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Startups: Why investing in your online presence is essential for growth

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Startups (Image credit: entrepreneur.com)

Ever since we entered the electronic era it has become increasingly part of the global business culture to search for products and services online and make transactions. It’s therefore crucial for any business looking to thrive that a virtual version of the company, particularly for new and small businesses, is accessible on the web.

Establishing an online presence for your business means that your company has 24/7 visibility. It’s also the most innovative way of building your brand, engaging with your existing clients or potential customers, and creating networking opportunities. In addition, being online extends your business’ reach beyond your physical geographical location and allows you to access markets you may not have been able to otherwise.

Furthermore, you can cost-effectively promote your offerings beyond borders and create a demand for your products or services in previously inaccessible markets, giving your business unlimited growth potential.

The importance of establishing your business on the internet

The internet democratises commerce due to its anti-monopoly nature which gives startups or small businesses the opportunity to create far-reaching impressions and the chance to compete with larger and more resourced corporations on an even playing field. However, to gain competitive advantage online is not a matter of simply just creating a generic web page in hopes that customers will come flocking because if that’s the assumption then you’re unfortunately mistaken.

The Digital Economy Survival Toolkit is a book that highlights why being online is important for startups and small businesses. It gives insight into why any business should invest in having an online presence. It also covers the key elements that make a website effective and how to successfully launch a new product and fund a startup.

Knowing what it takes to be successful business on digital platforms is important and every startups should learn why strategic networking is truly the nexus between entrepreneurs and success. In today’s world of remote working, knowing how to use virtual staffing to better your business has become vital. Communicating with customers via webinars and understanding the importance of branding your webinars is also key to successfully launching a profitable online business.

In terms of growing reach and traffic, entrepreneurs need tools that enable them to ensure their businesses have competitive SEO rankings because without brand visibility there’s no way to drive large volumes of traffic to a website. Other crucial aspects that give online entrepreneurs the edge include knowing how to combine email and social media to maximize the impact of marketing campaigns.

So before you introduce your company to the world of internet users, which according to Internet World Stats is roughly just under half of the total global population and set to significantly increase over the coming years, you need to have a clear strategy outlining your objectives as far as what it is you hope to achieve by establishing your company’s presence online.

Setting up your digital real estate

Having a basic web penetration strategy allows you to have an idea of what to expect and to estimate the rate of return for the resources you will invest in setting up your online presence. Most small businesses and startups do not always have access to large budgets which can be allocated to this however, it should be encouraging to know that the prices for building a decent website are fairly reasonable depending on the scope and you can get started by simply:

  • Picking a unique domain name and selecting a hosting service package – you can get free web hosts and portfolio sites online but it’s best to have your own domain name which you can personalise for your business.
  • Finding a design that best fits your brand – with almost an unlimited number of website designs available, you want to find one that gives your users the best experience and reflects your aesthetic.

Key elements that make a website effective

There are several actions you would need to take in order to give your startup the edge it needs to successfully compete in an extremely competitive world. A good website should incorporate some, if not all, the elements listed below:

Captivating headlines

Every website should clearly communicate your business offering to potential customers from the start.  It is therefore important to have simple but impactful headlines. Your headlines and subheadings should describe what your business does in a straightforward manner. Remember, first impressions are everything and if your content is not engaging from the get-go customers will most likely bounce off your site.

Comprehensible value propositions

Once you have briefly outlined what your business offers, the next step is to show your audiences why what you do matters. Here you should focus on showing the benefits or advantages of your products or services by explaining the main features.

Success indicators

Since the internet is inundated with sites promising consumers all kinds of benefits, it is crucial that you show why customers should choose your products or services over the competition by proving how those who have already chosen your business have benefited. This is also an opportunity to gain the trust of any potential customers.

Resources and content

Customers tend to initially visit websites with the intentions to find out more information and not necessarily to make immediate purchases, which is why most startups or businesses are enhancing their offerings by providing potential customers valuable content relevant to their products and services.

