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Interview With Fatima Ali, Founder and CEO At Trim & Prissy

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Fatima Ali, Founder and CEO at Trim & Prissy, an Abuja-based beauty and makeup firm, is a lady passionate about seeing people look beautiful right from her teens. In this exclusive interviews with Priscilla Philips of Business Africa Online, Fatima sheds light on her company’s brand and how it is empowering Nigerians. Excerpt.

 

Priscilla: Tell us about yourself and your business?

Fatima: I have always loved makeup and giving my friends makeovers right from my early teens. I attended a diploma course at London school of beauty and makeup. Though, both degrees at the university were in the sciences. Also, I went to etiquette school in Switzerland where i learnt a lot about appearance and suitable makeup for every occasion. These experiences all went into a melting pot where the brand, Trim & Prissy was born.

 

Priscilla: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?

Fatima: Multiple levies and taxes which in my opinion should not apply to start-ups. Particularly with regards to international shipping and logistics. Also, the beauty industry can be very fickle but once you have your market research down to a tee and you are able to carve a niche for yourself, you can become a disrupter rather than follow the traditional methods of brand building.

 

Priscilla: What is your business model? How are you able to break into the market?

Fatima: It’s an online business model, dependent on the proven power of social media and other traditional marketing channels. Our audience are women in the workforce who are in offices with little time or space on visiting physical stores.

It definitely has not been an easy ride. But i am thankful to have been able to carve out a niche for my luxury brand, an online destination for skin care and makeup lovers to read our blog post and shop recommendations in the confines of their offices or homes nationwide.

 

Priscilla: What is the future for Trim & Prissy and what steps are you taking towards achieving it?

Fatima: I want to prove that shopping online is not always a daunting experience (especially in Nigeria). Also, to show that luxury is more accessible than ever without breaking your bank balance for it. Hence, our products are affordable and very easily accessible to our budding customer base nationwide. They no longer need to shop abroad for luxury makeup skin care.

 

Priscilla: What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

Fatima: Be a disrupter rather than follow the traditional methods of brand building such as brick and mortar stores. Do what you believe in, be yourself and your audience will gravitate towards you.

 

Priscilla: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?

Fatima: By forging partnerships with other start-ups, we are able to promote growth and development within the entrepreneurial space which in turn creates job opportunities for the unemployed in our country.

 

Priscilla: What inspires you?

Fatima: I am a perfectionist. I enjoy honing my craft both in blogging and creating new products. So, really there is no limit to the potential of brand as there will always be room for growth.

 

Kindly visit: Trim & Prissy

Afripreneur

Lebohang Lebogo: First generation drone pilot delivering blood for SANBS

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DURBAN – Flying is her life, even if it means journeying into the brave new world of drones and artificial intelligence.

Aiming to transform your dreams into reality? If you think that is impossible you might change your mind once you’ve chatted to Lebohang Lebogo, a medical technician with the South African National Blood Service (SANBS), whose sights are firmly set on reaching for the stars.

Lebogo, 29, is one of South Africa’s first generation of drone pilots, whose mission is to save lives delivering bloods to far-flung places where conventional transport is often a challenge, particularly when it comes to emergency services. At the South African National Blood Service conference in Sun City this week she said she was “super excited” to be part of a visionary future in which distance-related medicine is becoming centre stage.

“People are scared that technology and Fourth Industrial Revolution is overtaking the job market. I say embrace the new technologies, learn new skills and become part of the future.” It’s a message that she has certainly taken to heart, creating what she calls a “planned career path” that has a strong humanitarian element. Turning the clock back to the day when she decided that flying was her life, Lebogo believes her mother’s support and influence have been the key to unlocking her dreams.

“We lived in a the Kagiso township near Mogale City. It was quite a troubled place so often as a small child I used to look up at the sky and think what a beautiful quiet place it was. I used to love watching the silver wings of aircraft flying overhead, so graceful like large birds. One day I said to my mother I want to be up there too flying in the clouds. She didn’t laugh. She said she would help me get there. After that I didn’t worry about dolls or clothes, flying and learning about aeroplanes was all that I was interested in.”

Fortunately for the young flying enthusiast, things fell into place at the right time. Her mother was working at the SANBS headquarters in Johannesburg at the time she was leaving school and managed to obtain a training internship for her daughter to become a medical technician, working with blood products, learning the ins and outs of selecting and cross matching bloods for specific patients.

Also Read Lillian Barnard: Tech Enthusiast And First Female Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa

At this week’s SANBS conference at Sun City, Lebogo shows how it is done.

