• Speaks on why youths, women should acquire marketable skills through technology
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Young, bold, and resilient are words that best describe one of Nigeria’s rising lawyers, business and philanthropy enigma, Moses Oruaze Dickson, the Managing Solicitor of TRIAX Solicitors with passion for helping the less privileged, particularly youths and vulnerable women. Oruaze, as he is fondly called, seeks to provide empowerment, education and health opportunities for the people of the Niger-Delta through the Goldcoast Developmental Foundation, which he founded in 2012. In this interview, Dickson talks about his plans for job creation. Excerpts:
What is your motivation for committing to philanthropy?
I believe that when God blesses you financially, do not raise your standard of living, rather raise your standard of giving. Having stared at the face of poverty and refusing to bow throughout my upbringing, I have always felt a deep responsibility to give back to my community. I credit my parents, particularly my late mother, Mrs. Goldcoast Dickson, for instilling the ethos of philanthropy, particularly my responsibility as a Christian to give and care for the less fortunate in our society. I believe our role as citizens of this world is to truly support the betterment of our society so that future generations and their offspring grow up to live even better lives and strive for even more than they think is possible today.
How do you think more people, especially the youths, women can be encouraged to commit to philanthropy?
I believe that charity and philanthropy don’t necessarily mean you have to spend money. There are several avenues available to almost everyone in society on how to give back. I often tell people, consider donating your time, talents and belongings for the greater good. I think once people are aware that these non-financial avenues are equally as important and impactful as donating money – there can be greater collective efforts to helping the less fortunate, especially the young ones and vulnerable women.
Can you tell us about TRIAX Solicitors; your law firm that is creating a name for itself, especially in handling major commercial cases in the Niger-Delta?
TRIAX Solicitors was founded with the vision to become one of the leading law firms in the country that is focused on niche practice, particularly in commercial law. We have just successfully completed high profile projects worth over $100 million for a couple of clients. This we have achieved within our short existence of three years. Also, we have been able to expand our operations from Bayelsa State to Abuja and about to open a new office in Lagos State. We have a network of about 20 staff members for now and still growing.
As a law firm, we are committed to supporting the communities where we do business by widening access to justice, education and finance. We collaborate with clients, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and charities to deliver these community outreaches and pro-bono services, with partner-led, client-focused teams.
Our community outreach and pro-bono strategy focuses on providing the best possible support to our NGO and charity clients, whilst at the same time expanding the capabilities of our people and strengthening relationships, partnership and collaboration. Our initiatives provide all of our people, at all levels, with opportunities to practice and enhance the skills that are key to their development, making them more effective and well-rounded.
One way we measure the impact of this commitment is by setting ourselves an annual target of helping 5,000 people a year. We have a varied programme of community and pro-bono activities, which focus on access to justice, access to education and access to finance.
What social responsibility projects have your firm executed or plans to execute?
Over the years, we have partnered nonprofit organisations like the Goldcoast Developmental Foundation to support disadvantaged individuals through our pro-bono services. We also partnered the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Bayelsa State chapter to fight violence against the girl-child through the #ProtectTheGirlChild challenge. This campaign was in response to the increasing cases of sexual violence on young girls across the country, which we feel that something must be done to address it. We plan to formally launch the #ProtectTheGirldChild campaign, providing legal services as well as financial support to ensure that victims of such violence are protected and given adequate access to justice.
You were a speaker at the last edition of Social Media week in Lagos. What was your experience like?
The last edition of Social Media Week in Lagos was my first time of attending the conference, and I had the privilege to be invited to facilitate two sessions at what is unarguably the largest tech, new media and business conference on the continent of Africa. This week-long conference was a whirlwind of in-depth panel discussions, keynote speakers, networking chatter and discussions into how social media and technology is changing business, society, and culture on the continent and the world.
During one of my sessions, I talked about how technology and social media can help the insurance industry connect more to the youth market. I was particularly interested in this topic because Insurance is one of the niche areas for our practice at TRIAX Solicitors. Not only are we interested in the industry, we are also interested in dealing with issues around claims management, which is one of the major challenges of the insurance industry. Alongside other panelists at this session, we explored what the insurance companies need to do to connect with the youth market. How they need to use social media to not only try to sell their services but also educate people on why they need insurance.
One of my major arguments is that the major problem of the insurance industry is perception. The perception of the industry by a vast majority of Nigerians is negative, as a lot of people do not trust insurance companies to deliver on their promise of paying claims. In fact, I made clear the fact that Nigerians are even religious about it. They would rather commit their properties to God instead of getting insurance. If this is addressed through education and the setting up of a reliable claims management company, that would be one major problem solved by the industry.
My second session focused on the future of work – how technology through freelancing platforms would change the very nature of jobs as we know it. The take away from this session is that young people need to acquire marketable skills that can be offered through digital platforms. Skills like programming, design, website development, and related skills can be offered from the comfort of any location. Government cannot and will not be able to provide jobs for everyone. Therefore, it is the responsibility of young people to harness the power of technology and digital platforms to create jobs for themselves.
Today, anyone can provide services from anywhere, with just a click of a button. It is the realisation of this job and skill transfer dynamic that informed the decision of one of our companies to venture into the creation of a freelancing digital platform for skilled individuals and employers who will need their services.
You have been very active recently on social media. What is your motivation for this?
Well, over the years, I have acquired a lot of experience as an entrepreneur; having built a successful law practice, I feel obligated to share my knowledge and experience with other people, especially young people like me, who otherwise will not have the opportunity to learn from a mentor or someone who has experienced business first hand. People reach out to me privately asking for business advice and I have tried to respond to as many as I can, however, with social media, I can reach a lot of people at once. With social media, I can mentor a lot of people at once, while still having time to run my business. I believe social media is a blessing to our generation and any business or career individual who wants to get their message out there must learn to leverage on this tool to reach their target audience.
Based on your experience and past mistakes, which five critical pieces of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur launching a business nowadays?
I have learned a lot from my mistakes as an entrepreneur and if I am to advise other young entrepreneurs, I would actually have more than five to give. But for the purpose of your questions, the five most critical bits of advice I would like to give are: first, there is no silver bullet ever! (And if someone tells you there is, be very cautious). Second is having unwavering confidence in yourself and your business. Third is to ensure your product answers peoples’ core problems or frustration points (the more niche the harder for user penetration). Fourth, if you cannot explain it in fewer than 20 words, your product is too complicated. The fifth is, asking for help is not wrong or a crime! Go get help and never be scared to find people to help you.