Kofoworola Oyeleye is the brain behind Iyin-Creative. Her quest to preserve our indigenous languages stirred her to produce cartoons in different local languages. So far, she has created cartoons in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. In this interview, she tells us
Why did you choose to go into this business?
I wanted to create a fun cartoon to help my daughter learn our native language (Yoruba). During my research, however, I realised that the decline in the speaking of our native tongue wasn’t just a Yoruba problem but a challenge faced by a lot of African countries due to our colonial heritage.
Did you receive any formal training for this?
I self-trained with videos, practice and tutorials.
How did you get funds to start the business?
I started the business with personal funds combined with a government grant I won (YouWin).
How long does it take you to make one of these cartoons?
It depends on the concept and script. We spent 10 months in production of ‘Anilingo’. A 1-minute clip could take up to 3 weeks.
What are the challenges you face doing this business and how have you overcome them?
I’ve faced the challenges of skill and market access. Getting Animators with satisfactory skill level was a challenge because we have few Animators in Nigeria, which makes the options limited.
This has been solved over time as I built my team.
As regards market access, there have been certain markets we have found difficult to penetrate because of the usual Nigerian factor of not having anyone on the inside.
I never give up though, and this has led to breakthroughs. Persistence is key.
How is the patronage for your products? Would you say Nigerians are buying more of made in Nigeria products like yours?
Patronage is growing by the day. Response has been positive so far, with the general feedback being a request for more content.
Nigerians recognise and love quality; our cartoons are fun and world class productions. We have cartoons in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
How many people have your trained on this job?
Aside cartoons for cultural promotion, we are the organisers of Nigeria’s premier Animation Summer Camp. Through this, we have trained about 40 children so far.
We also have a minimum of one intern with us every year for the past four years, who learn to animate with us, while gaining work experience and getting paid.
How many jobs have you created so far?
I have created 12 jobs so far.
How has technology enhanced your business idea?
My business itself is technology-based. I self-trained successfully thanks to technology, and I’m able to connect to global opportunities thanks to technology.
Who are your target markets?
Our target audience are children accessed through their parents and significant adults in their lives.
Our clients are private individuals, educational institutions, toy stores, bookstores, supermarkets, and corporate organisations.
What is the secret of a successful business?
I’m not sure there’s a particular “secret” to a successful business. One thing though is it is important to have a clear idea of what you want to do, study your audience, and be adaptable to change.
At what stage did you know you were going to become an entrepreneur?
From when I was a child, I always knew I was going to own a business of my own, I just never knew I was going to own an animation company. This came about in response to a need.
As a child, I had different businesses at different times (unregistered). First was greeting cards production, then fashion.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
Enjoy what you do and be persistent. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll give up easily when things get tough.
What key things have you learned doing business?
The greatest opportunities sometimes come from where you least expect.
How can we support and improve innovation in Nigeria?
By investing in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEM), and making financing available for innovative business ideas.
What 5 things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
Have a plan. Your plan may not always play out as you thought, but that’s okay. Again, be persistent, network, treat people fairly. Also, read wide (not just books, magazines and articles too) particularly as regards your industry and listen to the news.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
I see us expanding and becoming truly Pan-African in content production and presence. In five years, we would be catering to a minimum of 20 other African languages.
What advice do you have for other women who want to go into business?
Put your fears aside, do your homework and go for it.
What is your educational qualification?
I have a B.A in History and International Relations from Lagos State University, a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from Pan-Atlantic University’s EDC, and I undertook the Business and Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College New Hampshire (YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship).
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