A Sociologist cum Human Manager, Estelle Nnanna Kalu has a 10-year experience in the capital market where she honed her skills as a Customer Relationship Manager. A graduate of Abia State University, Kalu has been a frontline advocate for Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) into the Nigerian digital space. Determined to make her dream a reality, she founded Nectare with a view to growing the MSMEs sector by connecting more people via her online platform. In this interview, she sheds more light on her efforts to add more value to the small scale industry. Excerpts:
How did you come about the idea of Nectare?
What prompted me to set up Nectare is the zeal to improve on how people search and connect with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) online. Prior to the establishment of Nectare, existing platforms had a lot of loopholes such as inadequate information about their listed vendors, and the inability to cover a lot of categories, resulting in some services not being able to enjoy adequate visibility, among other challenges.
I also observed a large pool of entrepreneurs and small businesses that were not getting adequate attention despite the fact that many of them are on social media jostling for space. I, therefore, saw the need to create a platform that would give them a level playing field to showcase themselves.
Sadly too, the process of verifying vendors has been porous, people are scared of patronizing small businesses due to lack of trust. At Nectare, we ensure that clients get what they want from a verified provider.
What value proposition do you think you’ll bring to the market?
Nectare will reach out to a wider market based on our expanded list of categories; there are services that were not in existence a couple of years ago. It is noteworthy to say that such services are now captured in the directory market.
Interestingly too, we’re raising the security level between service providers and clients to ensure that the lack of trust is reduced to the barest minimum.
Nectare intends to help small businesses improve their returns on investment by guiding them on how best to achieve customer loyalty, through improved customer service. Your job description as a Nectare vendor is to offer your clients best service ever. We also have a better secured platform to vet vendors so that end users can be sure of what they are getting.
What are the challenges you faced in nursing the dream to fruition?
Basically, my challenge was how to deal with some leaders in the industry who felt I came up with an idea that already existed. For me, it was about filling a void, finding a specific niche to focus on.
Today, Nectare has a specific audience which is basically individual entrepreneurs and small businesses that do not get much attention.
Despite these challenges, why do you keep on pushing?
I’ve never thought of quitting, I’m yet to make the required impact. So, I need to see it happen and the thought of creating a community of service providers as I always envisioned is what keeps giving me the push.
What do you think are the major factors militating against startups in Nigeria?
I think it’s the unfriendly policies, inflation, high regulatory fees and inadequate power supply. Nothing works as smoothly as it should; just call it the Nigerian factor.
Where do you see Nectare in the next five years?
I would like to see Nectare fully established, I want it to be a unique service-provider that is willing to bring out the best, a platform that is much secured and is everyone’s first port of call when any task needs to be done.
Nectare should be an angry client’s last resort to finding the smallest of everything or service personnel. People appreciate when things are done properly. In the next five years; I hope to have raised an army of efficient vendors to meet those needs.