• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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From Law to Tech: Osita Oparaugo’s path to empower 10 million African youths

From Law to Tech: Osita Oparaugo’s path to empower 10 million African youths

Osita Oparaugo, founder, GetBundi, a lawyer turned tech entrepreneur, in this interview with David Ijaseun, discussed how merging education tech and business innovation can upskill 10 million African youths, bridge Nigeria’s 28 million digital skill job gap by 2030. Excerpts:

Can you tell us about your background and how you got involved in the tech industry?

I studied law at The University of Buckingham, United Kingdom and was called to the Nigerian bar. I have been in the tech space since 2014 from Footprint to Africa (media and investments company) to Ogelle, Africa’s first user generated video sharing platform and now GetBundi Education Technology for STEM and Digital Skills.

Working across Africa as a commercial lawyer supporting foreign direct investment, I noticed the many challenges facing Africa including high unemployment rate among the youths, and at each time I analysed the problems, the answer brings me back to one solution, creating platform for the youths, to understand and appreciate science technology and innovation (STI) studies.

How do you see the alignment between education technology and business innovation, and how is GetBundi contributing to this synergy?

In my view, the two domains compliment each other to drive positive change. Education technology enable creation of online learning platforms like GetBundi that provide quality and flexible learning options for students. Such platforms like GetBundi can also offer opportunities for businesses to train employees remotely, thus promoting skill development and innovation.

Let us look at data analysis for instance, education technology solutions can provide data analytics to measure students’ performance and learning progress. Such analytics can also be used by businesses to evaluate employee training outcomes, identify gaps, and optimize training programs accordingly.

At least, 28 million jobs in Nigeria and about 230 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030 according to IFC. Under the GetBundi Vision 2034, we target to upskill 10 million African workforces who will be engaged meaningfully by businesses across Africa.

What specific STEM and digital skills does GetBundi focus on?

We have quality STEM subject’s audio-visual content covering the entire six years of secondary school education, with 6,000 multiple choice questions, 1000 questions for each year and 3 years of revision for competitive examinations like WAEC etc. Original content created by proficient educationalists using West African syllabus.

Our Digital Skills education is offering courses to African youths aged 18-35 on over twenty (20) digital skill sets. Cybersecurity, Web Development, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Coding, Digital Marketing, etc. Our curricula are designed as per IEEE and CAM standards and benchmarked against the best in the world.

Also, our faculty team has diversified expertise covering all computer science and information technology areas. Also, they are incredible educators, prolific mentors, and dexterous intellectuals. Our training methods is developed for the tech industry, by the industry to ensure any student who passes through our institution is job ready.

In the context of Africa’s emerging digital economy, what opportunities do you see for entrepreneurs?

The opportunities in Africa for the digital economy is enormous. I was speaking in Nairobi the other day about such opportunities, and it has earned us a lot of collaborations. Do you know that out of the 7 unicorns in Africa if they are still 7, that about 5 of them are in fintech? Then, ask yourself, is fintech or finance Africa’s greatest assets? The answer is no.

Africa’s greatest assets are in the number of people, mostly youths and the land. I think entrepreneurs and startups should focus more on core and complementary businesses that are within those spaces, for example, agriculture technology and telemedicine are untapped and present a huge market for any entrepreneur. Look around you, identify where there is still human to human contact and bridge it with technology.

What are your thoughts on the importance of mentorship and support networks for budding entrepreneurs in Africa?

Mentoring is one critical aspect of business mastery that African entrepreneurs don’t take seriously. Do you know why the apprenticeship system is incubating successful businesses in an area like Aba or Onitsha? It is due to the mentorship and support networks.

They are part of building the resilience, the power of staying on that any startup founder needs to succeed especially in Africa where so many factors work against you. Sometimes, that emotional support can be everything along the lonely journey as entrepreneurs may face setbacks, anxiety, and burnout.

How has your background in law and media contributed to your success as an entrepreneur, and what unique perspectives do you bring to the business world?

They have opened the right doors. It is honourable to be a lawyer but my media network across the continent has contributed immensely to the success of my work. There is hardly any country in Africa that I cannot get things done in terms of media representation, brand adoption and positioning.

