Sowemimo… Using ICT to solve security challenges
Some year ago, young Sowemimo Abiodun Alex started an ICT company in his apartment with just two staff. He eventually registered the outfit with the Corporate Affair Commission (CAC) on August 24, 2015, and thereafter moved to its current office in Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos. Today, PageOmni.com platform has attracted millions of people across the globe, with over 500 million users. In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, the young CEO, who lost his mother at 17, spoke on the venture and how the platform can help solve security challenges in Nigeria.
What motivated you into this venture?
It was around 2010 when I realised my country was known for criminality across the globe, which I always felt bad about. I just I believed that I could create something that will solve that problem. Today, I have been able to create a platform where you can post or search for job for free, promote and advertise your business for free and where you can report security challenges for free.
What’s PageOmni.com all about?
Unlike the Facebook, Google and Tweeter, which are mainly social media networking websites, PageOmni.com is uniquely solving problems such as vehicle theft, property theft; helping the police to track criminals, missing person and report criminal activities. For instance, on PageOmni.com, a farmer in Maiduguri can sell his farm produce to somebody in Lagos using the platform, without paying a dime; you don’t necessarily need a shop to do your business. You can place advert for vacancy and people can find a job by connecting to the site. Through the site, landlord can blacklist a tenant under property damage alert so that other landlords don’t go through what he went through. What that means is that, if I want to give out my property to a new tenant, I will first of all ask for his name and run a search on him, read remarks of his former landlords on him. This way, people will begin to comport themselves.
How many categories do you have on the platform?
We have over 200 strategic categories of all kind of occupations, including real estates. We have a lot of readers because people go there and sign up to promote and advertise their businesses and so on. On the other hand, Pagepedia.com, our second platform, is to keep the memory of people alive to the extent that generation can read about a person in millions years to come. The different between Pagepedia and Wikilipedia is that nobody can edit anything about a verified person(s); a video of interview conducted by us will also be part of the profile.
You talked about auto theft, how does it work on the page?
Before you buy a car, especially in Nigeria where used cars are scattered all over the place, you can search the chassis number and engine number of the vehicle. Even if the car has been dismantled into pieces in Ladipo Market and you bought the parts, there is a serial number (the chassis number and the engine number) you can send on PageOmni.com. If the car has been declared stolen, it will bring out the history. So, if your car is stolen, all you need to do is to first and foremost report at your local police station and then go straight to PageOmni.com and input the police station you reported the case to. When you come to PageOmni platform, we then contact the police station and ask if the case has been reported here. If they tell us yes, we go ahead to activate and upload your post and declare the car as stolen based on the information you input in our database. That is the case of auto theft.
You may also go to Computer Village in Ikeja to buy laptop not knowing the product might have been stolen. And since all these have got serial numbers on receipt, when you input the serial number on our database under property theft and search, it will show if the item you want to buy was stolen or not.
How far has it been doing this?
We have the traffic, so far, so good. With our e-marketing force, that’s the Internet market, we have been able to capture almost all English-speaking countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas. However, we are gradually reaching out to other countries speaking Arab, French, German and others because, our website is in different languages; we have language software, which translates to whatever language of choice. Besides, I have been able to design and maintain over 500 websites for individual and organisations; I have about 17 employees working for me today.
With the dwindling oil price, many have identified ICT as an option for diversification, what’s your take on that?
Of course, most of the richest people in the world today are into ICT. If a young man like Mark Zucherberg can be one of the world billionaire with net worth of $47.5b, then you should know that if you channel any business on ICT, you are on top of the world. The biggest investment you can make is advertisement; the money in advertisement is more than crude oil and the biggest form of advertisement is e-advertisement, which is the Internet. Really, there’s a limit to where television can get to; even CNN cannot get to everywhere. But with the Internet, you are everywhere. As you know, the world is changing faster into technology.
There are companies interested in the African market and the only way to connect to people is through advertisement. So, if more people are involved in ICT legally, more people will be employed; government can also train people on how to use ICT to better their businesses.
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