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Profiles

Meet Onyeka Akumah, The face behind Farmcrowdy

Agriculture constitutes one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian economy, and in terms of employment, it engages an estimated 70 percent of the country’s labour force.

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Agriculture constitutes one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian economy, and in terms of employment, it engages an estimated 70 percent of the country’s labour force.

The importance of this sector has necessitated the government, over the years, to establish several intervention funds, and programs to boost food production in the country. Sadly, most times, these funds do not get to the genuine farmers in the rural areas, who are in need of capital to expand their farming businesses. This is the problem that Farmcrowdy intends to solve.

Farmcrowdy is an agritech startup that connects small-scale farmers to sponsors who invest in farm cycles.

The farmers receive on-the-ground advice and training from agriculture experts on better agricultural practices for different types of crops and production methods. Farmers and sponsors all receive a percentage of the profits from the harvest.

In this article, Nairametrics profiles Mr. Onyeka Akumah, co-founder of Farmcrowdy, Nigeria’s first digital agriculture platform which offers Nigerians a new way to participate in agriculture, through online technology.

Education and Work Experience

Onyeka was born on the 21st of October, 1984 to the family of Dr. & Mrs. Akumah. He is the first of 5 children and spent the first 15 years of his life in Sokoto, Northern Nigeria. After some time, his family moved over to Lagos where he began his entrepreneurial journey by setting up an airtime recharge card shop at Ajah bus stop.

While at university, Onyeka started his first company which was into website design. From it, he was able to generate enough profits to pay for his school fees at some point.

He also founded a leading digital management business called ANOZIM Group with three subsidiaries focused on internet marketing, online publishing, and digital media sales. His clients includes GTBank, Cheki, Total Nigeria and The Guardian Newspaper.

Onyeka graduated with a First Class Distinction from Sikkim Manipal University, India, where he obtained a degree in Applied Information Technology (Software Engineering). He also acquired relevant professional qualifications to support his marketing skills, while building his businesses.

During Onyeka’s professional career, he has had the opportunity to work with konga.com as former Vice President of Marketing, jumia.com as former Director of Marketing, and Wakanow.com as the Online Marketing Manager. He has also been an E-Marketing Coordinator for Deloitte in West, East and Central Africa and Webmaster for British Council in Nigeria.

Just before Farmcrowdy, he helped the owners of Travelbeta to launch what is considered the 3rd largest online travel agency in Nigeria, recruiting a team of 55 and establishing 6 offices across Nigeria.

Onyeka is committed to utilising innovation and technology to tackle real problems facing Africans and Nigerians in particular, with a special interest in applying technology to transportation, real estate and most recently, agriculture through Farmcrowdy.

According to Onyeka, tech innovative solutions has always been something he finds intriguing, and creating solutions to problems is a passion for him.

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He has won several awards, including that of the Digital Marketing Personality of the Year 2015, from the Nigerian Technology Awards, and gained recognition by being among the Top 20 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch in Africa, by the African Youth Forum in Egypt.

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Onyeka is actively serving as an advisor on the boards of leading tech startups in New York and Lagos. A focus for him is using technology to enhance user experience and the customer journey across different products and services online.

In 2017, he was appointed to the E-Agric Stakeholders Forum by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria and was recently made one of the youngest members of the honorary council of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in recognition of his innovative way of fusing technology with agriculture, while empowering thousands of farmers.

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The Journey so far with Farmcrowdy

According to Onyeka, the idea of Farmcrowdy came to him at the time when there was a lot of talk about investing in agriculture in Nigeria, with a lot of incentives from the Federal Government. Onyeka was excited about this opportunity and wanted to invest in the agriculture space. As he saw it, there were two major problems to be solved.

From the perspective of an investor with no farming experience or skill, it was difficult to get trustworthy farmers who would not misuse the funds given. Farmers who were guaranteed to make profits after harvest season.

