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THUD Envisions Connecting 1 Million African Startups – DrLifesgud

The HookUp Dinner is the cool and hippy networking platform right now in Johannesburg which has an unconventional mode of making returns. The Hookup Dinner started with Selebogo Molefe aka DrLifesgud and partner, building, selling and renting beam bags to events.

After realizing these events lacked certain basic ingredients so relevant to young South African entrepreneurs, Lifesgud Global Investments begun THUD where they connect, engage and contribute to each others’ successes. For the many startups who continuously attend The Hookup Dinner, it serves as a ‘healing therapy session.’ Corporate South Africa actually buys into these events to market their products and services and THUD has begun moving into other markets in Africa including Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

DrLifesgud shares some entrepreneurial experiences and their successes to inspire young African entrepreneurs.

Hookup Dinner
Selebogo Molefe, co-founder of The Hookup Dinner

What is The Hookup Dinner and what is in-store for Africa?

THUD is a South African born fast-rising Pan African entrepreneurship movement built on the back of collaboration. It is about entrepreneurs doing things for themselves through the power of shared networks and resources. We connect, engage and contribute to each others’ success through networking. We have a vision of building a thriving network of 1 million African startups across borders who collaborate and trade successfully.

Having constantly interacted with young entrepreneurs, what are the major ‘sins’  contributing to business failures?

  • Self-discipline is by far the biggest challenge.
  • Failure to learn from those who have walked the journey before us.
  • Lack of focus on the end goal.

What is the preparation towards one successful THUD event like?

It’s as simple as reaching out to a network of like-minded individuals who are focused on their personal & business growth. The rest is easy, find a space to break bread together, whilst having conversations that are focused on contributing positively to the greater network in the room.

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The rest are add-ons: such as peer-to-peer elevator pitching, which is meant to help one build confidence of standing in front of people; group speed networking which aims to help attendees increase their network; and guest speakers, who have mastered a key area of their entrepreneurial journey or professionals with key insights that can help the startup community to leverage on that knowledge to accelerate the growth of their enterprises.

All of these are organized by a collaborative team of specialists who are passionate about people, networking and the growth of African local economies.

The Hookup Dinner
The HookUp Dinner

What tips will you give to event organizers to put together equally successful events?

  • Know what you are doing.
  • Outsource what you suck at.
  • Build a team of specialists.
  • Focus on customer experience every step of the way.
  • Get your numbers right and operate profitably with integrity.

What will be your top business advice to young African entrepreneurs?

First, master your area of specialty through short courses online and attend workshops & networking events that will fast-track your growth.

Again, ask for help and offer real tangible value that you would be happy to pay for, yourself.

What makes you so passionate about entrepreneurship and why do you think many more Africans should take advantage of it?

Entrepreneurship speaks to free enterprise, it gives us the opportunity to offer value and get paid in order to live a better lifestyle than our parents did.

It also offers us the opportunity to solve 3 key challenges in a developing economy like ours: poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Hookup Dinner
The Hookup Dinner founder passionate about entrepreneurship

Who are your top 5 most inspiring and successful African entrepreneurs whom you think startups should look up to?

  • I love the philosophy of Ugandan, Ashish Thakar. He does business ethically and truly cares about mother Africa and her children.
  • I love Strive Masiyiwa’s global mindset and spiritual connectedness. It proves that one can run a business ethically and still succeed. He’s also a great teacher who’s obsessed about passing on knowledge from his experiences in the field.
  • I believe Sbu Leope aka DJ Sbu is a young success who continually proves that hardwork, dedication and the spirit of not taking no for an answer can take you far.
  • Patrice Motsepe has a social conscience and is leading by example by showing Africans the true spirit of Ubuntu by paying it forward. He’s the first African to commit half of his wealth to the development of people who live below the poverty line.
  • Khanyi Dhlomo is a shining example of how to turn your career into a successful enterprise and leverage the power of networks. She also epitomizes the modern successful African woman through humility, depth of knowledge & experience with the key intention of enabling other African women to follow suit!
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What are some challenges young African businesses face and what advise will you offer them?

