1. Please can we meet you and your brand?My name is Mrs Nkemdilim Begho (nee Uwaje), I am a seasoned professional in the IT Service Industry, I have served as the Managing director of Future Software Resources Nigeria Ltd (Futuresoft) since 2008. Our company has been strategically re-branded and re-focused on three core areas; Online Solution Development, E-Learning & IT Security, thus establishing it as one of the top IT solution providers in Nigeria.
Driven by my passion for delivering quality education to African children the award winning i-Connect Project (www.i-connectproject.com), an ICT4D initiative focused on education and ICT was borne. The project is the Winner of the 2012 Etisalat Prize for innovation and the 2013 AR-CSR Sustainable Solutions Showcase.
I am also into a lot of other projects such as The Bake for Change Development Foundation, PIN Ajegunle.org and more.
2. Why did you choose entrepreneurship ahead of paid employment?
I tried paid employment. I have been working since I was 18, so at some point I decided I wanted to build a brand as big and as powerful as the ones that I admire. I am still building and loving every second of it.
3. What are your most proud of achievements?
The most recent achievement was being featured as one of the top 10 female tech founders in Africa in Forbes of July last year. Being recognized within Nigeria is one thing, being recognized within Africa is a whole new ballgame.
I was also invited to speak at the global innovation forum in Daejeon South Korea, which was organized by the UNESCO and the Korean Government. That was definitely a proud moment, when the world recognizes you as a leader and an authority in your field
4, What inspired you? to start so early especially?
There was no real inspiration, more of a logical decision – I asked myself when else I would have the opportunity to put all my money, all my effort and all my time into 1 thing without having to be afraid to ruin my entire life – the answer was Never so I decided that the time is NOW!
5. Innovation is not a common trend, how did you achieve innovation? what is the process you adopted?
Innovation does not really have a process, innovation is solving existing problems in new and creative ways and showing the world that they work and then refining them over and over again to make them work better, more efficient and quicker.
6. Big issue/myth for most start ups is capital, how did you overcome this?/advise on it.
When starting my business I decided not to borrow. I decided what I had needed to be enough, so I devised a very low budget plan to start up. I started very very small and just kept growing and we are still growing. My advice would be start small, think big, grow quickly and only take funding when you absolutely have no other choice.
7. What are the female specific issues you’ve observed as it relates to entrepreneurship? How can they overcome?
I would say juggling work and life, especially married life and motherhood. I always say I don’t have a 9 to 5 – I have a when I open my eyes till I shut them at night. You are responsible for the success of your business, so you never get downtime, you never get a real holiday, you never get a break….this means that you need to have a partner that understands that this is you from day 1. Love what you do and make sure your family understands that, but never forget that they are more important than any success, any money or any deadline you may have. There is no one secret to overcoming this….everyone needs to figure out what works best for them.
8. What have been your key learnings since you started business?
When tomorrow comes you will laugh at the successes you celebrated yesterday as you would have celebrated even bigger ones. You will laugh at the problems you faced yesterday, because as you grow your problems and obstacles do too, but you are stronger and can handle them better.
I will share 3 key lessons:
A) Always have a mail trail – document every single detail that way you avoid he said she said scenarios.
B) Always make sure that you explain the tech words in layman’s terms – clients often say yes and then later say they didn’t understand what you meant if you don’t
C) Stay at the top of the minds of your clients and make sure they know what services you offer – this is very key, if you don’t they will source for other vendors offering same services.
9. What is your advise for young female entrepreneurs especially in Africa
Live your dreams. Remember who you are and stay true to yourself. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.
10. Where do you see your self/brand in the next 10 years.
Our vision is to become Africa’s leading IT service provider and I hope and pray that in 10 years we will be able to live up to that vision and set a new one.
11. How do you and will you remain competitive in this industry?
By staying up to date and sticking to my core values, by going over and beyond for our clients and by making sure that we never jeopardize our service quality.
12. What are the emerging trends that you judge will enable entrepreneurs in Africa? Especially women.
There are more and more successful entrepreneurs and the Forbes lists are filled with African names and faces, so I think that will give us the confidence to succeed.
13. What are the emerging trends that could be a barrier to entrepreneurs in Africa?
The only barriers I see in Africa are our leaders (governments), outdated policies, bad deals with foreign governments etc., but I’d rather not get into that.
14. Which other female entrepreneurs inspire you? How and why
Mmmhhh that’s a tough one – there are women that inspire me, but they are not necessarily entrepreneurs. I am inspired by both female and male entrepreneurs – especially in tech there aren’t many female entrepreneurial success stories yet….but we are writing them.
Some powerful women that inspire me and that I look up to in tech are Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg….for showing the world that women can take the tech industry by storm and that tech is not just for the boys.
Nigerian female entrepreneurs that inspire me are Ibukun Awosika and Ifeyinwa Ighodalo….they both started their companies in their twenties and have been able to grow powerhouses in Nigeria. They are still striving for more and what endears me to them the most is that they are always looking out to empower other women and looking for opportunities to talk to entrepreneurs and women who are looking to be like them.