Morenike George-Taylor is the Founder at Reni Legal. A law business focused on startups and small-to-medium enterprises with the goal to help 1000 startups reach their goal of optimal functionality. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, she shares her passion for startups, the major legal mistakes they make and how her brand is providing them top notch legal services without breaking the bank. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Reni Legal and the gap it’s filling.
Morenike: Reni Legal is my dream. It is a business aimed at helping SMES and Start ups have access to affordable high quality legal services. When I quit my job in 2018, I was working at a leading law firm belonging to an SAN and loving what I was doing. However, as God would have it, I was just getting into having kids and couldn’t handle the 9-5 with my kids. This led me to try the entrepreneurship route.
I met Mr. Gabriel Dafeakeh and he wanted me to provide legal services in exchange for shares in a business. This was the first time I ever really paid attention to SMES. He inspired me to participate in the Hustle Bootcamp and this was how Reni Legal born. I saw all the difficulties and expenses faced by entrepreneurs and realised that with the kind of bills they had to pay, they could not afford good legal services. This is why I guess many of them decided to take the option of DIY! Doing it themselves. As someone who has spent 7 years in litigation, I can tell you for free that this often results in disaster. I decided to help SMES by providing the top notch services they need at a very friendly price. Reni Legal is a connector between SMES and the legal services they need without them having to break the bank.
Alaba: What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Morenike: Wow! My startup capital was all thanks to my darling husband, Gideon Okebu. I tried to keep costs for Reni Legal down. I didn’t spend money building a fancy website as I knew that the more I spent building reni legal, the more expensive my service would have to be for my clients. So I started using my husband’s office as my base, hired a P.A. spoke to a few lawyer friends who would work with me and I was good to go. I really benefited from free services as communications for my brand was handled by my friend Tobi Jaiyeola at absolutely no cost and I really appreciate it.
Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Morenike: The biggest challenge I’m facing is getting my message out there. People in this age are looking for microwave fixes and with law, this often gets people in trouble. They try to save money by not getting lawyers to review their contracts, having quacks register their companies and drafting awful partnership agreements on their own. When you speak to some SME owners, they even suggest I provide services for free as they are stuck on having no budget for legal services. However, the lessons they learn are bitter. I have clients who have lost millions and returned to me now to say they should have just hired me to draft contracts for them. My door is always open so I overcome this challenge by writing informative articles and provoking SME owners to think twice before they make legal decisions.
Alaba: What are the major mistakes entrepreneurs make when they start or run a business?
Morenike: Legal mistakes entrepreneurs make! Don’t get me started I could write an entire book about this:
- Not picking the right directors and shareholders for their company at the time of incorporation.
- Improperly drafted memorandum of association taking into consideration the objectives of their business.
- Not having a partnership agreement.
- Registering a business name when they have no intention to use it anytime soon.
- Reviewing agreements by themselves
Need I say more? An SME needs special legal attention.
Alaba: How are you helping businesses create a sustainable practice?
Morenike: I’m helping businesses by providing legal services they need with very flexible payment options.
Alaba: What’s the future for Reni Legal and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?
Morenike: The future of Reni Legal is that I want to create an online legal platform that interacts with clients. Right now, I am discussing with technical web developers and learning the technology out there so I can make my dream a reality. I guess you have to see my vision to understand it.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Morenike: I have mixed feelings about entrepreneurship. Its hard. I am just grateful to Jesus that I have been able to overcome the challenges.
Alaba: What is your advice for prospecting entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Morenike: I would say that as glamorous as entrepreneurship may look, it takes a lot of planning and time to achieve success. As long as you do what you love and are dedicated to your cause, by the grace of God, you will succeed in all you want to do. Also, GET GOOD LEGAL ADVICE.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Morenike: I relax by swimming, spending time with friends and watching movies. I read mostly my bible, law reports and John Maxwell books.I’m a very positive person so I love being motivated.
Alaba: Please teach us one word in your home language and your favourite local dish?
