The Most Interesting Thing About Investing in Africa: Innovative News Platform About Nigeria

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Akin Akinboro (left) and Mobolaji Sokunbi (right) are the Co-Founders of The 234 Project

 

The following post is from the e-book, The Most Interesting Thing About Investing in Africa, which features a series of conversations with entrepreneurs, community leaders, students, executives, and doers both home and abroad driving economic empowerment in several parts of my beloved continent of Africa.

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Mobolaji is a results-driven Marketing Executive and Entrepreneur. In his capacity as a marketing manager, he established a track record of successfully recruiting and training top sales teams, managing a $150M+ sales campaign P&L, and driving innovative strategies across multiple business units. He has a remarkable gift for identifying and evaluating intricate challenges in an organization and successfully communicating solutions and recommendations to senior leadership. His experience spans across notable companies including Dell, Procter & Gamble, and The Southwestern Company. In his capacity as an entrepreneur, Mobolaji consistently makes things happen from a business development standpoint including as the co-founder of The 234 Project. He is passionate about sharing the untold stories of Nigeria’s greatness and publicizing the achievements of Nigerians around the world.
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Akin exhibits a masterful set of skills in his work as an Enterprise Systems Engineer and Entrepreneur. Pertinent to his work as a systems engineer, Akin enjoys bridging the gap between IT experts and non-experts alike. Throughout the course of his career, he has established a solid foundation in product & solution development; and he is very experienced in leading efforts related to solution design, infrastructure architecture & implementation, test & testing frameworks, and project management. This experience has allowed him to excel in a variety of engineering roles with major technology companies such as Oracle and Dell. In his entrepreneurial endeavors, Akin is involved in a number of successful ventures including co-founding The 234 Project. He believes that the future for Nigeria is bright and thus essential to the world. Akin is passionate about impacting lives positively and encouraging others to find sustainable solutions to everyday challenges.

Investment: Online Platform to Tell the Positive Stories of Nigeria | The 234 Project

SITUATION
There are many fascinating things about investing in Africa, especially investing in projects that empower young minds. To that end, Mobolaji and Akin sought to develop a deeper understanding of the growing interest in startups and self-employment among young Africans, particularly young Nigerians. This perceived interest seemed to be buoyed by a number of factors like high levels of youth unemployment, lack of opportunities at more established companies in Nigeria, and the foreign investment shift from BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) countries with Nigerian startups at the beneficiary forefront of this shift.

Upon closer examination, Mobolaji and Akin discovered that young Nigerians were not only motivated by economic factors, they were also motivated by the opportunity to live out their own definition of success; and so, working with a startup or being self-employed in Nigeria offered them the best chance to stay close to home and stay even closer to self-actualization.

Brck-Maslow-YourStory-Africa-624x495

Historically, many young Nigerians yearned to leave Nigeria for greener pastures in North America or Europe (see Forbes article on Brain Drain). They tended to identify with a skewed version of professional success in life i.e. the “non-African” version. Nowadays, with the widespread use of the internet and mobile phones, more young people in Nigeria opt for a career path which allows them to think global but act local.

In his interview, Mobolaji expressed that he had always wanted to reach out to young Nigerian professionals in Nigeria… “to be a mentor or offer some advice from the standpoint of [his] experience in sales and marketing”. The 234 Project now allows him to take his mentoring to a whole new level– the project is an ongoing investment to tell a different story of Nigeria.

“For some time now, if you ask people, particularly westerners, what they know about Nigeria, you’re likely to hear about terrorism, corruption, the Niger-Delta violence, or those kinds of negative stories; before you hear many westerners and sometimes even Nigerians say anything positive about Nigeria, they probably would have already gone through a list of negative things,” he noted.

 

I am Nigerian

In 2011, I was at a stopover in London Heathrow Airport and I met a young man from Katy, Texas (United States). He worked for Shell and was on his way to Port Harcourt, Rivers State (Nigeria). He was reading a thick book about the dangers of living in Nigeria. We got into a conversation about his trip and I could tell he was petrified about going to Nigeria. At that moment, I thought to myself, what if this young man also had easy access to the positive elements of living in Nigeria? Imagine a platform that would have shown him great places to eat and visit while living in Port Harcourt.
-Mobolaji recounts his experience on a business trip

Akin and Mobolaji believe that Nigeria, known as the Giant of Africa, has positive stories to tell– from technology to politics, from politics to entertainment, from entertainment to fashion, there are people making positive waves…

M.O.

While attending a youth event in Johannesburg, South Africa for the MTV BASE Meets show, First Lady Michelle Obama (wife of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama) was spotted wearing Nigerian label Maki Oh by the young designer Amaka Osake. Michelle Obama took to the stage wearing a chiffon blouse from the Spring/Summer 2013 collection. – Source:africanfashionguide.com

 

 

 

The 234 Project is not in the business of denying that there are negative things to report about Nigeria, instead the project is simply advocating for the other side of Nigeria’s story.

