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ECHub shares a story of motivation, challenges, and growing impact

ECHub shares a story of motivation, challenges and growing impact - Startup Lagos

It is not uncommon to find yourself faced often with electrical outages, or in need of getting some repairs done, and looking for reliable and affordable artisans/electricians to call upon to assist you with solving these challenges. Sometimes, you may go as far as getting contacts of artisans from within your trusted circle of friends and associates. Imagine how easy this process and challenge could be if you could easily access vetted technical professionals, with a clear view of their pricing, and the delivery time.

Tackling this challenge, ECHub is committed to making the contracture of professional and technical services easier for clients and users on their platform. Defining himself as a go-getter, who prefers to see solutions to things, rather than problems, Frankline Ntah is the founder of this enterprising engineering and tech solutions startup. ECHub is registered as the Engineering Concept and Tech Solutions Limited, an emerging African startup that connects clients with qualified and professional artisans. As Frankline shares with Startup Lagos, ECHub branches into three subsidiaries:

  • ECHub services where we offer services of electrical maintenance, carpentry repairs, etc. Through this online platform, artisans receive training in technical skills, are connected to clients that are stranded via an app, and get to earn money from deploying their services.
  • ECHub solutions, where solutions to hardware and software challenges are synthesized.
  • And, education, where the grassroots (primary and secondary schools) are inspired through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching.

As such, ECHub is interested in actively working towards curbing the rising unemployment rates in the country, and is targeting skill development and learning at the professional and grassroots levels. In the former, the startup is teaching technical skills to artisans, through the ECHub services subsidiary and connecting them to jobs. These artisans register on the platform as freelancers and are able to gain greater visibility for their services.

With regards to the latter, the startup is helping to grow interests in tech and STEM subjects right up from primary and secondary school levels and has run a number of educational seminars within schools to achieve this.

Why is ECHub relevant?

Frankline’s first motivation for his startup comes from his commitment to reducing the unemployment rate in Nigeria. The unemployment rate in the country hit its lowest ebb at 33.3% as reported by Bloomberg, with this figure dipping further to 53.4% for youth within the ages of 15 to 24 years. These figures also represent a dismal productivity rate for the Nigerian workforce, with a lot of workers unskilled or under-skilled to match up to available jobs within different sectors of the economy. As he elaborates,

We looked at the Indian economy…India helped to solve this problem [the challenge of unemployment], through freelancing, where people were able to set their own price and work at their own convenience remotely. Most of the people unemployed in the country actually have technical skills or can learn these technical skills. So, we can train them and then send them to those who would need their support.

With over 60% of Nigeria’s massive population of 200 million below the age of 25 years, the country is privileged with incredible youth potential. In spite of the hardship that bedevils the country’s socio-economic landscape and the grim political situation within the country, the youths are determined to change not just their fortunes, but the social welfare of their communities and those around them. This can be seen in the wealth of innovation that is growing out of Lagos, Nigeria’s central hub of youth power.

Through ECHub, Frankline is interested in mining and leveraging this wealth of youthful talent, through dynamic programs for skill development and improvement. He, however, highlights a number of challenges that limit him and his dynamic team from reaching this vision adequately.

ECHub’s biggest challenge

Research shows that the major challenge that startups face is access to finance. Without money to drive their business ideas, and grow traction around their products, startups are doomed to fail.

As Frankline points out,

The biggest problem, which I feel is not just for ECHub, but for most startups, is always funding. We started a year or two years ago, as youngsters. Most of the things we set up and most of our tractions were bootstrapped. At the point where we needed to scale up, we had a bit of a funding challenge.

However, part of addressing this challenge is by communicating value to target populations. With this clarity and offering of value, startups are better able to capture revenue, as well as investor interest. On this latter point, Frankline expresses the discouragement and difficulty with communicating the value that certain disruptive startup ideas would bring, to possible partners and investors.  

Another challenge is the African mindset. We have started talking to the government and others, and one key area is that we wanted to create a tech library where a lot of tech innovations can be grown, something like an innovation hub. SpaceEC just like SpaceX, having a lot of young innovators come into this hub. We would have a collection of tech resources that innovators can easily utilize to work on their solutions.

He outlines that the proposed hub would offer equity to partners and investors once fully set up. The hub also would amplify the energy ECHub is devoting to nurturing innovation across various sectors and transforming the tech space. While Frankline is searching for the significant spark to light up the idea and bring it to birth, with ECHub, he is already fanning to flame the embers of talent within the belly of Nigerian youthful vigor.

Birthing this to reality is, however, not without the pangs of birth and growth. As Frankline highlights, accordingly,

Technological solutions in Nigeria are not really that recognized or believed in until they become productive. Such as can be seen with the likes of Paystack, Flutterwave, just a few people initially believed it would work out until YCombinator and a lot of other accelerators came in to help them scale up. Nigerians now began to open their eyes to technology. 

Looking ahead: Changing the narrative for Nigeria, for Africa

Going forward, ECHub is keen on contributing greatly to the growth of the tech space here in Africa, through strategic collaborations with big tech companies. With Africa’s growing relevance on the world stage, with regards to innovations, startup emergence, and funding, there’s a lot that young people in Africa can do in curating market-creating innovations.  

As Efosa Ojomo and Clayton Christensen highlight, the goal of eradicating poverty or reducing grim statistics on Nigeria’s economic health should consist in fostering long-term inclusive economic growth. Part of this comes from making complicated products much easier to access, affordable and simple, to capture a larger segment of non-consumers or brackets outside of the business’ initial focus. 

It is interesting to watch how ECHub is driving this goal at creating new markets, and contributing effectively to the ecosystem with its value proposition. Without a doubt, the future is Africa’s, with her youth blazing the trail in groundbreaking innovations, and tech sophistication. 

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