Toyin F. Sanni, driven by a passion for impact is the Group CEO at Emerging Africa Capital Group. A Nigerian based provider of financial services aimed to facilitate the investment process for and with African entities and individuals. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on leadership, business, inclusion and the gap her company, Emerging Africa Capital Group is filling.
I always love to ask thought leaders like you about their dream jobs. When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming an advocate when I grew up so I could defend the oppressed and fight for just causes. I did qualify as an advocate and practice law for a while, but then I discovered the world of finance.
The path to the top isn’t always easy but you have accomplished a great deal. What’s the greatest hurdle you’ve encountered, and how did you overcome it?
The greatest hurdle I encountered was occasional opposition from peers or superiors who seemed more interested in competing than in collaborating, even when we were supposedly on the same side. I have always handled this by continuing to give my best and to add value indiscriminately to them and to the rest of the organisation and group.
What are the best and worst decisions you’ve ever made?
Best decisions have been hiring and later coaching and mentoring people whom others had given up on and who ended up becoming star performers. My worst decisions have been hiring one or two personnel with technical abilities but major character defects.
Talking about gender inclusion, what is the most significant barrier in achieving more equality between women and men in business and leadership? What solution would you proffer?
Significant barriers include unequal opportunities and bias – conscious and unconscious. I would proffer the following solutions;
- Awareness creation amongst both men and women.
- Deliberate affirmative action in favour of women opportunities where qualifications are equal.
- Investigating adverse decisions on requests or applications by women in cases where same requests were approved for men to ensure bias played no role.
- Organisations should set and monitor measurable inclusion targets for HR, Executive Management and the board.
For women faced with the challenges of balancing the multiple roles they play as a mother and wife while in leadership positions. What advice would you proffer?
I advice setting out your priorities and communicating it to your family and business partners to secure buy in. Also, delegation and establishing support structures at work and home is also critical.
Lastly, hire competent aids and empower them.
As the world keeps evolving, what will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women coming up after you?
Challenges for the next generation women include managing their increasing roles as breadwinners, the need to strengthen our level of technology adoption and proficiency. Women also need to master the management of personal and family finances.
You are an experienced and reputable CEO and Board member. What advice would you give a woman who wants to advance into an executive level role?
If you are a woman aspiring to executive roles, you need to develop your leadership abilities and not just technical skills. Your commitment to the organization and its objectives must be clear. You can’t be just about your department and its narrow goals and targets. You also need to network consciously within and outside your organisation and to build your personal brand intentionally.
Let’s talk about your company Emerging Africa Capital Group. Tell us about this brand and what gap its filling?
At Emerging Africa, we are building what will become a premium African brand. Our vision is to be the leading catalyst to the emergence of Africa as leading global investment destination and origin. We are filling the financial inclusion gap by helping organisations in growth phase to raise much needed capital and by providing attractive investment alternatives to domestic and international investors.
How do you feel as a Thought Leader and award winning African female entrepreneur? What drives you?
I feel grateful for the opportunity to be a blessing and to impact lives. I am driven by the desire to fulfill purpose by making maximum impact.
What are your predictions for 2019?
Globally, it’s a challenging year as global leaders like Trump, May and Marcon face domestic struggles. It’s an election year in Nigeria, so most expect the first half of the year to be pretty slow. I think that for those who, nonetheless, apply themselves from the start, there will be some unexpected opportunities, even as others play a waiting game. In markets, I expect activities to be focused on fixed income at the short end such as commercial papers and government debt.
Her Short Bio:
Toyin F. Sanni is a graduate of the CEO Program of the Lagos Business School, holds a Masters Degree, LLM (Hons), from the University of Lagos and the Professional qualification of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (I.C.S.A.) UK. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (C.I.S.) Nigeria amongst other qualifications. In 2017, she was declared “The All African Woman of the year by CNBC and also “Nigeria’s CEO of the Year” by Pearl Awards.
She leads a multiple award winning group that provides advisory and capital raising solution and development across Africa. She has spoken at Conferences such as Howard University USA, UK African Business Conference to mention but a few. Her past role includes CEO UBA Trustee, UBA Global Investor service, Cornerstone Trustee etc. President CIIA, IAPM, Chair WIFNG, Financial Literacy Committee, National Bond Steering Committee amongst others.
