Hello, and thank you for joining our first discussion of a multi-part series where we learn from leaders in the black business community. We are honored to use our platform as a means to understand business triumphs, personal experiences, and ideas on how we can achieve equality and justice for the under-represented.
As we learn from each leader we then hope to compile a published article on our understanding of how we as a business, and how our viewers can support the eradication of systemic racism from our community. Without any further or do I’m honored to share with you our very first discussion of the Initiative for Black Business Mobility, thank you.
Introduction – Hello, what’s your name? Where were you born and raised? Who are you?
“I’m Oluwadaisi Funsho Felix, a brand designer, strategist and entrepreneur from Nigeria.”
I studied psychology for my first degree but never for once saw myself being a psychologist. Ever since I was little, I’ve always had a keen eye for design and it all felt natural to me when I started graphics with Corel 8 Graphic Software back then. I’ve since climbed up the ladder and even branched out to other areas since then, a brand strategist being one of them.
I was born in the southwestern part of Nigeria, Ido-Osun in Osun state to be precise. I am the first child with two awesome siblings. Growing up wasn’t all rosy as my background was a really humble one. I can say that I lack nothing tangible that could have completely turned my path sideways, and I owe it all to my Mom and my late Dad. Pretty amazing human beings.
Your Company – Which company do you operate? Which problem does your company solve? Who are your clients?
“The name of my design agency is Bransolute: www.bransolute.com ”
The name is a combination of two words. ‘absolute’ and ‘branding’. I was formerly a freelancer with the name ‘cache logos’. Until I met someone, a very good partner of mine then, who happened to be a naming expert. They helped me transform my name and we worked together to come up with ‘bransolute’ which is a reflection of my vision for the future, as one of the premier branding agencies in Nigeria.
For now, Bransolute is Funsho Felix, a branding freelancer who serves small & medium-sized businesses, and personal brands who want to win hearts with their brand. I help them achieve that transformation through design that communicates their essence and a strategy that reflects their vision, customer’s needs, and goals.
I believe a strong brand doesn’t start with design, rather it starts with strategy. Brands that people love aren’t from design, they love them for who they are, what they do and most importantly, what the brand is all about – their philosophy, message, and unique offering.
Systemic Racism – What is your opinion on systemic racism?
Systemic racism is one of the most underrated forms of racism. A typical dangerous type of racism in disguise. Although, I haven’t really had much experience with it. I’ve heard stories from blacks living overseas about the mundane policies put in place that do not in any way favor the other ethnic or racial groups. To me, it’s dangerous and cunning, since it is so underrated, and little to no attention is given to it by the media.
“Racism isn’t something that is prevalent here, especially in Africa. We embrace people of other races and cultures, and if for anything, this is one thing Africans have in abundance.”
Most stories of racism that I’ve read or heard are from people who live abroad. For some reason it has affected our dispositions, especially Nigerians, regarding the matters of migration to other countries.
Racism has always been a crucial factor that affects our decision to take that step, or not. These are my personal opinions shaped by experiences and interpersonal relations and are in no way general.
Your Experience – What is your experience with racism? Do you have any negative stories or experiences with racism? Do you have experiences with racism in doing business abroad?
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people abroad, although it often fell through during the final stages. Most times, I really cannot come to a conclusion as to why it happened.
“Whether it was due to racism or not is hard to conclude since there’s no physical interaction. But fortunately no, I haven’t had much direct experience with racism.”
Colonialism – Do you still feel the effects of colonialism, as a Nigerian business owner?
“Some Nigerians are still of the opinion that we got our independence rather too early. As counterintuitive as that may be, it holds true if the current economic situation is to be examined.”
While our independence might have been ground breaking and ceremonious, I still believe we’re under the helm of Western rule. One of Nigeria’s most prominent artists, “Burna Boy” once said that ‘Nigeria started off as a business deal between a company and the government’. For instance, financial capital is one of the most important resources for any business owner to thrive in Nigeria, and our currency, the Nigerian Naira has rapidly depreciated over the years. This can be attributed to a lot of factors, but I still can’t shake off the fact that our independence was a facade. We as a nation are being manipulated on the global scale by far more mature and expansive economies.