On another hand, the small-scale farmers needed funds to expand their farm operations from subsistence farming to farming as a business. Beyond this, many small-scale farmers had problems with smart-farming techniques and access to the right markets for their farm produce, in order to make good margins for themselves.

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This gave birth to Farmcrowdy, an online platform that connects the small-scale farmers with farm sponsors who fund their farms to increase their production capacity through the guidance of technical field experts. Then, prior to harvest, it gets pre-arranged buyers to sell the farm produce so that they can sell at decent margins for all stakeholders involved. The arrangement takes care of funding, land acquisition, fertilizers, and herbicides, as well as ready markets for the farmers to sell off their harvests.

How the platform got its initial funding

Initial funding for Farmcrowdy came from a relationship between Onyeka and another CEO of a fintech company with whom he played football on a weekly basis. This friend introduced him to his first investor, Rasheed Olaoluwa who after 3 more meetings, made a move to invest the first $60,000 in the business, barely 60 days after Farmcrowdy was launched officially on the 14th of November, 2016.

Also in December 2017, the platform closed a $1 million seed investment round from a team of foreign and local investors which included Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital, as well as angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn, Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr. Christof Walter.

It also recently received a $325,000 grant from GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund.

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In appreciation of its contribution to economic growth and food security in the country, the startup was recently honoured with the National Productivity Order of Merit by President Buhari.

Plans for expansion

Onyeka sees Farmcrowdy as his contribution to the agricultural sector, using technology and marketing to boost food security, empower small-scale farmers and encourage youths to participate in farming.

The platform intends to spread into more states from its current 8 states in the country. It also plans to impact 50,000 more small-scale farmers in Nigeria in the next 5 years and motivate 2 million Nigerian youths to participate in agriculture.

The current model is a community model built for Nigerians — sponsoring Nigerian farmers to grow Nigerian food and improve food security in the country. According to him, in Q4, 2018 or Q1, 2019, Farmcrowdy plans to replicate this community model in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and every African country where it can solve similar problems that Nigerian small-scale farmers face.

Onyeka is happily married to Edith Akumah with two sons.

Fikayo has a degree in computer science with economics from Obafemi Awolowo University. ITIL v3 in IT service management. An alumnus of Daystar Leadership Academy. Prior to joining Nairametrics had stinct in Project management, Telecommunications among others. Also training in Consulting and Investment banking from Edubridge Academy. He has very keen interest in Politics, Agri-business, private equity and global economics. He loves travelling and watching football. You can contact him via [email protected]

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ANODEBENZE

    July 27, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    What a young man ? ,crowd funding in agriculture who will make Nigeria proud “ask not what your country can do for you,but what you can do for your country “,I borrowed from an America ex-president jfk kennedy,i did not see this,so I did not see godwin’s action yesterday,he pull my rug from my feet.
    What he did ?.I thought they were wasting my time,i was more concerned about the country than aimed at any personality.he did a minor open operation market sorry a major policy action,on forex and manufacturing.i was aiming to enlighten my country men
    I was hoping the SEC will expand on their plan,to trade on agriculture products.so Mr Akuma can links with the office of SEC,to prove himself and expresses himself

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Exclusives

Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami: The emergence of a marketing and brand communications guru

Oyefeso-Odusanmi has certainly marked her presence in the corporate world of marketing and brand communications.

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Though not everyone can be the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation at the same time, there are women equally etching their names in various industries across the globe. Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC has one of such women.

As Head, Marketing and Communications, Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami is showing that her 22 years of experience in brand strategy, sponsorships, digital marketing and communications have equipped her in ways a Doctoral degree might not have, especially since Integrated Marketing Communications is hardly offered as an independent course in institutions.

Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Lagos State University, and a Post Graduate degree from the University of Leicester, UK, before foraying into marketing communications.

Career journey

She was Marketing Manager of Aero Airlines for 6 months, and was with British Airways for 9 years, serving in several various marketing and sponsorship positions.

