Chisom has diverse interests in social entrepreneurship, event curation, digital marketing and communication and he is directly involved with several projects that are within these areas. He is also a visual designer and brand strategist for a leading digital solutions agency in Lagos, Nigeria.
Describing how he started on his career path, he has the following to say, “My career path started before I entered university as my first internship job was at a publication outfit as the production coordinator. The knowledge gained from this spurred me to creating my own magazine outfit in my second year in university to give creative young individuals a platform to showcase their creativity, the venture was a total failure. However, undeterred in my growing passion for youth empowerment, I had an idea to organise a music contest event that will spotlight upcoming talented music producers and artistes on campus titled “Sound on Sound”, connecting them to known record labels in Nigeria. To actualise this new dream, I pulled together a small team and submitted business proposals to several organisations such as banks and media outfits for sponsorship and media publicity. Only a microfinance bank responded to us with a small grant to use. We were able to raise funds via several other means. Several people also lent their support towards making the event happen, which I am always grateful for.
“The show was a success as over 1500 attended and several participants such as Nonso Amadi, Ebiye the Comedian, Ozone, Davina, Sunkey Daniels, Osamuyi Osarunmen (Skweird), Early Attoh. These people have gone on to make their mark in the Nigerian entertainment and tech industry. With this success in mind, we decided to recreate another edition, this time making it larger by bringing in known Nigerian artistes to perform, alongside the introduction of an award night. It was an ambitious project at that time as tickets were printed and popular artistes such as Yemmy Sax, Tolu of Project fame etc. were contacted. Needless to say, it flopped badly as we ended up making the event free to attend, losing considerable amount of money from it. I still have a pack of the unsold tickets from the event to constantly remind me of the lesson learnt from that venture.”
While he was doing all the above, he had to balance it with school and the volunteer work he was involved in at the time, he was also privileged to serve in the capacity as business development lead for the university official charity organisation where he was responsible for sourcing for funds from corporate and individual donors for the several initiatives they had going on. His brief internship with Red Media Africa as an editor for YNaija.com greatly exposed him to great minds such as Chude Jideonwo, Isime Esene, Bukonla Adebakin, Mercy Akamo etc. providing him with the opportunity to learn how an organisation functions, alongside leadership and team motivation.
“I started Shop in Lagos with a friend in my IT year initially as an E-commerce platform to sell trendy clothing sourced cheaply online. Inspired by the founder of TOMS book “Start something that matters”, and as we interacted with several creative small business owners we were working with, it became clear to us that Shop in Lagos could be more than just sales of clothing but a social platform that connects these creative small business owners to opportunities that will help them scale their businesses and generate more revenues. Under this new direction, we have been able to spearhead several initiatives such as Lagos Yard Sale; a discount shopping exhibition that holds quarterly, and of recent our feature partnership with Premium City Guide; Lagos City Info Magazine, towards showcasing creative MSMEs in Lagos, and a planned business growth project for SMEs soon to be announced.”
One of the major challenges he faces on a daily basis is being able to have a work-life balance as he also has a 9-5 job as well as running the Shop in Lagos project.
His second major challenge is lack of funds and capital which he regarded as a major hindrance which has slowed the growth of the company. “We have been able to achieve several milestones, although little, by bootstrapping resources and ploughing back profits into the business. But to reach our long term goals and targets, external funding is much needed to scale exponentially.”
Chisom’s inspiration is drawn from anybody and everybody that is striving to achieve their dreams. He is not averse to being inspired by his peers, younger generations, then from the more experienced older generation, “I learn from all.” He isalso an avid reader and takes out time to attend and volunteer for events/projects in line with his interests. Chisom believes in one of Mahatma Ghandi’s quotes, “you discover yourself when in service to others”, and he uses this as one of his watchwords.
Mr Chisom, as he is popularly called, has his hands full with several projects such as working with the Hands on Clay Foundation, an NGO that shapes and moulds young individuals positively. The project that presently motivates him to do the most is Lagos Yard Sale, “which is a quarterly discount pop up market for MSMEs, now in its 6th edition with a cumulative number of 100+ merchants in attendance. The feedback and testimonies from impacted SME owners has been awe-inspiring to say the least.” Also, another of his projects is the “Shopping in Lagos” Magazine feature in partnership with Premium City Guide; Lagos City Info Magazine. “Although a minor achievement, it’s a step for me towards accomplishing one of my goals of owning my own publishing company in the near future.”
Speaking on opportunities he would like to take advantage of, he prefers those that possess a considerable level of ‘ROI – Returns on Impact’. “That is, they should be of positive impact and personal development to me.” Such opportunities include social cause volunteering, tech platforms solving infrastructural problems and most importantly, funding platforms for projects he is directly involved with.
On youth empowerment, he has this to say, “Youth empowerment is and should be treated as a major driver in critically redressing several social ills such as unemployment, illiteracy, poverty etc. As it is a broad context, it requires joint efforts from both the government and private institution to address each facets that sums up youth empowerment. Good governmental economic policies solving pain points like low interest loan acquisition, funding opportunities, equipment/asset purchase, ease of doing business etc. should be implemented so as to ensure the growth and survival of these small businesses and its owners. Consumption of local contents can only be encouraged when the necessary raw materials and equipment is cheap and accessible for production.”
Chisom can be connected through: Twitter and Instagram: @mrchisom_ Facebook/LinkedIn: Chisomaga Ukaegbu