Adeshina Adewumi is the co-founder/COO of Proville, a Nigerian based and Africa’s fast growing technology company providing business solutions for companies to hire and professionals to work across multiple sectors in Africa. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, he sheds more light on how his company is bridging the unemployment and underemployment gap by connecting professionals and businesses online. And it’s target to have onboarded over 1 million paying users on the platform by year 2023. Excerpts.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Proville and the gap its filling.
Adeshina: Proville is filling the supply demand gap that exists between professionals and those that need their services. This is one of the leading causes of high rate of unemployment and underemployment in Africa. Toke (business owner) is in Kaduna and needs Ken (web developer) but they do not know each other and with no available platform for them to connect or engage further.
Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Adeshina: Our startup capital was from our visionaries, we have raised over $300,000 seed funding for the business.
Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Adeshina: Challenges are normal especially within the tech ecosystem such as Nigeria and so also are the opportunities. Some of the challenges we have faced is acceptance, freelancing online service platform is relatively new in Nigeria and so a bit slow when compared to our projected growth. We are however happy to be one of the few pioneers in Africa starting with the Nigerian market.
Alaba: What’s the future for your business and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Adeshina: The Future of the business is to maximize the Nigerian market and spread across Africa quickly over the next 2 to 3 years. Our 5 year target is to onboard over 1 million paying users on our platform by year 2023. We are intensifying collaborations, partnership and marketing to achieve this goal.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?
Adeshina: Unemployment and Underemployment is one of the leading causes of various social vices in Africa. If this can be tamed, then we can be sure of rapid growth and development. Our solution also dissolves border issues; there is no need to travel to Ghana in search of work. My potential employer can simply locate me via the Proville platform and assign task for me to complete here in Nigeria. This would boost the Gross Domestic Product of all user nations across Africa.
Alaba: What’s your view on the development of Africa business ecosystem?
Adeshina: Africa is growing pretty fast, though still below expectation given the resources and potentials we have as a continent. Gone are the days when Africa took the back seat and expected to be spoon fed. Africa is gradually taking the lead in terms of accelerate growth, innovation and development. There is however the need to unify the process, this is why I commend the efforts of the Egypt government under the leadership of HE. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for some of the initiatives to foster youth engagement, unity and leadership development within the region through the African Presidential Leadership Program (APLP) which would see over 1,000 young African leaders trained and fully equipped towards providing implementable solution in their home countries.
Alaba: What advice would you give prospecting entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Adeshina: Africa is blessed with challenges and so are the opportunities. My advice would be to entrepreneurs to research the market well before entering. Talk to your potential users and understand their needs. This is the basic first step all entrepreneurs need to take before even developing a solution to meet the need.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Adeshina: I feel unique as an African entrepreneur, you may wonder why? As an African entrepreneur, you can succeed in any continent across the world. The business environment is tough in Africa and this brings out the creativity within you. That mindset makes you see opportunities where others see problems.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Adeshina: I love to spend quality time with my family, this sometimes is difficult due to the demands building a startup brings to the table. I however try to find a balance around it. I am a huge fan of John C Maxwell books because I believe everything rises and falls on leadership. I however read books from other authors such as Dr Sam Adeyemi, Yemi Davids, George Samuel Clason among others. I strongly believe in the reading culture for continuous growth and development.
Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favorite local dish?
Adeshina: The one word would be Emabinu which when translated to English means I’m sorry. I picked this as this is one word every leader must be able to use appropriately. As regards my favourite dish, I am a fan of pounded yam any day anytime.
Alaba: What’s your favorite holiday spot in your country? Why?
Adeshina: My favourite holiday spot is Ilesha as it gives you quick access to natural springs and resorts such as the Ikogosi, Erin-Ijesha waterfall among others. It’s good place to relax.