Wise Move Revolutionises Moving Industry with Artificial Intelligence -Powered ChatGPT Integration
Wise Move, the only online moving platform in South Africa, has seen tremendous growth since its launch at the beginning of 2022. Boasting over 70,000 monthly visitors and 5,000 new delivery requests added each month, Wise Move has become the go-to platform for anyone looking to move in South Africa. Now, Wise Move is looking to the future by integrating the Artificial Intelligence tool – ChatGPT.
Wise Move is revolutionising the South African moving industry by becoming the first online platform to harness the power of OpenAI’s ChatGPT through Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration. The company’s cutting-edge technology provides users with an unmatched customer experience, while giving movers a major competitive edge.
Wise Move Co-Founder and newly appointed CEO Chante Venter strongly believes that AI is the way of the future. “We are dedicated to continuously improving our platform, which leads to better customer service and AI integration is enabling us to do just that.”
Venter highlighted that the integration of ChatGPT has significantly improved overall customer satisfaction and user experience. Moving companies can now reduce their response time and improve communication with clients. ChatGPT has become a game-changer for the platform’s network of moving companies.
“We are very excited about the potential of AI-powered tools, and we believe that this is just the beginning. We are constantly exploring new ways to use AI to improve our service offering and we are confident that it will become an essential part of our business,” said Chante.
ChatGPT is a revolutionary AI-powered tool that can provide human-like responses. It is changing the way businesses interact with their customers by providing a more natural experience with the efficiency of a computer. The possibilities on how businesses can use this new tool are endless, and early adopters are going to lead the way.
Wise Move is the first online platform to successfully integrate ChatGPT in South Africa, they are already reaping the rewards. The goal behind the platform is to re-engineer how people move homes, cars, boats, pets and everything else in between. While the easy-to-use platform has done just that since its launch, the new AI feature will further improve the user experience even further.
Moreover, as the AI integration helps moving companies improve their customer service, it also leads to better reviews and more bookings. Wise Move’s aim is not only to help businesses grow but to thrive with better marketing, support and branding.
As a woman-led startup in a predominantly male industry, focusing on the user experience and customer service has been one of the best decisions for the company. “If you want to change things, you have to do things differently,” notes Chante. “In a male-dominated industry, we’ve focused on perfecting the finer details like communication, service and user experience.”
Furthermore, Wise Move has made it their mission to boost job creation and help foster the South African entrepreneurial spirit in the transport and logistics industry. “We want moving businesses around South Africa to thrive, grow and expand. With our platform, businesses can benefit from dedicated marketing, training and support.”
Wise Move is also proud to announce its partnership with 1% for the Planet, an initiative in which Wise Move donates 1% of its revenue to environmental causes in South Africa. “This is a very important initiative to me personally. I am passionate about environmental causes in South Africa, and joining 1% for the Planet has been a great way to make a real and tangible impact.”
The moving industry needs more innovation and forward-thinking companies to lead the way to a brighter future. Wise Move is definitely ahead of the pack.
Cellulant and Money Q Collaborate to Make it Easier for Africans Living Abroad
Cellulant Vice President of Global & Regional Merchants Richard Gesimba and Amit Shrimali – Founder and CEO, Money Q
Cellulant, Africa’s Leading Payments Solutions Provider has partnered with Dubai-based fintech solutions company to enable expatriates to seamlessly pay for bills and recharge airtime for their beneficiaries across Africa. These customers will be able to make these payments through KrosPayz, Money Q’s Africa-wide digital payments platform that enables online payment for transactions and value-added services at the point of sale.
Mobile remittances present a unique opportunity for millions of people to access the formal financial system, bringing financial services and prospects for revenue generation closer to their communities. According to estimates, Sub-Saharan African remittances increased by 16.4% in 2021 but only by 5.2% in 2022. The average cost of sending $200 over international borders remained high in the second quarter of 2022, at 6%. Mobile operators offer the best rates (3.5%), but less than 1% of transactions are made through digital channels. Remittance services are now much quicker and less expensive thanks to digital technologies.
The KrosPayz digital wallet, which is set to go live first in Malawi this April, will enable customers to pay for national and international utility bill payments, airtime recharge, execute their domestic fund transfers to individuals and companies, and also pay in the local markets for their purchases via QR code.
