The mission beyond CcHUB

April was my last month at Africa’s largest Innovation Centre

It was almost 6 pm in the evening as I was walking down Commercial Avenue in Yaba. I was coming from the hub after being flushed with a plethora of emotions; having heard a lot of nice things about myself and the impact that I had made during my year at CcHUB. The walk gave me some time to reflect.

The street was busy, people coming and going, buses blaring their horns and taxi drivers sitting in groups and having conversations. Commercial Avenue is always busy, I should know, I lived here this past year and only recently moved out to a more tranquil environment. The activity and nostalgic feeling seemed not to distract from the things I just heard from my colleagues, friends and managers. I already felt I was leaving a great place like CcHUB too early and hadn’t done much, so what was this impact they spoke of?

What impact might look like

I joined CcHUB at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and my first day of work was the first day of lockdown in Nigeria. Dedicated to solving problems on the continent, CcHUB put out a call to provide funding, research, design support for COVID-19 related projects and I was responsible for this from the first day I joined. I wrote about it here and the impact of the partnership with Africa CDC was published on New African. Supporting 17 startups across 4 African countries to reach over 20 million people, build COVID-19 related products, train health practitioners and create useful content was super exciting. Was this the impact they spoke of?

As a portfolio manager at CcHUB, I was charged with supporting startups that we invested in. One of the things I decided to do towards the tail end of my stay was to design a tool that could make it easier for the startup founders to share their progress without necessarily submitting the encumbering monthly reports. The MVP of the tool is currently in use for the portfolio companies and if the pilot is successful, it will be used for our startup programs. Was this also what they meant by impact?

The pandemic was a really tough blow for most organizations and one of the greatest challenges for most leaders was trying to figure out how to keep the team spirit and energy high. I and a few of my colleagues set out to start something called Virtual Fun Friday. It was mostly at the end of the month and tried to engage all team members and departments in fun activities and games that will keep everyone connected. April was my first full month and we started this in May 2020. Who was this new guy that was coming to the calls to try to make people happy? lol, was that impactful? — this was probably why I got the energy bunny award at the office last year.

In the past few months, I have been working with smart founders in the music and entertainment space with the Music-Tech Innovation Program. For an industry that consistently puts Nigeria on the global map, a lot of innovation hasn’t gone mainstream and we were set to change that. I spent the past few months working with our experts and the selected startups (including Tix.Africa and Royalti.io) to develop innovative solutions, raise funds, and achieve distribution. Was this enough to call impactful?

Running multiple programs at the same time is usually a hassle for most program managers and I struggled some times. The most innovative thing I did to help myself, was to build a tracker from scratch, that highlighted all the deliverables, activities and results for all programs in one Google sheet. Would you call this impactful?

I didn’t have much time to reflect while I was walking as I was almost at my destination but if I had more time, I might have considered all the programs I was handling, the progress of the startups and the direct impact they had. I find fulfilment in making an impact and I’ve been mostly impact-driven in my journey so far. You can see it in the programs/projects I do or the kind of organizations that I start or join.

Let me catch you up: I’ve been consistent in writing about my journey and highlights every year since I graduated. See 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020.

Mission-driven organizations

Most of the work I have been involved in or the people I have worked with in the past few years have been mission-driven. At TechQuest, we had a mission to equip young people with STEM skills that will be critical for Africa’s rise in the digital economy and this still rings true today. The distribution that started with a tweet has reached over 30,000 people across all regions in Nigeria. At CcHUB, the mission was to accelerate the application of social capital and technology for economic prosperity across Africa. You can see this mission largely consistent in the exciting programs that we take on and across all the innovative projects handled by all departments in the company. I consider it a privilege to be a part of this mission.

