In spite of his role as the Co-founder and Head, Business Development at VoguePay and his status as a well-known techpreneur, in person, Mohammed Jega is warm and jovial. He speaks with passion, an insightful understanding of the tech ecosystem in Nigeria and beyond and a profound desire to leave his footprints in the sands of time.
“I was seeing the future in the early 2000s,” said Mr Jega, stating that he moved on to IT after he studied Business Administration.
Mohammed narrated the journey from when he began to see ideas turning into solutions and how access to the internet at home gave him an opportunity to do a lot of research. This also enabled him to learn application development and keep abreast of global tech events.
The Kaduna-bred techpreneur said he was able to penetrate the market and enlighten people in the state because tech was not a big deal at that time.
“This led me to get a second degree in Computer Science and a certificate in Assessing Information Systems to have the prerequisites; something to reinforce my thirst for technology,” he said.
The VoguePay Partnership
His core motivation to impact the tech ecosystem, the economy and of course people led him to go into a partnership to establish an online payment processor – an idea that was relatively new in Nigeria.
He says he had made a lot of mistakes and would later understand the quote: “if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go with someone.”
He believes that, “Having a team spirit has kept VoguePay going, especially as it is a group of culturally and religiously diverse individuals with different skills, strengths and capabilities. With our individual efforts in various departments, we’ve been able to reach targeted milestones.”
On the Ease of Doing Business
This is a conversation that has become a source of concern, as analysts will regularly argue that doing business in Nigeria is more Herculean than imagined.
Being a co-founder of Domineum and the founder of Startup Arewa, Mr Jega agrees that “Nigeria is an entrepreneur’s haven but an obvious lack of a support structure has notably affected the growth of entrepreneurship. There is a lot of potential, young people who have ideas, solutions that can turn things around but these ideas blur out with no motivation.”
Yet, he highlights that there are individuals who have braved the storm, used competitive advantage and human resources to build technologies to solve problems.
“Talents are everywhere in the country,” he begins. Then he continues. “We have a lot of bright minds but no one is talking to them and many of them have lost direction.”
He adds that there are hopeful and confident people thinking of solving problems with tech and “seeing that energy from young people gives me hope because our generation are digital natives. We were born with computers and were born to break barriers. So growth is possible if we are ready to do it right.”
Lessons From The Past
Who does not have a past to learn from? For Mohammed, it is trying to be the ‘Jack of all trades’. However, he says “through the years as an entrepreneur, I’ve realised that you can’t do it alone and you can’t know it all. You, therefore, need to have a support structure – a team. You also need to understand your strengths, your unique selling point, weaknesses, learn from your mistakes and build on them.”
Think Local, Act Global
On this one, the techpreneur says you should be building products and services for the global market.
“If you are innovative and want to launch a product, you should understand the dynamics of it. For example, when we were building our product, we understood that the financial tenure of the industry has come to stay and a lot of people feel convenient and comfortable doing online transactions irrespective of their location. We also decided to give customers a game-changer product which can give them a sense of belonging.”
Omoleye is a Content Developer, Editor/Strategist, research writer, journalist and social media manager