Abdellah AOUF is the Founder & CEO at Global Opportunities, the first opportunity discovery platform for youths in Algeria that has been ranked as one of the best 100 Startup in Africa by the world bank and Egyptian Government. He is a 27-year-old young Leader Entrepreneur from the City of Roses in Algeria, who is passionate about Entrepreneurship, Business, Branding, innovation, Empowering others and making a positive impact in the society. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, he talked about how his platform is helping young people realize their dreams by promoting a “Can Do” mindset, and develop self-confidence and entrepreneurship skills. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about GO Platform and the gap its filling.
Abdellah: GO Platform is the First opportunity discovery platform for all youth in Algeria. Many of them have trusted us as the most effective and easy to use platform to find the most relevant opportunities for low cost and search for important academic and professional contents for continuous self-development.
Besides offering opportunities to obtain useful international experience, The GO Platform helps young people realize their dreams by promoting a “Can Do” mindset, and develop self-confidence and entrepreneurship skills exactly when they need it the most, in their twenties.
We have always believed that university education is very important for the development of our youth, but it remains far from enough to fulfill the need of today’s work standards in our highly competitive and globalized world. Our Go Platform opportunities program provides that advantage on top of the college degree that makes graduates more skilled and experienced making them better prepared for the challenges to come in the professional world.
Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Abdellah: After being awarded as one of the best 100 Startups in Africa by the World Bank and Egyptian Government, and nominated by the UNESCO for potential recipient for the youth citizen entrepreneurship. We started with creating a Facebook page that offers the different opportunities. After a while we succeeded in raising capital from the government in a first step for something new in Algeria for 50.000 USD as a loan with no interests which has helped us to scale up very fast.
Alaba: As a startup, what are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Abdellah: As a startup we face challenges daily, but the most challenges that are holding us back are the government legislations. Since it treats the big companies as the same as SME’s and startups which is not motivating. Also bureaucracy in all the different markets.
To overcome these challenges, we are more perseverance and persistent in making things happens, we are always looking for a network that can make us more closely to make our voice heard by the government people that are in decision making positions. We are working on Eliminate paperwork whenever possible; Cut out processes, Empower people, Keep “Action” at our forefront.
Alaba: How does your organisation measure its impact?
Abdellah: We have been the first startup that is making a real impact in the Algerian ecosystem by sharing the different opportunities for the youth and professionals as well; We have changed the ecosystem to an altruistic one. We measure our impact with different indicators; we start by Selecting and monitoring a set of figures as indicators of impact. A key issue will be causation – proving a link between statistical evidence and the research.
- Search: We search to Understand the environment in which impact may occur.
- Evaluate: Develop evaluation questions based on this knowledge.
- Identify: Identify appropriate data collection methods for both qualitative and quantitative techniques.
- Consider: the impact evaluation is for a REF impact case study, and we consider the REF impact case study guidance and structure.
- Research: We re-do the same process to find better ways to make more impact.
Alaba: What’s the future for GO Platform and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Abdellah: Our vision is to lead the African opportunities in every country “as well as the sub Saharan countries” by building relations and partnerships and provide the right of information for the African youth.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?
Abdellah: I believe that our contribution to the African continent is by developing her youth and providing the different opportunities that will:
- Decrease poverty in the rural areas and lower illegal immigration.
- Improve the quality of education by interacting which will have an impact in educating societies and reduce violance.
- Ensure gender equality.
- Foster the economic growth:
1 – Attracting opportunities providers to invest in the African youth.
2 – Provide equal opportunities for everyone that will impact the development of the economic countries.
- Enhance social justice in the African continent.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Abdellah: As an African entrepreneur I feel blessed to be African and very happy to be a part of the African development by empowering the youth and communities, also to leave a footprint even if it’s just a small one for now.
Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Abdellah: It is a reality that the African continent is facing a lot of challenges that are responsible for the low rate of economic development and growth in African countries. But regardless these challenges, the African continent is a gold mine of talents and resources, every problem is an opportunity for a sustainable business.
My Advice for the prospecting entrepreneurs and investors is “Be the first, or someone will.”
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Abdellah: Once in a while i go with my friends for hiking in the mountain and explore the Algerian nature. Also I read a lot of business books as:
- from zero to one by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel
- Think and Grow rich by Napoleon Hill
- Rich dad, poor dad by by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
- The Art of war by Sun Tzu
Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favorite local dish?
Abdellah: Algeria is a North African country and its language is a mixture of Arabic, French and Amazigh, the word Algeria in our language is El Djazair which in English is the plural of island “Islands”. My favorite local dish is called Mtewem which is meat balls, chickpea with a spicy sauce that can be eaten with bread.
Alaba: What’s your favorite holiday spot in your country? Why?
