Entre-Leader Anselm Okolo:

Entre-Leader Anselm Okolo:

Anselm Okolo is a media entrepreneur. He is the founder of 7am News Extra – an online news platform, and Journalism.com Center – a journalism consultancy outfit. He has a basket full of ideas that he feels he must accomplish, and describes himself as a journalist, a journalist trainer and a mentor. Starting up . . . It was difficult. It happened at the time when it looked like there was nothing else for me to do. I had circulated around the media space long enough, I was fortunate to have started journalism at the time serious practice was still going on. There were a lot of people to mentor you; people to learn from. And God also assisted me in the sense that I passed through the best journalism hands in the country: under the News watch and Tell Magazine stables. In terms of practice, I had a lot of people to look up to and desired to be like them. When that finished, I left core journalism to the journalism development. I joined a USAID funded implementation partner called Inter News Network. Inter News Network is a global news development and media organization development in the world. It operates in over 50 countries, encouraging open press, the practice of humanitarian journalism and civic journalism, and encourages the practice of journalism where objectivity, balance, fairness and then people is the center of practice. We have trained over 150 journalists in the country within a period of five years, and at the end of the project, I thought about replicating what Inter News was doing. So I set up the Journalism.com Center, under which all of our journalism consultancy services are done. We have been involved in journalism intervention training for organizations in Nigeria. Confronting the ‘giants’ . . . In a country where policy summersaults are an everyday thing, it is a herculean task. When we started publishing 7am News Extra, we wanted to do something unique. We were not out there to pursue or compete with anybody because we knew that what we were going to do was completely unique. We were publishing in Abuja weekly, circulating on Mondays, something difficult to fathom as most weeklies would either circulate on Saturdays or Sundays, but we wanted everybody to realize that we were out for serious business. We were reporting the unreported parts of Abuja. Every week, we had stories the residents of Abuja didn’t even know of. Whenever we got to the newsstands, it was always with a big bang. We wrote some revealing things about the satellite towns, so we had our target audience waiting for us every Monday. The basic challenge we faced was in the cost of printing. I believe that journalists should be able to fund media outlets. I didn’t think to go meet any politician to fund us, we got our funds internally. The cost of printing was colossal, and another challenge was the quality of professionals. For you to get stories properly sourced and written, you need to have people with a knack for news. They did their best but were not up to the quality we needed. Standing out . . . I think outside the box. Our focus was direct: we didn’t leave our cover pages to politics. Sometimes, some of the stories you will call small were what graced our cover page because they touched lives and had a direct impact on the people we talked about. When we did the story on what we called The Abuja Black Spots, it was so interesting that even the commissioner of police called to know where we got our insights. Areas where residents were advised not to be at certain hours of the day because of the level of criminal activities going on around those spots were mentioned. Those were the kind of stories we published, not necessarily that President Buhari has flown to Korea, why should it be? We give that kind of story treatment inside the newspaper. Human interest was our strong point. Projecting into the future . . . I see myself more in the area of radio and television production. That’s one area we have not really conquered. Our printing press is running at half-mast, but we are glad to say that our radio studio is coming on. In Nigeria, the quality of editing and scripting remains a major concern. We need to go into that area to show the right example; how productions should be edited, why pictures should come well ahead of the audio, why you don’t need all of these razzmatazz on the screen. We will do full-blown documentaries for companies, we will record mile-stone moments. Many organizations don’t do that, so we want to introduce it to them. We will incorporate training in our institute that is mutedly. Final words . . . Take time and get trained. That you have a degree in mass communication, English, Theatre arts, Mathematics, Medicine or Law does not give you the preparation to be a good journalist. Journalism is not for the faint-hearted, it is not for the lazy, not for the person who reads one book in a year. A journalist forays for knowledge. Hands on skill are things you don’t learn in school. Our schools do not have the system and knowledge to provide that. You must deliberately go seek for appropriate training. When you are not properly trained, you will stumble a lot. Search for mentors and read. Be ready to work hard. The business of media is still open in Nigeria. We need to have monster organizations. An organization that can have 12 titles that are mean, in terms or marketing strengths. We need to get Nigerians back to reading newspapers and magazines. I don’t believe in the small lakes and big fishes, I believe in the ocean with sharks. While the shark is doing its own, the tilapia is carving its own niche.
