Meeting Chijioke Anaebonam (Ceejay), also known as Lil Grandpa, for the first time you would be forgiven for thinking he’s one ordinary guy in the neighbourhood. That’s because of his happy-go-lucky, extrovert nature. But make no mistakes, Ceejay is a hardworking and resourceful personality.
“I am the only son in the middle of 2 girls. I grew up in a home where discipline ruled. I have a very supportive mother and a loving immediate elder sister. I owe them a whole lot,” he introduced himself to Outrepreneurs.
Chijioke, a 300 level student of Theatre Arts at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, is into the movie making business. He tells Outrepreneurs “I would prefer to call it a craft rather than a business because it requires a blend of talent and expertise to do exceptionally well in it.” The name of his firm is Rowboat Productions Incorporated, a subsidiary of Rowboat Ventures Inc.
He enjoys spending his time savouring little details from the environment. That is probably what gives him that natural instinct to tell stories in minute details.
Sheer passion for storytelling motivated Ceejay to study and be in the business of Theatre Arts. “I have been a story teller since elementary school days. My choice of study also boosted my love for the business. I got into this business in 2013, firstly as a script writer, then as a director and finally as a producer.”
What was the big bang of Ceejay’s journey into Theatre Arts? He tells Outrepreneurs “It all began when a friend of mine read my unproduced script back in 2012. It’s been God all the way since then. I have been on for four years now, though I have been behind the scenes for almost the whole time.
After that initial motivation, though, there was no capital to invest in the venture. But that problem was short-lived. Seeing the potential for revenue generation and Ceejay’s passion for Theatre Arts, his female friend, Gloria, and his immediate elder sister were quick to garner some cash for him as initial capital. He praises the duo for being ever supportive. Today, a few of his scripts have actually been bought, produced and are on the market, and he does not see any limit to progress.
Most students would find it difficult managing a movie business and studies. For this young man, there is no problem juggling between business and his studies because, for him the business is fun. “This is what I have a passion for; as a theatre artiste, sometimes I find it hard to put a boundary between my studies and my job. So in summary I don’t have any hassles juggling between job and school,” Chijioke says.
Regarding competition, he says he’s less concerned about competition because for him, the difference is in the concept. “So many people are into this; the difference is in what you have to offer. I have seen so many people in the industry, their aim is to make money. My dream, on the contrary is to do films that will tell real life stories, breaching the gap between reality and the movie. I hear people say “I don’t watch Nigerian movies because I predict them. I want to put a stop to that,” he tells Outrepreneurs.
For all the effort Lil Grandpa is putting into work, though, it’s not a smooth sail all the way. He says one of his major challenges is managing people, especially in movies with too many extras. Another problem is logistics. Moving people in and out of extreme locations is another because currently they do not have a crew bus. Lastly, sourcing for funds and sponsorship is the most challenging of all.
“I hear people say ‘I don’t watch Nigerian movies because I predict them.’ I want to put a stop to that.”
Does Chijioke have people working with him? “I have 7 permanent staff; they happen to be my crew members. We have 5 registered actors to the team making it 12 in all,” he says. He hinted, though, that Rowboat does not shoot on a monthly basis because intellectual jobs take time to plan and execute.
He revealed that by January, Rowboat is hoping to organize live shows. “We also hope to start training artistes from next year. We will also take creativity to the cradle; we hope to embark on a project of interpreting literature texts for WAEC and NECO students.”
Although Ceejay told Outrepreneurs that he would like to keep information about his income private, he says there are many things that he can do now, and places he can enter that he wouldn’t be able to do or enter
if not for his job.
His piece of advice for people his age is: “believe in yourself, you have a talent, you can make genuine money. Say no to crime.”
Creating social impact for the greater good of the citizens of Africa is the sole purpose of Dr. Nyan Dougbeh, winner of the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa Award for Social Impact. Interested in peace and democracy flourishing in Africa, and that poverty, diseases, and despair are alleviated, Nyan has been involved in social activism for human rights and genuine democracy in his home country, Liberia, Africa and the world as a whole.
His work as a medical doctor and research scientist has produced the ‘Nyan-test’, a rapid diagnostic test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time within 10 to 40 minutes. Whereas most testing methods take 3–7 days, this device gives test results in 10 – 40 minutes, thus making a significant leap in the detection and management of infectious diseases on the continent.
In an exclusive interview with Outrepreneurs, Nyan reveals all about his invention and life. Excerpts ….
What is your innovation all about?
