Q: Please tell us about yourself, educational background and the path that led you to Asuqu.
Musah: My name is R. J. Musah CEO/founder GutsHaven LLC owners of Asuqu Nigeria and Rwanda. GutsHaven is a technology-focused company providing solutions to the most challenging problems in emerging markets. The whole idea started working at IBM West Africa and North Africa as a solution architect. We were building a solution that reduces child mortality and maternal literacy then. So I thought to myself Africa has a lot of potentials but limited in terms of innovation and capacity building. How can we contribute to the development of the continent using technology? We came up with Asuqu online marketplace for creative and professional services: Connecting freelance professionals to customers in Africa and Guavarail a B2B software company providing solutions to SMEs and Enterprises to improve their workforce under the vision of GutsHaven as the mother company. Prior to GutsHaven I was the founder of the defunct eCommerce site E2where and the Co-founder of the online wiki for African personalities Ighalo.
Q: Tell us about Asuqu: Why Asuqu? And who created it? What programs and services do you offer and who do you serve?
Musah: You will agree with me that the most challenging problem faced Africa today is Unemployment. Case study Nigeria: In Nigeria today, we produce more than 2million graduates annually and we can only provide 200 thousand jobs for this young adults leaving school and adding to the labor force. The question is how can they empower themselves and be self-sufficient. More than 10M+ freelance professionals do not have an avenue to sell their skills and more than 20M+ SMEs cannot find the right channel to get things done quickly and efficiently. Well we at Asuqu see this as a disconnect and the only way to empower young adults and drive efficiency among SMEs is through a marketplace like Asuqu that provides collaboration, connection and entrepreneurship without bureaucracy. We launched the marketplace in April 2015 in Nigeria and for the last 3-4 months we have gotten more than 500 verified professionals so moving forward our focus is to provide jobs for these users. R. J. Musah is the CEO/Founder of Asuqu.
Q: Please elaborate on your statement: “We are Asuqu! We connect creatives and professionals with prospective customers in Africa, helping to remove the traditional barriers to innovation, empowerment and entrepreneurship”
Musah: Still talking about the disconnect, I explained in the previous question between people who can do the job and the people who want the job done. For us, we are a company with a cause. We are an employer of labor and our mission is to break barriers to innovation, empowerment, and entrepreneurship to this young professionals on the continent today.
Q: What challenges does Asuqu currently face? And what opportunities do you see in the future for your organization?
Musah: Well, as with all growing businesses, the major challenges that will give you sleepless night are talents and funding. We believe in no time, we will be that one platform of trust for professionals and professional services alike. We believe in ourselves, the team and the market that we serve.
We are only waiting for the time people will come to realize how many lives we have empowered and enriched through our double-sided marketplace.
Q: In your opinion, what groups in Nigeria are the most underrepresented in STEM? Secondly, what key steps should we undertake to promote scientific literacy and STEM amongst these specific science and technology underrepresented groups?
Musah: I believe the future of any country lies in the hands of the youth. In addition, the demographics of underrepresented in STEM would be the young adult between the ages of 16-35 years. The Government has a BIG role to play by providing infrastructural development and also an enabling environment which encourages learning.
Young entrepreneurs doing well in STEM too should create more awareness about their brands and also mention there successes; these are the ways to promote scientific literacy in the country.
Q: In your estimation, what is the importance of STEM education, innovation, technology, entrepreneurship and investment as well as infrastructures and the rule of law in the socio-economic development of Nigeria?
Musah: I think the answer to this question is kind of obvious. As we all know, young people need to have the mindset of capitalists. We are grateful for technology which makes a whole lot of easier now. I believe education of STEM is very crucial for any development of a nation.
Q: Technology, youth and entrepreneurship, is this a winning combination in your opinion?
Musah: Absolutely YES. The combination is a key to success.