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Interview With CryptoBrokerage CEO and Founder, Sheriff Olujide

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Sheriff Olujide, CryptoBrokerage CEO and Founder is a fintech expert with experience gained in investment banking, financial crime compliance, quantitative analysis and alternative investments. In this e-Interview with Alaba Ayinuola, he speaks on how his brand is providing cryptocurrency ecosystem the opportunity to access the global cryptocurrency exchanges and trade at the best available prices. Excerpts.

 

Tell us about CryptoCurrency Brokerage and the role you play?

CryptoBrokerage is a Fintech start-up and the owner of a trading platform called BestecX. Described as the Booking.com of the cryptocurrency market, CryptoBrokerage by BestecX  aggregates the prices from more than 200+ exchanges and allow users to compare and trade cryptocurrencies at the best available prices.

I am the CEO and founder of CryptoBrokerage

 

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

50,000 GBP – Through Personal savings

 

Why is business different from other FinTechs or CryptoCurrency Startups?

BestecX is unique as it combines block-chain technology with a suite of algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing. Our platform and software targets all following customer segments globally; Retail investors (B2B), Institutional investors (B2B), Professional traders (B2C), OTC Brokerages (B2B), Cryptocurrency Potentials (B2C) and Cryptocurrency Newbies (B2C).

 

What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?

As a Fintech, the most serious challenge we face is funding, however we continue to work hard within and outside of the team to develop our platform as we know the economic model of our business has been truly tested and its in our everyday life, from booking hotels to buying insurance and mortgages and flights.

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years and what steps are you taking in achieving them?

In 5 years, I believe our platform would be the number 1 best execution platform globally. We are putting together a strong team and building a platform that is safe secure and reliable as well as user friendly to everyone within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

 

How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?

I believe our platform would provide the cryptocurrency ecosystem the opportunity to access the global cryptocurrency exchanges and trade at the best available prices. Blockchain projects would also be able to raise capital to develop projects.

 

What’s your view on the development of Africa business ecosystem?

I believe its evolving, however we are still a long way from the successes you see across Europe however the spirit of entrepreneurship in Africa is unbelievable.

 

What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa.

My simple advice to any potential entrepreneur is that nothing worth having comes easy.

 

How do you relax and what books do you read?

I like going to the gym and watching football especially Arsenal. I love reading legal thrillers especially John Grisham and Sheldon Siegel. My girlfriend would also add I read and listen to too much news.

 

Visit https://crbkofficial.com/

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How Tech Is Enhancing Recruitment: An Interview With Sandy Simagwali, Co-Founder Of Graft Africa

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Sandy Simagwali, Co-Founder of Graft Africa

The Human Resource (HR) industry is undergoing major transformation, and African startups have been catching up by building platforms that reflect this evolving nature of the workplace and workforce. Graft Africa, a Zambian HR tech startup is well positioned in championing this process, currently working with Pepsi Zambia and Lamasat International Zambia. To learn more about the company, its disruptions in the HR space and future plans, Alaba Ayinuola did an interview with Sandy Simagwali a Co-Founder and CEO. Excerpt.

Alaba: Can you tell us about Graft Africa and the gap it’s filling in the current HR landscape in Zambia?

Sandy: Graft is a recruiting software company that helps people find jobs they love, and helps companies find great talent that helps drive to their success. We researched and found out that most recruiters still use manual processes during their hiring workflow which include key things like tracking candidates in their emails/inbox, manual posting of job openings to multiple platforms e.g company career page, social media, job boards, and manually scheduling interviews.

At Graft, we built a platform that would help hiring managers, manage candidates easily through the dashboard with functions like sorting and searching e.g by institutions, skills, qualifications, location, etc. Automate interview and interview reminder notifications, a click to post jobs to all major portals helping increase reach.

Alaba: How did it all start and what attracted you into staffing and recruitment?

Sandy: While I was head of Sales at Musanga Logistics, I was given a task to onboard someone within my department, and carrying out the most of the recruiting process which involved receiving applications, filtering out candidates, interviews and onboarding the talent in the organisation was pretty much of overwhelming task whilst trying to meet sales objectives. Cut the story short the hire we made was not what we were looking for. He did not meet expectations so resigned after 2 months. A huge blow to the company’s productivity and revenue.

