Cheeka M. Onyeka is a student entrepreneur, the CEO and founder of Cosmo legal Africa based in Enugu, Nigeria. A virtual career development hub for law students and with a global outreach that equip law students with industry information by bridging the gap between an average law student and career opportunities. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, he shared is passion for the study of law, why he founded Cosmo Legal Africa and his entrepreneurship journey. Excerpt.
Alaba: Can you tell us about Cosmos Legal and the gap its filling?
Cheeka: Cosmo Legal Africa largely leverage on technology to make the study of law easier and credible in Africa. As a virtual firm we equip law students with industry trends, career opportunities and a first hand insight into emerging areas of law like sports law,space Law, fintech etc.
Alaba: What’s the inspiration behind setting up this startup?
Cheeka: l feel glad to speak on this, l birthed Cosmo legal Africa (CLA) out of my passion for the study of law. I came with CLA to bridge the gap between Law study and the labour market. If we are to embrace the truth. Simply acquiring an LLB is not the key to wealth. Various faculties of law churns out thousand of law graduates every year but then you find out that most of them are not employable or cannot maneuver their way through the labour market. This is because they are at sea with the realities of the labour market. CLA is here to bridge that gap!
Alaba: How do you fund your startup?
Cheeka: Fund has been a big issue for my team and I. But I have the firm belief that as days goes by we will surmount that.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?
Cheeka: The world is changing. How we live. Interact. This is as result of technology. I have equally accepted the fact that my role as an individual is increasing and the only option available is to subscribe to the trends. The key challenge we are encountering at CLA is lack of commitment from our Associates and then having people underestimate your vision.
Alaba: As a student, how are you running this startup effectively?
Cheeka: Well, it has not been easy. But I always try my best at maintaining a good time management schedule.
Alaba: How are you supporting law students in line with their career path?
Cheeka: I have been able to connect with colleagues from other schools in Nigeria and Ghana . We also have campus Ambassadors in various schools. They mobilize students for our monthly webinars and career sessions.
Alaba: How does your firm measure its impact?
Cheeka: Since we just started out not quite long. We intend to carry out feedback survey from time to time through the use of google forms and any other available means. We would also be asking for immediate feedbacks from participants of our Webinars and also from our beneficiaries in the future.
Alaba: What’s the future for Cosmo Legal and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Cheeka: In the long run, l hope to align with reputable law firms in Africa, Government agencies and key players in the labour market to fully adapt the legal profession to this changing times. Because to really adapt the legal profession to the best standard. The grassroots must be involved and that grassroots are law students.
Alaba: How do you feel as an Africa student entrepreneur?
Cheeka: It has been tough. However it has given me the opportunity to work in a team space. I find it worthwhile working with my Co-Founders Imonikhe Wilson and Akinwade Zainab. Emmanuel ikedinobi and oforbuike who are my course mates and also Associates at CLA have always pushed me to be best l can. Nevertheless, setting up CLA has made me realize that whatever beautiful ideas we have, can not be fully appreciated until we take steps to actualize them.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Cheeka: I love the digital space. It has given me the opportunity to be aware. To know more. I enjoy the works of John Grisham, Yuval Noah , Shakespeare and Joel osteen.
B I O G R A P H Y:
Cheeka M. Onyeka is the CEO and founder of Cosmo legal Africa. He is an intern of Justistia chambers Unizik. Calm and possesses a ‘lawyerly’ composure. He exudes a witty exuberance that can only come from consistent study of the law.He has a unique skill in both writing and oral advocacy and is an excellent team player with eye for details. He is innovative and strongly dedicated to demanding duties. He has keen interest in corporate and commercial law, and the role it plays in modern day transactions.
He has worked as an executive member of the law students electoral commission Unizik from 2017-2018. He serves as the Chief bailiff of the Students’ union Government Unizik. Also, he is currently the public relation officer of the International law students Association, Unizik and an aspiring contestant of the Phillip Jessup international moot court competition in Washington DC.
Cheeka M. Onyeka is also law tutor under the academic board of Christian law students fellowship of Nigeria.
