Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nigerian By Choice (NBC) Conference

"...Young Nigerians in the United Kingdom Discuss the Nation's Future"

The role of any nation's Diaspora in its development does not need any debate. For Nigeria, the role of its citizens in other nations cannot be ignored, especially when consideration is given to their size and the inspiring roles that they play (or will eventually play) in those countries where they presently reside. The size of the Nigerian Diaspora in the United Kingdom -- from students to professionals -- places additional responsibility on the shoulders of both the Nigerian nation and her people in the United Kingdom.

While the citizens can use their various platforms of influence to engage government (and contribute their own quota) towards improving living conditions, they can also benefit from the emerging opportunities that are increasingly available in Nigeria.

The Nigerian by Choice conference is an opportunity for young Nigerians in the United Kingdom to discuss the future of Nigeria. This conference does not seek to discuss the problems, but will serve as a forum where solutions, opportunities and networking will be the action guides. We believe that it is time for Nigerians living in the United Kingdom and are below the age of 40 (who can appreciate the need to take action in order to move from where we are to where we should be) to take action in order to create the nation we can be proud to call home. The September 2007 conference will focus on the following objectives:

  • Encouraging the need to take advantage of ICT-enabled Entrepreneurship to help meet Nigeria's employment needs;
  • Organizing Socio-Economic Missions that will enable Nigerian professionals in Diaspora to use their expertise to support relevant efforts;
  • Networking the expertise of the participants to influence policy and demonstrate how Nigeria can take practical steps towards development;
  • Celebration of "What's Great About Nigeria" because if we don't, the world won't have an example to follow!

Featuring brief keynotes, break-out groups, panel discussions and qualityquestion-and-answer time, the conference will deliver on its promise of kick-starting a process of networking ongoing efforts towards addressing theneed to place Nigeria on its path of becoming one of the best places to callhome during the first quarter of the 21st century!

Date: Saturday, September 15 2007
Time: 11am to 4pm
Venue: Women's Library Centre, London Metropolitan University, 25 Old Castle
Street London E1 7NT (See directions)
Entry: FREE [Support the conference]

Programme of Events

1000 - 1114: Arrivals, Networking and Registration
1115 - 1120: National Anthem
1121 - 1130: Opening Remarks
1131 - 1150: Keynote 1 ("Investment Opportunities in Nigeria")
1151 - 1210: Keynote 2 ("ICTs and Entrepreneurship")
1211 - 1225: Tea Break
1231 - 1250: Keynote 3 ("Socio-Economic Missions")
1251 - 1320: Break-out Groups
1321 - 1350: Report-back from Groups
1351 - 1410: Light Lunch Break
1411 - 1440: Panel Discussions
1441 - 1525: Interactive Session (Questions and Discussions)
1526 - 1545: Wrap Up

The conference will be delivered through the joint efforts of Netwox Limited, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, and other partners. Netwox Limited will serve as the coordinating institution for the conference, and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria will be responsible for the post-conference coordination -- including the publication of conference proceedings and management of the post-conference process as decided by the participants.

Best regards,
Kayode Afolabi

+44 1 375 483 822
+44 78 779 03 05 6

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kiva.org - Loans that change lives

I have always believed wealth creation by entrepreneurship is a more credible and sustainable way of giving back than giving aids. More like the principle of teaching someone how to fish vs giving someone a fish. Entrepreneurship paves way for wealth creation, which also creates jobs, improves living standard and ultimately contribute to economic development.

As an entrepreneur I have always had this dream of an angel investment company / micro finance bank and plans for that is still in the pipeline. However like I said in my previous post on giving back, you will always have opportunities to make small contributions and that is why I'm very interested in what Kiva.org is doing. The website helps entrepreneurs in developing countries to access loans from different people all over the world. Thanks to the power of the Internet…now a poultry farmer in Nigeria can get loans from someone he or she doesn’t know in the United States. A carpenter in Cambodia can also get connected to a lender like me in the United Kingdom and all of us together are making the world a better place. We are doing it not just by giving money as aids and then they come back later, but we're making contributions in a more sustainable way by empowering them to build businesses.