My innovation is a diagnostic test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections in less than an hour, whereas other detection methods take 3 hours to several days to detect a single infection. You will note that healthcare workers in many underserved communities around the world are limited in their ability to diagnose and properly treat infectious diseases due to the high cost of high-tech equipment and the high skill set required to operate sophisticated equipment. Such equipment are also very heavy, making them difficulty to transport to hard-to-reach settings. My innovation addresses these problems in that it is very simple to use as well as portable and affordable for resource-limited settings. It is also worth mentioning that diseases such as HIV and hepatitis virus infections, which sometimes occur together in a patient or diseases such as Malaria, Ebola, Yellow Fever and Typhoid infections that have similar symptoms can be detected and differentiated using my test. Our test platform is broad to the effect that it can also detect and identify Dengue, West Nile, Zika, and Chikungunya viruses, among others infections of medical and epidemiological nuisance.
What inspired you to come up with this innovation?
My interest in infectious diseases has come a long way from the days of my studies at the University of Liberia through medical school at the Humboldt-University of Berlin in Germany. Look at me! I am from a Continent (Africa) and region of the world where infections of various types are common and patients die from some of these treatable infections for many reasons. Cardinal among these reasons is the clinical problem of wrong-diagnosis, which is a direct result of the lack of affordable, simple, and accurate diagnostic devices that can reach rural settings. This drew my concern over the years. I was also influenced by the dire circumstances of the 2014 Ebola outbreak that affected Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and crossed borders to the United States and Europe. Over the years of my career in infectious diseases, these and other factors pushed me into developing this diagnostic test that is easy to use, cost-effective, mobile enough to be accessible to hard-to-reach rural settings, and which can simultaneously detect multiple infections in less than an hour.
At what stage is your innovation at the moment?
At our biotech start-up, Shufflex Biomed, we are presently at the stage of producing the second generation prototype of the multiplex test, while simultaneously preparing for field trials of the test in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ecuador. At the same time we will be engaging various regulatory bodies for market clearances, starting with the US and West Africa. Parallel to these efforts, we will be going into commercial production of the diagnostic test, making them available to the consumer market. In this vein, we are inviting investment interests in this life-saving diagnostic technology.
What impact will this invention have on the African masses and healthcare system in general?
My interest has always been to serve the African people, the underserved communities on other Continents, and humanity as a whole. Against this backdrop, I project that this invention will enable healthcare workers to make diagnosis quickly; my test will be affordable and accessible to the larger populations because of its low-cost and broad application; particular so, my test will serve rural as well as urban communities; healthcare workers will make diagnosis faster and accurately. This, in turn, will enable patients to receive immediate and appropriate treatment for their infections. This is the wide-ranging impact and benefit that my test will offer the masses of the African people and the global healthcare community.
Rate the state of the African healthcare system today?
The healthcare delivery in Africa is generally in a deplorable and dire state. It is hard to discuss the deplorable status of healthcare in Africa without delving into the neglect of the healthcare sector by various national governments of Africa. As we can see, child mortality rate is high; infections such as Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria continue to cause high percentages of the deaths on the African continent; national budget-allocations for healthcare is very low; the bedrock of modern medicine such as science, technology, and biomedical research are not substantially supported by many national budgets in Africa; rampant corruption and misuse of donor funds for healthcare, poor policy decisions, and poor management of limited resources are also hurting the quality of healthcare in Africa and contribute to poverty and social inequality among the African people. All of this has to be addressed with a clear vision and determine to change the current status of healthcare in Africa. Africa will have to take corrective initiative and do it for herself.
What can be done to salvage the situation?
The solution is not an easy one. Also, it should not take a quick-fix approach. Instead, this requires a well thought-out formulation and careful implementation of healthcare practical policies that address the needs of the population. We need a complete change of our mind-set in Africa as to what our governments need to prioritize. It requires stamping out corruption in government; it requires allocation of a good percentage of national budgets to healthcare; it requires self-reliance, instead of dependence on external aid from previous colonial masters; it requires clear national visions and strong support for science and medical education as well as for technology and biomedical research. Other continents are doing it – we can do it too. Above all, it requires political stability, peace and security.
What other fields of medicine are you looking to explore? Are you targeting the world at large in these new fields you are looking to explore?
For now, I am focusing on infectious diseases and molecular diagnostics, which are very important components in advancing clinical medicine and improving healthcare delivery in Africa and other parts of the world. As I indicated earlier, my multiplex test covers infectious disease that are found in various parts of the world. For another example, my test covers detection and identification of Dengue, West Nile, Chikungunya and Zika viruses which occur mainly in North and South America, while hepatitis infections and HIV/AIDS, which occur globally are also targeted by my test. As you can see, my test already targets or covers diseases the world over, thus helping to save humanity through pathogen diagnostics.
