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Afripreneur

Darlyn Okojie on entrepreneurship and building Memo Africa

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Darlyn Okojie is a serial entrepreneur and business expansion expert. As the Co-Founder & COO of Memo Africa, Darlyn is responsible for the day to day operation process while building a team to create a Tech solution to People Management. She founded Memo Africa with Ademola Koledoye to create memorable moments across the world. Darlyn Okojie has a past experience of building a business spanning three countries, raising capital and ensuring that the word about the service reaches the right audience. Her First Business, Rugs and Floors Africa, currently operates in three countries, Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Darlyn speaks on her entrepreneurship journey and vision is to make Memo Africa the go-to automated system for People Manager: “Future of Memo Africa”. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: To begin, could you briefly tell us about your background?

Darlyn: I spent the early part of my childhood up till my youth in Benin City. I attended all levels of education down to university where I studied Accounting at the University of Benin. My upbringing has made me extremely loyal to my city. After I completed my higher education in 2014, I got my first ever job at Lamudi (Popularly Known as Jumia House) in 2015. While at Lamudi, I worked as a key account manager in an online marketplace firm. A year later, I moved to Cars45 to spearhead the company’s efforts in building and maintaining relationships with strategic partners. Throughout my career, I have been involved in various aspects of people management, even through running Rugs and Floors from January 2020.  At the moment, I’m focused on building Memo Africa.

Alaba: What inspired you to go into entrepreneurship and the problems you plan to solve?

Darlyn: An impactful model to me is my father. I didn’t realise he had that effect on my entrepreneurship life until I looked back on how much I have been able to achieve career-wise. He showed me the only way to gain success is through hard work and dedication. His tenacity and energy in delivering is extraordinary. There have been countless times where I’ve found myself wondering how he gets the energy to go even through obstacles. A quote from a book by Shakespeare, Macbeth, pops into my head whenever I think about my dad. “I am tied to a stake I cannot fly, but bear-like I must fight the cause.”

The life of an entrepreneur is quite fast-paced, there’s no time for breaks and no option to quit, you just have to keep going. It reminds me of something my mum always says, “Person, nor dey Live life go back”. Good or bad we need to keep moving forward in life or in business. I believe my motivation stems from the ability to keep going and building.

Alaba: Memo Africa is one of the startups you co-founded, what sparked the interest? How does the platform work and who are your target audience?

Darlyn: Memo Africa was birthed by various challenges both my co-founder and I faced throughout our work life. From my first job to my current ventures, I have seen how people managers handle welfare related issues in organizations and it inspired me to create a solution that makes their work seamless. We notice that people struggle to remember important dates when it comes to the lives of their employees and it is key because it makes the employees feel valued and appreciated. But dates like birthdays, onboarding and orientation processes, sendforths, and many others dates are lost in transition.

Memo Africa is a simple solution that people managers can use to automate welfare packages to be delivered to both remote and on-site teams across the world. We believe this technology solution will boost business productivity as the team members feel motivated and cared for while saving people managers time to focus on more critical issues.

Alaba: Since you launched, what are the challenges and successes?

Darlyn: It would be best if we start with the positive aspect of the business, the success. At the moment, we have acquired clients both from Nigeria and Ghana, and signed three companies into our system. We have achieved these while facing various economical challenges like Inflation, exchange rate and cross-border payments issues. 

I also noticed that small business owners and other entrepreneurs face these challenges which is why I recently started recording my journey on my Medium account.

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Alaba: What’s the future of people management? Do you see Memo Africa as part of the future?

Darlyn: The future is Tech! The world is evolving to become digital and automated. It is important to ensure that regardless of where people work from, they are treated with the same respect and dignity as they would be if they were working from a traditional office space. Memo Africa is the technology solution born to connect the people in an organization through our automated management system of celebrating them. Staying connected to and creating memorable moments for your team is the best way to keep them motivated while working.

Alaba: Where do you see Memo Africa in the next 5 years in terms of market and expansion? 

Darlyn: We have a large vision set for Memo Africa and are ready to take the action to grow and scale up the Tech StartUp. Currently, our most viable product which is our website  is up and running. We are planning on developing the Mobile App version to increase the accessibility and personalisation of the system. We expect to become the go-to platform for all people’s welfare across Africa and in the world. Our tentacles are set to expand into many African countries. We are open to acquiring more clients, partners and Investors.

Alaba: What fuels your passion and how do you relax?

