Bayo Adelaja is the founder and CEO of Do It Now Now (DiNN) which focuses on providing safe spaces for African and diaspora founders to “connect, collaborate and grow”.
Please, tell us about yourself.
I am passionate about the development of African communities. I think that is the most sure description of my personal and professional focus. I love Africa and want to contribute to the development of African communities in any way that I can.
That’s terrific. How did the concept of “Do It Now Now” start”?
Do it Now Now, the African crowdfunding platform, started because in my studies and professional career, there was evidence to show that interventions for the betterment of African communities did not work because they were run by people and organisations that were not native to the African culture. Thus, their methods were not meaningful to the community in question. I wanted to do something to empower Africans and members of the diaspora to contribute to the well being of African communities. The biggest problem and opportunity I could find after doing some research on the topic, was social entrepreneurship. It is my truest belief that social entrepreneurship is the key to the development of African communities. By connecting Africans to their communities via entrepreneurship, we hope to create a sustainable pipeline for investment, trade and development in communities on the continent.
How were you able to get support and funding?
We work with a number of partners in the UK and we are growing partnerships in Ghana and Nigeria to help us gain the ground that we need to make a real difference.
What makes DiNN different from other donation sites?
Our unique selling point lies in the relationships we are creating with the community. We like to describe “Do it Now Now” as a crowdfunding platform with an active community. Community building, being my primary passion, was always going to be a huge part of anything I did. Thankfully the community myself and my team are building is passionate about entrepreneurship and the development of African communities. For most donation sites, it all lives online. For us, it lives online, but also in face to face encounters, phone calls and meetings with any member of the team at a time that suits you. We are a tech platform and we don’t shy away from that, but we see tech as an enabler to reach our goals rather than the goal itself. I don’t necessarily know that tech focus is the ethos of other donation based crowdfunding platforms, but it certainly isn’t the focus for us. It is in the top three, with resourcing our members and community building being the other two.
What challenges and difficulties do you currently face?
We are currently staging our introduction into the Ghanaian market. We are looking to maximize the opportunities that have been offered to us. The strongest challenge really, is making sure we don’t drop the ball on any of the incredible offers we are getting every day.
What are your thoughts on the trend of young people starting their own businesses?
I don’t think it is so much of a trend as it is a culture shift. Everyone has heard that joke – where your parents will only be happy if you want to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. That was sincerely the case for a long time, and in that time many people did choose to become lawyers, doctors or engineers and then, did what it was they were truly passionate about “on the side”. My encouragement is to make the thing that you are passionate about “on the side”, your real job.
You can do that by creating a business case as to why the thing you love is going to be able to support you and give you the opportunity to live your best life. Plus, when you have created that business case, you can crowdfund for the money that you need to go further than your own feet can take you, with us.
We help business owners raise money from their friends, family and customers so that they can take their business from being “on the side”, to being their main focus. At the end of the day, what matters is being a happy and healthy person. No one is happy and healthy in a job they are not passionate about. The culture shift is in the fact that people are now readily recognizing the need to be happy in one’s job.
That makes a lot of sense. So what future plans do you have for “Do It Now Now”?
We are coming to Africa (specifically Ghana) in 2017. We are really excited about it. It is certainly taking a lot of work, but it is fun. I have an incredible team around me that is growing everyday. We are looking forward to an incredibly busy but worthwhile 2017 indeed.
You’re a young woman heading such a fantastic organisation. What piece of advice would you give to young women who have been told their only place is “in the kitchen and the other room”?
Thankfully my parents have always been wonderfully supportive of my ambition; from the day I told my mum I was turning down admission into Law school to study English literature, to the day I told my parents I was going to be a researcher and not a high powered corporate “someone”.
They have been great in pivoting their expectations of me to meet me on my journey. However, I have experienced colleagues and teachers who have tried to discourage my driven personality and this is what I have always said and will always say, “disregard anyone who tells you NO when it comes to the ambition you have for your life”.
Having said that, make sure you are willing to bear the consequences of going for those dreams. If you want to be a singer, and you cannot sing, it is up to you to go for it all the days of your life, but recognize the struggle that will be attached to it and weigh whether or not the journey is enough to keep you happy.
For me, life is always about the journey. I am determined not to give up half way to my dreams.
What do you say to young people who are too scared or discouraged to start their own businesses?
Do it Now Now. Literally! Do it now. Right now. That’s what the name of the crowdfunding platform and community is meant to represent. Stop thinking so hard. Make a step in the direction. Share your idea. Literally talk to at least 30 people about your plans and make changes based on what they say will/won’t work.
In the process of listening to lots of people talk about your idea, you will become a lot clearer about what it is you want to do. Then, make a short plan. Don’t write a 50 page business plan. Make a one-pager of text of what you want to accomplish in three months. Make it extremely do-able. If you don’t know where to start, try working for someone who is doing something similar to what you want to do.
There is nothing to be scared of, failure is a natural part of life – I fail plenty, but I keep going. I am glad to now be friends with many of my role models and they have failed plenty too. If you’re scared, do it scared.
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They also have a Facebook page where you can get more information about what they do.