The application of technology into our daily lives, has simplified almost everything we can think of and despite the multiple problems that we have in Nigeria, in terms of low broadband penetration, the tech ecosystem is still thriving.
Some of the problems befalling the country in the Agricultural, financial inclusion and Education ecosystem, etc., are getting tailor-made solutions, enabled with technology.
One of such start-ups that has been able to aggregate Agriculture, Energy and Power, into one platform, to create a single commodities trading company is AGENPO.
CFAmedia caught up with Obinna Onyejeli, Founder Agenpo, who shared the story behind the rise of the company, from just an idea to Nigeria’s most sought after commodities trading company.
Everything started with just a little exposure to Agriculture!
An indigene of Anambra State, born and raised in the South East city of Aba, Abia State, to a family of 3 children, with a Medical Doctor father and a mother who is a Nurse. He did part of his secondary school in the UK and finished up at Atlantic Hall School, Epe, Lagos.
Due to constant pressure from his father, who wanted his son to be a Medical Doctor, Obinna gained admission to study Medicine at Madonna University.
After his Dad passed away in 2006, he went back to the UK and after 3 years, he had an impulsive change of heart and decided to change his career direction, completely.
He enrolled at Tower Hamlets College in the UK, for an Access course in Business and Accounting and secured a customer experience role at National Express coaches in London, where he would. eventually stay for 6 years, before taking the leap of faith to return to Nigeria.
The Quantum Leap
In December 2015, Obinna went to his hometown of Ajalli, in Anambra state and that was where he saw a young woman, who interested him a lot.
She was into many things in the agriculture space, but she wanted Obinna to help her find foreign buyers for her dried cassava chips.
“I immediately went online to do the needful and ended up getting 2 potential buyers for her, however, while I was doing the search, I came across a lot of people needing different things!
“I looked through all of them and the lowest hanging fruit was supplying sorghum to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Ibadan.
That was how my interest in agriculture sprang up, so, I had to incorporate a company. That was how Agenpo came into being, a few months later”, Obinna explained.
The creation and the evolution of Agenpo
Brimming with a big smile, filled with passion, Obinna recalled his journey and what transpired that made him picked the name, Agenpo, for his company.
“When thinking of a name, I reckoned I had access to some resources and I could, also, do some few things in other sectors and so, I took the first 2 letters of all the sectors. AG – agriculture, EN – energy, PO – power, to form AGENPO”, he stressed.
After incorporation, however, he went on to add 3 other sectors to the list and these are real estate, solid minerals and transportation, but eventually, trimmed it down to only agriculture and solid minerals.
“I re-positioned Agenpo as a commodities trading company – Agricultural commodities and solid mineral commodities”, Obinna beamed.
“There have been multiple challenges, but I don’t like to dwell on those”, Obinna stressed.
“In fact, I delete rejection letters, as soon as I get them. I like to persevere, knowing that Ecclesiastes 9:11 always holds true.
To prove that, while I was in the UK, I applied for so many jobs. All the opportunities fizzled away, as soon as I took their psychometric tests“.
He further stated that he always practiced hard with various materials, but he never made it past any! He passed the Founder Institute psychometric test, without any practice whatsoever.
It all made sense all of a sudden, even though it was exactly the same as what he had been seeing in the past. He had not, even, attempted one in over 6 years.
Scaling with Technology
Obinna knew that, for his business to grow, he needed more exposure and also, needed to find a way of incorporating technology into it, which will guarantee maximum scalability, thus, began his journey to seek knowledge.
At the beginning of 2019, he decided to get more training and enrolled at FATE foundation for the Emerging Entrepreneurs Program 24.
As that was ending, he enrolled at the Founder Institute, Lagos, to gain yet another set of exposure.
“We have the proper structures, as Agenpo has been able to leverage on technology massively. We are in the process of truly becoming a Pan-African commodities exchange”, he stressed.
Obinna explained that Agenpo has been featuring, mostly in the Agro and mineral commodities market.
“Ours will be the first exchange in Africa, where carbon emissions and African currencies are traded”, he maintained.
One thing that we will be taking away from the story of Obinna is the need to have focus, which is all about believing in your dreams and be very dogged about it.
Finally, Obinna stressed that, in the next 2 years, Agenpo’s Exchange will be operational, in over 50% of the countries in Africa.
“We would have launched other products in the pipeline, such as payments, insurance and VC investing.
We would be fully engaged in CSR and sustainability practices. Beyond 2 years, as was part of the initial plan in 2016, Agenpo will be publicly listed by 2026″, he concluded.