Interview with Nigerian Woman CEO & Marketing Entrepreneur

In Abuja, the capital and entrepreneurial hub of Nigeria, Adeshola Komolafe has been steadily setting herself apart from the competition.

When she started her company, Media Insights, she knew that if she was to compete and get ahead in the male-dominated field of marketing communications, she had to innovate, to stand out, and prove herself. Her strategic decisions and hard work paid off. As CEO, she built her client base and brought on customers such as the British Council and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID). Read more about her work here.

Adeshola is also passionate about the future for girls and women in Nigeria. She founded a NGO called Save our Future, and has written book with the same title, as well as many articles on women, health, and policy.

Adeshola received a BSc. and Masters from Bayero University Kano and also studied Integrated Marketing Communications at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Pan African University in Lagos. She is currently a member of the World Bank Youth Forum and World Economic Forum Global Shapers. In 2012, she was nominated for the Future Awards. In 2007, she received the International Youth Ambassador for Peace Award by the World Youth Federation for World Peace.

Because of her powerful example, we were honored to have Adeshola answer a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey, challenges, path to success, and vision for the future.

1. What made you start your own Integrated Marketing Communications firm?

I just knew it was time to start. I have always had a passion to help people consistently meet their communication objectives, to help people create and sustain communication between their brands and their target institutional, and individuals communities.

“I just knew it was time to start.”

I love to help people have perfect communication balance and position them for success. I had the training, the passion and the will to succeed. I had just completed a phase of my career and the question was, what next?

2. What challenges have you faced starting your business in a male-dominated industry in Abuja? But more importantly, how have you overcome them?

The Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) world is a male-dominated one.  At the beginning, it was tough being a woman in a male-dominated industry. We were up against well-established firms. In some cases, they even had prior relationships with our target clients. We were obviously the underdogs coupled with the fact that the firm was led by a woman. The only way to beat the competition was to become innovative.  To compete effectively, we had to be way better than our competition. So, we researched on the latest trends in IMC and all our prospective clients. We reviewed their past IMC attempts and worked out ways to offer them better services at cheaper rates. Our competition could not compete with our new strategy of offering better services at cheaper rates. To keep our overhead down, we outsourced non-essential services. We encouraged our clients to give us endorsement letters to show that they we satisfied with our services. These we used in our future marketing efforts, acting as a springboard to get more clients who otherwise may not have considered us.

3. What do you think has made you so successful?

I understand that success is a process. It doesn’t just happen but happens only when you deliver consistently more than is expected of you. It must be cultivated. So from the outset, I set out to be successful. I knew where I was going. I knew how to get there. All I needed was the resources.

“I understand that success is a process. It doesn’t just happen but happens only when you deliver consistently more than is expected of you. It must be cultivated.”

So I engaged young and vibrant individuals, overflowing with creative ideas. Our motto was not only to satisfy our client but to satisfy them to the extent that our current job would serve as pitch for their next job. It worked! I love what I do and  I do it with passion.

4. What advice would you give to other women in Nigeria who want to start their own business?

To the young women in Nigeria, I would say, you need to be extremely good at what you do. Don’t get started until you are sure and convinced within you that it is time to start. You need to learn that there are times you might need to walk away to protect your dignity, reputation and integrity.

5. What are your future goals, personally and with your business?

Working for the political, economic, and social advancement of women in Nigeria is what appeals to me as the most important engagement that I will  love to be involved in a decade from now.

The environment for girls has been well documented. If their situation is going to be different from the fate of our mothers, we need to create institutions of change, and promote drivers of change from the ranks of our girls that can help build a solid and active movement of reform. This type of engagement requires broad consensus formation, a huge resource base, as well as top line organizational and strategic insight that make issue development and advocacy for change effective. This is what I want to dedicate my next decade building along with like-minded associates.

Follow Adeshola on Twitter.

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.