Morenike: The word I will teach you today is “Ese” which means “Thank you”. Yorubas are very appreciative people and tend to say thank you a million times. My favourite local dish any day any time will have to be “amala and ewedu”.
Morenike George-Taylor: I am a wife and mother. I was born in Lagos to my parents who are accountants. I grew up being great at Arts and eventually opted to study law. I attended Queens College, Yaba, Lagos and proceeded to undertake my A-levels at Oxbridge Tutorial College where I won several awards for academic excellence. After this, I got a partial scholarship to the University of Sheffield due to academic excellence and graduated in the top 20 of my class. I won several awards at Sheffield and then attended the Nigerian Law School.
Since leaving school, I have worked at the Legal Aid Council and in leading law firms. I have also taken several professional courses from the University of Southampton, UK, World Intellectual Property Organisation Academy, Chartered Institute of Personnel Development to mention a few.
Bordeaux-based Nigerian Wine Consultant creating the French Experience with an African twist
Bordeaux-based Nigerian Wine Consultant, Chinedu Rita Rosa (Photo: Roger Das)
Most times when you think of a French wine expert, especially in Bordeaux, a strong-willed, driven and passionate Black Woman doesn’t come first to mind.
Chinedu Rita Rosa is making waves in the Bordeaux wine community. As a Nigerian Black Woman in her 40’s, she is a rare and long-overdue sight in the wine industry. Over the past six years, she has built a home in Bordeaux with her two teenage daughters and French husband.
For over 20 years Rosa has been active in the wine industry, though she came into the wine business by chance, as an unofficial adviser to her late husband selecting wines for importation into Nigeria. Originally working as a banker, wine did not become her profession until the passing away of her late husband in 2008 who was a Lebanese businessman.
In 2008 she returned to Nigeria and worked with her late Husband’s Friends in XO Wine Store as a Manager where she was in charge of organizing various wine events, teaching wine appreciation, and increasing the selection of wines from all over France. She did all this with minimal professional experience. She likes to put it into simple terms that anyone could relate to, “ I learnt while drinking on the job!”
With Nigeria being a beer-drinking society it was not an easy sell for wines, when she first started, although it was a delightful process, Rosa mentioned. She witnessed, ChiChi (as she is fondly called by her friends) mentioned. She witnessed, seeing the shift of peoples’ opinions about wine, especially when she found the right wine to pair with a client’s palette. Meeting people and discerning their taste and discovering their wine preference is an art that she is passionate about.
“As the years went by, it became much easier to match wines with clients taste” said Rosa. It was during this time that she also acquired knowledge of wine importation, wholesales, retailing and grassroots marketing strategies due to the distribution network of XO Wine stores.
After her first year, Rosa knew this was a profession that she would like to pursue, she continued studying, tasting and enjoyed experimenting with wine tasting pairings. She turned her wine education into a social circle with clients and friends who were also wine lovers. For her, these were some of the most rewarding best moments of her wine career.
Bordeaux-based Nigerian Wine Consultant, Chinedu Rita Rosa (Photo: Roger Das)
She discovered how African foods reacted to different grape varieties and from different wine regions, not forgetting Champagne. She boosts “ If you haven’t tried eating àsun or suya with red wine, you must; it is not to be missed”
It was important to ensure sure that all her knowledge of wine and the industry was accredited, which led her to Bordeaux, where she learned about the technical side of winemaking, regions, and styles. Chinedu found herself the only black and African student for the entire term of the course. In the first step of her official wine studies, received a certification from the school of wine in Bordeaux “Ecole Du Vin.” She is a true believer that the best wines come from Bordeaux.
A fabulous wine lovers group was established in the spirit of the numerous tastings and to date, it exists in Lagos exclusively for members of the XO Family.