The Team In Pics:
Adeshina Adewumi has a passion to help businesses grow. As someone who has defied all odds and environmental limitations, Adeshina’s commitment is to inspire, build and coach entrepreneurs to build profitable sustainable ventures. Adeshina has seven years of experience in the private sector and social entrepreneurship where he has actively engaged in operations, youth development, business processes and entrepreneurship advisory. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Bowen University Iwo, Nigeria which he completed with a first class honors. He also received certifications in Entrepreneurship (sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc) from Enterprise Development Center, Pan-Atlantic University Nigeria. He has shown commitment in driving positive change, promoting sustainable development goals and capacity development of youths and women in Nigeria through various entrepreneurship and mentorship programs (Regalo Masterclass, Proville and RLM Foundation) he coordinates and Co-founded.
Adeshina is the COO at Proville and Co-founder of other Startups including but not limited to One Kiosk Africa and Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited.
He holds membership with various institutes and associations among which include but not limited to the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Information System Audit and Control Association (ISACA), Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), Institute of Management Consultants, Institute of Business Diplomacy and Financial Management, Royal Society of Arts UK (FRSA) and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Shaun Duvet on The Unit Group and the Impact of COVID-19
Shaun Duvet, Founder and CEO at The Unit Group (Source: Unit Group website)
The impact of Covid-19 is changing the way organisations operate and do business about the world. The entertainment industry is not exempted as it’s adjudged the second affected industry after the aviation, travel and hospitality industry. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Shaun Duvet the Founder and CEO of The Unit Group shares his brand story and the Impact of Covid-19. Excerpt.
Alaba: Could you tell us about the Unit Group and the gap it’s filling since you launched?
Shaun: The Unit Group was established in 2017 as the holding company for my various business interests which include: COCO, GoldBar and Souk (my venues), Ultra South Africa, Corona Sunsets Festivals, Anything Goes, AG Virtual, Bella Bookings, Salute, Jet Black & Paradise Springs. These businesses cover all functions of entertainment marketing, management, hospitality, sponsorship and eventing from design, to staffing and artist booking, to production and everything in between.
The gap we launched The Unit Group to fill was that of a true understanding of marketing in the entertainment space. So many brands want to play in this space because the audiences are so receptive and the engagement so high, yet so few of them truly understand it. We felt that we had the marketing know-how, and a deep love and knowledge of not only this space, but the global players within it.
Alaba: What services does your company offer?
Shaun: The services offered range from throwing small corporate events to festivals for 50, 000 pax; to sponsorship strategies, virtual events; to full spectrum design, photography, videography; artist, model and staff bookings; marketing, and PR strategies and much, much more.
Alaba: How has the market responded to your offerings?
Shaun: We have seen a huge uptake in clients that previously came to us just to make the party happen, now asking for marketing, creative and strategic advice. AG Virtual, which launched this year, has also seen the likes of AFI (African Fashion Week) approach us to do their full virtual production.
Alaba: The steady rise of South Africa’s entertainment industry has increased competition in the country. What’s your company’s advantage?
Shaun: My 20+ years of experience and my years behind the decks. I live and breathe music and entertainment which enables me to understand what the market wants and keep abreast of global trends. I also have incredible teams in place that keep our work fresh and relevant, and the machine in constant motion.
Alaba: Kindly share some of the challenges faced, especially in this dire time and how you overcoming them?
Shaun: The challenge of this year is obvious – no events, no DJ’s, no dancing! That’s our life blood. We have managed though to stay busy by diversifying what we offer and working more strategically. Helping brands activate within the highly connected urban youth market in an authentic and resonant manner. Some of our venues are also still operational, and the festivals and events teams are taking some much-needed down time before the parties start again, which we know they will do with a renewed energy when we’re out of the current COVID crisis.
Alaba: Technology is disrupting the entertainment industry across the globe. How’s your company adapting to the use of technology?
Shaun: As mentioned, we have launched AG Virtual which is doing well. But we have always been at the forefront of event and entertainment technology in our work. Our audience demands it.
