Over the last decade, Nigeria has experienced an ICT boom. It may be argued that the industry needs more women change makers, particularly when it comes to finding solutions to key challenges.
Omolola Onabanjo, chief executive officer of LollyP Accessories, a start-up business that sells ICT gadgets in Lagos, has positioned herself to tap from the opportunity of ICT boom in the country.
Omolola’s love for mobile phones inspired her to establish LollyP Accessories in 2011 while still an undergraduate.
She started by buying blackberry phones from various stores in Ikeja and selling them in school, making a margin from each sale.
The graduate of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, says that patronage from friends and course mates was very high at the outset, making her see a good business opportunity.
“I was buying and selling phones to my friends back then in school and making a little margin. The demand from friends and course mate was on the rise, so I decided to establish LollyP Accessories to meet up with the demand,” she says.
“I was getting patronage on a daily basis from referrals from my course mates and friends, but I could not meet up because it was capital intensive to store phones. So, I decided to focus on the accessories instead.
“Once a new phone is launched, I try to find out its weakness and then begin to stock their parts. For example, for blackberry, I realise that the battery shelf life is low so I had a lot of blackberry batteries in stock,” Omolola says.
“I also realise that there was high demand for power bank because of the poor power supply in the country. So, I had a lot of power bank in stock and there was a high demand of it from students,” the young entrepreneur states.
Omolola tells Start-Up-digest that she started her business with no capital. “To be candid, I started my business with zero capital. The strategy I used then was to help some of my friends and my course mates who wanted to buy or sell new or used smartphones, laptops and some other gadgets at a commission,” she explains.
“From every commission made, I saved a little and, in 2011, I had enough to establish my business,” she adds.
The young entrepreneur says her business has been able to scale up since starting and has done delivery in 30 states across the country. She notes that social media has helped her to grow his business since starting.
“Thank God for the social media and e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga, amongst others. My business has amplified since the invention of these platforms. They have really enhanced the growth of my business and helped me survive even without a physical outlet yet,” Omolola says.
“I run my business 100 percent online and through online referral I get offline orders and at the moment we have been able to deliver to 30 states so far in the country,” she says.
Omolola says she sources most of the accessories from manufacturers directly and also from international online stores.
She plans to expand her business by having a store and representatives to sell the gadgets in each higher institution of learning across the country.
“One of my plans is to have an offline outlet very soon, which is going to major in varieties of accessories to gadgets. Also, I plan to have campus representatives across various universities that sell my products. I have already done that with my alumni but I am currently working towards other university as well,” she says.
It has not all been rosy for Omolola as the business has suffered trust issues.
The entrepreneur says it has been very challenging convincing clients that she offers excellent services owing to high rate of fake social media accounts set up to dupe people. She notes that the business is gradually addressing the issue by telling clients to pay on delivery.
She also identifies lack of finance as another major challenge facing the business and logistics.
She states that logistic time has taken longer hours owing to the poor state of road infrastructure across the country, while calling on the government to improve on Nigeria’s road infrastructure and create access to finance for startups.
On her advice to others, Omolola says, “Never stop building meaningful relationship with customers and other people in your industry. Choosing to instead view competitors as potential partners and collaborators can positively impact your business in a big way.”
Tags: ICT accessories