The most important thing about mission-driven organizations is the people you meet along the way and that can be seen in the exceptional people I met at CcHUB. One of the reasons I joined CcHUB was to work with the team lead and CEO, 'Bosun Tijani. I have always admired his work in innovation and the impact that can be felt across Africa. I got my wish and more. I got to meet the amazing Damilola Teidi, my manager that knows how to handle it all and can provide both commendation and criticism to ensure growth. I also got to meet the exceptional and dependable Onyinyechi Mary-ann Nwokocha, my associate, who made work fun and can handle programs end-to-end. She was my hack at the hub — I could do so much because I had her by my side. I met with Victoria Fabunmi who can work for Africa, lol. I experienced her work ethic when we worked on the CcHUB Syndicate. Plug > if you're looking to invest in awesome startups in Africa, you should join the syndicate.

I met so many awesome people in my short stay at CcHUB and have made great friends and new family. This matters a lot to me because I have always been mission-driven. It didn’t matter what I did (my role) — as I can take on a number of roles without flinching — it only matters who I do it with and how much impact I could make. I did a lot with the student communities and young people with TechQuest and Consonance, and I did some things for the startup community with CcHUB and TechCircle (with Oo Nwoye). The question for myself, was what I could do for small businesses?

One thing that has stayed constant is my passion for building platforms or products for people or businesses to achieve their greatest positive potential. In 2020, I will be diving deeper into building these platforms and products to enable people and businesses, especially across Africa, reach great heights. — 2019: Finding Kelvin.

The New Mission

I co-founded Bumpa with Adetunji 'TeeJay' Opayele.

We are building a bookkeeping and commerce infrastructure for small businesses in Africa. Beyond helping them sell online, Bumpa helps business owners keep track of their sales/orders, inventory and transactions in both their physical shops and on social media. Bumpa helps these entrepreneurs acquire and engage customers, staying closer to the life of their business. With over 2,000 merchants using our platform, over $2m in inventory size and over $200k in transactions; we believe that we are on the path to changing how business is done for small business owners on the continent.

It is still interesting that in 2021 when you ask a business owner how they record orders/sales, 90% of them still use paper. For a sector that contributes over 50% of the total GDP in Nigeria/Africa and employs over 80% of the total workforce, small business owners are yet to harness the power of technology. According to Mastercard, 95% of transactions in Africa are cash-based and our work revolves around trying to keep a digital record of these transactions that make Africa’s commerce a black box.

But is this really a new mission? I know it doesn’t feel new to me. It probably doesn’t feel new because I started working with small business owners in 2018 trying to help them build websites and hosting them on Hostcabal with my co-founder and over the past few years, we have worked with small merchants across Nigeria to build out Salescabal — the first iteration of what we now know as Bumpa and available on the Android and iOS stores.

I was inspired by a talk by Olumide Soyombo and decided it was time to make that switch to full-time entrepreneurship. It is the same thing my bosses — Oo Nwoye, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Charles Emembolu continuously rang in my ears. I will have to use all the skills I have, the knowledge of the support I gave to all the 20+ startups that were in my care and the network I have built over the years to grow and build Bumpa.

My team wants to build a simple-to-use product that will be used by over 2 million business owners in the next 2 years. We are young Nigerians with an outsized dream and we will need simply the best and smartest people to join us on this journey. The journey on the path others have trailed in the past; to use the knowledge of their mistakes and the ingenuity of their ideas to build a household name in the commerce sector. We simply cannot do this alone and are currently in talks with a few people — investors and distribution/growth experts — that will like to join us on this mission. If you are interested, please reach out: kelvin [@] getbumpa.com

Something new?

As my journey does not end in an organization but continues with a new mission, this article does not end here but continues with something new — a weekly newsletter. My decision to write a newsletter comes from my interest in a lot of something new happening around me — innovations. I see awesome people building awesome things and most times, I want to talk about them. This will be my channel to talk about those people, products and innovations that inspire me.

Our world today is largely driven by innovation — doing things in better ways than they have been done in times past. My newsletter will be designed to discuss, highlight, celebrate and ultimately inspire innovation. If you are interested, kindly subscribe here.

Thank you for reading. Unto the next!

Stay jiggy! Go Bumpa!

Community. STEM. Startups.