In an effort to constantly identify the keys to success tech4agri shares the motivating life experience of Mr. Benjamen Adams. Tech4agri caught up with Mr. Adams at 5th Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship held last June in East London South Africa.
Although Mr Adams is an Information technology Professional, he is an entrepreneur making him a suitable benchmark for identifying key strategies that many young entrepreneurs, including those involved in agriculture may be able to learn from.
Benjamen “Biko” Adams is a young businessman, employed as a Corporate Solutions Executive at Mobile Telecommunications Ltd. Biko is Namibian of the African continent. Coming from a family of 7, Biko had to make extra strides to support them, which meant he had to leave his university studies behind at age 22.
He became employed at a local bank and quickly climbed the corporate ladder. However a bad decision lead to issues with respect to the law. Following this he sought sponsorship and was able gain his qualifications in IT Networking and Administrations. While building his practical skills through small private jobs,
Biko also had several jobs all of which he was overqualified for. Eventually he was able to land his current position and began pursuing his entrepreneurial endeavors as an IT consultant and mobile application developer.
The following is a transcript of our interview:
Keron: Thanks for taking the time to meet, Biko. Prior to the interview you mentioned a personal experience you had. Could you explain more and what you have learned from it?
Biko: Well during my tenure at the bank, I learned of a loophole in the system. This tempted me to try it out. Being a teller, I started taking money from my safe, and cooked the Teller Counter book and figures on the system with a formula (loophole). This went on for over a year. I bought my mom a house, bought some cars, and I even I brought two friends onboard in the scheme.
Guess this is how the cookie crumbled. We were finally busted after getting away with 2 million over two years. This led to several consequences. I lost my job, and being the primary bread winner, I left my family with no major source of income. We were in and out of court for over 5months as the prosecutor believed that the stolen money was recoverable.
Fortunately, we avoided an 8 year jail sentence and received a serious fine.
After my troubles with the law, I was not able to get a job for two years and delved deeper into wrongdoings, dealing drugs to meet responsibilities. However this avenue was not destined to continue as my car was repossed serverely hampering my illegal activities.
With no other options left, my colleagues and I jokingly applied to University. To our suprise we were all accepted. Seeing this choice as good fortune our energy was now focused on planning and preparing for a new life of school in the capital city. Fortunately I got a bursary, and we were sure we were on the right track.
Together my colleagues and I started buying and selling electronics to support our education, however tradgey became a reality as I lost my colleagues in a car accident during one of our sales trips. This was a great loss to me, I was down spiritually; discouraged to do anything. As they were the only two guys who was there through thick and thin, from the beginning, I just felt cheated by life.
Somehow I pulled through, with wise words and motivation by my born-again friend from school. What made me snap out of my melancholy was when I decided to dedicate my Degree to my colleagues. As we started out the journey together and they could not finish it, I was going to finish the race for us. Now 4 years out of University, studies completed, I continue to help out their family with school and small expenses.
I must say I have truly made some poor choices in life, but I do not regret a single thing. Most people who go through the things I have were most likely caught or killed. Therefore I feel lucky to have experience all this things without a scar. I would never have been the same person I am today, without the losses, trials and tribulations, support from family and friends.
Now, I often look back and realize how stupid my thought process used to be…childish, ignorant, carefree. And I hope that young guys in this position realize what’s worth it and what is not.
Keron: Insightful story. I appreciate you sharing your hardships. Now that you have moved on, what were your motives for attending the 5th Global Forum on Innovation technology and Entrepreneurship?
Biko: The root of my motivation started at the Southern African Innovation Support/InfoDev Mobile Innovation Roadshow in March 2013. I got an invitation to be on the Judging Panel for the hack-a-thon that was part of this roadshow. (A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects)
Prior to this I became largely involved in the local Mobile-lab to motivate and assist young and potential developers with advice and contacts, and I started enjoying affiliating with the local incubation hub as I enjoy helping others.
The winning team at this Hack-a-thon were guys I knew, one of which was a lecturer of mine at the University. I figured It’ll be nice to go support them as they were promised a free pass to the Forum to pitch their idea. I had also met a few interesting people the preceding months to the forum. This had quite a strong influence on me and I just started overflowing with excitement and enthusiasm to share business ideas, get new perspective.
The Global forum seemed to be the perfect platform, to go get more fire and energy. And mostly to see what people are doing out in the world. Perhaps to fuel my own business aspirations.
Taking on the costs for myself I made it just in time and eventually went. I came back a totally new person, which left a dent in my budget but that wasn’t a problem because it was a priceless experience.
Keron: Nice going. As a young businessman and entrepreneur what have you learned from your experiences here at the forum and what are your future plans?
Biko: First and foremost, never think you can do it alone. I was having a chat with the Managing Director of NBIC (Namibia Business Incubation Centre) and a colleague from the World Bank, just before I left for the forum, about how I held on to 2 great business ideas I always had for over 3 years, and still no one has filled the market gap. I told her how hard it was to trust anyone with a solid business idea, mainly because of the business nature, and funding structure of Namibia
At the forum, I realized how many people have so many good ideas and can’t get anywhere because of obstacles. I had an eye opening moment, share your ideas with the right people, Rather get 20% person out of something, as opposed to holding on the 100% that you can do nothing with.
I have a new-found appreciation for entrepreneurs as they endure the challenges and still don’t give up. I made some really good acquaintances and friends, not mention potential future connections.
To end the forum experience, I must say not only did I have a renewed Entrepreneurial perspective, but I had the privilege to meet brilliant people.
The single most exhilarating thing was the art of socializing with so many strangers that all have one thing in common – ENTREPRENEUR. Nothing has changed my world view more than this.
This brings us to the end of the interview and we sincerely thank Biko for sharing his experiences. All the best to you in your entrepreneurial endeavors. Stay Dedicated!