BusinessDay

Verakki at 3: Helping tech firms, others build smart businesses

Three years ago, Verakki was picking up the pieces of a departing Accenture and trying to figure out the best way to fill the big shoes the advisory company left behind.

Today, Verakki has put the shadows of Accenture behind it and is now emerging into its own, becoming the go-to business solution company for many companies, governments at the federal and state level create strategies and harness innovation.

In three years, Verakki has helped in the planning and establishment of the COVID-19 Isolation Centre at Landmark Village, the establishment of Ikoyi Medipark which aims to provide world class health services towards reducing medical tourism, development of a tourism master plan for Edo State in support of the return of the Benin bronzes. It has also supported Lagos State with the conceptualisation and planning of an ICT Park – KITE at Yaba, aimed at creating an enabling ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs in Yaba district to drive investment and job creation.

Verakki is also providing capital and technical services to fintech and tech companies, developing a medium term strategy for a public university, working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to instill information technology (IT) standards for the banks and fintech companies. There is also an agreement to develop a strategic plan for the Office of the Public Defender, Lagos State.

The first year of the company’s life was very calm, recalls Olaniyi Yusuf, managing partner and former country manager of Accenture Nigeria.

Read also: Lagos State: The game changer in tech start-up businesses

“I remember we added a few things to our goals as a company such as health and transportation which are basic amenities that an average African needs,” Yusuf said. “We later added construction and housing. That level of proactiveness helped.”

Verakki derives its name from a combination of Latin and Greek words. The Latin word ‘Versorium’ means Turn Around while ‘Meraki’ in Greek which describes the action of doing something with soul, creativity, pouring oneself into a task.

Yusuf says the name captures the essence of the company; to turn around Africa enterprises and governments via smart, future-focused solutions and business insights, new opportunities, helping to unleash their potential turnaround, their performance and achieve the seemingly impossible, with the goal of creating a better future for Africa.

“Three years ago, we were convinced that Africa’s largest and most apparent intractable problems require more business solutions conceptualised by Africans and built by Africans,” Yusuf said. It is this trust, steadfastness, and commitment that constantly renews Verakki’s hope and fuels its passion to keep moving towards this next version of Africa or what the company refers to as Africa V2.

One major feat Yusuf is particularly proud of is the company retaining all its clients in the last three years. It has also added more to the portfolio. Some of the new portfolios include Oando Plc, BUA Plc and the Edo State government. It also supports multilateral agencies such as International Finance Corporation (IFC), Afrexim Bank as well as executing projects in multiple African countries.

Verraki is also active in the tech ecosystem, by funding seven startups so far. Funding tech companies became imperative for Verakki to solidify the continent in terms of economic growth and development that will attract Africans in diaspora back to the continent to contribute their quota. The tech ecosystem in Africa is one of the most attractive places for young people in the continent. This is why the majority of the businesses in the ecosystem are founded and led by young people.

Verakki also wants to be known as the company that promotes a healthy working environment. Debo Awojide, HR Lead at Verakki says this is one of the things that stands the company out among peers. She joined Verakki one year after it was established.

Kelvin Balogun, Senior Partner also said he had always wanted to work with a world-class company where the process, skills, and values are of the best standard.

Toluwaleke Adenmosun, another Senior Partner who spent 29 years in Accenture before joining Verakki believes it was the best decision joining Verakki as she has seen the partnership survive over the last three years.

“It was easy for me to learn the culture of what the company wants to be,” Awojide said. “The fact that I can walk up to people within the organisation is a plus for a family and people-oriented company. I want us as an African company with a global outlook to continue to build on the culture that we started with by maintaining our people, client as we continue to grow.”

As the company looks to the future, it wants to be the continent’s go-to in the areas of technology and business solutions. Yusuf sees a need for the African continent to birth giant companies like in the US, Europe, etc. The partners also say they are aware of emerging trends and their intersections with the overarching business imperatives of their clients. The company also pledges to deploy its three complimentary offerings – venture build, Verakki Services, and Verakki Studio, to facilitate tech driven innovation and also help tech entrepreneurs scale their start-up businesses.

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