If I ask any one to list 5 problems we have in Nigeria, they’ll probably itemize 25 (or more)!
Observing our myriad of basic problems is most likely not a herculean task. Everyone does it regularly — every morning at 7am, newspaper vendor stands are always centres of arguments, analysis and hyper-analysis. Venting about issues is probably their own way of addressing the problem. Can they do better? Maybe? Maybe not?
Private companies have also stepped up to create solutions and products in the last few years, so much as the global audience has started to notice. While they have solved some problems, new ones have been created such as notorious brain-drain and critical human capital export.
A problem well stated is a problem half-solved (Charles Kettering)
If we are going to really solve our problems, these 2 questions need to be addressed:
- Do we really understand our fundamental problems? — the underlying ones around which most of the others simply emanate from (symptoms)?
- Have we identified ways of solving it a bit more innovatively? — that means in a different and more efficient way, taking into account the weaknesses of current methodologies
Several months ago, we decided to do things differently. The Eko iCentre (Eko Innovation Hub) was launched, pooling together all human, financial and experiential resources we could muster, to setup what we believe is Nigeria’s first fully vertically integrated innovation company. While our primary purpose remains to eradicate poverty and its symptoms in Nigeria and Africa, we decided to spend every day and invest resources in 5 key areas:
- Learning: The only way to turn population (one of our greatest resources in Africa) to human capital (the type that influences & conquers the world) is through systems & content that foster learning development. We set up physical training schools in 5 key areas of Data & Analytics, Media, Block-Chain, Artificial Intelligence and Product Development. We also set up an online Academy that allows local knowledge providers (professionals & consultants) to create and publish digital courses across a vast array of technical, soft & employability skills. Tertiary institutions are great; however, the only way to affect a large population of people, effectively and in record time, is through affordable online education!
- Research & Sustainability: To be able to make significant impact social, we need data, especially locally sourced data using locally reliable research tools and methodologies for maximum sustainability. We are also heavily focused on business learning and gamification tools, specially curated to reflect local circumstances, peculiarities and business terrain. We invest in products and partnerships aimed at addressing SDGs and MDGs.
- Digital Product Incubation: Most, if not all innovation is now expressed through some form of digital product — commonly a web or mobile app. A lot goes into building digital products beyond the software application itself including best-in-class user experience & interfaces, product roadmaps, research, project management, billing, customer support & marketing teams & infrastructure. Our focus is to accelerate the idea to commercialization curve for individuals and businesses that want to launch their products by providing the required personnel, services & infrastructure so they can go to market in record time.
- Business Acceleration: We select few high-impact businesses every year and expose them to our faculty of high-ranking, multi-sector advisors, local & international roadshows, business services (HR, Technology, Legal, Finance, Audit, Communications & Strategy) as well as our network of private & public stakeholders — all that is required for them to achieve record targets. We believe well structured and high networth enterprises are crucial to lifting nations out of poverty and serving as a beacon of hope to generations to come
- Patient Funding: Banks do their part through loans. However, the kind of growth required to take innovative enterprises to cruising altitude makes both long-term double-digit & short-term single-digit loans inapplicable and counter-intuitive. We are implementing the Eko Capital Venture Fund specifically to provide the needed funds for rapid customer growth, national scale and expansion into international markets.
Our strategic objective is to experiment frequently, innovate tangibly and commercialize aggressively!
Our vision is focused on job creation, employability & human capital development and finally, poverty eradication.
We’re are continually dedicated to working & partnering with governments and public sector stakeholders to solve our collective social problems.
We have quite a journey ahead. Notwithstanding, we are fully committed to your economic prosperity, to the future of Nigeria and the technological advancement of Africa.