Interview: Our priority is to build future leaders at Ausso Leadership Academy-Okere

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Austin Okere, Ausso Leadership Academy
Austin Okere, Founder of Ausso Leadership Academy

The founder of the Ausso Leadership Academy, Mr. Austin Okere speaks to Journalists in Lagos, on the motivation behind the setting up of the Academy and how it will build entrepreneurs to have double digit growth in their revenue. ITPulse’s Martin Ekpeke was there.

What are the motivations behind the Ausso Leadership Academy?

Three things motivated me to set up the Ausso Leadership Academy; I want to give to entrepreneurs the advice I would have given my younger self. Maybe if I had somebody to advise me, I wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes I made in my entrepreneurial journey.  The second thing is to give to other people the mentorship I think I have.

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The third thing is some parents spent so much money to send their children abroad for education, and when they finish school over there, they don’t come back home because they believe there is nothing in Nigeria. What that means is that we are inadvertently donating a whole generation of our youths to contribute to another man’s economy.

For me, the best they can be in another man’s country is a second class citizen; whereas their nation needs them. So, I said to myself, there is a need to mentor businesses to grow geometrically to optimize the jobs they create in order to have shared prosperity. When we have shared prosperity, all citizens would be uplifted. So what we intend to do here is to compliment the business growth and not a substitute for business growth.

The Ausso Leadership Academy is not only for us; it is called ‘Entreprenuer Hub’. Any entrepreneur that wants to use it is free to use it. Everything you need as a business or entrepreneur has been provided

Many businesses fail in Nigeria because we are not putting innovative thinking and inputs. Businesses also fail because there are no structures and institutionalization. If there are no structures and institutionalization, the business cannot transit beyond the owner, and that is really frightening.

The third thing, why businesses fail is ethical conduct; the most expensive customer, you have is the one you acquired the first time. After that the cost of acquisition is zero, making your profit to increase even with the word of mouth.

Our desire is to teach the man from what he can get from the first transaction and the customer will never go back. We are also providing networking opportunities for people coming here because they would be able to meet their peers and champions of industry.

All the people in Nigeria that have been successful in business will be coming to share their experience at the Ausso Leadership Academy. Here also, we are mentoring people who we believe are entrepreneur, but have no intention of establishing their business, instead they prefer to work in an established business. They are the entrepreneurial mind of that business.

I am sure every business that would pass through the Ausso Leadership Academy should be able to increase their revenue double digit after one year. It is not just a touch and go programme because we would maintain contact with everybody that would pass the Academy through the Alumni Association. We would also continue to set them up for a one-on-one mentorship with a mentor.

The facility is not only for us; it is called ‘Entreprenuer Hub’. Any entrepreneur that wants to use it is free to use. Everything you need as a business or entrepreneur is here.

Is there any form of transition from the Ausso Leadership Academy to the business world?

What we have done is to talk to many investors, who are willing to invest money. But no investor wants to just put in money in a business without knowing when, how or what measure he will get his money back.

We are typically looking for businesses in scaling mode. That is, a business that has already showed potentials, but need just a push. These are the people we believe will benefit more

The investor will ask what the investment plans towards a liquidity event? So, what we have done is to partner with local and foreign investors who want to invest their money. Some want to invest out of good will, but they want a return. Some want to invest because they don’t want to keep their money in the bank.

So we asked those who wants to attract investments to go through a process of due diligence, a process where you will be guided on whatever you need from the investor. We always advise entrepreneurs not to take all the money needed from an investor once. It should be done bit by bit. Don’t take what you cannot swallow.

Many businesses fail in Nigeria because we are not putting innovative thinking and inputs. Businesses also fail because there are no structures and institutionalization

What qualifies an entrepreneur for this Leadership Academy?

What qualifies you is your willingness to improve yourself and the ability to learn. We are typically looking for businesses in scaling mode. That is, a business that has already showed potentials, but need just a push. These are the people we believe will benefit more. When businesses in scaling mode are empowered, they will flourish and in turn, positively impact the entire ecosystem.

What is the duration of the Academy?

We have conducted a 3-weeks Masterclass, which is a signature class of the Academy. It was a three weeks intensive class… 9am-3pm every day for the three weeks. It was a flagship programme.

We used the first week to tell entrepreneur not to be trapped in what they have already invested. That is their legacy. If it doesn’t take you anywhere, cut your losses. Forget about what you have already invested and reinvest yourself to do new things. We took them through practical programmes in the first week that will make them challenge all their assumptions.

During the second week, the champions came around to give accounts of their experiences. Next month, on the 4th of June precisely, we will begin the second flagship class. We have broken it into 3 one-week courses for people that cannot do three weeks.

We also have compact designed for private companies and other institutions. We are also looking at government retirees who need mentorship.

Nigeria appears to have a knowledge gap, especially among the youths. How will the Academy bridge that gap?

Our priority is to develop people who will be charged of institutions both in the private and public level. Nobody can give more than he has; you can only give what is inside you. The way you can improve what is in you is the human capital development of yourself. There is a need to develop the human capital of our citizen, even the politicians because any politician that doesn’t have a strong human capital development will fail those he governs. And when that happens, the country pays dearly for it. Many institutions are failing in Nigeria today because of lack of human capital development.

Do you have scholarship programmes?

Yes, we have scholarship and it is 10 percent of the fee being paid by those coming. Apart from that, we are coming up with a transparent way, where some people will by chance, not merit get scholarship from the Ausso Leadership Academy.

Some parents spent so much money to send their children abroad for education, and when they finish school over there, they don’t come back home because they believe there is nothing in Nigeria. What that means is that we are inadvertently donating a whole generation of our youths to contribute to another man’s economy

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