Nollywood

The cinema of Nigeria, referred to as Nollywood, grew quickly in the 1990s and 2000s and became the second largest film industry in the world in the number of annual film productions, placing it ahead of the United States and behind only India. In 2013, it was rated as the third most valuable film industry in the world after generating a total revenue of NG₦1.72 trillion (US$10 billion) in 2013 alone, placing it behind India and the United States.
– Source: un.org/apps/news/story (UN News Centre)

ACTION
Akin and Mobolaji, in collaboration with their global team (a collection of young, brilliant minds), are building out an online platform with global access to tell the positive stories of Nigeria– from positive stories that impact celebrities to politicians, from boardroom bosses to classroom champions. The platform will be used to create and share content.

There are two value proposition pillars that they are keeping in mind:

Stewardship;
Empowerment

  • Stewardship – they are employing a network of young people in Nigeria to help create the content.
  • Empowerment – they are then connecting the content they create to action items like raising awareness, project fundraising, and professional networking.

 

RESULT
They have implemented some key performance indicators that are part of an ongoing evaluation process to measure the success of the project on multidimensional scale. Notably, in five years, the groundwork is in place to create hundreds of jobs (across different disciplines such as videography, writing, editing, and more).

Investment: Online Platform to Tell the Positive Stories of Nigeria
L = 50
I = 30
C = 40
Business Idea Metric: 120

To learn more about The 234 Project, please check out the online community

The 234 Project is active on social media: Twitter – @the234project | Facebook – The 234 Project | Instagram – @the234project

F.I.V.E Questions with Rachel Hill, CEO of RachelTravels.com

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I’d like to introduce you to the elegant, business savvy, and well-traveled Rachel Hill. Rachel left a very lucrative corporate career with Johnson and Johnson to follow her passion and has continued to blaze her path to success. She’s been featured on multiple online publications and recently launched a new venture: i Hired Me, co to provide coaching services to aspiring entrepreneurs. This is the 2nd installment of our Find Insights Via Engaging (F.I.V.E) Questions with an Entrepreneur series.

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Rachel the Tiger whisperer…

1. Briefly describe how you got started as an entrepreneur. What is the most exciting or rewarding aspect of what you do?

​After leaving my job in Summer 2014, I decided to take some time to travel through South East Asia solo. I rebranded my blog, www.RachelTravels.com as a ‘journal’ of sorts for my family and friends to keep up with my travels, people I met, my perspective, and some ideas on how to travel authentically but on a budget. Never looked at it more than a travel blog of my thoughts.

I always knew there was a way to create Online Businesses, but never quite knew how ​to start and what was really out there. As fate would have it, in Thailand, I ended up meeting a young guy from Ireland who was splitting 6 months of the year traveling the world (at the time he was studying Muai-Thai in Thailand) and the other 6 months in Ireland! He told me he had online businesses and connected me with his Mentor. The rest is history from there!

The most exciting and rewarding part about running a travel blog as a business, is all the AMAZING people I have an opportunity to connect with very organically! On top of that, I am sharing my love and passion of traveling the world, especially as a woman of color, with others and showing them how they can easily do it too!

What could make it even more exciting and rewarding is showing and inspiring even more people of color to travel and experience the world abroad!

 

2. Flash back and then fast forward to the present, what has surprised you the most about mastering your unique set of skills and what advice do you have for others looking to learn a similar skill or discover their talent?

Honestly, I had no idea that being a Project Manager in Digital Marketing would equip me to grow my Brand to this level so quickly. As a Project Manager by trade, being very strategic, analytical and organized comes with the job. But continuing to nurture these set of skills helps in staying consistent, planning out content, and negotiating contracts/ agreements, or even creating product offerings.

My advice would be to continue to cultivate any skill set you have. While I am no longer in Corporate America, it is a priority for me as an Entrepreneur to stay abreast of what is going on in the industry, by investing in Coaches, mentors, courses, training, etc. It is the only way you can become a Master in your craft.

If you’re looking to “discover” your talent, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do I LOVE doing that I am always wanting to learn more and more about?

  • What do people constantly ask my opinion, insights, and advice on?

  • What truly lights me up on the inside?

Start there and see what you come up with!

Rachel Hill

3. What is your unfair advantage?

​Hmmm. Not sure if this is “unfair”, but I rarely ever meet a stranger. I just love people and can easily connect by being unapologetically, genuinely, and authentically myself. I have found that being unapologetic and vulnerable with my personal and professional experiences really allows potential and current Customers and Clients to trust and identify with me.

 

4. What is your current favorite and least favorite city that you’ve visited and why?

​Favorite City: Cape Town, South Africa – outside of the stunning views, wine country, and gorgeous people, it has such a rich history and culture. While it is not perfect (but what place or person is?!), it was one of the BEST travel experiences I have had.

Least Favorite: Every city I went to in Cambodia! It seemed as though everyone was trying to get over on you and rip you off. Not to mention it was the hottest I have ever been in my life. Perhaps one day, I will give the country another try. ​

 

5. What is the best piece of actionable advice you received that influenced your decision to launch your business and has still continued to deliver dividends till today?

