How an Online Course Gave Rise to Africa’s First Consulting Platform
June 5, 2017
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Name: Glory Enyinnaya
Country of Origin/Residence: Nigeria
Global Scholars Program: Africa Platform Management, Strategy, & Innovation
Education: B.Sc. (First Class Honors) Accounting from the University of Nigeria; Change Management certification from Prosci; Executive MBA from Lagos Business School
Work Experience: Management consultant at Accenture, the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria, British-American Tobacco and several Oil and Gas companies. Founder and Lead Consultant, Kleos Advisory
Inspiration: The desire to contribute to the ‘’Africa Rising’’ narrative
Glory Enyinnaya was among the 50 participants from the “Platform Management, Strategy, & Innovation,” CGE’s inaugural course in April of 2016. Since participating in the course, Glory has created her own online consulting platform, KleosAfrica.com, to help businesses based in Nigeria gain access to affordable management consultants. Glory is a former Accenture consultant and is completing her MBA at Lagos Business School, but says the transition from corporate consultant to entrepreneur blossomed during the course. As Kleos Africa ventures into the market, CGE discussed Glory’s new platform and how she has applied lessons learned from the Global Scholars program to her new venture.
Tell us about your background and how the idea for Kleos Africa came to be.
I was born in the sprawling metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria. I attended Chrisland Primary School and the Nigerian Air Force Secondary School, where I served as the Deputy Head Girl. I began quite early in my life to take the road less travelled. In Nigeria, bright students usually study the sciences – Medicine, Engineering or Architecture – but I wanted a career in business so I chose to study Accounting instead. Even as an adolescent, I marched to the beat of my own drum. I was subsequently admitted into the University of Nigeria, where I studied Accounting as a Shell National Merit Scholar and graduated with a First Class Honors degree, after holding a couple of student leadership positions.
After a brief stint as an investment banker, I was fortunate to be employed in my dream job as a management consultant in Accenture. I was there for five years and gained exposure to the fundamentals of management consulting. Subsequently, I left to pursue my interest in change management as an independent consultant.
I see my work as a businesswoman as a vocation and a calling that gives meaning to my life. My entrepreneurial aspirations led me to invest in an MBA from Lagos Business School. I chose LBS because the school places a strong emphasis on ethical business practices. It also offers a world-class business education and the Executive MBA, in particular, offers excellent opportunities for immediate application of the knowledge acquired in the classroom.
While at LBS, I was privileged to be a participant in the maiden edition of the ‘Africa Platform Management, Strategy and Innovation’ course hosted by the Center for Global Enterprise. The initial idea for KleosAfrica was birthed as a result of the program. During the application process, we were asked how we would apply the knowledge from the course and I had my ‘’Eureka’’ moment: I could create a platform for African freelance consultants!
At the same time, I was asked to develop a marketing plan for my MBA Marketing class. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to make a difference, I shared the idea for KleosAfrica with 250 SMEs and received an overwhelmingly positive response! And … the rest, as they say, is history!
How does KleosAfrica meet an unmet need in Nigeria?
KleosAfrica meets the needs of two key stakeholder groups: senior managers/business owners and skilled professionals.
Studies have shown that small firms play an important role in the growth of the Nigerian economy. However, Nigerian small businesses often suffer from a dearth of the managerial skills critically needed for successful business operations. These skills include proficiency in Finance, Operations, HR, Marketing etc. This leads them to make sub-optimal competitive decisions, ignore strategic threats and fail to use scarce resources maximally.
Meanwhile, there are many skilled professionals (both within and outside Nigeria) who have three problems: excess spare time, inadequate current income and under-utilized business acumen developed at previous employment and during business school. There are also local and foreign MBA students with the skills and the passion to support the development of African businesses, but without a feasible channel to connect them to business owners.
Our online platform will connect senior managers and business owners in need of strategy consulting, financial modeling, managerial accounting, marketing and other services with skilled professionals and business school students seeking to earn spare money to pay for tuition, discretionary and living expenses.
SMEs cannot afford McKinsey, Accenture or PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But our platform gives them affordable access to the intellectual horsepower behind those firms’ client output. In other words, we will be ‘’McKinsey for SMEs’’ or ‘’Uber for consultants.’’
Our online consulting platform will reduce the huge failure rate of small businesses in Nigeria by providing affordable, innovative and premium solutions to SMEs. We expect this to have a multiplier effect on the per capita income and economic growth of Africa.
What were the most important lessons learned during the “Platform Management, Strategy, & Innovation” course?
I gained two major benefits from the course: new skills and a wider network.