Calls-to-action

Ultimately, the purpose of your website is to convert visitors into customers. To do this effectively, it is imperative that you include a call-to-action on your site. For maximum impact you can have one at the top of the webpage and another at the bottom. Good call-to-actions are designed to inspire an immediate response from your audiences with the most popular ones being “call now” or “visit our store today”. You can also use call-to-actions to generate sales leads by including a “find out more” option where website visitors would be prompted to submit some basic personal information such as email addresses in order to access more comprehensive content.

Optimising your website

Creating a compelling website which functions effectively is the next step towards cementing your company’s presence online. In order to achieve this you need to ensure that your newly created website is optimised. This allows your webpages to be easily discoverable in search engines and rank higher in search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves adding valuable content to your site and using keywords to drive organic traffic to your website.

To make your website search engine friendly and for best performance, there are several areas you could focus on including:

Also Read: Meet The Resilient Black Brothers Saving The Planet One Car At A Time

Keywords

These are essentially topical words or phrases that are used for emphasis. They are also words used by search engines to find relevant pages on the web. Startups or businesses should aim to create content around topics pertaining to their business offering which can help them rank higher in search results so that people looking for information related to those keywords have a greater chance of landing on their webpages. Your choice of keywords should help visitors and potential customers understand the purpose of your page.

Content

For your website to gain prominent visibility online you have to create content that is well-written and error free. Producing great content not only helps your website rank higher in search results but also keeps your audiences engaged and establishes you as an authority in your desired sphere of influence on the internet. Above all, make sure you create quality content that gives readers value.

Responsive Design

With more people accessing web content via mobile devices in comparison with desktop computers, it is crucial that you use a responsive or mobile optimised design for your website. Search engines such as Google also recommend responsive design since it makes it much more convenient for visitors to have a single URL. Setting up your website in this way helps web pages load faster because your website will not have to be redirected to another page for a mobile device.

The secret to success for small businesses and startups

Now that you know why it’s important to set up a presence for your business on the internet and understand the importance of online participation, as well as what it takes to have a functional website, you can rest assured that you’re not lagging behind the competition.

The secret to succeeding in the digital era rests simply on knowing how to utilize the web to your company’s advantage. What’s great is that the internet acts as a great resource for finding techniques to enhance your business and because the developments on how best to thrive online are ever evolving, you too have a fair chance of boosting your business prospects and no one can claim to have the upper hand as long as you stay updated on the developments.

For a comprehensive list of descriptive links to free resources, tools, platforms and apps that you need to set up an income generating business on the internet also check out The Digital Entrepreneur Manual.

Author: Heath Muchena

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Press Release

Tokunboh Ishmael Joins Endeavor Board

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Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital (Photo: Endeavor Nigeria)

Endeavor Nigeria announced today the appointment of ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, to its board of directors.

Tokunboh Ishmael is an impact investor with over 20 years of experience spanning investment banking, private equity investing, technology, and business development in Africa, Europe, and North America. She is the Managing Director, and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, Nigeria-based investment management and advisory firm focused on channeling private equity investments into small and medium-sized businesses in West Africa.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Tokunboh Ishmael to the board of Endeavor in Nigeria,” said Tosin Faniro-Dada, Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. “Mrs. Ishmael is an inspiration to the digital ecosystem, and we’re certain she will add tremendous value as well as a unique perspective to the team with over 20 years of experience in Private Equity and Venture Capital in Africa; ESG and Impacting Investing; Gender Lens Investing; and Diversity and Inclusion.”

Ishamael joins Endeavor Nigeria’s board members, including Atedo Peterside CON (Board Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria and President & Founder, Anap Foundation), Bolaji Balogun (Board Vice-Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria, and CEO, Chapelhill Denham), Jaideep Gulab (CEO, Rosemonde), Halima Aliko Dangote (Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited), Yemi Lalude (Managing Partner, TPG Growth), Andrew Alli (Group CEO & Partner, SouthBridge Group), Mitchell Elegbe (Founder & GMD, Interswitch Group), Faysal El-Khalil (Chairman, Seven-Up Bottling Company), Suresh Chellaram (Chairman, Chellarams Group), and Tosin Faniro-Dada (Managing Director & CEO, Endeavor Nigeria).