​”It does not have to be perfect the first time around, just TAKE ACTION!” ​

Perfectionism is a real thing! Attempting to get everything perfect is only delaying you from starting and making progress. Getting started and taking action NOW is the only way to progress, you can tweak, build, and implement along the way! And 9 out of 10 times, things will change anyway!

******

Rachel is active on social media. Connect with her on LinkedIn: Rachel Hill | Twitter@RachelTravels_ | Instagram: @RachelTravels

The Most Interesting Thing About Investing in Africa: Mobile Banking in Nigeria

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The following post is from the e-book, The Most Interesting Thing About Investing in Africa, which features a series of conversations with entrepreneurs, community leaders, students, executives, and doers both home and abroad driving economic empowerment in several parts of my beloved continent of Africa.

Amara Udokporo, MHA and Kenny Udokporo, MCE, MCO
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Amara and Kenny are investors in Net Gold Business Consulting.

Amara-Kenny

Investment: Banking of the People, By the People, and For the People in Nigeria
SITUATION
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spends approximately 34 billion Naira (N34bn) a year to print new paper money due to currency mutilation.  To address this critical issue of “cash waste” in Nigeria, CBN introduced the “cashless” initiative as part of an overall policy framework in 2011.  The framework identified a number of cashless methods (including checks, ATM cards, online banking, and POS terminal); but the most promising solution, both from the standpoint of dealing with cash waste and pulling the unbanked out of the shadows, has been mobile money.  Mobile money consists of a number of money transfer processes but it’s basically an electronic payment system that enables one individual or entity to transfer a specified financial value through a mobile phone to another individual or entity without using a bank account.

Unbanked

ACTION
NETGOLD MOBILE worked with the CBN to register as an aggregator and set up partnerships with CBN-licensed mobile money operators such as eTranzact International, First Bank, and Pagatech.  Here’s how the work flows:

  • Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN): Provides general oversight and issues licenses to the Operators.
  • Mobile Money Operators: Manage the technology platform needed for the financial transaction (eTranzact, First Bank etc.).
  • Aggregators: Act as the middle man between the Operators and the Agents.  An aggregator is a company that is registered with a specific Operator.  An aggregator recruits, trains, and manages agents within the platform.  NETGOLD MOBILE is an aggregator.
  • Agents: Sign up users and make a commission on the active users that they sign up. Agents are individuals recruited by an aggregator, and they can also conduct transactions on behalf of their users.
  • Users: Use the mobile money service to send and receive payments. Registration is usually free.

The daily mission for NETGOLD MOBILE is to break down the banking barriers for the unbanked (many of whom are located in rural areas) while providing job opportunities for agents (many of whom were previously unemployed).

Unemployment Word Cloud

RESULT
NETGOLD MOBILE is making progress in breaking down the following mobile money barriers:

  • Too Few Agents – By partnering with investors like Amara and Kenny, who have sophisticated professional and family networks that they can tap into, a concerted effort has been put in place to continue to attract more local agents.
  • Lack of User Awareness – The steady increase in local agents will lead to a steady increase in user awareness. In a survey last year, it was estimated that only 57% of available users knew about the service; but that number is now on the rise.
  • Agent Income and Business Model – As user awareness goes up, the earning potential for each agent goes up as well. Looking ahead…the good news is that the service continues to improve on key performance metrics and tools to help all the stakeholders involved manage the workflow.

Investment: Mobile Money Banking and “Banking On” the Unbanked in Nigeria
L = 10
I = 20
C = 10
Business Idea Metric: 40

To learn more about this service and get more information on how you can participate, please contact: Amara Udokporo | Kenny Udokporo

F.I.V.E Questions with David McMenomey, Owner of Redemit 1

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I’m excited to launch the “Find Insights Via Engaging (F.I.V.E) Questions with an Entrepreneur” series. The series will feature answers to 5 unique questions posed to an entrepreneur. Their answers will enable every reader to learn how they got started in their venture, discover how they mastered their unique set of skills, and gain from any piece of advice that has continued to deliver dividends. It will be fun, insightful, and inspiring. The goal is that you are able to take at least one actionable tip from each conversation.

My first conversation is with David McMenomey, Digital Strategist at Redemit One.

profile-photo

 

1. Briefly describe how you got started and what is the most exciting or rewarding aspect of what you do?

It was early 2012 and my very pregnant wife was at the store getting groceries for the week.  I received a phone call that no one wants to get, the kind of call that stops your heart.  “David, I am in the line to check out and none of our credit cards are working. Do you know what is going on?”  You see at this point, I had been nursing along a startup that had zero revenue for 8 months, in the heart of the Silicon Valley.  Every credit card was maxed and we had a baby on the way in a few short months.  To say I was desperate would be an understatement…

The one thing I did right while starting my first company was I focused on the digital side of the business.  I knew that growing a business online would be better than going door to door as I had done to start my career.  So I started devouring Internet marketing training for hours on end, reprogramming the way I thought about marketing and scalability.  The 2 trainers I had been listening to were Jeff Usner and Hans Johnson and you will never guess who called me just about a week after we hit rock bottom financially…Jeff Usner.  I had met him a few times at some business training / personal development events but didn’t even know he remembered me.  He offered me a job in Texas and I took it.

