PurplePatch Consults – Helping African Businesses succeed while creating the Future of African Workers
PurplePatch Consults is an innovative consulting company based in Nigerian with expertise in brand strategy, design, technology, and content. The company partners with global businesses, private equity firms, and start-ups to create competitive advantage and drive growth.
We had the opportunity to email interview the Founder and Lead Consultant of PurplePatch Consults, Mmanthi Umoh, who’s part of the Africans Building Africa.
1. Tell us about yourself and your business?
My name is Mmanti Umoh I am a social entrepreneur and Management Consultant of The PurplePatch Consults. I am the President of the African Professional and Entrepreneurial Women Network and Mentor, teen Mentors Network Africa.
My 9 – 5 pm job is growing my company and client’s businesses by providing the necessary education to executives, management, administration, and employees. At PurplePatch Consults we help start-ups move forward, businesses succeed, and entrepreneurs prosper. In my leisure time, I manage communications & negotiations between Heads of Government, women, and youth in Africa.
The success of my business is to be seen in the number of employee and client lives we are impacting and not just by ROI, turnovers, or profits. It is defined by how many of them can grow into leaders of their own endeavor whether business or corporate careers. I understand that wealth means different things to different people. However, the people that are leaving a legacy are those who have done well for themselves and their teams, in addition to doing well for themselves and their shareholders.
If my cleaner learns the rudiments and grows to become a manager or moves on to run his/her own cleaning service from the knowledge accrued with us, that, to me is a success. If another can keep his children in school while contributing to the success of the organization, I would define that as a true success.
2. How much did you need to start your business and how were you able to raise that capital?
I started my consulting business without physical cash but just my blackberry curve. I was homeless at the time. I did not know what entrepreneurship was, all I knew was that I had to make some money to ‘survive’. In the course of losing and winning, I found my foot which inspired my need and drive to work and develop myself.
I did not have any capital but I had a blackberry curve which had been passed on to me from a friend who had gotten a new phone and I used my phone to generate the funding I needed to get the equipment I use for work and grow myself till I could get even an office space where I started camping other entrepreneurs.
I did not have the advantage of loans/grants/funding so I decided to grow my capital through savings. As I typed proposals, term papers, developed ideas and surfed opportunities to volunteer my little expertise and learn a new skill I stopped at nothing to save the little I got. As I grew, I had built trust and so people were giving me more responsibilities to handle and were taking my advice more seriously. I did not have physical cash, all I had was referrals from the last ‘Well done’ job and more opportunities to save which I did with a lot of excitement.
I invested in learning and growing myself for the business I run today as well as developing others to serve on my team.
3. What are some of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?
Consultants have a demanding job. They’re on the road a lot, work long days and have to be reachable outside office hours too. However, our challenges sometimes lie with “Intellectual Theft”
Consultants often design and create a copyrighted intellectual property that’s useful to clients, such as industry-specific spreadsheets, marketing strategies, or computer models used to run financial scenarios. As a result, consultants must make it clear — with signed legal documents — that they own the property and their effort isn’t “work made for hire.” Otherwise, the client could retain copyright privileges for work the consultant creates for him.
It’s difficult to identify one specific reason or catalyst, but above all other things, I believe a strong sense of perseverance, always thinking big and aiming high, and of course, positivity, has allowed me to realize my vision. We have a truly motivated team and take pride in our energetic, flexible and long-term approach to relationships with employees, partners, and clients. This, combined with astute leadership and a can-do culture built on motivation and people, is what pushes PurplePatch onwards and upwards.
My business success was due to great mentors opening doors, rendering advice and encouraging me when the chips were down. Finding the right mentor is difficult but when you find the right person who sincerely wants to see you succeed – with no hidden agenda – it is a diamond in the rough. I always advise young (and older) business people to find a mentor and when they reach a certain level of success – to become a mentor. There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast…go alone. If you want to go far…go together.” My 16-year journey as a successful entrepreneur has not been picture perfect or meteoric; but, it has been purposefully fraught with hard work and innovative ideas.
4. Where do you see your business in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking to reach that objective?
In 5 years from now, we will be known to have shaped the future of work in African industries, organizations and companies by turning out 1, 000,000 African industry ready leaders from our ‘Ready to Work’ program.
Working with employers to create industry-ready graduates. We bring about a transformation in the education system through our unique Experiential Learning approach to foster innovation while ensuring the quality as well adaptability of our curriculum to the corporate world.
We are implementing an innovative industry connect program that transforms students into Industry Ready graduates. Through our program, students develop knowledge, skills, abilities, and values from direct experiences outside the traditional academic setting encompassing a variety of activities including guest lectures, field trips, summer internships, practical training and other creative and professional engagements. This interaction provides interdisciplinary learning, career development, leadership and other professional and intellectual skills. Greatly enhancing their employability, this program grooms them into employees who can thrive in the role of being an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur.
Our goal through the PurplePatch Consults & Academy is to work with our client organizations to maintain front-runner leadership status. Support local AI and automation ecosystems. Encourage experimentation, nurture talent, educate, and train for the future of work. Reorient education systems to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), leverage automation technologies in education, emphasize lifelong learning, and support on-the-job training. This can only be made possible by hiring the right team.
5. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?
If I had someone to advise me on business, entrepreneurship and emerging markets as a younger girl thirsty for entrepreneurial experiences, I would be in another place altogether – 50 years ahead I would say. So for me, the first element is a mentor to guide you. That is part of the reasons I founded the Teen Mentors Network Africa.
Africa is full of amazing business opportunities, however, Investing in Africa is not easy. It’s very profitable but very challenging. The risks in Africa are not very different from other emerging markets.
Seeking solutions to existing problems is the first and foremost contributions you can make to the growth of Africa. You will know a lot but that is not enough. There will be times you will have to take decisions based on situations. You need to be comfortable being in charge of the decisions and be ready to take responsibility for the outcome.
For startups, ‘more work, less talk’ is the goal. Being evidentiary about your value proposition is huge. Being authentic about your work and the value you have to offer will keep you longer in business than social media ads will do. It is good that you have good followership, only quality service provision will maintain your market share. Always be a producer of value, so you can highlight current and translatable proof of what you factually can do versus what you aspire to become.
African entrepreneurs can change the world; it is time that we give them the platform to do so.
6. How is your business participating in the development of Africa?
We are key stakeholders in developing African education, management, and public policy.
First, we are working with governments, partners and stakeholders to redesign education systems to focus on learning to learn and collaborate. As knowledge-based work will increasingly be handled by technology, we need to educate future generations in skills where humans can still be expected to outperform machines – collaboration-based attributes such as teamwork, interaction, relationships and cultural sensitivity. In a more automated future, the value will come from emotional and contextual intelligence.
Second, using our knowledge and vast experience in Management, we advise companies on how to fundamentally re-think their role as consumers of ready-made human capital, obtaining pre-trained talent from schools, universities and other companies. Some companies understand this and are investing more in the continuous learning, re-skilling, and up-skilling of their employees. Given the ongoing rapid changes in the skill sets required for many occupations, talent management is no longer the preserve of the human resources function but will be a critical part of any company’s growth and innovation strategy. Especially with younger cohorts of workers increasingly valuing a sense of purpose and diversity of experiences in their working lives.
Third, we redesign the broader enabling environment for talent. Such areas often go neglected by policy-makers because reforms are unlikely to pay off within the timeframe of political tenures.
LinkedIn: Mmanti Umoh