Africa is fast becoming a breeding ground for a new generation of thinkers, doers, and makers.

Young Africans are going against the tide to start their own businesses instead of following a conventional career path. They are driven and unwavering in their quest to transform the continent’s economies.

One of the young Africans who has caught the entrepreneurial bug is Nero Ogheneovo, the founder of T-Shirt Factory, a Nigerian business that manufactures a selection of clothing items, with a primary focus on T-shirts. What started as a hobby of making T-shirts with love inscriptions for Valentine’s Day in 2007 has morphed into a thriving business. Nero’s company now has offices in Nigeria and Ghana, boasts clients across the continent, and has broken into international markets.

Having started his business at the age of 23, Nero, now 34, has become an experienced entrepreneur with a wealth of insights into the African business landscape. We caught up with the flourishing entrepreneur to chat about his company and doing business as a young person in Africa.

AFRICA.COM: How did the idea to start a T-shirt business come about?

Nero Ogheneovo: Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to do business, and I’ve always wanted to be called an entrepreneur. When I finished secondary school, I decided to start something, and while researching, I realised that a lot of people liked wearing T-shirts printed with designs, so I thought of an idea that we can “Africanise” the T-shirts, produce them here in Nigeria, and make them appeal to Africans. I sold the first batch of T-shirts on Valentine’s Day 2007.

AFRICA.COM: How did you get into business?

Nero Ogheneovo: I’ve always wanted to do business. I remember when I finished school, my dad asked me what I wanted to do because he wanted to help me get a job at the bank. I told him that I wanted to start my own business because it was my passion. I’m glad he supported me.

AFRICA.COM: What kind of T-shirts does your company make?

Nero Ogheneovo: Our strength is in production; that’s why we make all sorts of T-shirts. We make shirts as well. Sometimes we produce other clothing items such as jackets, hoodies, and sweatshirts.

AFRICA.COM: Tell us about some of your biggest clients.

Nero Ogheneovo: We’ve done work for several clients, including Dangote Industries, and most of the banks in Nigeria, such as Zenith Bank, and Stanbic. We also have clients in other parts of Africa, and outside the continent. We do work for a French company called Ankhera Clothing, and we make T-shirts for individuals as well.

AFRICA.COM: Your company has ventured into Ghana. Which other African markets are you eyeing?

Nero Ogheneovo: I’m not necessarily eyeing any markets.  We produce our products in Lagos and Ghana, and deliver all over the continent. We’ve done work for some clients in Cameroon, and are in the process of doing something with customers in South Africa. I’ve also had calls from Namibia and Kenya. So, it’s not a matter of setting up factories in all those countries because we can make our products in Nigeria and deliver anywhere in the world.

AFRICA.COM: A wave of entrepreneurship is sweeping across the continent and young people are riding it high. Do you think we’re on the right track when it comes to entrepreneurship and skills development?

Nero Ogheneovo:  The energy is there. Young Africans are passionate and eager to start something, but the policies of our governments can be better, although most of the governments are trying to support young entrepreneurs. I think we’re starting to realise that if you want to create employment, you don’t always have to look to multinational corporations, but you have to support SMEs and young entrepreneurs.

AFRICA.COM: You’re currently involved in crowdfunding with your French client. Tell us about that.

Nero Ogheneovo: The project is in partnership with our French client, Ankhera Clothing. They want to make sure that all of their products are produced in Africa, and they have trusted us with doing that job, so we’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to try to raise funds so we can expand the production of our clothing. Anyone who loves Africa and would like to support us can go to gofundme.com/ankhera and make a donation.

 

Published at Africa.com