Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

How Did African Nations Perform On The 2013 Doing Business Report?

The Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises report was released on Tuesday,  by the IFC and World Bank the economies  to rate countries with the most business friendly regulations on the continent.

The report which is the 10th edition, examined regulations that apply to businesses in an economy during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and protecting investors. The aggregate ease of doing business rankings are based on 10 indicators and cover 185 economies. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors.

Topping the list of countries that recorded the biggest improvements in the ease of doing business over the last year were Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Burundi, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Greece, Serbia, and Kazakhstan.

Here are the lists of African counties on the list and their positions:

Mauritius -19
South Africa - 39
Rwanda - 52
Botswana - 59
Ghana - 64
Namibia - 87
Zambia - 94
Egypt - 109
Uganda - 120
Kenya - 121
Swaziland – 123
Ethiopia -127
Nigeria -131
Liberia -149
Burundi – 151
Mali - 151
Togo - 156
The Comoros -158
Cameroon -161
Gabon – 170
Angola – 172
Benin -175
Democratic Republic of Congo -181
The Republic of Congo - 183
Chad - 184
The Central African Republic - 185

“Doing Business is about smart business regulations, not necessarily fewer regulations. We are very encouraged that so many economies in Africa are among the 50 that have made the most improvement since 2005 as captured by the Doing Business indicators,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group.

“The report, finds that from June 2011 to June 2012, 28 of 46 governments in Sub-Saharan Africa implemented at least one regulatory reform making it easier to do business—a total of 44 reforms. Burundi, with four reforms, ranks among the 10 economies worldwide that improved the most in the past year across three or more areas measured by Doing Business—the only low-income economy on the list.”

Much more can be done to enable African economies to build a strong and competitive private sector, the report concluded.
Africa however needs to 

Fred Swaniker: The Man Who Is Building Africa’s Next Powerhouse

"At the heart of what we're doing is a belief that the main reason why Africa has not met its full potential today is due to the quality of the leaders that we have. So this is really an attempt to solve that issue ... the Africa Leadership Academy, is really saying: let's address (this), instead of trying to deal with all the symptoms of bad leadership that we have in Africa."

Fred Swaniker

Just like American civil right activist Martin Luther King Jnr. had a dream of a positive social cause for the world, so did Ghanaian-born entrepreneur, Fred Swaniker, had a dream not for the equality between the Blacks and whites but for something of that magnitude, which is to build a Pan-African school that will navigate the new generation of African child towards prosperity in future years. His mission was to give the African child a network of successful peers to tap for job opportunities, mentoring and career guidance.

Fred’s dream in reality is what is today known as African Leadership Academy (ALA), a prestigious school in Johannesburg, South Africa; that equip some of the most talented African youngsters from all African nations around the globe.

Nurturing relationships with over 2,500 educational institutions across the continent to identify the most suitable candidates to fulfill these roles, students of the school are handpicked while the U.N helps to locate individuals of high potential from various refugee camps. This rigorous selection process is designed to single out not only the brightest students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, but also those who have shown strong tendencies towards initiative, communication and leadership.

With the vision of creating up to 6,000 new leaders for Africa through the ALA's leadership program in the next 50 years, Swaniker's dream to build African Leadership Academy (ALA) was conceptualised while he was working and living in Nigeria on a microfinance project in 2003. He contemplated that parents spend as much as $50,000 to send their kids to top schools in the United Kingdom.

Once, in an interview while he was narrating his vision on the ALA institution, Swaniker said he asked the question “what will it take to make Africa prosper?” and according to him, he realised that “those societies (that) had come to enjoy widespread peace and prosperity… had come to prosper because people in those societies had developed important new ideas – (some of them simple, some of them revolutionary) - and implemented these ideas.” He believes that for Africa to sustain and accelerate development, it must be more systematic about cultivating these leaders.

“We must be proactive about increasing the number of individuals who can conceive important new ideas and implement them.”

He later founded ALA alongside Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur, and Acha Leke, in 2004 but the institution was officially opened in September 2008 with an initial class of ninety seven students.