Viero: A SaaS Platform Enabling Entrepreneurs Create Food Delivery App Without Code In 60 Seconds
Viero & Zistify Founders, Basheer Phiri and Hopewell Fakude
Launching a food delivery start-up requires an entrepreneur to manage 4 aspects; Restaurants, Delivery Agents, Customers, and the most costly of them all, an application. Building a food delivery application can cost up to $60 000. There are also additional costs that need to be paid on a monthly basis to maintain and improve the application. “This is a major barrier to entry into the food delivery industry in Africa” said Basheer Phiri, the founder and CEO of Viero.
“Because of these high costs, we see a lot of food delivery Startups all over Africa serving the urban market, because it is big, and has enough customers to cover the development and maintenance costs and make a profit.” Basheer believes that food delivery Startups do not target township and non-urban areas because these markets need to be built from the group up, which means additional marketing costs and slower growth and adoption rates.
Therefore, coupled with the need to cover maintenance costs and the demand for growth and traction from investors, food delivery Startups prefer competing in the already established urban markets. This has led to high concentration in urban markets while non-urban markets remain relatively untapped.
“We saw this and realised that there was value that could be created” said Basheer. “After speaking to a few interested entrepreneurs, we saw that they could manage every aspect of the food delivery business, but could not afford to pay for an App. That is how Viero was born”
Viero is a SaaS Platform that enables entrepreneurs to create a food delivery web application with no code in 60 seconds. (Here’s how it works – https://youtu.be/1T9oxNtRDpM).
The platform built a standard food delivery application template and enables it to be cloned, rebranded and hosted through white-labelling. Entrepreneurs can use the application under a monthly subscription and have access to many features depending on their chosen plan. Entrepreneurs can also make changes to the layout and design of their app, all without any code.
Launched in South Africa on 1 June 2020, the platform has achieved amazing uptake thus far. 22 Apps in total have been created with 2 Food delivery Startups that are live and operating in South Africa and 20 other Startups preparing for launch. 108 orders have been delivered, with R4700 processed in transactions, 200 customer users, 16 listed stores and 45 delivery agents.
Viero was launched by UCT students Basheer Phiri and Hopewell Fakude. They met in their first year in 2018 as residents of Smuts Hall Residence at The University of Cape Town, when they were introduced by a mutual friend who noticed their passion for entrepreneurship. Since then, they have worked together on several Startups and projects.
Basheer and Hopewell are not new to the food delivery industry. In 2019, they launched Zistify, a food delivery start-up for the university market. Zistify delivers food ordered from food vendors on campus through it’s app to university students and staff.
Viero is in capable hands and is ready to disrupt the food delivery industry in Africa. Currently raising a $100 000 seed round to incorporate logistics into its business offering, to bring in more talent to the team, and to continue building and improving the platform.
Meet The Resilient Black Brothers Saving The Planet One Car At A Time
AutoSparkle Owners, Jesse and Genesis Onomiwo (Image by: Jesse Onomiwo)
According to UNIDO’s Investment and Technology Promotion Office in Nigeria, only 20% of SMEs manage to survive in Nigeria. The studies further states that “although everybody in Nigeria desires to become an entrepreneur, only 40% of the dreamers get to start, but no more than 20% survive. But one innovative Lagos-based company seem to have gotten the winds in its sails instead.
Founded by Jesse and Genesis Onomiwo in 2010 in Lagos Nigeria, Autosparkle is currently the world’s only waterless luxury car interior-only detailing company with an option of waterless engine cleaning. As a fully integrated professional operation that combines convenience with environmental sustainability, the company takes their services to their clients without messing up the environment with water and soap.
Autosparkle was selected and named one of Nigeria’s Top Emerging SMEs for 2019 by ConnectNigeria. And just last month, the company also got selected as part of 200 businesses out of 5,000 others to take part in the first ever Forbes Digital Accelerator Program for Nigerian businesses. This has further opened the company up to top venture capital firms, successful founders from Silicon valley and a host of highly respected resource persons from Google, LinkedIn and other renowned credible organizations.