Kiva.org allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world (microfinance). By doing so, individuals like you provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty.

It's a new, direct and sustainable way to fight global poverty, and the way I see it, you get a higher return on $25 helping someone build a future than the interest your checking account pays.

Anyways, if you have a minute, please check out the site: http://kiva.org. If you need more "reputable" validation than my recommendation :), know that they have received great press in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal to NPR to BusinessWeek.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Giving back

There's been a massive shift in the way I think about giving back to society recently. I have always concentrated on my business and family and expect to give back to society in a substantial way when I've made so much money or when I have so much experience to share. My recent paradigm shift has been largely influenced by further research I have done on the principles of growth and national development. I suddenly realise that even though a strategic input will give the utmost long term result, little contributions on a consistent basis paves way for opportunities to influence policies that can then create a strategic input.

Now I've got my calendar full already and I'm really scared for my schedule, but what has to be done now should not be postponed till tomorrow. I'm also scared because some of the things I will be doing in the next couple of months to give back are things I haven't done in a long, long time…like speaking to the 18+ at Lifeline who are about starting their degree programs at various Universities in the UK. Its been a long time since I spoke to young people and I just hope I can contribute something of value to these boys and girls. I wish I had someone to share some experience and tips with me before getting into University as it would most likely have equiped me better and given me a more accurate view of life.

I am also looking forward to the Nigerian By Choice Conference taking place on 15th September. When Gbenga Sesan first told me what he had in mind as regards the conference and if we could work together to make it happen, I remember him asking if it tickled my fancy, ''yes it sure did'' I said ...I just realised I could no longer give excuse of not giving back because I haven't made millions or got a P.Hd. I also didn't want to be part of people who only saw problems and could analyse it. I wanted to go beyond that and be part of the select few, who would create and be the solutions to socio-economic development in Africa.

We will never be fulfilled in life if we don’t do things that are beyond ourselves, if we don’t do things for the benefit of others, if we don’t give consistently, if we don’t do things in which we expect 'no reward'…yes we will definitely be limiting ourselves.

To people who are also waiting to make that 'big' contribution before they give back, I'll advise you to start where you are now. You may never be given an opportunity to do something big if you have not contributed in small ways. As more and more people find more ways to give back to society, we are creating a launch pad for sustainable socio-economic development.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Going Through My Archive (2)

The first piece I got from my archive really got me thinking about who I am vis a vis the things I'm trying to do. I know there has to be the right balance so you don’t use the excuse of not having full knowledge to live in complacency or inactivity. As I read through things I wrote, some of them more than 7 years ago, I'm drawing inspiration for the next phase of my life and I'm staying close to the 'fire'. The last piece I posted from my archive also provoked a deeper thinking on the issue of average. According to wikipedia, it 'refers to a measure of the "middle" or "expected" value of the data set'. In simple English it means 'its just ok' it is expected so not exceptional. As I'm musing over what it takes for me not to live an average life, thinking about what it takes to give back successfully, I came across a piece I wrote almost 7 years ago titled Giving Your Best.

It made me know You can't pass through this world unnoticed if you have cultivated the habit of giving your best. Yes putting your best into life - into whatever you're doing. Hans Christian Anderson says '' to be of use in the world is the only way to happiness''. The people that are of 'use' - relevant people are people that have learned to give their best.

Don’t do a job half way! Never be part of an uncompleted project. Do all you can to get a project to completion. Average is not good enough, it’s the enemy of the best. ''but how do I give my best?''…You give your best by going the extra mile. Try more, try again. Be persistent, persevere, don’t give up…

Never stop to give your best anytime your contribution is required anywhere, put your best into life..(you've only got one chance anyway!). If after giving your best and your best is not good enough, then go back to the drawing board of your mind, think through, study, learn more from superiors, pray and then start again.

