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The lady boss, Ink Eze, is steadily rising to the top and we totally love it. She was recently featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 2018 list. How proud of her can we get?


We’re pretty sure you know about her, but let’s still tell you a little more. Ink Eze is the Founder of Aso Ebi Bella, an online community connecting traditional fashion enthusiasts with SMEs in the fashion, beauty and wedding industry primarily in Nigeria with growing interests across Africa and beyond.


Her platform, AsoEbiBella.com,a fashion tech startup boasts of over 17 million organic weekly impressions, 1.5 million followers across social media,and over 600,000 page views in the last 11 months. The company has delivered campaigns and collaborated with Nigerian and international brands including Orijin, Renaissance (now Radisson Blu Hotel) and Unilever’s Sunlight detergent.


Ink Eze has always been a hard and smart worker and we can see that it is really paying off for her. What more can we say, except a big congratulations to her.


 


Culled from Aso Ebi Bella

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We love our African stories and we proudly bring you the story whenever our African ladies get the global recognition for their hard work. One of them is the awesome Kene Rapu – The Founder of Slippers By Kene. She started ‘Slippers by Kene’, in 2011, as an initiative to promote the development of the local (Nigerian) industry, by using locally sourced materials and workmanship, to provide bespoke handcrafted slippers and sandals. They call themselves the number one Nigerian footwear brand, championing local production.


How did she begin her empire?


“I have always loved fashion, my first-ever internship at the age of 13 was in a hat showroom. From then on, I always managed to squeeze in an internship whenever I could. From working with magazines to working backstage at fashion shows to professional modelling; fashion has always been my passion! Why slippers? Being tall, I’m always on the lookout for nice, affordable, good-quality flats. SlippersbyKene started from me designing a pair of slippers for myself. I wanted something interesting that wasn’t in the stores, and that was incorporated into the popular African fabric – Ankara. I had them made, wore them out and everyone loved them. Family and friends placed orders, the word spread.”


We are not only super proud of Kene Rapu, we are also inspired by her.

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Oyinlola Adekogbe is the founder of Jedi & Co LTD, a fashion accessory and clothing store. They also specialize in customized bridal accessories. She shares how she started her business with Woman.NG


FROM HAVING AN IDEA TO STARTING YOUR BUSINESS, SHARE YOUR JOURNEY WITH US


My business started out as a co-incidence. I had spent all my monthly allowance to buy shoes and I had to sell at least a pair to survive in school. Then it became a hobby as I found myself enjoying it, so I didn’t have any major ideas, but with time when I started getting feedback from clients, I started to see their pain points and then was consumed with creating products to meet their needs.


WHY DO YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO? THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BUSINESSES YOU COULD HAVE EXPLORED, WHY THIS?


I just always loved shoes and regal, royal bridal gowns like every little girl does, and I loved sketching these dresses in my spare time, so it was natural for me.


AT WHAT POINT DID YOU KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT THAT THIS IS GOING TO WORK?


I wasn’t sure how quickly it would all work out, but I knew that I wouldn’t give up until it did.


HOW DID YOU RAISE THE CAPITAL TO START YOUR BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HIGH COST OF RUNNING BUSINESSES IN NIGERIA?


I started my business with #15,000 allowance while in school, then at some point, I sold my car to get more capital. I also have a 9 to 5, so I constantly save personal funds for growth and expansion of my business. My mum has also been very helpful as she has given me loans and she never asks for pay back.


HOW SOON DID YOU START MAKING PROFITS?


I started as an online store, working from home, without any overheads. So we started making profits almost immediately, but since we got a physical location for expansion purposes, most of our profit goes into purchasing assets.


BRILLIANT IDEAS DON’T ALWAYS MEAN GREAT SALES, HOW HAS IT BEEN MARKETING YOUR SERVICES?


Marketing has been a little easier with social media as we can find our target market and they can also find us without coming to our physical store. Word of mouth, referrals and influencers have also been very helpful in marketing our brand.


AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE HIRING STAFF AND BUILDING YOUR TEAM?


