McEva Temofe, the chief executive of Purple Hundred Company, a media and publicity firm, is one very young Nigerian making his mark in the society. Temofe in this interview with Mary Ekah, talks about his inspiration and the efforts being put in planning his company’s forthcoming awards, among others
You have been working on the African Economic Merit Award (AEMA) for a while now; can you tell us what this is all about?
African Economic Merit Awards (AEMA) is to award successful African entrepreneurs, celebrate and reward NGOs with impacts. This will result in significant continent recognition and will serve as an incentive to keep the African business in line with global competitive growth. We recognise and build lives of young entrepreneurs, pioneer community involvement and empower SMEs.
The African Economic Merit Awards is beyond an award because we do not just give out awards but do community-oriented projects like helping youths around our communities to realise their potentials. For example in Kenya, we went to the largest slum in Africa to actually make some impact. Also in Ghana, we helped in eradicating snakes bits in a community and whole lots have been done in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal and other African countries. As at today, we cover about 17 African countries.
The project has a kind of ripple effects on the communities we touch and right now, the project is about two years old but we have not awarded any one yet because we have been working and strategising to ensure we award the right people. We are looking at awarding African entrepreneurs who are making impacts on lives. We have a list of a few persons in Africa who are really pioneering entrepreneurship in Africa and also causing development in their communities as well as giving Africans a facelift.
It is quite surprising that you have been planning for this particular award for almost two years, so why has the process taken this long?
It is taking this long because we want to get things right. We don’t just want to do this simply because we want to do an award project. The next project which is coming up in February 2018 is a world summit tagged, ‘Effect of Youths on African Economy’, where we would have African pioneers, entrepreneurs and stakeholders in different industries come together to actually discuss the effects of youths on Africa economy, way forward as well as examine the impact African youths are making in policy making, governance, business, technology and other sectors of the economy. This will be discussed under one umbrella. Again, having different African leaders come together will also afford opportunity to also network, help start-ups and it will also engineer the young people to realise their potentials in life. What we are doing with this is linking up successful entrepreneurs with latent talents.
Now, the African Economic Merit Awards has actually birthed so many projects which we are running with right now. For example, we have the project, Nzilani Festival, which is a photography event. It is Pan-African project; it is not a project that stays only in West Africa. It cuts across. In fact, some people in the western world are actually showing interest in this project because they are coming to tap into one or two talents here. However, the main project we are focusing on right now is the African Economic Merit Awards’ World Summit.
When exactly is the main award taking place?
We would be making a public announcement of when the maiden edition of the African Economic Merit Awards will hold during our summit billed for February 2018. We are building so many events around the main award because we want to make great impact. There is a whole lot that is meant to be done in Africa, most especially with the youths. There are whole lot of people in their mid-30s and some in their early 40 who do not know what to do in life. God created everybody with innate talent but because of the environment we find ourselves here, we are limited and these limitations have cut short a lot of talents. So we are actually setting up an amazing platform to help people who have already established in a little way to be able to tap into funds to grow their businesses. We want to ensure that they get all the funding they need and also that their business is running very well and that they are able to employ at least five people. This will be monitored and followed up by our country directors and we are focusing on the 17 African countries that we are operating in right now.
What has been the challenge in trying to achieve your goals?
The major challenge that we have faced so far is getting the right people for the awards – the credible people who are with no fault. That has just been the major challenge. Apart from that, I do not think we have any other major challenge.
What process have you gone through to ensure that you get the right people for this award?
We have our advisory committee members who are working towards collating data of these individuals across Africa to know the right people to award. The African Economic Merit Awards is more than just an award. It is far different from every other awards event that has been in existence. Here we would be awarding latent talents, people that do not even expect us awarding them (the unsung heroes) but we have seen what they have done and how they have tapped into communities to help people to get to where they want to be in life. We are looking at education, technology, agriculture and health.
Our major target is African youths and our major focus is everyone – this is so because we are linking latent talents with successful African entrepreneurs, helping them realise their potentials.
This seems to be a huge project. Can you tell us the persons behind this?
