Biola Alabi, founder and Managing Partner of Biola Alabi Media, the production company behind 2017’s “Banana Island Ghost” and this year’s “Lara and the beat,” was a Keynote speaker at the 22nd African Securities Exchange Association (ASEA) Conference which took place at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos.
After addressing the audience about the need for more investment in Nigeria’s entertainment industry, Mrs Alabi spoke to Nairametrics about a number of pressing issues facing the film industry in Nigeria.
It’s the end of the year and we already know when a number of 2019 Hollywood releases will be out based on their system of making release schedules available in advance. When do you think we will have that kind of organisation with Nollywood releases?
Well there’s a lot of stuff coming out in December and there’s also a lot of brands that are building themselves up to be a December-release type of Producer. So you take a look at a company like Ebony Life films, they’re very much a December-release organisation. They’ve been advertising their December releases since about six months ago.
I do, however, agree with you that there could be more advanced notice across our movie industry. I think the problem in Nigeria is that there is so much noise in the environment that you have to be careful with when you make an announcement, how captive and available your audience is, and so on. So even though you have these big Hollywood blockbusters there’s still a lot of other films to be released that we haven’t heard about. It is difficult to compete with some of the Marketing budgets of the big film studios.
With regard to box office transparency, in Hollywood, we know how much a movie makes on its opening weekend plus there are weekly updates during the theatrical run. Do you think this is something that can happen in Nigeria where we have more transparency into how much our films are making from week to week?
Yes and no. I definitely think there should be more transparency but because a lot of funding for our movies is coming from private sources, it is sort of like asking for public information from a private company.
The requirements for a publicly listed company are different from a private company and that’s the challenge we have in Nollywood. As long as you have a mom and dad funding a film, the filmmaker gets to decide what financial information gets released. So the more investors that get involved, the more transparency you’ll have.
Also, there has to be a culture of transparency, there has to be a culture of accepting that some films are going to fail and some films are not going to connect. There also has to be more education on big films, mid-level films, and small films. Until we have that kind of education in our industry, I think it will be hard to have transparency because many don’t understand how to categorise those box office numbers or how to process them correctly.
One thing that’s improved tremendously is reporting to investors that fund Nollywood films. For us at Biola Alabi Media, we’re very structured in how we provide our financial performance to our investors. We make sure we give our investors quarterly reports and regular updates whether it is good news or bad. Now imagine how much more transparent we would have to be if we had times ten of that funding, so I think more investment will increase transparency.
You talked a lot about funding in your keynote address to the audience here of how Nigeria’s film industry needs more investment. Were you encouraged by Netflix investing in “Lionheart,” the Genevieve Nnaji movie and do you think that can pave the way for more funding for Nollywood films in the future?
I think it is encouraging and I think it is a very good sign that the rest of the world is interested in Nollywood content. This also told me that local investors will miss out on this big opportunity if they don’t pay more attention. Netflix has a production budget of $8 billion. That’s just for production of original content. That’s not talking about acquisitions, or technology because remember, they’re a technology firm. We’re talking about $8 billion that is just for producing original content. Our entire film industry in Nigeria is roughly $1 million. We’re talking about just one company here and not even including others in the west. So for me, that’s concerning because if we are not investing in our own stories, our own stories will then be dictated to us by other people.
However, just as a Farmer wants to farm, a Producer wants to produce, a Writer wants to write, a Director wants to direct, so those talents will go where the funding is. This is why I think it is important that we have some semblance of a hybrid model.
We are at a Securities Exchange conference, and there are a number of publicly listed film studios like Warner Bros and Fox overseas. When do you think we can ever see Nollywood studios like a Biola Alabi Media for instance being listed on our stock exchange?
I hope we can see that one day. We need to have a pipeline for that and that is what I addressed in my speech. We need engagement from the investment community and it needs to be consistent engagement. This conference is a good platform to engage the investment community but it has to go beyond that. The conversation has to continue after the conference is over.
Let’s have a 10 to 15-year runway. Some of this will include getting more money and having some mergers and acquisitions. Right now the industry is too fragmented. We need bigger players to get scale.
Is Biola Alabi Media into online streaming of content or are you looking at that as an option down the line?
One of the things we focused on was building the ecosystem and producing more content. When it comes to distribution which is the streaming model, we’re not really interested in building the technology and I’ll tell you why; for the people that build that technology, for some of them, there will never be competition for that technology, and those people are some of the big players that you’ve already mentioned. You can’t match the investment that some of these streaming companies have. Some of them are just going to be your usual big technology companies, they’re going to be the big streamers of the future. The biggest thing is who is going to own the content that is going to define that future, not necessarily the pipes. So we have decided to focus on the content and not the pipes.