Most young African entrepreneurs are first generation pioneers in their families and therefore lack support from their families when they embark on this journey, which statistically, is a suicide mission almost destined to fail before seeing success, if they don’t give up.

Why should patrons of THUD continue to attend and what is the future outlook of your business?

THUD is all about being connected to: the pulse of entrepreneurship; to a community of like-minded peers; to an ecosystem that enables you as an entrepreneur to gain confidence in the journey you’ve undertaken, whilst learning a lot from others as well as the many interventions that are designed to help accelerate the growth of pre-seed, seed and early-stage enterprises.

DrLifesgud hosting one THUD event in Johannesburg.
DrLifesgud hosting one THUD event in Johannesburg.

What has made The Hookup Dinner such a force to reckon with? 

We are a growing story of dreamers kept alive by the prospect of a brighter Africa. We believe in the inter-connectedness of Africans across borders for the purposes of peer-to-peer learning, free trade and cultural exchange with the hope of showing each other just how similar we are and indeed a unified force of young people who will emerge victorious from the shackles of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

You can watch a short video of The Hookup Dinner as featured on CNN African Start-Up.

SEE ALSO |  Lexy Owusu-Boahene, MD of LX HR Solutions on HR Need for Startup Companies

Was this interview inspiring? Kindly leave your comment.

Follow #TSH on Facebook and Twitter for more interviews with outstanding business leaders across Africa.



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Clinton Chibueze: Utiva Talents Transform African Businesses and Compete Globally

Utiva is providing the solution to the record graduate unfit for the business world in most African countries through their unique program that adequately equips students to be excellent and stand out in the business place. Utiva is an education enterprise that is using blended learning approach to bridge skill gap of teeming youths, especially undergraduates in Africa.

Clinton Chibueze is the Program Associate at Utiva based in Lagos, Nigeria. In this interview, he shares the major problems confronting the corporate world lacking skilled labor as only 9% of graduates are really prepared for the job market.

In explaining the nature of his work at Utiva, Clinton Chibueze said, “I work with students in about 20 universities, helping them get value for our engagements, training and internship program. I provide leadership to about 40 campus leads (2 per school), communicating the vision and the mission of Utiva to them, helping the organization scale its presence in all the schools and supporting our social impact mission.” He as well provides back-end support to the training program going on in the schools.

If you are an undergraduate or a graduate who wants to be talented and a highly skilled labour to your employers, enjoy this interview with Clinton Chibueze who recently graduated with Summa Cum Laude and join Utiva.

What is Utiva and what challenges in the market has necessitated its development?

Utiva is a system of learning which combines both traditional classroom approach with an online learning experience to deliver value to the students and to the market. This system of learning prepares students for work whether as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs in the private and public sectors as well as with non-governmental organisations by refining and improving their work skills. In other words, Utiva is a finishing school.

The song of “University graduates are unemployable” is a major challenge in the market. What this phrase actually means is that most graduates lack the necessary skills for work in the 21st century. Think about this for a moment. Most undergrads spend almost 4 years studying plant and some rocks. That is fine, honestly. But the question is this: who is ready to absorb them into jobs afterwards? Most people become stranded and left out. Our job is to communicate constantly with the job market, understand the dynamics of this market, research into the skills global employers are recruiting for, come back to train college students in those schools and help these companies find our talents.

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The problem is that if Africa refuses to equip its labor for productivity and other companies improve theirs, we will continue to have a nation of cheap labor.

How in practical terms are you closing the skills gap in the market?

Our model integrates online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner to train undergrads for the future of work and business. Our one and half year programme is divided into three phases. At the beginning of the journey, the students are enrolled into a 6-day training programme (105 hours). This engagement with our faculty allows the students to focus on three broad areas: Project Management, Corporate Leadership and Lean Entrepreneurship. After this, competence and knowledge is tested against a 200-question examination and then we move each student into an intense 52 weeks Business Case Review program.