Taking the course exposed me to the fundamentals of the platform business model. This included elements such as the revenue model, impact of network effects, governance models, value creation, growth constraints and mitigation strategies. Three books, in particular, stood out for me. ‘’Platform Revolution’’ written by Sangeet Choudary, Geoff Parker, and Marshall Van Alstyne of the Massachusetts institute of Technology has been my manual for my business. I have a dog-eared copy in my laptop bag which I refer to all the time. Another great book is ‘’Platform Scale’’ written by Sangeet Choudary. Finally, ‘’The Digital Transformation Playbook’’ by David Rogers of Columbia Business School helped me define the business model for the platform.
In addition to the skills I gained, my network also expanded to include my CGE angels (such as Amy, Kristen and Ira) and my TA team (such as Francine Beleyi, Timothy, Aluko, Ayobami and Chris). I can’t fail to mention the insightful mentoring and support I’ve received from Dr. Yinka David-West, the Lagos Business School faculty on the program. I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t accepted me into the program.
How did the course help you accelerate your career goals?
When I left Accenture, I knew I would like to set up a consulting firm of my own someday. That was one of the driving forces behind my decision to embark on the MBA journey at LBS. However, I always assumed my firm would have the traditional pipeline model. The course opened my eyes to an innovation which transformed my vision for my career and enabled me to be of service to my immediate community. I’m aware a similar course on Platform Strategy is offered at the Massachussets Institute of Technology for $3,700 (excluding accommodations). I’m grateful to have had it for free, from the comfort of my MacBook Air.
There’s no such thing as perfect execution when it comes to a business plan. Entrepreneurs have to be practical and flexible. Tell us how you’ve had to change your original plan.
Indeed, I’ve had to pivot on the following elements of my business model:
Customers: I started out thinking KleosAfrica would be a social enterprise providing quality consulting services at heavily subsidized prices to SMEs. I realised that, without regular and guaranteed funding, that model is not very sustainable. It’s evolved to be a profit-oriented enterprise for larger businesses (not just early-stage startups)
Services: I started out wanting to offer purely MBA-type analysis and strategy consulting. Based on the demand from the market, I’ve now decided to include other professional services ranging from Legal services to Website design.
Execution Approach: I started out wanting to follow the entrepreneurial steps I learned from the Wharton course step-by-step. Similar to executing a project workplan. Then I read a Harvard Business School case about Hourly Nerd, a platform with a similar business model, and I decided to be less rigid and just do it! Focus on achieving product-market fit, and let all the paperwork come later.
What type of clients do you hope to attract? How can they use the platform?
Business owners and senior managers in need of temporary consulting assistance are welcome to post projects on the platform. Our prices are significantly lower than those of traditional firms, which enables us to serve small and medium sized enterprises that are unattractive for larger firms. Similarly, we offer consulting services to managers in larger companies who lack the budget to purchase services from the firms that serve senior executives. You can sign up as an employer here, view profiles of our consultants here and post a project here. Here’s a brief overview on how the process works.
What type of consultants do you hope to attract? How can they use the platform?
KleosAfrica consultants have an average of 8+ years of experience. They range from stay-at-home parents with operational experience, to former consultants from large firms seeking better work-life balance, to business school students anxious to earn money during school, to international business school students and consultants looking to contribute to Africa’s development, to retired professionals looking to monetize their experience. We are interested in both independent consultants and boutique consulting firms. You can sign up as a consultant here. There’s no cost for registering as a consultant.
What career and life advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Three prominent business leaders wrote a book that says successful businesses are built by heart, smarts, guts and luck. Building on that premise, my advice is four-fold:
Heart: I’d like to quote Sarah Blakeley, the billionaire founder of Spanx, ‘’I didn’t have the most experience, or the most money, but I cared the most.’’ Find a group of people you care about, find out what their problems are and commit to solving them, with the resources at your disposal. And if you don’t have enough resources, find them! Love will find a way.
Smarts: Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin, said ‘’Launching a business is an adventure in problem-solving.’’ In a rapidly changing business environment, in order to survive, you must have an unquenchable thirst to learn. After the CGE course, I went on to take additional courses from Wharton Business School, IE Business School, Bocconi University and Acumen to increase my knowledge of how to be an entrepreneur.
Guts: Don’t be afraid to aim high. In the words of Robert Browning, the poet, ‘’ Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?’’
Luck: According to Carl Zuckmeyer, ‘’One half of life is luck; the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for without discipline you wouldn’t know what to do with luck.’’ So, time and chance do happen to all men, but be alert so that when your chance comes, you take it!