She comes across smart and sassy. With looks that could effortlessly open any door and intelligence that speaks volumes about her vision, Kikelomo Atanda-Owo is making loud statements with Z-Edge Nigeria Limited– a positioning and strategic market planning, vendor relations and supply chain firm that helps organisations increase their turnover through proper implementation of business strategy. The Managing Director of the high-end firm discusses her life, craft and how she was able to create a niche for herself as an entrepreneur.
Background and lessons:
My growing up years were dynamic considering my background, societal exposure and academic training. These three areas helped to shape my perspective about life and people. The lessons drawn from them are numerous. However, one of the most important lessons is that I was able to understand the power of relationships from the positive and even the negative angles. I have also learned about the power of independence in achieving one’s goals and objectives in life
Phases in life
There have been several landmarks in my life. Becoming a mother was one of them. Making my first N1 million profit was another defining moment for me. Another area that have shaped me as a person is my marriage, which has completely redefined and refined my views about life. I have truly learned to rely on God alone for everything. Progress for me is no longer measured by landmarks, but by maturity from my various experiences, which are both positive and negative. I made my first N1 million before Zedge was officially registered. It felt like a good start. It made me to start believing that all my distant dreams were possible. Till date, I have been applying the takeaways from the moment I realised I had made N1 million from my business.
Over the years, I have built a reputation for process and product innovation, developing business strategies, incubating new business models, and building winning marketing programmes. I have handled project management and managed profitable business models for high-end enterprise solutions like MTN Nigeria, and Stanbic ITC among others on projects that support businesses to leverage on marketing and communications to grow their businesses.
I led the “MTN Football Scholar” programme for young talented Nigerian boys with the funding of $3M per season for more than three years and helped generate $7.25m in partner revenues.
I am keen on providing real solutions to business gaps in public and private companies. Other fields I am passionate about include project management, finance, management, and accounting.
I have a Bachelors degree in Communications, an MBA from the University of South Wales and I am awaiting a Masters degree in Social Sciences ,International Relations, from Kingston University. It is interesting to say that I am an avid explorer of new business opportunities.
Sources of influence
There are two major sources of influence in my life. The first was my grandmother, the late Alhaja Abibat Atanda-Owo, who had an impact on the woman I have become. She essentially taught me values, morals, and ideals of life. From her, I learned that guidance and mentoring are crucial part of growth and development. Also, Assistant Inspector General of Police,AIG, Taiwo Lakanu, who is my second father, has been a source of guidance and mentoring in various aspects of my womanhood.
The experience that I can term a turning point was when I took a decision to become an entrepreneur, specifically to run and manage my own organisation. After working with several organisations for 12 years, I realised my dream of being an entrepreneur. I decided to start building my own business empire. Looking back now, I realised that it was an audacious move, which I didn’t know would work.
I believe that my greatest achievements are still ahead. Life is in stages and achievements are all along these stages of growth. I have a vision of what the society should be. That is why I keep striving towards that. Also, raising my children to be life models to society is one of the goals. My dream society is one where everyone, regardless of race, gender or religious persuasion, would have a fair chance of succeeding like everybody else.
My most cherished virtue is pristine integrity that has always reflected in every aspect of my life. Nobody is perfect, but with God’s help, I always do my best to ensure that my word is my bond. This is what I also expect from my business and personal relationships.
In 2016 Zedge was registered officially. We established Zedge to provide corporate solutions for government agencies, and private institutions as well as corporate organisations in the sphere of their management services, client’s accounts and staff development. Zedge also handles procurement services for organisations and corporate events.
Establishing any business in Nigeria is promising as long as one remains focused on his or her niche market and offers something unique However, there have been challenges. The challenges are certainly not far-fetched. The economic climate is one. Also, the financial challenges of running a business during a recession certainly do not help when a business is still very young. Economically, the setbacks are the external factors that are affecting businesses in Nigeria which are governmental, political and infrastructural.
Overcoming these challenges are possible throughprudence and shrewd business intelligence. I have learned how to cut cost in my organisation and also how to manage resources efficiently. In terms of economic challenges, I have been able to overcome by leveraging on my past experience garnered from my previous working career.
I think one of the major challenges for women attaining peak positions in organisations is the effect of female gender discrimination, which has always been part of the society, as well as self-limiting capacities of women in many organisations.
There are also other issues that mitigate against women attaining their potentialities. For instance, their level of personal ambition matters so much. Another thing is that societal barriers negatively impact on women making progress in the corporate world. However, I believe these barriers are coming down as more women make their marks in government, the corporate sector and even in manufacturing. I could name women who have inspired me but one that comes to mind right now is Mrs. Adebola Adesola, CEO of Standard Chartered. She is a woman I respect so much and have the privilege of knowing. Women have much to offer than they are doing currently.
Statistics have shown that women are excellent managers, leaders, and strategists in any role and in every society.
I believe, that the future will be a brighter one when women are given more opportunities and higher responsibilities in politics, technology, science, business and society in general.
Being an entrepreneur is not an easy thing. The stakes are higher because you are in charge of the success of your business as well as the wellbeing of your staff, shareholders, and customers. Entrepreneurs should keep innovating and plan well. My faith inspires me in life and keeps me going. A good schedule always helps but no matter what happens I prioritise my family over everything else.