However, before ALA was launched, Swaniker had worked with various organisations and has attended several institutions which nurtured him to create ALA.

Swaniker has lived in four countries in Africa before the age of 18 including Gambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. As an adult, he has worked in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. At just 17 years old, and on a gap year before beginning university, he was appointed headmaster of a school in Botswana. He says the practical knowledge he gained in his time there gave him the confidence necessary to achieve success later on in his career and in setting up ALA.

Swaniker had founded Global Leadership Adventures, a leadership development program for youth throughout the world which has about five campuses around the globe (Ghana, South Africa, India, Brazil, and Costa Rica). He also helped to launch Mount Pleasant English Medium School, one of the top-performing private elementary schools in Botswana where he served as a director.

Swaniker had also worked as the founding Chief Operating Officer of Synexa Life Sciences, a biotechnology company in Cape Town that today employs 30 South African scientists. He also worked in McKinsey & Company, where he advised management teams of large companies across Africa. To gain more knowledge, he went to a business school at Stanford University; there, he was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top ten percent of each graduating class. Swaniker also holds a BA degree magna cum laude from Macalester College.

It was during his stay at Stanford that he decided to launch ALA. But he had a challenge - his current employer then, McKinsey, paid his $124,000 tution with the condition that he return to work after graduating.

To achieve his dream, Swaniker decided to delegate his idea of starting a school by taking nine-month leave of absence from McKinsey with the intention of hiring someone else to launch his school. Instead, in October 2004 he ended up quitting McKinsey and was committed to pay back the full $124,000 tuition credit to his former employer. "I realised I couldn't outsource my dream," he said.

Coincidentally, his first backers were two managers from McKinsey. He used their funds, in part, to pay off his debts to the company.
He later sought the help of his mum, Edna Wilhermina Swaniker, an educator for 29 years, who had started a school in Botswana. But his mum was not as pleased with the idea as he thought. She didn't speak to Fred for nine months after he told her of his plans. But in the summer of 2005, his mother relented and began giving him pieces of what would total a $100,000 donation to help employ workers.

Swaniker launched ALA with $4 million in donations from Cisco Systems, former Hewlett-Packard Chief, Carly Fiorina, Intuit co-founder Scott Cook, former Cisco Systems CEO John Morgridge, Stanford professor Irv Grousbeck and Derek Schrier of San Francisco hedge fund Farallon, among others. He later purchased a 20-acre former printing plant, which would become the site of ALA, and hired 20 teachers from top schools around the globe.

In its first year alone, ALA received an astonishing 1,700 applications for 104 spots, making his school more competitive than Harvard or Stanford, which has 7.1 percent and 9.5 percent admission rates, respectively. Every year, the school gets about 3000 applications, the largest group comes from Nigeria with about 700 applications.

Swaniker explains that ALA tasks students with starting their own businesses and working closely with the local communities situated around the school. They are also taught about the roles of CEOs and CFOs as well as other senior positions within business, politics and industry. This, he says, helps prepare them for a future at the very top of the society, whilst equipping them with the skills "to do something much bigger for the continent" in the future.
To achieve this goal, ALA teaches a two-year curriculum in African studies, leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as the usual academic core subjects. All its faculty members are graduates from universities; most notably Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Stanford; and have previously taught at leading institutions. The Academy’s Board of Advisors is composed of African and global luminaries in business, leadership development, secondary education, and social entrepreneurship.

ALA is trying to create leaders in all segments of the society; including leaders in science and technology, business, politics and entrepreneurs who can create the millions of jobs that is needed on the continent.

"Africa won't come out of poverty unless we become entrepreneurs. But we still cling to our colonial legacy, where you aspire to (a) comfortable, secure civil job," says Swaniker.

In 2006, Swaniker was recognised alongside ALA co-founder, Bradford, as one of the 15 best emerging social entrepreneurs in the world, by Echoing Green. He has also been recognised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader, and was listed on Forbes’ list of top ten young ‘power men’ in Africa in 2011.