Change Is Inevitable, Respond To It.

Change Is Inevitable, Respond To It.

By Offiong Ita Funke Susan Medun is the director and founder of management consulting and business support organization Leap World Limited, an organization that is helping Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) take their businesses to the next level. She takes delight in ensuring that SMEs get the right access to the market and reach their desired target. Starting out... I do not think that starting out takes rocket science. Also, it is not as if you can just sit comfortably in your house and hope that things fall into place. Starting out is about you putting your mind to it. It’s been a whole lot of work trying to even understand how entrepreneurs work; it is completely different from the daily, nine-to-five job, where you don’t have to worry about many things. Starting, for me, was a bit of sitting and putting things together. It’s not something comfortable, but it could be rewarding if you put your mind to it. To buttress that, I would like to borrow a quote from the founder of the Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton, who said, “I learnt that you don’t get anywhere by sitting comfortably in a chair.” I stepped out and did something different. Challenges... I would not want to generalize – the way a number of people do – by saying that doing business in Nigeria is like this or that, though, to be candid, there are a number of things one has to face while doing business in Nigeria. Infrastructure, for one, poses a huge challenge. Simply put, There are different challenges in different areas. In HR, which is my area of specialty, one of the challenges is finding people to key into your vision; knowing that you look small today, but still back you, because they know that you have a vision. Getting them to see and work with you can be a major challenge. Setting up structures and processes was another challenge, considering that I am a process and structure person. So, I do all I can to encourage setting up structures from day one. It might look small today, but if you want to be big, you have to behave like it. During the American presidential elections campaign debate, Hilary Clinton was criticized by her opponent, Donald Trump and she replied, “He just criticized me for preparing for this debate. You know what else I prepared for? It is being president.” So, for me, it was telling myself that I have to prepare to be big, even though I am starting small. Putting structures in place was something I Wanted to do, but it came at a huge price, because as a small business owner, as soon as you open your door, you have various business agencies coming at you like enemies. That was a headache for me. It took my time, but it was worth the sacrifice. Setting up processes is the part where you draw up your business plan and all. Getting The regulatory bodies to know that I was just starting out but was ready to be compliant was a lot of stress. Even when you show them that you have the documents signifying compliance, they will query this and that. It’s really absurd! I had to tell one of them (I won’t mention the name of the agency) that I voluntarily registered and not even the law says that I must do what I was being asked to do, going by the size of my staff. But, because I was thinking big and wanted to put my structures straight, I gave them my audited account, which most startups don’t give from day one, even to regulatory bodies. Yet, it did not make them stop doubting my sincerity. Worse, they would not let you have your certificate of compliance, they won’t visit you, and all they do is sit and tell you to ‘come today’, ‘come tomorrow’. That was a big headache. Getting finance was another thing entirely. I usually say money should not be your headache. Have a vision, know what you want to do and be able to pitch what you want to do to people that will fund it. So, you need to show that you have capacity. I won’t sweep under the carpet the fact that finances was a problem, as there were some things I would have loved to put in place, even from day one, but was unable to, due to a lack of funds. You have to Juggle what you have, taking one step at a time. Even though I would have loved to go two steps, I just took the steps gradually. I wanted to be big and I wanted strategic alliances, so one of the things I did was to seek alliances beyond the shores of my base in the global market, to align with institutions and bodies already playing big. The challenge, I thought to myself, would be getting them to see me, considering I didn’t have the track record. That took a lot of fight and conviction. As for access to the market, I had to start by doing pro bono work, because people wanted to see what I could Do before patronizing me and that helped me build my brand presence. Standing out... I would say that one of the things that have helped me stand out is personal conviction. I continuously tell myself that it won’t be rosy, so I work on my mindset. This I do constantly, especially when I am having low moments. I tell myself that it is not going