This was the start of my career in the Internet, but I started at the bottom making almost no money.  To me it didn’t matter, anything was better than what I was making with what I was currently doing, and I would get to learn the skill I passionately wanted to learn, Internet Marketing.

I worked with Jeff for 3½ years and created multiple online products, marketing funnels, and web properties that made millions of dollars.  I received hands on experience, and built valuable confidence and belief in my abilities to take an idea and bring it to life online.

In October of 2015 I was laid off from my work with Jeff’s company as they moved out of Texas and back east to Pennsylvania.  After a few months of consulting for companies, I decided to launch my own agency, Redemit One.  It was one consulting client who pushed me over the edge to go from floundering consultant, to full-fledged marketing agency.  This client, Manny, was a non-profit who had a vision to help kids coping with cancer feel like rockstars for a day.  Manny had some great material on coping with cancer, and wanted me to create a marketing funnel to promote it.  So I sat down with him and created a lead generation funnel that could not only help more cancer patients, but also bring in new and reliable donors to fund his charity.

This is the type of work that keeps me going.  I love taking an existing business and creating a way for them to have predictable, scalable revenue.  There is so much misinformation out there about getting rich on the Internet, and I like going in implementing simple, proven strategies that drive revenue.   That is what excites me. Creating something like this for a client, then handing them the keys to the system and letting them run with it.  I don’t want to be the company that creates a system that is dependent on Redemit One.  I want my clients to be able to walk away from me at any point and continue to grow their vision and company. As short-sighted as that may sound, my client’s businesses were never mine to start with, so why should I hold them ransom just because I help them grow revenue in a new area?

 

2. Flash back and then fast forward to the present, what has surprised you the most about mastering your unique set of skills and what advice do you have for others looking to learn a similar skill?

I think the most surprising part of looking back at my journey in this business is how simple what I do really is.  With all of the complex training and courses out there, it is easy to get bogged down and never actually do anything online.  The key to learning this skill set is something Jeff taught me, find what works and copy that.  You always want to emulate success. There are other smarter, more patient people out there who have tested and perfected a business model Online, so find out what they are doing and do your best to copy that.

 

3. What is your unfair advantage? 

My clients will tell you that my unfair advantage is that I have already been there.  I have done it. I know how it looks to start with an idea and turn it into scalable revenue, so every project I take on, I have the end in mind for the client.  I also never sell them on their own idea. Most new prospective client meetings are me telling them why their idea won’t work and how a few minor tweaks in their perspective will make all the difference. To me, if the idea doesn’t produce recurring revenue for the client, I will not take the project. It is not worth it for anyone…

 

4. Describe the results a potential client could expect when they do business with you and how do you plan to WOW them?

The result a client will see when they work with Redemit One is a revenue machine will be created.  They will get a completed mechanism that brings them new leads and converts those leads into money.  Pretty simple really.  I specialize in lead generation, and that really is the heartbeat of what makes clients happy. They are flooded with new leads who convert to cash.  That will motivate any business owner to refer Redemit One. I think what wows clients is that I am not afraid to walk away from taking their business.  If I can see at the start that the project is not going to produce results of the client, I am happy to walk away from the money upfront and point them in a different direction, or to a different company for the work.  The only thing worse than no clients, is unsuccessful ones…

 

5. What is the best advice (or quote or insight) you received that gave you the confidence to launch your business?

The best insight I was given to launch my company came from 2 different clients on the same day.  I was waffling between the idea of going back to work for a big company and continuing to hone my skills and the idea of staying on my own.  Both clients challenged me and asked, “With the skill set that you have and all that you know how to do, how could you go back to work for anyone knowing they could never pay you what you are worth?” The advice I would give any entrepreneur looking to going out on their own is this, never let your ego get in the way of your journey.  You have to be able to take an honest step back and evaluate whether you need to continue developing your skill by working for someone, or if you really have all the right pieces to be your own boss.

 

“Never let your ego get in the way of your journey.” – David McMenomey

 

Connect with David on LinkedIn.

39 Sir Alex Ferguson quotes to ignite the champion in you

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Growing up in Nigeria, you were either a Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool fan. Manchester United was my team back then, and still is. We consumed football for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we were not glued to the TV screen cheering on our favorite teams, we were in the streets, often barefoot, practicing the skills we had just witnessed.

Sir Alex Ferguson was the mastermind behind Manchester United’s successive years of dominance. In his 39 years at the helm, he led Manchester United to 2 Champions League titles, 17 Domestic League titles, 14 Domestic Cups, and 2 Other European titles. I had the pleasure of reading his book, Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United, and below are 39 inspiring quotes in honor of his 39 glory years as manager of Manchester United.

Photo credit: Manutd.com

Photo credit: Manutd.com

 

Listening

  1. “If you are leading people, it helps to have a sense of who they are- the circumstances in which they were raised, the actions that will draw out the best in them, and the remarks that will cause them to be spooked. The only way to figure this out is by underrated activities: listening and watching.”

