Hard-talk with Ukaegbu Great Jr, CEO of Keanyi Nigeria
Ukaegbu Great Jr, is the Founder and CEO of Keanyi an eCommerce consumer goods e-commerce retail platform that connects exclusively local manufacturing sellers with consumers. He is responsible for the performance and long-term strategic development of this new startup. In this exclusive interview with Uchechukwu Ajuzieogu of Business Africa Online, the Nigeria’s First eCommerce Platform CEO speaks on the Keanyi’s experience in the all ready existing Nigerian market, current state of the eCommerce sector, the biggest potentials for growth in Nigeria and outlined his company’s future plans.
Uchechukwu: Kindly share your set goals when assuming as the CEO, and how much progress has been made?
Ukaegbu: The role of the CEO has sent me back to Libraries and web directories , Every Single day, I read books and articles of becoming a better manager and understanding the market, above all I have adopted the culture of learning, unlearning and relearning. My goals as the CEO is to primarily see Keanyi reached our vision and goals as a company, creating thousands of Jobs and empowering Nigeria and African SMEs. Yes, I’m the CEO of Keanyi but sometimes I get scared to address myself as CEO because that’s not just a title, its work more than a war to conquer.
Uchechukwu: Can you provide some insights into Keanyi’s presence in Nigeria?
Ukaegbu: Keanyi was an idea that was conceived as Early as 2016, then called Ariaria Online because we thought it to be more of Aba thing, after much consultations, experts advised us to change the name because it will
box our content and scope of reach. By early 2017 , we had re-branded to Keanyi adapted from an Igbo word ‘Nkeanyi’ which means our own. Keanyi was launched on the 3rd of October 2019 on the web space. Our Goal is to put up made in Nigeria Products back to the map, and we will achieve it. After the launch we have seen lots of challenges and we are set to conquer them, Our primary interest was to boost to Aba market but we got negative signs on our
radar with much rejections coming from the Aba manufacturers.
One of the interesting Facts about Keanyi’s presence is that 99.5% of vendors on Keanyi are from Lagos, and this is a good sign seeing Lagos as the hub of business, we might be concentrating more on Lagos, alongside Kano and probably Aba for vendors while targeting major cities in Nigeria.
Uchechukwu: What has been Keanyi’s experience in the market in terms of its challenges, competition and successes?
Ukaegbu: Keanyi’s experience in Nigeria has been that of Stable growth, our vendors keep increasing every Single day, One of the major challenges I have seen is acceptability. Keanyi is new and we are just One Month old and being an idea that seems to be swimming against a heavy wave of a growing economy, we are doing all to calm the tide. Challenges are there but we will bring bring them to justice.
About Competitors, they will be there and I believe strategies makes the difference. Success is never a war won completely,it’s a continuous war and the only way to stay alive in the war is to keep winning every Single day.We are growing and waxing strong in the market.
Uchechukwu: In terms of reputation and performance, where would you like to see Keanyi and NIGERIA in 3–5 yrs?
Ukaegbu: Keanyi is a child in the industry. Let me make reference to a book of by my friend Obinna Uzoije: “Nigeria has never witnessed an industrial revolution and i believe the time is now.” Why is China dominating; Industrial dominance and control, just like the metamorphoses of the butterfly, I’m seeing Nigeria SMEs rise above SMEs to big business through Keanyi because our goal is to put Nigeria Products to the map. In the next 3 years, we will be setting the pace to connect African SMEs and businesses which we call the Shift 2023.
Uchechukwu: How would you evaluate the current state of the Local Manufacturing sector in Nigeria?
Ukaegbu: Manufacturing in Nigeria is indeed one the biggest challenges we are facing and ready to see it change. 78% of the SMEs producing, produces at request which I can tally to subsistence agriculture, their output most times is not much probably because of their mode of production/manufacturing.
With Keanyi’s presence to boost the market, we hope to see most of the manufacturing SMEs switch to the industrial/enterprise stage. We also aim to invest heavily to boost their production.
Uchechukwu: Where are the biggest potentials for growth in Nigeria now and beyond?
Ukaegbu: Our biggest Potential no doubt is our population, we have a higher percentage to sell to but the level of poverty keeps stalling these potentials making us have zero percentage to sell to most times. Our Potentials is nested to our population and government Policies in the now and beyond ,the government must have good policies, sometimes I feel that Nigeria is a socialist state because of the effects of Government on the economy.
Uchechukwu: What’s your view on the Keanyi Vendor Platform?
Ukaegbu: The Keanyi Vendor Platform is one of the best modifications we introduced on the platform because our market keeps growing every single day. The Vendor presence made us to launch the ‘Zero Sales Season’, where a Vendor signs up, put up their products and sell without us taking any percentage, the Zero Sales Season started from November 2019 and will span till Feb 2020.
Uchechukwu: Describe your leadership style, and what Keanyi Represents?
Ukaegbu: My Leadership style is goal oriented. I have my eyes on the goal, and I will do all the reach the goals with the Keanyi team. Being a leader means you have unlearn, learn and relearn. I understand that every single member of Keanyi has goals to live for as a person and I will also put myself in their shoes to make their goals come to reality. I remind myself that leadership is about humility every single day.
Uchechukwu: What are your Source of Resilience?
Ukaegbu: My source of Resilience is drawn from two different Sources;
- Jesus: i might sound religious here because in this Keanyi journey, Ihave always drawn more strength from prayers and directions. A lot of times as a person, I had loved to shut down and look for a soft work or even traveling abroad, but he has been faithful.
- My second source of Resilience is the power of time and opportunity: I believe Nigeria at a time when the Rise of SMEs is on a higher magnitude, which calls for a marketplace. I am sure that Keanyi will be the next big thing that happened to the Nigerian Economy
- My Able Team: At this Point i would like to say that my biggest Source of Resilience is my Team, I want to appreciate Keanyi’s Chief Technology Officer — Mr. Uchechukwu Ajuzieogu. This man been doing a lot for Keanyi , I owe him a lot in this life. I also want appreciate our Chief Operating Officer the beautiful intelligent lady and mother, an event shaker, and business maker — Mrs. Flora Mgbeledeogu, thanks for all the time you have been amazing. I owe you more, you guys has helped me grow, lets keep doing this.
Uchechukwu: An average CEO reds 52 books in a month. What’s your reading Pattern?
Ukaegbu: A Lot of Books has made me see beyond the norm, the stories and settings might be different but the strengths seems similar.
Uchechukwu: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and graduate students?
Ukaegbu: I used to think Reading was never my thing, but i read on a daily basis now; print and web. It’s been amazing getting more informed everyday. I read at night most times and I’m currently reading a book by Strivye Masiyiwa.
Uchechukwu: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and graduate students?
Ukaegbu: Well entrepreneurship is a journey of 20% Idea, and 70% resilience. Ever Imagine watering an apple tree from nursery and watching it grow. As an entrepreneur get people who are better than you, its helping me already, network,build contacts and allies within your niche, work hard and above all listen to your customers — they are the king.
Graduate is a title that comes with paper, which can only guarantee you job from a company who likes your paper, but a skill is your job which you offer for people who pays for it. While you read books to pass exams and leave the four walls of college, get skilled to overcome the under-utilization of the graduate paper.
Ukaegbu Great Jr, is is the Founder and CEO of Keanyi an eCommerce consumer goods e-commerce retail platform that connects exclusively local manufacturing sellers with consumers. Mr. Diallo has more than 5 years of experience in the Graphics, Branding and eCommerce ecosystem
He is also the founder of ABSUVilla!, ABSU’s first Blog online platform. Prior to this role, he took on various senior roles with various organization — PR and Social Media Manager for Today’s 95.1 FM. He is Nigerian and fluent in several languages including English, Hausa, and Igbo. As of October, 2019.