Nkechi Idinmachi is the Creator and Marketing Communications Manager at Pages&Ink Limited, an organisation focused on working with SMEs to enable them leverage digital tools to grow their businesses online, attract their target customers while also delighting them into becoming happy promoters of their organisations’ products and services. Having overcome the obstacle of feeding her preemie baby with multiple food allergies, she’s showing other mums the way on her Instagram page @babychefng and through her upcoming Cookout, helping them take charge of their children’s nutrition with her numerous baby friendly, allergen free recipes made with Nigerian food ingredients. She is also the founder of Herlibrary for Learning and Empowerment Foundation, an NGO that builds libraries, provides books and learning resources for public schools in eastern Nigeria. They recently completed their pioneer Library project at Udo Primary School, Ogbunike, Anambra State. Idinmachi is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University with a degree in German Language, a certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from IE Business School, Spain and a certificate in Child Nutrition and Cooking from Stanford School of Medicine. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA she shares her passion for being an entrepreneur while combining with her duties as a mum.

How important is leveraging on digital tools to growing a business? 
The importance of digital tools in growing a business cannot be over-emphasised. It is the most affordable, convenient and effective way for any business to boost its visibility. I have seen first- hand how a business can go from local to international in a few short months by strategically leveraging digital tools. When I resumed at my previous place of employment, their only digital footprint was a redundant website. I created and infused fresh content, redesigned the website and began optimising it for search engines. Shortly afterwards, we began to receive calls from huge facilities management companies in the USA, South Africa and from other companies abroad who were bidding for FM contracts with multinationals and were in search of a partnership with a Nigerian FM company. This demonstrated to me the efficiency of digital tools in providing business owners the best chances for competition, survival and opportunities beyond their reach.

What led you to setting up Pages and Ink Limited?
Shortly after getting married in 2016, it became clear that my husband and I both had crazy schedules which saw us leaving the house as early as 5:00am and not getting home till about 8:00p.m. I was frightened by the thought of bringing a child into that chaotic routine and so I decided that I would resign just before we were ready to start a family. My husband was reluctant initially, knowing how driven and ambitious I am. He didn’t want me feeling frustrated and unfulfilled as a stay-at-home mum, but I began planning an exit strategy, anyway.

At the time, my job role as a Marketing Communications executive for one of Lagos’ top facilities management companies gave me a lot of fulfillment, so I decided to develop my skill sets further in the field and took an online course in Integrated Marketing Communications, from IE Business School. After registering the business, Pages and Ink Limited, I spread word about it and landed my first clients. I would get home at 8:00pm and work till 2:00 am on my “side hustle” and then leave the house a few hours later to my full-time job. By September of 2016, I realised I had made over twice my salary from my “side hustle!” I think it was then that my husband believed that I was determined to make “working from home” work. Then the miracle happened. I informed my boss of my decision to resign and he asked me what my reasons were and I told him about my new company. He was happy and requested I consult for the company. I am very grateful to Mr. Wole Aderogba for the opportunity, which marked the official beginning of the journey.

Do you think businesses need online presence to thrive?
According to a recent research, 45 per cent of global consumers say they shop for goods and services online. The trend has grown exponentially in Nigeria as more people now increasingly shop from their homes and offices. With the current trend, if you are a “brick and mortar” business without an online presence, it won’t be long before your competition that has gone “click to brick” takes over the market. Creating a comprehensive online presence is the key to building a thriving, sustainable business. However, it isn’t enough to just be present online, you must be active and leverage on digital tools – optimise your website for search engines, get social, create relevant and appealing content, engage your online community. Put out valuable information to establish your brand as an expert in your industry. You have to invest the necessary time if you want to be successful in building a formidable online presence.

As a ‘Mumpreneur’, how would you describe this concept?
This means that I am a full-time entrepreneur and a full-time mum. It is my way of promoting self-employment and showing other qualified women who have left their professions to become full-time mothers that they don’t have to feel stuck. There is a way to juggle home and a professional career if one chooses to.

What was your drive as the founder of Herlibrary?
I grew up in the village in Anambra State, South-Eastern Nigeria. Like most places in that region, there’s sadly not much going on in terms of development and empowerment of the girl child. The ultimate achievement expected by your parents and peers is (thankfully) a university education and a husband; better still, one from “the abroad”. Books saved me; they opened my eyes to opportunities beyond my background and enabled me to dream big.

With a decline in reading culture, what is the impact of your project with the NGO? 
I don’t quite agree that the reading culture in Nigeria is declining. With the growth of mobile users, I think it is growing instead as people are constantly on their phones reading. We read blogs, Instagram captions, twitter posts, e-books and other digital content because they are available. I strongly believe that if books are made available to young Nigerians, books that pique their interest, they will read. This is why my NGO, HerLibrary, is doing our best to provide books from a varied genre in the rural communities in eastern Nigeria, to expose them to a world beyond their background. We also run book clubs where they read mostly fictional books that teach kids about entrepreneurship.

As a marketing communications expert, what is your advice to business owners with dwindling sales and at the verge of packing up?
Get digital, define your niche and target market, create terrific content that would be appealing to them, get social and engage. Learn the best practices and use them. Be consistent, it’s hard but totally worth it.

What is your advice to women on pursuing their dreams and managing the home-front?
My advice is to just try; it is not enough to dream or wish. You have to do the work and put in the effort. Getting organised and scheduling activities and tasks in your home will give you the sanity and peace of mind to pursue your dreams. Stop undermining yourself. You can do it. Start small if you do not have the means to go all out. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have, without excuses. The best time to do it is NOW and yes under your present circumstances. If it gets overwhelming, step back a little bit and attack it again.

