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Tolu Adelowo Chief Growth Officer of Cousant Connect

Very few Nigerians will leave the United Kingdom where they are comfortably paid for their jobs to and come to Nigeria to start a company in Nigeria. Tolu Adelowo is one of the few Nigerians in this category. Tolu is the Founder & Chief Growth Officer at Cousant Connect. InterviewStories had a session with Tolu Adelowo where he talked about how he started the journey and what he hopes to achieve with Cousant in the future.

Who is Tolu Adelowo?

Hmm… This is a difficult question to answer. I guess at any point in time, I feel both successful and also feel like a failure. I am probably intelligent and also probably very stupid. I am both confident and insecure. Essentially, I am constantly evolving as I learn about the world around me. I believe evolution is key to being successful in life.

One thing that’s constant though, is that there is this internal restlessness within me. This pushes me to keep achieving and keep asking what’s next. It is also a trait that worries me though because it means I am never satisfied or content. There will always be something more I can try to achieve.

Your professional journey.

Soon after graduating from university, I started with Accenture in the UK as a business and technology consultant. This was my first job out of university, and I really hated it. Maybe it was just me or maybe it was the nature of the projects I found myself, on but I never got the sense my work was contributing to a bigger goal or objective.

Tolu Adelowo a software developer
Tolu Adelowo a software developer

After I left consulting, I worked as a software engineer at a financial investment company in the UK which I enjoyed a lot. The nature of software development is that writing code and seeing it work gives you that sense of achievement that I crave in any job. I enjoyed my time as a software developer, and I knew my future would revolve around technology from then on.

After a few years as a software developer, I got restless again but this time around I wanted to try my hands on something bigger. This led me into entrepreneurship and was the trigger to me starting Cousant.

Is Cousant a startup or a company?

Every startup is a company so I guess we are both. But I would say we are still more of a startup than an established firm. If we keep thinking of ourselves as a startup, then it will keep us hungry and never get us to that place where we become complacent.

What is Cousant Connect about?

Cousant Connect is a specialized recruitment and outsourcing platform that connects employers to great technology staff. Cousant Connect is actually a product of evolution. Cousant started off as a software development agency building software for banking and financial institutions. However, finding and retaining technology professionals was always and still remains a challenge.

It always made sense to me that if there was a dedicated platform for finding technology professionals, then the job of finding good technology staff would be easier.

We never came across such a platform and so we decided to do it for ourselves. Given the early success of the recruitment business, we decided to slowly diversify away from our software development agency business and concentrate on technology recruitment.

Why should people join Cousant Academy?

In any game of football, it is safe to assume that the most successful players are those that know how to time their movement to where the ball would be. If we use football as an analogy for the IT Jobs Market, then the most successful IT job seekers would be those that can learn the right technical skills just in time for when employers need those skills.

However, without the right information, how would students/graduates know what skill sets to learn or which skillsets employers need? With Cousant Academy, our promise is that we will only train on those skill sets that are in high demand by employers. We use data from our recruitment business to create relevant and timely courses that helps participants learn those skills that will land them jobs.

What problems do you face in the daily running of Cousant?

A major problem we face as a business is late/non-payment of invoices by clients. It affects cash flow and hinders how fast we can move as a company. Invoice recovery is now, unfortunately, a core activity for our business and it is puzzling to me why this has to be.

Another problem we face is how to properly sense new opportunities in the marketplace. Our clients will always have problems that need to be solved but how do we properly structure the company to ensure we are hearing about these opportunities to solve client problems. Without being able to sense new opportunities, our business is not likely to last very long.

How would you describe the software industry in Nigeria, owing to your experience?

I believe the software industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy and there are still loads of opportunities. However, the opportunities are not in the obvious segments people think. For example, I don’t believe there are many sustainable opportunities for software practitioners to develop software from scratch to meet client needs. There are too many foreign alternatives that already meet these needs and we just don’t have the infrastructure and expertise to compete internationally.

However, there are huge opportunities for customization and localization of foreign software to the local market. Because of the huge infrastructure gap in Nigeria, many companies do not have standardized operations and as such standardized software from western markets will not fully meet their needs. This is a big opportunity for software practitioners.