Abdellah: My favorite spot in Algeria Is Tamenghasset which is a saharian city in Algeria. I think it’s the best spot for me because I find it a spiritual place for me to relax and re-boost my energy to focus more.
Abdellah AOUF is a 27-year-old young Leader Entrepreneur from the City of Roses in Algeria, who is passionate about Entrepreneurship, Business, Branding, innovation, Empowering others and making a positive impact in the society.
He’s the Country Director at Oya Opportunities, the Founder & CEO at Global Opportunities that been ranked by one of the best 100 Startup in Africa by the world bank and Egyptian Government and nominated to many prizes, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the International Development House, National Coordinator at Team 54 Project Algeria, World Summit Award National Expert, Ambassador at Parvati.org, UN Volunteer, Goodwill Ambassador at GGA, a Country Representative at World Merit, Campus Director at Hult Prize Foundation and Head Professor at University of Blida.
Also he is an influencer Speaker who uses the Sustainable Development Goals in order to establish the world peace, Recipient of “Global Youth Leadership Award 2019” by the Global Youth Parliament, Nominated as potential recipient of the ELIASSON Global Leadership Prize, Speaker at Wikistage Skikda, Wikistage Ziania and Wikistage Affroun, He has an 8 years work experience in Many field ” Business development – Educator – Coach – Executive Sales Representative – Administrative Manager…….ect” He was the Co-Founder of Al Kindi Physics Club and he was an Social & Cultural Activist in many Clubs & associations ” AIESEC – AL Kindi – Le Souk – Touiza – Lions – Rotaract” in many positions as “Organizer committee president -Organize Committee Member – External relations…… ect” For Now, he’s a Coach in Many national and international events as ‘’Startup Weekend HEC, Startup Weekend ENP, ’Startup Weekend Woman, ’Startup Weekend Cirta, Startup Weekend Sidi Belabess, Startup Weekend Bejaia, Excellence Bootcamp ……..ect’’, Mentor at Mentor Africa Project, Mentor at Africa is Calling you.
African Diaspora: The face behind the only Black woman founded and led ice cream brand in Amsterdam
African Diaspora, Nekeia Boone is a senior UX and tech manager turned ice cream entrepreneur. Originally from Harlem, NYC, she created her brand, Tudy’s Kitchen in the midst of a burnout, family tragedies, personal health issues and a pandemic. Named after her Grandma Tudy, she dedicate this brand as a legacy to all that she did for others – and in gratitude to all that she’s done for her. Tudy’s Kitchen is a Black woman founded and led ice cream brand based in Amsterdam. Their flavors are a delightful surprise, turning traditions right side up. Sweet and savory is umami heaven in their book – and often the star of the show in their handmade desserts.
Tudy’s Kitchen is using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, while creating business opportunities for underrepresented groups. Particularly womxn and people of color, is at the heart of what they do. As such, Tudy’s Kitchen has a strong bias to collaborate with people who come from these groups. And partner with entities who believe in these values, to help them build their brand.
In just a few months, they have taken production literally from her kitchen into Kitchen Republic, a startup space aimed at helping food and drink entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
Currently, Tudy’s Kitchen is sold at Sterk Amsterdam, a speciality shop with a host of unique international products. And coming soon, they hope to kickstart their own webshop, along with having their products available on a variety of delivery apps.
The above have already proven useful in helping them scale up production, gain greater brand awareness, and attach new customers. But limited funding has created several roadblocks in helping them fully realize these efforts.
Goals and timeline
In the first six months of launch, they’ve established two key goals:
- Create brand identity and establish awareness.
- Tap into opportunities that allow them to scale.
Their approach to scaling this business leverages the small-step philosophy. They are currently doing this by:
- Setting small, measurable and achievable goals.
- Quick roll out of product to the market.
- Gathering data from customers to validate their efforts.
- Then iterating, improving and rolling out again.
In taking this approach, they envision success at the end of the six-month period to include, but not limited to:
- Boosting sales, having reached their target audience via multiple platforms (e.g. food delivery apps, new retail locations, Tudy’s Kitchen webshop).
- Building their social media following to a minimum of 1000 new followers.
- Increasing number of mentions in publications (e.g. digital or print), influencer pages (e.g. food bloggers), and/or other marketing mediums, creating an uplift in brand awareness and sales.
- Expanding the team to include support staff (sous chef, cleaning crew, dedicated delivery service), more creatives (designers, writers, stylists), and operations (financial planning/analysis, logistics, strategists).
- Generating enough data (e.g. via surveys, product reviews/feedback, etc) to establish goals for the following six-month period.
- Creating financial stability for the brand to cover operational costs (e.g. rent, equipment, etc) and to pay the many volunteers the money they deserve for helping us get this far.