Swaniker was chosen as one of 25 TED Fellows in 2009 and is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute's Global Leadership Network. He was one of 115 young leaders selected to meet President Obama at the first-ever President’s Forum for Young African Leaders in 2010.

Adapted from Ventures Africa

Monday, 22 October 2012

New York Film Maker Documents Oil Rich Niger Delta Intrigues

Andrew Berends, a New York Filmmaker,  has released a preview of the intrigues going on in the Nigeria Niger Delta domain.

The film in view, Delta Boys chronicles the plight of the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria. It showcased some of the intrigues of what goes on in the oil region.

Niger Deltans are people from the Eastern part of Nigeria. The region is blessed with oil rich lands where Nigeria makes lots of money to sustain its economy. However, despite the wealth generated by this oil extraction, it was reported that majority of those who live in this region live on less than a dollar a day with lack of portable water,  sewage systems, schools, hospitals,  adequate roads, public health and sanitation services.

Speaking on the soon to be released film, Berends said “It’s such an important story. It’s about where our (America) oil comes from. It’s about the environment. It’s not just a local story in Nigeria. To me, it has global importance. The conflict there is largely driven by the fact that the world, and the West in particular, is so dependent on oil, and we have this desire for oil to flow as cheaply as possible. And it’s not just for gasoline for our cars, but everything we consume, we’re so dependent on oil. But the result of this dependency, while at the same time we’re not wanting to pay any more than we absolutely have to, is that people suffer in places like the Niger Delta. It’s a direct result of our addiction to this resource that they happen to have.”

He continues, “Corruption is rife in the federal government, the local government, among the militants, it’s a big problem. The only place where I don’t observe some degree of corruption is in the villages. Not to say that everything’s perfect there, but it’s the only place where you feel you’re a little more grounded in decent humanity.”

Berends says the harsh reality is that there is plenty of money flowing to the local governments in the Delta, but it isn’t being appropriated for much-needed infrastructural development, education and job creation. Instead, it is enriching a few opportunists and thuggish mafia dons while the villagers struggle to survive.

The documentary includes many interviews with villagers who rely on the fish, forests and fruit trees for subsistence.

Berends faced a lot of obstacle filming this documentary as he was captured and detained for about 10 days.

Financial support was sourced from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Cinereach and The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

The film, Delta Boys is now available for digital download release at Sundance and iTunes, and on DVD at Subsequent release will be made on Netflix, Hulu  and other digital platform by 2013.

Will the documentary make a difference/ Berends says “I don’t know. But if it helps make people a bit more aware about our oil addiction, and about how people treat each other, hopefully, we will be more thoughtful about our energy use.”

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Interview with growing Nigeria Entrepreneur, Akintola Akindele: CEO, Bandit urban clothing

Nigeria is bursting with budding entrepreneurs who are trying to creatively to present the African brand to the global world. I spoke  with one of Nigeria rising entrepreneur, Akintola Akindele, founder of the Bandit urban clothing company, who shared his experience as a rising entrepreneur in the Nigeria market.

Hope you enjoy and learn something form him :)

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your brand?
My name is Akintola Akindele, founder of the Bandit urban clothing company. I am a 25 years old Business administration graduate of Bowen University. I am born and bred Lagos although my state of origin is Oyo.
Bandit urban clothing co. started out as a hobby and a sort of personal challenge. Every day I go out and see brands with big name churning out monotonous and uncreative design, basically the only things on their products where logos, so I thought about it, why spend money on clothing with just logos, I believe I have something better to offer.

What prompted the creation of bandit urban clothing?
The first reason - I was tired of the monotonous designs in circulation and secondly I wanted to build an indigenous urban clothing company that can compete at the global level, an urban outfit that can be in the same store with the likes of Polo by Ralph, Tommy Hilfiger, and Gap.

Why the name “Bandit Urban Clothing?”
The name Bandit came to me because it’s revolutionary different not bound by the norm, and that's what we are at the Bandit clothing company, our imagination is definitely outside the box.

