Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh has disclosed that budding entrepreneurs and business owners must retain a level of belief in Nigeria in order to scale their business. Ekeh affirmed that growing a business in Nigeria’s peculiar business environment requires the essential ingredient of a firm faith in the country.
He made this disclosure at The Kingdom Summit 2019, an International Marketplace and Leadership Conference organized by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) on Saturday October 26, 2019. The event, with the theme – From Business Person to Nation Changer – was held at the premises of the RCCG The King’s Court in Victoria Island, Lagos.
“You must not be discouraged by the challenges you face in business today. Also, you must not allow people discourage you with their negative projections. You must have faith in Nigeria in order to grow your business and scale. As a matter of fact, before I started out in business during undergraduate days in India and after my post-graduate in Cork City, I was clear that I was going to return to Nigeria.
“Sometimes, I laugh when people say things were better in the past than they are today. When I returned to Nigeria to start up my first company, Task Systems Ltd., the society was completely analogue. The print and publishing industry, which I transitioned to digital publishing, was still relying on the old system of casting metal type at the time. This was why I was determined to create an IT identity for Nigeria. We eventually achieved this through Zinox.
“It is on record that the Zinox Group pioneered electronic petrol dispensing pumps, Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics, INEC Data Capture System, first internationally certified Computer brand – Zinox, pioneered E-Commerce in Africa, amongst other firsts. If we do not have faith, you will not have the mental capacity to research, incubate and achieve products that may add greater impetus to the economy.
“Today, you have the advantage of age on your side, quality education, common sense, more exposure unlike during our time, where common sense was supreme and few were educated. So, there is nothing stopping you,” he counselled.
However, Ekeh, a serial digital entrepreneur who has built several successful companies over a professional career spanning over three decades, cautioned participants on the need to incubate and go through structured process, incubate and build a culture of sustenance. More to the point, Ekeh frowned at the falsification of data in order to hood-wink potential investors.
“I see a lot of start-ups brandishing false figures and falsifying data in order to deceive investors to part with their money. There are a few high-profile instances of such here in Nigeria. Such a practice is highly dangerous and if you indulge in it, you will surely pay for it. A lot of business owners see it as a smart way of raising funds but your integrity is at stake.
“If you lose your integrity, you have not just lost all, but you have also destroyed others in same economy and you will pay dearly for it. In 21st century, there is a strong connection between wealth and spirituality. The way you made your money comes with eternal pain or pleasure.
“I see a lot of rich people that excites young people are in Hell on earth but you may not know. Wealth is now a right for both the children of the poor and the rich, but more kids from poor homes have better intelligence, energy and spirituality to challenge the status quo.
“Some of you just start out in business and decide to buy flashy cars or fly First Class as a status symbol. What you fail to remember is that the difference between an Economy Class ticket and a First Class ticket, your business may not be able to achieve it as profit in one year,” Ekeh declared.
“You must incubate and go through the process before you scale. When I started out, I used to sleep in my office. Before my staff resumed, I was already up so they did not know I used to sleep there. I also ate once a day at Sheraton hotel, normally the afternoon buffet. This is part of the price I paid to succeed.”
Continuing, Ekeh affirmed that the current generation of entrepreneurs have all it takes to achieve within five years what the older generation strived to build in 30 years.
“What we spent over 30 years struggling to achieve, your generation will outstrip within five years. Konga is a very good example of this. My son, who runs the business, and his colleagues are currently burning money. However, once the business turns profitable, in two years they will recoup all they have invested into it. E-commerce is the riskiest business globally in the first quarter of this century.
“Konga has undergone massive turnaround since we acquired the business, with massive technology and other infrastructural deployment nationwide in partnership with Microsoft and other major stakeholders. It is another Nigerian corporate miracle waiting to happen. Without faith in Nigeria, this may be impossible to achieve.”
He concluded by asking everyone in the full-packed hall to do a self-assessment and be determined to alter their destinies. Ekeh noted that this essential exercise will create a positive multiplier effect in Nigeria.
The Kingdom Summit 2019, which attracted dignitaries from the public and private sector, had in attendance the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by the former Minister of Trade and Investment, Okey Enelamah. Also in attendance was a host of speakers including Brett Johnson, Founder, The Institute for Innovation, Integration & Impact Inc.; Alero Ayida-Otobo, CEO, Incubators Africa Ltd; Alex Densmore, CEO, Battco Energy Storage Systems; Brian Mukudzahvu, Founder, Axis Solutions Africa; Pamela Ajayi, Founder, Synlab; Otto Orrondam, Founder, Slum2School Africa; Kayode Pitan, MD, Bank of Industry; Prof. Chris Bode, Medical Director, LUTH and many others.