Watching

  1. “It sounds simple to say you should believe what your eyes tell you, but it is very hard to do. It is astonishing how many biases and preconceived notions we carry around, and these influence what we see, or, more precisely, what we think we see.”

Discipline

  1. “I always felt that our triumphs were an expression of the consistent application of discipline.”

Work Rate

  1. “When winning becomes a way of life, true winners are relentless.”
  2. “In a perfect world I would have filled every team-sheet with 11 men who had as much determination as talent. But life is not like that, and if I had to choose between someone who had great talent but was short on grit and desire, and another player who was good but had great determination and drive, I would always prefer the latter.”

Drive

  1. “For me drive means a combination of a willingness to work hard, emotional fortitude, enormous powers of concentration and a refusal to admit defeat.”

Conviction

  1. “I cannot imagine how anyone, without firm conviction and deep inner beliefs, can be an effective leader.”

Preparation

  1. “…Preparation had a lot more to do with our success than a few fortunate breaks.”
  2. “The way to win battles, wars and games is by attacking and overrunning the opposing side.”
  3. “On our own team, the best players tended to be sticklers for preparation. That’s part of the reason why they were good or great.”

Mentorship

  1. “There is a lot to be said for either picking, or being lucky enough to land, the right mentor. The best ones can change your life.”

Teamwork

  1. “Each player has to understand the qualities and strengths of their team-mates.”

Excellence

  1. “Part of the way you develop excellence in an organization is to be careful about the way you define success.”
  2. “Winning anything requires a series of steps.”

Inspiring

  1. “You don’t get the best out of people by hitting them with an iron rod. You do so by gaining their respect, getting them accustomed to triumphs and convincing them that they are capable of improving their performance.”
  2. “Much of leadership is about extracting that extra 5 percent of performance that individuals did not know they possessed.”
  3. “Unless you understand people, it is very hard to motivate them.”
  4. “Another crucial ingredient of motivation is consistency. As a leader you can’t run from one side of the ship to the other. People need to feel that you have unshakeable confidence in a particular approach. If you can’t show this, you’ll lose the team very quickly.”
  5. “Anyone who is in charge of a group of people has got to have a strong personality….a strong personality is an expression of inner strength and fortitude.”
  6. “People perform best when they know they have earned the trust of their leader.”

Complacency

  1. “Complacency is a disease, especially for individuals and organizations that have enjoyed success.”

Networking

  1. “A network takes time to develop. Part comes through the passage of time, part from the way you treat others and part from reciprocity.”
  2. “It’s easy to forget about the troubles of others but, if you take the time to remember, it goes a very long way.”

Time

  1. “Don’t lie, don’t steal, and always be early.”

Distractions

  1. “I have yet to encounter anyone who has achieved massive success without closing themselves off from the demands of others or forgoing pastimes.”
  2. “If you have two people of equal talent it will be the way in which they marshal their ability that will determine their eventual success.”
  3. “There’s only one way to enjoy a final and that’s to win it. Nobody ever remembers the losers.”

Failing

  1. “At some point in my life the desire and need to win outstripped my fear of failure.”
  2. “There’s some merit in getting defeated – even though I’d never want it to be a habit. Team members who are hungry for victory and take great pride in their performance will be eager to avenge defeat.”

Speaking

  1. “Whether the audience is one person or 75,000, you need to assemble your thoughts, know what you want to emphasize and just say it.”

Boss

  1. “The greatest bosses also take pride in making sure that if employees who have served them well choose to leave, they go on to greater and better things.”

Control

  1. “I just don’t believe that you can get the most out of people if they are perpetually afraid of you.”

Delegation

  1. “My job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible. That’s the difference between leadership and management”

Decision Making

  1. “When you are in the football world, and I suspect in almost every other setting, you have to make decisions with the information at your disposal, rather than what you wish you might have.”

Salesmanship

  1. “Any leader is a salesman – and he has to sell to the inside of his organization and to the outside. Anyone who aspires to be a great leader needs to excel at selling his ideas and aspirations to others.”

Compensation

  1. “Bonuses get spent. Medals are forever.”

Negotiation

  1. “If you need one person to change your destiny, then you have not built a very solid organization.”

Arriving

  1. “If you want to build a winning organization, you have to be prepared to carry on building every day. You never stop building – if you do, you stagnate.”

Confidence

  1. “It’s one thing to have confidence in your own abilities. It’s a completely different challenge to instill confidence in others.”

 

The Most Interesting Thing About Investing in Africa

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by Chuki Obiyo and Ozii ObiyoMostInterestAfrica-624x415

 

INTRODUCTION

What is the most interesting thing that you have done, seen, or heard about investing in Africa? Think about it. Better yet, this e-book gives unique insight into how others have thought about it. From executives at some of the largest companies in the world to young professionals just starting out in their new careers, the topic of investing in Africa makes for a good debate and an even better conversation.

In the course of human history, Africa has gone from the cradle of civilization to the last frontier of the global economy. Ah…Ah…Africa, the protagonist of the first and next chapter in the story of human success? To read about Africa is to learn about our shared origin, and more importantly, to decide on how we get to our shared future. Reading is an investment in time, thought, and action. This book gives you an opportunity to invest in Africa by experiencing the most interesting things others have done, seen, or heard about investing in Africa.