“I couldn’t have chosen a better career. For me knowing that what I was doing was helping to save lives was amazing. Sometimes I would hear about the mums who had been saved during a difficult childbirth and who needed blood, or accident victims who would have died without bloods being rushed to them.” While her training took up most of her time, her dreams of learning to fly were still very much alive.

“Any spare money was spent on flying lessons. Most weekends I spent training in a Cessna 172. I remember the first time I flew and watched the tiny villages and big cities under me, it was like magic. I will never forget it.” With 32 flying hours under her belt and while setting her sights on going solo within the next year, another opportunity came her way that was not to be missed.

“To be honest when I was asked if I would like to learn how to operate a drone I had never heard of one and hadn’t a clue how they worked or what they were supposed to do, but if it meant learning some sort of flying technique then I was all for it.”

She says the day she was introduced to the TRON – an unmanned aviation vehicle (UAV) capable of carrying small loads of cargo across great distances – was an experience of a lifetime.

“And I had been chosen to be part of the team piloting it – wow!”

For SANBS the introduction of a drone blood delivery and collection arm has been a journey into a brave new world, one where artificial intelligence and groundbreaking new technologies are geared to change medicine as we know it.

Amit Singh director of the new drone project gives us an insight into the need for such a mission and the development so far.

“Delivering medical supplies has always been a struggle, especially when it comes to rural areas,” he explains. “With long distances, poor road conditions, and slow land vehicles it can be difficult for supplies to arrive on time. When it comes to healthcare, time is always a factor. A timely delivered vaccine can save lives during outbreaks. On the other hand, late blood transfusions can end with the patient dying while waiting for supplies to arrive. That’s why a drone was an ideal solution.”

For Lebogo, the next few weeks will be devoted to getting her head around the complexities of packaging and storing the different bloods she cross matches and processes, steering and guiding the drone to and from the pick up points keeping within the aviation boundaries.

“With my background in flying I have had to study the Civil Aviation Authority rules and regulations. They are no different from a drone. We don’t have approval yet to operate a drone service, but at least we will be ready to go once the right certification is in place. That will be an historic day for all of us.”

The first step towards that outcome will be to conduct a number of non-delivery practice flights between two of SANBS sites Kopanong Blood Bank and Sebogeng Hospital in Gauteng as part of the proof of concept required by aviation law.

“Once the authorities are happy with the logistics, we are hoping that we can go to the next level,” says Singh. Meanwhile Lebogo will keep her focus on getting her private pilot’s and later her commercial license.

“It all depends on funding, but flying is all I want to do, whether it’s a drone or the real thing. My dream is to fly a plane to Bali. It looks so beautiful.”

 

FACTS ABOUT THE TRON

The UAV is managed and designed by a German Based company named Quantum Systems. It can be piloted manually or autonomously. It can take off vertically like a helicopter, fly as a fixed wing, and land like a helicopter. It is capable of flying a distance in excess of 100 km carry a payload of two kilograms equivalent to carrying four units of blood. It weighs 13.5kgs, with a wingspan of 3.5m.

The TRON drone is built for fast transport. Its design is similar to a dart – with a wider front and slim back to maximize its speed against the wind. It has an operational range of over 100 kilometers and capable of speeds up to 100 kmph. What is unique, is the fact that TRON can do two-way logistics.

It is designed to carry blood packs, or at least blood samples to and from hospitals in South Africa. With blood as its main demographic, it is important to have a storage device capable of maintaining temperature. A sudden shift in temperature can easily spoil medical supplies, blood included. The supplies also require a durable and stable container that can withstand shaking during flight.

 

Credit: LIZ CLARKE/BUSINESS REPORT

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Black Space App CEO, April Jefferson on entrepreneurship and connecting black travelers to their culture

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Black Space App Founder and CEO, April Jefferson

In this age of digital disruption, the tourism industry globally has embraced new technologies and changed the way we travel. And these new technology advancements promises to deliver an improved, even more interactive and user experiences.  Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online interviewed April Jefferson, CEO of Black Space App as she shares her thoughts on entrepreneurship, how are her brand is using technologies to fine-tune travel experiences, connecting black travelers across the globe to their culture and the development of Africa’s travel industry. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Tell us about Black Space App and the gap its filling?

April: Black Space App is the Ultimate Black Travelers Guide, connecting you to the culture no matter where you are. Our mission is to provide Black travelers with cultural safe, educational, and enjoyable travel experiences. Black travelers are looking to experience people, and places that are culturally relevant as they experience comfort and familiarity within these spaces. Not only that but we are in a time where racial discrimination has become prominent, hate crimes have increased every year for the last four years. Our vision is to become the one stop shop for Black travelers providing them with all they need to plan, navigate and share their travels. As we curate this community, we are keeping Black travelers safe, informed, entertained, and creating memorable travel experiences.