to be comfortable; not that I should not get my reward, but that’s also part of the business. I try to have a positive disposition, even when I feel like giving up. Another thing that has helped me is perpetually looking for relationships that will help me. It was a strategy I applied from day one. It has not been easy, but it has helped me. I seek to improve myself always and in the little time I have spent in the business, I have attended many international programmers and have many people I shadow. So, looking at what I can do differently has helped. Mentoring and coaching have been helpful. I read about people, follow what they do and I’m constantly looking for my 50,000 coaches and mentors, in order to share my challenges and get feedback. Another thing that has helped me stand out is my network, the people around me. I try to choose the people I associate with carefully; people that can help me accomplish my dreams and focus on important stuff. Vision for Leap World... When crafting Leap World, my vision was to take a leap, not just to stay small. I’m looking at a company with high growth. Also, I’m looking at something that is global, something that will be the ‘world part’ of our business. The name signifies a high-growth global company and that’s where I see myself. A step I have taken in that direction is having an alliance outside of here, like a working relationship and it is clearly thought out. That is what I’ve been doing. So, I see myself going beyond here, doing things that complement our services and also, growing our line of business from just HR and management consulting into assessment, capacity building and business support. We consult for the Bank of Industry (BoI) and at the National level, we are on a growth employment project funded by the World Bank. There are also some strategic schools we have aligned with here and we operate beyond Nigeria. In five years, I see myself living the dream of the name Leap World, going global – going beyond the shores of Nigeria and building a high capacity company and impacting lives. It is not just about money. I try to reflect that in my corporate social responsibility routine yearly. As I round up each year, whether I’ve made a lot of money or not, I must give back to my community. Also, I ensure my employees grow individually by training and retraining them, not minding that they will leave me someday. I left somewhere also, but if it is possible that I can reap from what I have developed, it will be a plus for me. Word for start-ups... From my experience as a business support consultant, money is important, no doubt, but you don’t start by looking for money. You have to meet a need. If you meet a need, people will buy it. You might not make a lot of money from day one. The challenge is that people want to run before they crawl. I ask, have you seen a child that wants to run without first crawling? That’s absurd. In starting out, learn from others. Get a paying job and learn. Volunteer as an intern. Get mentors and read their biographies. See how they survived in the past. Without capacity you cannot manage money. Learn from people. Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest specie that survives nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” Change is inevitable. Respond to change and move with it. If you don’t, you might die.
CHANGE IS  INEVITABLE,  RESPOND TO IT – FUNKE MEDUN

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, RESPOND TO IT – FUNKE MEDUN

Funke Susan Medun is the director and founder of management consulting and business support organisation Leap World Limited, an organisation that is helping Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) take their businesses to the next level. She takes delight in ensuring that SMEs get the right access to the market and reach their desired target. Starting out... I do not think that starting out takes rocket science. Also, it is not as if you can just sit comfortably in your house and hope that things fall into place. Starting out is about you putting your mind to it. It’s been a whole lot of work trying to even understand how entrepreneurs work; it is completely different from the daily, nine-to-five job, where you don’t have to worry about many things. Starting, for me, was a bit of sitting and putting things together. It’s not something comfortable, but it could be rewarding if you put your mind to it. To buttress that, I would like to borrow a quote from the founder of the Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton, who said, “I learnt that you don’t get anywhere by sitting comfortably in a chair.” I stepped out and did something different. Challenges... I would not want to generalise – the way a number of people do – by saying that doing business in Nigeria is like this or that, though, to be candid, there are a number of things one has to face while doing business in Nigeria. Infrastructure, for one, poses a huge challenge. Simply put there are different challenges in different areas. In HR, which is my area of specialty, one of the challenges is finding people to key into your