Darlyn: Aside from the rush of the non-stop cycle of developing businesses, I find myself passionate about finding and implementing solutions to create value in people’s lives. You can find me locked on Netflix to unwind after a busy day or exploring the different countries in the world.

Darlyn Okojie (Photo: Supplied)

Alaba: Lastly, your advice to young women who want to launch into entrepreneurship?

Darlyn: My number one advice to young women who are launching or building their business is that your key to success lies within you. Everything you need to succeed is in you, your thoughts and action shapes your future. As long as you can think it, you can absolutely do it. You need to study and understand your potential, strength, weaknesses and limits. I believe self awareness is the most powerful tool to achieve anything in the world.

I would also say you shouldn’t believe you can only grow & scale up alone, it’s okay to have mentors and role models. These people have walked the mile. All you need to do is find someone who has successfully crossed the path you are hoping to pass. You would be surprised by the number of people ready to guide you or refer you to the next life challenger.

Afripreneur

Theo Baloyi on building a sneaker brand for Africans

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Theo Baloyi, Founder of Bathu (Image: Supplied).

This entrepreneur created a 100% African shoe brand to wage war on Nike and Adidas. His name is Theo Baloyi, and he is a South African entrepreneur. Judging the market shares of the shoe giants too high in Africa, he decided to leave an important position at PWC in Dubai to launch Bathu Sneakers. 

After months of feasibility studies, and being rejected by 13 different shoe factories – Theo Baloyi’s perseverance pays off and the Mesh Edition Sneaker is born. Bathu, which means shoes in townships across South Africa, is a sneaker brand launched in 2015, in a local township (Alexandra), whose colors and patterns are inspired by Africa. Bathu bought its first delivery vehicle and opened its first physical store in Newtown Junction Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

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Part of Theo Baloyi’s pillars for Bathu from the start was to create 100 meaningful jobs. In 2020 this was achieved. The brand has been a dazzling success, with more than thirty stores now in South Africa, and numerous distinctions.  It has now grown exponentially over the years, with 32 stores nationwide and a staff complement of over 300 employees, who are predominantly youth. 

The Bathu story is more than just a story of sneakers. It’s a story of owning your destiny, staying true to who you are, persevering, following your dreams and doing something you are passionate about. It’s a story of walking your journey. The brand is more than just a sneaker business but a beacon of hope that each person has valid and attainable dreams regardless of background and unfavourable personal circumstances.

The Bathu tagline, “Walk your Journey”, is centered around its mission statement of reigniting hope and creating sustainable employment. We believe everyone is on a journey; ours is to equip, ignite and enable that journey.

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Afripreneur

Ideas Origin Media: Unearthing Innovation and Transforming Brands With Disruptive Creativity

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Ideas Origin Media CEO, Israel Obatunde (Image: Supplied).

Ideas Origin Media is a creative powerhouse disrupting the advertising industry since its inception in 2022. Led by the creative juggernaut, Israel Obatunde, the Originals as they are popularly called, are making strong waves in providing solutions for people and businesses who need unique strategies and creative innovation that can help their brands break through clutter in their industries.

In today’s competitive business landscape, brands are constantly seeking inventive ways to engage their target audience without breaking the bank. Against this backdrop, creative agencies with unique strategies are bending the rules and changing the game. One agency that stands out from the lot is Ideas Origin Media, a trailblazer reshaping brand narratives and consumer connections.

Driven by a profound comprehension of consumer dynamics, Ideas Origin Media’s strategic framework rests upon meticulously gathered insights. At its core, the agency champions originality, data-driven creativity, and innovative storytelling, catalyzing brand visibility and resonance in an interconnected world.

Israel Obatunde, the visionary CEO of Ideas Origin Media, believes the agency’s operational ethos is emphasizing a culture of risk-taking and collaboration. By prioritizing client-centric strategies and ongoing skill development, the agency ensures tailored and impactful creative solutions that transcend traditional advertising norms.

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Central to its organizational ethics is the acronym CANVAS: Creativity, Ambition, Novelty, Versatility, Accountability, and Support. Elizabeth Adesina, the Business Director, underscores these values as guiding principles, driving the agency’s mission to effect meaningful change in the industry. Shedding more light on this, she added that Adaptability and flexibility form the bedrock of Ideas Origin Media’s competitive edge. 

Recognizing and swiftly addressing operational inefficiencies such as bureaucracy and accountability gaps, the agency has fostered a culture of transparency and nimbleness within the agency, ensuring prompt, top-tier deliverables. 