Aside from running Cousant, do you work anywhere else?

No, I don’t work anywhere else. I believe focus is a fundamental ingredient for success

As an entrepreneur, what criteria do you look out for when selecting your team or staff members?

Attitude and resourcefulness. With those 2 traits, you can take over the world.

Having been on both sides, which would you say is better: Been employed or running your own business?

Statistically, you are more likely to live a more fulfilled and happier life as an employee. Statistically, you are more likely to fail and end up in debt or depression as an entrepreneur. It seems to me that being employed is a sure path to a happier life.

However, because Nigeria is fundamentally a poor country with an extremely high population, there is just not enough money to go around and so employees will always be underpaid until we become a rich country. However, an entrepreneur does stand a better chance of being wildly successful in monetary terms.

So my advice is simple. If you are single, run a side business alongside your job (as long as it does not take focus away from your job). If you are married, one person should be in full employment and the other in entrepreneurship. It is the best way to even the odds.

How did you raise funds to establish the company?

Cousant has been bootstrapped from day one. It is certainly the more difficult path to take but if investors don’t show up, you find a way to keep moving.

Are social connections important to the growth of a business?

Social connections are everything to a business. Every business operates in a particular market. A market can be defined as the network of relationships between buyers, governments, sellers, competitors, regulators, media, institutions, associations etc.

The businesses that are able to build strong connections within such a complex network of relationships are more likely to be successful. In fact, I dare say it is more important than the product itself sometimes.

In your option, how friendly are the Nigerian investment community to startups and small businesses?

It is a known fact that Nigerian investors are extremely wary of startups and small businesses. Small business in Nigeria faces many external threats that are powerful enough to sink any company in its infancy.

Having experienced these threats firsthand, I really do understand why Nigerian investors need to be wary. It is far more normal for small businesses to fail than to succeed. So investors have to do their very best to protect themselves and that may mean passing up on many opportunities to invest in startups.

However Nigerian investors do get it wrong a lot of times and therefore, their approval or rejection should never be seen as an indicator of the viability of your business. Everyone is just trying to make the right choices with limited information and limited resources.

Your advice to upcoming entrepreneurs.

I once took part in a game with a group of people where we were split into teams and each team was given a deck of A4 paper to use to build the tallest standing tower possible. Some teams were also given paper clips while some other teams also got staplers to help with their construction. Some other teams only received the deck of paper.

Interestingly, one of the winning teams that built the tallest standing tower was the team that only received the deck of paper without any accompanying materials.

The moral of the story – It is not about the resources you have but how you use your resources to build a successful business…

Entrepreneur Edoka Idoko

Edoka Idoko is a Nigerian who is a change maker. He is a business strategist and an entrepreneur by passion. Born and raised in Northern Nigeria, he has developed himself to be a man whose service is required by thousands of Nigerian.

We at InterviewStories were able to hear this great man story. He is a man of great business experience.

Can we meet you?

My name is Edoka Idoko, Educationist by training and entrepreneur by passion. Born into the Family of Mr./Mrs Idoko, third child out of eight. Born and raised in the ancient city of Kano, schooled in Benue state university and currently resides in Lagos.

Who is a business strategist?

A strategist is one that defines the end from the beginning, then develops a road map to the targeted goal. I see myself as a business strategist.

You happen to be the founder and CEO of Nigeria’s leading online food store ojireh.com. What Made you venture into online food store?

I’ve been active in agro-commodity business for about 3 years prior to the birth of ojireh.com and my drive is to close the gap between the farmer and the customer. I believe this will boost business for the local farmers in our rural areas.

What problem did you have in mind to solve when you started ojireh.com?

I am passionate about helping small businesses succeed and yes I strongly believe that with the help of Technology, the customer living in, for example, Texas in the US should be able to shop from mile 12 in Lagos or any other part of the world. We are working on this and we will make it happen.

What challenges did you experience when you started ojireh.com?

Funding was the major challenge I had when I started ojireh.com.

Funding….funding…funding.

