Ige Komolafe Atiba – “I would like to provide safe drinking water to the remotest African villages”
First of All, Introduction
I am Ige Komolafe Atiba, an inventor and Social Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and the C.E.O of Laughkord Consult and Resources Ltd; a Nigerian grown company incorporated in 2014 with a mission to create a science-backed water derivative for a broad range of domestic and industrial uses.
I grew up in a rural community in southwestern Nigeria, as the fifth child in a family of ten. I was however fortunate that my parents appreciated the value of good education. So, I was encouraged to obtain a Higher National Diploma (H.N.D) in Electrical, a Post Graduate Degree (P.G.D) in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and an MBA.
Prior to my entrepreneurship journey, I worked as Chief Operating Officer at an Engineering and Property firm, where I was responsible for strategy, policy and leading high-impact initiates. I currently provide leadership and directions for Laughkord Consult and Resources Ltd. as it pursues its goal of building a profitable and sustainable social enterprise.
Why I Chose to be an entrepreneur
My mother was very enterprising, so from a young age I was exposed to some buying and selling at a rudimentary level; By my teenage years, I was managing the day to day operations of her petty business, while she comes around fortnightly to inspect the stock and records. I carried this zeal into my tertiary institution where I operated a tie and dye fabric business serving the student populace.
I, however, chose water – a supposedly very apparent area as a focus of my enterprise for a completely different reason. When I was a teenager, the Outbreak of preventable water-borne diseases caused by infection to the village stream: our only source of water claimed the lives of my parents and that of several other families in my village.
Access to drinking water is a challenge in most parts of Africa but it gets even more difficult the further you go into the rural areas. Scenarios like my village are prevalent in low-income communities due to the poor standard of living and lack of access to basic portable water. This experience fueled my motivations and incurable optimism to do further research.
According to recent statistics, 15% of Nigerian adults develop an infection during a hospital stay from contaminated drinking water which is estimated to cause 50, 000 diarrhea deaths each year. One out of three healthcare facilities in Nigeria does not have water supply and the one they buy on a regular basis is not fit for drinking. Caring for patients without clean water and sanitation puts the health of patients, staff and surrounding communities at risk.
WhenI discovered a science-backed natural solution in form of processed water therapy exists and that it could have saved my parents and members of my community who lost their lives in the outbreak, I knew I had found my purpose.
My Encounter with the Tony Elumelu Foundation
I found out about the Tony Elumelu Foundation from my cousin who is an Entrepreneur and a business mentor. When I applied in 2017, I was hopeful but I had my doubts -“why would one man, a Nigerian who didn’t know me, do this for me?” I asked myself. Pleasantly surprised to be selected to proceed for the three-month intensive online coaching, I was also paired with a very supportive mentor who offered his advice and guidance.
My encounter with The Tony Elumelu Foundation has created a positive momentum to grow and drive my social enterprise in the right direction.
The benefits of the program are numerous! It has provided me with a solid foundation for my Entrepreneurial journey, wearing a “Thinking Long Term” Cap, with the absolute confidence and resilience that I can always do better.
In less than two years of my contact with The Tony Elumelu Foundation, My team and I have not only upgraded our product and services through total re-branding, but we are have now introduced our portable water to 16 states in Nigeria where our business presence and services have created new jobs across the communities empowering more women and youths. Our product has also been endorsed by the Nigeria Association of medicine dealers (NAPMED) and the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN).
We also launched the “Drink to Good Health Campaign” in six more Nigerian states. As part of this campaign, we partner with health care providers who extend “Free Mobile Medical Diagnostics Services” to Senior Citizens that cannot afford hospitals during the campaign. The “Drink to Good Health Campaign” enlightens the public on the importance of water to well-being and the effects of electromagnetic radiation on health. We have distributed over 400,000 bottles of Bio Energized Water to over 200,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries. We have created 45 direct and 120 indirect new jobs empowering women and youth across the communities we operate.
The Immediate Future for Us
We are currently on the path to scaling up the production and distribution of the business, to penetrate new markets and double our revenue/profit in the next 24 months.
To do this, we need to build and equip an automated water bottling plant, recruitment and training of staff and procurement of utility vehicles and medical equipment.
On the free Mobile Medical Diagnosis services, we want to employ technology to provide unlimited access to free medical diagnoses, consultancies, accurate prescriptions and follow-up on users. This would enable us to reach and cater to over 300,000 Senior Citizens that cannot access quality primary healthcare to consult with physicians by the year 2021.
Our goal is to exterminate some of the prevailing human health challenges and reduce mortality by 5% after 5 years of intensive free mobile medical diagnostics services to the Senior Citizens that cannot access quality primary healthcare across the communities we operate, in Nigeria.
Personal lessons I would like to share
There are three important lessons that I would like to share
- Be willing to collaborate I have learnt from this journey that opportunities abound for entrepreneurs that are willing to collaborate; I have leveraged my network to strengthen our services and explore other areas of social enterprise.
- Do not stop learning: As entrepreneurs, we must take advantage of mentoring and to avail ourselves of opportunities to expand our knowledge base.
- Branding is Important: In the face of competition, commoditisation and price-wars, brand loyalty is important, and all businesses must have a strategy for that.
Contact details for interested customers.
The Green Place,
18b Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue Ikeja, Lagos-Nigeria.