Continuing her wine education journey in Bordeaux was a dream and when she decided to re-marry and move to France there was no second-guessing where she was going to call home. Chinedu says,” Naija women are born Entrepreneurs.”This drove her ambition and she ventured into media marketing, blogging, and vlogging in the wine world of Bordeaux, and she also created a networking community where she is the president of like-minded people and entrepreneurs from all over the world that has settled in Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Business Network has over 1000 members and is a thriving support community for expat entrepreneurs.
In Bordeaux, Chinedu has become known as the black lady who is invited everywhere and also hosts a lot of events (not unlike in Lagos!) due to her professional commitments. She attends most wine and entrepreneurial events in the Bordeaux metropolis and is easily distinguishable as a black businesswoman with a glowing smile.
Does this bother her? She has mixed feelings on the subject, Chinedu takes no issues with being the ONLY anywhere, it is a testament to her African upbringing after all. “‘Naija no dey, carry last,” she says. and Being yourself and standing out is important, but she is driven to encourage other black entrepreneurs and young people to come into this profession, where she believes the possibilities are endless.
Chinedu is a distinguished WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) certification, holder. Her wine knowledge spans the process of winemaking to marketing and exportation. She had envisioned that there would be more people of color in the wine industry with her qualifications that she could connect with on a cultural level but she is still left searching. She hopes that this will start to change soon.
Bordeaux-based Nigerian Wine Consultant, Chinedu Rita Rosa and friends (Photo: Roger Das)
As the founder of VINES BY ROSA, an import and marketing company based in Bordeaux she now collaborates with amazing brands, representing them in African Markets. Some of her most notable representations include: CHATEAU DAUZAC, MARGAUX GRAND CRU CLASSE, HINCH IRISH WHISKEY, NINTH WAVE GIN, LGI WINES. These brands are Winemakers that tailor to the African Market specifically creating labels and even Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne.
Always thinking about the future Chinedu wants to continue to build on her passion, education, and dedication, increasing the quality of wines and spirits being imported into Africa and propelling wine appreciation in the continent. She is on a mission to demystify the art of wine tasting and bring good wine to every table at the right price. In the process of this journey, she hopes to inspire other black men and women to join the wine industry and looks to the day where she is not the, I am almost always the only professional BLACK (Woman) at tasting events and business functions, especially here in Bordeaux. “I want to change that,” she ends.
Taking it one- step at a time to secure long-overdue space for aspiring Black women in the wine industry, through the success of Vines By Rosa, she hopes to inspire more people to take their passion and dreams forward.
Vetwork Inc, MENA’s leading startup for animal care is bringing petcare to your home
Vetwork Inc Founders, Abdelreheem Hussein and Fady Azzouny (Source: Vetwork)
Pets today are considered family members, best friends, confidants, and so much more. Taking care of them requires more than just love and dedication, but also the right knowledge to recognize when something is not right. Vetwork Inc, MENA’s leading startup for animal care industry one country at a time and its mission is to make pets healthier, pet owners happier. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Fady Azzouny Founder and CEO of Vetwork Inc talked about his entrepreneurship journey, his vision for petcare with Vetwork and the future plan. Excerpts.
Alaba: Why did you start and what’s the passion behind it?
Fady: Petcare should be easy, as it stands its full of inefficiencies for both pet parents and vets. Instead of a crowded clinic with a waiting time of 30-45 minutes, vets come to you at home at the time you choose. Rather than try to muster up a massive amount of money to fund a clinic, vets can practice their services without any initial cost and make extra money to live a better life.
The vision of regulating the petcare industry involves a lot of innovation, our dream is to use the available technologies to make everyone’s lives easier and right now we’re on the right track.
Alaba: What is your background?
Fady: I graduated as a veterinarian, but I consider myself an entrepreneur. I saw some problems in the veterinary market while I was still studying and started a bunch of projects, with a few of them turning into medium sized companies. My initial problem was the absence of technology in my solutions, with Vetwork I think we can really achieve my vision of making petcare easier.
Alaba: What are the problems you are solving and what is your value proposition?
