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In a candid conversation with Connect Nigeria, Dr Elizabeth opens up about various facets of her journey, shedding light on her beginnings, the essence of her business, the hurdles confronted while navigating the challenging business landscape, and the sources of her inspiration and motivation.
Please tell us your name and the name of your businessMy name is Dr Elizabeth Kings-Wali and the name of my business is BlackStone Capital Limited.
And where are you based?I am based in Lekki, Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria but we also operate across Nigeria.
What’s the special thing that sets your business apart in a crowded business world?You.
Please tell us, what inspired you to start this business?My empathy for genuine businesses. The fact that genuine business lack support from commercial banks without tangible collateral. I feel businesses should be supported regardless of tangible collateral provided the business is viable.
Tell us about your business and the service(s) it rendersBlackstone is an agile Financial Services provider, focused on closing the financial inclusion gap through innovative capital and advisory support to qualified individuals as well as small & medium scale enterprises, across growth sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially in growing but neglected segments of the market. In summary, BlackStone Capital offers Microlending to small and medium-scale enterprises and the unbanked in society with the aim of reducing the unbanked and empowering the micro and small medium-scale enterprises of the economy.
How old is the business?The business is 4 years old. We opened our doors to customers on the 1st of July, 2019.
What were some challenges you faced in starting up?The major challenges I faced in starting up were first, Finance, getting capital to start up the business from scratch and then, Human Resources, getting the right skill set of people to buy into the vision and run with it. These were the major challenges, others were challenges that come with the business but to the glory of God, we surmounted it all and are still surmounting as they arise.
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How would you rate the business culture in Nigeria?The business culture in Nigeria is improving by the day. We know that SMEs account for over 90% of businesses in Nigeria. Whilst we have the big players such as banks, and big manufacturing companies, having structures, policies, procedures, values, code of conduct etc. that determines how they operate and run their businesses, a lot of other businesses still fall under the 1-man business category that run based on what the owner’s wants or how he feels. More such businesses are beginning to see the importance of having good business culture, and have begun to introduce structure, policies and procedures in their companies therefore improving their operations and overall business culture of Nigeria.
How do you think the government can help businesses?Basic infrastructure will be an excellent way to start, good roads and power and then go ahead to provide the following:
- Provision of grants and loans to support start-ups and SMEs
- Friendly trade policies
- Tax Incentives
- Lower bank interest rates on loans
Where do you see your business in the next 5yrs?As a one-stop financial service institution whose ROI would exceed 100%. I see also as the most profitable financial service provider, not necessarily in size but in profitability, we want to be known as a household name.
What book changed your life?It was 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by STEPHEN COVEY/Who Moved My Cheese? by SPENCER JOHNSON. These books shaped my mindset towards success and are the bedrock of my principles today.
What’s the best business advice you have ever received?The best business advice I have received is not to be too expectant from people as the people you know might not support you. Rather, people you least expect will probably be the ones to support you. Also, don’t limit yourself to your circle.
Do you have any role models?Yes, I do have role models. I have spiritual role models that encourage me spiritually and business role models that inspire me. I suppose for every aspect of my life, I have role models but the greatest of all my role models is Christ who has kept me going despite all challenges faced in life.
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What do you do for fun?Listening to music, reading, and travelling.
What’s your greatest achievement yet?Starting my own business from scratch and growing it to the level it is now in just 4 years.
Advice for other entrepreneurs/upcoming?My advice to other entrepreneurs is to be brave and bullish in decision-making, start small, dream big and stay focused on your dreams.
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