1)Tell us about yourself?
Victoria Nwanna is a young lady on a mission who believes lives are connected to her unto greatness. she is the founder of an edutech platform called Skill Factory Africa and run a media platform Today’s Heroes Network. The core of all I do is human development.
2) What is your business about?
Skill Factory Africa is Africa’s First affordable online learning platform focused on providing training, skill development and job opportunities.
I would like to call it the Netflix of skills, where you subscribe monthly at a very subsidized cost to gain access to over 38 relevant skills. We are a virtual learning platform to empower entrepreneurs and youths with relevant career, personal development and business skills to thrive in these times. It is a knowledge based business which is really a big thing in this digital age where knowledge is the new gold.
3) Why did you start it?
Despite many policies and programs, youth unemployment remains a major challenge to the developmental process of the African economy. Youth unemployment appears to be shooting up the sky as many African youths lack appropriate skills that will empower them after graduation from school and even business owners do not have the right skills to help them scale their businesses.
I started this as an intervention program against unemployment and her ‘sister’ unemployability. While growing up I heard ‘there are no jobs’ but never for once did I believe that phrase. Via this factory, we aim to scale the skills of over 4,000,000 youths and provide 500,000 employment opportunities through direct training and our marketplace.
The aim of this factory is to reduce unemployment by equipping the youths with skills that would make them productive as well as increase their employability or empower them as business owners. This we do by partnering with experts and featuring skills that are necessary in building a business or/and as an employee.
4) What has your experience been like thus far?
It’s been a learning curve. Before I launched the Skill Factory Africa I did a 6 months test using my NGO and called the project Skill Up Academy. Skill Up Academy started on WhatsApp and private Facebook group, I called trainers to teach on these platforms and after the first cohort with my quest for excellence and structure I moved onto using a learning management system where people log in and gain access to the courses. It was the experience and lessons gotten from Skill Up Academy that gave me insights on how to make Skill Factory Africa more sustainable.
This also showed me that many youths are not technology savvy, we get mails like how do I register, how do I click play when it’s all so easy on the site (laugh). So far, it’s been great, we moved the site to cloud hosting so it can accommodate more persons and more courses. We are also looking to partner with organizations who want to train their staff on digital skills or sponsor some youths.
5) What are the challenges in your sector and how do you manage them?
Data; hmmm, this is one huge challenge for many of us in the knowledge industry and virtual space. Aside the high level of data consumed at a very high cost every month the internet connection is also a big problem. Live virtual events are many times met with bad internet connection which affects the productivity and delivery of trainings. How I have tried to manage this is by making some of the trainings on prerecording’s. Also, I use several data providers to switch in the case of any bad connection.
Finance is another challenge, we tried replicating Netflix system, it cost a lot and then after setting up the system to a good extent, the marketing budget is so high. Recently, the quest for knowledge has increased even though it’s still at a snail pace many youths prefer seasonal movies to learning a skill online. For someone like me who is yet to get grants having a technological based business could be a daunting task. I however leveraged on my relationships, my web developer didn’t charge as much as it should have been and other resource persons too. I also got a very solid team of persons who believe in the vision, some are paid staff many are not for now. We keep talking about the advantages of having the right skills and becoming visible to our target audience.
Another challenge is getting quality content, getting response from the experts to submit a training sometimes is futile and If they agree it would require some chasing because of their schedule. So what I did was to have a schedule and sent mails early enough. I also didn’t wait till we got all the courses, we launched at 30 courses now we are at 38 and we will keep updating it.
6) What is your advice to newbies in your line of business.
Don’t just be focused on only today as against positioning yourself for tomorrow.
Understand your consumer insight, this is even more important than capital.
How will you know your potential customers without research? How will you predict income without knowing your numbers?
Research on the channels to reach your market, research on your competitors, this shouldn’t be toxic! You are researching to know what is obtainable and how you can surpass it.
Again think long term, many businesses are not sustainable, their idea is just to make money and cash out.
Also, zoom in on specifics, in an industry don’t try to solve every problem at once. Get a specific niche problem and consistently solve it.
