says. “I made really good friends with the librarians who helped me during that time.”

Gwen hopes to encourage all entrepreneurs to consider ownership over their products, to think in terms of trademarks and patents and not just to share a product with friends.

“The patent gives me leverage and can be a part of wealth building. I really want women entrepreneurs to start legally owning our creations via intellectual property. We innovate incredible things all the time,” she says. “Consider patenting these inventions. Think about protecting yourself, your business and your legacy.”

So inspiring!

Photo credit: Entrepreneur.com

Coscharis Boss Cosmas Maduka Covers Forbes Africa November Issue


CEO of Coscharis Motors Cosmas Maduka graces the November cover of Forbes Africa.The top business man narrates his story from bottom to the top of the automobile industry.

I became an automobile apprentice at age 7 to escape poverty – Cosmas Maduka


He tells Forbes how he survived war, tragedy and family fights to turn $1 into $500 million. Dubbed ‘The $500-Million Survivor’, this feature outlines his success story – having worked for Seven years without pay, gone through fights with his brother, fired by his uncle eventually and many more tragedies. Despite the rocky start for the Nigerian billionaire, who started out fixing cars, Cosmas Maduka now makes millions selling them and is the sole distributor for BMW in Nigeria.

Forbes also takes a look into the business of belief which is quickly becoming the fastest growing and most controversial business in Africa. Churches and their pastors are raking in the money while their followers can’t afford food. Let’s not forget the rate of acquisition of private jets by popular pastors across Africa.

The magazine takes readers through Nigeria’s new cabinet as it’s finally being filled and goes on to investigate the individuals that will deal with the business world.

Catch all the detaiils and more of Africa in the November issue of Forbes Africa.

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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Apply Now For 2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year Competition In South Africa

The Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® awards aims to honour, benefit, and uplift South African SMEs.

2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year Competition

“Success breeds success!”

2015 Entrepreneur Of The Year Competition celebrates excellence in entrepreneurship, serving as an inspiration to others to succeed in the world of business.

Entrepreneurs who enter may be considered for the following categories in the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition:

  • Emerging Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who has been in their present business for a maximum of 5 years and with a turnover not exceeding R5 million on the date the entry form is received by the steering committee.

  • Small Business Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who runs a business, irrespective of length of time during which it has been active, with a turnover of between R5 million and R20 million in the tax year immediately preceding the date of entering the competition.

  • Medium Business Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur who runs a business, irrespective of the length of time during which it has been active, with a turnover of R20 million or more in the tax year immediately preceding the date of entering the competition. Controlling owner must be stated.

  • Job Creator of the Year

An entrepreneur who not only employs a significant number of employees, but also plays a key role in uplifting, up-skilling and training them. They help towards making a dent in the unemployment rate of the community, area, province and country where the business is situated.

  • Lifetime Achiever Award

An entrepreneur who has, over the years, shown fortitude and strength in the entrepreneurial arena, and developed a business that has size, longevity and profitability.

  • Innovator of the Year

An entrepreneur who has the ability to:

  • Reinvent the way business is done in his/her industry; and/or
  • Be innovative in the product or service being offered to the market; and/or
  • Finds a way of drawing the best qualified and technical people in the industry and keeping them because of creating a special environment where employees can flourish.


Entrepreneur of the Year®

The overall winner is selected out of the emerging, small, or medium categories.

DEADLINE: June 16, 2015

Click HERE to apply.


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[INTERVIEW] Meet Mother of 2 & Fashion Stylist Ivy Ekong

We started ‘African Bloggers Killing It‘ to showcase African men and women changing the style game all over the world. From Lagos, London, New York, Milan, Johannesburg etc., African stylistas are unstoppable. In this interview they are taking us into their world to give us a glimpse of what it looks like!

Check it out 😉

Meet Ivy Ekong from Nigeria mother of two, entrepreneur, fashion consultant and fashion blogger!

ivy ekong-The GlowingColours (5)

NAME:  Ivie Ruth Ekong popularly known as Ivy Ekong

                                                               WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I am originally from Igueben, in Edo State Nigeria, but I am based in London with my family.

URL: http://blog.icon-mode.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES: Instagram: http://instagram.com/ivy_ekong

                                             Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/account

Can you tell us about yourself and your blog?

I am a wife, a mum of two beautiful girls (5 years and 1 year old respectively) an entrepreneur, a style consultant and fashion stylist and a fashion & luxury lifestyle blogger, amongst other things. I attended Ambrose Alli University in Edo State, Nigeria. Where I graduated with two degrees in Business Management and Economics respectively.

My blog is a style and luxury lifestyle blog where I showcase my personal style and a bit of what is happening in the fashion industry to my readers and followers.

How would you describe your personal style?

I am a classic with a bit of a city chic.

What made you decide to start blogging? And how did you begin your journey as a stylist?

