Stories by Moses Nosike
Ugonna Brian Ginigeme is the Co- Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Vasiti.com. Ugonna who considers himself a born-entrepreneur studied Industrial and Production Engineering in University of Ibadan where he launched Vasiti.com. Vasiti.com uses technology and social innovation to support student entrepreneurs on their journey to building sustainable businesses, empowers students to make them better and employable graduates. This also makes their lives easier by providing them easy access to everything they need around campus including goods, services and relevant information.
What is your company doing?
Basically, Vasiti. com supports student entrepreneurs, empowers students and makes their lives easier on campus.
How did you come about this?
Vasiti.com was launched when I was a student in the University of Ibadan. While I was in school, I ventured into many entrepreneurial activities but they all failed. While trying to figure out the problem, I noticed that my friends on campus who were also student entrepreneurs had either failed or were struggling with their businesses and some had even given up on entrepreneurship. I did some research and soon found out that the challenge was, there was no platform to helping student entrepreneurs thrive. In other words, there was no way for people around my campus and other potential customers to discover my products/services and there was nowhere to get access to opportunities, mentorship, internship, funds and so on. Student entrepreneurs were forced to depend strictly on inefficient method of advertising such as paper ads around campus, word of mouth and social media.
On the other hand, finding vendors around campus for products and services when needed was also a major challenge as students usually had to walk helter skelter in search of these or were forced to accept the limitations of word of mouth referrals when available.
Now that you are out of school, what is the state of vasiti.com?
We have continued to grow Vasiti in all areas. We have a great team, great technology platforms and lots of users. We also launched a first of its kind, career-empowerment programme for students called “Vasiti Career Fest” which we pioneered in partnership with Covenant University and some major brands in Nigeria. We are currently in talks with some other Nigerian universities that are interested in hosting Vasiti Career Fest and also working on major partnership/investment deals that would take us closer to our goal and significantly increase our impact.
Those using your technology, what do they benefit?
First of all, student entrepreneurs can create their own online store and advertise for free on the platform. They upload photos of their services or products and once approved become visible to customers around their campus. Vasiti handles all the stress associated with advertising, logistics and payments and student entrepreneurs also get access to mentors, companies for internships and trainings to mention a few. We also increase visibility for these entrepreneurs on our magazine and Social Media pages.
All students get easy and instant access to anything they need, shop at unbeatable student prices on the platform and can even trade used items to their fellow students on campus. Vasiti magazine also provides relevant content such as scholarship/internship opportunities, campus gist, student/entrepreneurial hacks and so on.
How many universities are using Vasiti.com?
We are currently having operations in three Universities in Nigeria and also planning to scale quickly to other universities.
Like you said that you failed as a student entrepreneur, to prevent such experience of failure from other student entrepreneurs, would you recommend entrepreneurship mentorship/training at campus?
Yes! As a matter of fact, many universities now understand the need to embrace entrepreneurship and some universities now have entrepreneurship centres.
You started as student entrepreneur while in the university, today unemployed graduates are everywhere, what is your message?
Yes! According to research, 45% of Nigerian graduates are unemployed. In Africa its about 50%. My message is simple. Everyone needs to understand that one of the best ways to reduce graduate unemployment is to produce more graduates who are job creators and not only job seekers. The only way to achieve this is by empowering and supporting student entrepreneurs because a successful student entrepreneur would most likely continue building his business upon graduation leading to job creation and economic growth. Shop from student entrepreneurs on Vasiti.com, hire student entrepreneurs and generally encourage entrepreneurship because it’s the key to a booming economy.
Tell us how your experience of managing Vasiti.com has been?
So far, it has been an interesting journey and a continuous learning process. Every day comes with a new challenge but thanks to our commitment, we always overcome. Building a company is not an easy journey; there are times you would feel discouraged but you just need to remember why you started and what you’re trying to achieve and then you would be motivated to keep pushing. Success never happens overnight!
Tell us few of your challenges running Vasiti.com?
Building a business like Vasiti is capital intensive and so funding has been a bit of a challenge. Like other internet-based tech companies, we also struggle with things like power supply, unreliable internet services and high cost of data.