Her professional recognition started back from her time managing the British Airways corporate image in Nigeria and other African countries, where she received the highest ratings for creativity, innovation and dedication for functional responsibilities at British Airways Plc, the best of British Airways community volunteering award.

She served as Executive Director at Change-A-Life between September 2009 and June 2010, and was also Head, Sponsorship and Event at First Bank Nigeria Limited for over 6 years.

Oyefeso-Odusami served as Corporate Investment Banking Marketing Manager at Stanbic IBTC for over a year, before assuming the position of Head, Marketing and Communications department in acting capacity. The appointment was confirmed in January 2019.

It was in this position that she emerged winner of the Outstanding Corporate Communications Personality of the Year 2019 at the MARKETING EDGE Marketing and Advertising Awards of Excellence. According to the presiding board, her versatility and inspiring growth in the Corporate Communications sector and performance in the marketing, advertising and brand management environment, had distinguished her among other nominees.
In August 2020, Oyefeso was appointed Non-Executive Director of the Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited Part-time.

Professional qualifications

She is a certified member of professional bodies such as Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), UK, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, NIMN and an associate member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). She is also a member of Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ), and has taken part in different global business and economic summits.

Other interests

Outside the business of marketing and brand communications, Oyefeso-Odusami mentors women and joins missionaries to reach out to widows in Northern Nigeria. She is also actively involved in a couple of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

She attributes much of her successes to constant self-development, worklife balance, and properly apportioning time to work, family and self.

In an interview, she said, “Stay true to your commitments and give no room for excuses. Having the right support system also makes the balancing act easier. I believe they go hand in hand and flow into one another, with one fuelling the other and giving it room to flourish.”

She also noted that she had been fortunate to work in organisations that allowed her to grow and rise as far as her talent and desire could take her, irrespective of gender, and had the privilege of good career mentors.

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The story of women shattering the invisible ceiling always seem so rosy and inspiring to others, that the years of sweating it out are almost forgotten. Regardless of this, talent and hardwork will continue to separate the best from the rest.

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TY Danjuma: The retired military general who made Forbes richest list

From the barracks to boardrooms, TY Danjuma has built and is leading some of the most notable companies in Nigeria.

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It is not every day you come across a retired Military General who remains in the limelight more than four decades after retiring from active service and for reasons totally unconnected to the military service. This is probably the reason why some might consider General TY Danjuma to be one of the most controversial businessmen and retired generals in Nigeria.

Vocal as he is in Nigerian political matters, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma is a force in the business environment, pulling weights in some of the most notable companies. Much of his wealth is attributed to his shipping and petroleum interests.

As at 2015, he was worth $750 million and ranked 30th among the top 50 in Africa’s 50 richest list (as compiled by Forbes), until he dropped off the following year due to weak oil prices. His businesses still continues and he remains on several boards still putting his business acumen to use, even in his eighties. The story of his move from the barracks to the boardroom makes for an interesting read.

Birth and education

Theophilus Yakubu was born on 9 December 1938 to Kuru Danjuma and Rufkatu Asibi in Takum, a farming community in Gongola (now Taraba state). Like many other children born during this time, he joined his father to plant yams, rice, cassava, and benniseed.

When he came of age, he had his primary education at Wusasa, and moved to Benue Provincial Secondary School, Katsina-Ala for his secondary education. Theophilus showed great interest in cricket and became the captain of the school cricket team. This, however, did not detract from his intelligence and he still bagged his Higher School Certificate in 1958, and immediately enrolled at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria (Ahmadu Bello University) to study history on a Northern Nigeria Scholarship. He barely spent a year there, as he left soon after to enrol into the Nigerian Defence Academy.

Military career

Danjuma was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as second lieutenant and platoon commander, and commenced his military career in The Congo.

