Oluwatobi Sogbanmu is a Global Operations Analyst and Director at Afriq Okin; an app that gives access to tailors, designers and accessory designers.
Please tell us about yourself
My name is Oluwatobi Sogbanmu, I studied Biomedical Science at University and also did a Masters in Clinical Drug Development. I am currently the Managing Director of Afriq Okin.
What is Afriq Okin and what was the inspiration behind its inception?
Afriq Okin is a global African fashion app which exhibits African fashion designs, tailors, designers and accessory makers. The inspiration behind it came from the difficulty of finding a tailor. Usually tailors are found through word of mouth, and when they are found the location is not convenient. Also finding a design can be difficult. We thought it would be good to bring both tailors and designs onto one platform, which is how Afriq Okin was birthed and is now on Google play and the Apple App store.
You have also started the Afriq Okin Awards, what is the inspiration behind the conception of the award?
We noticed that designers tend to get more recognition than tailors, hence we wanted to appreciate tailors around the world. We have also realised that a lot of people are doing great things and are not getting awarded for it. The aim of the Afriq Okin awards is to award those who are doing great things and a making a difference in their communities. The award will be for Africans in Africa and diaspora.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
I am a Global Operations Analyst by day. During my break, I chase the IT guys for the Afriq Okin app. After work, I synchronise my day with my partners on what needs to be done and reply to my emails. Most of the time I fall asleep in front on my laptop!
What about the Afriq Okin Native Exhibit, does the native exhibit form part of Afriq Okin?
Yes, the Afriq Okin stands for the app and its accessories. The native exhibits represents you, me, and everyone exhibiting Africa in different ways and ideas across various spectrum.
What have you learnt so far about creating a business that you would offer a new start up?
Consistency is key. Those little steps you take every day will lead to something. People will try and talk you out of your dreams, but do not give up, keep going until you achieve your goals.
What challenges did you face during the inception of your company, and how did you overcome them?
Finance was a challenge. We overcame it with prayer, also having good partners and supporting each other helped. There are also everyday challenges that come with trying to start a business, but you overcome them by doing research and talking to people who have done it before. Whatever challenge you are facing, there is someone who has been through something similar, hence it is good to network and talk to people to get advice. When there is a will there’s way, you will overcome your challenges.
How did you go about obtaining initial funding for the business? What advice would you give to others trying to obtain funding?
Put all the effort you can to get your business to a certain level, along the way people will see you have made an effort by yourself and would be ready to invest in your business.
There is a rising surge of young Nigerians in diaspora who have started to be more connected with the country. What are your thoughts on this?
It is always good to be connected with your source. With diasporans, being connected is good in that it will allow us to take everything we have learnt and share it to make an impact in people’s lives.
Do you think it’s important for young Nigerians abroad to be connected and what benefit do you think this will be of?
Yes, no man is an island. For instance during a networking event you could meet your business partner, they may see your idea and think it is amazing and want to join you.
Connecting with people with different ideas will open up your mind, and seeing what others are doing could inspire you. When you see Nigerians making a difference, it will make you think of the potential things you could do utilising your natural talents, which could get you started on your own business journey.
What more do you think needs to be done to connect the young Nigerian Community in diaspora?
Platforms such as the Nigerian Networking Community is a good start on the things that need to be done in order facilitate these connections. I think similar platforms should connect and grow to get information out to the world that these platforms are here for young Africans.
Where would you like to see yourself and Afriq Okin be in the next 5 years?
Being able to work anywhere in Africa without being too security conscious.
With Afriq Okin, I would want us to have made a difference with many growing entrepreneurs within the African fashion industry because it is a platform that will help to grow their businesses and will connect them to their consumers who need their services. I would love to see a lot of talented tailors and designers who have used our platform to do great things, which would be amazing.
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