CFA’s Startups Hangout: “Disrupt or Be Disrupted”, Here’s What Went Down


“If you are not doing things differently, you are not being disruptive.”

That was the main idea of the 14th CFA’s Startup Hangout (CSH) that was held yesterday in GRA – Ikeja, Lagos. Themed “Disrupt or be Disrupted,” the Hangout was an interactive session which had Jean-Marc Ricca (MD, BASF West Africa, the biggest chemical company in the world) and his team share their experience with about 32 entrepreneurs present.

The event was one of its kind as the CFA Startups Hangout is usually a once-in-a-month event with two speakers had already held for the month of May, but that of yesterday was an exception and indeed, it was worth it.

The event started a bit later than scheduled, no thanks to the hectic Lagos traffic. However, the organizers tried as much as possible to keep to the closing time.

Jean explained disruption from his point of view (an entrepreneur) as reinventing oneself, stepping up, and doing something different.

Jean-Marc, His Team, Founder CFAtech and some attendees.
Jean-Marc, his Team, Founder of CFAtech, and some attendees.

With all his years of experience in various areas of the world, Jean confessed that Nigeria is indeed unique and is a complex environment to operate and that even as a company of about 153 years of experience, they still experience some of these issues. And that is why entrepreneurs/startups should focus on these problems, see them as opportunities and create solutions out of them. Entrepreneurs should strive to create value first after which they would make money in the long run.

Giving an example, he mentioned that Nigeria practically needs about 20 millions cubit of cold storage to solve the issue of food storage but barely have 40,000 cubit of cold storage. Which is indeed a problem but also an opportunity for business.

Jean-Marc Interacting with attendees
Jean-Marc interacting with attendees.

From his point of view, startups should be ready to reinvent themselves also by:

Going into new markets may not necessarily mean delving into something else it could mean re-branding or remodeling. There are a lot of services to offer within the value chain you are in, look for other things you can do that’s not disrupting your brand but supporting it. Think disruptive and innovative on how you can add value to what you are currently doing.

When also asked on the issue of the use of education in changing the mindsets of Nigerians, he emphasized that developing the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education would help in re-orienting the mindsets of the young generations in seeing opportunities in the problems we face in Nigeria.

Time for refreshments and interaction
Time for refreshments and interaction

After the whole session (which included questions and answers), there were refreshments for attendees, and I can tell you that I have no regrets even the long hours I spent in Lagos traffic to get to the venue.

The event paid off big time. Big kudos to the CFAtech team for a truly disruptive event.

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