 

Alaba: What is your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?

April: I have not raised any money to date, we are one hundred percent bootstrapped. We may fund raise in the near future.

 

Alaba: What are the major challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?

April: The major challenge right now is funding. We are growing quickly, at a demand where it is becoming harder for us to keep up. With limited funding we are only able to travel so much, and or purchase the needed equipment to capture the sites, people and places we’d like. However, we have been very innovative, and resourceful with what we have been afforded. Our Nikon’s and Kodak’s have allowed us to capture the culture through our eyes, to share with our users.

Recently there’s been competition in this sector, as the Black community is beginning to learn that the only barrier to seeing the world is ourselves. Has there been major competition? I am yet to find any company providing the full scope of the Black travel experience including booking, streaming, etc. that we are providing to Black travelers.

So, we are confident in that we are fulfilling a major gap and breaking into the travel industry in a more innovative, holistic way.

 

Alaba: How is your App connecting black across the globe to their culture and heritage?

April: Our app was created to connect our users to the culture, creating a sense of home no matter where they are. Black travelers are looking to experience people, places and things that are of their culture, as research shows they show familiarity and comfort within these spaces. Our app provides them with the local cultural experience; so that no matter where they are, they are able to find events, places and people that they are able to connect to. We also will be educating them on local African history and culture as they travel.

Currently we are collecting research on the Green Book and the communities it obtains, documenting and sharing Black historical sites as well as present day institutions that educate and celebrate the African heritage. We will document our experiences, and guide travelers through these spaces encouraging them to experience them during their travels. When we say that we are connecting travelers to the culture, we truly mean in every aspect. Our near future plan is to add these sites to the app in the form of Augmented Reality, to truly transport travelers through these experiences of African history, and culture. We hope to take this feature into Educational Institutions, introducing them to the guide utilizing technology to innovatively educate, and connect communities to the African culture that surrounds them.

Alaba: What’s your view on the development of the travel and tourism in Africa?

April: We have been following the development and are aware that tourism plays a vital part in the economic development of Africa. Black travelers are traveling to Africa at an increasing rate, and they are looking to learn more about the history, culture and how they can be a positive reinforcement when visiting. However, with their being a true disconnect to what is truly happening in Africa; tourists are not able to fully experience the culture and contribute to the Economics. We want to provide them with the experience and educate them on how they can visit and be an asset to the country, as well as how they can continue to support outside of their travels, is how we plan to bridge the gap.

Through technology, through our app, we can connect travelers to the businesses in Africa for them to patronize the events in Africa they need to support and even initiatives that assist in other areas of development. We also plan to educate on the history of Africa and offer tours on the ground providing jobs to locals. Africans inhabit every inch of the planet; therefore, Black Space is looking to be in every city, and country worldwide contributing to develop education as it pertains to African culture, and economics as it pertains to Black and African communities.

 

Alaba: What’s the future for your brand and what steps are you taking towards it?

April: We are a social impact company, who wishes to take the travel industry by storm and become a one-stop shop for Black travelers. Our vision is to be the only resource needed for them to book their travel, find out what’s happening locally and purchase tickets, stream music during travels and connect to other like-minded travelers. All of these features are already available through our app, and we are working on expounding on what is already integrated. Through our app, we hope to put Black travelers mind at ease when planning their trip knowing that they will be safe, accepted and have an enjoyable travel experience.

In addition, we have a mission to preserve, and allow users to interact with Black history throughout the World empowering and uplifting African culture throughout the Diaspora. Currently we are working to add, and enhance this component of the app. This component we are looking to bring into educational institutions and to city governments to create diverse tourism experiences geared toward Black communities promoting economic development in underserved communities.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

April: Underrepresented, and severely underserved. Black women receive the least amount of funding within the tech space, making it that much more difficult. I often feel as if what I’m doing is important, innovative, ground-breaking but, many times within this space it’s severely reduced and I can easily feel like I’m not making any leeway. However, I also feel that this makes me stronger and smarter in every aspect. I’ve learned to use my challenges, and differences to my advantage in all that I’m doing. I believe there’s power in being able to say: “I’ve had to figure most of this out on my own, and I’m still standing” and I definitely don’t plan on lying down any time soon. What I’m doing is important to not just me, but my culture if we don’t tell our story, who else will?

 

Alaba: What’s your advice for prospecting entrepreneurs and investors looking towards the tourism and travel sector?

