This Wednesday, Edon Ramadani was appointed Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Forza of Sweden during HBG Talks at Helsingborg Arena.
Motivation by the jury:
“With his ambitious entrepreneurship, Edon Ramadani has contributed with important aspects of sustainability on an international scale. With Edon’s entrepreneurial drive, the company demonstrates how to introduce innovative products into a traditional market and make a difference for large and small customers. The jury are in agreement that Everyday Baby and winner Edon Ramadani are an important corporate force in our time!”
The purpose of the award is to recognize entrepreneurs who have shown success on a personal and business-related level and have the ability to inspire other young entrepreneurs. All candidates have been observed by a jury group consisting of business executives who selected the finalists who truly distinguished themselves.
It’s an indescribable, magical feeling! The award is a receipt showing that you are doing the right things and that you are on the right track! I am very grateful and happy to receive the title of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2018! Edon says.
Everyday Baby was founded in 2013 with the aim of making parenting easier and a bit smarter, by developing innovative and safe products in good materials such as glass, metal and silicone. Two examples of their products are a temperature-indicating glass bottle and a sunblock indicator that tells you when it’s time to reapply sunscreen. In 2017, sales were tripled and the forecast shows that sales will double in 2018. Today, the company has partners in 22 countries, such as South Korea, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Taiwan, England, France, Italy, the Balkans, Scandinavia and many others.
By Jonas Michanek, entrepreneur and writer, and working for Ideon Science Park on an assignment as acting Incubator Manager at the Roar Nigeria Hub.
Did you know that Nigeria has around 200 million people? Did you know that it will be the world’s third most populated country in around 30 years? Did you know that Facebook and Google are starting to invest heavily in Nigeria? I did not. But now I do. And here are some other things I learned about when working in Nigeria.
Since November 2017, I have had the privilege to work for Ideon Science Park in Lund on an assignment in Nigeria. The assignment was to start the first university-based startup Incubator and Science Park at The University of Nigeria (UNN), in Nsukka. If you have read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, then you know the setting. UNN is set on the Nigerian countryside with red soil, banana and mango trees, cassava plantations and great views of trees and jungle. And in the middle of that a lively campus with around 40.000 students where all the students, the faculty and their families are part of the campus. The whole city of Nsukka is basically the campus with the staff and services needed to run this academic microcosmos. The concept is very similar to another school I have attended, Duke University in the USA.
I have been to Africa many times before but never to Nigeria. Here are some of the most important things I learned.
Seventh most populated country in the world
When I ask people in Sweden to guess on how many people live in Nigeria – they often say about around 40-60 million. So did I. There are various numbers circulating – everything from around 180 million to some people arguing that it is even 250 million people. It is now the 7th most populated land in the world – the most populated in Africa – and is estimated to pretty soon being the third most populated country in the world. As population growth is one other big driver of economic growth, the middle class is growing steadily in Nigeria. As Hans Rosling writes in his fantastic book Factfulness, that this is a huge potential for global companies, with much greater potential than many western countries. If you are willing to take the risk…
And for example, Hanna Einarsson is. She is a Swede who started Oriflame in Nigeria and made a big impact, but wanted to do her own thing. So, she started Tribute – a perfume company for the Nigerian population. She saw that the creams and perfumes from Europe did not work so well in the warm weather and did not fit perfectly into the tastes of the Nigerian woman (who wanted stronger and more colorful scents). She is now enjoying tremendous growth with her lifestyle brand in Lagos, maybe (in my opinion) the coolest city in Africa besides Johannesburg, Cape Town or Nairobi.
Small economy – ready for the next step
Even though Nigeria has a great population, the economy in monetary terms is still small. For example, the GDP of Nigeria is only a little more than half of that in Sweden, with it’s 10 million population. And this makes it a market for cheap mass market products. As one of the directors of the leading Nigerian incubator CC Hub in Lagos, Tunji Eleso, told me: “There is a huge market, but still people have very little money. So, the startups we work with have to have “must-have”-solutions at a very, very low price. And go mass market. In 5-10 years, we might have a middle class of size – that can pay more”. So, Nigeria is still a small economy mostly based on the oil industry. But an economy that can be boosted with the right investments in infrastructure.
Infrastructure is still key
It is basic growth economics, but what is the key to economic development in Nigeria? It is infrastructure. As water, electricity and internet (mobile or land-based) is functioning only on and off – it really matters. It is hard to do business today without these services in place. Do you know you know what I experienced as being the biggest problem? Lack of internet. You can have electricity going on and off, because there are batteries and generators. But if the internet is not working (or is really slow or you cannot afford to pay for more mobile connection) – you cannot work in the startup world of today. And most of the incubator attendees have ideas involving internet, mobile and/or software. So, my advice to both the government of Nigeria and companies who want to locate in Nigeria – make sure that the internet works!