What will you say is Unique about Bandit Urban Clothing?
Bandit clothing is unique because its dream brought into reality. Although, it is still evolving but we stand out in our designs and a fact that we are getting to be known for our designs. We are conversation starters, something to break the Ice and when we introduce all our range of products we will still be different. Not different as to be shocking but in a refreshing way, we intend to change how people see urban clothing especially coming from an African brand that intends to go global.

myself 2.jpgYour target audience?
Our target audience varies but they must be hip and young at heart, so age is not a barrier. But if we are to peg, I will say from ages 15 to 45 and in that age demograph, we have different designs targeted to different types of people: the Nerds, the fun lovers, creative folks and the proudly patriotic to name a few.

 What does your brand have to offer the African market?
The first thing is Pride, we are Africans and we are a very creative race. Take the pyramids for instance, we built that Africans built that and yet we do not have any urban clothing company competing at the international level, I intend to launch Bandit urban clothing company to the international market.

Do you have facts to back up your claim that Africans do not have any urban clothing line competing on the global scene?

I do not have much facts to back this, but to be candid the concept of an indigenous urban clothing company is pretty new to the design scene. Although we have a couple old timers like hypno ,O shady and Marco Martinez, the only one on that list that's still vibrant is Marco martinez and he's not competing on the International scene. The ama kip kip brand is good too, strong presence on the African scene but yet to blow out, until we have designs and urban clothing company's out of Africa that can go head to head, with Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Ecko etc we still have a lot of work to do.

Who are your mentors in the fashion industry?
Amancio Ortega founder Of Zara, really inspirational story there. Ralph Lauren, and P Diddy aka Sean combs founder Sean Jean because really if there's something known as the male fashionista that will be Diddy and Mai Atafo not as a mentor more like an admired Colleague, I like his jackets. In Africa, Well I will say I like Deola Sagoe, Mai Atafo and Uche Nnaji of Ouch. I admire what they are doing for the fashion industry.

me chilling.jpgChallenges starting up?
Well apart from having to provide almost the basic infrastructure needed in production by myself, the toughest challenge was getting people to accept the work of an upcoming designer but we are getting past that.

How was the clothing market like, starting up?
The fashion industry is made up of various types of people but one thing I'm pretty certain and we can all agree on is that the fashion industry is fun and that's one of the greatest benefits of being in such an industry where your work is fun. The people here are always helpful and ready to lend a hand,

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from everywhere. I could be taking a stroll and see something interesting, I work with it, add a few touches and voila its ready to wear or from conversations with people. That's why I have a very mixed circle of friends, we all have different perspectives.

Who are your favorite designers and what have you leant from them?
My favorite designer of all time will be amancio Ortega, the founder of Zara. Do you know he opened his first store at 27/28 and he was a shop attendant from age 14?
What have I learned from him? -  Perseverance and the power of belief. That's a man who triumphed against all odds from a lowly beginning in Spain to secure a place among the first on the wealthiest Forbes list.

What are some of the most rewarding and biggest challenges you have encountered as a business owner/fashion entrepreneur?
Well my most rewarding experience, sometimes I'm in a random location and someone comes in wearing one of my designs, it makes me so happy that I had a part in it and someone thinks its good enough to be seen in. My challenges will have to be infrastructure and the fear of piracy. You labour over a design, you create it and someone steals it to undermine your original design.
Also financing of the business could be a little tricky.

How do you get people to know more about your brand?
We are partnering with various syndicated individual and online stores at the moment, and that is helping us cut across varied market demograph.

How is your sale/ delivery market like?
It is pretty good but could be much better so we have partnered with different stores and online franchises like and and we are working on a couple more as we speak -Traclist,Gidimall etc.

What is Bandit Urban Clothing up to now?
Right now we are into expansion. We have carried out our preliminary market awareness, so right now we are ready to expand all over Nigeria and Africa next year. We are searching for reputable partners to work with.

How do you get materials for clothing?
All clothing materials are sourced internationally, so as to ensure our products are up to the international standard.