April: The travel, and tourism sector has been the same for a long time. It has been advertised to the same people, and locations. It is time to include more innovation, and incorporation of various cultures. I think that it is important that those entering into this sector understand the importance of the need for the shift in the industry. Not only that but realize that travel connects us to communities across the globe therefore, it is important to create a positive impact in those communities as we come in contact with them through our companies.

Also Read Interview With Mall for Africa Founder and CEO, Chris Folayan

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

April: I love to go to the beach; I love the water which is one of the reasons I relocated to Virginia on the coast. I also read to relax. I can tuck away and read all day. I usually read articles I enjoy biographies as well. I recently finished Nina Simone’s biography. I often watch the documentaries and read the stories I am a very inquisitive person, so I love to look at things from every aspect.

 

Alaba: What are your favorite local dish and your favourite local holiday spot?

April: Well I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and we are known for some of the BEST foods. My favorite local food from my hometown is the Chinese Food; no one in the World makes Chinese food like St. Louis makes Chinese food! I’m not a huge Holiday person; I’m more into creating new, individual experiences.

 

Visit: Black Space App

 

Her Profile:

April Jefferson was born and raised in St. Louis, MO the heart of the Midwest. As the oldest of four, she often held the responsibility to nurture and care for those around her, including those in her community. Her parents afforded her many opportunities enrolling her in private schools, where she excelled and encouraged her to take Leadership roles in many community programs, such as the Drill Team, African American Role Model Association, etc. Therefore, her interest and love for Black Culture, and Community was instilled at a young age.

Graduating High School with honors, she was accepted into Saint Louis University—one of the most prestigious schools in the Country. However, after two years at the University and experience culture shock being on of the few Black students on campus she transferred to a Public University. She studied Psychology, until she gave birth to her first son in 2009. She planned to give birth and return back to school immediately however her son was diagnosed with several complications at birth and spent his first month of life in the NICU, with his Mother right by his side. From there she worked in Design picking up contracts with St. Louis Public Schools and several small businesses, and Education working in several capacities from tutor, to registrar.

After the uprising in Ferguson, she created a professional organization, Black Businesswomen of St. Louis, where she connected, educated, and elevated hundreds of women in Business. She also hosted Community Events, for several small black businesses, owned by black men and women alike assisting them in connecting with the Community, and increasing revenue. She also hosted a radio show on fergusonhottalkradio.com, acquiring listeners from across the Globe and bringing awareness to issues within Ferguson.

She published her first book “Allowed to be Me,” a book she calls an “Ode to my Sista’s”. A self-help book for Black Women and went on tour to promote the book—landing in Hampton Roads, VA where she currently resides. In 2018 after settling in and processing her tour she created the Black Space App for Black travelers, with all the features she felt she looked for during her travels.

Currently she has participated in Black Enterprises TCX Fellow Program, Founder Gym, and won the Ulule Social Impact Pitch Competition.

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Interview with Badejo Stephen, CEO and Founder of The Removalist Logistics

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Badejo Stephen, CEO and Founder of The Removalist Logistics.

The Removalist Logistics is a Lagos-based global logistics power house that began operations few years back and have grown due to excellent relationships with our clients and satisfactory services. Providing bespoke and professional moving and relocation services and other logistics solutions. In this interview,  Alaba Ayinuola  of Business Africa Online spoke with Badejo Stephen, CEO and Founder of The Removalist Logistics, to know more about the brand good start, his entrepreneurship journey in Nigeria and his vision to be a force to reckon with having global impact in the logistics world. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Tell us Removalist Logistics, mission, vision, services and the gap it’s filling.

Stephen: The Removalist logistics is Nigeria’s one time and all round logistics company, where we bridge the gap between clients and their successful last mile delivery to their clients, in short words we are the enablers.

Our mission: Our mission is to provide affordable, reliable last and all round logistics solution to our clients

Vision: We will be a foremost brand to be reckoned with having global impact, with reputable value in the logistics and supply chain world.

 

Alaba: What’s your startup capital and how were you able to raise it? Do you have any advice for the logistics startups on fundraising strategies?

Stephen: Well, for me when I started, I started with just zero Naira and I mean without nothing. All I had was the inspirational idea which came just after I finished my first degree while ruminating on what to do next. By the way I studied human physiology, my plan was to proceed in medicine in UK, Canada, Australia or USA which I had already started the processing, but I left all those vision for this idea.

As for me I will say entrepreneurship mostly is about convictions as most time we will leave the seemingly glorious profession, for something that is unsure to others but only you.

Starting from zero wasn’t easy but I thank God for wisdom, following specific instructions per time and the advice of my fathers and mentors, which can never be overemphasized.