Let’s keep that momentum going strong and help them African Diaspora bring it home! Support her
Margaret Adekunle, Founder of the first Black owned Canadian company with a branded secured credit card
Margaret Adekunle is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of City Lending Centers, a credit building solution company. She has worked in the banking industry for 20 years, and her passion for progress and dedication to her community has been universally praised by Friends and Colleagues alike. Margaret has seen the struggles immigrants face and experienced them firsthand. Driving her forward to take action and uplift her community, so that nobody will have to endure their struggles alone. She founded Immigrants Inclusive Credit to tackle the complex struggles with systemic racism and financial insecurities that immigrants are forced to adapt to as they integrate into the Alberta ecosystem.
A Diversity and Inclusion Strategist and the Founder of ATB Black team members Network. The network that advance the Inclusion of Black team members by providing development opportunities and creating diverse talents throughout the organization. Her vision is to create a pathway to leadership for all underrepresented groups.
Margaret Adekunle is committed to bringing Inclusion, Diversity, Human Right and a Sense of belonging to the forefront through education and community initiatives. Teaching and mentoring new immigrants on how to adapt to the Canadian workplace culture is a cause that has been fulfilling for her.
About City Lending Centers (CLC)
City Lending Centers (CLC) is a custom credit building solutions that help you take control of your finances. And helps you get a good credit score, and a high score means better loan terms and lower interest rates on lending facilities such as loans, mortgages, and lines of credit. CLC helps build new credit, improve existing credit scores and fix damaged credit.
With over 21 years of experience helping customers rebuild damaged credit, build new credit, get out of debt, and save more. A company of former bankers with branch management experience and equipped to advise on all areas of money management. They understand how credit scores work, and can help you improve your credit scores faster. Also, they understand that financial strain could impact mental health. Therefore, provide free credit counseling and mental health evaluations through their partners.
They offer a secured credit card that works like any other card that helps build credit. CLC’s secure credit card helps customers create new credit or rebuild damaged credit. The only difference between CLC’s credit card and regular credit card is that clients pay an upfront deposit to secure their credit limit. CLC reports all payments to credit bureaus similar to the bank’s process. Clients are be expected to make their monthly payments promptly.
Shalom Lloyd: Building A Skincare Company on Valuing Healthy, Ethical and Sustainable Living
Shalom Ijeoma Lloyd is an award-winning, senior business professional, with over 25 year’s experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Shalom is the Founder of Naturally Tribal Skincare, a natural chemical-free skincare company built on valuing healthy, ethical and sustainable living whilst empowering African women. She holds several NED positions on the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce and SEMLEP boards. Alaba Ayinuola had an amazing opportunity to ask Shalom a few questions. Time to discover Naturally Tribal.
Alaba: Hi Shalom, could you briefly tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship?
Shalom: In 2014, after four cycles of IVF, I gave birth to my twins, Joshua and Amara. My son Joshua was covered in eczema. As a pharmacist I understand the value of medicines in our life, but I tapped into my African roots. After experimenting and mixing in my kitchen, I stumbled across the right formulation. Three days later Joshua’s skin cleared and this was the birth of my company Naturally Tribal Skincare.
With Shea Butter being my main ingredient, this journey led me to build a Shea Butter processing facility in Niger State, Nigeria, where we employ and empower our women. In addition to being a supplier of proudly made in Nigeria Shea Butter, I source my ingredients ethically from there, and then bring them into the UK to manufacture, formulate, test and distribute the finished products.
Today, Naturally Tribal Skincare is stocked in Harrods Beauty. So, if you are looking for quality unrefined Shea butter and great natural skincare products, Naturally Tribal Nigeria is able to supply that.
I am also one of the directors of JE Oils, a state of the art Shea processing facility based in Gwagwalada, Abuja!
In 2018 I co-founded another amazing company called Emerging Markets Quality Trials. Although black people represent about 17% of the world’s population, less than 3% of us are involved in clinical trials, so this company, eMQT, focuses on bringing diversity into clinical trials. It gives African patients access to medicines and African healthcare professionals the opportunity to be part of global trials. It also gives pharmaceutical companies access to a great patient population.
So all roads in my entrepreneurial journey seem to lead back to Africa, which makes me proud of my British African heritage.
Alaba: What are your offerings and the problem you are solving?
Shalom: Our offerings and solutions are;
The Nature lover: Our products speak to the nature lover who is passionate about plant-based power. These are the natural skincare lovers, the vegan and cruelty free skincare lover who is passionate about our environment and planet.
The luxury skincare and beauty lover: We speak to and cater for the results driven and luxury skincare lover who appreciates our use of ingredients with the power to battle wrinkles and tighten the skin naturally.