Funding is the act of providing financial resources, usually in the form of money, or other values such as effort or time, to finance a need,

How are OjirehPrime Financial Services  Limited and ojireh.com related? 

We started ojireh.com in Nov 2016 from a faulty Samsung tab whose battery lasts only 30mins and by 2017 after one year in business we noticed 96% percent of our customers made payment via bank transfers, we sent a mail to them all to enquire why and the response was

sorry we can not expose our bank card details.

Note:You can’t withdraw money just by knowing an account number.

It is the quest to address this problem that gave birth to OjirehPrime and even at that we had no idea we were stepping into Fintech until we launched the card. Today both companies are separated as Ojireh Versatile Trade solutions Limited (e-commerce) and OjirePrime Financial Services Limited (Fintech).

How did you start OjirehPrime?

Upon our quest to build payment solutions for our customers which lead to the birth of OjirehPrime card, we realized about 65% of Adults in Nigeria and an estimated 25% of the Adults in Africa do not have a bank account. This discovery opened our eyes to a bigger problem that needs an urgent solution. This discovery confirmed to us why online businesses struggle in Nigeria and Africa at large. Reality is If online businesses would grow in Africa, then Financial inclusion must be a top priority this is where our vision of banking unbanked Africa was birthed.

OjirehPrime card is not connected to your Bank BVN and can be used online and on ATM
OjirehPrime card is not connected to your Bank BVN and can be used online and on ATM

Have you solved the problems you wanted to solve when you started OjirehPrime?

We are on a mission to drive financial inclusion in Africa, it is a long walk but we have taken the first step in the right direction.

OjirehPrime ATM card
OjirehPrime ATM card sample

Can a minor get an OjirehPrime card?

Yes, under the supervision of parents or guardian. The card would help parents teach their children financial management.

Team Behind Ojirehprime

What did you learn being a Fintech company CEO?

Learning to me is a continuous process but I would rather use the word “discovery”. If you ask me, I discovered that if we don’t drive financial inclusion is a major bedrock for any economy to grow.

Can I use my Ojirehprime card anywhere apart from ojireh.com?

Sure, from ATM, POS, online and globally.

Edoka Idoko, a change maker
Edoka Idoko, a change maker

Who is an entrepreneur?

Anyone who has a mix of Passion, guts, risk and willing to fail forward is an entrepreneur.

What is the most important skill you do not have that you have to pay for in your company?

I can’t code but it’s fine.

What do you think about competitors?

I don’t notice them, I keep my eyes on my goal.

Why does your company stand out from others?

OjirehPrime card is not connected to your bank account, it does not require your Bank Verification Number (BVN) and can be funded from any bank.

Have you ever reconsidered being an entrepreneur?

Yes, it gets tough somethings but we have to keep pushing. We’ve gone too far to turn back.

Should student entrepreneurs be given grants to support or start their businesses while in school?

Sure yes. The earlier you start the better.

What do you regret not learning or knowing while in school?

Corporate finance. But am learning fast on it.

What do you think about partnership or collaboration?

I am a strong advocate of partnership and collaboration. That’s the fastest way a startup and scale up.

Have Ojireh.com won an award?

Yes. Ojireh.com was awarded top 100 emerging SME’s in Nigeria by Connect Nigeria in partnership with Union Bank

What advise do you have to the struggling youth in Nigeria?

It is possible. Do not give up as there is no award for a man that gives up. Go after your dream 

How can people contact Edoka Idoko?

edoka.idoko@ojirehprime.com​ or 08065490731

Adeshina Adewumi,COO for Proville

Adeshina Adewumi is a serial entrepreneur who sees opportunity in every problem and has a strong passion to help businesses grow.Adeshina commitment is to inspire, build and coach young entrepreneurs to build profitable sustainable ventures. He is a highly sought after leader, author, speaker and business consultant. He is the author of “Giving Back”; a book that emphasis the need to have a balanced social, business and academic life while in the university.

Adeshina Adewumi is a first class graduate of Accounting from Bowen University,Osun State. He is a Fellow Royal Society of Arts (UK) and member; Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), Information System Audit and Control Association (ISACA), Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI Network). He is a strong promoter of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

InterviewStories conducted an interview for Adeshina Adewumi. You can also read about Chidi Nwaogu.