I have been really lucky in that regards, I have always hired people who join our team seamlessly. I think the most important thing in hiring as an entrepreneur is been able to sell the vision, once they are invested in the vision, it’s easier to work together.


YOUR GREATEST SKILL/STRENGTHS THAT HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY BEEN OF HELP IN STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS


Working as a sales representative at my 9 to 5 has been a blessing, so not only have I learnt sales and marketing, I get to see how a product based company is run and learn all the processes and system.


DID YOU HAVE TO GET A FORMAL TRAINING OR QUALIFICATION TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS?


I didn’t have any formal training in business, but I have made a conscious effort to invest in learning skills I need. I also have attended fashion school and Fashion Illustration classes as we hope to diverse into production of our pieces soon.


YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS FOR SOME TIME NOW, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISHED YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED?


I wish I knew more about Accounting and how to understand my numbers sooner.


ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE THAT HAS PARTICULARLY PREPARED YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FOR WHAT YOU DO NOW?


Not sure. I lost my dad at 11, and I watched my mum work “soooo” hard to raise my sister and I. That prepared me to work and never expect any handouts from anyone because really no one owes you anything.


CHANGE CAN BRING OUT A PART OF US WE NEVER KNEW EXISTED, WHAT NEW THINGS HAVE YOU DISCOVERED ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE COURSE OF STARTING AND RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?


I discovered I am too much of a risk taker, which is a good thing but can also be a bad thing, so I take more time in making decisions now.


THE GREATEST BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND BY WHO?


Know your numbers; never assume you are making a profit because you are making sales. From my mum.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS ESPECIALLY IN NIGERIA?


Be Resilient and don’t be afraid to start small.

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FORBES AFRICA has released its 2018 Under 30 list and you can be sure that there are Nigerian women on it. These women are said to be challenging conventions and rewriting the rules for the next generation of entrepreneurs, creatives and tech gurus.


Described as Africa’s most promising young change-makers, Forbes says, they could be the billionaires of tomorrow, even though they are yet unknown.

You could learn some things from these women who talked about their goals, how they started their businesses, doing business in Nigeria and their achievements.


ANITA ADETOLA ADETOYE

26-year old founder of Anita Brows Beauty, popularly known as ‘Anita Brows’, is an Irish-Nigerian professional makeup artist, beauty educator, and entrepreneur. With over seven years of experience, she has built an award-winning brand, creating jobs for young Nigerians.


“My move to Nigeria was the defining moment for me in the beauty industry. It was the moment my hobby became a livelihood and then became a business. I didn’t choose this path by faith, this path chose me. My goal is to change the face of makeup and beauty artistry.”


BIDEMI ZAKARIYAU

28-year old Bidemi is the founder of LSF|PR, a public relations agency based in Lagos.  Growing up, Bidemi acquired skills in project management, sales and communications from her father, who built a taxi service and real estate company from nothing. Her father convinced her to study law and she interned in law firms but she stopped to follow her passion in media.

“Securing my first client was very difficult because I had no public relations experience; I would visit different blogs in Nigeria and look for contact numbers in the article credits and call the designers requesting to work with them for free.”


KENE RAPU

28-year old Kene Rapu launched her first product line, ‘Slippers by Kene’ in 2011. She uses locally-sourced materials to make slippers and sandals. According to her,  running a business in Nigeria is hard work.

“The odds are against us, as more businesses are expected to fail than to succeed. From lack of adequate power supply, to sufficient skilled man power, to the costs and scarcity of materials, the list goes on. I remember on my hunt for property for my factory last year, I met a gentleman who made it extremely clear he would not, under any circumstances, rent his property out to women.”


GOZIE COKER

29-year old Gozie is the founder of Coker Creative, a boutique event company. She spent her holidays interning for event companies. When she graduated from school, she went on to pursue a master’s in Strategic Management.

“Planning events is something I have always done, so much so that growing up, I was nicknamed ‘the organ’, short for organizer. I derived joy planning all my family and friends’ celebrations, from vacations to birthdays, and even anniversaries. I used my graduation thesis to test my business plan for what we now know as Coker Creative.”


