Gabriel Ogundele is a marketing strategist and digital transformation expert. He has a proven record of driving growth through innovative campaigns and impactful branding. With over five years of experience in the marketing industry, he has successfully led cross-functional teams to deliver integrated marketing solutions for various clients.
He has a knack for learning, this led him to start AKOWE XYZ as a way to revolutionize the African education system.
Gabriel is a 2023 Top 50 Remarkable Founder recognized by MSME Africa on World MSME Day and he shares some of his inspiration and future plans for the AKOWE XYZ with us, Excerpts below
What inspired you to start AKOWE XYZ?
The problem with education in Africa is multifaceted and complex and stems from various socio-economic, cultural, and infrastructural challenges. While progress has been made in recent years, several key issues continue to hinder the development and accessibility of quality education across the continent. We recognized three main thematic areas, which are;
– Affordability: Access to affordable education and global learning opportunities because of poverty and low income.
– Accessibility: Access to quality educational infrastructures because of geographical remoteness, and inadequate infrastructure (rural communities).
– Language Barrier: The diversity of languages spoken across Africa poses a significant challenge to education. Access to learning in local languages. Availability of locally created courses and classes.
This is why AKOWE XYZ came into existence, providing accessible and affordable quality education and global learning opportunities to millions of Africans in several African languages.
How do you balance running business operations with your role as a digital marketing strategist?
As the Founder of AKOWE XYZ, balancing business operations with my role as a digital marketing strategist with LUMINA (a digital media agency) is undoubtedly challenging but also incredibly rewarding. It requires meticulous time management, effective delegation, and constant communication with my team.
To ensure a smooth balance, I prioritize setting clear goals and maintaining a well-structured schedule. I delegate specific tasks to competent team members, empowering them to take ownership and excel in their roles. This not only frees up some of my time but also fosters a sense of ownership and motivation among the team.
Moreover, I am an avid believer in leveraging technology to streamline processes. By utilizing digital tools and automation, I can optimize marketing strategies while keeping a close eye on business operations.
Communication is paramount in managing both aspects of my work. I regularly hold team meetings to discuss progress, address challenges, and align our efforts. This helps maintain a collaborative and cohesive work environment.
In addition, I allocate time for personal development and learning. Staying updated with the latest marketing trends and industry developments is crucial to providing the best strategies for AKOWE XYZ and my clients.
Ultimately, the key to successful balance is knowing when to prioritize certain tasks and when to seek support from my team. By staying agile and adaptable, I can confidently navigate the demands of both running the business and excelling as a digital marketing strategist.
How do you keep up with the latest trends in the industry?
Staying abreast of the latest trends in the industry is vital to providing cutting-edge services and delivering impactful results for our clients.
Here are a few ways I keep up with the fast-paced and ever-evolving digital landscape:
Continuous Learning: I make it a priority to invest time in continuous learning. I attend industry conferences, webinars, and workshops to gain insights from experts and thought leaders. Additionally, I actively participate in online communities and forums to exchange knowledge and stay updated on emerging trends.
Industry Publications and Blogs: I follow reputable industry publications and blogs that cover topics related to ed-tech, digital marketing, social media, content strategy, and technology. This helps me stay informed about the latest advancements, best practices, and case studies.
Networking: Building a strong network within the ed-tech and digital media community is crucial. I engage in networking events, join professional associations, and connect with fellow specialists and experts. These connections often lead to valuable discussions and idea exchanges.
Social Media Monitoring: Social media platforms are excellent sources for real-time updates on industry trends. I closely monitor industry-related hashtags, follow influential accounts, and participate in relevant discussions to gain insights and stay current. Also, I stay away from wahala and controversial discussions.
Analyzing Competitors: Keeping an eye on competitors’ strategies and campaigns can provide valuable insights into emerging trends and what works in the current market. Analyzing their successes and failures helps me refine our own approach.
Testing and Experimentation: I believe in testing new strategies and technologies. By implementing A/B testing and experimenting with innovative tools, we can identify what resonates best with our audience and adapt accordingly.
Collaborating with the Team: I encourage open communication and knowledge sharing within our team to ensure that everyone stays updated on the latest trends. Regular brainstorming sessions and idea sharing foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Monitoring Data and Analytics: Data-driven decision-making is essential in ed-tech and digital marketing. We closely monitor analytics and performance metrics to identify patterns and opportunities for improvement.
By embracing a proactive approach to learning, staying connected with industry peers, and analyzing data-driven insights, I can consistently stay ahead of the curve and deliver impactful solutions and improvements for AKOWE XYZ and our valued clients.
How do you develop and implement digital marketing strategies that are effective in the Nigerian market?
Developing and implementing effective digital marketing strategies in the Nigerian market requires a deep understanding of the local culture, consumer behaviour, and digital landscape.
From conducting thorough market research to understand the preferences, needs, and pain points of the Nigerian audience. This involves analyzing demographic data, online behaviour, and consumer trends to tailor strategies accordingly. Also, localizing content to resonate with the Nigerian audience. I ensure that the content is culturally relevant and localized. This includes using language, imagery, and references that align with Nigerian culture.