Alaba: How does your company contribute and set new standards in the South African entertainment industry?
Shaun: I regularly write and speak on industry channels and give back to the industry that way. We also ensure that we are constantly raising the bar with the work that we do, meaning that more people around the world sit up and take notice which will ultimately benefit the whole industry.
Alaba: What’s the future for the Unit Group and are you post COVID-19 ready?
Shaun: We cannot wait for life to return to “normal”. Down time was nice, but we’re rested now and it’s time to work!
Alaba: How do you relax and what keeps you going?
Shaun: I have 3 young kids so relaxation is scarce, but they certainly keep me going
Alaba: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs and investors coming to South Africa?
Shaun: Come! Don’t be afraid. There is risk, yes, but the rewards are also so great. We live in such a special place and I really believe in the future of this country.
B I O G R A P H Y
Shaun Duvet, CEO and Founder of The Unit, South Africa’s leading entertainment-based holding company, a combination of enterprises, individually built to make brands better. Shaun is also the CEO and Founder of Anything Goes, the branded entertainment agency, aligning campaigns, properties and music tours with international brands and artists across the continent.
He is the co-Founder and Director of ULTRA South Africa, which brings 50,000 dance-music revellers together every year to see some biggest names in eEectronic Music. He is the partner and producer for Corona Sunsets Festival South Africa, which over the last 5 years has seen over 40,000 fans join together across three cities to celebrate the sunset.
He is a co-owner and operator for COCO, one of SA’s premiere nightclubs, think celebrities, Ibiza-style go-go dancers, Hip Hop MCs, and a parade of sparkler-topped bottles, this alongside it’s sister GoldBar, an elegant bar annex to COCO.
Shaun Duvet is a board member and proud supporter of Bridges For Music, a non-profit organization that utilises the power of music to uplift communities through creative education. Recently, partnering with Defected Records on a new imprint Sondela Records all of whose profits will channel back directly into the charity.
Viola Labi: The multi-hyphenate creative strategist building an eco-luxury fashion brand in Africa
Viola Labi is a multi-hyphenate creative, premium retail Strategist and Founder of WOVEN, a design-led fashion enterprise.
With over a decade of experience and a proven track record in the global luxury retail space, Viola has worked with renowned international brands such as Burberry, ZARA, Loewe, CELINE and Valentino and has caught the attention of media powerhouses such as Vogue Business, Essence, Forbes, BBC and CNN International, as one to watch.
Born in Canada with Ghanaian parentage, Viola is culturally plural and holds reverence to fashion’s interaction with humanity; asserting that it permits people, irrespective of their cultural and social affiliations to unite. It is this fundamental belief and her relocation to Ghana that inspired WOVEN, a ground breaking brand which seeks to herald a new direction for eco-luxury retail on the African continent.
Viola said, WOVEN was birthed from a personal journey to Northern Ghana. “I witnessed my own reunification to elements of rich Ghanaian culture through textile creation at the diligent hand skilled Artisans. Despite language barriers and unfamiliar grounds, I felt at home. I spent more time with women creating textiles and found myself being stitched together in areas I didn’t know needed mending, areas like self-identity and purpose.”
“Looking back, I guess you can say we weaved symbolic exchanges of knowledge and cultural practices and this inspired me to creative WOVEN. Although the entire assortment of products are literally woven, the company name speaks to a higher purpose of coming together as Humanity.” She said.
The Brand’s mission is to actively work towards uniting the fashion value chain into a cohesive whole by showcasing the creative talent that pervades throughout the African continent; while emanating the diversity of culture, history and skill, much like yarn being formed into a unique tapestry.
WOVEN has the honour of partnering with 150 esteemed Artisan weavers in Ghana to create sustainable, functional, home furnishing products. It’s design principles and execution promote inclusion and seek to disrupt fear-based stereotypes by creating products, made in Africa, that are par with those of global standards.