How do you source materials internationally?
We want our Tee shirts to be of international standard, so we buy them in bulk from Europe and also most of the materials used for our illustration comes from the united kingdom.
And the next set of designs that we shall introduce into our collection shall be produced from china where most of the other international brands produce their clothing.

What is the cutting edge you think Bandit Urban Clothing has above its competitor?
The quality of our products are top notch and the contributions of our ever valuable creative and design team.

Where do you see Bandit Urban Clothing in the near future?
As a top urban clothing company not only competing with the very best but accepted by all internationally

Philosophy or favorite business quote?
I will like to quote Henry Ford.” Unless you have courage, a courage that keeps you going, always going, no matter what happens, there is no certainty of success. It is really an endurance race.”

Advise to young entrepreneurs coming into the business?
Work hard, believe in yourself, it will not be easy but it is very rewarding and fulfilling. Also avoid the dream killers, you can do it.

Posted from:Ventures Africa

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Africa Delegations Attend The EmPeace LABS 2012

Some young leaders from Africa will be attending the EmPeace LABS 2012 International Leadership Training Programme from 18th to 26th October, 2012 Jalgaon, India,  to join delegates from other countries to co-design and implement pilot projects that would leverage local natural and human resources in building sustainable communities.

The training programme which is organised by Arizona State University in partnership with Gandhi Research Foundation, Jain Irrigation Systems limited and the Center For Community Based Research (USA) has the theme “Empowerment for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability; Eradicating Poverty in Rural Areas.”
Delegations attending the programme include National heads of UCP-SARnet in over 20 African countries and other leaders from the continent. They will be joining other young leaders from every continent of the world to work towards the achievements of the MDGs by 2015.

The team of Africa delegation would be led by Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, UCP-SARnet Regional Representative for Ghana, who is also the UCP-SARnet head for Africa. Akpeloo is also the winner of the prestigious young entrepreneur of the year award. He is expected to make a strong case for Africa while speaking on issues of using technology to promote sustainable development in areas of Agri-business, water resource management and entrepreneurship.

The workshop will explore the historical depth and current relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of peace through leadership. It would also provided assistance and mentoring in implementation of knowledge and skills acquired during the training, as well as in planning and organization of subsequent trainings at a local level.

Through the mutual exchange of ideas and professionally supported mentoring relationships with local and global researchers, innovators, and practitioners, the workshop will build a network of support for young community leaders to make a positive difference in their communities, a statement released by Cordie Aziz Member, Executive team University Community Partnership for Social Action Research Network (UCP-SARnet) said.

The EmPeace LABS 2012 workshop will provide the right impetus for the five-year project of Empowering for Peace through Leadership in Agribusiness and Sustainability Eradicating Poverty in Rural Communities, Dr. Bahavarlal H. Jain, Chairman of Jain Irrigation Systems’ Ltd., a major sponsor of this project.

The exercise is also expected to help young leaders contribute to the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and ensuring a more peaceful and stable future.
Keynote speakers of the event include Dr. Bhavarlal H. Jain , Justice/Dr. Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari, Mdm. Nileema Mishra, Mr. Pape Samb.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Kim Wolhuter Wins Gerald Durrell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

South Africa passionate wildlife film maker and Photographer, Kim Wolhuter was recently awarded the Gerald Durrell Award for endangered life species at the 2012 Veolia  Environment wildlife photographer Awards of the  Natural History Museum in London.This makes him one of the  Wildlife photographer of the year.

The Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide.

Kim lives among the beasts and strives to create awareness for Africa's wild places and its animals.

According to him, “I have travelled with them on foot, in the pack itself, running with them as they hunt.”

The picture that won him the accolade

Kim has been filming African wildlife dogs at Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe village for more than twenty years.

To know more about Kim, Click on

Portrait of a Resilient Africa Industrialist: Rasaq Akanni Okoya

Venturing into business demands proficiency, intelligence, creativity and recognising opportunities when they arise. The combinations of all these business strategies have been noted in the Nigeria foremost industrialist, Chief Rasaq Akanni Okoya, the erstwhile owner of the once famed Eleganza Group of Companies.

