[Interview] Kayode Olusola Lawal, CEO, Associate Box
Kayode Olusola Lawal is CEO of Associate Box, a digital marketplace for African techies.
Would you please introduce Associate Box and how it get started?
Associate Box is a freelance services marketplace for Africa’s best techies. We establish connections between vibrant, ambitious entrepreneurs and skilled professional techies in Africa who are always on the lookout for a revolutionary project and ultimately helping business startups build a successful and sustainable business at affordable cost. What is now today Associatebox.com started with a small dream and passion for building and running a company. We believed working for an organisation is not a bad idea, it’s indeed a good learning curve;working in organisations developed our operational management experience, strong, creative, leadership and teamwork skills but then what? Then the urge to take the bold step and the desire to tackle larger challenges grew in us. We decided to become a solution to people who are in dire need of innovation support by leveraging on our technical and professional expertise with a business education to produce productivity and resource efficiency to startups such as a unique freelance platform like associatebox.com
In which countries and industries do you operate?
Associatebox.com is an online global digital platform where sellers attract interested buyers from all over the globe for their products and services without stress anywhere in the world and deliver remotely. We currently have offices in the UK and Nigeria. We are open to partnerships in other countries as we grow, though.
What makes your services different from others similar?
Our unique and user-friendly platform for buying and selling online services has a very cool and innovative design model and it’s not just the traditional online marketplace. We are growing, dynamic, flexible and truly able to help our clients’ products and services reach a wider audiencce.
As a Buyer on Associatebox.com, we connect you to Nigeria best techies and help you hire the best remote staff. Sellers benefit by participating in today’s digital economy and obviously becoming employers in the process.
How does Associate Box cater specifically to Nigerian buyers and sellers?
Nigeria is facing many challenges as we speak - unemployment being one of the most prevalent ones.We are also lagging way behind in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship. With an assertive helping hand like Associate Box, more revolutionary ideas can be brought to life, thus creating job opportunities for individuals.This way we encourage entrepreneurship and raise awareness across the country, while providing young talented people with the opportunity to participate in the digital economy. Our platform connects you to Nigeria’s best techies; they’re really innovative and have a get-it-done attitude.
What is your business background?
My area of expertise is within the tech industry, following my first degree in Mechanical Engineering and MSc in Technology and Innovation Management both at the university of Sussex in the UK. I worked as an IT Project manager with companies in the UK and Nigeria, managing technology and engineering related projects which led to my chartered membership of the prestigious institute of management UK and also a member of Nigeria Society of Engineers.
What can be done by the government to further such entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
I know it’s become a rhetoric of some sort, but the importance of entrepreneurship can’t be overemphasised. I’d suggest a collaboration of all three arms of government to develop more IT tools for entrepreneurs, reduce the regulatory burdens on startups, increase the scop for financing. Also importance is promoting the cooperation between reserachers and the private sector.
What can you say about the targets, plans and ambitions of Associate Box for 2017?
We are working to have over 10,000 active Nigerians working for buyers on our platform in the next 5 years. This year, we are looking to recruit 1500 youths and train them to participate in the digital economy.
How would you assess Nigeria’s economic performance in 2016?
The sluggish growth that we experienced is mainly attributed to a slowdown in economic activity which has been adversely impacted by the inadequate supply of foreign exchange and aggravated by the foreign exchange restrictions. Youth unemployment and underemployment were also a recurring factor as a result of the economic downturn last year. However, with the increasing policy concern over the decline in growth, such as increased spending on infrastructure being implemented, one can be optimistic. Some specific reforms pursued by the new administration to lay a foundation for renewed growth are commendable.
Which African countries performed best in 2016?
Nigeria, the most populous African country leading in technology and innovative developments across Africa, did well, despite economic challenges. It is home to the likes of Iroko Partners, a successful internet company with over 6 million unique users from 178 different countries, made in Nigeria INYE-1 and INYE-2 tablet computers. In recent times, the country saw the famous demonstration of a rugine powered generator developed by school teenagers; a Moringa plant technology that would enable Nigerians to use Moringa plant for water treatment, a move toward increasing the accessibility to potable water in the country. There are also a lot of achievements in 2016 in mobile and web apps development in the country. Though the internet penetration is still not where it should be, we have seen improvements compared to previous years. Nigeria is a country with a lot of potential, producing the most talented people when given the opportunity.
Egypt has some of the best universities in Africa that support development in technology. Egypt has gone this far because the government embraces technology with an attitude spread across all Industries. Despite the recent civil unrest in the country, Egypt is still a technological force to reckon with and is one of the most technologically advanced countries in Africa as at 2016.
South Africa also tops African countries in the current Global Innovation Index (GII), ranking number 53 out of 143 countries compared globally. The country is bound to keep producing some of the most amazing inventions that are globally recognised. The list of discoveries that are worth mentioning is quite enormous – Linux Ubuntu developed by Mark Shuttleworth, Multichoice (DSTV) is a South African company with a global influence, PayPal which was co-founded by a South African, CAT scan, SASOL technology that converts coal into oil, just to mention a few of South African innovations.