Who Is Adeshina Adewumi?

Adeshina Adewumi is an entrepreneur who reflects the virtues of every African entrepreneur willing to make an impact within their community. An entrepreneur and management consultant with over 7 years experience working with multinational companies and also building solutions for Africa and global communities.

“I love to call myself the business doctor who is always ready to help identify solutions to makes ideas and businesses scale.”

I’m currently the Chief Operating Officer for Proville and have had the privilege to Cofound several businesses among but not limited to Regina La Meilleur Limited, Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited and One Kiosk Africa. Each of these companies have received  several local and international recognition, awards and shortlistings among which include but not limited to Top 100 fastest growing SMEs in Nigeria (Award by Business Day Media and Bossman Nigeria), 100 African Startup Initiative (Program by International Finance Corporation- World Bank Group and MICC Egypt), Y Combinator Startup School Batch 2018, Pitch and Win by Sterling Bank and EDC, Lagos Business School (First batch 2019), 6 Top African Startup by Africa Com 2018, Top 30 African Tech Startup by Accenture 2018 and Future of Work Awards (Flexible Working Category by Royal Society of Arts UK).

How has your university degree helped your businesses?

My background as an accountant having studied Accounting during my undergraduate degree has contributed meaningfully to my business. One of the key metrics of measuring business success aside social impact is profitability (revenue, users etc). This has a lot to do with numbers and the survival of every business lies in her ability to make effective decisions with the numbers. Accounting as a first degree has helped a great deal even though I rarely practice now on a commercial scale.

Tell us about Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited that you co-founded?

Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited was birthed in 2015, although it was officially registered in 2018 in Nigeria. Regalo Kitchen started out providing catering services for busy working professionals and corporate organisations. Between 2015 till date, they have been able to service notable companies among which include but not limited to Guaranty Trust Bank, Paystack, Paga, Stanbic IBTC and Ag Leventis Nig.

In 2018, the company decided to include a social enterprise strategy in order to contribute meaningfully towards the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria and thus help reduce unemployment and underemployment. In 2018 alone, the company was able to train over 150 candidates with various catering soft skills to launch out into entrepreneurship through her Regalo Master Class. Regalo Kitchen and Confectionery Limited emerged top 100 fastest growing SMEs in Nigeria for 2018 (Award by Business Day Media and Bossman Nigeria).

The next milestone for Regalo Kitchen is to introduce the Uber Eat model in Nigeria in a refined way to meet the needs of the market and also expand her training facility to train 100,000 youths and women with various soft skills by year 2023.

How was it starting your first company?

Starting my first company was rough, I was poorly informed and prepared for the journey. Just fresh out of school having tested the waters of buying and selling back in school with great success. The bigger market however was a totally different base to operate. My first company was Regina La Meilleur Limited which I incorporated in 2012 with several products among which included Home Tutors Nigeria, RLM Network among others. We have gone through several stages of iterations and finally got a product market fit while some products scrapped and some up for sale with some investors

Did any experience or position you held at school made it easier to solve some problems that you have encountered since you have started?

Interesting question, I have always taken up several leadership roles where I have been privileged to serve so obviously they have all added up in helping me lead and see through project executions. For example, I could remember heading the Academic Committee in my final year for the accounting department and the impact our work had on the outcome of results produced that year. My opinion is that every opportunity to serve one way or the other adds value to you for higher responsibilities

Did you ever thought of getting a government job after school?

Well, government job never really crossed my mind but I wanted to work within a structured multinational firm in order to give me the basic knowledge and network for my entrepreneurial journey and yes I did get that opportunity with Stanbic IBTC within the short period spent with them.

How easy was the transition from the University into business?

As stated earlier, It was rough initially due to little or no solid foundation (capacity development and funding). Capacity development and funding are key ingredient that makes a difference in the life of every entrepreneur especially in Nigeria with all our uniqueness.  The average Nigerian youth or student has got great ideas that got potentials for success, however they lack the capacity and funding to see it through.