Fady: Its simple, we are solving the problem of finding a good vet by selecting our vets from a pool of more than 1000 annual applications. And the problem of waiting in the clinic through Home visits available 24/7. Also, we are addressing Vets problems of low wages and salaries by offering them easy access to extra income.
Vetwork is reliable, affordable and available petcare.
Alaba: Tell us more about the process, users, business model!
Fady: As we stand the process is the same across Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE). We onboarded more than 300 vets across these three countries. These vets help us cater to our customer’s needs. A pet parent can log into our website or app and request a service at the time of their choosing. A vet will be assigned and introduced to the client.
The vet will then arrive, conduct the visit and deliver a detailed orientation on the tips and tricks of petcare. Our medical records also allow us to follow-up with our pet parents to make sure that everything is going according to plan and their pet is getting better.
Alaba: What are your main challenge?
Fady: Since we promise to deliver all your pets needs to you, finding the right groomers, trainers, vets and boarding facilities is always a challenge due to our strict onboarding guidelines.
Alaba: What is your achievements and coming plan?
Fady: After launching in three countries our plan is to start expanding further into the MENA region and build our presence in the countries that need us the most. Our tech infrastructure allows us to launch in any country in a matter of days and we plan to take advantage of this to test markets and become your pets partner anywhere in the Middle East.
Alaba: Do you think the ecosystem support you?
Fady: Ideas and mentorship, we’re always happy to learn and listen to other people’s ideas on how we can make petcare an easier process. We try our best to promote pet adoption since a lot of shelters are full of pets that need a home. Access to people with a wider audience can surely help us deliver our message to the people that need us the most.
Zoe Adjonyoh, the Ghanaian Irish Chef, Writer and Activist revolutionizing African Cuisine
Zoe Adjonyoh, Founder at Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (Source: Zoe Adjonyoh)
Zoe Adjonyoh is on a mission to bring African food to the masses. Born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, the writer and chef from South-East London deepened her understanding of West African cuisine after a trip to visit her extended family in Ghana. Described by the Observer as “the standard bearer for West African food” and named by Nigel Slater as ‘one to watch’ bringing immigrant food to Britain. She was named one of “London’s hottest chefs” by Time Out and most recently has been included as one of ‘The 44 Best Female Chefs in the World’ by Hachette Cuisine France. She became a judge at “The Great Taste Awards” in 2016, which is known as the “Oscars” of the food industry, and in 2018, she won the Iconoclast award at The James Beard Foundation.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Zoe began by selling Ghanaian food outside her front door during the 2010 Hackney Wicked Arts Festival to ‘make a bit of pocket money’ after returning from traveling across The United States. After the popularity of the stall she set up selling peanut stew outside her front door, Zoe went on the host many supper clubs in her home consistently selling out.
Zoe has been making waves in the international food scene ever since. Zoe has taken her fresh interpretation of classic Ghanaian flavours to pop-up venues across London, Berlin, Accra, Russia and New York, and is a leader in the new African cuisine revolution. Along with her world-renowned supper clubs, Zoe launched her first fixed restaurant space in 2015, at shipping container community project Pop Brixton.
In 2017, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen became a roving private dining, street food, wedding and events company, which Zoe ran alongside her chef residencies. The brand is a prominent force in the festival community around the UK, including Camp Bestival as part of The Feast Collective, and came runner-up as ‘Best Street Food Trader’ at the UK Festival Awards 2017.
Revolutionizing West African Food
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was the first modern West African Restaurant in the United Kingdom. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen was the epitome of social, relaxed and affordable dining – where guests gather to enjoy Ghanaian favourites, notable for their heartiness and spice, alongside Zoe’s contemporary West African creations.
In 2014, Zoe began writing her debut cookbook titled ‘Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’ and was released in 2017 by
Octopus Books. The first modern West African Cookbook to be published in the United Kingdom. Due to its demand the publishers decided to re-release of the cookbook in November 2020 and is the process of working on her second book.
Visit Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen