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TEF Director of Operations, Ifeoma Okafor-Obi’s Speech On The Strong Female Entrepreneur at Eloy Conference 2019

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TEF Director of Operations, Ifeoma Okafor-Obi with Tewa Onasanya, Founder ELOY awards (Pic: TEF)

Every morning Mama Bisi sets out – her stool on her head, her beans paste, oil and other paraphernalia in a bucket, held in her right hand – to the junction by 5.45 am.

By 6.30 am, passers-by and her loyal customers line up to buy her fresh akara while you and I send someone from the comfort of our homes to do the same.

Occasionally she hears the magic words – “Oya keep the change” and she is extremely glad. A smile rends her face ear to ear and you wonder…

You see, that N50 or N100 tip means more groundnut oil to fry akara, the occasional N200 windfall, an additional cup of beans – both direct investment into her business. Mama Bisi is frugal, there are no excesses around her except when once in a while, she gives in to her mothering instincts and buys sweets for her children. But when it comes to herself, she is extremely austere. 

Mama Bisi did not go to school but she is more financially savvy than some business school graduates. She knows the costs of all her raw materials. Even N50 makes a difference, it is salt for two weeks of her business. She longs to raise money to buy a full bag at N25,000 and reduce the cost of the cups of beans for her business.

She is a route-to-market, consumer segmentation and customer service expert. She knows the locations to sit at different times of the day to maximise sales. She also changes her product offerings from akara to buns and then to puff puff as each day progresses. 

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

She is a marketing expert. You can hear her voice early in the morning calling out in her local dialect that “if you taste better akara or puff puff anywhere, you should return her wares for a full refund”. There have been no refunds till date.

She is a branding expert. She wears her white Apron and tells you that it is to show her customers she is clean, and her wares are prepared under hygienic conditions. 

From the proceeds of her enterprise, she contributes meaningfully to her family, ensuring her children are educated, well-fed and well-dressed to the best of her ability. This is because Mama Bisi is a strong female entrepreneur. 

For a lot of women, motherhood and entrepreneurship are blurred lines- everything they get goes into the business and every profit or loss impacts their families. 

According to the world bank female labour force participation in developing countries index 2014,  as more women enter the labour force, economies can grow faster in response to higher labour inputs. At the same time, as countries develop, women’s capabilities typically improve, while social constraints weaken, enabling women to engage in work outside the home.

How then do we ensure that the work that they engage in is meaningful? How do we give Mama Bisi access to financing to expand her enterprise? To move from roadside selling to dry or wet premixed packages to expand her market and customer base? How do we help her uplift her family through entrepreneurship? What innovative models can we use to reach her and remove finance as one of the major deterrents to entrepreneurial activities, industrial transformation and private sector development especially for women? What trainings do we have to leverage her financial savviness, help her with the right staffing and corporate governance?  How can she access external partners to move from a small-scale business to a global brand, leveraging her unique recipe? How can she build a trusted network in the right sectors in the shortest possible time? How do we enable her to be the catalyst to harnessing Africa’s strengths – its youthful population and fertile land.

Bearing in that Africa needs 12 to 15 million jobs annually to reduce poverty.

The TEF Model

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a 10-year commitment to select, train, mentor, provide seed capital and access to a supportive network to 10,000 entrepreneurs to create 1million jobs in 10 years and generate 10 billion Revenue growth across the African continent.

In 5years we have almost reached our original goal. Partially through our partnerships because our model has been proven to be successful and sustainable. 

We are piloting a program to reach even more people with our UNDP partnership. We plan to train at least 10,000 each year.

What makes it successful is that we achieve in 1 year, things that take programs like the apprenticeship program 5 to 8 years to achieve.

TEF Democratises luck. The impact of our flagship programme is so far-reaching because we are gender and Sector agnostic and we chose thousands from across Africa. In the past 5 years, we have had targeted communication for women and almost doubled the volume of female participation in our programme from 24% in 2015 to 41.6% in 2019.

After a 12-week intensive training with emphasis on finance, scaling, structure and transparency, due diligence and mentorship, these women get seed capital. As part of our Alumni network, they also get ongoing mentorship and value-add exposure to enable them to scale their businesses and to access 2nd stage funding.

However, more interventions are needed to enable women excel. We need:

  • Mass education for women on financing options available across the business lifecycle. Females by default have a scarcity mindset and want to create miracles out of nothing. They need to know it is ok to ask for more to deliver more.
  • We need a female lens into the route to market for reducing the number of unbanked and financing female-owned SMEs through technology. Bearing in mind that ladies like Mama Bisi will never buy a smart phone unless her family is very comfortable. 
  • Increased access to seed capital
  • Access to creative financing for special sectors e.g. creative and tourism industries in which women excel.
  • Leveraging technology for global scale –This is what we are working to achieve at the foundation with our technologically driven Digital platform TEFConnect. We can create local communities showcasing female entrepreneurs in various endeavors to access global markets. Already we have connected a significant number of businesses across Africa. TEFConnect is our gamechanger.  
  • We need to emphasize the need for governance and transparency within businesses. That is key to being able to attract external funding. With increased transparency and verifiable records, the financing will come, and more meaningful jobs will be created. 

If this is done, then one day, Mama Bisi will proudly be illustrated on the covers of a premixed akara package bearing her name, in a store in London. 

TEF

Press Release

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform Launches in South Africa

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Journey Wellness Co-Founders, Dr. Jacques Ludik and Laura Wayburne (Image: Nomsa Mdhluli)

Journey Wellness, an AI-Enabled, Personalised Healthcare Platform set to Revolutionize Wellness & Healthcare in South Africa. The Platform will transform business employee benefits and medical schemes’ approach to offering wellness for employees and medical aid members.

A revolutionary new approach to offering Ultra-Personalised, Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Healthcare from tech-trendsetting company Cortex Logic is set to transform the way medical aid schemes, consumers and corporates offering employee benefits as part of their EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) view their current healthcare offering.

The Journey Wellness platform is perfectly timed to coincide with the current global shift in Healthcare, as the focus moves from a disease-management model to one that encourages optimum health and disease-avoidance, targeting younger as well as existing members with a holistic, pro-active offering.

Corporates and medical schemes are realising that they need to offer their employees and members wellness and EAP benefits that move beyond expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care.

“Globally, an ever-increasing portion of healthcare spend and focus is shifting to promote wellness and wellbeing, rather than responding to illness,” says Lara Wayburne, a respected Healthcare Actuary consulting to Cortex Logic and part of the development team of the Journey Wellness Platform.

“Healthcare analysts predict that over the coming decade the focus on wellness and wellbeing can reduce overall healthcare costs by as much as 30%.”

“Journey Wellness enables that future by empowering and engaging consumers to better understand the drivers that impact their health and therefore be more actively involved in managing their own health. By doing so, the Journey Wellness ecosystem encourages positive health seeking behaviour, promoting better physical and mental health,” says Wayburne.

The driving force behind Journey Wellness, Dr Jacques Ludik, Founder and CEO of Cortex Logic, who has also recently written a book called ‘Democratizing Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Everyone’, says that the Journey Wellness platform will provide more healthcare, to more people, faster.

“Essentially, Journey is a cost-effective, pro-active, personalised and engaged AI health companion that will improve health outcomes for everyone involved – the medical scheme provider, employers, employees, healthcare providers and ultimately the end-user consumer who will benefit from personalised, proactive healthcare with the added benefits of cost savings all-round,” says Dr Ludik.

Journey Wellness offers a number of benefits for Medical Schemes, Corporates and End-Users:

Employer Groups and Medical Scheme providers will benefit from the cost savings inherent in moving from expensive, reactive, chemical care to cost-effective, proactive preventative primary care for their members and employees. This will result in increased productivity, increased employee engagement, reduced absenteeism and cost-savings to all involved.

Healthcare Providers will benefit from having a 360-degree view of their patients that will improve wellness proactively without costly chemical intervention, usually at the reactive stage and will also empower patients with continuous self-care.

And, Consumers will benefit from a Holistic Wellness Solution and the reduced need for expensive healthcare options, improved wellbeing, rewards for engagement and ultimately having a personalised wellness coach on hand at all times to help them understand their health status and associated risks and better manage their health and improve quality of life.

“Overall, it’s a win-win scenario in which technology, data and analytics foster a collaborative and progressive healthcare environment, creating an ecosystem for improved wellbeing one step at a time that benefits everyone,” says Wayburne.

Journey Wellness has also made an exciting announcement around making the Platform’s Mental Health Module available for free to users from 1 September 2021.

“We realise that the current state of affairs globally, and in South Africa in particular, with pandemic lockdowns and economic uncertainty foremost on our minds, places an enormous amount of pressure on people. So, we’re offering free access to our Mental Health Module to users, where they can access an AI-enabled mental health companion 24/7,” says Dr Ludik.