Emalohi Iruobe, An Attorney and Founder of Tribe XX Lab Empowering Female-led Startups
Emalohi L. Iruobe Esq. is an attorney, adjunct professor and social entrepreneur. She is the founder of Tribe XX Lab, the first and only co-working, wellness and incubator space exclusively for female entrepreneurs and female led startups and companies in Lagos. Tribe XX Lab offers an open-plan office, private offices, events, networking, yoga, a nap room, conference room, reference library, pop up restaurants and wellness retail.
The fundamental idea is to create a place where women are able to present a professional front for their business as well as network, get training, access to funding opportunities and help each other. With a general focus on self-care and balance, the space also partners with brands that retail wellness and selfcare products in order to meet the other often overlooked core need of women in business-wholeness.
Prior to founding Tribe XX Lab, Emalohi was an adjunct professor of Business Law, Business Research Methods and Legal Analysis and Writing at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, USA for several years before moving to teach Business Law and Data Management at LIM College in Manhattan, New York. Afterwards she taught Expository Writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA before founding Aimanosi Lingerie; a dynamic brand focused on promoting body positivity and selflove in African women. She has a Bsc. in Finance and Banking from Lincoln University, PA and a Juris Doctor from Villanova University.
Before delving into full time entrepreneurship, she practiced law in Pennsylvania and New
Jersey working in Commercial litigation, as well as working as the Manager of Project Implementation in the Kwara State Public Private Partnership office in 2013. She comes with over a decade experience in entrepreneurship, law, education and business.
About Tribe XX Lab
Tribe XX Lab is a civic space for complex conversations, critical contemplation, learning and action to prevent all forms of violence and oppression against women and girls. The goal of their work is to change the perceptions of women and their role in society as well as lead conversations and interventions that PREVENT violence against women and girls in the first place. They do this through the use of digital and social media, conversations, XX-CEED Virtual festival, game theory and art.
Through their work, they are particularly looking to provide support to survivors of Gender-based violence, promote greater public engagement in preventing violence against women, increase public awareness of the intersectionality of oppression women face, create social projects that encourage the extermination of rape culture.
Since inception, they have successfully carried out several survival supports programs, prevention panels and have received a grant to prevent gender-based violence against women and girls in universities in Nigeria as well as provide psychological support to victims of GBV in institutions of higher education from Oxfam/Voice.
Emalohi also launched ‘I GO TALK’ a Nigerian Pidgin phrase which simply means I will not be silent, I will tell on you. It came in as a crucial response to the sexual violence that female students in Nigerian Universities face. This is a clarion call from victims, survivors, and women in general to the perpetrators of sexual abuse and to the general public, that they’re here to XXterminate, silence and provide support to victims. This is a motivation for victims of sexual abuse and harassment amongst University students to speak up and also a mode to create awareness for students on their rights in line with the recently signedd Sexual Harassment bill.
After the BBC Documentary, Sex for Grades rocked the whole of Nigeria in October 2019, the long cloaked truth about the oppression that young women face in the hands of university lecturers started to come to light. For the longest time, young women seeking higher education have been preyed upon by several academicians high in power and have been oppressed, victimized, and helpless.
Starting from the 25th of October to the 31st of October, they are kicking off the first edition of I GO TALK Youth Summit, the largest gathering of university students across the country to build collective power and voice in the fight to end Sex4grades and sexual harassment in Nigerian Universities.
Tribe XX Lab is laser focused on promoting gender equality, deliberate living, transformative leadership and community development through the design and delivery of trainings, workshops, seminars, collaborative partnerships and data gathering.
Business Home2 days ago
Baller Syndicate: Building Europe’s First Elite Athlete Angel Syndicate And Exploring Africa
Entertainment1 day ago
Oluwadamilola Akintewe Crowned Miss Speaker At The Miss Career Africa 2020
Press Release2 days ago
Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)
Business Home7 hours ago
aYo Holdings, African micro-insurer breaks 10 million mark; eyes further growth