Each month, CapitalSquare features one of our members in the member spotlight series. It serves to highlight and provide visibility to our members with regards to their career path, contributions and experience with CapitalSquare. It is also a great way to meet with your colleagues and find members with similar interests
This month's spotlight turns toKeturah Ovio, CEO of Qeturah. com.
Qeturah; The Amazon for Afrocentric lifestyle products.
NAME: KETURAH OVIO-ONOWEYA
OCCUPATION: CEO at Qeturah.com
Working from CapitalSquare since September 2015
Read the interview below
Can we meet you?
I am Keturah, I am the managing founder and CEO of Qeturah.com. Keturah means perfume; something sweet smelling. I am from Nigeria, Delta State and I have a background in software engineering from Nottingham University, UK. I get asked a lot why Arts? (Chuckles). The answer is why not? Because Technology today can be used to solve basically any problem. So, I’m still around my first love which is Tech but I’m using Tech to solve a much bigger problem.
Have you always loved arts?
Well, it was a hidden love because Computers will always be my first love: I’ve always loved computers. I’ve also always been fascinated by culture and history. So, why not African Arts? Why not our culture? Why not use what I love to promote what I also love?
What is Qeturah.com all about?
It is gotten from my name but spelt with a Q. Basically, we are building the world’s amazon for Afrocentric items. We are building the world’s biggest Afrocentric ecommerce platform that would pioneer the trade of African Arts and crafts from emerging African countries starting with Nigeria because this is a market that we are familiar with. We are basically an online gallery if you want to put it that way, we curate crafts. Crafts is very broad; it’s not just sculpture or metalwork or bronze and carvings, it’s also household items like fashion accessories, clothes, etc. That’s how broad crafts can be. We started with just wood carvings, bags and shoes,. What we are trying to do is the reverse of trade that has been happening for decades now because Nigerians love import (From China, or Dubai or UK or US). We are trying to help the economy by exporting our culture; things that people can relate as African, Nigerian.
Did you every study anything in Arts? Like a professional course or a Diploma?
No, I never took a course in Arts
Do you ever plan to?
Maybe. I could
So, you are using your Engineering knowledge to solve problems in Arts?
Yes, Absolutely. I can relate with Tech people and I won’t be charged outrageously because they know I’m aware of the pros. Luckily for me, because I’m now handling the business aspect, I can’t also be CTO because I don’t have two heads and ten legs. Lol. So, I have Two co-founders : Olaolu as the CTO and Victor as the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). So, Olaolu handles the technical aspect but because of my depth of knowledge and understanding in building software applications, I am able to project or able to synchronize this with how we can build a system that is dynamic and fun to use.
What’s that thing you love the most about working for yourself? I mean what’s the cool part about being an entrepreneur?
I usually don’t say I work for myself. When people ask what I do, I tell them I sell arts for a living. People have the mentality of saying: I’m my own boss or I work for myself , I think that’s a wrong view from my perspective, because the way I see it, Everybody has a boss and to me, my customers are my bosses and whatever my customers want, I try to give to them and So, I still have a boss, It’s just that there is flexibility of my work hours but the funny thing is being an Entrepreneur, as opposed to what people think that it’s all rosy, It’s not. It involves you working eighteen hours per day, even longer than people who have regular 8 to 5 or 9 to 5 jobs. What I love about being an entrepreneur is I get to learn a lot. It’s amazing how much I’ve learnt in the course of 12 months (Yes, a year old ). My work anniversary was 21st of January.
We should drink to that, you know
Yes, we should. ( laughs). I’ve learnt so much in a year that I don’t think any school would have taught because this is practical and I love the challenges, I love meeting new people, I love networking, It’s fascinating to see how far I’ve come with just a simple idea and a drive. So, that keeps me going. The excitement, the adrenaline rush, the challenges, good or bad. For me, the only option I have is to succeed.
You’ve been outside the country for a while and I have a feeling you know about how things work. So, why Nigeria?
Because I love my country. On a serious note, I do love Nigeria and this is where the market is. My industry is arts and crafts. It originally wasn’t this when I had the idea about three years ago . I just made the move to come to Nigeria last year. For me, Africa is an untapped market , when I think of building businesses, I don’t think Nigerian alone, I think Pan African. In that way, you are able to compare it to a Chinese or Indian company. The way I see it, what I’m building is Pan African and It’s something that can easily be replicated across Africa as a whole and I could have chosen to go to the states, pitch my idea, get some funding from there but I really wouldn’t have been able to attack the market likie this . Even though slowly, it’s moving. Because I know a lot of people who are doing African things in Canada, in the UK, in Italy e.t.c For us, I’m doing the reverse, exporting from the source because I believe people will prefer to buy something that is African from Africa than from other places because It would look like it has been watered down. I do get those moments when I think I just have been crazy to move back because nothing works in Nigeria and when it does work, it works slowly .It’s a learning process for me.
So do you see Nigeria as a long term location?
Nigeria is home so I’ll always have ties back to Nigeria and we’ll always have an office in Nigeria even if We might choose to move our head offices around a bit for scaling purposes but I think Nigeria is big and it has a lot of potentials because It’s estimated to be the 3rd most populous country in the world after China in 2050. This is where any body or any investor would want to put a foot on the ground right now for the next twenty, thirty, fifty years to come. I’ll always have an office in Nigeria no matter what happens.
How has your capitalSquare experience been?
It’s been great and I actually do like the environment. It’s relaxing. You can work and you can network, unlike other coworking spaces I’ve seen where it’s rowdy, noisy, crowded, . Here, there is a sense of seriousness and good work ethics that I do like. People are friendly, nice and you get to meet people doing amazing projects that just completely blows your mind away and oh! The internet is fast and reliable. (that’s number one priority for me) and It seldom ever happens that there is a bad internet day and that for any internet based business is very important.
What is your favourite part of CapitalSquare?
For me, that would be the atmosphere. Because when I’m here, I really get to work and that’s very important to me as opposed to working from home where there are lots of distractions. People don’t bug you here . I really love that about CapitalSquare.
Okay back to your business, as an Individual now, What do I have to offer as a product or service to do business with Qeturah?
Anything Afrocentric! And by Afrocentric, I mean African inspired or made in Africa works. So, if you make paintings or clothes, carvings, Ankara shoes, handmade bags and shoes. So far it’s made in Africa and it’s relatable to the African people and culture. Basically, what we are trying to sell is the afrocentric lifestyle. African lifestyle has evolved so much that there is an urban part to it. Some of the merchants featured on our platform right now don’t have Ankara or kente themed items but have clothes for the everyday working woman. You might not want to wear Ankara to work except on a Friday so she makes clothes applicable to people in this setting; which makes it Afrocentric. When you make products for the African people, not only Nigeria but other countries like Ghana, Gambia, et,c, You can sell them on our platform. To reach out to the larger market. That is basically what craft is for us, because a craft is something that you use your hand to do.
How can they contact you?
I’m an email person so if you email, I’ll contact you as soon as possible so far I see it. Do send me an email if you think there is a way we can collaborate , or you have suggestions for us, we also love critiques so you can always get across and let us know.
Thanks so much, Qeturah , we love having you with us at Capitalsquare.
You are welcome, I love it here.