Banana Island Ghost was a very interesting, off-the-wall project. Can you give us some insight into what you have coming for 2019?
For 2018 we also had “Lara and the beat” which was also off-the-wall and different from your typical Nollywood film. What we are trying to do is show the range and diversity of Nigerians. It’s always been part of my counter-narrative that we show nuance in Nigerian films and that we do different things.
So for me, I am really interested in stories that are different even if it is Comedy which is a popular genre. So with “Lara and the beat” we wanted to do something different and showcase our music industry. We wanted to tell a story about some of the biggest challenges we have in Nigeria which is about wealth preservation and wealth transfer and actually building companies.
That’s what I am trying to do, I’m trying to build a company and what I continue to see are the challenges that people face while trying to do this and that is what we showcased in “Lara and the beat.” The film is still on a good run and we’re already working on another film for next year.
I can’t reveal the name but it’s about two women who are of different age groups and are trying to understand how their industry will transform in the 21st century. It’s a very traditional industry for the modern day. So once again, very off-the-wall, very different.
Do you think we will ever see a Nollywood film about Nigeria’s Capital Market and are you thinking of making one?
Of course. We are in talks with people and we are exploring a film. There are some interesting things that have happened on our stock exchange and we want to tell that story and put it out there.
Tayo Oviosu, the journey from Software Engineer to Pagatech
Our focus for this week’s profile is Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of notable payment solutions provider, Pagatech.
Global trends in recent times have shown a shift towards a cashless and digital economy, especially as it becomes more obvious that operations in physical branches of commercial banks can be summarily shut down when circumstances demand it.
Our focus for this week’s profile is Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of a notable payment solutions provider, Pagatech, the startup that blazed the trail for others in the space. Though there are now over 200 fintech players, Paga still holds its ground.
Eyitayo David Oviosu was born on September 10, 1977, and acquired both his primary and secondary education in Nigeria. He left for the United States of America in 1994 and bagged his first degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1998. He later earned a Masters in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University from 2003 to 2005.
Schooling was not a smooth ride for Tayo as he had to work his way through, sometimes keeping as much as 5 jobs in order to stay afloat. He also had hard times with courses like Semiconductor Chip Design, which he admitted was one of his toughest courses, as he hardly aced it despite his love for the subject.
Attempting to break a rock
Fresh out of school, he opted to take the same Semiconductor Chip Design as a career option in Biomorphic VLSI, a startup of 8 employees, hoping to get better at it with more practice. The young Tayo worked weekdays and weekends trying to get a hang of the task before him.
“I was allowed to design a digital imaging chip that got sent to Taiwan for fabrication. I had tested this thing numerous times in the lab; I was confident it was going to work. Then the fabricated chip comes back and it doesn’t work. I was devastated, we spent a lot of money shipping between Los Angeles and Taiwan,” he once recounted.
Having caused the company to spend so much for nothing, he was fired from the job.
“I got called into my boss’ office and he told me he had to let me go. I cried right there. This was my first job out of college and barely 3 months in,” he said.
Though unhappy at the time, he later came to appreciate how the job loss pointed him in the right career path and pushed him out of a line where he would have continued struggling to keep up. In the subsequent months, he survived on the unemployment benefits he collected from the state of California, before getting a job in a mail-room and then a call center.
He eventually got a job as a Software Engineer for another startup in Los Angeles, before he moved to Deloitte Consulting in the CRM and Technology practice as a Senior Consultant.
After his MBA, he worked as Manager Corporate Development with Cisco Systems in San Jose California, where he was responsible for strategy, acquisitions, and private equity investments in a few segments and led Cisco’s investment expansion in Africa with investment opportunities. He became Vice President at Travant Capital Partners in Lagos upon his return to Nigeria and remained there till 2009.
Moving towards a cashless economy
In 2009, Tayo founded Pagatech as a mobile payments solution focused on digitizing cash amidst new emerging economies. Even while working at the call center, Tayo had always thought that he would return to Nigeria at some point to help make it great again. For Tayo, founding Pagatech was all about addressing two challenges – the excessive use of cash, and limited financial access in Nigeria. He wanted to help Nigerians pay retailers, make purchases, and pay utility bills without having to handle so much money.
Such innovation was not common at the time, as Nigeria was still very far from toeing the lines of a cashless economy.
Having worked for over a decade, Tayo had saved up some money and had the support of friends, which became instrumental in launching Paga. “I was also creative in terms of how I spent the money. I pooled together people to work in different aspects, most of them friends who were doing it as a favor. Everyone who helped us in the early days got paid below the market rate. Some of them stayed on to work with Paga when we could afford to pay them at market rates,” he recalled.
