Meet Ibrahim Maigari, Lawyer and CEO of Livestock247. He spoke with us about the challenges he has encountered so far as an entrepreunuer. Read more.
Give us a brief introduction about you.
My name is Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu. I am the CEO of Livestock247. I am a Lawyer by training and I have been a lawyer for 30 years now. I am originally a Lawyer that has a background in Business Management and IT. I have worked in various industries in the past for the last decade. I have been an entrepreneur, basically in the IT space and also done a lot of things with a lot of organizations in terms of enterprise IT Solutions. One of which then was a partnership with MTN where we invented and developed a solution called the MTN Animal Identification Solution. Our Company did that in partnership with MTN. It’s actually our product but it is widely known as an MTN product for strategic reasons. That led to Livestock247 as it’s the technology that is powering livestock247. So here we are, we are just opportune to be here.
What was your biggest challenge in building yourself as an entrepreneur?
Well, like most serial entrepreneurs will tell you, I am not that successful but there is something that is consistent with entrepreneurship,when we were starting, we didn’t have the opportunities that most startups have these days like access to information, access to mentoring ,good mentors that will really tell you which way to do it. So we basically had to learn through the school of hardknocks, win some, lose some and of course funding too was another issue, I mean we didn’t have venture capital funds available like most entrepreneurs do have today, we had to sacrifice ownership of small startups because we needed funds, we needed networks and a lot of other things. As an entrepreneur, in the beginning we went through a lot of such issues, like funding, networking, acceptability and the whole point of seeing things differently especially for people. For instance, where I am from, the norm is government salary employment and when you say you are stepping out to do your own thing, people look at you as if you have gone bunkers, sort of. My last employment was as a General Manager in an Oil company, which was one of the last jobs I had and I left to start my own thing and people were questioning my sanity and stating that I was dumping a secure 6-digits monthly income to the world of uncertainty. And if you didn’t have it right, people will be looking at you and saying you should go look for another job before you run out of ideas so basically all that.
How did you come about your brand?
Livestock 247 has been around in terms of the concept, we knew where we were going,right from when we started. But we have been in the animal space for almost 6 years now. Like I mentioned earlier, we were worried then in the north because of issues like cattle rustling, farmer-herder crisis and its social-economic and political issues and as people that are descendants of cattle herders and butchers and farmers, it is the tradition of the north, so we thought to ourselves that since we are in the technology era, we shouldn’t allow things to degenerate into a level of stupidity and that we should get solutions. So we researched around the world and countries that have similarities with Nigeria in terms of cattle density, pastoral nature and grazing and we benchmarked some countries to look into and the challenges they were going through and the way it correlates with what we were going through then also.
In Nigeria, we have people that have assets that are supposed to propel a person to economic greatness, but instead of becoming a blessing, it’s a curse to people who own the assets and to our neighbours, i.e the farmers. So we decided to take things serious and come up with a solution. We got to know about Animal Identification and traceability globally. Its a contract that countries including Nigeria have signed into. We stumbled on a gold mine. We did research, attended a lot of seminars around the world and got to know how we can solve the problem. So we developed the animal identification system mentioned earlier, MTN Nigeria heard about it and we co-created it and partnered with them and launched it. Launching the Animal Identification System with MTN exposed us to the opportunities in the livestock sector and its a multi-billion dollar industry that is unstructured , not formalized and ran as archaic as you can imagine with opaque pricing system and its also something that is predominantly controlled by one part of the country and we thought, that is not the way to go about doing things. We gave an example, with poultry, poultry is not ethnical, you don’t see poultry as just the igbo people controlling the poultry business in Nigeria or the yoruba people or the Hausa People. Poultry is a business but when you see Cow, the first thing that comes to your mind is a Mallam, with things that way, the business will never scale.
So with that we took things very serious from the Animal Identification, we saw that as an opportunity and we saw the unstructured nature of the business, no financial inclusion, which is basically a cash based business. A business that runs on Opaque credit system. So that became a passion for us. If we really wanted to help solve this problem, we needed to bring technology into it and we also stumbled on the issue of health. Most people consume without knowing where it comes from and we did some research and discovered that Nigeria is No 2 for the presence of Zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are diseases passed from Animal to Human. Diseases that emanate from animals like tuberculosis. About 70-75% of infectious human diseases are caused by animals and 5 new diseases emerge every year and 3 are of animal origin like anthrax. And why we have this high rate is because of veterinary oversight. What we eat from the cow is supposed to have been checked. It’s what we call fit for Slaughter. It’s also supposed to be fit for transportation before it even leaves point a to point b, there are supposed to be permits also but all those systems aren’t put in place. We are not even talking about the hygiene of the slaughterhouse and processing. We don’t address this issues in the country so we see ourselves as the triangle of health, technology and commerce and we developed a platform to become Livestock 247, Nigeria’s 1st Online marketplace . Because we want to bring buyers,sellers, veterinary professionals, banks , service providers, butchers and abattoirs on one platform on the condition that everyone who is trading on the platform must meet our very strong, undiluted veterinary conditions . The livestock must be fit for slaughter, must be traceable so that whatever you are getting into your house to eat emanates from a good source that is very good.
What would you say would be your three key points for entrepreneurs coming up?
- Relentless Tenacity is a character that all entrepreneurs must have. You have to be relentlessly tenacious.
- You have to be focused.
- You have to have the intensity to go after your dreams.
These are three things all entrepreneurs must have, which means all other things that we have like perseverance and ups and downs still boils down to being relentlessly tenacious. You will go through obstacles, you will go through bad days, you will win some and lose some but you are focused and because you know what is coming, you won’t look out for bad days but when it comes, you will rise up. Even when you have an obstacle, its either you go up or under but one way or another , you will go through it. As long as you know your dream, vision or goal, you need to have the intensity to go for it. Because Entrepreneurship is not a picnic,It’s like jumping out of an aircraft without a parachute.
It was great meeting with Ibrahim Maigari and learning from him. You can also check out his brand here
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