Tolulope Aina, Founder and CEO at Battens Hub. A flexible and affordable Co-working space with a conducive environment for freelancers, entrepreneurs and career professionals. In this e-Interview with Alaba Ayinuola, he speaks on how his brand is creating an avenue for businesses to run without spending their whole finances on infrastructure and why entrepreneurs should leverage Co-working spaces and be around like minded individuals to go far. Excerpts.
Tell us about Battens Hub and the role you play?
Battens Hub like most co-working spaces intends to create a conducive environment for freelancers, entrepreneur and career professionals. Above the common co-working attitude. We are also raising a platform for people to collaborate on ideas and projects. We are already actively encouraging this culture in our workplace and have linked few professionals already.
As a freelancer, I try to identify the basic needs of other freelancers like myself and the best ways to make the workplace affordable as we all know that the basic infrastructure like light and good internet can be daunting if you work from home. I looked for a location that can be easily accessed hence the reason for the setting up the hub in the mall.
What was your startup capital and how we’re you able to raise it?
The startup capital was under 10million naira and was raised mostly through crowdfunding from Family and Friends as grant and loan. Several options were tried before then but I had several challenge with the equity figure or lengthy application process and waiting period for loan and grant because I was very keen on getting the idea running in good time .
What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
We had a slow start because we started our awareness, cultural selection and community building effort quite late. We have since been doing various forms of marketing online and mostly offline because people need to see to be convinced that its something they will like to use.
We also realised that we will always have various customers with different time and pricing preferences. We listened to these preferences, accepted those ones that look reasonable for review and provided explanation for reasons why we can’t implement some of the requested changes. We are still working to fully adapt some of these preferences without diluting the overall quality that we intend to offer.
Why is Battens Hub unique and different from other Co-working spaces in Nigeria?
Battens Hub is very affordable, comfortable and visually appealing. We also made sure that we open every day of the week for long hours to fit in different client schedules. We also removed paperwork complications that most co-working spaces have and made our pricing plans as flexible as possible.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are yet to leverage Co-working spaces in their environment?
Anyone that wants to succeed needs to be around like minded individuals to go far. There are so many projects that they are yet to get because they are not part of a community of people seeking continual development. Within the short time of opening, we have met so many people with diverse ideas and perspective to make us understand that no one should ever run a business in isolation.
Where do you see your business in 5 years and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Owning a space that will serve as idea sharing, training, mentorship and incubation platform for entrepreneur. We already have a growing list of potential customers and potential investors that will be put to use in achieving this in the shortest time.
How is your business contributing to the development of Nigeria and Africa at large?
The global demand for co-working space is increasing yearly as we have more professionals departing from traditional professions. Freelancers and startups are the fundamental aspect of any developed nation or economy. The current lack of consistent light, expensive office rental and even decent internet access makes it difficult for these businesses to thrive. Businesses not thriving under-develops any nation.
It is therefore necessary to create an avenue for businesses to run without spending their whole finances on infrastructure. We have seen bits and pieces of innovation around us but we have not been able to merge our creative ideas. Collaboration will develop Africa faster than we can imagine. Co-working spaces encourage collaborative exploits in its very core nature.
What is your view about the development of Africa’s business ecosystem?
The wave of business development is drastically different from the 90’s, youths understand that jobs are not going to be waiting for them like it did for their parents just because they went to school. Frustration and necessity is breeding innovations and inventions; we understand that we have to build what we need and this is bringing some extraordinary ideas to the table. We are gradually raising more venture capitalists and investment companies. If we learn to encourage these businesses, we might just be able to build our own independent economy.
What inspires and keeps you going?
Seeing the achievements of others around me and also consistently looking forward to the type of person I intend to become.
What books do you read?
I read books on Christianity and Business. Although I will rather google search what I want to gain insight on as books take a lot of time to get to the point.
Kindly visit: battenshub.com
As a 300 level student, Tolulope ignited his passion for digital entrepreneurship when he started a web design outfit in 2012 called Macsound (www.macsoundng.com) and he was also invited by the university as the only student to work on developing a portal for SIWES students as a research assistant which was successfully implemented and active till date. He also managed several other projects within the department successfully and made profits before graduation.
He has also worked with companies like Airtel Networks Limited and Amazon where he used enterprise tools and experienced management processes. He has since then worked on several web design and development projects as a freelancer under Macsound.