Capacity development has to do with basic solid knowledge, requirements to start and make a business succeed. The ability to get a product market fit and talk to the market to know the viability of the idea and then how to secure funding in terms of finance to run for the period of little or no revenue flow

What do you do as COO for Proville?

As the Chief Operating Officer for Proville, I saddled with three (3) tasks; effective day to  day administration and operation of the company. Maintaining our brand equity that builds opportunities for investment, collaborations and partnership and lastly drive revenue for the business through effective coordination of all stakeholders of the company. These three tasks contributes majorly to business growth and success.

What service(s) does Proville provide?

Proville from the name stands for Professional hub or Villa. Our flagship product; Proville.net connects professionals with clients who need their services. We act as a bridge to close the demand supply gap that exists within the professional or would you rather say freelance niche in Africa.

So let’s say you need a web developer for a project, all you need to do is go on proville.net and post your project and budget and wait to receive offers from our pool of professionals. The same applies to all professional services and once you are ready, you assign the project to the best fit professional freelancer with assurance that all payments are done through our escrow model (a secure payment option that avails you security and you only part with money when you are satisfied) with the service you have received.

How frequently do people use Proville?

Proville is used on a daily basis with several jobs started and completed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Some jobs or projects however takes long time frame but you can be rested assured that jobs are always ongoing.

Why is Proville better than her competitors?

Our competitors are the likes of Upwork, Freelancer, Findworka, Workdesk, Tera Work, Asuqu and several others. Proville however in Nigeria as a freelance platform has the first mover advantage as we have taken the lead in educating and sensitizing the public on the viability of freelance platforms like ours as it aligns with the Future of Smart Work across Africa. We also collaborate with the vision of International notable societies such as Royal Society of Arts (UK) towards advancing flexible working options in Nigeria and Africa.


How are you able to manage being a cofounder of 59 One Kiosk Africa Limited?

Success comes with more responsibilities and little time for self if not well managed. Time management plays a vital role here and luckily the team are very effective and organised. Also we are in project mode with launch date set for June 2019

What does 59 One Kiosk Africa Limited do?

One Kiosk Africa; onekioskafrica.com was birthed to introduce a develop model to eCommerce in Nigeria and across Africa. We are an eCommerce business with a different business model that ensures that goods and services are delivered within 59 minutes to the customers while creating employment along the e-commerce value chain. Our solutions has the potentials to create 100,000 jobs by December 2019 given our set projections.

Most of these companies are online, how important is one’s business being online in the present world?

First of all, I always love to say that any business that cannot leverage on technology one way or the other is not ready for a sustained business over the next five (5) years. Technology has to do with the net and as such every business need to align accordingly. Brick and Mortar stores would still be essential but less active compared to online channels within the next 5 years.

What problems have you encountered as an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs first major challenge is finding a product market fit for their idea. This takes quite a lot of our time and once found we then move on to the problem of scaling the business. There is also that challenge of having a work life balance as everything at the beginning seems to rover around you.

This challenges can however be shortened by talking to your target market during design, development and beta stages of your solutions. Building partnerships, collaborations and opportunities for investments and lastly delegating power or would I rather say empowering your team to work effectively with or without you

What  do you want to tell  young entrepreneurs that are just starting?

Talk to your sample market audience, do not be afraid that your idea would be stolen, I believe in the school of thought that there is nothing new under the sun. Implementation and execution makes the difference. Get mentors, do not be discouraged when you get a No, a yes is just around the corner and never give up on yourself. The world needs your idea and solution to materialise, give returns and make social impacts

Do you advise students to try their ideas or start ups in school or wait till after graduation?

Well, I would suggest they can start building capacity early enough and thus they can test their ideas while in school as long as they are able to manage their time well. Most renown business were birthed when their founders were within the university age bracket or in college. So it’s a very good time to start building capacity and test the viability of your idea or solution

Do you advise people to drop out to pursue their dream?

I would usually not support dropping out of school to pursue your dream, however my counsel would depends on various factors. A lot in changing within the educational sector and how people learn and grow, I try not to emphasize  too much of academics but education (which for me the later is continuous as we keep learning and growing). Ideas or dreams as you called it has a way of clouding your mind, it literally feels as though all your life depends on it and nothing else counts.

