Monthly, CapitalSquare features one of our members in the member spotlight series. The intent of this is to highlight and provide visibility to our members with regards to their career path, contributions and experience with CapitalSquare. It is also an avenue to meet with your colleagues and find members with similar interests.
This month's spotlight turns to Ahmed Bello-Osagie, Digital Marketing Manager at MyKustoma Innovative Technology
NAME: Ahmed Bello-Osagie
OCCUPATION: Digital Marketing Manager, MyKustoma Innovative Technology
Working from CapitalSquare since November 2015
Hi, Can we meet you?
My name is Ahmed Bello –Osagie and I’m the Digital Marketing Manager for Mykustoma Innovative Technology.
Can We know more about you?
I am a Nigerian and an American at the same time. By birth, I’m American but by Nationality , I’m Nigerian. I’ve been here for the better part of my life. I grew up in Lagos. I attended Corona school, Gbagada for my primary school Education, I then went to kings college Lagos, I moved on to covenant university, studied Computer science and I graduated in 2011. I did my NYSC in Ogun state and in 2013 , I went to the university of Warwick for my masters in eBusiness management. That’s about it. Do you want me to dabble into my accolades as a person ?(laughs)
Lol, thank you. So what you studied is related to what you do now right?
I studied ebusiness management and there are many things that fall under this; like eCRM ( e customer relationship management), Clerk Computing e.t.c. Digital marketing is a branch of ebusiness.
Can we know what MyKustoma does?
Yes. Mykustoma is a mobile and web application that helps to foster online Commerce between buyers and sellers. It also eliminates anonymity. Typically, when you are shopping online, you can buy stuff without knowing who you are buying from directly. On myKustoma, you actually get to know who you are buying from and if you want to settle the transaction outside the espace, you can do that. The reason we do that is that people have trust issues and they want to meet who they are buying from because sometimes, you order online and what you get is not exactly what you ordered.
For ecommerce businesses that don’t do cash on delivery, by the time you pay and you start having issues, getting the money back might turn into a difficult thing. With mykustoma, you know who you are transacting with and you can choose to either finish the transaction online or offline. That is one angle; the other angle, the mobile app is gps enabled. What that does is : for instance, if you go to a market like Balogun, it is not very structured so you can have someone selling toothpick beside someone selling oranges e.t.c. For a common man that goes to the market and wants to grab a few things , it might be a bit difficult. For those shopping on the Mykustoma app however, if someone searches for oranges, it will show all the available sellers with their proximity and there will be a prompt for if you want to be contacted, if you say yes, we send your details to the seller and in no time, the seller will contact you. You will then decide how you want to wrap up the transaction.
The bigger picture is we are looking at eAgric but we are taking it one step at a time. I don’t think there is anything better than Agriculture meeting eCommerce because if you go to villages, they don’t sell everything and most stuff get rotten and spoilt then they have to plant other ones. We are going to take care of packaging and give them more visibility. That is a long term goal, right now we are starting with general merchandise. We started in Lagos too and hopefully within the next months, we are looking to cover other major cities like Portharcourt, Owerri, Benin, Ibadan
Are you guys active yet or you are just about to launch?
As a matter of fact, we just launched. . From last year tho, we’ve been doing some sort of prebuzz, to enlighten people and prepare their taste buds for what’s coming and the reception has been good. We are happy, everyone is happy because it’s something new and different .
To be a merchant on MyKustoma, you have to list and we have different plans depending on what you want, the kind of visibility you want and what your budget is. We do social media posts and email blasts for our merchants depending on what you paid for. You also do not have to be a merchant to place ads on mykustoma. We get 5% and I’m sure you would be thinking why so little? Okay, we are trying to eliminate the rip off that has become the order of the day by other eCommerce companies. Merchants mark up a lot to meet up with the percentage and at the same time make profit which in turn makes the prices of goods and services very high. So, we are trying to reduce this by making the percentage very low.
Are there chances this percentage might increase?
No no, if anything, it would even come down.
That’s quite juicy,
Sure it is.
So back to you now, do you consult?
Yes I do. My friend and I have a consultancy outfit for ecommerce companies. I know you would be thinking : is there no conflict of interest? The answer is yes, there is to an extent but I try very much to make sure that my primary place of interest which is mykustoma isn’t affected.
