Toluwaleke Adenmosun is a partner, services, at Verraki Partners, a new business and technology solutions firm formed by the former leadership of Accenture Nigeria and other corporate professionals. In this interview with Jumoke Lawanson, Adenmosun who used to be the managing director, financial services at Accenture Nigeria, talks about the decision to create Verraki as an independent entity for the purpose of providing business solutions uniquely tailored to solve Africa’s problems. Excepts.
What exactly do you mean when you say Accenture is not transformed and has not been taken over by Verraki? Does this mean that the company still retains the same management and operations?
Accenture is a global firm operating in multiple countries including Nigeria. Accenture Nigeria continues to be a legal entity and its operations, up until 31st of March 2019 had leadership that included three managing directors, Niyi Yusuf, Niyi Tayo and myself, Toluwaleke Adenmosun. Accenture has re-organised its business in Nigeria to continue to be a legal entity but not an operating entity. Verraki is an independent entity established by those former leaders of Accenture Nigeria, as well as other people who were previously in Accenture Nigeria and through partnership, we have established Verraki as a new business that we own. Verraki will develop and provide business solutions designed inherently for Africa and specifically fit for purpose. We intend going beyond consulting to invest in the market, take measured risks and develop relevant home-grown solutions that will be needs-based and affordable, offering significant value for money.
Could you please talk about the rationale behind the creation of Verraki, why the transition and why did it become important to restructure for Nigeria and Africa?
Accenture like any other business organisation reviews its operations periodically, and over time, reviews its business and presence across different countries and makesstrategic decisions about how to operate in each country and each geography. So Accenture took a decision in consultation with the former leadership of Accenture Nigeria, to re-organise its presence, to remain a legal entity in Nigeria but not an operating entity. Organisations make decisions based on the business terrain, areas of competitive advantage, local regulation and several things. Accenture considered what is required to be competitive and impactful in Nigeria and is adopting a new positioning strategy Verraki Partners has been approved as a Business Intermediary of Accenture to deliver services to Accenture clients in Nigeria. Accenture will continue to support and provide services to Verraki, including delivery support and access to specialised skills on projects as applicable etc. Verraki combines the global experience of its people, with uniquely local insights to help enterprises and governments solve their intractable problems.
What are the specific industries that will be targeted for reform by Verraki in its bid to provide business solutions and ultimately transform Africa’s economy for good?
We have identified thirteen industry sectors, grouped within three markets; Services, which includes the Financial Services, Telecoms Media, Technology, which are largely invisibles; industries in the real sector – fast moving consumables, manufacturing, utilities, extractive industries, energy etc. and social sector, which is government and its parastatals, multilateral development institutions, not-for-profits, public sector agencies and health and education sectors. For Verraki, the mind-set is that we are in the most exciting time in the evolution of the economic development. Right now, we are in the intelligent economy that converges all the opportunities in digital, data, analytics and intelligence to create new ways of doing things. There might have been a way things were done in the past, but innovation is leveraging all the opportunities around connectivity and data to identify the problems that need to be solved and looking for new ways to solve those problems in a way that is unique to Africa. We believe that Africa’s challenges are opportunities as it were, for us to create solutions that have not been created before. Verraki will work with clients to create solutions that focus on the right things and in a productive manner, to enable organisations to be efficient and effective.
Since Verraki is a local business, are you planning to set up shop in other parts of Nigeria apart from Lagos?
Verraki is an African company. Nigeria is our birthplace, but we see Africa as home. This is because Africa’s commonalities are more than its differences. The beauty of technology is that it allows you to be ubiquitous. We are thinking through new ways of doing things, so where we need to be physically present, we will be there, however, where we don’t need to be physically present, we would not be there but we would be able to fully operate everywhere because of technology.
Why has Verraki made the decision to focus and invest more in start-ups and ventures?
A well-used aphorism of one of our advisors is that Africa is a continent that has not yet been built. And this is perfectly true. Every single gap we see in this continent is because a solution has not been provided. So when you have an organisation that says ‘we do not do reports, we create and deliver solutions’ that means that we must have the ability to go beyond the idea and the intention to actually creating the organisations that actually achieve those results, and sometimes, the way to do it, is enabling the capacity, providing the capital, enabling the talent to build, operate and deliver those solutions.
Accenture took time to study market trends, carry out research and release industry based reports. However, Verraki says it is not about reports. Does this mean there will be no progress reports on the impact of start-up investments, technology and your solutions for business and economic development?
Those research and analytics that were about artificial intelligence and insights were rarely based on Africa and its markets. Secondly, we need to ask how many of those reports have actually been delivered into solutions for Africa. So, when we say we are not about reports, it’s not that we would not do the research or have those insights, but that the value will not be achieved until we have gone beyond turning those reports and analysis into actual results. When we talk about Nigeria, everybody on the street has an idea about what needs to be done to solve Nigeria’s problems, and there have been several committees and several reports on several issues, but reports do not solve problems. Committees do not solve problems. It is actually actions that solve problems. Our focus is that we work with enterprises and governments that don’t just want reports, but want the actions based on already existing reports because that’s exactly what delivers results. We will work with enterprises and government to create solutions.
What exactly is Verraki planning to do for Nigeria’s start-up community. How many start-ups are you looking to work with and how would you identify these problem solving start-ups?
Generally, people believe funding is the major challenge for start-up companies. We think that solutions are solved by throwing money at it, but that’s not true. Business hurdles include access to markets, access to mentor networks and even access to the right tools. Our focus is enabling the start-ups by providing talent, building capacity, helping them by connecting them to the right partners and providing capital as needed. Fundamentally, they need to know what to do, and how to do it. Verraki will work with them to improve and refine their ideas and validate and build their ideas. We will identify viable ideas. The advantage Verraki has being a local company, is that we can choose the most impactful areas, create a list and prioritise. So, ideas that meet the criteria and fulfil that will be supported. We would have both internal and external ideas from local hubs and individuals from across the network. We would work with our clients, hubs, accelerators, individuals and organisations for innovative ideas for problem solving.
What are your future projections for Verraki?
With Verraki, we see a transformed Africa that is an improved place to live and work. We see a new narrative for Africa, as a continent with the brightest talent and biggest opportunities and we see Verraki as part of that narrative. This is about transforming the African continent, so it’s not about us; it is about us working with other African enterprises and governments to identify areas that there are needs, and working with them to build and implement solutions to those areas. So we see transformations in the education sector, financial services availability, in financial inclusion and health inclusion.