The idea to build Graft was born after that incident. At that point I was running a business called WinningCV, a resume building platform that used to build high visual resumes for candidates, while working at Musanga I met my very good friend and Co Founder Mulenga Bowa, who was working as full stack developer at Musanga Logistics and was part time building a Job Board which was going to help candidates find their dream job. We had a discussion that led to multiple research and meetings with key recruiters.

Mulenga and I decided to become Co-Founders and started Graft after an amazing journey of growth at Musanga. July 2019 we decided to make the huge jump, we quit our jobs and went in full time with Graft.

Alaba: What does the process entail both for a talent and a hiring firm?

Sandy: Our process aims to benefit both the talent and the hiring firm in the sense that: For candidates, we believe that leaving candidates in the dark not only hurts the chances of building a relationship for the future, but has a probability of tarnishing the brand as well, and our goal at Graft is to ensure that candidates are highly engaged throughout the hiring journey.

Our process also entails that candidates are able to learn more on company culture and values throughout the hiring process, enabling candidate to measure if they fit and would want to be part of the organisation. For hiring firms, the process is mainly helping them reduce the time it takes for them to source, screen, onboard and hire talent.

Alaba: Why should a hiring company choose your company over other recruiting firms?

Sandy: As highlighted in the previous question, our platform helps hiring companies reduce the time it takes source, screen and onboard talent in this regard. With Graft, hiring managers are able to filter and screen candidates with ease and make much more data driven selection of candidates that will help meet their company goals and needs. Our platform allows hiring firms have enough time to focus on other important tasks (e.g evaluating employee relations, orientation and training program and implementing employee benefit programs e.t.c).

Alaba: What are the challenges Graft Africa is facing and you as an entrepreneur?

Sandy: Building a product that users will love has been one of the major challenges we have faced. Another challenge has been most recruiters do not want to make the huge jump to adapt new technology. Also, for a startup, there is a little receptiveness from organisations to entrust a key aspect as recruiting to a software created by young people. Other challenge has been raising capital.

As for me as an entrepreneur, the ability to balance on growing as a person and running a company and ensuring we have users who are using our product, has been a constant battle I have struggled with. This is due to the fact that am mostly all things, apart from product technology.

Also Read: Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

Alaba: How does your company measure its impact? What’s the future for your business?

Sandy: How we measure impact is by our ability to help create jobs in Zambia and across Africa. With the unemployment rate in Zambia slowly dropping from 7.21% in 2018 to a 7.15% in 2019. Our goal is to help create more jobs for young people and add up to national economy by ensuring everyone has a better standard of living. We also aim to measure impact through organisations that use our platform to carry out their recruiting needs, onboard great talent that meets company’s goals and needs. Seeing a company onboard great talent is our very mission that is at the heart of everything we do.

Our measurement is based on companies succeeding with great people (e.g reduced turnover, onboarding great talent that drives to their success). That for us is impact. Providing candidates with tools that enable them get Jobs they love and having an amazing experience per every application sent, to us is labelled as another form of impact. The future for Graft is to be a Leader in HR technology in Africa.

Alaba: The HR industry is moving from a human-driven to a more data-driven approach. How’s your startup enhancing this shift?

Sandy: With some key tools we have built, recruiting managers are able to make much more data driven decisions, e.g who to invite for an interview, have a talent pool that they can easily revert to, enabling them reduce the time and costs to fill out a new role. In regards to data, it is a tool and not a be all and end solution. To make an effective hire, a mixture of data and human judgement is key, no matter how technology makes the process much more efficient, we believe recruiters could become much more data driven whilst keeping the human aspect intact.

Alaba: What in your opinion is the best solution to the high unemployment rate in Africa?

Sandy: Well in my view there are a vast and a number of challenges across Africa, we just need more people that will stop complaining about the problems they see and aim to create solutions that will branch off into Global brands that will create more jobs. With a lot of problems that are surfacing Africa, lies a gem of bold Africans that will face the problems head on and create solutions that will enable job creation for many Africans.

Alaba: Can you share some insights into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zambia?