MAYA HORGAN FAMODU

27-year old Maya is the founder of Ingressive, a tech integration company that provides market entry services and tech research for corporates and investors.

“I launched Ingressive LLC to solve the funding pipeline, redirecting global focus and capital to the continent.”

She also founded Ingressive Capital, a multi-million dollar venture fund focused on early-stage African tech.

“We have worked with thousands of African tech-enabled youths. Our client list includes over 50 investors and technology companies. Our clients have gone on to fund more than 20 African startups. I have funded three high-growth African technology companies, and we’re continuing to invest now.”


INK EZE

28-year old Eze is the founder of Aso Ebi Bella, an online community connecting traditional fashion enthusiasts with SMEs in the fashion, beauty and wedding industry primarily in Nigeria with growing interests across Africa and beyond.

“The #AsoEbiBella journey started with a hashtag I created in 2013 while I was an employee of BellaNaija.com where I convinced my employer to launch a then bi-weekly, now weekly AsoEbiBella feature on their site as it garnered millions of website views, it became my side hustle.”


YEMI ALADE

29-year old Yemi is a singer and songwriter. She sings in English, French, Swahili, Portuguese and Pidgin English.


JOYCE JACOB

28-year old Joyce is the founder of Joyce Jacob Beauty, which launched in 2009. She has worked on the sets of many local and international music videos, magazine photoshoots and TV commercials.


“The vision behind my brand is to empower women of all ages, of all backgrounds and race to feel beautiful at all times through the power of beauty and makeup. Part of that vision is to have a premium line all women can use and create a truly authentic African beauty brand.”


BEVERLY NAYA

29-year old Beverly is an actress and entrepreneur. She studied script-writing and film-making in the UK before relocating to Nigeria to join the Nigerian film industry.


SONIA IRABOR

28-year old Sonia is a writer, filmmaker and actress.


TANIA OMOTAYO

26-year old Tania is a model and an entrepreneur. She is creative director of Ziva Lagos, a fashion brand.


“Ziva Lagos is dedicated to boosting the Nigerian trade and labor market. Hence all fabrics are locally sourced and the clothes designed and produced in Nigeria.”

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Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism (LEAP) Africa, has advised Nigerians to key into the vast opportunities that abound in agriculture.


Nwuneli spoke during the weekend at “Exploit 2018,” a small and medium enterprise (SME) focused empowerment programme organised by Salem International Christian Center (SICC) in Lagos.


According to her, Nigerians tend to “box themselves in one corner” when it comes to agriculture, leaving the market for multinational companies to take over.


“When people think about agriculture they think about farming. Most of us should not go back to the farms. That is not your core competency,” she said.


“Agriculture is not just farming… agriculture is everything along the value chain- technology, financing. But the biggest value is around processing and value addition.


“For example, it is not worth it to just grow cassava and sell it. But if you make it into high-grade cassava starch, people will be banging down your door trying to get it.


“Cassava is now used to make beer, cereal and so many things. Even most of our pharmaceutical products are being made with high-grade cassava flour and yet when we think about cassava flour we think about garri.”


She said many multinational companies are “paying a premium” to come into the Nigerian market which according to her is “projected to hit 450 million by 2050” in terms of population.


“Every company is trying to come into Nigeria in a big way and they are paying a premium to enter and most of us are trying to leave,” she said.


“There is a disconnect somewhere. What can they see that we cannot see?


“We need to change our mindset because with agriculture it really is about everything associated with the clothes we wear which is usually cotton, to the food we eat to the bags and shoes we wear to the fabric on our furniture to the paint on our walls to the soap we use.


“So, there is so much opportunity in every nook and cranny of agriculture around inputs, around extension that we have not developed.”

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Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chair of the Econet Group, just made the 2018 FORBES list of African billionaires as Zimbabwe’s first billionaire.


FORBES estimates Masiyiwa’s net worth at $1.7 billion, ranking him 14th among Africa’s 23 billionaires.