For skin conditions: With around 900 million people in the world suffering with a skin condition, skin diseases remain a major cause of disability worldwide. We are changing the narrative and will be the leading global natural skincare brand for customers with skin conditions as well as customers who want to maintain their skin as nature intended. From consumers with skin conditions to those undergoing medical interventions that will impact the skin.
Alaba: What is your main product and its pivot story from founding to the current state?
Shalom: YARA Body Food is the product that started Naturally Tribal Skincare so I guess you can call this our ‘hero’ product. YARA is special because it worked for my baby and gave me the confidence to start the company. Hence, the name YARA which in Hausa means children. It depicts love, care, protection; making it amazing for the most sensitive skin. Made with high quality unrefined Shea butter, our YARA is packed with natural goodness. It annoys me when we sometimes turn our noses at the scent of the liquid gold that is Shea Butter not realising the jewel we have.
Alaba: How have you attracted users and grown your company from the start?
Shalom: When customers see us, they can see themselves as part of our journey because it’s not about the glitz and glamour but more about the substance. The value one brings to the table and the impact we have on skin, on our planet and on people’s lives.
Hard work, tenacity, resilience; these are not just words! We have a long way to go but having the right people with the right mindset and who share my passion has helped the company grow. When you do something that solves a problem, impacts lives, and have fun in the process, that is a winning formula. On the business side, understanding my numbers (which does not come naturally). Defining my supply chain and knowing one’s position in a crazy, beautiful saturated market helps a lot.
Today, Naturally Tribal Skincare is a proud United Kingdom Department of International Trade Export Champion!
Alaba: What are the challenges and achievements since you launched?
Shalom: Finance was of course the main challenge. I had to remortgage my home to start this business but it has been worth it. Building the factory in Essan required investment and I am honoured to be working with investors who are also colleagues and friends. I wish I had mastered communication and people skills earlier in life. Involving and working with the right people from the start would have saved me a lot of pain. But going through this process throughout my journey has taught me some valuable life lessons.
The greatest achievement is seeing the proud look on my husband and children’s faces. That feeling that the sacrifice has been worth it. 2021 is the year our products launched in Harrods and that is such a big deal for me and my amazing team. We are exporting more, and have been able to complete the formulation of our facial and hair care products.
Alaba: Why are you so passionate about Nigeria and Africa at large?
Shalom: Naturally Tribal Shea butter supply chain is an impressive demonstration of my love and passion for Africa. It has been a journey of ‘Ethical Sourcing and Empowerment’ Pillar. The Shea industry supports and provides income to over 16 million women across the African continent. My research into potential supply sources led us to Niger state, Nigeria and an introduction to the King of Essan. I fell in love with the Kingdom of Essan and today, the Naturally Tribal group has a Shea Processing facility (with creche and worship rooms) that harvests and processes the shea directly in the region, employing about 22 rural women with plans to employ up to 70 in the future.
Our JE Oils shea processing facility boasts of the fact that all our supervisors are women which is a big deal in Nigeria. Having a facility that produces 400 metric tons of shea butter is no joke! This has created an ecologically sound and sustainable infrastructure, jobs, training and more commercial co-operative opportunities to market and sell shea butter.
Alaba: Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the modern beauty and wellness industry?
Shalom: We are more aware of the impact we have on our planet, more aware of consumerism. So the modern beauty industry is on a journey to impact the 120 billion units of unrecyclable plastic we put out annually. Of course, making money is important, we run businesses after all however, It’s not just about making money it’s also about purpose and impact. We no longer look at wellness as a separate topic, we have made beauty, particularly skincare part of one’s holistic wellness – don’t forget that your internal wellness can manifest on your skin.
Alaba: Where do you see yourself and Naturally Tribal in the next 5 years?
Shalom: Our pipeline is exciting, and we are currently working on our facial and hair care products, using innovative and unique ingredients. We are building even stronger relationships with our current stockists. Looking to grow and expand into the Hospitality industry, partner with great luxury SPAs and make great inroads into being stocked in airline duty free luxury goods.
In 5 years time, I see myself, taking a bit of a back seat and overseeing others running my companies. Enjoying the fruits of my labour with my family and friends.
Alaba: Finally, what is your advice to female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry or first-time startup founders?
Shalom: The journey is tough so do something you are passionate about. NEVER let the lack of finance stop you. Align with the right type of people, be genuine, surround yourself with a great team (no one knows it all). Most of all, ENJOY the ride, bumps and all. The beauty industry is so saturated, so be unique. Let your passion shine and come through. Know your numbers and know the value you bring – never sell yourself or your products short. If you are going to do it, do it well and don’t cut corners.