AFRICANPRENEURS is a platform promoting entrepreneurship across Africa through online media and events.
We had the opportunity to interview the Founder, Mary Omange, who’s part of the Africans Building Africa Community.
Tell us about yourselves and your organization
My name is Mary Omange, I am 26 and the third child of four and the second daughter. I was born in Lagos State Nigeria. Primarily, I have a natural love for Entrepreneurship. Incidentally, I have no training in this field as I have a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry. However, I have been engaged in several entrepreneurial skills.
After completing a one-year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in 2011 in Nigeria, I realized I had a passion for innovation. I learned how to make hair, accessories, shoes and clothes and had the opportunity to teach other people. Teaching people skills made me decide to start the Africanpreneurs initiative. In addition, I underwent several training and leadership programs at Leap Africa. I also have been engaged in #SlumtoSchool programmes which enabled me to kick start my own outfit. The experiences learned have been very rewarding and helpful.
I am currently the founder of McComan Africanpreneurs Company Limited. It’s an organization focused on promoting entrepreneurship across Africa. We do so through Training programs, Skills Acquisition seminars, Online media, and Consultancy. The company was founded in 2015 and has reached over 500 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs across Africa.
I am a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) 2016 fellow and a member of the US Government Exchange Alumni Association Regional Leadership Centre. I am also a member of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
Currently, I am Chief Editor of Africanpreneurs. Which is an online entrepreneurial media site of the company focused on celebrating and promoting entrepreneurship across Africa.
How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital?
Starting my company was a decision that came about out of a need to make an impact and leave a legacy. Though, there was no capital to start with at first but I made up my mind to start small.
Later, I was able to raise capital in cash and kind from family members and friends. I remember telling people around me about starting my business and some were willing to help by donated cash while other by providing free services.
For instance, I will never forget one of the gestures of a friend of mine who decided to help me create the website for free. He also linked me with a graphic designer in South Africa who helped me with designing the logo for the website.
What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?
Some of the challenges are the economic recession in Nigeria. As it has not been easy getting funds and making profit. Sometimes the challenges of funding are doubts from people.
Starting the business was quite overwhelming, but I had to take things each step at a time.
Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
In 5 years, I hope to have a fully equipped training and consultancy center. And I hope to have mini centres in at least 3 other African countries namely Ghana, South Africa and Kenya.
The target is to reach out to about 2000 Entrepreneurs and youths by adding value to them through soft skill acquisition, vocational acquisition. I also would like to provide consultancy services to already existing businesses.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Africa?
I would simply use the slogan that has kept me going “Each Step With A Prayer”. I try to remind myself that it’s a legacy I am building, it will be tough but it will be worthwhile.
As regards to raising funds, Patience is the keyword. No matter how much you’re seeking, there are services or pro bono companies that can help you achieve your dream so treat people well.
And lastly, as much as what works for one may not work for the other, be consistent.
How is your business participating to the development of Africa?
The key focus of Africanpreneurs is and has always been centered on entrepreneurship and the African youths.
Africanpreneurs has participated to the development of Africa through her various projects including the Networking events. We also educate entrepreneurs on various issues affecting their businesses as well as promote synergy across brands and cultures.
The trainings are an integral success story of Africanpreneurs including the Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership (SEAL) program. We partnered with ROI initiative which is designed to train youths and social entrepreneurs from Ghana and all other African countries on social entrepreneurship and leadership.
This year, in addition to other activities, we have a 3 months training and certification program for community youths in some slum areas like Makoko and Ajegunle. We train them on Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Our trainings help the youths who are unemployed become responsible by taking the lead and engaging themselves to learning craftsmanship and other skills.
LinkedIn: Mary Omange