BLM – What are your thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement? How much was it followed in Nigeria this year?
I’m absolutely a supporter of the “black lives matter” movement. Of course it is unfortunate how it all started. It shows how we blacks are united in grit and resolution.
“It shows we can ultimately unite in one voice, and it’s a strong message for other races on the need for unity. It’s a shared movement, which as a black, I can say I’m proud of and happy to support.”
Nigeria being the biggest and most populated country in Africa had a high reception when it started. Everyone contributed to the movement in their own way. I remember our social media being dominated by #blm – it was pretty incredible actually.
Eradicate Racism – What steps can we take to eradicate racism, and create opportunity for people of colour?
We have to understand racism is an evil, and its roots can be traced back thousands of years. As a result, it’s not something that can be easily removed. It’s implicit, and ingrained in many minds. Most people exhibiting racism are brought up with it, a cycle that is really hard to break. There’s a few ways we can take steps to stop racism. Here are a few:
Recognizing the subtleties of racism. Most people think they aren’t racist, but those who explore this aspect of their subconscious realize that there are deep parts of them consumed in prejudice.
Educate yourself. Even as a black, there’s a certain tendency to be stereotyped with certain issues. Understand history, and why people act the way they do. With this information, start filtering acceptable and unacceptable notions and form your own understanding of racism.
Support blacks and the under-represented. I’ve read stories about how blacks and people of colour can be treated in the workplace. I believe one way to create opportunities is through an all-inclusive platform.
“To bring people together, work together and thrive together. As a business owner, take it upon yourself to hire equally and embrace one another.”.
Take action. Start by supporting in whatever way possible. You might feel like you’re lost or unsure, but changing your mindset is not something that happens in a day. It’s a process, so no rush. Take small steps.
Africa Relations – How can Western society rebuild our connection to Africa; therefore, creating a connected relationship?
For one, I’m forever a fan of collaborations. I believe there’s huge potential in two or more people coming together to achieve a common goal. Ironically enough, Western colonial leadership has done some of the ground work. Although, the gap seems to have broadened over the years.
Rebuilding this connection may seem impossible but with proper processes in place and unwavering commitment from both sides, I believe we can. Furthermore, here are two ideas I’d like to put forth:
“Change begins with one person at a time. We can’t achieve a massive continental change without it first starting with ourselves.”
People need self reflection: Am I enjoying privileges others are not? Is our system really, truly equal? If so, that happened fast.
Market entry. Many Chinese companies are establishing themself in Africa. In Nigeria especially, asian factories happen to be among the top recruiters of manual labour. They’ve been able to deploy capital in our economy, therefore helping to make Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa. A massive feat that contributed to the popular motto of the ‘African giant’. Western businesses could spread their tentacles and branch out to set up their branches here in the largest economy in Africa with also the largest population. That way, intercontinental relationships can be formed.
Inclusive Economy – At Bsbcon, a core focus is to help develop an inclusive economy. If you were to give us one piece of advice on how to help achieve that what would it be?
In my opinion, I believe an inclusive economy is one that defies the traditional economic framework that growth will triple down from the upper and political classes to the general population. An inclusive economy is one that’s accommodating, one that provides a platform where opportunities are available to all people.
“One piece of advice I’d give is that people should be at the heart of the economy. At the core of an inclusive economy are people willing to contribute to the growth of business, so why not make it about them?”
Across the world, we’ve seen cases of economies that brought citizen’s to a particular sector and the result was massively positive. I strongly believe that putting people at the heart of an economy is the way to go. Listening to them, their needs, their wants, what they desire most. In fact, putting ears to the ground is the greatest way to ensure our inclusive economy is going in the right direction.
Close Your Eyes – Paint us a picture of the world you want to see in regards to equality, social justice and diversity.
Finally, an ideal world for me is a world where people of different races can come together to relate, interact and achieve one common purpose. A world where we aren’t limited to certain regions because we don’t want to be ashamed of our colour. A world where equal opportunities are available for everyone. I want a world where every business will have a diverse set of employees working together with tangible growth to show for it.
“A world where people from different cultures can come together to make families and advance a world that’s diverse, unique and amazing. This here is my honest wish.”
– Oluwadaisi Funsho Felix