There are so many things to learn about investing in Africa. This book explores some of the most interesting things contributed by people from different backgrounds. Each contributor was asked to answer a series of questions about an African investment project broken down into three sections: Situation, Action, and Result. In turn, we developed our proprietary methodology to analyze each project and we refer to this methodology as the Business Idea Metric (BIM). The BIM uses a weighting scale to evaluate the labor, infrastructure, and capital requirements for an investment idea or project.

Biz-Idea-Metric-2

For the labor requirement, we look at factors such as low, medium, or high skill and assign a value of 10, 30, or 50 accordingly.

For the infrastructure requirement, we examine factors such as electricity/utilities, construction permits, property registration, transportation, and technology, and attach a value of 10 for each factor accordingly.

For the capital requirements, we consider the amount of capital needed to get the project off the ground from $0-100, $101-1000, $1001-10,000, $10,001-100,000, and over $100,000 and assign values of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 based on the given spend levels.

We have received very positive feedback on our BIM methodology and its LIC (labor, infrastructure, capital) ingredients as a unique way to not only evaluate current projects but to also help prioritize future project ideas for viability. Please see below for one of the investment projects that we profiled from our work. In this write-up, we classify each profile by the contributor’s name (so please continue to watch this space for more project profiles).

We now welcome you to enjoy the reading experience of exploring the most interesting things about investing in Africa.

★★★★★

Wasili Mfungwe, MBA
***
Wasili Mfungwe, MBA is an international market analyst and consultant with expertise in economic research, ALM, stress testing, equity research, and business intelligence.  He obtained a Bachelor’s of Social Science Degree in Economics and Sociology (Bsoc Eco) from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College and his MBA from Edinburgh Business School (Heriot-Watt University).  He has particular interest in African business development, research, and econometrics.

Investment: Restructuring a corporate loan to promote a public good
SITUATION
Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM)– the main electricity generator and distributer in Malawi had a loan with Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) to the tune of MK3 billion (R79 million). The repayment of the loan was hampering the implementation of a program to revamp Malawi’s energy sector in order to provide more reliable electricity, create better non-outsourceable jobs, and improve the lives of everyday Malawians.

ACTION
Standard Bank Malawi Limited stepped in to restructure the loan which ESCOM owed to DBSA. The DBSA loan was secured by a zero coupon note issued by Investec in favor of ESCOM with a maturity value equal to the loan principal. Standard Bank ensured that ESCOM was able to get the highest discounted value for the note which, as part of the restructuring, was being sold before its maturity in June 2019. Standard Bank also advised ESCOM on the various structuring options and negotiated with DBSA and Investec on behalf of ESCOM, discounting the promissory note through its structured sales team and using the proceeds to partially repay the loan. Through its global markets team, Standard Bank built and remitted a total of R37.5 million on behalf of ESCOM to repay the outstanding amount of the loan. Standard Bank’s Investment Banking team structured and negotiated the prepayment with DBSA without any break costs being applied.

“Public-private partnerships should become the rule, not the exception, in delivering services.”
– Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001

Public-Private

RESULT
The transaction has helped to engineer a smooth implementation of the energy sector revamp program. In addition, Standard Bank ensured that ESCOM saved R1.5 million in interest payments per month, leading to improvements in its free cash flow position. The transaction has also helped eliminate forex and interest rate risk for ESCOM.

Investment: Restructuring a loan to a corporation to promote a public good
L = 50
I = 50
C = 50
Business Idea Metric: 150

 

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Andela Alumni “Tech-Effect” on Africa’s Youth

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Andela wall art

Andela is on a mission to revolutionize Africa through technology spearheaded by Africans. This is a big challenge due to the inadequate supply of highly skilled tech talent in Africa. History informs us that successful revolutions require critical thinking, preparation, cultivation, and execution. So for Andela’s Africa tech revolution to materialize, there needs to be supply of local talent and the infrastructure to develop these talent to execute flawlessly.

Even Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is struggling with an adult literacy rate of just over 50% according to UNICEF. Although Nigeria allocates N392B ($1.9B) of the Federal budget to Education, assuming most of the money isn’t siphoned off to enrich corrupt officials, this is still disproportionately low for a country with a population size of over 170M. Moreover, (teacher) strikes at government-owned universities and colleges have become routine that many schools are forced to close for months while the students idle away. The students end up suffering the most from these strikes. And yet, these same students are supposed to be prepared to lead us into and in the future. Do you see the conundrum here?

A typical office at the Andela campus.

Some of Andela’s offices are set up like your personalized living rooms

According to a report by the UN, Africa boasts the youngest population in the world, a figure estimated at 200M aged between 15 and 24. In the same UN report titled: ‘Africa’s youth: a “ticking time bomb” or an opportunity?’ the authors point to the staggering youth unemployment rate as one of the major concerns of Economists. I don’t think you have to be an Economist to be concerned about the potential economic impact of this issue. In Nigeria alone, youth unemployment is well over 50% according to a report by McKinsey. This figure is alarming and does warrant asking if it is in fact a “ticking time bomb”. Remember Egypt?