In addition, during this program, learning is coordinated through on-the-job program which we call the ‘Uternship’. Some of our students are paired with fast rising companies, some get into volunteering experiences, some even get to work directly with entrepreneurs and a few work directly with Utiva.

Utiva talent building in session

Why do you use Business Cases?

One of the reasons we use business cases as a good and more productive approach to learning is that many students are more inductive than deductive reasoners, which means that they learn better from examples than from logical development starting with basic principles. The use of case studies can therefore be a very effective classroom technique.

Case studies are long being used in business schools, law schools, medical schools and the social sciences, but they can be used in any discipline when instructors want students to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. Utiva cases come in many formats, from a simple “What would you do in this situation?” question to a detailed description of a situation with accompanying data to analyze. Whether to use a simple scenario-type case or a complex detailed one depends on your course objectives.

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What are some of your success stories?

We currently work with an average of 500 students per school and have a presence in 20, that is about 10,000 schools with some variances. We have a 75-80% success rate at pairing our students to internship programs and ensuring they’re hired.

Since the days of our early setup, about 17% of our students have started their own businesses.

We are currently improving our Utiva500companies project which is structured to help us on-board the leading 500 companies in Sub-Saharan Africa into our programme for skilled labor.

Who qualifies to be trained at Utiva?

Utivans are learners, constant learners! Young people who are very meticulous. Hence, anyone who is open to learning. As long as you are an undergrad or a recent graduate, we are out to work with you.

What is the vision for this initiative to help improve the quality of graduates into the job market?

Utiva’s vision is to produce individuals who are capable of transforming African businesses and competing with global leading businesses. It’s that simple. We are building global brands by building Human Capital.

Talents from Utiva to transform Africa

What does the support by major institutions like the NYU, the Atlas Corps and others mean for your operations at Utiva?

We are growing and are still learning. We always want to improve on standard and quality so we can train students who would be able to identify and tackle current issues. Many of our partners are committed to helping us build a strong learning framework and also revamp our pedagogy. For instance, the country director was trained in the United States for a year under the tutorship of Deloitte consulting and this is courtesy of one of our supporters, Atlas Corps..

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In clear terms, how will a Utivan differ from the regular graduate?

Walk into an interview room, you’d see the difference. A Utivan is all-rounded and well grounded. An average Utivan has developed the Utiva 8 skill for the job market!

Tell us the caliber of your Utivan trainers.

Our trainers are highly experienced professionals in their areas of specialization. These trainers are accomplished practitioners, people who have carved a niche for themselves in the market and are well aware of the remote and immediate demands of the market. For example, Eyitayo Ogunmola, the Country Director for Utiva is an expert in Project Management, Emeka Ossai is a specialist in Corporate Leadership and currently the Chief Community Builder at Campus Labs, Tomilola Adejana, a Financial Technologist and Business Strategist and others alike.

Utiva Country Manager, Eyitayo Ogunmola

What significant challenge exists as you implement this unique initiative?

Scale. There is more to do. There are more schools to cover. More people and more. Especially in some disconnected communities in the country.

How soon does your oufit intend to roll out Utiva to other African countries?

We have tested our programme in 2 other African countries. We are building a scalable model which can be tested anywhere. We are the future of human capital development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more about Clinton Chibueze

Clinton Chibueze, Program Associate at Utiva and an emerging Corporate Leader in Global Education is passionate about functional education for African youths and helping young people in Sub-Saharan Africa transition from school to work. His biggest aspiration is to work in the space of policy development and educational program implementation.

Clinton Chibueze has gathered experience in Leadership and Management as well as a demonstrated history in writing, proofreading, editing and teaching. He holds a certificate in Project Management and an alumnus of Common Purpose in 2017, a global institute which trains youth for leadership. His is a Classics graduate from the University of Ibadan who just graduated with a Summa Cum Laude.

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