Born into the family of Tiamiyu Ayinde and Idiatu Okoya, Akanni Okoya does not have a formal education to boot like other famous entrepreneurs; rather he had most of his education at his father’s tailoring workshop where his dad sow people’s cloth while selling buttons and zippers. The only formal education he had was at the elementary level.

However, what urged him on was the kind of environment he found himself. Once, while he was reflecting on what compelled him into business, Okoya said “In school, I could see my teacher in worn and often shabby clothes and at the same time, I could see the well-dressed businessmen of Dosunmu Street, the heart of business in Lagos then. It was easy for me to choose business life.”

The business mogul draws a lot of inspiration from his industrious and enterprising father who he said, was a very good tailor and a trader selling tailoring materials. “We didn’t wait for people to bring materials; we were making clothes and sewing everything to sell. From shirts to trousers to bicycle seats.” One of his father’s clients was the father of the Biafran warlord, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.   

The 72 year old industrialist began his lone journey into the Nigeria market when he started keeping money on the sideline for petty jobs he does in mending clothes at his father’s workshop. He would amend shirts and trousers for a fee, turning long sleeves to short sleeves or trousers to shorts. This exploit earned him twenty pounds - his first start up seed in creating his own business.

However, the twenty pounds wasn’t enough for him to start his dream business of importing tailoring materials from the overseas.

After making series of enquires on how to go about the business of importing such goods which was not that popular in Nigeria at that time; Okoya found out that he needed seventy pounds to be able to order and ship imported goods into Lagos. He later approached his mum to get the remaining fifty pounds for the project but his mum asked him to seek his father’s blessing, which he did. His mum later gave him the money he needed.

When the goods arrived, he discovered that the products where not only of better quality; they are also available at a cheaper rate than the amount it is sold at the local market. This enhanced the sale of the goods and from then onward, he started importing clothing materials from abroad.

As his business grew, Okoya ventured into manufacturing. His journey into manufacturing was kindled after he learnt a new trick from Igbo traders that the ornamented buttons can indeed, be converted into earrings. He envisaged that women love to wear jewelleries and the amount of money spent in buying them are “ridiculous.” He believed that such jewellery can be bought for cheaper rates in Nigeria since metals are available in Nigeria.  This challenged him to import the machines needed for making jewellery and he employed experts to help train his workers. The company also provided the avenue for people to wash their jewellery when it gets dirty.

That gave birth to the production of Eleganza jewellery and buttons which became instant best sellers on entering the Nigerian market then.  During that time, he also began to import shoes into the market before he later began shoe production after he was disappointed by the Italian company that helped him manufacture the shoes he sold.
At that time, his extensive trip to several countries where he imported his wares from had afforded him the opportunity of seeing how different things were manufactured.
The astute industrialist later ventured into making coolers, which he became most popular with.

Although Eleganza Industries have become one of the numerous victims of the gradual collapse of some entrepreneurial endeavours in Nigeria; the 72 years old Okoya has found pleasure in property development in his retirement age.

Through RAO Property Investment Company, Okoya, has invested in properties in different parts of Lagos. His magnificent estate, Oluwanisola (The Lord creates wealth) Estate at Lekki/Ajah Expressway, Eleganza Gardens and Shopping Mall also in Ajah are part of his property investments.

The Oluwanisola Estate, which is also described as an expatriates Estate because of the high number of expatriates living there, is well equipped with uninterrupted power and water supply, marble floors, central air-conditioning, sauna, lush gardens, billiard room, tennis court, swimming pools and lots more, Eleganza Estate is fully serviced luxury living.

It was once reported that  a one-bedroom apartment at the Oluwaninsola  Estate, goes for N1.8 million per annum with N800,000 service charge, while a three-bedroom flat goes for N3.5 million per annum with a N2 million service charge, and the four-bedroom duplex goes for N4.5 million per annum with a N2 million service charge.

Okoya’s business success is rooted in a very simple strategy of low pricing to beat competition. “You do not do business for the ego value. You go for what the people can afford. In business, you have to ensure that the masses are able to afford the cost of your products. That is one of my secrets,” he says.

