The Nigerian startup scene is rapidly developing despite the challenges many entrepreneurs face due to the tough business environment. Entrepreneurship activity in Nigeria is primarily based on necessity and perhaps the high unemployment rate. We interviewed Aramide Abe, founder of Naija Startups and she shares her entrepreneurial journey with us and how her platform is helping small businesses within Nigeria and beyond.
Who is Aramide ABE?
I am a woman who is passionate about media and business growth in Africa. I am particularly focused on projecting and highlighting stories about key business ventures in Africa to the West (for increased awareness or investment purposes), the Diaspora and to Africans alike.
Tell us about Naija Startups
Naija Startups is the Number 1 online destination for entrepreneurs in Africa, with an initial focus on Nigeria. Our aim is to provide valuable information and tools in the form of content to business owners, leveraging digital media. We also develop programs in partnership with key organisations to support business growth. We have prioritized social media to carry out this endeavour because of the ability to scale quickly. In addition, we provide shared services to startups via our affiliates.
Our exclusive club (‘Members of the Tribe’) is where members get additional curated value-adds for entrepreneurs, such as free attendance to networking events and entrepreneur meetups, attending round-tables with key stakeholders in the global startup ecosystem, free monthly use of co-working spaces, discounted or free stalls at exclusive events for entrepreneurs and additional curated resources for entrepreneurs.
What inspired you to launch this venture?
Naija Startups’ initial vision was to be a business directory in order to address information gaps online, but due to testing out our model and listening to customers and users, we have evolved into more than just a directory.
At what point did you decide to take the bold step into full time entrepreneurship?
It was a back and forth tussle for me, and I was one leg in, one leg out for a long time. One day though, I decided I could really own this entrepreneurship thing if I put my all into it. It was also not easy deciding not to return to a six figure corporate job, and sometimes having zero earnings in certain months, but passion and timing were key. There is no time like the present, with so much focus on Africa and entrepreneurship right now. I think it is always a good wake-up call also, when you find your peers thriving in entrepreneurship and realizing you can do it too, as long as you are on the right path.
What was your biggest challenge starting out and how did you manage it?
My biggest challenge was not getting the right kind of support or not understanding the kind of support I needed when I started. It is always good to share ideas (which is different from intellectual property) and challenges with people so that they can guide and make recommendations or introductions. Ultimately though, true direction comes from God.
How do you engage and create awareness about your brand to your target audience?
I create awareness using social media, word of mouth via networking, business partnerships, as well as articles.
What would you say is the biggest issue many Nigerian startups face?
Many say funding, but I think the first is an inability to understand the key things required to run a successful business operation. Secondly, it is the difficult business environment, challenges like power and poor infrastructure.
What is your long term vision for Naija Startups?
My long term vision for Naija Startups is to be a one-stop shop, the online briefcase every African entrepreneur cannot do without.
What mantra do you live by that motivates you as an entrepreneur?
No one is me and that is my power.
Can you offer any advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Be hungry (in terms of ambition) and be willing to adjust whenever necessary; also always think long-term.