“Remittances are the single largest source of foreign exchange for many developing economies, and they are stable and resilient in the face of economic downturns. They have been described as developing countries’ most stable, abundant, and secure sources of foreign aid. This partnership reaffirms our commitment to enabling businesses, banks, and consumers to make fast and efficient payments across Africa. By leveraging Cellulant’s presence and partnerships on the continent, Money Q will be able to provide its services throughout Africa” stated Richard Gesimba, Cellulant’s Vice President of Global & Regional Merchants.
Money Q’s goal is to ensure that no African should be deprived of using the digital channels on the continent. Commenting on the partnership, Mr Amit Shrimali, Money Q’s Founder and CEO stated “I am very excited with this partnership as it helps me to go a step closer to the vision of Money Q which is to make sure that none in the countries, we operate are deprived of using the digital medium to transact. The partnership between MoneyQ and Cellulant will indeed complement one another in growing the market share of both the companies in the African continent.”
Shelter Afrique unveils new five-year strategic plan
Shelter Afrique new Managing Director and CEO, Mr Thierno-Habib Hann
Pan-African housing development financier, Shelter Afrique has unveiled a five-year strategic plan to restore the Institution’s performance, competitiveness, and value creation for the long term.
Shelter Afrique unveiled the plan during a Ministerial and Board retreat in Nairobi, which was also attended by the Shareholders’ Bureau represented by Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Rwanda who currently serve as President, First Vice-president, and Second Vice-President of the Bureau, respectively. Development partners such as the African Development Bank, and investment partners such as Actis, Mi Vida and Shapoorji Pallonji (India) were also in attendance. Side discussions were held with Bilateral partners such as CDC, now known as BII (British International Investment), one of the initial shareholders of the Institution.
The new 2023-2027 strategic plan, dubbed the ‘New Dawn’, is expected to position the Institution for growth through improved governance, operational and financial performance.
The plan focuses on building relationships with various stakeholders to deliver strong and impactful business performance based on a new corporate structure fit for purpose.
Refocusing the business
Speaking at a retreat organised by the Institution in Nairobi to appraise the Board of Directors, shareholder representatives, and business partners, Shelter Afrique Chairman Dr Chii Akporji said the unveiling of the new strategic plan was an important milestone for the Institution.
“The new strategic plan that we have dubbed the ‘New Dawn‘ has laid the foundations to refocus our business on growth and impact, while creating sustainable returns for our shareholders and all our stakeholders. It has the board’s unanimous support and provides the Institution with a clear compass,” Dr Akporji said.
Dr Akporji welcomed the new Managing Director and CEO, Mr Thierno-Habib Hann and thanked the board for showing a great sense of responsibility and collective support to the new leadership paving the way to “creating conditions necessary to enter this new phase confidently”.
Echoing the Chairman, Shelter Afrique’s new Managing Director and CEO, Mr Thierno-Habib Hann said it was imperative for the Institution to refocus, deliver and scale up, following the successful conclusion of its restructuring program.
“The past 20 years provided us with some vital lessons which have been critical in developing the new strategic plan – a plan centred on sustainable and competitive growth while delivering consistently and enhancing shareholder value.” Mr Hann said.
Mr Hann added that the new strategic plan offers the Institution an impetus to focus more on clients, business performance, and staff; provides a framework for upscaling engagements with various stakeholders; offers a motivation to bolster the institution’s corporate governance credentials; and creates the momentum to introduce new product lines.
“While driving Mobilization and Syndication, we will be focusing on four business lines, namely (1) Funded and unfunded lines of credit to financial institutions to finance housing solutions, (2) Project Finance for large-scale housing initiatives; (3) Affordable Housing PPPs structuring and (4) Thematic Housing Fund Management and Advisory Services. The new strategic plan envisages a streamlined approach, which allows us to reach the end users by establishing new product structures such as Employer Staff Housing Funds, Green/Resilient homes and Rent-To-Own financing”, Mr Hann explained.
New organisational structure
The unveiling of the new strategy has necessitated the re-alignment of the organisation and the introduction of a new organisational structure and operating model designed to support the Institution’s innovation, growth, and productivity ambitions for the next five years.
Effectively, the Institution has created new units which will focus the business on financial institutions, project finance, fund management, and public-private partnerships. Additionally, the Strategy, Policy, research and partnerships functions will also be driven from the CEO’s office.
“We believe the new organisational model is central to the successful implementation of our new strategic plan as it will make us more agile and competitive, enhance client focus, unlock significant potential across the business, and drive value-creation through operational efficiencies,” Mr Hann concluded.