Healthpoint: Providing Innovative Healthcare And Health Finance Solutions In Africa
Kemi Ayinde is the Chief Executive Officer at Healthpoint and a startup engineer promoting inclusion health in Africa. She feels hurt and crushed for every human being that dies of common ailments like malaria. But believes everyone from every class of life deserves easy access to quality healthcare, so more lives should be saved, and life expectancy should be on the increase. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Kemi shares how her startup is providing health financial intermediation, promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole with some of their CSR projects. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Healthpoint, the gap it is filling and the strategic role you play?
Kemi: Healthpoint is a holistic health management solution aimed at promoting universal health coverage in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. We are a health tech startup providing telehealth and health insurance plans at affordable monthly subscriptions.
Healthpoint is propelled towards achieving global health inclusiveness by making healthcare most easily accessible to everyone; whether young or old, male or female, sick or healthy; regardless of their socio-economic status. Our goal is to ensure that every human being has easy access to healthcare and medical attention when needed in such a way as not to deplete their finances. People should be able to access vaccinations, preventive care, medical treatment, medical advice, health tips, updates and information relevant to their lives and environment.
Our mission is to reduce to the barest minimum every excuse to being unable to access quality healthcare in our society. With this, we would achieve reduced mortality rate, and increase life expectancy.
One of our core solutions is health financial intermediation wherein we buy bulk health cover plans from HMOs and Health insurance underwriters and offer them to people at very affordable monthly subscription fees.
Alaba: What is your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Kemi: We are only a few months old and we needed to perfect our product and market fit which we have done successfully. We are at a point where we are ready to scale and are open to investment from venture capitalists and other investors. We have since been running on our personal seed capital.
Alaba: How is Healthpoint different from other Health Startups in Africa?
Kemi: Healthpoint is born out of the passion and the calling to make healthcare most easily accessible to everyone, young or old, rich or poor. We not only provide telehealth solutions to bring healthcare right in your fingertips, but we also do financial intermediation for people and organizations who wish to acquire health cover plans for themselves, their families, and their teams but do not have the funds to, by buying these health plans in bulk and providing it to them at affordable monthly rates that are very friendly to their pockets and work well with their cash flows.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competitions and how are you overcoming them?
Kemi: The health needs in Nigeria alone is very huge and can very much accommodate and absorb every innovative and relevant health solutions so I believe we have a very large market and we would very much welcome every contribution towards achieving universal health coverage for Africa.
Alaba: What’s the future for Healthpoint and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Kemi: Like I mentioned earlier, Healthpoint is aimed at promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. So we are looking forward to a point where we implement our innovative healthcare and health finance solutions that accommodates everyone from all social strata across the African continent to be able to easily access healthcare without having to deal with financial risks as a result.
We are a team of very innovative, creative young and vibrant minds that are dedicated and committed to actualizing our goals and objectives per time. We are a tech savvy and proactive team that rides on technology to drive our goals and vision with no holds barred.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa health ecosystem?
Kemi: The African health ecosystem is very vast and still green, and so we have very huge plans to impact the health space significantly with different activities and solutions. We run an annual program that provides Free Health Insurance Cover for Widows, Orphans and less privileged every year. This year, our beneficiaries sprang from four orphanage and vulnerable children care homes as well as widows in Nigeria.
Healthpoint is providing them free health insurance cover for a period of one year to cater for their medical consultations, treatments, tests, prescriptions and drugs and so much more. When we listened to their stories and saw how difficult it was for them to afford healthcare, it was very touching and they were indeed very grateful that Healthpoint could think of something as this to help them with.
Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Kemi: For budding entrepreneurs in Africa, I would say always maintain the passion, close your ears to all negatives, keep moving like a train, trust God and above all, let the vision keep driving you until you get to that point where you’ve always dream of. Africa is a hub of emerging markets waiting for you to pilot.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Kemi: Being an African entrepreneur for me is a huge privilege that avails me the opportunity to contribute in solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges across different sectors of modern day living. It is a somewhat challenging business environment, but if I remain determined and very passionate about my overall goal, I am convinced that my impact will be felt and recognized in the African emerging markets.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Kemi: The saying is true that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. As hardworking as I am, I am also a fun loving person and I particularly enjoy travelling and going for vacations. I love to listen to inspiring music and watch some comedy once a while.