The Journey Wellness Demo Platform for Corporate Employers and Medical Schemes is available at www.journeywellness.co.za, and for Consumers, the User App is available as a free download for Android and iOS devices at Google Play and App Store. Medical schemes and Employers looking to offer Journey Wellness to their members can interact directly with Journey Wellness by requesting a demo via the website.

 

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Investment

Chaka secures $1.5M pre-seed round to power digital investments and wealth management opportunities across Africa

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Chaka CEO, Tosin Osibodu at a press briefing (Image & Press Release: Chaka)

Chaka is thrilled to announce its $1.5M pre-seed funding round led by Breyer Capital, a global venture firm focused on catalyzing growth in high-impact companies like Spotify, Facebook, and now, Chaka. Other participants in the round are 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, Future Africa, Seedstars, and Musha Ventures.

Chaka is a technology solutions company on a mission to enable every business and person in Africa to access borderless digital investment and wealth management opportunities. The team combines investment expertise and best-in-class technology to provide reliable digital Investing, trading and wealth management solutions that are easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate.

Their mission is to enable digital border-less investing for African businesses and individuals. They’re powering the digital investment landscape in Africa through partnerships with asset managers, financial technology firms, and regulators with whom we have a shared mission. We achieve this by providing trading solutions that are easy to use and easy to integrate.

With this capital, they will focus on the goals to build a roster of formidable partners and accelerate expansion to other markets within West Africa. This investment also enables them to hire top talent and integrate more advanced functionalities into our investment and wealth management solutions.

Jim Breyer, CEO of Breyer Capital, shared his view on this investment and it illustrates their shared vision: “We are proud to align ourselves with a company that is leveling the investment playing field for Nigerians (and Africans at large). We’re confident in the value Chaka provides through its digital tools, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting Tosin, Bo, Olaolu, and the Chaka team.”

This is a significant milestone for Chaka and could not have come this far without their users, partners, early investors, and a talented, achieving team of Champions.

They see digital investments as a means to boost economic transformation in Africa, and we’re very keen to bring this vision to life.

 

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Manufacturing

Emmanuel Penneh set to lead the Ghanaian team that will re-assemble the first Nissan Navara made in Ghana

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Emmanuel Penneh (Image: Lusawovana Pius- edelman) 

Emmanuel Penneh arrived back in Accra this week, ready to start the next phase of a journey that’s taken three years so far and still has an intensive eight months to run. On Thursday 3 June 2021, the married 44-year-old father of three graduated with his team of 11 Ghanaians from an intense eight-week course at Nissan South Africa’s Rosslyn manufacturing plant outside Pretoria. That was just the first step for them. Now the hard work begins, getting Ghana’s brand-new Nissan assembly plant in Tema, outside Accra, ready to begin re-assembling the first ever Nissan Navaras to be built in Africa early in the New Year.

The graduation is a critical milestone in a process that began back in 2018 with the signing of the landmark Memorandum of Understanding between Nissan and the Government of Ghana, followed by the drafting and promulgation of Ghana’s automotive development policy the following year and then the appointment of Japan Motors Trading Company (JMTC), as Nissan’s preferred partner last year to ensure that the new facility will be 100% Ghana owned and run.

Penneh is up for the challenge. Speaking at the special graduation ceremony held at the Rosslyn, SKD plant, he said he and his team were proud and honoured, excited and delighted. “This is a historic evolution for Nissan Ghana, Nissan South Africa and Nissan worldwide. This is the plant where the Nissan Navara is being made for the first time in Africa, by Africans for Africa, now we are going home to re-assemble the first Navara made in Ghana for Ghana by Ghanaians!”

Penneh will be the plant manager. It’s a feather in the cap for the 10-year JMTC veteran. Before being approached to lead the team, Penneh was service co-ordinator for the group’s aftersales operations, overseeing five workshops across Ghana. He’s been in the automotive industry for 14 years, with four years at Man Truck Ghana before he joined JMTC.

“It’s exciting,” he says, “it gives a new dimension to my career. After concentrating on the after sales aspect, I’m now coming into the industry that actually builds the vehicles.”

The eight-week training that the team underwent in South Africa had been gruelling, he said, they had no idea what to expect. “It was challenging coming fresh into this industry and discovering so many processes and rules and mastering them, but it’s been exciting.”

He’s exceptionally proud of the team he led to South Africa and the way they’ve conducted themselves. “This (the creation of a Nissan assembly plant in Ghana) is going to be a game changer for ourselves, but also for our country, creating jobs, upskilling people and creating opportunities for local brand ownership.”

 

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