Understand there is nothing new under the sun. No matter how unique your idea might seem or the weight of ‘revelation’ you think you received concerning that business, there is someone out there running on that same idea or something similar. It is wisdom, to do your research. Who are the people in your industry? Who are the industry leaders? What are they doing? How can you personalize it to your own business? So I always tell my circle, come down from that high horse and do your research, be open to learning.
Another point is to get a team please. You can’t be the all in all of you want long term business Success.
Leverage digital, I know a lot of persons are now online but with the right strategy it would make the difference. When we wanted to launch we did free trainings and all. Value attracts but you must be visible enough to those you want to attract.
7) Who are you outside your business?
I have found a way to connect all I do with who I am. For me, it is about BEING first before DOING. There is no different Victoria. I operate from a place of flow and this person called Victoria is all about empowerment and impact especially to the youth. So inside or outside my business you would see me participate in things adding value to others, volunteering, speaking, outreaches helping to organize events even during fun outings with my friends and more.
8) How has Covid 19 affected your business?
Like one of my online friend says, Covid happened for us not against us. When you understand this happened for your upgrade your response will be better. Covid-19 came to disrupt definitely but not negatively, it only brought the future to us a bit faster. The phrase innovate or die holds true here, many companies before now did not understand remote working, but they were forced to do that. Many companies suffered and are still suffering, many others who were prepared or quick to adjust didn’t suffer as much, they actually made more profit and are bouncing back.
I won’t pretend to be ignorant of the fact that it crippled several industries but for those who were strategic enough to leverage on the digital and adjust their operations accordingly they had more gains than losses. We were already tilting towards digital, Covid-19 only made that reality for us sooner than expected. So after these period I see a lot of industries leveraging digital(which is happening already). My business is digital, so again it was really a plus. We only had to adjust operations and in fact Covid-19 actually made me fasten the plans for Skill Factory Africa.
9) What nurtured this passion?
Right from my secondary school days I always wanted to be the sort of lady who isn’t a liability, I wanted to be a voice, not an echo. I am grateful for the environment and family I grew up in, I was encouraged even right from my primary school days. So I knew I wasn’t an experiment, I was created with every specificity only me possess. I like to say this a lot, the moment you know who you are the game changes, because your identity is the foundation to which you get results from your activities and you are not busy achieving nothing. But what really set me clear on this path was exposure. I heard several negative narratives before getting into the university about no jobs, how it was a waste of time if you don’t have connection, or get ‘entangled’ before you can access some level of success . I got into school and saw many undergraduates with that mindset, I was truly perturbed. I didn’t believe the only persons making it were only on connection based or people playing around, I refused to believe my greatness isn’t self controlled and thus leaving the responsibility of how my life will be to external factors. I didn’t agree, I was of the opinion that yes some external factors play a huge role in my becoming but ultimately the cards will be played by me! So I started making research and connecting with certain persons I perceived were getting results ,this exposure solidified my belief that with the right skill and mindset you can create the future you desire. My conversation with many of my mates in school and even graduates lit the fire in my heart to be a youth development practitioner. I started equipping myself, becoming more and even released my first book that went on to make 7figures in naira right in my final year. I was starting to be a proof I dare say and decided to set up a platform after realizing the difference between a successful graduate and one who isn’t yet, lies in their mindset, skills, exposure of course relationship as well and all these can be built.
10) Could you tell us about the importance of skills and networking in your field of business?
Networking is not only about exchanging information, but also serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits. No man is an island is one undermined phrase, we say it a lot but truly do not understand the depths. Many times business success have largely been contributed to the strong networking channels they have created over time. Your growth is accelerated with the right kind of persons around you. Certain information, conversation and opportunities are exclusive to certain circles , you see someone doing all the work yet getting less rewarded but someone else who is just being strategic gets the spotlight and business contracts every time why? Recommendations from network. Your network is your net worth and this isn’t a cliché! Success whether in business or any sector is largely attributed to the pool of information or ideas and quality of network you have access to. There are potential contacts everywhere, and making the most of connections like these can be significantly beneficial for your business. Attend business or industry events, be part of groups and communities, be active and give value too. Intentionally broadening and maintaining your network is one of the most important steps you can take to increase your chances of business success. In networking, it’s not just about you, you need to also bring value to the table. Know how to give and take.