What do I bring to the business world? Connecting global business owners with opportunities across Africa. Integrity and the power to remain focus even when you are misunderstood. I am a strong believer that you don’t need anybody to approve of your dreams. Pursue it with everything within you. Don’t try to take short cuts, do what you know is right, pay your dues.

Ogelle focuses on user-generated content (UGC) and subscription video on demand (SVOD). Can you explain the business dynamics behind this dual approach?

The strategy is to give every African content creator, big or small, a voice. To enable them to create and share videos in their native languages and customs. By doing so, Africans will tell their stories because whoever that documents first, wins.

To change the negative narrative about Africa, we must control the image. You can only achieve this with a platform that has the dual capacity. “Whoever controls the media; the images; controls the culture.” Allen Ginsberg.

SVOD content creators are in the minority, and about 99% of them create content solely to make money while UGC content creators are in the majority and less than 30% of them monetize their content. We are reengineering the platform to include 9 indigenous languages and it should be back up by the last quarter of 2024.

Tell us about the impact of Ogelle on the African creative industry and the opportunities it creates for content creators.

Ogelle is Africa. Over 40,000 content creators monetised content on Ogelle with millions of views across the world. Talents were discovered, rediscovered, and supported along the way.

The other day, I saw a picture of myself with Rema and Crayon when he performed Dumebi at Ogelle studio in 2019 as part of his first public performances. I knew that dude would rule the world. We are currently creating content across Africa and over 1000 people are involved from script writing to final production.

What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for businesses in Africa’s evolving digital landscape?

As I see it, Africa’s digital landscape presents challenges and opportunities. It faces hurdles like inadequate infrastructure, unreliable connectivity, and complex regulations. However, every challenge brings an opportunity. You may have heard me say in some of my events that “if by 2030 you are not in Africa, you are not in business yet”.

Research has shown that for every 10% increase in internet penetration, GDP increases by 1.4%. With improvements in the telecommunication sector, it is projected that 300 million Africans will come online by 2030 for the very first time, that is the opportunity right there for the digital landscape.

Additionally, there is a significant gap in digital skills in Africa and this is the primary reason GetBundi was created. This shortage of qualified professionals who are proficient in digital technologies, data analysis, and other relevant areas can impede businesses’ ability to harness the full potential of the digital landscape.

To seize these numerous opportunities, governments should invest in infrastructure, support digital skills, and enhance cybersecurity measures.

Research has shown that for every 10% increase in internet penetration, GDP increases by 1.4%. With improvements in telecommunication sector, it is projected that 300 million Africans will come online by 2030 for the very first time

As a lover of football and golf, do you see any parallels between sports strategy and business strategy, especially in the African context?

Yes, there are several parallels. People in sports want to win, so as business owners. They both seek to achieve their goals in competitive environments and as such they can learn from each other when it comes to strategy. If you are in business and you have not read Judo Strategy by David B. Yoffie, I will recommend that book to you.

Every business has competitors, and you must analyze your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses, which is crucial for success. The same way sports people analyse their opponents. Sports teams and businesses set goals and develop strategies to achieve them. They both adapt to changing circumstances and innovate to stay ahead.

Changing game plans in response to your opponent’s tactics is like adapting business models to disrupt the market. What about key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress, evaluate performance, and make data-driven decisions for improvement. It is prevalent in business as it is in sports.

Notwithstanding, using strategies deployed in sports, business owners can draw valuable insights to grow their businesses and achieve success, especially in competitive settings.

What advice would you offer to aspiring business leaders in Africa, based on your experiences in both the legal and entrepreneurial sectors?

Starting from the legal side of things, avoid the pitfalls of cutting corners as this can happen in so many ways including book cooking and misrepresentations. Integrity lost will never be regained. It will come back to haunt you when you strike gold. Remember that what business leaders got away with in the 80’s and 90’s will put you in trouble today.

To be a good business leader, you must be a man or woman of fixed purpose. A committed leader who understands that there are two days in business. A day for you and a day against you. So, when it is for you, do not be reckless, and when it is against you, be patient.