Lunch time at the Andela campus...jollof rice, fried plantain, fried fish, and chicken was served.

Lunch time at the Andela campus (jollof rice, fried plantain, fried fish, and chicken was served that day)

Andela sees this degree of unemployment as an opportunity which is why the founders are placing big bets on Africa’s youth with their bold approach. The company’s business model, perks, and culture have been detailed in prominent publications such as Inc., Forbes, and Wired. They make for a good read. Read all of them.

Recent Andela Fellows

These fellows are taking advantage of one of the many open-work spaces

 

A cubicle free lounging room

During my last trip to Lagos earlier this month, I spent some time exploring the Andela Lagos campus with Iyinoluwa Aboyeji  Co-founder of Andela, Ebun Omoni – Director at Andela, and a group of recent fellows (Andrew, Oscar, Blessing, and Adebayo) to experience this revolution unfold firsthand.

 

 

With Ebun Omoni, Director at AndelaI left the campus feeling excited about the potential impact that current fellows could have once they leave Andela to start or join a new tech venture.

 

 

 

 

 

Andela recruits some of the brightest minds in Africa with their very selective process and puts them through an intense boot-camp that teaches a combination of computer programming and interpersonal skills before staffing these fellows on projects with clients abroad. The fellows get paid from day one of acceptance, no gimmicks. At Andela, it is much more than being just an amazing programmer, you also have to believe fully in their audacious future of Africa and take a lead role in shaping that future. Five to twenty years from now, many of these fellows will credit their time at Andela as the springboard to their successful venture. As Andela fellow’s technical expertise, business acumen, and confidence continue to accelerate, it will only be a matter of time before these fellows become tech job creators, not only for talent in Africa but talent across the world. I call this the Andela Alumni “Tech-Effect” on Africa’s youth (and the world).

With Iyi, co-founder of Andela

With Iyi, co-founder of Andela

Update as of June 16, 2016: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, and Priscilla Chan, his wife, through their joint venture (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC) invested $25M into Andela. This is just another validation that Andela is heading in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

Rooftop ping pong is one of the many perks at the campus

Rooftop ping pong is one of the many perks at the campus

Andela is hiring. Apply at  www.andela.co

Andela currently has locations in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya; with plans to expand across Africa in the near future.

Follow and join their discussions on Twitter: @andela

 




25 Tips To Review Before Driving In Lagos

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Lagos is the heartbeat of the economy in Nigeria which means life is fast there. It is not a place for the weak-minded. So, it’s no surprise that the driving condition in Lagos is a reflection of the city’s unique culture. As a driver and a passenger, the experience is scary but can be quite thrilling at the same time.  One thing is for sure, if you can successfully drive on the crazy streets and highways of Lagos, driving anywhere else will be effortless.

Night traffic in Lagos

Night traffic in Lagos

I consider myself a decent and polite driver; however, when I got behind the wheels in Lagos, I felt my driving style completely mutate into something I couldn’t recognize…but I knew I needed it to survive. Here are some tips I picked up as a driver and passenger.

    1. The lines demarcating the lanes are recommendations; at best suggestions. Actually they are opinions. It’s acceptable to ignore them. Just ignore them. If you see an opening, go for it, that’s your lane. In Lagos, you can create your own lane.
    2. The roads are so bad in many areas that the sight of good roads could make you want to accelerate. Go ahead and accelerate. Enjoy it while it last.
    3. Traffic lights are also suggestions. Red means go. Green means go. Yellow means go. Basically, just go. It’s always a pleasant surprise when a driver adheres to the traffic light.
    4. Try not to make awkwardly long eye contact with any of the street vendors unless your intention is to purchase something. By the way, you can buy just about anything from those vendors…even a new car!
    5. Signaling with your hand is more effective than using your signal light.
    6. The majority of traffic jams are caused by drivers slowing down to avoid multiple potholes on busy roads. #fixthebadroads
    7. Everyone is always in a hurry and impatient because their time is apparently more important than yours. Deal with it.
    8. When you cut someone off just stare them down as you do it. They will respect your audacity. And it will also make you feel like the “OGA ON TOP” of the road.
    9. It’s safe to assume other drivers do not have insurance. In the words of one of the taxi drivers that gave me a lift: “Wetin be insurance?”
    10. Be advised that the yellow taxi buses can stop anytime and anywhere so don’t follow too closely, unless you have brand new brake pads and comprehensive auto insurance.
    11. Expect pedestrians to cross the busy highways and freeways. Watch out for them.
    12. It doesn’t matter where you are going just know that there will be traffic.
    13. If you’re involved in a fender bender with a yellow bus taxi driver he would more than likely beg you to forgive him by lying flat on the ground. Forgive him and move on, it’s not worth the argument back and forth.
    14. Keep one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand next to the horn.
    15. Honking your horn is part of the driving culture in Lagos. It’s just a convenient way to let other drivers know that you do not trust their decision-making skills.
    16. The only person to trust on the road is you. Remind other drivers and pedestrians you don’t trust them by honking your horn loud and proud.
    17. Expect to get into screaming battles with pedestrians trying to cross the busy roads. Be careful because they may put juju on you.
    18. If you have any paraphernalia related to the Nigerian Police, Army, Air Force, or Military, then make sure it is displayed visibly for others to see. It will help you bypass those random police checkpoints.
    19. There is nothing random about a random check by the police. The police officers are skilled at sizing you up as you pull up. If you do get pulled over, make sure you have some lose cash (you know why) or a lot of time to spend arguing back and forth with them about random things like showing your permit for tinted windows.
    20. Non-injury accidents are taken care of at the scene of the accident. In essence, there is no veering off the road. Both drivers would more than likely step out of their vehicles and engage in a screaming match in the middle of traffic.
    21. Okada drivers always feel they have the right of way even when it’s obvious they don’t.
    22. Always lock your doors and wind up your windows as you drive, especially when stuck in stop-and-go traffic at night.
    23. One-ways are more like two or three ways. If the road can fit three cars why restrict it to just one car when three cars can go multiple directions? The unapologetic perpetrators are the Okada and Keke drivers.
    24. Okadas are like water. They find voids in traffic, unassigned lanes, sidewalks, and just flow through. Watch out for them.
    25. Many drivers liter. Watch out for trash flying out of vehicles in front of you.