But the journey for the founders of Autosparkle hasn’t always been rosy. One of the company’s founders, Genesis Onomiwo, had to drop out of school for a whole year in order to come establish the company in Lagos. His brother and co-founder also had to push his National Youth Service forward by one year. When the business failed to pick up as envisaged, Genesis eventually had to return to the university where he completed his first degree in Architecture. In all, Autosparkle failed more than 8 times before finally picking up. But all that is history now as the rewards of their perseverance and exceptional business acumen is now starting to pay off beautifully well.
Autosparkle spotted a critical gap in the car care market and has so far exploited it richly. The common neglect by car wash shops that popularly dot the roadside in Nigeria and the observed dissatisfaction of most customers with often rushed jobs made the brothers decide to start focusing on waterless cleaning of what they term the two most critical parts of the car; the interior and engine. Their approach to car cleaning is based on nanotechnology and covers everything from stain removal, vacuuming, leather and upholstery treatment, dashboard conditioning, roof cleaning, plastic/rubber/chrome trim polishing, to deodorization, and more.
The level of personalized attention given to the details is based on the fact that Autosparkle treats each car according to its unique needs. That’s why it could take up to 3-4 hours to get one car completely detailed. They do not overlook any part because no one sees them. As a mobile unit, they take their pampering experience to homes and offices in Lekki, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Ajah axes of Lagos Island and beyond in Nigeria. From the most executive to the most luxurious of cars, Autosparkle continues to renew the interior of cars for Nigeria’s affluent class and those expatriates living in Nigeria. And now a replacement for the word interior detailing.
Ultimately, the company is building the largest chain of environmentally friendly and convenient cleaning operations out of Africa. This covers waterless detailing (thorough cleaning) of luxury cars, aircrafts, boats, furniture and fittings in homes and other types of spaces. This company is certain one to look out for in the coming years.
Black Founders: Here are some fundraising and networking opportunities
In the past few weeks, the world has witnessed one of the largest civil rights movements in recent history. People across races, religions, geographies and social economic classes have joined together to demand justice, opportunity and respect for black people. As an African woman living in the US, I have personally seen and sometimes witnessed the ugly side of racism and racial bias. To make any meaningful difference, we must support each other in stamping out racism from not just the United States, but across the world. I am hopeful that this movement will bring practical solutions to the fight for social justice.
On the positive side, this movement has brought a renewed (and hopefully lasting) vigor and focus on black entrepreneurship. From venture capitalists to retail companies and professional communities, many institutions have committed to supporting black entrepreneurship in some way. If you’re a black founder, or looking to start a venture, now is the time to tap into new and existing resources and opportunities.
It might be difficult to keep track of them all, so I have curated some key resources.
- Apply to join the 2020 cohort for the 1-week immersive course by Black Founder’s Exchange.
- SoGal x Atlas is limiting this year’s Cohort for “Building without Burnout” to Black Entrepreneurs. Apply by June 15, 2020.
- Clever Girl Finance is now offering all its Finance Resources and Courses for free!
- Apply to join the Transparent Collective which is helping underrepresented founders access the resources they need to succeed.
- Apply for a $10k grant from IFundWomen. Deadline June 15, 2020.
- Apply for a grant at the National Association for the Self-Employed (maximum $4k).
- Founder Gym wants to help you learn about fundraising and scaling tech ventures.
- Have a fintech startup and are looking for solutions for underserved populations, Accion Venture Lab wants to talk to you.
- Reach out to funds that are passionate about supporting black founders such as: Harlem Capital, Backstage Capital, New Voices Fund, Cleo Capital and Cross Culture Ventures.
- Nihal Mehta, Co-founder of Eniac Venture is offering free 15-minute mentoring sessions to Black founders.
- Jason Lemkin, VC Investor is reviewing decks and pitches of Black Founders.
- Ha Nguyen wants to meet with Black and Latinx founders.
Networking and Community
- Add yourself to the Black Founders List, and get visibility.
- Join Valence, a network of black professionals.
- Follow the Black Enterprise blog.
- The Plug has all your information needs.
- Plan to attend the Women in Tech Conference; happens every year. 2020’s is virtual and is happening in July.
This is a dynamic shortlist of resources I could gather online and from my networks- will continue updating. Are you aware of any great resources or opportunities?
Please comment below.
Article By: Dami Olagunju Founder, Lagos Young Professionals Innovation Club (LYPIC)