Host was Ben Akabueze, Provincial Pastor, RCCG The King’s Court who doubles as the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation.
COVID-19: FG to launch Rapid Response Register for urban poor
The FG has moved to inaugurate an emergency intervention database for the poor residing in urban centres and affected by the pandemic.
The Federal Government has announced that it would inaugurate a COVID-19 Rapid Response Register (RRR), which would be a health emergency response for the poor living in urban centers that have been affected by the pandemic.
This was disclosed by Mr. Joe Abuku, Communications Manager, National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), on Sunday in Abuja.
Mr. Abuku said the register would identify Nigerians that have been made poorer due to the pandemic, targeting mainly Traders and SME Owners.
He added that the scheme was designed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, through NASSCO, in partnership with the World Bank, and will be inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
What Joe Abuku is saying
- “This register is being built by NASSCO as an expansion of the existing National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP). It targets small business owners, street vendors, petty traders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and service providers.
- “Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based laborers, urban poor and destitute (persons with disabilities), and vulnerable families in slum areas, affected by the pandemic.
- “The category of Nigerians who will be in this register is typically the urban/semi-urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs. The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of 12 months.”
He also stated that NASSCO would use geographical satellite sensing to locale the wards where the urban poor live, as the targeting of the poor would be done via cell phone Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology that allows residents of targeted communities register to be assisted by following simple steps using USSD codes.
The SMS approach would be integrated through data gathered by the National Living Standard Survey Assessments and would be complemented by existing databases of Non-Governmental Organisations and local self-help-support groups.
- “Mobile phone numbers of those deemed eligible for assistance will be linked to digitized bank accounts to receive cash support, under an expanded cash transfer program of the Federal Government. These cash payments are designed to boost consumption for these households, build their resilience, and in some cases, inject fresh capital into small businesses.”
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported last year that the World Bank said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic could make an additional 5 million Nigerians poor.
- The Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020 by the World Bank Group indicate that between 88 million and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This is in addition to an increase between 23 million and 35 million in 2021, potentially bringing the total number of new people living in extreme poverty to between 110 million and 150 million.
Covid-19: Nigeria needs serious controls not a second lockdown – House Committee on Education
A member of the lower legislative house has advised the government to focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
He disclosed this during an interview with Channels TV on Sunday evening.
- “I do not think we need a national lockdown now, I think what we need now is the first instance is serious controls. Let me say that the Governor of Lagos is the ‘poster man’ for the fight against covid-19. If we see you outside without a mask, we will arrest you and charge you to court, that is the kind of courage we need.”
He cited serious controls like buying hand sanitizers and washing materials to schools and urban areas in Lagos as part of the controls that should be commended.
- “The issue is not a lockdown. If you lock people down, and you are not doing the right thing inside the lockdown, the cases will still increase. They (masses) will break it and will challenge it as they did during the first lockdown. So, the real issue is to bring out the policies and implement them.
- “The Federal Ministry as a supervisor, yes states have the autonomy, but we give the state’s money from UBEC every year, we give them billions, what are they doing with it?
He urged that the FG should investigate what States use their Universal Basic Education Funds for, as Nigeria is in a time for “retooling and repurpose” and UBEC funding should be utilized in the fight against Covid-19.
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported last week that the Federal Government said Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts circulating the possibility of another lockdown.
Covid-19: Ghana’s healthcare could be overwhelmed – President Akufo-Addo
Ghanaian President has warned that he might impose a partial lockdown as healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by growing cases of coronavirus.
The Ghanaian Government has warned that Ghana’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is rising fast and could overwhelm its already extended Covid-19 treatment centres.
This was disclosed by President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday in a Reuters report.
The Ghanaian President warned that he might impose a partial lockdown in the coming weeks as cases might reach peak levels.
Active cases in Ghana climbed to 1,924 from about 900 since the 5th of January. He also confirmed that the new variant was present in the country, as cases were imported from people entering Ghana.
The President said,
- “Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections. At this current rate, our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed.
- “Work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population.”
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country were running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections, as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.