vision; knowing that you look small today, but still back you, because they know that you have a vision. Getting them to see and work with you can be a major challenge. Setting up structures and processes was another challenge, considering that I am a process and structure person. So, I do all I can to encourage setting up structures from day one. It might look small today, but if you want to be big, you have to behave like it. During the American presidential elections campaign debate, Hilary Clinton was criticised by her opponent, Donald Trump and she replied, “He just criticised me for preparing for this debate. You know what else I prepared for? It is being president.” So, for me, it was telling myself that I have to prepare to be big, even though I am starting small. Putting structures in place was something I wanted to do, but it came at a huge price, because as a small business owner, as soon as you open your door, you have various business agencies coming at you like enemies. That was a headache for me. It took my time, but it was worth the sacrifice. Setting up processes is the part where you draw up your business plan and all. Getting the regulatory bodies to know that I was just starting out but was ready to be compliant was a lot of stress. Even when you show them that you have the documents signifying compliance, they will query this and that. It’s really absurd! I had to tell one of them (I won’t mention the name of the agency) that I voluntarily registered and not even the law says that I must do what I was being asked to do, going by the size of my staff. But, because I was thinking big and wanted to put my structures straight, I gave them my audited account, which most start-ups don’t give from day one, even to regulatory bodies. Yet, it did not make them stop doubting my sincerity. Worse, they would not let you have your certificate of compliance, they won’t visit you, and all they do is sit and tell you to ‘come today’, ‘come tomorrow’. That was a big headache. Getting finance was another thing entirely. I usually say money should not be your headache. Have a vision, know what you want to do and be able to pitch what you want to do to people that will fund it. So, you need to show that you have capacity. I won’t sweep under the carpet the fact that finances was a problem, as there were some things I would have loved to put in place, even from day one, but was unable to, due to a lack of funds. You have to juggle what you have, taking one step at a time. Even though I would have loved to go two steps, I just took the steps gradually. I wanted to be big and I wanted strategic alliances, so one of the things I did was to seek alliances beyond the shores of my base in the global market, to align with institutions and bodies already playing big. The challenge, I thought to myself, would be getting them to see me, considering I didn’t have the track record. That took a lot of fight and conviction. As for access to the market, I had to start by doing pro bono work, because people wanted to see what I could do before patronising me and that helped me build my brand presence. Standing out... I would say that one of the things that have helped me stand out is personal conviction. I continuously tell myself that it won’t be rosy, so I work on my mindset. This I do constantly, especially when I am having low moments. I tell myself that it is not going to be comfortable; not that I should not get my reward, but that’s also part of the business. I try to have a positive disposition, even when I feel like giving up. Another thing that has helped me is perpetually looking for relationships that will help me. It was a strategy I applied from day one. It has not been easy, but it has helped me. I seek to improve myself always and in the little time I have spent in the business, I have attended many international programmes and have many people I shadow. So, looking at what I can do differently has helped. Mentoring and coaching have been helpful. I read about people, follow what they do and I’m constantly looking for my 50,000 coaches and mentors, in order to share my challenges and get feedback. Another thing that has helped me stand out is my network, the people around me. I try to choose the people I associate with carefully; people that can help me accomplish my dreams and focus on important stuff. Vision for Leap World... When crafting Leap World, my vision was to take a leap, not just to stay small. I’m looking at a company with high growth. Also, I’m looking at something that is global, something that will be the ‘world part’ of our business. The name signifies a high-growth global company and that’s where I see myself. A step I have taken in that direction is having an alliance outside of here, like a working relationship and it is clearly thought out. That is what I’ve been doing. So, I see myself going beyond here, doing things that complement our services and also, growing our line of business from just HR and management consulting into assessment, capacity building and business support. We consult for the Bank of Industry (BoI) and at