Econet Group owns Econet Global, Econet Wireless Africa, Econet Wireless International, Econet Media, and Econet Entreprises and Liquid Telecom Group.


Masiyiwa’s journey to building these businesses has not been without toils. FORBES notes that he “overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998”.


In essence, he was engaged in a 5-year court war with his former employer, the country’s only telecom business at the time, before being awarded a mobile telecoms license to operate the company that would later expand into a global empire.


On Masiyiwa’s wealth and assets, FORBES notes:


He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group.

Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa.

His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa.

Masiyiwa is also a prolific philanthropist.


He founded the Higherlife Foundation together with his wife, Tsitsi. The foundation pays the school fees of some 40,000 orphaned or low-income students in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.


The telecoms magnate is also at the helm of the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship, which enables African students to attend the Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, US.


Masiyiwa was named one of Time Magazine Most Influential Person in 2002.  In 2014, he was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. He is a friend to many world leaders, often spearheading conferences with the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama.


Masiyiwa one of Africa’s most influential figures and a champion for technology and young people.

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There are many ways to strengthen your brand identity in Nigeria. For the purpose of this article, we shall be dwelling more on how you can use content marketing to strengthen your brand identity in Nigeria.


Content marketing is the method of passing the “no-logo test”.  Can your product (content) stand out of the competition without the help of company names and logos?


Your content must be able to bring your brand to life in Nigeria. Content marketing creates a very distinct and unique perspective that is very beneficial to your target audience.


Whether small or multinational corporations, the ones that create contents (products) that reflect their brand’s unique personality are the ones that have the best content strategy.


Branded contents engage your customers and clients more because it is informative, entertaining and interactive.


If your content cannot pass the “no logo” test, then it is just another one of those contents that flood the target audience.


Therefore, to bring your brand identity to a great height, you must utilize these three approaches outlined below.


Your organization must have a vision and mission statement. You must be able to link the content you are creating with this vision.


The vision must also be aligned with the customer’s needs.


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5 Ways To Make The Identity Of Your Brand More Consistent In Nigeria


Your ability as an entrepreneur to make the identity of your brand more consistent in Nigeria will help to shape your company positively in the future.


Due to the fact that there are many activities going on in the company to make it better, it is easy to get lost while trying to have a consistent brand identity.


Whether big or small business establishments, it is quite easy to go off course without even realizing it.


You may not notice at the beginning, that you have gone off course, but failing to identify the lapse will eventually lead to negative impacts.


 Without consistency in your brand, it can become unreliable as well as confusing to the customers.


This has no positive impact on the business, both in short and long run. At any point in time, you notice that you have lost consistency in your brand identity, you can get back in line with these steps.


You must understand the need for consistency in your branding if you are to take it seriously in the first place.


Knowing why consistent branding matters and also making your team to understand the value in it should be your first point of action to making sure that you have a consistent brand identity in Nigeria.


It shows a great deal of professionalism from your team and company.

Consistent branding will also add authenticity to your identity as a company

It helps to clear the confusion and doubts that customers and clients might have about your organization and the things you stand for.

It helps the employees and executive team to stay in line with the core values and priorities of the company.

A business brand goes beyond just the logo of the company, it really is about who they are and the reason they are in business in the first place.


Have your own brand guide

A brand guide is really an important business document. Once you have understood the need for consistent branding, having a complete brand guide should be your next point of call.


The brand guide should contain sections that include:


The usage of the logo

Brand colors

Photography and graphic styles

The mission of the brand

Value propositions

Iconography

You can also consult books on brand guides to help you create a very good one for your business.



Make sure you circulate the brand guide


The brand guide should not just be for those in the marketing and design department, it must be incorporated into the whole fabrics of the organization.


The brand guide explains not only how the company should be presented, it also explains what the brand is founded on. This makes it very important that every department has copies of the brand guide. This is really a great way to make the identity of your brand more consistent in Nigeria.


Always update and audit all branded materials

You must put your brand guidelines to work, once you have established it. All branded materials must be audited and updated to match the new brand guide on the ground.


The materials to be updated include social media profiles, posts, brochures, business cards, web pages, etc. your brand must be represented at each customer-facing points within your organization.