How do you unwind?
NETFLIX. I enjoy watching reality shows, cooking shows. I love to read, too. I am currently reading Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it to every woman who wants to make an impact.

What is your philosophy of life?
Everything I am, everything I have is from God and for him. It’s in him that I live and move and have my being. Without him, I am nothing.

By: Ijeoma Thomas-Odia for Guardian

She built Bet365 in a Portakabin in Stoke. Now she’s paid three times more than CEO of Apple.

If Denise Coates’s record-breaking £265m pay packet was stacked up in new £50 notes it would form a tower almost twice as high as the Shard skyscraper in London.

The enormous pay package, paid to the founder and chief executive of Bet365, the online gambling business based in Stoke-on-Trent, was more than three times greater than Tim Cook earned (£80m) running Apple, the most valuable company in the world. It was 25 times more than Bob Dudley received for running BP and 55 times more than the £4.9m that Dave Lewis, the chief executive of Tesco, has to rub along on.

For Coates, the best paid female executive in the world, it was not even a one-off. A year earlier, she handed herself £217m from the profits of what remains a private family owned business, albeit one worth billions.

All the numbers associated with Bet365 are big: gamblers wagered £52.5bn with the company last year, a sum that outstrips the annual economic output of Croatia and Uruguay.

The company’s winnings on those stakes – shown as revenue in financial accounts released this week – were £2.7bn. It had an operating profit of £682m, meaning it has a staggering profit margin of 25%, far higher than traditional bookmakers saddled with the fixed cost of high street shops. Bet365’s licence to operate in the UK is, in effect, a licence to print money.

As eye-catching as Bet365’s financial performance is, it garnered far less attention than the £220m salary and £45m in dividends pocketed by Coates, who owns more than half the company. Vince Cable, the former business minister and Liberal Democrat leader, called Coates’s pay package “irresponsible and excessive”, while the High Pay Centre said it was “obscene”.

If Bet365 were listed on the stock exchange, such payouts would probably fall at the first hurdle of shareholder distaste, as seen in the revolt against the £100m bonus deal handed to the chief executive of the housebuilder Persimmon. Jeff Fairburn eventually offered to hand back £25m and make a donation to charity – but the embarrassment heaped on the company led to his departure this month.

Bet365 is the personal fiefdom of the Coates family, a business dynasty worth £5.8bn, more than Sir Richard Branson’s empire. The story of how they built their empire from a Portakabin in Stoke-on-Trent is the stuff of industry legend.

Coates’s father, Peter, the 80-year-old son of a miner, became a successful local businessman and owned a string of betting shops. But it was Coates, an econometrics graduate who, at around the turn of the millennium, became aware of the jackpot opportunity that lay online.

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She bought the Bet365.com domain name from eBay for $25,000 and borrowed against the bricks-and-mortar stores to develop sports-betting technology that left slow-moving rivals in the dust.

When the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill were buying the systems they needed from third parties, Bet365 already had them and was deploying them at great speed.

Under Coates’s stewardship, the firm married its tech advantage with shrewd marketing – the actor Ray Winstone fronts their TV campaigns tied to live sports and virtually orders viewers to make a wager: “Bet in play – now!” he growls.

But Bet365 is not just about taking a punt on the Premier League from the comfort of a sofa. Fancy a bet on the correct score in the AS Oued Ellil match against AS Marsa in Tunisia’s League 2? Or a wager on Irish club hurling, Austrian cross-country skiing, Australian political elections, Italy’s X Factor, on Vegas games or at a live online casino? Bet365 claims to have 35 million customers, which would make it the world’s biggest online gambling business.

Now the company looks poised to break into the US, via a $50m (£39m) deal with a New York casino operator designed to take advantage of the huge growth potential in the country since the supreme court repealed a decades-old ban on sports betting.

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Bet365 is fast becoming Stoke’s most successful export. Its tech-based success story looms large in a city once dominated by its potteries, such as Wedgwood, Spode and Royal Doulton.

It owns the Stoke City Football Club, while many of its 4,000-member workforce are based at its sprawling headquarters near Hanley, Stoke’s de facto city centre.

Bet365 does not seem keen on media scrutiny and rarely answers inquiries, choosing to disclose only what it must in regulated filings with Companies House.

It has not, for instance, addressed any criticism of Coates’s pay deal, which some have found jarring in a week when new figures showed an alarming rise in the number of child problem gamblers.

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Charles and Liz Ritchie, who founded the Gambling With Livescharity after their son, Jack, killed himself after a gambling addiction, said they found Coates’s payout “particularly upsetting” in the circumstances.

While Coates gives much of her cash to good causes, such as the Douglas Macmillan Hospice and Alzheimer’s Research UK, her foundation’s page on the Charity Commission website offers no indication of whether any of it goes to problem gambling treatment.

Her largesse is also partly funded by a relatively low UK corporation tax rate, and the company’s £78m tax contribution last year was rather less than one might expect, thanks in part to subsidiaries in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar, a haven for gambling firms.

Bet365 has also been coy about where its customers are based. A Guardian investigation in 2014 found that punters in China – where betting is banned in all but a few tightly controlled arenas – were jailed after apparently placing bets on the Bet365 website.

The company said it was not breaking any laws but would not confirm whether or not it accepted stakes.

In this week’s accounts Bet365 said disclosing any more about its regional income “would be severely prejudicial to the interests of the group”. A recruitment page reveals the company is looking for “Chinese language customer account advisors”, though it could be targeting Chinese speakers in the UK or elsewhere.

Unless Bet365 volunteers more information, it will remain one of Britain’s most opaque companies – but also one of its most successful.

Source: Guardian

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