The African Economic Merit Awards is being pioneered by amazing youths cross Africa. We have our country directors and their assistants in the 17 African countries that we operate in who are working selflessly to ensure that this organisation stands strong. And in the headquarters here in Nigeria, we have selfless executive youths who are doing all their best to make sure that this organisation make more impact on lives and keep growing. So it is actually run by amazing youths who are professionals in their various fields.
How do you finance this project?
Right now, this project is self-funded. As of today, we do not have sponsors but we have a few organisations that are partnering with us and we look forward to partnering with more organisations. We are also trying to tread with caution on the kind of sponsorships we get so that it does not become a political jamboree.
As a person, what particular role do you play in this whole scheme?
As a young entrepreneur in Africa who is making impact in the best possible way, touching lives across Africa and bridging gabs, I founded this organisation called, African Economic Merit Awards, like a year and eight months ago. But the vision came seven years ago. When the vision came, I knew it wasn’t actually the time to kick-start it because there were limited resources but I kept on reviewing the project on a daily basis, thinking of how strategically it can make impact on lives. Like a year and eight months ago, I put up my team, I brought together a few professionals who had similar vision and even those that did not have same vision, I was able to buy them into it and right now they are all in love with the project and we are working on it together. So it is a selfless project, which I am very glad to do. It is a humanitarian work which I have been doing for a while now and it is my joy to see people become great in life through this project and become impactful to not just their families but to the society at large.
Tell us more about yourself?
I am the founder and president of African Economic Merit Awards. I am also a media practitioner. I run a media outfit called Purple Hundred Company. We create contents and also do consultancy for private and public organisations. Purple Hundred Company has been in existence for the past five years.
How are you able to manage the two organisations at the same time?
It is very simple because if you look at what Purple Hundred Company does – it is a media organisation which focuses on building brands, bridging gabs and touching lives. So the humanitarian work has been there right from time in a way of making impacts on the society at large in Nigeria and across Africa. So it is fun running multiple international organisations like these and so far impacts are being made.
You are a young entrepreneur who is also trying to find your feet and yet you are also involved in self-financed no-profit making project. What really is the inspiration behind the selfless service you are rendering?
The inspiration behind this is development of Africa, growth – making impacts and building a peaceful society drive me all through my life. This project that I am running as a young entrepreneur, making impacts in the best way I can is by divine grace. I look at God because He says He created us in His own image and if we also start acting in God’s image, we would all be creators and the world would be a better place for us all to co-exist, live rightly and make impacts with no fault.
Are you married?
I am happily married.
What role does your wife play in all these?
My wife is an amazing woman. She has a job and also runs a business. She is my friend and number one partner in rubbing minds together, taking the right step and building the right image.
Are you saying you are better off than when you were single and taking decisions on your own?
Marriage life is amazing, that is if the right pairs are married and if the process of marriage is followed rightly and most importantly, being the best friend to your partner. Again, communication is the key in everything, including marriage. So in almost everything I do, I communicate with my wife, even to extent that we gist about ladies that wink at me. Trust, faithfulness, sacrifice and selflessness all surround communication.
You seem to have everything going on well for you, what is your advice for young people in business and relationships?
First, they should set out their principles, when they have the right principle that would guide them towards where they going in life, they would be able to open up their future. They should also have a mentor and a role model to look up to and also to talk to role models who would help them build a strong future for themselves. Most importantly, they must be prayerful because prayer takes you faster to where you want to be and also makes you more committed to that thing you have a vision for. Mentorship and prayerfulness help you to be focused on where you want to go in life; guide your heart, mind and uplift your spirit to the next level. Again I will say that every young entrepreneur in Nigeria and Africa who has a vision for greatness should keep reviewing his/her vision every day of their life. No man is born to be poor; no man is born to be limited. This is a decision that you take yourself and when you decide it by yourself, you would be who you want to be.
Why have you taken the project to other African countries?
This is a Pan-African project. There is this perception about African youths being limited in getting to where they want to get to in life. So we set up this platform for latent talents to be able to get to where they want to get to in life. It is like fast-tracking their careers and building a successful career for them. So that someday very soon, African youths and entrepreneurs will bring together the world under one umbrella and do something amazing and out of this world.