Back home in Nigeria, I was a Beauty Queen (Face Of Esan) and a fashion model. This gave me the opportunity to work with top designers and fashion brands, for so many years. This was how I started my career in the fashion industry. When I relocated to London I wanted to continue with a career part which I love and was already used to, so I did Personal Styling & Image Consultancy training through the well-known Colour Me Beautiful Academy. This was when I started my company called IconMode ( www.icon-mode.com). IconMode is a personal styling, beauty, and luxury goods company, which was established 5 years ago. We have branches in London, Nigeria and Dubai respectively. It was my past experiences in the fashion industry and that of IconMode that gave birth to my blog http://blog.icon-mode.com/.

I didn’t start blogging until 2 years ago when a lot of people encouraged me to start a blog because they loved my personal style. Also as a stylist I am privileged to get invited to fashion events and shows which you have to dress up for. It was only natural to create an avenue to showcase those outfits so that people who love my style can shop those outfits by creating direct links on my blog.

Why style, instead of gossip?

It couldn’t have been gossip, because my blog is me, and am all about high fashion and distinctive style. People who know me and those that have met me will tell you that I live, eat and breathe fashion not gossip. My blog has helped a lot of people discover their personal style. I receive countless emails everyday from my readers and fans who have turned their dress sense around for the better through the tips they get from my blog. I believe that fashion fades, but style is eternal, and your personal style is what differentiates you from someone else.

At the moment, who would you say is your number one fashion inspiration?

Victoria Beckham and Beyoncé Knowles have always been my fashion inspiration.

What are some of your current fashion obsessions?

  • Vintage Chanel bags and accessories . A must have for every closet if you can afford it. They are timeless and will never go out of style.
  • Chunky neck costumes. I am so obsessed with these that I had to recently design a costume jewelry line for my company IconMode. They are big and very fashionable for that woman who is not afraid to be noticed. I named every piece of jewelry after every ‘’fashion Icon’’ I have admired and looked up to since I was growing up. You can view my jewelry line here: http://www.icon-mode.com/shop/jewellery.html
  • Black trench coats also comes very handy and are very stylish as well.
  • Jimmy Choo heels are definitely an obsession. Once you have a pair you will definitely want more pairs. They fit into a woman’s legs so perfectly.

With celebs and stylistas introducing new trends, what’s your favorite style trend?

I am not a follower of trends, I think a lot of people make fashion mistakes and dress inappropriately because they want to wear what’s trendy instead of wearing what suits them. I wear what suits my body shape and colours that best suits my skin tone without necessarily following trends.

What is your signature look? My blonde hair and red lips. I only wear black hair when I want to take a little break of my blonde hair.

Heels? or Flats? Definitely heels

Favourite TV show? Scandal

Celebrity style crush?   Blake Lively

What is your style philosophy? I believe that

‘’the fashionable woman wears clothes, the clothes don’t wear her’’.


If you had to pick anyone to be your muse who would you pick and why?

I would pick Angelina Jolie because she is sexy, sensual, and very beautiful; she is also one of the greatest style Icon of our time. Angelina Jolie can wear a piece of rag and still look great in them. Her self-confidence exudes in whatever she wears.

What are your favorite boutiques in your current city?

I don’t have a favorite boutique, as a stylist am always on the go and I shop wherever I find something that is of interest to me. I love designer brands and a bit of high street brands as well. I love online shops such as asos.com, houseofcb.com, of course my company online shop where you can get good bargains on designer brands, cosmetics, human hair, jewelries and many more.

Name your top 3 African fashion brands.

– Adebayo Jones

– Deola Sagoe

– Jason Boateng

Favourite quote?

Elegance is the only beauty that never fades. Audrey Hepburn


 What is one thing your readers would be surprised to hear?

I don’t get it right all the time when it comes to fashion. Like all fashion icons, they have at some point in their lives appear on the worst dressed list. People think you have to be perfect because you are a stylist. Trust me, I have my days.

What is the biggest challenge about fashion blogging?

The biggest challenge about fashion blogging is getting good images and content for your blog. Especially images, because people want to see more photos and videos on your blog rather than loads of text. Another challenge most bloggers face is being unique and creating a unique brand that differentiates you from other bloggers.

Where do you see your blog in the next five years?

I see my blog as the number one African fashion blog in London and Africa. I hope to partner with fashion brands all over the world and mostly brands in Nigeria who wants to have a platform in London.

What’s the biggest advice you have for an aspiring fashion blogger?

Be you, do not try to be someone else. Let your blog be a reflection of you and your creativity. Do not start a blog because you want to make quick money out of it. Begin a blog because you truly enjoy waking up to dress up, apply makeup and take great pictures. When brands see that you truly love what you do they will contact you and the money aspect should be secondary.


Thank you Ivy for your time with us!

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