Valerio O. Thompson Boco has nurtured a burning desire to impart knowledge in the next generation for many years. From his humble beginnings in Equatorial Guinea where he trained teenagers in his neighbourhood on the weekends for free, he has gone on to establish his own educational startup social enterprise known as CPEVS Training Institute.
He took some time out to speak to the Tony Elumelu Foundation about his business activities since he completed his TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
Q: Tell us about the activities of your business and your successes so far?
A: CPEVS Training Institute offers a variety of courses which include Cinematography, Photography, Music, Fashion and design, Brand Management, Entrepreneurship, Languages, and Civic Leadership.
Our Cinematography production department is currently running an on-going pan-African documentary series film project titled TUNAWEZA which is focused on the African Girl Child Story.
This project will also be used as a tool to generate more revenue for the business apart from the in-class activities, as it will be premiered in Lagos, Accra and Malabo.
As an individual and CEO of my business in the last 24 months; I was nominated at the Africa Youth Awards 2016 as the social entrepreneur of the year, awarded as a Mandela Washington Fellowship 2017 alumnus and a member of the African Change Makers Fellowship.
In 2017, I was awarded as an International Associate on Civic Leadership for Wagner College in New York and as a member of the U.S state department international exchange alumni.
Q: What was your vision for your business from the outset? and how many employees do you currently have?
A: The vision for my business from the outset was to create an environment where we would have an increasing number of self-employed youths and skilled professionals with great knowledge of their chosen field.
Q: What are your business goals and how many employees do you currently have?
A: My goal is to be the best professional and vocational training institute in Equatorial Guinea and in Central Africa in the next 5 years. I also aim to create a business that focuses not only on income but also impacting my society by creating effective corporate and social responsibility activities.
Currently, I have seven (7) employees/trainers running in-class courses, two (2) assistants and five (5) interns who are currently working with me on the documentary series which is a project aimed at generating more revenue through our cinematography, photography and cosmetology department.
Q: What is unique about your business and what service or solution does it offer?
A: What makes my business unique is our value proposition which is focused not only on training and impacting, but also empowering our students and graduates for self-employment after graduation.
In addition to this, we also help them become skilled professionals in their chosen field and more importantly groom them to be major players in the improvement of the nations’ economy.
Q: What is the current scale of your business and how does your business help the community where it is located?
A: The scale of my business is at a progressive state due to its revenue increasing activities and partnership deals and discussions with various organizations particularly towards the premiere of the documentary series project in Lagos, Accra and Equatorial Guinea.
I am also incorporating two new courses to our existing curriculum through a partnership deal with a fellow TEF Alumni who runs a training institute in Nigeria.
We also established a nonprofit initiative which has been actively involved in various community-based have been actively being involved in various community-based programs that include seminars and workshops on reproductive health, storytelling as a tool for positive change, talent discovery and development, the importance of self-empowerment and distribution of sanitary pads to 100 girls every month.
Q: What challenges have you encountered since you started out your business?
A: At the beginning of my business, a lot of my challenges came from the pressure of instability. I realised I needed to increase my focus on giving my business stability by pushing to get more equipment and material needed to give the best to my trainees.
Right now, I need more funds to enable me to do more for my trainees, but I believe that everything in life is a gradual step.
Q: Can you share any transforming story you’ve experienced in your business so far?
A: My transforming story occurred when I saw my name among the list of selected entrepreneurs for the 2017 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. This event really transformed my life because I had long nursed the dream to establish my educational training institute, but lacked the necessary training, mentorship and funding.
Being a part of the Entrepreneurship Programme transformed my life as it opened me to numerous opportunities. In that same month, I was selected to represent my country at the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme in the U.S.A. Everything I learned from the TEF programme was key for me as a startup Entrepreneur because it helped me to become a better business oriented individual and CEO. It also helped me to connect with other Entrepreneurs from the continent, gave me access to great mentorship and eventually groomed me to become a mentor to many other Entrepreneurs both in my country and around the continent. More importantly, the funding from the seed capital helped me in achieving my business dream.
Q: What plans do you have to expand and increase the capacity of your business?
A: I plan to incorporate more courses to expand the capacity of my business. I also have plans to start a new branch in the mainland region of Equatorial Guinea, because it shares the same border with Cameroon and Gabon.
I will also continue to expand our documentary series project handled by our Cinematography, Photography and cosmetology department in order to generate funds.
Valerio O. Thompson Boco is one of the three entrepreneurs in Equatorial Guinea and 350 entrepreneurs in the TEF Alumni Network thriving in the Educational and Training sector who continue to use the tools made available to them through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme to take their business to new heights.