Mobile and drones will help Nigeria take a big leap
Even though Nigeria is not yet a booming economy, everybody pretty much has a phone. And it is mostly not phones like iPhones or Samsungs – it is Tecnos and Infinixs. The most used communication tool is WhatsApp. So, make sure you have it installed if you are entering Nigeria.
Facebook also have a huge user base and is a good tool for marketing. So mobile is big. And so are drones! As the roads are very bad in many areas, drone delivery is not a nice to have as when you see the Amazon commercials. Here it is for real. And a big business opportunity for companies. As well as a serious help for emergency situations and for the military. Because of the situation when it comes to infrastructure, Nigeria will skip some development steps and probably take the lead in areas like drones, mobile services for farming, solar panel solutions for rural areas etc.
The youth – the talent – the treasures
Nigerians are a young population, the median age is 17.9 years. And they are well educated, the country is bound to boom financially. Mark Zuckerberg has for example invested in Nigeria’s most prominent startup, Andela, which is mainly a software outsourcing company. I think that Nigeria is where India was maybe 15 years ago in this area. And think about what happened to for example Wipro and Infosys – these Indian companies are global star players today. Nigeria has the same potential. And this time, Nigeria has a great opportunity to learn from the ideas and shortfalls of others. Because of the internet, students can get the latest knowledge online, as well as the latest software code for free. President Muhammadu Buhari has called the Nigerian youth lazy. I think that Nigeria’s future lies in the hands of the youth, they are Nigeria’s treasure chest, not the old political and/or company structures. To get a taste of the talent, please look at the startups at the Roar Nigeria incubator that I have been part of.
So, would I invest in Nigeria? Yes, but I would use local help to get settled. As in all countries you have to get to know the local business culture. How to communicate in the best way. How to manage the work-place. And I would go for the new tech communities with young people having a global outlook. Nigeria is not only a huge market – it is also competing with South Africa of being the African leader and the door to Africa. So, if you make it here, you can make it everywhere in Africa.
/Jonas Michanek, entrepreneur and innovation writer from NEW working for Ideon Science Park
Interested in doing business in Nigeria?
If you are planning to invest, locate your business or just want to do some research into the Nigerian market, please join Ideon for the Swedish Innovation Delegation in October. A handful Swedish companies will go together to meet companies, universities, government agencies and lots of talented students. The goal is to start closer business relation and partnership with the Nigerian market.
Next week, VentureLab will be taking over our Instagram account. So we took the opportunity to talk to Patricia Szolnoki, Communications Manager at VentureLab.
Hi Patricia, can you tell me a bit about VentureLab?
– VentureLab is part of Lund University and we empower students to create the future! Our office is at Ideon Agora where we have between 30-50 companies in our incubator each year. VentureLab is a free service any student at Lund University can use in the form of business advice meetings, workshops and networking events and can even apply to access our incubator. The latter is practically work-space for those entrepreneurial ideas that have a high potential and need more concentrated help, business coaching and the benefit of being in the Ideon-network every day. We have intake to our incubator 4 times a year and companies can stay up to one year.
Who are working at VentureLab? What are your backgrounds?
– We are currently three working full-time at VentureLab in Lund, one at Campus Helsingborg, three junior business advisors from LU Innovation, and we even have an affiliate in Alnarp at SLU. The three of us sitting at Ideon all have backgrounds at studying at Lund University, social sciences, communication and developmental studies with the occasional adventurous courses in geography, religion, linguistics and everything in between. Some of us have been part of startups and some are fascinated by them. Our common interest is to see a new generation of students succeed with their aspirations in creating their own opportunities and bring their amazing ideas to the public. We have all seen what encouragement for highly educated and ambitious students can do: John Henric, Tamam, Lunicore, Animus Home, IV-bracelet, Tendo and Vevios are just a few examples. We are working to support these ideas become reality and help these entrepreneurs start on their journey.
How many companies are with you right now?
– Currently, we have 26 companies sitting in the incubator. They exemplify the great diversity that Lund University stands for with entrepreneurial minds from all backgrounds and study disciplines. Some are starting online services, some are creating the next generation of smart living solutions, some are interested in the consumer market. What all have in common is a great drive and love of coffee!
What will you be showing us next week?
We’ll show you more of what it’s like here at the incubator, but we’ll also show you what’s happening at Lund Innovation Challenge, a three day innovation challenge where students from LTH and EHL will work together in teams to develop data-driven business ideas and prototypes aided by data from Bisnode. Join us!