He took part in the UN Peace-keeping force in Sante, Katanga Province in Congo in 1963, was involved in the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966 with the 4th Battalion in Mokola, Ibadan. He commanded the Nigerian Army’s 1st Infantry Brigade, and also led a battalion that freed Jaja Wachuku, first Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives as well as first Ambassador to the United Nations and first Foreign Affairs Minister, from detention by the Ojukwu government.

On several occasions, he was sent as Nigeria’s representative within and outside the country for several diplomatic missions. He served in active military service from 1960 to 1979 where he retired as a Lieutenant General, and in the highest office in the military – Chief of Army Staff under the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo. He later served as Minister of Defence between 1999 and 2003, under the President Olusegun Obasanjo civilian administration.

Business forays

General Danjuma made his first major foray into the shipping business when he founded the Nigeria American Line (NAL) and leased a ship called ‘Hannatu’ to facilitate trade between Lagos and Santos in Brazil. At this time, Nigeria’s bilateral trade agreement had opened the sea routes to economies in the South American markets and so NAL had patronage from Nigeria’s National Supply Company (NNSC) to bring in government goods.

Its client list later grew to include DICON Salt (Nigeria), Iwopin Paper Mill, ANNAMCO and Volkswagen Nigeria. From about 12 staffs in a single location in 1979, NAL grew over the next three decades to almost 300 staffs.

Danjuma also set up COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited in 1984 to act as an agent for NAL and COMET grew to become one of the largest independent agents operating in Nigeria, handling many types of vessels and cargo at Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri Ports. NAL-COMET acquired a roll-in-roll-out port (RORO) in Lagos in 2005 and became the largest independent port operators in Africa.

He still retains his stakes in NAL-Comet.

Oil business

After 15 years running the shipping business, Danjuma decided to veer into oil exploration and production and he founded the South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) in 1995 to serve as a vehicle for this interest.

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Three years later, the ministry of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria awarded the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 to SAPETRO, with a bloc covering a total area of 2,590 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi). The company brought in Total Upstream Nigeria Ltd (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Ltd (Petrobras) as partners in its oil prospecting.

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The prospecting led to the discovery of Akpo (a condensate field), the Egina Main, Egina South, Preowei and Kuro. In 2004, SAPETRO won a tender process for an oil exploration contract covering 550 square kilometres offshore from the Republic of Benin and this opened the way for other transnational deals.

In June 2006, SAPETRO divested part of its contractor rights and obligations to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), but Danjuma still remains Chairman, while his wife is Vice Chairman.

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He also owns some real estate and has stakes in Notore Chemical Industries (manufacturer of urea fertilizer).

Other interests and honours

TY Danjuma holds the national honour, General Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON). He also has several other national and international awards and titles, as well as honorary doctorate degrees from different universities, within and outside Nigeria.

Besides the companies he founded, General Danjuma has sat on the board of other companies like the NatCom Development & Investment Limited “NatCom”, (trading as ntel) where he assumed position as Board Chairman in 2016. He also served seven years as the chairman of Agip Africa until 1995 when he left to start SAPETRO.

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He has also been appointed into several committees and councils by the government, like in 2003 when he served as Chairperson for investigative committee on the Warri conflict. Danjuma also serves as Chairman of the Victims’ Support Fund Committee, supporting the victims of terror such as the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping.

Philanthropy

The TY Danjuma Foundation was set up in December 2008 and now partners with several Non-Governmental Organisations across the country to carry philanthropic gestures to the hinter areas and alleviate poverty.

The foundation targets the provision of basic amenities, education for children and young adults, and free medical care for indigent people. Over ₦3 Billion has been awarded as grants to NGOs working related goals in the area. Although the works first started in Taraba, Danjuma’s home state, it has extended to other areas. About 290 projects have been implemented across 31 states and the FCT, with over 8 Million people reached.

Every year since its inception, the foundation calls for concept notes and applications for funds from organisations with projects focused on health and education.

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