For the first 6 months, Tayo bootstrapped from his personal funds before setting out to raise funds from investors. It was a journey where he first had to show investors how feasible the business idea was before letting them in.
Some of the initial investors who took the risk to put their funds in were Goodwell Alitheia Capital, Tayo’s former bosses, both in Nigeria and Los Angeles, and some friends and relatives – the result of lots of goodwill built over the years.
Pagatech reached its first 1 million users within 2 years and since then, the number of its users has grown into tens of millions processing billions of dollars in transactions. Pagatech has also partnered with the apex bank (Central Bank of Nigeria) on the Shared Agent Network Expansion Facilities initiative (SANEF) to grow the reach of agents providing financial services to 500,000 in order to ramp up inclusion for all Nigerians.
Tayo Oviosu has now become an angel investor in other startups.
“When I look at my journey so far, I realize that we are here sitting on the back of 34 people and 6 institutions who took a bet on us on. So I similarly want to find ideas to invest in. I don’t have a lot of money but I want to find people who I can make those kinds of investments and bets as well,” he said.
He has dreams of dual-listing Paga on the NSE and NASDAQ in the nearest future.
Leo Stan Ekeh, the whiz who launched Nigeria’s first locally manufactured computers
Ekeh can be put in the bracket of visionaries who were quick to see that ICT would define the world in no distant time.
Rated as one of the top tech CEOs in Nigeria according to Ventures Africa, Leonard Stanley Ekeh has earned a name for himself through his contributions to Africa’s ICT space. With his tech start-ups dating back to the 80s, Ekeh can be put in the bracket of visionaries who saw that ICT would define the world in no distant time.
This week on Nairametrics Founders Profile, the spotlight is on Leo Stan Ekeh, as he is now popularly known.
Leo Stan Ekeh was born in Imo state on February 22, 1956 to a Dietician mum and Nurse dad. He had his early education in Owerri, and upon graduation from Holy Ghost College, Owerri, he emigrated to India where he obtained BSc. Economics from Punjab University.
This step marked a turning point in his thought process, as he was exposed to the Indian economy which he described as ‘realistic’. He then shifted from his plans to own “the biggest transport company in Nigeria” and started thinking of more realistic business ideas, which would impact the Nigerian economy. He moved on to England where he bagged a Postgraduate degree in Risk Management at the Nottingham University.
His return to Nigeria saw him spearhead the creation of several tech companies.
Task System Limited
This was Ekeh’s first start-up in Nigeria. The ICT solutions company commenced operations in 1989 to focus on desktop publishing and computer graphics. Over the last three decades, the company extended operations from Lagos to Port Harcourt and Abuja, implementing several ICT projects across the Oil & Gas, Telecoms, Manufacturing, and Public sectors.
The company has computerized 95 percent of Print media, Publishing houses, and Advertising agencies in Nigeria; with several outstanding industry awards to its credit, including Best Partner Award for Compaq, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard (HP) etc.
Zinox Technologies Limited
ZInox Technologies is the brand which brought Ekeh to the forefront of Africa’s tech space and for which he is popular for. The company was founded in 2001 and became the first internationally certified branded computer OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in West Africa.
In addition, Zinox is the first to receive Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) certification, and also the first computer hardware manufacturing company and ICT integration company in Nigeria to receive ISO 9001-2000.
Zinox creates business solutions that uses new technologies to streamline systems, efficiently align, integrate, and maximise productivity. Its products are renowned for their security and IT infrastructure. The company has helped to revolutionize the electoral processes in several African countries like Nigeria, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau.
Zinox is the only local OEM partner of Microsoft and Intel corporation in Nigeria. It was recently rated by International Data Corporation (IDC) as the No.1 brand in terms of computer sales amongst local and international brands in Nigeria.
Ekeh also launched Zinox Computers – Nigeria’s first internationally certified branded computers, which comes with a Naira sign and a power supply designed to be compatible with the country’s unstable power supply.
Buyright Africa Dotcom Limited
In 2008, Ekeh founded Buyright Africa Dotcom Limited at a time when credit card and e-payment infrastructures were still alien to Nigerians. The target of the start-up was to resolve funding issues for ICT projects and companies, through partnerships with strong international finance groups.
Within the next couple of years, Buyright Africa launched full operation to help Africans enjoy the benefits of emerging technologies and build technology strength that would allow her citizens, governments, and businesses compete favourably with other strong economies of the world.
Buyright Africa executes and funds ICT projects, equipment leasing, ownership scheme and other related ideas in Africa. It also offers ICT consultancy services and sales of ICT products, infrastructures, and digital tools to educational institutions and governments, through its partnership with international and local ICT companies.
