Augustine Olugbemia, also known as Sleek, provides loan and financial services to the unbanked, underbanked and financially excluded people in Nigeria.
“While I was running my first enterprise as a start-up, I had a big problem in accessing loan and credit facilities as working capital to grow and expand my business.”
“I realised many SMEs and individuals lacks access to loans and financial services needed for their daily business transactions and other responsibilities due to the heavy barriers created by formal financial institutions before one could access full financial services.”
“These barriers include high-interest rate on loans, high security and collateral demand, lack of presence in rural communities etc.”
“So I decided to created models that suit these set of financially-excluded ones’ uniqueness in order to give them the chance to easily access and enjoy loan facilities and other financial services regardless of location and income level.”
“I drew my inspiration from the huge number of people waiting to be rescued from poverty and unemployment through access to affordable financial services to achieve their dream.”
“Also, I am a strong believer in the Africapitalism philosophy which states that the African private sector can provide the needed social investment, innovations and solution to solve Africa’s problem.”
“Being a strong follower of Tony O. Elumelu, I believe there needs to be a strong partnership between the public and private sector to bring about transformation to solve poverty, unemployment, hunger etc. from her continent to becoming the envy of the world.”
Speaking about a project that increased his belief in himself, Augustine has this to say, “I started my entrepreneurial journey fully in 2014 when I co-founded my first enterprise. I started out in the fashion industry by establishing a unisex clothing production line from scratch without formal training.”
“I assembled a team of experienced people in all the needed fields, applied for a grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation on behalf of the firm to fund the project and was fortunate to win it, and there we started out.”
“The enterprise is about to celebrate her fourth year anniversary in less than five months time and I have grown from a no-experience clothing firm to one boasting of over one hundred reoccurring clients on the average. We have grown from three-man team to eight full/ part-time employees.”
“I can boldly say, ‘rising from zero to hero without being born with a silver spoon is possible. This has built my self-belief and my managerial capacity so much.”
Now, he is seeking for mentoring and incubation platforms, seed funding, venture capital and networking
He believes youths in Nigeria can be adequately empowered by providing them with real mentoring built on deep concern and relationship.
“They need both technical mentoring and seed capital to execute their ideas. Enough of the blame games with no one adequately holding their hands and walking them through practical life to stardom.”
The Spark is a social enterprise bridging the gap between entrepreneurs that need access to growth resources and the industry leaders, philanthropists, socially-minded individuals and organizations with the requisite resources to give such access.