 


An Okada driver transporting 2 passengers on a cloudy day in Lagos

An Okada driver transporting 2 passengers on a cloudy day in Lagos

What other tips would you add to the list above?

3 Months is a “Short-Long” Time

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My heart is heavy with mixed emotions. I can’t believe three months have come and gone by so fast. I remember when I arrived in Joburg three months ago and thought three months was such a long time, only to get to the end and realize it’s such a short time. Basically, it’s a “short-long” time.

Deep thinking at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, SA

Deep thinking at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

Living and working in South Africa for the past three months has been one of the best experiences of my life. From meeting with senior executives at South Africa’s biggest companies, to writing case studies till the wee morning hours, to facilitating in front of some of the brightest professionals in Kenya, to tracking lion prides on safari trips, to driving along the coast in Cape Town, to petting cheetahs, to jamming house music at some of the liveliest clubs in Jozi, to dancing in restaurants in Nairobi and the beaches in Maputo…so many special memories.  This is one of those experiences that I will continue to draw inspiration from, years from now.

As I reflect on the many lasting and memorable moments, my heart is filled with joy, thanks and satisfaction. In just three months, colleagues have become close friends; handshakes have turned into strategic partnerships; ideas have turned into workshops; and ‘hellos’ have turned into ‘you will be missed dearly’.

Chilling with a Cheetah at a Farm in Pretoria

Chilling with a Cheetah at a Farm in Pretoria

Special thanks and a big HOWZIT! to the BTS Africa team, you all were integral in making this experience what it is. You welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home. This is not goodbye but see you all soon.

I highly encourage every young professional to do a rotation program in Africa. If the company you work for currently do not offer it, create it and volunteer to be part of the pilot program.

Next stop: Lagos, Nigeria! #lasgidi

Next next stop: San Francisco, California.

I can’t wait to reunite with family, friends, co-workers, and my one.

Dancing Down Memory Lane at Freshlyground’s Concert

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Freshlyground was one of the many talented African bands that I really enjoyed sharing with the world during my college years as the host of African Extravaganza, the premier African radio show at the University of Texas at Austin, on KVRX 91.7 FM. The first song I heard from them was titled “Doo Be Doo” and I was immediately hooked to their unique sound and the lead singer’s voice. Their music is an experience that takes you on a journey from the rough streets of Soweto to the fancy orchestra halls in Cape Town. It’s very difficult to find a South African who doesn’t enjoy or can relate to their music. The reason being they bring more than great tunes to the airwaves, they also represent the evolved history of South Africa. During the South Africa 2010 world cup, they teamed up with Shakira to sing the very popular world cup theme song, “This Time for Africa“. The lead singer, Zolani, has such a unique and sophisticated voice that can quickly get you to dance without care in one minute, and in the next minute, make you cry as you slow dance with your love.

When I was getting ready to move to South Africa from the US, I made a wish list of things I would like to accomplish during my three months in Joburg (aka Johannesburg lol) and it should be of no surprise that going to a Freshlyground concert was one of the top things on the list. On August 30th 2015, I was fortunate to check it off my list.

I knew they would perform most of their newer songs. But as I waited for them to get on stage at Carnival City, I hoped they would perform “Doo Be Doo” so I could dance down memory lane. When the song finally came on, I was elated. The live performance of the song quickly turned into a party on stage as you can see from the video above. If you’re passionate about music, then you know that a true indication of a great band is their live performance. Freshlyground owned the stage and received a dancing ovation from the audience throughout their set.

IMG_3978

I highly recommend their music and if you can, go to their concerts; you will not be disappointed. Their music is available on all the popular music platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora; look them up and enjoy the party.