Describing the vision, Mr. Mukoro Emomine, Managing Director of Buyright Africa said the company was out to work with manufacturers, in order to reduce the total cost of ownership of ICT equipment in Africa and also encourage usage.
Konga.com was founded in July 2012 by Sim Shagaya as a third-party online marketplace, and a first-party direct retail in various categories of consumer goods and products.
In February 2018, Zinox acquired 99% of Konga.com shares just a few months after Konga laid off over half its staff. Three months later, Konga merged with Zinox’s retail outfit – Yudala to form the biggest e-commerce company in Africa. Under the new merger, the brand name Konga was retained.
Leo Stan Ekeh also founded Technology Distribution Limited, Task Direct Limited and ITEC Solutions, using them to drive IT solutions and distribution in West Africa.
He has also been involved with ICT Brokers, and ICT Connect. News recently made the rounds that Ekeh was the man behind the Healthplus takeover, but Ekeh distanced himself from such rumours,
“Till date, I do not have a kobo share in any of their investment vehicles, including a kobo share in Healthplus. Although, everyone has a right to invest in any company of his or her choice.”
CSR initiatives and recognitions
In line with his interest and devotion to the growth of IT in Nigeria, Ekeh launched the Computerize Nigeria Project in August 2000, to encourage development and sensitize Nigerians in the use of computers. He also launched the CANi Scheme, providing laptops to young Nigerians at a reduced price, with a repayment plan spread across 24 months.
Through his charity organisation, Leo Stan Ekeh Foundation, he has carried out other commendable humanitarian and philanthropic donations across the country.
He was bestowed with the ICON of Hope award by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on October 1, 2002; Nigerian Science & Technology Achiever of the Year 2003; and Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) in 2004. Ekeh is also a member of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, and holds Life Membership, Nigeria Institute of International Affairs.
He holds Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Imo State University, Owerri; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; and Federal University of Technology, Owerri and University of Jos. He is a Fellow of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Lagos; Federal Polytechnic, Idah; and Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State.
Only 64 years old, Leo Stan Ekeh is still going strong and there is no telling what sector he might venture into next. He recently called for the declaration of a Tech Independence Day, and confidently said it is only a matter of time before Nigeria starts raising tech billionaires that would rival the likes of Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma.
Ekeh was worth $1 billion as of June, 2018 according to Business Insider by Pulse.ng.
Apple’s CEO’s package has totaled over $963.5 million since 2011
Tim Cook’s package has risen to close to a billion dollar in close to a decade.
Since 2011, when Tim Cook became CEO of Apple, his package has totaled over $963.5 million, according to an estimate from Equilar, an executive compensation firm.
Apple’s CEO collected his largest stock grant since 2011, which will reward him with large stacks of stocks through 2025, according to an SEC filing released yesterday.
Apple’s CEO will collect 333,987 units of restricted stock, that will vest as to one-third of the units, on an annual basis starting on April 1, 2023.
In a separate package, Cook will also vest 333,987 units of stock in 2023, which could double, if he meets targets related to Apple’s performance on the stock market.
If Apple continues to impress as it is presently, Cook will collect 1,001,961 shares of Apple by 2025, similar to the grant of 1 million shares he received shortly after he became CEO in 2011.
Why Apple is doing well?
- Recall, about two months ago, Nairametrics gave vital insights on why global investors and stock traders are placing more bets in growth stocks like Apple, thereby resulting in their astronomical rise in valuations, in spite of COVID-19.
- These companies also have good macros in their businesses, partly due to low debts, high-profit margins, and the fact that more people are isolated and mostly working remotely on their iPhones and Macbooks.
- Cook, 59, disclosed five years ago, that he plans to give most of his fortunes away. Already, he has gifted millions of dollars’ worth of Apple shares. His wealth could be lower, assuming he has made other undisclosed charitable gifts.
Although if the world’s most valuable tech company underperforms, it’s also possible that the CEO will get none of such rewards.
At Tuesday’s closing price of $114.09, the maximum number of shares Cook could receive are worth $114 million. That amount will rise or fall with Apple’s stock price.
“Tim has brought unparalleled innovation and focus to his role as CEO, and demonstrated what it means to lead with values and integrity,” Apple’s Board of Directors said in a statement.
”For the first time in nearly a decade, we are awarding Tim a new stock grant, that will vest over time, in recognition of his outstanding leadership, and with great optimism for Apple’s future as he carries these efforts forward,” it stated.
The stock grant suggests that Cook’s performance over the past decade is viewed highly by Apple’s board, which wants to make sure that he will be paid competitively through 2025, if he continues to be the CEO of Apple.