Olamide Ayeni-Babajide: Turning wastes into furniture

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When was the last time you dumped your car tyres into drainages? If you did that in the past, think twice now. Apart from its negative environmental impact, you can keep the tyres at home and make money from them, thanks to Olamide Ayeni-Babajide, chief executive officer of Pearl Recycling, a sustainable social enterprise that transforms solid wastes, especially tyres, into sustainable, eco-friendly products for everyday use. Pearl Recycling started in 2012, though it took off fully in 2016. Olamide caught the vision while on a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

She walked into a decor store and bought some products, only to realise later that they were made from wastes.

“I was really sad when I discovered that the decor products were made from wastes,” she tells Start-Up Digest.

“I was still doing my 8 to 5 job, but trying my hands on some many creative things on weekends. But that realisation prompted me to start,” she says.

“You can imagine the amount of money I spent to bring them in. But I saw the opportunity and the numbers. We are almost 200 million people. I saw these raw materials every day and it was more like a motivation. But what validated the motivation was that when we started, we had a few people that patronised, but immediately we introduced the furniture, it was just like everyone was waiting to buy some cheaper furniture,” she says.

She explains that it was the patronage that confirmed her vision.

“The market moved us so fast and the support we got from international organisations actually moved us to believe that people see our vision,” she explains.

Olamide has a background in Computer Engineering. Before she started Pearl Recycling, she had worked for more than 10 … Read More...

Meet Chy Onwuka, banker turned designer

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In 2017, Chy Onwuka quit her banking job to start Fabrics.NG, a textile start-up focused on making quality fabrics accessible to businesses and creative individuals.

Chy was inspired to establish her business owing to constant frustration experienced when shopping for fabrics.

“As a young female professional, the idea came after being constantly frustrated whenever I had to shop for fabrics or the popular ‘asoebi’,” she said.

“It was unbelievable that for a fashion conscious nation such as Nigeria, there is no organised infrastructure for fabric sourcing and distribution. America alone has hundreds of structured online fabric stores,” she says.

She explains that markets for shopping fabrics in the country are disorganised with quality inconsistency and pricing issues biggest challenges.

To change the situation for others, she established Fabrics.NG in 2017 to design a structured online fabric marketplace where all types of fabrics would be sold.

“Basically, Fabrics.NG is an ‘Amazon’ for fabrics. The idea is that within five minutes, you can find and order the fabric you need,” she says.

“We have 1000+ fabrics and up to 100 new fabric designs uploaded weekly. Fabric sourcing is now truly efficient and delivery is available worldwide,” she says.

The banker-turned-entrepreneur started her business small from personal savings, from family and friends.

The business has grown since starting and has continued to grow its return on equity consistently. “Our growth and performance indicators are positive. Though we don’t currently share our figures publicly, we have done double digits in asset turnover ratio and consistently grown our return on equity,” she says.

Chy tells Start-Up-Digest that Fabrics.NG emerged winner of the 2019 African Women in Technology Pitch and is a recipient of the 2018 She Leads Africa Accelerator programme.

The business currently has over four full time employees. “Our … Read More...

Eko innovation center commits to mentor, fund commercially viable tech-driven start-ups

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Eko Innovation center founder, Victor Gbenga Afolabi says the center is committed to incubate, accelerate, mentor and fund innovation and technologically driven start-ups.

He said the center was set up to see how technology can be used to scale up Lagos State and Nigeria’s economy, adding that only start-up that has commercial viability, strong social impact and footprint with a minimum thresh hold of 10 million people will be considered for admission.
Afolabi while speaking at an evening of ‘Conversations on Moral leadership’ organised by the center in Lagos said we want to through this center solve many of the gaps in this eco-system around mentoring and funding.

“We have business clinics, faculties that are going to spend a minimum of 18 months and three years with the cohorts that come in here teaching and providing shared services from tax management, procurement, admin and finance”.

“We want to ensure that companies that come into the incubation, have more chances of survival because of the strong hand holding mentorship role that will be provided for them. The center is all about from mentor to commercialisation”, he said.

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder/CEO, Acumen, a non-profit global venture capital fund whose goal is to use entrepreneurial approaches to address global poverty while speaking said the establishment of the Eko innovation center demonstrates a climb of social entrepreneurs who wants to get serious and solve the problems in the world.

She pointed out that the founder of centre represents the kind of role models that Nigeria need for the kind of inclusive capitalism inspiring entrepreneurs are all yearning for.

On the organisation of the event, Afolabi observes that leadership and morality to a large extent has impacted people and start-ups ability to attract patient capital.

According to him, “The lack of … Read More...

How Opara uses AI, blackchain tech to provide quality drugs

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Chibuzo Opara is the co-founder of DrugStoc, a  multi-channel, cloud-based platform with over 7,000 high-quality drugs. In this interview with Odinaka Anudu and Maurice Joseph Ogu at the Hague, the Netherlands, the entrepreneur shares some success stories.

What problem did you set out to solve with DrugStoc?

What we are solving is the fragmented supply chain market: counterfeiting, in-transparent pricing, poor access to credit, and all the issues. When patients go to hospitals, there are no drugs, and the drugs available are fake. So, what we do is to work with the providers to bring them all the good products. It is a very simply solution. You go on our platform, place an order and within 24 hours, we supply you with the products. Currently, we work with over 800 pharmacies and with the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, with over 2000 registered members.

So, you work with manufacturers?

Yes, we work with all the big manufacturers. They have their products on our platforms. Whenever you get your product from our platform, you know that it is not counterfeit. That is the first thing.

Do you do any kind of due diligence to ensure that drugs on your platform meet the expected standards?

Yes, our platform is actually ISO certified. We are ISO 9001-2015- certified for quality management services. Whenever you come on our platform, all the processes are consistent. At DrugStoc, one of our biggest things is how to ensure that we empower the healthcare provider to provide the best healthcare services.

Providing services in Nigeria is very tough in any industry. So, you do not want the healthcare provider to be bothering themselves about how to access the supply chain. As you know, the supply chain is very fragmented.

What … Read More...

Facebook, MainOne partner StartupSouth to host Uyo entrepreneurship conference

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Social media giant, Facebook, and West Africa’s largest cable data provider, MainOne, are among the top tech companies that have partnered with StartupSouth to host the fifth edition of the Uyo entrepreneurship conference.

“Over the past five years, we have worked hard to make the #StartupSouth Conference a driver of conversation that will boost economic growth in the region leveraging technology,” Uche Aniche, founder of StartupSouth, said in a statement made available to BusinessDay.

“This edition promises to see lots of improvements with participation from more diverse stakeholders. The team is excited at the level of support #StartupSouth5 Uyo is receiving from stakeholders across the regions and Nigeria and we cannot wait to welcome participants to the best edition yet,” Aniche said.

He stated that the major highlight of the conference is the participation of at least four governors from the South-South region, adding that there will be a pitch session for start-ups to win grant to scale. He noted that the pitch session has seen past winners raise over $400,000 in investment capital in the last four editions.

He explained that the key focus of the conference will be on deepening broadband penetration and access.

Also, MainOne, one of the major partners of the conference, described the event as a critical tool for the diversification of the Nigerian economy, especially the region which is over-reliant on crude oil.

“MainOne’s support for the start-up business community in the South-South/South-East of Nigeria is predicated on its belief that start-ups and tech will be the engine for the economic development of Nigeria,” Funke Opeke, chief executive officer, MainOne said in the statement.

“As MainOne expands the reach of its services beyond our landing point in Lagos, we recognise the potential of new ecosystems such as #StartupSouth in … Read More...