Becoming successful is firstly a state of the mind, it's a mindset that puts in the best for any seemingly little task. As Dave Carnegie observed, '“Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves''. Most young people want to do very well but they don't like to do 'small' things, they fall into the trap of thinking 'big' and forget that its in the process of doing small things consistently that you achieve the mastery to be successful in big things. How do you know if you will end up an average person? When you are not consistently giving your best to what you call small, this consistently reduce your opportunity to sharpen your skills on a regular basis.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Going Through My Archives (1)

When challenges of life overwhelms you and when you are constantly thinking may be you need some time off work or your business, then its time to go through your archives..to remember the landmarks or milestones you have passed through in life.

When you are beginning to lose that trust and faith in your abilities, when you're constantly thinking if your aspirations are worth all the troubles, then its worthwhile to think through what you've been through to get to where you are today..and that’s exactly what I'm doing this week. I have so much in front of me, that in the dead of the night I'm just wondering if I'm not running crazy or if these things are possible at all. Then I went to my old file that contained all the stuffs I used to write and scribble down back in my university days and there I found great strength and resolve to forge ahead... So this week I'll like to share some of those writings with you..it did inspire me and many of those around me 7 -10 years ago and I do hope it is 21st century compliant! I hope in those pieces of mine you will find a great resolve to remember where you're coming from and the things you desire to contribute to make our world a better place.

Everyday throughout this week I'll sort through my archives and post any piece that I find to be inspirational, impactful and could be relevant to you.

Archive 1 - December 15, 1999 (1:40am)

Why are some people more successful than others? I thought diligence, discipline and prayers are enough to make a man / woman successful...Someone says 'I've tried my best but yet still failed...I did all I know to do yet it amounted to average.

Our attitude or personality goes a long way to determine if we will be outstandingly successful or not. I believe success comes not by much 'doing' but by much 'being'. A man's success lies in who he actually is, not what he does. There are some attitudes or personality traits that must me persistently cultivated for a man to be a success.

Attitudes, Character, Motives, Purpose are powerful expressions that must be properly understood before launching out to fulfill a specific task.

Who are you? What is the reason for doing what you choose to do?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Finding time to blog...

Its so easy to break your pomises that you will definitely blog regularly. I started this blog several months ago and I can't just get myself to blog regularly..Not with my present and future schedule. Today I'll just share briefly what I've been up to this year and what I've still got lined up before the end of the year:

January - April: Consultant helping Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs & Professionals in the UK to access funding for Capacity Building Training. These courses are mostly sponsored by the European Social Fund and London Skills Council. If you are interested in attending any of the sponsored courses in the future, please send me an email

July: After several weeks of turning the idea over in my mind. I was sure that I will be co-founding a Venture Capital company in 2009 that will be focussed on investments in the emerging markets, to keep the dream burning in my heart I have launched Midas Funds - a blog I hope to share various ideas, facts, opportunties and risks about doing business and investing in the major emerging markets. My focus will be on the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and Nigeria (my beloved country). I will also try and share some of my experiences as an investor and consultant in those countries…may be the good ones to start with so you are not so scared :)

July: Just started the re-branding and re-focussing of Netwox Limited

August: Planning Nigerian By Choice with Gbenga Sesan. We hope to have a conference and discussion forum with some of the brightest and passionate Young Nigerian Entrepreneurs in the UK. Date is Saturday, September 15, 2007. I'll keep you updated on this blog....hopefully! :)

July - October: Implementing SMS Voting Solution for Celebrity Takes 2 - a celebrity dancing competition starting in October 2007. My company Onecard Technologies will be implementing and coordinating sms and online voting in more than 9 countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, UK, USA, etc

July - December: Working as a consultant on a Portal Content Management Project with BT

So that’s what I've done and will do all through summer this year..and well into the autumn. I'm hoping to get a couple of days off so I can keep my promise of a trip to Barcelona to watch Thierry Henry play but I just wonder where I'm gonna get or buy that time from…

My major problem with time management now will be the start of the premiership this Saturday. I believe its in the next couple of months that I will really know if I'm as disciplined and pro-active as I thought..(Arsenal fans know what I mean:)

Anyways..i've started blogging and lets hope I wouldn’t stop this time! :)

Enjoy your weekend!