Skills: Networking is also a skill that can be learnt. For many businesses more and more persons are entering the industry and many industries are becoming saturated. What will stand you out is your efficiency. Skill is basically the capacity to be efficient in delivering result. It is not about saying ‘I can do it’ but rather showing how effective you are in doing it… Depending on your business there are certain skills that shouldn’t be outsourced like emotional intelligence, innovation communication and people skill etc. and with the digital economy you should be thinking digital skills too, how to connect with your customers and retain them etc. Discover critical skills needed in your industry and nurture them. Certain skills makes it easier for you to produce better results. Your skills will make you move from hustle to productivity.
11) If you were to be an advocate for SMEs in Nigeria, what are some of the conversations you would be drinking with respective authorities in regards laying developmental structures?
The structure and regulations makes it a bit hard for people to do business. The government should have regulations that empower small business owners and this isn’t about having committees or having a system that ends on paper. I’m talking about real enforced structure.
For example, a Nigerian produces something of same quality with a foreign product but many people will go for imported goods than the one produced in Nigeria. What are the checks to this?
Also, how can the government make the business field a level playing ground for small and large businesses? Many times small businesses are stifled and ‘bullied’ by big businesses and this affects the economy as well.
12) They say being an entrepreneur is one of the Big risk to take, what are some of the life lessons you have had to learn?
Well, life itself is a risk.
Entrepreneurship has taught me the value of people. There are 3 things required in business when starting, Idea, Money and people. You could have someone run an idea for you, you could borrow money but one factor you must leverage without outsourcing is PEOPLE. I have learned to leverage on relationships but you can’t leverage what you haven’t built yes? Another lesson learnt is there is no such thing as perfect, rather strive to be Excellent. But do not allow the spirit of analysis paralysis take over, start with what you have excellently and be opened to growth. Start well, but you should start regardless, you might not have all the resources but you do have all you need to start. And while you start be intentional about scaling.
13) If you were to nominate people for the 25 categories of the 25 under 25 award what are their full names and category based on your own list if you had your chance?
I know really great young persons doing massive things in their sector.
Chidinma Okoli, Finance
Gusi Tobby Community service or hospitality.
Miracle Ewim Technology
Victoria Nwanna for social entrepreneurship
Lilian Uka for education.
Dapo of Lagos, Active citizenship and government engagement.
Kenneth Obayuwana for Agriculture.
Bodiz_beansflour for food and drinks.
Victoria Nwanna is a programs and communication expert. She is also a trained master of ceremony thus the nickname MMM (Minister of Mouth Movement) and has successfully moderated over 100 events and invited as a speaker at even more events (virtually and physically).
She is a two time, Amazon bestselling author with five books, a human development practitioner with a core in productivity and peak performance.
Her three-fold mandate is to Inspire, Ignite Imagination and Provoke Right Action for sustainable nation building.
Victoria and her team are establishing avenues for young people to proactively engage in personal and community development to fight unemployment through Quality Education (SDG4), creating environment for Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8) and End Poverty (SDG1).
Through trainings, mentorship platforms, skill platform, volunteering opportunities, conferences, magazine and her NGO she has directly impacted over 4000 youths in personal and skill development to promote community engagement
She recently launched Skill Factory Africa(Africa’s 1st Affordable Online Learning Platform),the Not Too Young To Make Sense secondary school tour executed in 6 states, a program committed to crusading and championing self and purpose discovery, intentional career choices, inspiring the youth to dream but beyond that arming them with practical tool for life’s choices.
She currently launched Africa’s 1st affordable learning platform to empower the youths and small business owners with relevant skills, Skill Factory Africa.
She runs a media platform called Today’s Heroes Media (@todaysheroesmedia)where she celebrates and shares the stories of amazing individuals in different industries to inspire, provoke tight action and ignite imagination.
Victoria uses experimental technique to facilitate result achieving training in areas like communication, personal development and growth, skill building, mindset make-over personal branding goal achievement, peak performance and productivity, digital skills.
Victoria is committed to work that focuses on youth empowerment, leadership, nation building, education, and employment and has been awarded and nominated for several awards.
She has collaborated with several brands and NGOs directed at youth empowerment.
Her popular phrase is, You Are The Real Deal and Not Too Young To Make Sense.