Endeavor Nigeria’s board of directors comprises top business leaders who actively support the organization’s efforts to advance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy.

Commenting on the appointment, Atedo Peterside CON, Chairman of the Board, said, “We’re honored to welcome ‘Tokunboh Ishmael to the Board of Directors of Endeavor Nigeria. We are certain that she will bring tremendous value to the Endeavor network, drawing on very relevant practical experiences. It will also further enhance the strong role that Endeavor Nigeria has been playing in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria as a whole.

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I look forward to working closely with her on the board and strategy level.”

Speaking on the appointment, ‘Tokunbo Ishmael said, “I am pleased to join the board of Endeavor Nigeria, an institution that has played a key role in placing high-impact, transformative African entrepreneurs and businesses on the global map. I look forward to contributing my unique experience to the energetic and visionary leadership of the organization to unlock further growth and impact through Endeavor Nigeria’s robust initiatives and network.”

Endeavor is the world’s leading community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 1997, Endeavor is a global organization with a mission to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders. Today, Endeavor’s network spans 41 markets and supports more than 2,300 entrepreneurs whose companies generate combined revenues of over $42 billion US and have created more than 3.9 million jobs. Endeavor’s unique entrepreneur-first model and network of trust provide a platform for founders to dream big, scale up, and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018 to select and support the best founders of companies at the scale-up and growth stage who recognise a responsibility to pay it forward and multiply their impact in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. In Nigeria, Endeavor aims to select 4-6 companies a year, and today there are 33 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 16 companies in their portfolio. 

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Health

mPharma acquires majority stake in HealthPlus

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mPharma, Africa’s leading patient-centered technology-driven healthcare company, has acquired the majority stake in HealthPlus, the leading pharmacy chain in Nigeria. mPharma and the former investor, Alta Semper, have signed an agreement leading to the acquisition of a majority stake in the HealthPlus Group.

According to the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of mPharma, Gregory Rockson, the acquisition is in line with the company’s mission to build an Africa that is in good health by delivering life-changing healthcare services and drugs to improve health outcomes for patients. He stated that the acquisition of the HealthPlus Pharmacy chain by mPharma complements mPharma’s deep commitment to increasing patient access to affordable and quality healthcare in Nigeria.

“mPharma is deepening its long-standing commitment to Africa by reimagining primary healthcare in some of the most vulnerable communities on the continent. We continue to transform community pharmacies into primary care centers to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all patients so they can live not just longer but healthier lives. We are optimistic about the future of healthcare for Nigerians through the acquisition of HealthPlus.”, said Rockson.

In her remarks on the acquisition, Afsane Jetha, Co-founder and CEO at Alta Semper Capital, said: “We are delighted about HealthPlus’ partnership with mPharma. We have a strong conviction in mPharma’s strategy of revolutionizing primary care across Africa and believe mPharma is the ideal steward for HealthPlus’s next chapter of growth. We believe mPharma’s vision is consistent with that of HealthPlus’s shareholders and employees, and we are enthusiastic to support the business through a relationship with mPharma going forward”.

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While mPharma plans to continue to keep and strengthen HealthPlus as Nigeria’s leading pharmacy brand in Nigeria, the acquisition will also provide expansion opportunities for mPharma within Nigeria and a platform to expand mPharma’s mutti pharmacy retail footprint across the continent through its fast-growing QualityRx program. Powered by mPharma’s proprietary Bloom software, HealthPlus will provide patients access to affordable primary care services within its pharmacies, in addition to affordable and quality medications it currently retails across 12 states in Nigeria. The HealthPlus pharmacy chain will also launch mutti®, mPharma’s health membership program, which will provide both existing and new customers with discounts, interest-free “heal-now-pay-later” plans, free health screenings, and other primary care services.

By combining HealthPlus pharmacies with mPharma’s growing portfolio of partner mutti pharmacies and GoodHealth shops (PPMVs),mPharma’s network will grow from 224 to over 320 health facilities in Nigeria and will provide care to more than 100,000 Nigerians each month.