the national level, we are on a growth employment project funded by the World Bank. There are also some strategic schools we have aligned with here and we operate beyond Nigeria. In five years, I see myself living the dream of the name Leap World, going global – going beyond the shores of Nigeria and building a high capacity company and impacting lives. It is not just about money. I try to reflect that in my corporate social responsibility routine yearly. As I round up each year, whether I’ve made a lot of money or not, I must give back to my community. Also, I ensure my employees grow individually by training and retraining them, not minding that they will leave me someday. I left somewhere also, but if it is possible that I can reap from what I have developed, it will be a plus for me. Word for start-ups... From my experience as a business support consultant, money is important, no doubt, but you don’t start by looking for money. You have to meet a need. If you meet a need, people will buy it. You might not make a lot of money from day one. The challenge is that people want to run before they crawl. I ask, have you seen a child that wants to run without first crawling? That’s absurd. In starting out, learn from others. Get a paying job and learn. Volunteer as an intern. Get mentors and read their biographies. See how they survived in the past. Without capacity you cannot manage money. Learn from people. Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest specie that survives nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.” Change is inevitable. Respond to change and move with it. If you don’t, you might die. Written By; Offiong Ita
Zainab Ibrahim: Depopulating Nigeria’s Labour Market, One Job At A Time

Zainab Ibrahim: Depopulating Nigeria’s Labour Market, One Job At A Time

The MD/CEO of House of Maya Concepts, Zainab Ibrahim, delved into fashion accidentally – no interest, no push. All she did was follow her parent’s lead and brush up her sewing skills. Now, the 23-year-old graduate of computer science is an employer of labour. Starting up… It was stressful at first. I didn’t have any plan of getting into fashion, because I was totally fixated on working in a bank. After graduation in 2014, seeing that I was already learning how to sew and I was getting impatient as a result of the delay in processing our NYSC papers, my parents urged me to set up a fashion house, because of my interest in fabrics.   Challenges… Citing my shop in the right place was a major challenge. Most of the shops I saw were in the interior and their sizes were not good enough for me. After much persistence, I got somewhere. I didn’t know of any good tailor, besides my teacher and mentor; she was the only person I knew who could help me deliver the kind of clothes I wanted. So, with her assistance, we were able to get some great hands. The next hurdle was getting clients to come around. The first six months were so tough that, in a month we could not boast of sewing 10 dresses. That couldn’t pay our utility bills, let alone pay staff salaries. Somehow, we got through all of that and are bursting forth on every side.   Standing out… I will like to say that excellence has made us stand out. We pay great attention to details, ensuring that any client who patronises us doesn’t have a bad experience. Out of every 10 dresses we make, nine are perfect. When I mean perfect, we don’t have the issue of a client coming back to complain about one thing or the other. That, I will say, has earned us the trust of customers. One sad thing about tailors in Zaria is their inability to pay attention to details. They make great clothes, but the finishing is poor; maybe, because they are too lazy to trim them. I had some awful experiences with some of them, so I know what I am saying. I could not wear a particular dress for more than two months. If I add a little weight, I have to dump the cloth, because they trim away all the extra and there is nothing to expand. As a result, throughout my days in the university, I just wore English dresses – at least, I could wear them for the next two years. I thought it was a gap to fill and I think we are not doing badly.   The Next Step... In the years ahead, we should have expanded our reach to the major cities in Nigeria and, possibly, West Africa. The future is very bright, because people will always wear cloths, irrespective of the state of the economy. There will always be one function or the other that will warrant you making new dresses. So, for the clothing need of man, we will always fill in the gap.   Words for aspiring entrepreneurs… It is safer to be an employer of labour than an employee. With the way the world is going, there are more graduates than the jobs available. If the youths pick up some trade after or before they finish school, it will help them when they settle down in life. I have a youth corps member who is learning under me. She comes around three times a week and I’m positive, that by the time she rounds up her service, she would have learnt enough to be an entrepreneur and, eventually, become an employer of labour.
