Nnamdi and Udochukwu Okoh: Proffering Solutions in e-Commerce
As e-Commerce becomes a topical conversation in Nigeria, the Okoh brothers, Nnamdi and Udochukwu Okoh are solving problems for SMEs in simple steps. Guardian Life caught up with them to discuss the ecosystem, design, and cybersecurity.
“E-Commerce is not an industry. E-commerce is a tactic.” Care to explain what this means?
Nnamdi: This is actually a famous quote from Shopify’s CEO who happens to be a personal idol, given the impact that the company has had around the globe. For me, e-Commerce is a strategy that business owners could leverage to create unique opportunities for tremendous growth. For many people, when you talk about e-Commerce, all they think about are big players like Amazon or Jumia, which feel more like industries. It’s a lot simpler than that and when deployed correctly, under the right conditions, you’d hardly find a more effective tactic for businesses in this region to create wealth.
When you set out to found Terminal Africa, what problems were you trying to solve?
Udi: Well, honestly, we didn’t exactly set out to build Terminal Africa. It happened as a gradual process where we stumbled on a solution while helping people to create online businesses. I’d say Terminal’s origins began around 2015 when we got our first website client in our creative agency. When we tried to put our first business online, it was so difficult and because of this; we charged a premium for the service. Seeing that a lot of our customers really wanted this service, we began to think about ways to make the process a lot simpler and much more affordable. This thought process led to the idea of creating a single platform that would allow anyone to launch their online business. Hence Terminal Africa was born and over time, it has evolved into the robust platform you see today.
A little birdie says you offer some of the best prices at the moment. Do you think this solves any problem for the average Nigerian consumer?
Nnamdi: So, for many businesses today, having the full e-Commerce experience that a platform like Terminal Africa provides can be quite expensive. One of the things we ensured our platform would do is to provide access to the opportunities that e-Commerce provides for any business, no matter how small. Today, you can start an online business in Terminal at no cost at all. The benefit for the average business owner would be the ability to completely transform their operations, providing a unique shopping experience for their customers as well without worrying about cost or complexity.
From Fashion Design to co-founding Terminal with your brother, Nnamdi. To what extent would you say that Fashion Design has helped you with what you do at Terminal?
Udi: I’d say Fashion Design has helped me a lot because I remember being told at my design school that “Design can solve world problems”. This is something that resonated with me personally. I believe any particular problem or malfunction can be fixed with a well-designed solution. Design is all about seeing a problem, imagining the solutions and then working to bring that solution to life. I’d say this is what we have done with Terminal Africa. We recognised the huge problems of eCommerce and the online industry at large in Nigeria, imagined a solution and then gradually brought that solution into reality.
How would you describe the tech ecosystem?
Nnamdi: I’d describe the tech ecosystem in Nigeria as young and dynamic with huge potential. There has been a lot of innovation going on in the last decade or so and we are finally grabbing the attention of global investors, which is great! Nigeria is facing a lot of problems in almost every aspect of its society. It’s refreshing to see our fellow techies working hard to solve these problems in various ways. I’m rooting for every one of them.
As Nigerians become more open to trading online. The breach of cybersecurity remains a constant concern worldwide. What would you proffer as a solution?
Nnamdi: I don’t think concerns about security will ever go away. There’s a popular saying in tech that goes something like, if you want a job for life, get a job in IT Security. So ultimately, it comes down to vigilance and educating yourself on how to avoid common mistakes when transacting online. For example, one thing I always do before using any website or completing a transaction online is look for reviews on that website. If I can’t find any reviews of a business online from other people, whether on social media or Google, then I’m probably not putting my sensitive information on the site. Basic things like this actually go a long way to avoid getting scammed.
What life lessons do you live by?
Nnamdi: Trust yourself and the process, everything you need, you already have. Enjoy your moments in the sun because they come and go. Always remain a student, the world is always changing, and it’s impossible to know everything. Finally, never be afraid to take little steps consistently; you will eventually get to where you want to be.
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