An Inspiration-Packed Book Unveiled

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Peter Uzoho
Speaker, trainer, business developer and author, Kachi Ogbonna, is a value-driven entrepreneur and renowned youth consultant, passionate and focused on driving societal values and dignity of mankind in alignment to entrepreneurship and business strategy. His book ‘How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands’ presents sources of inspiration and opportunities from which the youth can liberate themselves from the clutches of unemployment.

With more than 12 years of experience working among youths, seven years of being an active entrepreneur and a substantial portfolio of solutions delivered for the benefit of humanity, his career has taken him through the banking sector, telecommunications, training and consulting and Non-governmetal Organisations. He has had the good fortune of sitting for business reviews very early in his career with top Managing Directors and business leaders including Rajiv Sharma, Prof. Pat Utomi, Ben Bruce, Innocent Ifediaso and many more.

Kachi Ogbonna’s passion towards improving lives coupled with his concern about the growing graduate unemployment challenge in the country led him into a research of how innovative indigenous brands in Nigeria started. That extensive research successfully gave birth to the entrepreneurship masterpiece called ‘How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands.

Today, entrepreneurship has become a major buzzword in Nigeria, and that is not for nothing. It is a common knowledge that youth unemployment has gone beyond just an economic problem to also become a social problem. The issues of pipeline vandalism, terrorism, thuggery, electoral violence, kidnapping and sectional agitations are hugely due to the fact that the young ones, mostly graduates, are not properly engaged.

Those who see entrepreneurship as the way out have come up with different approaches for tackling this, the most notable of them being skills acquisition. Ogbonna has, however, done something completely different. As much as he believes in entrepreneurship and skills acquisition, he argues in his new book ‘How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands’ that the solution to unemployment in Nigeria must begin with a fundamental mind shift. He believes that Nigerian youths are talented enough to tap into the numerous opportunities that exist in the country, but, according to him, “they must first of all believe that they can.” “They must first accept that those opportunities are there because no one can feature in a future that he cannot picture.”

The author being an entrepreneurship and youth consultant, has from his many years of mentoring young entrepreneurs and growing startups, discovered that, the ‘entitlement mentality and the blame game’ has become the biggest hindrance to the realisation of the full potential of Nigerian youths, insisting that everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own success or failure.

Ogbonna in his book argues that “the solution to graduate unemployment in Nigeria is not rocket science”, maintaining that, “if the universities can focus more on how to produce job creators rather than job seekers, then, unemployment will soon become an issue of the past.” He further insists that each problem in this country provides a great business opportunity for those who are willing to add value to the society.
In showing how Nigeria has always been a land of opportunities, the author traced how businesses that started decades ago are still waxing stronger by the day.

Giving instances of how some businesses that were launched just about four years ago have grown to become multinationals today, he profiled 25 innovative brands cutting across different sectors including technology, the internet, entertainment, learning and development, manufacturing, restaurants, health and transportation. Through these, he showed that opportunities abound in almost every sector of the Nigerian economy.

His efforts in securing one on one interview with the founders of these brands also goes a long way to validate the information in the book. Each of the founders shared his own unique experience of what it took them to startup their business, the challenges faced and how they handled them; how they funded their businesses and most importantly, every one of them has words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

This book ‘How They Started: Innovative Nigerian Brands’ couldn’t have come at a better time than a period when the Nigerian economy has plummeted to an incredibly low state. It couldn’t have been more appropriate than at this time when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently reported that 4.3 million jobs were lost in just 10 months. Maybe that is just a mere coincidence, as government and citizens alike stand to benefit immensely from the latent force of possibilities the book ignites as the country seeks to drag itself out of the present mess.Interestingly, someone has embarked on the important task of documenting how Nigerian brands started in a country where there is little or no regard for history. In a very unique way, Ogbonna through his book has told the story of the best of Nigeria.

It is difficult not to appreciate the challenges the author must have passed through before the selection of these 25 brands out of the 150 companies he researched. However, the more the author attempts to lay down the criteria for such selection, the more someone is forced to ask if these 25 organisations are the only brands that met those criteria.

However, the fact that no company from the agricultural sector was featured means that the book is still a work in progress. Published 2006, in Lagos by MiH Consulting Limited, the 252-paged-bookprovides a handy roadmap for producing a new generation of entrepreneurs, who will run the upcoming global brands, with roots in Nigeria.