“My main motivation was that I wanted to be rich and I knew I had to work very hard to get there.”

On what maintains his business stability, Okoya once said in an interview with Vanguard Allure, “ I keep to  myself. I do not look at other people. I am content with myself. I do not look for cheap money. I am not interested in contracts and I do not expose myself to intrigues and politics.”

He reinstated that “I always look for opportunities. Nigeria is a very big country and we have a lot of business opportunities. There is a huge market. You need to be focus in what you want. And more importantly, you have to work really hard to realize your dream.”

With all his principle and stated achievements, Okoya is today one of the most successful businessman, philanthropist in Nigeria with his stupendous monumental wealth.

Although some may want to ascribe investment success to good education, the case of Okoya, chairman and chief executive of Eleganza Group, has proved all that wrong, considering his low academic background.

In his word, “I have nothing against education. But at times, education gives people false confidence. It makes people relax, trusting in the power of their certificates rather than in working hard.”

 Posted from Ventures Africa

Monday, 15 October 2012

Global Handwashing Day: Unilever Plc partners Earth Institute To Save Lives

As the world celebrates the the fifth anniversary of Global Handwashing Day, Unilever and the Earth Institute have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in New York today to bring handwashing with soap, a lifesaving habit - to Millennium Villages across 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The African countries targeted are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

The MOU which was signed by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Paul Polman, CEO Unilever supports Unilever's goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan by helping more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.  The initiative also aims to decrease incidence in diarrhoea diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members.

“The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate handwashing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population's health,” a statement released on the partnership said.

Consistent evidence shows that handwashing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhea risk by 45 percent and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23 percent.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhea and respiratory infections dropped between 20 percent and 50 percent as a result of better handwashing practices .

The Global Handwashing Day is celebrated on the 15th of October in over 100 countries to create awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap as a lifesaving habit. It was founded by Unilever through its Lifebuoy brand in partnership with the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) alongside UNICEF, P&G, USAID, the Work Bank Water and Sanitation Programme, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy for Educational Development.

Millions of people around the world are thereby urged to pledge on to help Lifebuoy and its partners assist more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Portrait of Sierra Leone Entrepreneur and Football Paragon: Isha Johansen

By Sotunde Oluuwabusayo

There are two types of people in this world – those who make history, and those who are part of making history.

 Those were the words of Isha Johansen (Tejan-Cole); when she made her decision to run for  the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) top seat –  an aspiration that could lead her to become the third female boss of a football association in Africa.

Born into the family of Tejan-Cole, one of the Grand patrons and football stalwarts with the East End Lions football club; Freetown socialite, sports enthusiast and entrepreneur, Isha Johansen can be tagged as one of mother Africa’s dynamic children. She has stepped out of the shadow of her football lineage to carve a name for herself in the heart of many particularly in her country.

Isha is known for her work with youths in her country particularly in the area of football. It was with her stint as the founder and CEO of FC Johansen that she rose to prominence in Sierra Leone football domain, particularly with the recorded successes of her club in international youth competitions.

The 47-year old business savvy entrepreneur established Sierra Leone’s premier league, FC Johansen, in 2004, a time when Sierra Leone was still in her recovery days socially and economically. Today, FC Johansen is one of Sierra Leone’s football pride and success story.

Narrating how the Football Federation started Isha said, “There were a group of neighborhood kids who literally would be playing football just meters away from where my husband and I live …. I promised them I would provide them with footballs, jerseys, and rubber sandals if they agreed to stay in school. That was the beginning of the FC Johansen story.”

Four years after she created the football club, her team represented Sierra Leone at the annual Mittnorden Cup in Sweden where they won the silver medal. FC Johansen won the Swiss Under-16 Cup last year, defeating Liverpool at the finals. It also won the Mitnordick Cup in Sweden in 2009.

Isha’s club is also the first and only club to have hosted an international youth football tournaments in Sierra Leone, bringing in teams all the way from Brazil, Norway, South Africa, and many other teams from West Africa to play international standard football in Sierra Leone. The games were played at the national stadium in Freetown.