Nigeria has a high mobile penetration rate, making mobile optimization crucial. I prioritize creating mobile-friendly websites, responsive emails, and ad campaigns to reach users on their preferred devices.
You can also attest to the fact that social media is a powerful platform in Nigeria. I leverage popular local social media platforms and engage with the audience through relevant content, contests, and interactive campaigns. Partnering with local influencers who have a significant following and credibility in the Nigerian market can boost brand visibility and trust.
Lastly, I consider local partnerships, email marketing, SEO, and, most importantly, everything must meet the compliance and legal conditions of the Nigerian Market.
By combining these strategies and continuously monitoring the market landscape, I develop and implement effective digital marketing campaigns that resonate with the Nigerian audience, drive engagement, and deliver tangible results for AKOWE XYZ and our clients.
As the founder and CEO, how do you empower and motivate your team to do their best work?
As the Founder and CEO of AKOWE XYZ, empowering and motivating my team to do their best work is a top priority for me. I believe that a motivated and engaged team is essential for the success of our organization. I implement a few strategies to foster a positive and productive work environment
I ensure that the team is aligned with our company’s vision and mission. By setting clear and achievable goals, team members understand their roles and contributions to the overall success of AKOWE XYZ.
I maintain open and transparent communication with the team. Regular team meetings, one-on-one discussions, and feedback sessions allow for idea sharing, addressing concerns, and fostering a sense of belonging.
I believe in empowering my team members to take ownership of their work and make decisions. Encouraging autonomy and providing a supportive environment for creativity and innovation boost team morale and confidence.
I make it a point to recognize and celebrate individual and team achievements. Publicly acknowledging their hard work and contributions reinforces a positive culture and motivates them to excel further.
I invest in the professional development of my team members. Providing opportunities for skill enhancement, attending workshops, and gaining certifications not only improves their expertise but also shows that we value their growth.
Assigning challenging and meaningful projects to team members allows them to stretch their abilities and showcase their talents. The sense of accomplishment gained from overcoming challenges contributes to their motivation and job satisfaction.
I promote a healthy work-life balance by encouraging flexible working hours and offering support during challenging times. This helps prevent burnout and ensures that team members can maintain their well-being.
I lead by example and demonstrate the values and work ethic I expect from the team. By being a role model, I inspire my team to adopt a similar dedication and commitment to their roles.
I foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration and mutual support creates a strong sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.
I provide regular constructive feedback and growth opportunities for team members to develop their skills and progress in their careers within AKOWE XYZ.
I believe that by empowering and motivating my team’s well-being and growth, they can do their best work and ultimately contribute to the continued success and growth of AKOWE XYZ.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in running a digital learning platform in Nigeria, and how did you overcome them?
Running a digital learning platform in Nigeria has been a rewarding journey, but it has also come with its share of challenges. Here are some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced and how I’ve overcome them:
Internet Connectivity: In Nigeria, internet connectivity can be inconsistent and unreliable in certain regions. To address this challenge, we’ve optimized our platform to be accessible on low bandwidths, and we provide downloadable resources for offline access. Additionally, we plan to partner with local internet service providers to improve connectivity in areas with limited access.
Digital Literacy: While digital literacy is steadily increasing in Nigeria, some individuals still face challenges navigating online platforms. To overcome this, we offer user-friendly interfaces, conduct webinars and workshops to familiarize users with the platform, and provide prompt and excellent customer support for any technical queries.
Language Localization: Nigeria is a diverse country with multiple languages spoken. Ensuring our platform is accessible and relevant to users from different linguistic backgrounds requires ongoing efforts in content localization and translation. We work with local experts to ensure our courses and resources are available in multiple languages.
Payment Gateways: Integrating reliable and secure payment gateways for online transactions can be challenging due to specific regulations and varying payment options in Nigeria. We’ve partnered with trusted payment processors to ensure seamless and secure transactions for our users.
Content Relevance: Tailoring our course offerings to meet the specific needs and demands of the Nigerian market requires continuous research and feedback from users. We actively seek input from our learners and industry experts to keep our content relevant and up-to-date.
Digital Marketing and Competition: The digital learning landscape in Nigeria is becoming increasingly competitive. To stand out, we invest in effective digital marketing strategies, harnessing social media, SEO, and email marketing to reach our target audience and showcase the unique value of our platform.
Infrastructural Challenges: Some parts of Nigeria face infrastructural challenges, including power outages. To address this, we offer downloadable course materials and recorded webinars so that learners can access content offline during disruptions.
Bridging the Education Gap: Nigeria has a diverse educational landscape with varying levels of access to formal education. We actively collaborate with schools, non-profit organizations, and government initiatives to bridge the education gap and provide equal learning opportunities to underserved communities.
By being proactive, adaptive, and focused on delivering value to our users, we’ve successfully navigated these challenges. Continuous improvement, listening to user feedback, and staying dedicated to our mission of empowering learners in Nigeria have been integral to overcoming these hurdles and driving the success of AKOWE XYZ as a digital learning platform.