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Corporate Executive

Chantel Cooper: The Epitome of Empathy and Care

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Chantel Cooper, CEO of The Children’s Hospital Trust (Image: Supplied)

Chantel joined the Children’s Hospital Trust in 2013 as the Head of Fundraising and Communication and was appointed as CEO in 2019. For her, 2020 was a year that reinforced the importance of the core purpose of the Trust and the difference the organisation wants to make in the lives of children. “Our cause is driven by the need to make a difference in the lives of sick and injured children. We are people who work together to save the lives of the children who matter. We all have a purpose!” she says.

Sharing excerpts from her journey, Chantel says:

“My purpose in life is to serve those who are most vulnerable: women and children. My career was driven by my passion to make a real difference in the lives of women and children. When I was 18 years old, I volunteered for an organisation that provided support for women who had been raped. While volunteering, I started working with women in rural areas in the Eastern Cape where we found opportunities to grow their businesses.

“My passion for women led me to Cape Town where I became Director of Rape Crisis Cape Town when I was 27 years old. After the birth of my two children, I moved to an organisation called St Joseph’s Home for chronically Ill Children. St Joseph’s is a step-down facility for tertiary hospitals like the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. It was a profound move for me as I was able to work with children who inspired me.

“One of the most valuable lessons I learnt is the power of love. You can offer a child the best healthcare in the world, but what a child wants most is their parents to love them and be by their side. This is the value I most appreciate about the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and my past experiences. This hospital believes in child-centered care and knows that a child heals when their parent or caregiver is by their side – even during the COVID-19 pandemic. All other hospitals had restricted access to patients, but the presence of a parent is imperative to their sick or injured child’s healing.”

Overcoming Adversities

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught our team that life can change in a blink of an eye and that we need to be prepared for all possibilities. The pandemic hit the world with such speed and velocity that we had no choice but to find a way to not only sail through the storm but also find ways to get out of the situation stronger than before.”

Chantel also states that 2020 provided the Children’s Hospital Trust with the opportunity to learn extraordinary lessons that they would not have normally had the opportunity to learn and some of these include:

  • The value of deep listening and the importance of demonstrating kindness.
  • Working in collaboration created the opportunity for meaningful impact for our beneficiaries.
  • Opportunities do exist during challenging times; positivity exposed the opportunities.
  • Adapting to change during uncertain times helped to build a resilient team.

“Our Trust team demonstrated ingenuity, compassion, resilience, commitment, and fortitude during a very difficult time. As a result, we surpassed our goals, and this enabled our organisation to reach more children and families. We are grateful for the contribution from every individual,” adds Chantel.

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“Walking through the corridors of a children’s hospital during a crisis gave perspective on the real value of care, kindness, and collaboration. While children were not the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Work Department experienced first-hand the profound impact the pandemic had on children’s health and well-being.

“Unemployment, food insecurity, child safety and schooling were common concerns for many patients and their parents who entered the doors of the Hospital. The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital values patient and family-centred care which includes care for the whole family from a holistic perspective.

“In response to the needs of the families, the Trust secured funding to enable the social workers to provide additional counselling services and material support such as the provision of food, hygiene, and home-schooling supplies to vulnerable families when children were discharged from the Hospital.” Read more on the Family Care Project here.

Redefining Excellence

The core to achieving our vision is upholding our values of Integrity, Accountability, Kindness, Dynamism, and Collaboration in every aspect of our work. The Trust has a sound financial record in administration and good governance. For the past 28 years, we have raised funds to address many pressing needs, but much has yet to be done. With the help of many donors, we continue to give hope and healing to our little ones who need it most.

The Trust raises funds for the upgrade and expansion of the Hospital’s buildings, the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment, and new medical treatment projects and funds the training of medical professionals across Africa – ensuring that the Hospital not only retains its world-class stature but is able to continue providing life-changing and life-saving care for children.

The Trust relies on donations to fund these needs. When you donate to the Trust, 100% of your donation goes towards funding projects that change children’s lives (and the lives of the people who love them). The operational costs of the Trust are funded from an endowment, so your generous contributions are never used to cover administration costs.

Donate to the Children’s Hospital Trust today! www.childrenshospitaltrust.org.za

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