Have a plan for the future

In order to make the identity of your brand more consistent in Nigeria, you must create a plan for the future.


You will end up wasting your time, money and energy if you follow other steps without completing this last one.


You must have an annual update for your brand plan, design elements, and content audit. Make sure you follow your brand plan because you won’t regret doing so.


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Segun Abgaje is a banker and entrepreneur. He also occupies an executive position at Guaranty Trust Bank as the Managing Director. In addition, he serves as a Director on MasterCard Board in the Middle East and Africa.


Background and Family

Segun Agbaje whose full name is Olusegun Agbaje was born into the family of Chief Julius Kosebinu Agbaje and Mrs. Margaret Olabisi Agbaje in 1964. His father was a banker and his mother a teacher.  Segun got his secondary school education from St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos State. He went abroad for his tertiary education. He got his BSc in Accountancy and masters degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco, America. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School. His older brother is a Jimi Agbaje renowned politician and a member of the People’s Democratic Party.


Rise to Prominence

Segun started off his career as a staff auditor at Ernst & Young in San Francisco, America. He eventually returned to Nigeria in 1991 to work for GtBank as one of the very first sets of employees. At that time GT Bank was a floundering financial institution headed by the legendary Fola Adeola. And as a pioneer staff, he was present at most of the groundbreaking innovations the bank made. He worked his way up the ranks and by 2000 he was an executive director, by August 2002 he was Deputy Managing Director.


Segun Agbaje also played a pivotal role in the introduction of Valucard and Western Union Money Transfer.


He also played an essential role in making GTBank the first Nigerian company and the first bank in Sub-Saharan Africa to feature on the list of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange.


Accolades

Under his leadership GTBank has won:


The award of Best Bank in Nigeria by Euromoney.

African Bank of the Year by African Banker Award.

Best Bank in Nigeria by World Finance UK.

Most innovative Bank by EMEA finance.

Best Banking Group by World Business Leader Magazine and Best Bank in Nigeria award by the Banker Awards.

 


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Tayo Aderinokun was a Nigerian entrepreneur, banker and most notably one of the co-founders of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.


Background│Family


Tayo Aderinokun whose full name is Olutayo Aderinokun was born on the 8th of May, 1955 in Kano State, Nigeria. His father worked as a technician for the Nigerian Railways. Tayo Aderinokun attended the Baptist Day School, Kano for his primary education. His family, however, had to leave Kano for Lagos in 1966 after the civil war started. He completed his education in Lagos, from secondary all the way down to university- he attended Surulere Baptist School for one year, St Peter’s College, Abeokuta from 1968 to 1972 and then went on to St Gregory’s Boys College, Lagos from 1973 to 1974.


And then he got a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos and then in 1981, he got an MBA in International Business from the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles.




Rise to Prominence


Tayo Aderinokun has always been in the banking sector, he began his rise to prominence working for the Central Bank of Nigeria and then went on to work for Chase Merchant Bank Nigeria Limited. He moved on to Prime Merchant Bank where he occupied the position of an Assistant General Manager and Head, Financial Services.


He, however, resigned his position to start up his own business- First Marina Trust Limited which was a non-bank financial institution which would he supervised until 1990 when he co-founded Guaranty Trust Bank with Fola Adeola.


Upon its inception, he was made the Deputy Managing Director, a position which he held for 12 years from 1990 to 2002 and then was promoted to the position of Managing Director after the resignation of Fola Adeola. He remained the Managing Director until his death on the 14th of June, 2011.


Accolades


Under his tutelage the bank bagged many awards, some of which include:


The 2010 and 2009 best bank in Nigeria awards from the Banker Magazine

The 2010 and 2009 best bank in Nigeria awards from Euromoney Awards for Excellence

The SIAO 2009 and 2008 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Awards

The 2007 Most Respected Company in Nigeria Award from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Businessday

The Nigerian Stock Exchange President’s Merit Award in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Fola Adeola was also a recipient of the esteemed Member of the Federal Republic national award.


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