To remain relevant amidst evolving consumer trends and technological disruptions, Ideas Origin Media prioritizes continual evolution. And by harnessing cutting-edge technologies, embracing industry trends, and championing originality, the agency sustains its innovative edge. 

The agency’s Creative Director, Segun Ayinla highlights the agency’s commitment to crafting culturally resonant campaigns that connect with diverse audiences. He elaborated further that by leveraging Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, Ideas Origin Media delivers authentic narratives that captivate and inspire.

With a portfolio boasting impactful campaigns like the 2024 DStv-AFCON and Jack Daniel’s Jack and The Beat campaign where the brand partnered with Hilda Baci, Ideas Origin Media continues to consistently push creative boundaries and deliver unparalleled brand experiences. Its recent expansion into the United Kingdom also signifies a bold stride towards global competitiveness, underlining the agency’s commitment to excellence and innovation. 

The CEO, Israel Obatunde has re-affirmed the agency’s ambitious growth trajectory, with plans for further expansion across Africa and beyond. Built to stand the test of time, each campaign undertaken by Ideas Origin Media is not just noteworthy but a glowing testimonial to the agency’s unwavering dedication to transformative creativity and unparalleled impact. 

As Ideas Origin Media charts new territories and cultivates strategic alliances, its journey unfolds with promise and potential, poised to redefine the contours of brand communication in Africa and beyond.

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Afripreneur

WaxPrint Media and AfricaNXT Unlocking Growth for African Founders at NY Tech Week

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WaxPrint Media partnered with AfricaNXT to present #dmaAfrica (Download My App), an interactive platform for African founders to foster meaningful connections with potential customers and investors. The program was held at Linkedin Social Impact HQ at the Empire State Building in Manhattan, NYC.

Each of the 5 startup founders engaged groups in 2 rounds of flash focus group sessions where attendees downloaded the apps or engaged the website for onboarding and provided feedback in real time. Following the focus groups, the founders pitched their early stage startups to a panel of investors/experts which included:

The featured founders represented diverse startups focused on tourism, sustainability, networking, and cultural experiences:

  • Isaac Otoo, founder of MigranX, the cultural copilot connecting immigrants and international students with authentic cultural experiences
  • Cavaughn J. Noel, MBA founder of daap, “Connect better”
  • Ibukunoluwa Adebayo, co-founder of Greensol.io, an All-in-One App focused on Utility bills payment and Solar Sales, Maintenance and Management
  • Marwh Nabil, co-founder of Easy Meets, a marketplace that simplifies planning hangouts & trips for groups or individuals and provides businesses with valuable information about potential customers.
  • Yoma Onosemuode, founder of Travelbay, the best way to plan, curate, book and experience travel across Africa.

“I have worked with African tech startups and founders over the past 10 years and have a deep understanding of their needs to achieve growth. A viable product and a community of loyal ambassadors can determine their capacity to scale and we sought to create that bridge for these founders with a focus on Africa during NY Tech Week,” shared Muhammida El Muhajir, #dmaAfrica co-host and Director of Strategy at WaxPrint Media, a boutique digital/communications agency with clients in over 22 countries.

#dmaAfrica co-hosts: WaxPrint Media Director of Strategy , Muhammida El Muhajir and Ngozi Odita, founder of AfricaNXT

NY Tech Week is an “unconference”,  an unbranded week of events sponsored by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm and  hosted by various members of the tech community all under the umbrella of “Tech Week.” NY Tech Week was an opportunity to showcase what makes the New York tech community special, meet people from across venture and startups, and learn from the best founders and companies.

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“The #dmaAfrica  event was an extension of our mission at AfricaNXT where we serve a global community eager to connect to Africa through diverse programming, immersive experiences, high-level conversations, and game-changing connections. We were thrilled to collaborate with Linkedin to support us in making an impact for these innovations from the African tech community in NYC,” added Ngozi Odita,  founder of AfricaNXT one of Nigeria’s leading innovation conferences.

The program closed with panelists iterating on each startup and answering the question “Will you download my app?”.

“Participating in #dmaAfrica was one of the best event experiences I have had as a founder. It was unlike any other and allowed me to intimately exchange with users and investors, share my story and see how they experience my web app. It forced me to go deeper and rethink how I communicate my vision and product,” said Yoma Onosemuode, the founder of Travelbay.

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