This feeling is what every entrepreneur goes through and that’s why you see people drop out or resign from their jobs to start that idea. This feeling must, however, be very well managed and decisions are taken objectively with the right foundation laid (Knowledge and Capacity). This question is a very broad topic that cannot be discussed in full here, those interested can reach out to book a session with me.

Do you think entrepreneurs needs mentors?

The answer to this question is quite similar to asking if a tyres need air? If you want to go far, you must have people you can inspire you and support you out of their wealth of experience. Having a mentor is not rocket science, it’s a deliberate art.

Any special skill entrepreneurs needs to be successful

Tenacity is one skill that I would suggest for all entrepreneurs, it produces patience and commitment against all odds to succeed. The entrepreneurial journey is not a straight road, anyone that tells you its a straight road either has not gone through it or is lying.  There are however principles that guide success and once applied with tenacity the result shows itself.

How can young people who will love to ask you questions be able to contact you?

This question makes it look as though I am old. I am very young in mind and age. Readers out there can however reach out to me via LinkedIn (my most active platform)- https://www.linkedin.com/in/adeshina-adewumi-john-frsa-8512b06a/ or ajadewumi on any social media platform. You can also mail me directly at ajadewumi@gmail.com , I try to respond to all my emails.

Passive Interest From Treasury Bill In Nigeria

Treasury bill is a popular term in business, but many do not know about how to invest in treasury bill. Many people have a lot of money that they are currently not using, yet they have never heard about treasury bill. A lot of people who have a little money that they are not using do not know this because they lack access to the information about these investment opportunities. While investing in other people business is a good idea. It is to be noted that a lot of businesses fail in Nigeria after three years.

Many businesses started from borrowing from friends and family members. It is believed that Aliko Dangote started his business by borrowing from his grandfather. But do you know that borrowing without collateral is the riskiest form of business you can do? Most times when you borrow money from others you do not think of adding to the initial capital because you see it as a favour. But when you borrow from banks, you know that you have to pay huge amount of money to the financial institution where you are borrowing from.

While many people are not after getting interest from the money they borrow or lend others, they want their money to be useful to the economy. And so in a bid to provide this information to Nigerians who have a little money they have staying idle in their banks, we present the option of treasury bill to the average Nigerian.

But do you know that borrowing without collateral is the riskiest form of business you can do? Most times when you borrow money from others you do not think of adding to the initial capital because you see it as a favour.

But when you borrow from banks, you know that you have to pay huge amount of money to the financial institution where you are borrowing from. While many people are not after getting interest from the money they borrow or lend others, they want their money to be useful to the economy. And so in a bid to provide this information to Nigerians who have a little money they have staying idle in their banks, we present the option of treasury bill to the average Nigerian.

While many people are not after getting interest from money they borrow or lend others, they want their money to be useful to the economy. And so in a bid to provide this information to Nigerians who have a little money they have staying idle in their banks, we present the option of treasury bill to the average Nigerian.

Facts About Treasury Bills You Do Not Know

Treasury bill is a short term zero risk investment that extends for a maximum of a year. Treasury Bills are short-term debt instruments issued by the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide short term funding for the government. You can borrow government the money for 91 days, 182 days and 364 days. Treasury Bills are sold through a bi-weekly auction conducted by the CBN on Wednesday’s.

Official dealers can help one to invest in treasury bill. The easiest and safest official dealers are banks. Most times when you use your bank as your official dealer, the money you want to invest in treasury bills are usually deducted from your bank account that you have with them. Interest from the investment is added to your bank account.

The minimum amount you can invest in treasury bill is a hundred thousand naira only (₦100, 000). This might seem small. You can also invest your millions too. To determine the bid rate, you must be able to borrow government at least five million naira (₦5, 000, 000).

The bid rate is also called STOP RATE . It is the likely interest rate that you want to receive for the principal that you investing in treasury bill. Only those that want to invest high can determine bid rate themselves. The CBN selects the bids that fall below the accepted marginal rates.

For more information about treasury bill please visit your bank. You can also read more on nairametrics.com.