What motivates you to continue growing and expanding your company?
Several factors motivate me to continue growing and expanding AKOWE XYZ
One of the primary motivations is the positive impact we have on the lives of our learners. Witnessing individuals gain new skills, achieve their goals, and unlock their potential through our platform fuels our drive to expand and reach even more people.
The digital learning landscape is ever-evolving, and staying at the forefront of innovation is exciting. Embracing new technologies, learning methodologies, and creative solutions drives us to continually improve our platform and offerings. Hearing success stories from our learners and receiving positive feedback about the value we bring to their lives is incredibly rewarding. It inspires us to keep pushing boundaries and delivering top-notch educational experiences.
As a founder, I feel a responsibility to contribute positively to society. Expanding AKOWE XYZ allows us to bridge the education gap, empower marginalized communities, and promote digital inclusion in Nigeria and beyond. Building a strong team of passionate individuals who share our vision and values is deeply motivating. Seeing our team members grow personally and professionally encourages us to provide new opportunities and expand our company’s reach.
Recognition and accolades from the industry and peers validate our efforts and inspire us to aim higher. Awards and acknowledgements for our work fuel our determination to maintain excellence. The pursuit of knowledge and continuous learning is ingrained in our company’s culture. We are driven by a desire to learn and share our knowledge with others.
The increasing demand for digital education and skill development in Nigeria and Africa motivates us to expand and serve a growing audience seeking quality learning opportunities. Expanding our company’s footprint globally enables us to connect with learners from diverse backgrounds and cultures, fostering a global community of learners.
Above all, the core vision and mission of AKOWE XYZ, which is to provide accessible and affordable education and global learning opportunities to millions of Africans in over 20 African languages, drive our determination. Empowering individuals with digital skills and fostering a culture of lifelong learning aligns with our passion for creating positive change.
In summary, the combination of making a positive impact, continuous learning, team growth, and a commitment to our mission fuels our motivation to continue growing and expanding AKOWE XYZ. We are dedicated to creating a lasting legacy of empowerment and transformation through digital education.
What is Akowe XYZ for growth and social impact in the next 3-5 years?
In the next 3-5 years, Akowe XYZ envisions significant growth and expanded social impact, driven by our commitment to empowering individuals across Africa with digital skills, education, global learning opportunities, and fostering positive change.
Here are a few key areas where we aim to make a difference:
Expanded Course Offerings: AKOWE XYZ plans to diversify and expand our course offerings to cover a broader range of digital skills that are in high demand in the job market. This includes emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and data science, as well as specialized courses tailored to specific industries.
Regional and Global Reach: We aim to extend our reach beyond Nigeria to impact learners across Africa and beyond. By offering localized content and partnerships with regional organizations, we seek to create a global community of learners with a shared commitment to digital empowerment.
Partnerships for Social Impact: Recognizing the importance of digital literacy in today’s rapidly evolving world, we launched the AKOWE Skill-Up Africa Initiative in July 2023, to provide essential digital skills to 100,000 African youths. I am delighted to inform you that we have partnered with Microsoft, a global leader in technology and innovation, to deliver this impactful initiative.
Our existing partnership with Microsoft through the Startups Founders Hub strengthens our ability to deliver high-quality digital skills training and ensure that participants receive industry-relevant knowledge.
AKOWE XYZ will continue forging partnerships with nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government initiatives to amplify our social impact. These collaborations will enable us to provide digital skills training to underserved communities, marginalized groups, and vulnerable populations.
Scholarships and Financial Aid: We are dedicated to making education accessible and affordable to all. Over the next few years, AKOWE XYZ plans to introduce scholarships and financial aid programs, ensuring that cost is not a barrier to learning and skill development.
Enhanced Learning Experience: Our platform will continuously evolve to offer an enhanced and personalized learning experience. Utilizing advanced learning technologies, adaptive content, and interactive assessments, we aim to create an engaging and effective learning environment.
Industry-Recognized Certifications: We will work towards obtaining partnerships with leading industry organizations to offer industry-recognized certifications upon course completion. This will enhance the employability of our learners and open doors to new career opportunities.
Digital Inclusion Initiatives: AKOWE XYZ is committed to promoting digital inclusion. We will support initiatives to bridge the digital divide by providing access to devices, internet connectivity, and digital literacy programs to those who lack them.
Research and Data-Driven Insights: Our commitment to excellence includes continuous research and data analysis to stay updated with industry trends, learner preferences, and evolving market demands. This will enable us to adapt our offerings and strategies accordingly.
Corporate Training and Upskilling: We plan to expand our corporate training programs, partnering with organizations to upskill their workforce and meet the demands of the digital economy.
Advocacy and Policy Engagement: We aim to play an active role in advocating for digital education and skill development at the policy level. By engaging with policymakers, we can promote favourable policies and funding for digital education initiatives.
In the next 3-5 years, AKOWE XYZ will be at the forefront of digital learning in Africa, making a lasting social impact by empowering individuals, transforming communities, and contributing to the continent’s digital revolution. We are excited about the journey ahead and the positive change we can create together.