What do you think would have been the situation in the Ebola affected countries in Africa if your invention was available for use?
The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, I think, was one of the most devastating periods in medical history. It opened our eyes to the inherent weaknesses of the healthcare delivery systems in the sub-region and Africa, by extension. In a panel discussion, which I moderated during the WHO-sponsored Biomedical Laboratory Week held in Liberia in April this year, doctors on the panel agreed with me that misdiagnosis of the Ebola virus infection was a major factor that largely contributed to the fatality. Had my test been available for use during the Ebola epidemic, it definitely would alleviate the challenges healthcare workers faced with differentiating between Ebola infection and malaria or typhoid infection, since these diseases show similar clinical symptoms. My test would have enabled laboratory personnel to detect the Ebola virus faster, treat infected patients promptly, thereby increasing survival time, improving patients’ quality of life and containing the spread of the disease. My test would have helped in preventing cross-border transmission of the virus. Then and now, my test would have been used (or can be used) for surveillance and monitor of the Ebola and other pathogens so as to prevent another outbreak. I hope policy makers in Africa are taking note of the potential of this test and its benefit to the society.
What challenges have you faced while trying to invent? What challenges do you presently face? What do you foresee as future challenges to your work?
There were challenges along the way and all the time; First, I had problems securing funding to support the process of this invention; as a minority, I had to endure negative stereotypes in Western social configurations that demeans Africans and people of African descent as well as underestimates the African ingenuity; I had to fight against cartels and intellectual predators; Interestingly, I had to fight vigorously back against senior colleagues and management authorities who were bent on misdirecting my innovation to serving corporate-greed, instead of first focusing on its impact on the lives of suffering humanity. That is where I challenge African millionaires who are interested in making social impact to step in and help fund the further development of this project, but I cannot find them; regional and national governments are responding with dim urgency, quite contrary to their swift responses to political conflicts or civil wars on the continent. These are the challenges, but I believe that they are surmountable. We are crossing these hurdles one at a time. We are making steady progress.
What word do you have for the upcoming generation of inventors?
First of all, I believe that the future of Africa is in the hands of the youth, the upcoming generation. Hence, they must keep the torch of innovation burning. Our youth should be encouraged to think critically. They must believe in themselves and be resilient in pursuing innovative ideas that will help to rescue the continent from years of exploitation and set back. I also admonish our youth to be determined and persistent even in the midst of meagre resources. Equally so, it is incumbent upon the African governments to provide the supportive programs and the atmosphere where our youths will excel and put their talents to use for the benefit of the Africa and the world.
Dr. Nyan Dougbeh, hails from River Gee County which is quietly nestled in the Southeastern part of Liberia along the Cavalla River in West Africa. He studied zoology and chemistry at the College of Science and Technology of the University of Liberia and earned his MD degree in human-medicine from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Medizinische Fakultät – Charité in Germany. He was later trained as a biomedical scientist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine in the United States. He is dedicated to doing those things that make human society better and fighting for equality, particularly gender and racial equality as well as respect for the environment. He is married and has four beautiful daughters, thus having tremendous Girl Power supporting him in his personal and professional life.Read More
The narrative of the Nigerian youth is often focused on ill-fate. In an effort to counter that negative perception, a platform known as the Future Awards Africa is putting its spotlight on the aspirations, ingenuity, and feats of Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 31.
Future Awards Africa was launched in 2004 as part of activities of a social enterprise, Future Project, set up with the aim of promoting strong, practical commitment to human and capital development, especially in Africa. The Future Project was conceived by the duo of Adebola Williams and Chude Jideonwo, co-founders of Red Media, a Public Relations (PR) and Communication Agency in Nigeria.
The 2017 edition of the awards themed: “Nigeria’s New Tribe” was held last weekend at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos. Policy makers, entrepreneurs, diplomats, youths, and other stakeholders in the Nigeria project were in attendance.
Adebola spoke about humble beginning when the first award ceremony was held on February 6, 2006 at the Muson Centre, Lagos. According to him, the hall the event held was almost shut because of 80,000 naira arrears. Though brief, Adebola’s message was a poignant reminder that young Africans should not lose hope in Africa.