After 4 years, we have been able to buy few fleets including dispatch bikes, and made some money that is still keeping us running. They say every startup dies at 5th year, but this is our 4th and I cannot wait for the greatness that the 5th will bring, the future is bright.

My advice for any Logistics startup is to leverage on other Logistics company and work towards a goal, there are so many illiterate in this business that are in the black market. When you leverage with them with your educational advantage that will set you apart.

 

Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?

Stephen: The challenges are much, really, there are big, bigger and biggest players in the field, the competition is very fierce and challenging I must confess, but we are scaling through gradually. We have our strategies as I am not willing to share now because it is our trade secrets, maybe after we have built a great institution, my successor (s) can share them. But we have a policy of what we need to do, what we must do and how we must do it. We do not follow the crowd, as much as the competition is there we focus majorly on inward growth which will basically lead to outward manifestation. My dream is to build something that will outlive me not wishy washy.

Also Read Cycles, Nigeria’s No.1 Bike-Sharing Platform Achieving The United Nations SDG Goal 11 – Damilola Soladoye

Alaba: How’s digitisation helping to solve challenges in the logistics industry?

Stephen: Well I must say that digitization has made a lot of people and will make a lot of people go out of business. The question I ask myself daily is “hey guy, how do you remain relevant in this field”, I challenge myself every morning after my devotion, hungry for more and what next.

Because with digitization of logistics systems and model it makes the processes easier, cheaper and faster, as to this myself and my team are working on something which we call the “LogiTech” vision, all hands are on deck and we will soon roll out a branded phase of The Removalist Logistics, the switch is about to be on, as such one major reasons why we haven’t released that platform yet is capital intensive, so we are taking our time to get the right funding.

Perhaps you are an investor, after reading this interview and you will love to hear from us and support our platform kindly reach out.

 

Alaba: What’s the future for your brand and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?

Stephen: The future for my startup is bright. I will not love to say more than that, and we are working daily in attaining our goals, one step at a time.

 

Alaba: How’s your business contributing to development of Africa?

Stephen: Well, I will say my brand is contributing enormously to the economy and development of Nigeria and Africa in so many ways, bridging the gap between good owners and customers, solving relocation issues, last mile delivery solution and lots. I do tell my team that Africa is growing, in few years there will be virtual market, and there will need to be a brand that will relay virtual reality to doorsteps and that will be the logistics and last mile delivery companies, so we have started with what we have now having in mind where we will need to be.

 

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Stephen: As an African entrepreneur, I feel blessed, because I know this is the right time to build my continent, we are facing so many challenges that we know, if we know them should we still keep complaining? No! Intentionality is the way forward, we need to look beyond our shortcomings and take actions ourselves no matter how little.

I am elated to be around at this time, if men could build America, same men but of African race will build Nigeria and thus Africa, enough of complaints, it is time to be intentionally intentional and be action oriented.

 

Alaba: What’s your advice or prospecting entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?

Stephen: My advice for intending entrepreneurs is that they should learn to collaborate with each others, think about social problems and build solutions around them. I bet it if you are steady and consistent you will make it.

However, they should not have the mindset of blowing! That is the phrase around these days, I one blow. No! There is dignity in labour has long as you remain focus and consistent you’ll hit it. As African entrepreneurs it is important to be a person of focus, have something that is worth dying for and die for it, stay focus to a cause. I see a lot of youths not organized, they go here and there, see them in different seminars yet they are not productive. It is not about attending all events it is about attending the ones that suit your line of purpose or passion, try this in a year and see what you will achieve.

 

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

Stephen: I relax by listening to music, going to the cinemas with my partner, and of course primary is reading. I read anything readable and I meditate. Also most times, I am a student of the bible in all my reading I balance it with my bible. Most times when I have issues or problem to tackle the best book I read that gives me wisdom to handle is the bible. And I love books on History, Leadership, lifestyle, business and documentaries, I prefer documentaries to movies most times.

I love taking pictures too and I love playing scrabbles, but at times my social life can be boring, because my mindset is always, how much have I made that I want to socialize. Most importantly I am a person of study.

 

Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favourite local dish?

Stephen: One word: HMMMMM! “Obe to dun owo lo pa”, meaning soup that is sweet it is money that killed it, I have this mentality that whatever I want to get in life I have to work and make money to get it and afford the life I want to live, don’t get me wrong, to live a luxurious lifestyle is different from living affordable life style. People can live luxuriously and fake it but if you live affordably you get whatever you want to get at whatever time, that is my mindset.

My favourite Africa meal is Beans and Garri(I love soaking garri with beans, maybe because I’m an Ijebu man, smiles).

 

Visit The Removalist logistics

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