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.
Harris M: Keeping the craftsmanship alive through African fabrics
Harris M was created by Congolese entrepreneur Harris Mayoukou, Harris M. is a young fashion and accessories brand inspired by the bustling streets of Château Rouge, a colourful district of Paris. This project is above all a family story that begins with a sewing machine belonging to the great uncles of the designer in Congo. A machine that was offered to his father in the 70s and that the latter offered him in turn at the launch of the brand. Moreover, she still uses it today in the production of pieces in her Parisian workshop.
Coming from a family of artists and talented couturiers, Harris was keen to carry on this family legacy through his brand Harris M. She makes it a point of honor to take only fabrics produced in Africa in order to support the crafts and printing works still present. The brand offers accessories and casual wear mixed clothing, comfortable and quality. The founder defines the brand in 3 words: KANDA which means family in lari. Because she wanted to perpetuate one of her father’s first jobs.
Harris took her first classes in a very small workshop in Montreuil in order to keep this practice in the family and keep this precious link. Then PASSION because all the pieces are made according to the desires and the favorites. Finally ETHICAL, because it tries to ensure that small craftsmen, whether they are in France or in Africa, continue to be paid at the right price
APINAPI is reducing waste and supporting the autonomy of women
APINAPI is a social business focused on zero waste and symbolizes the meeting between France and Senegal. It all began in 2010, when Marina Gning and Jeanne-Aurélie Delaunay founded the company APINAPI in Paris, with the aim of democratizing washable diapers and natural baby products. After 10 years working in the cinema industry, they wanted to raise awareness about washable nappies and natural care products for babies.
During her travels in Senegal with her husband, Marina finds that the products she offers in France are perfectly suited for Senegal. Indeed, she sees how plastic waste litters the streets of the country, especially disposable diapers. These, which were a few years ago a “luxury product”, have become very accessible with the arrival of low-end brands.
These layers, of poor quality, give irritation and are not reliable. The family budget is reduced and women with low incomes use a single diaper for their baby all day! By offering washable diapers to her sister-in-law in Dakar, Marina sees how much easier her life is: less redness, less expense, less waste. In addition, the diapers were a great success with the friends of the young mother.
The trigger is born from there. What if these washable diapers were the solution? In 2015, she got fully into the project with her partner, her husband and Marianne Varale. The team was born, and in 2016 Marina and her husband decided to sell their apartment in France to settle in Senegal and launch ApiAfrique.
Today, ApiAfrique is a Senegalese social enterprise, which offers innovative, local and environmentally friendly solutions for the hygiene of women and babies. Its vision is to promote sustainable solutions that contribute to women’s empowerment, waste reduction, the fight against exclusion and job creation.
Meet French-Senegalese mothers after black babies
Douce mélanine Founders
N’dioba DIONGUE and Astou diongue, two French-Senegalese mothers have both had bad experiences with baby cosmetics products that contain potentially dangerous or allergenic substances. Looking for a solution, they found out that products adapted to black and mixed-race children can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Following these bad personal experiences, they decide to react and remedy them by offering healthy products, especially for babies. This is because they are fragile. The beginnings were not simple: market research, business plan, search for formulators, etc. It took several months before they could find a lab to work with. Not being in the trade, they also had to train in formulation.
Douce mélanine was born in 2018, with the aim of offering a range of care products with 98% natural ingredients, traditionally used in Africa for baby care. The goal is to transmit care rituals with products from the African pharmacopoeia. For example, we can find touloucouna oil, with unsuspected virtues which is relaxing and is used in Africa for infant massage. A necessary return to the roots, to allow babies to enjoy all the benefits of this treatment with ancestral oils.
Then in 2020, as for many entrepreneurs, the coronavirus came knocking on the doorbell. After several questioning and restructuring, they decided to stay the course. New tests are carried out, formulas are retouched, and the adventure resumes in 2021 to never stop. Today, Douce Mélanine has made her way and has found her place in many bathrooms all over the world.
DOUCE MÉLANINE fights every day to offer mothers products with healthy compositions. Its products are formulated and manufactured by a French laboratory certified Ecocert and COSMOS. Without perfumes, tested under dermatological control and composed of ingredients from the African pharmacopoeia, babies will appreciate its care which will bring softness, hydration and relaxation.