The same message about possibilities in Africa was highlighted when Adebola spoke at the Obama Foundation Summit in New York on November 2, 2017. “Africa is a very exciting place to live as a young entrepreneur. Nigeria, where I live, is a very attractive place to build business,” he told the audience. Adebola added that the ‘pungent smell of hopelessness’ on the continent is the reason why young people in Africa are desperately leaving the continent for greener pasture in the United States, traveling to Italy for prostitution, and engaging in advanced fee fraud on the Internet.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria, was the special guest of honour at the award ceremony. He challenged the youths to build a new tribe devoid of ethnicity and corruption. “A new nation of great value is possible through the upcoming youths. The youths should rise up and defend themselves against corruption.
“A new tribe can emerge with faith and principle; we need to redefine this nation. The youth are the future of the country, hence they must stand up for what is right. We need not look back on this, we need strong youth that are free from corruption.”
21 young outstanding Nigerians from different walks of life were honoured at the awards ceremony.
Barely two months after entering the ride hailing space in Nigeria, Alpha1 Rides has received recognition as it bagged two awards within three days. The awards were presented by student associations in the University of Lagos (unilag) on their popular Dinner Nights.
Held at the Ostra Event Centre, the first award was presented by the Faculty of Arts on the night of October 24th while the second was given by the Faculty of Engineering three days later on the 27th at Quadosh Events Centre, Oregun in Lagos. Both awards were in recognition of the company’s customer friendly services and continued support for students who have had need to use its services.
“Alpha1 Rides embodies the spirit of humane entrepreneurship that puts customer service before the profit motive”, said Olaniyi Opeyemi, president of the Faculty of Arts Students Association, “and we are extremely glad and privileged to be associated with you”.
In line with Opeyemi’s avowals, Adejumo Segun, president of the Engineering Students Association, thanked Alpha1 Rides for free rides offered students in Unilag, describing the company as “the first to recognise that students need help in these hard times”. While wishing the company well, he called for other companies to think in line with Alpha1 Rides and be empathetic to students who may have difficulty meeting some of their everyday needs.
Receiving the awards on behalf of Alpha1 Rides, Azuka Millicent of Customer Service thanked the associations and remarked that the award is a motivation for the company to do more in the customer service sphere. “Thank you very much for this wonderful award of recognition, we wish to double our efforts in providing the best services to the students of Unilag”, she said.
Headlining performance at the events was Comedian, Seyi Law, supported by other actors like Brainee, Kenny Blah, and comic, Woli Arole. Holyswagger of KRAKSTV was the host of the Engineering Students event.
Alpha1 Rides joined the Cab hailing fray in Nigeria on September 1 and has since arrested the attention of industry players and riders with innovative services and customer friendly tariffs. This has led to the company slicing off a chunk of market share from current players, according to persons familiar with the industry.
Upon entry, the company promised addressing some of the niggling problems in the industry and assuage some of the frustrations caused by older players.Read More
Findworka, a Nigerian online marketplace for services and tasks is seeking talented developers in Nigeria to participate in its project, Saucecode 2018.
Saucecode 2018 is aimed at discovering and celebrating the finest tech talent in Nigeria. The project will further promote collaboration and encourage programming best practice in the ecosystem, according to Findworka.
Designers, developers or technical project managers applying for the challenge are required to develop problem statements in any of the following theme areas namely: Education, Better Government, Elections, Journalism, Corruption, Fintech, FutureTech (IOT), Health/BioTech and Agric/Food Tech.
Interested developers are expected to register as a team having at least two members and a maximum of four members. Each team must have at least a front-end developer and a backend developer.
Five finalists will be selected for the grand finale holding in February 2018 where they will pitch in front of judges and a live audience.
The winning team will receive $1000 USD cash prize. It will be rewarded with admission tickets to attend 2-days conference of Facebook’s F8 2018 in California, United States (valued at $800 USD each) and the Afrolynk’s Conference 2018
There is more information on the Saucecode project here.Read More
African startups can participate in an accelerator programme that will begin in February 2018 at the Norway-based Katapult Accelerator. Selected startups will receive up to $150,000 USD investment in return for 8% equity.
The 3-month accelerator programme, which will hold in Oslo, Norway, is designed for startups deploying artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR) technologies to solve environmental and societal problems.
Some of the benefits for the selected startups include access to network of leading thematic mentors, investments and further capital to help them scale in their businesses.
“There is no shortage of talent out there but in many cases, they lack the proper support needed to bring their dreams to life,” reads a statement on the website of Katapult Accelerator.
“We’re creating the ultimate platform to turn the passion of talented founders like you into something great. We know founders can learn more effectively with proper mentorship and deep access to industry experts, and they need the right software tools to grow. We also know this talent lies in every corner of the globe, so we’re agnostic about where you call home,” the statement continues.
Interested startups can read more about the programme and apply here. Applications will close on December 15th, 2017.Read More
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