Sandy: Its quite exciting that we are in an era where a lot of Zambians are starting amazing companies that are truly solving peoples problem’s. From startups like Zazu that is helping people manage their finances, Emsika an agriculture online platform that is helping connect suppliers and buyers in agriculture related products, Musanga a transportation marketplace that connects shippers to drivers to improve delivery efficiency, cost and provide data visibility, Spotless Africa, whose aim is to rethink, reimagine, and reshape the way cleaning services and products are delivered in Africa. Just to mention but a few entrepreneurs and a whole lot more that are stepping up to help solve key problems is an amazing period that will help us change the whole dynamic of challenges we face as a nation.

Alaba: How is the Zambian government supporting entrepreneurs in your country?

Sandy: Well, *clearing throat*. I have not seen much support to be honest, maybe other entrepreneurs can correct me if am wrong. But based on the ecosystem of entrepreneurs that I network with, not much has been done from my view. Agriculture entrepreneurship at a minimal rate has received some form of support. The future is bright, I believe with more support from the government we could see a lot of growth in our country in regards jobs, etc.

Graft Africa powered projects:

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Building Sustainable and Profitable Enterprises: An Interview with David Owumi, Founder of VisionCTRL Africa

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David Owumi is the Founder and Lead Business Innovation Strategist at VisionCTRL Africa, a business analysis, design and consulting firm based in Nigeria. A social entrepreneur on a mission to achieve a lifetime commitment, driving Africa’s sustainable development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR). David in this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, talks about how his brand is developing its support for African entrepreneurs, the Business Drive for Her Initiative, why women talents should be developed and transformed into valuable tools for social and economic growth. Excerpt.

Alaba: Kindly tell us about VisionCTRL and the gap its filling?

David: VisionCTRL Nigeria, founded in 2018, consists of a team of seasoned Business Innovators, Business Designers and Business Analysts committed to providing professional business development services small and medium scaled organizations. We help our league of depending clients create innovative products, services and formidable business structures necessary to deliver on remarkable value propositions while scaling to generate more revenue and market share.

At VisionCTRL, we believe in the power of Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology as vital tools for the positive transformation of the African economy, creating solutions to social problems such as Poverty, Lack of Quality Education, Unemployment, and Infrastructural Deficit.

Alaba: What sparked your interest in starting this firm?

David: From the age of 10, when I started accompanying my mother to destitute and orphanage homes dispensing amenities such as food and medical kits, I have always wanted to solve social problems but ignorant as to which to focus on. My passion for social innovation, entrepreneurship and business matured as I followed religiously the popular TV series “Shark Tank”, unconsciously preparing myself for VisionCTRL.

Few months after we launched Salt Talks Africa in March of 2018 with a focus on fostering sustainable development in grassroots communities, we saw a need to help entrepreneurs start sustainable businesses that “solve real problems for real people”.

Alaba: How is VisionCTRL developing its support for African entrepreneurs?

David: We help startups and small scale businesses with their Market Research, Feasibility Study, Business Planning, Business Model Innovation, Product/Service Innovation and Business Development. We also provide Free Business Consultation, and organize business management workshops across the federation.

Alaba: Could you tell us about the “Business Drive for Her Initiative” and what it’s set out to achieve?

David: In Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, we’re coming to an understanding of the crucial roles women play in fostering socioeconomic growth in a community, through education and entrepreneurship. This has spurred government, as well as civil societies, to initiate programmes and opportunities to fast track gender inclusivity in education and entrepreneurship on the continent.

The Business Drive for Her Initiative is one of those projects we designed for the sole purpose of educating female entrepreneurs in Nigeria on the basics of business planning, management and innovation, to scale their businesses with a corresponding socio-economic growth in the country.

I believe it takes a collective effort, i.e. both the private and public sectors, to initiate projects that would lead to the long-term, growth of the African economy, and so, we have decided to contribute our quota.

We would be training 6,000 female entrepreneurs across 16 states in Nigeria in partnership with Tech Hubs in the country on Business Management and Innovation, as well as providing mentorship and funding opportunities in partnership with Access Bank.

Alaba: How do you intend to fund this project and measure its impact?

David: To be honest, this is a major challenge faced by social innovators in the private sector, designing financial sustainability for social projects, and as such we emphasize the importance of strategic partnerships. Asides funds set aside by the organization for the project, we consorted with tech hubs in Nigeria, and other organizations that share a common interest for women empowerment in the country, with Access Bank PLC, Salt Talks Africa and Adams Start being some of our major supporters.

Engaging Salt Talks Africa in the project development phase made our planning easier due to their experience in designing sustainable projects. So, instead of asking “Where can we get funds?” we rather sought organizations willing to provide some of the items and logistics we would be spending money on.

Its always better achieving success together.

Alaba: Why is it important for women to start their business?

David: Beyond business, it’s imperative that the talents and interests of women be developed and transformed into valuable tools for social and economic growth. It’s about empowering women with the freedom and opportunities to create and trade value with a sense of belonging, and responsibility for the development of their immediate communities, and the world at large. If women can, then why not?

Alaba: How can we increase capital, confidence and capability in women’s entrepreneurship?

David: It all begins in the home, educating parents on the importance and benefits of a gender inclusive society. Unfortunately, there are families that choose to invest their limited resources on the male over the female. This has to change, and we look up to civil societies and human right activists to champion this cause.

Though impressive measures have been taken to foster female participation in business, education and leadership in Nigeria and Africa, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We need private and public agencies to deliberately allocate opportunities to women as a way of encouraging others at the bottom to strive for the same.

Alaba: What is your advice for any young woman who is thinking about starting a business?

David: If you can create value, and you are convinced you can execute well on your value propositions, why not? Being a woman is no excuse for mediocrity. Hone your craft, and be the best you can.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

David: I feel honored contributing to the advancement of Africa’s sustainable development. There’s no better time to be African than now, and making a conscious and deliberate effort daily to push the continent forward is one decision I’m proud of, despite the intricacies associated with starting and growing an enterprise in Africa.

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

David: At VisionCTRL, we are on a daily mission to be a part of the success stories of businesses driving social growth and economic development in Nigeria, and Africa. We want to understand the dynamics of entrepreneurship and innovation on Africa, and supporting African businesses to be well positioned for these trends for maximum social impact.

To achieve this, we invest a considerable amount of resources in organizing workshops for entrepreneurs, as well as improving our knowledge and operations.

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

David: I spend my leisure with family, and often researching. I’m a huge fan of Africa’s history, especially the colonial era. So, I’m often caught reading about the history of Africa on Wikipedia.

Also Read: Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

B I O G R A P H Y

Owumi David Voke, 27, is a Social Entrepreneur, Tech-Innovator, Community Research & Developer and Fashion Designer, who is on a mission to achieve a lifetime commitment, driving Africa’s sustainable development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. David is a graduate of University of Benin, Nigeria where he bagged a Second-Class degree in Mathematics and Education.

He is the Director of Salt Talks Africa, a para-governmental organization currently operating in 3 African countries, designing and executing community development projects geared towards fostering sustainable development in rural communities across Africa. Through grassroots initiatives such a RuraLearn, R.E.I.A., Project Upcycle and Salt Talks Conferences held across Nigeria, Salt Talks Africa is indeed fostering Africa’s sustainable development in one of the most strategic approaches.

David is the Founder and Lead Business Innovation Strategist of VisionCTRL Africa, a Business Analysis, Design and Consulting Firm in Nigeria, building disruptive business ideas and enterprises. He believes disruptive social entrepreneurship plays a vital role in driving socioeconomic growth and sustainable development in Africa.

Having worked on several high-end successful and failed projects such as Upnepa.ng, Agro-Ex, Haypko.com (Now FuelUp.ng), Sew It Stores (Now Gods Official Clothiers), Hi-traffic.tech etc., VisionCTRL is well positioned to change the narrative of Africa leveraging an entrepreneurship framework.

He is also an advisory member of African Bio hub, Invent Hope Initiative etc. and a member of the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA).

Visit VisionCTRL

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Interview with James Lawson, Founder, Intergreatme; A RegTech Company Helping You Create Your Own Digital Identity

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James Lawson is the Founder and Chief Information Officer at Intergreatme, a global digital identity platform that can be integrated into a wide range of businesses in less than a day to bring identity verification and secure multi-factor authentication in seconds. In this exclusive interview with Heath Muchena of Business Africa Online, Lawson shares insights into his approach to leadership as CIO of a technology company, scaling a digital business, and overcoming operational challenges in the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and ID verification space. Excerpt.