Glory Udom: Leveraging on #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods

Glory Udom: Leveraging on #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods

Glory Udom: Leveraging on #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods Glory Udom, a graduate of Microbiology from the University of Uyo, decided to create a job for herself rather than wait to be employed. She started making jewelries and, today, Dache Pearls, her brand name, has become a household name in the South-South region of Nigeria where she resides. Starting up… The day you make up your mind to start a business is the day you begin a journey of faith. You don’t get to see what happens the next day and the day after, but you get to think it, work at it and pray it forward. Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as some people think. If it was, we would have a high number of job opportunities created by entrepreneurs. Starting is easy to say but maintaining focus and engaging the right people needed, is tough. Everyone wants to be paid for a service and, as a start-up, your budget is really nothing when strategies of how to raise working capital are not in place. Sometimes, the strategies are right but reality fails you. That is how the system is and, that is why, above all strategies, I had to fall back on God, because the grace I’ve enjoyed is beyond my strategies. I had the passion to do beads since 2004, but decided to go professional in 2014. So, officially, Dache Pearls came aboard in 2014. I was interested in doing something different, so, I decided, that if I must carve a niche for myself, I had to get it right. So far, this has helped me stand out from the crowd. Also, I turned down an opportunity to work in the Civil Service, so as to keep up with my passion and talent. My start was actually a transition. My hobby became my passion, my passion became a possibility for me to earn from the services rendered and products produced.   Challenges… For most start-ups, capital is always the problem. In my case, though, it was different. All I needed was clients. I started with making ‘custom orders’ and making beads for myself, family members and close friends that believed in me. Family and friends brought clients who wanted the beads, after seeing the ones I’d made for them. I had to continue making ‘custom orders’ and bespoke jewelry. Initially, it looked as if there were clients were all everywhere, but, when you check the number of school leavers who are not gainfully employed, the level of creativity increases, as ends must be met. Everybody is doing something. Like any other entrepreneur, another challenge was getting funds for projects aimed at entering new markets. The downward trend in the economy seems to be having a hold on everybody, so it was not too easy, but, with determination and perseverance I was able to stay afloat. The industry is nearly saturated, therefore, the challenges are enormous. Before you finish negotiating with a client, two or more people are queuing behind you to talk to him about the same thing. All you have to do is give good prices and deliver a unique product.   Standing out… I focused on projects that needed low funding but had high impact, using profits to re-invest in the company. I decided to be my own marketer by adorning myself with the beads I made. I also made for friends and close relatives. This helped in creating awareness for my products. It served as a form of advertisement. We then focused on products that didn’t require high funding but high impacts, using profits to re-invest in the company. Secondly, making the beads to order was another strategy. I utilised social media to also help me reach out to clients nationwide. This made my clientele base increase. So far, business has been profitable. It’s great fun to do what you have passion for, plus the fact that I can work all day without feeling stressed. Last year, I got an award from Kardynal Style Selection as the most creative accessories designer fpr the year  2014. So far, I have trained over 100 persons on the art. These trainees are issued with certificates. They are like disciples, sent into the world to make beads.   Projecting into the future... I see Dache Pearls having high market shares within and outside Nigeria. Our plans are short and long term, so we are creating projects to make jewelry easier to make, buy and wear via our online store which would be launched soon. The future holds great things for Dache Pearls and everyone who is a positive-thinker. We believe that in the next five years we would have penetrated into all the nooks and crannies of Southern Nigeria and beyond. We are not grandstanding. Seeing where we are coming from and how far we have gotten, the sky will be our base. We see Dache Pearls having high market shares within and outside the shores of Nigeria.   Words for aspiring entrepreneurs… Read, strategise and leverage your goals with workable projects. Target local investors, who have interest in your kind of business. It’s an opportunity to leverage on the Federal Government’s #BuyMadeInNigeriaGoods. Everybody seems to be looking inwards. This way, I’m certain over dependency on the government will reduce. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.