So basically, you are also an Entrepreneur?
Well yes, I am but I’ve not exactly developed that part. I’m hoping to develop that in the nearest future.
So, why Nigeria? For you and for MyKustoma?
I think I should answer you this way. Why not Nigeria? I might have a blue passport but I just use that to travel to other countries without a visa. Anything else? I am a Nigerian, so why not Nigeria?
For myKustoma, eCommerce is here to stay . Yes I understand it could be really difficult and we might not have all the basic facilities to make business thrive in Nigeria. But if we bring these things home, our people will be better off. For example, mykustoma now is targeting rural areas, those people don’t know what ecommerce is because it mostly stops in the urban areas. I’ve been hearing stuff like ; how would you do everything? There is no light, there is no this and that but there are solutions. There is no light, how about solar laptops? They are illiterates, how about you put an illiterate there and the person explains to them the best way so they can understand? We need to develop our country. We are a third world country doesn’t mean we should stay undeveloped.
Is this not more expensive?
Yes it is, but in the end, it’s worth it. At some point, United states and others were not what they are right now. , if their people were thinking of moving to better developed countries, they won’t be where they are today. They have the power now because they pushed themselves to it. For the UK for example, there are a lot of opportunities which is mostly limited to their citizens but if you have the qualifications and you are good to go for the role, why not? You earn good money but you end up paying up to half of it on bills and taxes so why am I giving them the money back? Why can’t I bring what I have to the table here in Nigeria? For the US, to be candid at some point in time , I was going to relocate to the US because at times it gets really frustrating with the whole politics of things that go on here. I kept asking myself if I wasn’t making a wrong move by staying back here but then I prayed to my God and asked for light which he provided and that’s it . It’s been interesting.
So you see Nigeria as a long term place for yourself and mykustoma?
Does mykustoma plan to expand?
Yes. Our vision is to empower all African entrepreneurs through the power of eCommerce. We are starting off in Nigeria because obviously, this is where we are firmly rooted and most of our investors are Nigerians. It is the plan to reach out to West African countries and then attack the whole of Africa.
How can I as an individual be of help or be a part of MyKustoma?
Mykustoma is not limited to just people that sell stuff. We are not just for products. Goods, services, job listings, real estate. Classified ads e.t.c. It’s an online marketplace. If you have products that are brand new (we aren’t doing second hand things for now) that you want to fling, you can come to list about ten items for as low as 500 Naira on a plan. On the other hand, you might have a service e.g you know how to make scarves or tie and dye or something. You can come on the platform, people will see what you do and contact you. It’s basically everything, Akara women, tomato sellers, taking it to the grassroots. You can also come as a job seeker to check job listings.
Now to CapitalSquare, How has your Capitalsquare experience been like?
CapitalSquare has been wonderful. Really, it’s been wonderful. At first, when I came for an interview at mykustoma and I was told I was going to be in a hub, I said what? I’m leaving a Multinational and coming to a hub? How does that work? My boss then said I should just come around and I would like it. The first thing that caught my attention was a flyer I saw that was really brilliant. The lettering was not spaced and I was totally fascinated. I could make sense out of it after reading it. That caught my interest and It contributed to my taking up the job because I liked the fact that people actually think outside the box here. I came and I’ve met wonderful people that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Despite being at the private office, it’s a whole big family here. I love the initiative and to think that it’s powered by women? It’s wonderful. I’m not a feminist or anything but I just think it’s wonderful when a woman can put ideas together and engage other women.
So what’s your favorite part of Capitalsquare?
I tell you what? When you come to Capitalsquare, you are actually coming to meet with a family. The bond is amazing. So when I leave on Friday and everyone is saying their goodbyes, I really do not want to leave because I miss people. We get to gist, we get to argue constructively and share ideas. So, I would say, for me , the peculiar thing about C apitalsquare is the bond, It’s unbelievable. Even the office assistant, he is like my own brother. He is always smiling, never says no, never complains and always ready to help. We have issues, we talk to the facility manager and she sorts it, we talk to the staff, they are always ready to help. The structure is wonderful and all but I think the people here really make things happen. It’s more about the people, the organizational culture is wonderful and I’d like you guys to keep it up.
Thank you so much Ahmed, we are glad to have you here too. Thanks for the time
You are welcome and it’s my pleasure.