Apart from this, Isha is credited as the pioneer of the annual African International Youth Tournament which she created in 2009.

In her course of supporting the youths; Isha struggles to get visa for some young Sierra Leone young football players all of whom she ensures return home after games abroad. To achieve this, what she does is to educate them before they leave the country on the advantage of coming back home and the ramifications of their actions if they should run away.

Her immense contributions to Sierra Leone football have also exposed young talents while re-branding Sierra Leone to the world.

Over the years, she has been featured on SuperSports “Soccer Africa” programme on DSTV as one of the powerful force behind Africa football. Last week, she was also honored by leading telecommunication company, Bharti Airtel as one of its DIVAS (Diligence Integrity, Virtuous, Accommodating and Strong character); a programme which was meant to add and improve on the value to women in society  while using women from different backgrounds, culture, and race who have depicts true characters of a good woman and show strong determination and drive to succeed in life.
When she first started F.C Johansen, many people in the nation’s football industry did not take her seriously but today Isha Johanssen is as serious as she can get with her achieving the milestone of being the first female to contest for president of Sierra Leone’s Football Association (SLFA), the highest position in the country’s football institution in this year’s election-  a post in which seasoned football administrators  like former Sierra Leone international star, Brima ‘Mazola’ Kamara and seasoned football administrators Rodney Edmond Michael and Alhaji Mohamed Nabie contested for.

Believing in Isha dream, Former Leone Stars player and also aspirant for the Sierra Leone Football Association presidency, Brima Mazola Kamara, later stepped down from the race to pitch camp with favorite candidate Mrs. Isha Johansen as her Vice President.

Isha follows in the footsteps of the current president of the Burundi Football Federation, Lydia Nsekera, and the former head of the Liberian FA, Izetta Wesley, who in their own right have created a mark in African football.

Sierra Leone’s Sports Minister, Paul Kamara once portrays her thus: “She is the first woman in Sierra Leone to do so much for football and she has created lots of opportunities for young players. She’s an iron lady.”

As an entrepreneur and business woman, Isha has achieved many firsts in Sierra Leone.

Apart from being an accomplished Public Relations consultant, Isha is also recognised as one of Sierra Leone’s most remarkable female publishers, who has shown the love for her country to the graceful eyes of the international community. She became Sierra Leone’s first female publisher with he roduction of Rapture Magazine, an entertainment magazine which features the likes of Iman, Mohammed Ali and President Yahya Jammeh. She subsequently published KABO, Sierra Leone first inflight magazine, which champions progressive stories in her home country to the international community. The magazine ceased to publish after the airline it serviced went bankrupt. Isha have also worked as a contributing editor for Africa international lifestyle magazine, Ovation.

In 2003 and 2005, she hosted WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE AWARD, a platform used to honour sierra Leonean women at home and abroad. The award recognised Liberia president, Ellen Sirleaf, long before she became the country president.

Isha is also a breast cancer activist. Her NGO, Pink Charity Fund, which was established in 2006, is centered on this cause. Pink charity is an NGO registered and working with Sierra Leone ministry of health that championed the eradication of breast cancer among all sectors of the socio-economic stratum among Sierra Leonean women.

Over the years, Isha has been recognised for her work in championing women advancement, youth empowerment, sport management and humanity. She has demonstrated all this, through her various charity works.

In an interview with Africa sport TV, Isha describes herself as “a new breed of African Women who are now daring to step into male dominated walk of life. She is not a dedicated feminist but she believes in taking on challenges and does not believe that a woman should concede to be second best simply because she is a woman. She is an ardent believer in building the next generation….our youth.”
No wonder, her former boss, Dele Momodu, the Publisher of Africa’s leading society magazine, Ovation, described her as a brand 12 years ago.

As a writer once described her work, “Isha has through her various charity works demonstrated how any honest citizen can be of service to her country without maligning hard working citizens and lampooning leaders because of jaundiced political affiliations.”