Most of all, I enjoy being home with family. It is very fulfilling for me.
Afripreneur Profile: Vumile Msweli, CEO At Hesed Consulting
Vumile Msweli is the Chief Executive officer for Hesed consulting. A consulting firm specializing in commerce acceleration; career coaching; women empowerment; facilitation and training on the African continent, with presence in Nigeria and South Africa. She has previously worked for reputable multi-national institutions such as Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank and Vodafone. Vumile is an Operations; Finance and Strategy executive with experience in both the telecommunications and finance sectors.
She has successfully led global teams in Africa (Nigeria; Kenya; Democratic Republic of Congo; Zambia; Lesotho; Ghana; Tanzania; Mozambique and South Africa); and Europe (Scotland; Isle of Man and England). These teams held various specialties such as Operations; Client Services; Strategy; Business Development and Risk Management. Vumile was most recently the Client Services Partner for Africa and the Middle East at Vodafone where she oversaw Service Strategy and Operations for Corporate Clients globally.
Vumile is an avid coach and international speaker having spoken in conferences; expos; workshops around the globe on topics such as leadership; women empowerment; finance matters and conducting business in Africa. She has spoken at the African Union in Ethiopia, Women’s Economic Forum in India USAID in Zambia and various organisations across the globe. She is the host of Vumi and Veuve host Women in Commerce as well as has her own regular weekly feature in Nigeria’s largest publication The Guardian.
Vumile has been featured in publications such as China’s Rare Birds(2018); The Guardian Nigeria (2018); True Love Magazine (2012); Destiny Magazine (2011; 2016 and 2017); Bona Magazine (2015); Essays of Africa Magazine (2016) as well as The Thinker magazine (2015). She has been featured on Ghana’s ETV, is regular contributor on SAFM (radio station) and was the business anchor for Voice of Wits (radio station). She’s a guest writer on business; finance issues and women empowerment for Essays of Africa and Destiny Connect.
- Bachelor of Commerce: Accounting Sciences (University of Pretoria)
- Bachelor of Commerce: Finance Honours (University of Johannesburg)
- Masters Business Administration (University of London, United Kingdom)
- Executive Education (New York University, United States of America)
- Executive Education (GIBS, South Africa and GIMPA, Ghana)
- Doctorate Applied Leadership (UGSM, Switzerland currently studying)
- Women’s Economic Forum Woman of Excellence (2018)
- Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador (2018)
- Black Management Forum Young Professional of the Year (2018)
- 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media (2018)
- Gauteng Premier Award for Excellence in Leadership (2017)
- ABSIP Game Changer (2016)
- Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans (2016)
- Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category (2016)
- Gordon Institute of Business Science: VAEP (2016)
- Vodafone CEO Award (2016)
- University of Witwatersrand Radio’s Brand New Heavy in Business (2016)
Cooking As A Calling | Chef Femi Aliu
It is a world filled with different people having different interests. So, I’m not surprised at all that we all see cooking differently.
To someone, cooking might just be a necessity because the stomach has grumbled for the umpteenth time. To another, cooking is a responsibility, either as a wife, mother, the only girl in the block or the eldest person in the house.
To yet another, cooking is a “no go area” …LOL. Indeed, it is a world full of many people, and what makes the world interesting is actually this diversity.
So, while there is a crop of persons fleeing from cooking, here I am, embracing the art of cooking as a lifestyle —better put, a calling.
Yes! Cooking for me, is a calling, my calling that I have positively responded to and have been walking the journey since the past 15 years.
Responding to cooking as a call has left me from a mediocre state to an expert level, adding the title “Chef” to my name, a badge of honor I wear on with pride, fulfilling its course.
Food is one of the basic social amenities for humans made cooking highly essential and Important, hence, the swam of food vendors.
I, for a while, nursed the burden of wanting to see people eat tasty and healthy meals, and not only that, eat it at their own convenience. This particularly fueled my passion and love for cooking.
I can say that I am living a purposeful life with Cooking, because cooking, for me is beyond a business venture. It is a solution to a problem I saw, a purpose wherein I am able to attend to an urgent need and it has enabled me to reach out to the busy professionals, recovering patients, family, couples and friends.
I Am Chef Femi Aliu
Personal Chef/ Founder Chef Femi Culinary Services
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