Emeka Ebo, a 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur from Nigeria is leading a revolution in the IT sector. His company, EkoVolt recently signed a deal with Microsoft to deliver cloud solutions primarily to small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. In this week’s #WinningWednesday, he answers questions on how he intends to deliver ready and affordable broadband internet access to all of Nigeria.
TEF: Tell us about the concept for the business? What was your mission from the outset?
Emeka Ebo: I worked for a leading US telecom company for 15 years and spent part of my career there building broadband infrastructure to some economically-disadvantaged communities. I have seen the power of the Internet give people unprecedented access to information, grow businesses etc. I believed I could play a part in writing the script on reliable and always available Internet service. Access to Internet is a key success factor to Nigeria’s growth. The Internet services market has a low penetration ratio as a whole, most options currently available are 3G/4G mobile modems which have issues with speed, reliability and capped data plans. I wanted to use my expertise gained to redefine broadband access to users in Nigeria by providing affordable, accessible, reliable broadband and technology solutions that cater to homes and businesses. We offer Broadband Internet access and business technology solutions such as Online storage, Backup, Hosting (Email, Web). We also recently partnered with Microsoft to deliver cloud solutions primarily to small medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. These solutions include Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Azure applications.
TEF: How has participating in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme helped your business and you as a person?
EE: I gained a lot from participating in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, from the structuring of Ekovolt to creating an amazing business plan, having access to a mentor to bounce ideas off of and get advice, have access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs I could exchange with, some of which I am still in touch with until this day. Finally, it enhanced my legitimacy with business partners and others parties I have met with since as I had been vetted and chosen amongst thousands through this programme.
TEF: What is unique about your business?
EE: One of our key differentiator is that we offer unlimited data plans and we deliver enterprise applications to our target market SMEs that are otherwise only available to large corporations.
TEF: What are your company’s goals?
EE: Our goal is to enable Nigeria to be more connected to the rest of the world. We want to give currently underserved communities and markets access to the Internet at truly affordable prices.
TEF: Please summarize the implications/benefits of your recent partnership with Microsoft to your company directly.
EE: Only 43% of the world has Internet access. In Nigeria, this is estimated at 30%. In an era in which technology can improve our knowledge, help us communicate more efficiently, and help businesses to expand their reach, it is becoming a real disadvantage to be without Internet access. Microsoft’s partnership enables Ekovolt accelerate its network builds and identify customer segments to introduce cloud solutions that will make our local businesses run with better efficiency. We are tasked to innovate ways and packaged solutions catering to the small businesses. Using better access to the Internet to solve our problems as a community. With Internet connectivity we believe we can improve healthcare, education – empowering people to do more.
TEF: How does your company help the community where it is located?
EE: Individually, we serve as mentors to secondary school students interested in STEM education.
TEF: How do you rate the quality of the networking/collaborations that have come from being involved in this programme?
EE: It has been a great experience. My mentor was knowledgeable, accessible and very helpful as an advisor. I have connected with many fellow entrepreneurs I continue to exchange with until this day.
TEF: What’s your advice for intending participants in the programme?
EE: This is an incredible opportunity. Give it your best. Take advantage of every opportunity offered. Engage. It will be a life changing experience.