Habeeb is one of the founding members of One African Child when it was established in the largest town in West Africa, Ibadan. This is a successful attempt to share his success story since he graduated from the University of Ibadan (UI). Habeeb is a change maker and we are so proud of his lofty achievements.
I don’t know if I am in the best position to write this, as I still have some way to go regarding entrepreneurship. But I have been asked to share part of my story so far;
About 9 years ago when I was in SS2, I created TISA. I wanted a collection of young minds who were going to explore the world with me and create new stuffs. There was this general saying that Africans don’t make stuffs, that they only consume. I wanted to change that narrative and reach young minds who were willing to innovate and who could teach others too to innovate. We could create the world we dream of or we could keep on talking about it. The meaning of TISA was The Indomitable Super Achievers (lol… wherever that came from). My friend designed a logo and I printed forms. When I went to photocopy it at a local business centre, the woman looked through the form and was impressed. I told her about the project and she liked it. She asked about my school and said she would send her child there. I don’t know if she ever did. However, I was unable to move it forward as I wanted to.
I revisited TISA in my second year at University of Ibadan. With the help of some other friends, we developed Geniuses, a quiz competition modelled to help students solve real life problems. We also successfully made a visitation to a public secondary school where we held a short talk admonishing the students to innovate and choose careers that make them happy. We also donated books to their library.
Geniuses failed on the brink of success. We had made some excusable mistakes, much due to our naivety. But it was a great adventure after-all. However, as part of our failed bid to Google, we were to develop an app for Geniuses. From our failed bid, one of the team members felt we could work on the app independently, and he went on to create a new tech company which I am happy to be part of. There, we’re helping students learn better with the aid of technology. (www.geniusesng.com).
I tried again in 400L to make TISA work, but we were not really successful yet again. Our administrative structure did not really support our growth. So I took a pause on it and moved to concentrate on other things while I hope to get back to it later on.
In its stead, I created Market Ibadan Business Festival and with the help of IvoryConnect and a host of friends, we were able to do our first event during my final year. We were supported by several organizations such as CocaCola, Diamond Bank, One African Child, Shyld Initiative, so on. MIBF was created to bring together small, medium and large scale companies together to help facilitate economic growth in the country. We wanted to bring the world down to the city of Ibadan to witness the diversity and brilliance of our culture, commerce, craft and community.
We tried to do a second edition in 2015 but we failed. Our core team had scattered over the country for one important reason or the other. We hope to be back on this soon.
I’m currently serving in Umuahia. I teach English Language and Physics at a village school in Afugiri. It also brought me closer to the challenges rural farmers face over planting seasons. I immediately started working on solving these challenges so I could make them happy. So I remodelled TISA and started tísà- an agricultural care venture with the vision of helping farmers gain better return for investment and to also cautiously diversify the nation’s economy.
I applied for the British Council Enterprise Challenge and out of over 10,000 initiated applications, my startup was among the 20 that made it to the finals of the competition. It was a great boost, especially in morale.
The vision of tisa is to help farmers, most especially rural farmers, gain better return on investment. In Afugiri, I witness how much farmers put into farming. The end result is not usually favourable. With so much investment, in time, energy and finance, farmers usually get very little in return. Lots of their farm produce get wasted due to lack of storage and processing facilities, and middle men make off more gain than they do on the rest of the produce. I decided to visit the head of the female farmers in Afugiri and she poured out her heart to me. Each year presented tougher challenges to them. She was very frustrated. She invited me to meet with other women farmers during their townhall meeting. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do so, as I was in Lagos for the British Council Enterprise Challenge finals. I don’t know how, but I felt I could help farmers quench their frustration, and make them happy again.
Training my lenses on agriculture in tertiary institutions, several of the people who could help farmers either don’t practice agriculture after graduating or are simply jobless. With tisa, we can create more jobs in the agricultural sector and grow collaboratively to rebase Nigeria’s economic structure. While I don’t support bad governance, I think young people should focus more on helping the country rather than feel the country owes them something. There is a lot we can do together.
At the bootcamp, I learnt a lot more on entrepreneurship and lessons on navigating startups for success, especially in the areas of strategies, branding, finance and accounting, and sales and marketing. I also got to meet other entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who were either starting or already making great progress in their fields. The experience at the bootcamp is helping me remodel tisa to solve the agriculture problem, and I am committed to making this change in the agricultural sector and change the way Nigerians farm. I also hope to partner with other colleagues who are working on agriculture.
Being an entrepreneur is never easy, whether in new fields or in the face of crushing competition. You first have to make the bold decision of forgoing the more convenient path of being an employee or being self-employed. I’ve committed a good chunk of my years to learning. But the most important part is actually learning by doing. Trying and retrying until things come together. Never hesitating nor relenting. We can’t move forward if we’re afraid to fail or make mistakes. If you’re not getting pushed back, you’re not pioneering. And we are what we repeatedly do, excellence is not an act but a habit. I have learnt a lot from my involvement in CrystalSpot, One African Child, StrictlyUI, Indypress, Swaliafrica, LLH, MIBF, MSSN UI, UITESWRITE, myschoolpodcast and a host of others. Volunteering has helped me a lot too. It helps to learn in real time and face real life challenges.
I’ve always wanted to be many things in life, a writer, an engineer, an entrepreneur, a football coach and so on. But then, in the end, I just want to help a lot of people. I want to help solve some of the world’s problems and put smiles on the faces of many people. It’s not going to be easy, but I hope to have fun doing it. And hope to have more friends who understand, have similar drives, and are willing to make that journey with me.
I am not where I hope to be, yet I am grateful that I have moved from where I used to be. I am also thankful to my family and friends who have been very supportive. I hope to make the most of life’s experiences and choose to see opportunities in challenges.
I have met awesome and inspiring people, I hope to meet more. One thing I have learnt is that, dreams do come true, if we have the will to pursue it. So; dream, dare, explore, do something, keep moving, don’t stop believing, never hesitate and never relent. Life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.
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