Throughout April, we will be hosting a series of chats with Nigerian entrepreneurs who are building successful businesses in the country.
For our first Tweet chat of the month, we chatted with Tope Omotolani, co-founder and CEO of Crowdyvest, to learn more about her, her business and what it means to be an entrepreneur in Nigeria.
Here’s what she said:
Tell us about CrowdyVest?
Crowdyvest is an impact-driven tech company committed to helping its members achieve long-term financial goals and independence through savings and investment.
Our focus is about building a community geared towards financial freedom and we create opportunities for our members to access profitability across different sectors.
Why did you decide to go into fintech?
My father died when I was 5 years old and my mum’s shop where she sold fabrics got burnt a few years later. Things got bad at some point and I had to grow up quickly to take up some responsibilities.
I had to save up funds from jobs and businesses I had to go to school, feed and take care of myself. This habit has become a major problem solver for me, so when the opportunity to start Crowdyvest came, savings with good reward/profit and invest became the focal point.
What are your 3 biggest lessons in entrepreneurship?
Hard work and working smart will always outweigh talent. Failure is a part of success, never mystify it. Focus on the 20% that gives you the 80% result, the reverse is waste of time and resources.
As an entrepreneur, what is the smartest decision you’ve ever made for yourself?
The smartest decision was to stop blaming people for my situation or my past because I had a really rough and tough past, however, I decided to rise above all by taking responsibility for my life and by surrounding myself with people that pushed me to be better.
When it was time to launch your business, what kind of support system did you have in place?
Crowdyvest is basically a family with 5 co-founders with competencies in different strategic areas, so I was never alone, it is crucial to partner with the right people. The staff are people that I believe were God-sent because they absolutely bought into the vision and went all the way to get things done.
Family and friends also played crucial roles in supporting and more importantly, God is the backbone of everything I am and have been able to achieve so far.
How did you handle adversity and doubt?
The best way to handle doubt is to try out those things you are scared of by starting small, when you try and you see the result, it fuels your conviction, you learn and it helps you to be better. Adversity is a faith builder, muscle builder, it makes you stronger and forces you out of your comfort zones. So I welcome it with an open mind and I see it as an opportunity to learn and create value.
What advice do you have for anyone dreaming of having their own business?
The best way to go about it is to start small and grow quickly, leverage on partnership and build with the right team. Focus on creating value and solving problems, money will definitely follow.
In your opinion, what ways can Nigeria better support entrepreneurs?
With about 70% youth population (approximately 80 million) there is an abundance of human resources. We need to create jobs for the growing population of youths. Governments must recognize that it is not a job creator but has the responsibility to create the right environment for entrepreneurial development.
However, there are numerous challenges hindering the growth of entrepreneurship in Nigeria
- Difficulty in doing business.
- Lack of access to fund.
- Lack of critical infrastructures.
- Insufficient power.
- Disconnect between education and marketplaces.
There are practical ways government can create the right environment for businesses to thrive. & Increase the ease of doing business
- Eliminate multiple taxations of SMEs.
- Encourage public-private partnership.
- Engage the entrepreneurs in policy formulation.
- Reduce size and cost of governance.
- Increase capital expenditure ratio in annual budgets.
If you knew what you know now before starting your business, what would you have done differently?
I honestly don’t have anything I would have done differently because all the failures and successes, setbacks, good and bad decisions made me the woman I am today and has given birth to all the businesses I have pioneered.