Heath: CIO roles in today’s IT environment are quite dynamic. What do you enjoy most about your role?

James: Each day is completely different from the next. I try and plan what I can in the morning, and then spend the rest of my day engaging with executives, development team, support agents, and with our clients.We have a dynamic business, and being a start-up means we are constantly dealing with resource constraints – which isn’t a bad thing, it forces you to focus on the most important tasks at hand.

I enjoy the freedom that I have around exploring new technologies, looking at existing products and looking at how we can optimise not only the code we have, but the products and services we use to run the business.I am also analytical and detail oriented. I build my own reports, interrogate the data, and use it to build data-driven decisions to help optimise the business. This helps to provide recommendations to our customers as to how they can optimise processes where our technology plays a role in their onboarding process, especially where they can achieve greater savings by implementing quick-win solutions.

Heath: Describe your leadership style? How do you lead through change?

James: My main leadership style is through servant leadership. As such, I believe that the technology side of the business is most effective when employees are given the opportunities to make their own choices, and for me to support them in those choices (unless I can see there is an obvious issue with the decision-making process). This also gives each individual a high degree of autonomy, and we have really worked hard to try and build self-managing teams.

This is also really reflected in my attitude towards servicing our customers. That does not mean to say that I am a “yes man” and will implement every product feature that a customer asks for, but that I will hear our customers out, and advise them on the best route forward – and sometimes decision that involves persuading them to cut out a feature, though proven experience in our product domain.

Also Read: Interview With Amadou Diallo, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding Middle East & Africa

Heath: Can you explain the most difficult part of being a leader?

James: The most difficult part of being a leader is dealing with the decisions no one else is prepared to make. Sometimes, those decisions are not the popular ones. But at the end of the day, the decisions I make in the business are always focused towards the betterment of the company, and the people working inside of it.

Heath: To what do you attribute your success? How has it impacted your enterprise digital goals?

James: I consider myself fortunate that I have been able to move between different industries. I have worked in several non-technical jobs in banking and finance; have lectured at several universities, worked as a journalist, as well as in tech-and-management roles. While some might consider this a more… checked past, I see this as a valuable attribution to my collective knowledge and experience in the workplace.

One of the more innovative solutions I helped design was for a training institute, where we digitised the manual process of getting classroom labs set-up into an automated one. Before setting up a lab, a technician is required to manually copy each image across to the computer, often a symmetric process of copying the image across one-computer at a time. Working with the internal development team I managed (along with 3 other departments), we incorporated BitTorrent into the classrooms and built a Web-UI classroom management solution.

This meant the technician could now do his work remotely, increased the speed at which classroom labs could be setup, but more importantly, if a student had an issue with their lab, a new instance could be deployed in seconds vs. minutes or hours to manually find the correct image on a server and copy it across.

The impact was massive in terms of time and money saved, as well as customer satisfaction.

Heath: Where do you see your business in two years?

James: Intergreatme has two products, an app where people can upload and manage their identity with form-completing services, like renewing their car licence disc; and our Know Your Customer (Self-KYC) solution that handles the remote collection, validation, and verification of personal information to help businesses comply with their regulatory requirements, such as FICA and RICA.

I believe in the next two years that we will see a shift to our coresolution as corporate South Africa comes to grips with regulations like therisk-based KYC approach and the eventual implementation of Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).

Heath: What are some of the challenges you face from a day-to-day operational perspective?

James: I would say my biggest operational challenge is keeping the focus in the company on the route forward – the identity space can be disrupted in so many ways! It is easy for someone to come up with an idea that is entirely feasible, and easy to implement; but knowing when to show restraint and say no, is one of my biggest daily challenges.

It can also be very tough to motivate the various teams, especially when we are under pressure to deliver product. I am proud to say I was able to refine our internal development process to reduce the stress levels of everyone in the dev. team, while also keeping stakeholders happy. We moved from break-neck development with long hours, and tight deadlines, to a more sensible flow.

Understanding policy, especially from a local regulatory stance. Our business is built around identity, and trust, and ensuring that we not only build a product around these regulations, but also that we employ a best-effort approach to securing our services.

Visit Intergreatme

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