Many people want to be entrepreneurs, but only a few know what it takes to be successful with a sustainable business. However, some successful entrepreneurs like Freda Anyanwu have become industry leaders and have taken the mantle to inspire, motivate, and educate others.
With over seven years of experience navigating the entrepreneurial space, business, and project management. Freda has created a haven for entrepreneurs across Africa and beyond with EBH Africa.
EBH Africa focuses on providing a one-stop place for African entrepreneurs to access resources for business growth, community, courses, information, and funding to build sustainable businesses.
From event planning to building an entrepreneurial digital hub
Freda always had an entrepreneurial mindset growing up, even while she studied for her computer science degree. She could have been a traditional ‘tech sis,’ but Freda thought the cons outweighed the pros. It was socially draining, and as someone with a strong flair for business, she decided to switch paths to entrepreneurship.
I used to be serious with coding and web development but I always had a flair for business and I said to myself, I don’t think sitting down and accepting offers to design website and coding and all of that would be sufficient for me and I wanted to go into entrepreneurship and that was how I started.
Her first encounter with entrepreneurship was during her undergraduate days when she started an Event Planning business. Six years after, her business had already become very successful. However, Freda believed that she needed to learn more about the space.
Freda Anyanwu landed a job with the Edo State Government as an assistant on entrepreneurship and MSME funding matters after graduating from the university in 2019. Three years later, Freda became the state’s new department head of entrepreneurial development. She was still dissatisfied with the societal impact of her work as the services were only limited to the state citizens.
At that time, she had become an expert in the space and has won numerous awards; the Superwoman 30 under 30 award for entrepreneurship, the 2020 Young Entrepreneur of the year by The Entrepreneur Africa Awards, the Entrepreneurship award by the Ladies of Honour Organization, Young Event Professional of the year 2021 by the BusyBee Excellence Award, award nomination for the 25 under 25 awards by SME100 Africa in 2019, Nigeria’s 30 under 30 influential young people by ANALAWGY Magazine.
According to Freda, the idea behind EBH Africa initially started as a community for entrepreneurs, a haven, and a support system for them to voice out their challenges and share their experiences. This community started with just ten people but currently has over 600 members and operates across ten countries globally.
How does EBH Africa operate?
EBH Africa started in 2020 to “create an ecosystem to drive business growth and sustainability in Africa, making entrepreneurship easy for the African entrepreneur.” Since its beginning, its network has impacted over 2200 entrepreneurs and is now home to over 600 entrepreneurs throughout Africa.
With EBH Africa, Freda Anyanwu has built an ecosystem for economic development with just the right tools and resources entrepreneurs need for sustainable businesses.
It focuses on four key areas; community, capacity building, support services, funding opportunities, values, and educational resources. Most of the mentors for these program verticals are subject matter and business experts.
Challenges entrepreneurs face other than funding
While many entrepreneurs concur that obtaining funding has been the biggest obstacle to starting, maintaining, and expanding their enterprises, Freda Anyanwu has a different opinion. She asserts that funding is a secondary challenge, especially in the early stages of any business. The founder is the main obstacle, in her perspective.
Funding is the secondary stage and the primary is do you have your ideas right, do you have your strategies right?…people want to jump into business or idea because it looks good on the idea.
She argues that entrepreneurs should broaden their perspectives instead of focusing on one ecosystem when considering a business strategy. She argued that many startups lack innovation because these business owners think every problem needs a solution.
Sometimes it can just be a concern that can be fixed with other things not an idea for the rise of a new business.
In the EDH Africa hub, the ideas of its entrepreneurs are versatile. Hospitality is the in-thing in the community as many entrepreneurs are constantly exploring this ecosystem and the fashion and beauty industry.
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But funding is still an issue
Freda confirms that every business ultimately requires access to funding and opportunities. Although she currently only works with small companies and local investments, she explains that there will always be a need for more grants and funding as SMEs in Africa do not receive enough funding and grant opportunities.
In terms of investment, I think Africa is still breaking the barriers in terms of attracting foreign investors.
Another issue may be the lack of knowledge available to entrepreneurs about these chances for business growth and economic expansion, particularly given the significant contribution of SMEs to Nigeria’s economy.
Addressing the gender gap in funding
According to Freda, this gap margin could be based on several factors, including but not limited to societal and cultural challenges. This factor has shaped how many women break into the entrepreneurial space.
More women have business, But, are these women that are starting business or are they starting a hustle?
Many of them lack financial literacy and are unfamiliar with the idea of a sustainable business. It is a hand-to-mouth situation playing out for many women. It is another loophole Freda is looking to solve with EBH Africa by uplifting these women from survival to sustainability and from hustling to enterprising.
When a woman is starting a business, there is a tendency that she is already judged by so many factors
Also, Freda does not think that gender biases are to blame for this funding disparity. She clarified that everyone has options, including investors. While some males are opportunists, more women are emotionally and process-driven in situations like this, which can occasionally impact the outcome.
Although it is a problem, fund investors want to solve the gender gap. Women now have more options available to them. One significant step toward closing the gap margin has been creating women-only funds and grant opportunities by organizations and venture capital firms.
Future plans for EBH Africa
EBH Africa is looking to establish zones to reach more entrepreneurs who need these services. For funding opportunities for these entrepreneurs, it seeks to expand partnerships with other entrepreneurs across and beyond Africa and the public and private sectors.
Freda also disclosed that plans are underway to develop a business education platform.
We want to be able to have an innovative business education platform where people can go to learn about business, build their skills to becoming entrepreneurs or an enterprising and be able to work with entrepreneurs.
According to Freda Anyanwu, Africa has much to do regarding its economic development, and entrepreneurship is one of its backbones to eradicating unemployment. More people need to be equipped with the appropriate skill set and knowledge to build, run, and expand a sustainable business.
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