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“Be Like Sim”: Jason Njoku’s Inspiring Tribute to ex Konga Boss Sim Shagaya

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"Be Like Sim": Jason Njoku's Inspiring Tribute to ex Konga Boss Sim Shagaya

Sim Shagaya (L) and Jason Njoku

Doing business in an unpredictable economy like Nigeria can be a daunting task and experts from around the world seem to agree on this.

In the last few months, online shopping mall faced a lot of challenges  Konga’s founder and CEO Sim Shagaya resigned January 2016, after being appointed by its investors, as the new chairman by the Board of Directors.

Shagaya founded the company in 2012 with a capital from Swedish investment firm Kinnevik. Shagaya is also the executive chairman of DealDey, a daily deal website, and had served in the Nigerian military, as well as worked as a banker in South Africa.

In 2013, he was named as Entrepreneur of the Year at the CNBC/All Africa Business Leaders Award in West Africa. In 2014, he was named in Forbes’ list of “10 Most Powerful Men In Africa”.

Konga was founded to to “aggregate the youngest and fastest-growing market that was dispersed, under-served and that traditional retailers were simply failing to reach,” Shagaya had said.

Some days ago, it was announced that Konga had been bought by Leo Stan Ekeh, the chairman of Zinox Group, and it sent shock waves across the Nigerian and African tech/eCommerce ecosystem.

Jason Njoku, the founder of iROKOtv and friend of Shagaya’s has written an inspiring tribute to the business mogul.

“One day, Sim will share the true happenings of what really went down at Konga. I know more than most, but it’s not my story to share,” Jason Njoku wrote on Medium.

Njoku recounted how Shagaya and former Chief Operating Officer of Konga Shola Adekoya who later took over as CEO from Shagaya, “were always on hand to help out and give a young buck (Njoku) brutal and yet honest advice.”

Nigeria Inc is shrouded in smoke, mirrors, mud and masculinity. Sim and Shola always opened up. From day zero. Before Konga. Before the tens of millions both of us went on to raise. Sim was looking to build beyond himself. He was always about the wider community,” Njoku wrote.

He also shared a mail he received from Shagaya in March 2012, where the latter was sharing a fund sourcing opportunity with him. Njoku said that was “the start of Kinnevik’s investing relationship with IROKO and my friendship with Sim.”

Sim Shagaya’s mail to Jason Njoku

Njoku wrote:

Thereafter, at least for me, and I am sure many others, Sim and Konga represented the shining light of what community, collaboration and a ‘New New Nigeria’ could be. All my investors used to point to Sim as what a great leader should be. ‘Build a world class executive team Jason’, see what Sim is doing? ‘Partnerships in Nigeria, Jason’, see what Sim is doing. ‘WTH Jason why aren’t you focusing on Nigeria like Sim?’.

Njoku says the Nigerian market “which turns dreams to ashes daily, just wouldn’t yield” even after Shagaya and Adekoya gave it their best. “There was overspending on everything because that’s what they felt they needed to do to ‘win this market’. There was no sense of impropriety,” he wrote, saying that Shagaya had 95% of his material wealth tied up in Konga and him and Adekoya “‘went down’ with their ship”.

“The market is pushing back any effort of rationalisation. It may be untameable,” he adds.

Njoku hailed Shagaya for his passion about a “New New Nigeria” and making a difference in the lives of people around him.

“Sim is heartbroken, I am sure…. I have no doubt he will go on to greater successes,” Njoku wrote, concluding “As for me? I am glad he gave me his thoughts when I stole his time with my small problems…. And I will continue to ‘be like Sim’.”

Photo Credit: Medium – @jasonnjoku

8 Comments

  1. Anu

    February 13, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I dealt with Sim as a vendor providing event services for Konga and I can definitely attest to the brilliance that is Sim

  2. Baby gurl

    February 13, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    As an aspiring mogul (haha) this piece is truly profound in passing the importance of doggedness and persistence in the Nigerian ecosystem. It’s not easy being a businessperson in this country. The odds are stacked entirely against you. Nothing works. Absolutely nothing. The target market is finicky. Unreliable. Unstable. Infrastructure is probably at 4% or something. No adequate transport system. Inadequate transport network. Power for two hours in a week. Bureaucracy nko? Nepotism nko? What of the disloyal and unreliable workers? If you can make it in Nigeria you can make it anywhere. I’m not talking about those that have ill gotten wealth o. I can’t wait to hear the real Sim story. Hopefully it would come out in the near future. Goodluck in your future endeavours, Sim. And by the way I always prefer my Konga purchase experiences over Jumia. Although Yudala is stealing my heart away.

    • olanna+odenigbo

      February 13, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      But you see the thing is…Yudala now owns Konga… cos Leo Stan owns Yudala… so garrit… you will be happy.

      I would hope this consolidation builds- for Nigeria, empires that can rival the Macys and Amazons of this world… Whilst it is heart breaking- what Nigeria does to businesses (story for another day), I believe moves like this (i.e. possible merger) makes for a better nation… My biggest hope as a founder of a company is that, Leo Stan will not let Sims vision die or relegate his voice to the background…. that way, it will still be a win for all of them…. cos Mr Stan knows these waters…. he’s dealt for decades….the guy ain’t playing! If it gets so big- as I pray it will, then Sims will have a larger legacy to hand to his children as well as the other shareholders. Cos I am assuming he still has equity stake in there….hopefully.

      This is the manifestation of the ‘…would you rather have 100% of a small pie or 10% of a massive pie…’ question.

      I don’t know the inside story, so obviously commenting as an outside observer, will pay to hear the details…in the meantime, I wish them greater successes than they have had so far.

      Best wishes only. Amen.

  3. californiabawlar

    February 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    This post was disjointed and very hard to read.

  4. Amaa

    February 13, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Jason I am one of your biggest fan and I hope one day I can meet you in person . Sim you will always go down in history infact from jumia founders to the techies founders out there, it’s a dogged world back in Naija and you have to have full breasts and huge balls to attempt any ecomerce business in Africa’s largest economy.
    Like they say in business the higher the risk the greater the reward . The ocean is so deep and wide we can all swim help when you can .

  5. Manny

    February 13, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Jason, couldn’t you have blocked out Sim’s email address ?

  6. RichyGame

    February 14, 2018 at 8:03 am

    “There was overspending on everything because that’s what they felt they needed to do to ‘win this market’. There was no sense of impropriety”.

    Pretty indicting, I must say.

    But that’s the story of many VC-backed ventures doubly excited by the opportunities in emerging markets, growth projections and so on. This is Nigeria though, the land of the most “successful” businessmen and women got their break politically.lp

  7. RichyGame

    February 14, 2018 at 9:57 am

    “There was overspending on everything because that’s what they felt they needed to do to ‘win this market’. There was no sense of impropriety,”

    Pretty indicting I must say.

    But that’s the story. Especially of VC backed ventures. They are professionals alright and I don’t blame them for putting in their best. Anyone would get excited at the prospects and opportunities in an emerging market but this is ah, Sigh-geria.

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