Ayo Alonge, [email protected]
Ademola Akitoye is the founder of AI Multimedia Academy, a fast growing business venture located in Lagos. He is a budding entrepreneur in Nigeria, with many years of experience in ICT, multimedia design and training.
For Akitoye, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) face a lot of challenges militating against their growth, with access to cheap funds chief among these myriad of challenges. He enumerated the numerous potential in the business, while stating how the government can promote SMEs in the country.
I started Ambient Interactive Multimedia Limited and AI Multimedia Academy to bridge gaps in service delivery in multimedia design and training in Nigeria. The company has been able to cut a niche by offering wonderful solutions to organisations through the companies we have supported, in meeting their training needs, setting up e-learning portals and offering multimedia solutions. I am a graduate of Electrical/Electronics from The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. I have attended several other courses within and outside Nigeria. I also hold multiple Adobe Certified Associate Certifications in Video Communication, Print and Digital Publishing.
We offer technical and vocational education in multimedia and unique multimedia services. My mission is to bridge the digital skill gap in today’s businesses by offering quality multimedia education in order to produce adequate skilled manpower that will rise to the challenges of the ever-changing world. OOurcourses are taught through a balance of classroom instruction, hands-on practical and individual practice. The approach is holistic, ensuring that students understand and have experience in all aspects of the subject they are studying. This gives them flexibility as they become proficient in their chosen fields. In addition, we offer a blended learning model that combines traditional classroom learning and access to our free e-learning portal. This ensures continuous learning at students convenience even while not in the classroom. Through our e-learning portal, our students can easily access course contents, connect with other students, submit an assignment, track course progress and also complete activities such as quizzes, post in forum and more. Companies don’t just want university graduates anymore, they want employees with specific skill sets. An explosion of social media, new devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and increased Internet usage, companies are increasing their IT staff. In addition, many new businesses are seeking more multimedia experts, programmers, digital marketers and designers. This motivated me to establish AI Multimedia Academy in order to provide technical and vocational training in the area of graphic design, animations, cinematography, computer-aided design, digital editing, video editing, audio editing, motion graphics, visual effects, photography, video production, web design, web and mobile applications development and digital literacy. Our courses lead our graduates towards a specific career path and skill certifications needed by many industries.
Multimedia holds a lot of potential for our youths. Multimedia skills are applicable in most industries such as entertainments, music, film, broadcasting, advertising, graphics and a whole lot of industries embrace multimedia. Our objective is to actually create a knowledgeable society in those fields and we have trained a lot of youths who are wonderfully doing well after graduating from our academy. The number of people with the higher institution and university education is already quite high in our country and it is not possible for our local industries to absorb all of them. However, there is a shortage of people with the required technical skills and some local industries are forced to source such skills internationally. In general, vocational education in multimedia education drives the economy of the country by empowering people to be more innovative and critical thinkers. Multimedia is a broad term used for a lot of disciplines and anyone that wants to venture into it must possess the appreciable skill set in the particular area he or she wants to focus on. The business could be started with just a simple laptop with the required software in the case of graphic design, animation, video editing, motion graphics, digital marketing, web design and programming, other areas might require more investment.
Vocational education in multimedia gives people an opportunity to specialise in skills that are highly demanded in the job market. It is, therefore, easy to secure a job or become self-employed. Therefore, people with technical skills in multimedia contribute significantly to the growth of the economy. Vocational training in multimedia also helps in reducing the rate of unemployment and poverty.
Mg initial capital was from selling my car in order to acquire necessary startup equipment and gadgets. I then went into a partnership with a training institute in order to use their space with an agreement to share a certain percentage of my revenue with them. I did this for about three years before we were able to secure our own space. Our staff strength has increased considerably from the initial two staff about three years ago to 10 permanent staff.
The main challenges facing us in this country include poor infrastructure, funding and corruption. These are the major issues hindering businesses thriving in our environment, especially SMEs. In addition, electricity must be readily available to power businesses across the country. The present arrangement is not just working. A new way of powering our country must be looked into. These issues must urgently be resolved and also the internet penetration issue. A few percentage of Nigerians have access to avoidable high-speed internet and that in itself poses a lot of challenges to the young entrepreneurs that want to venture into internet-dependent multimedia businesses. An additional challenge we encountered while starting up was getting the right and trusted people to work with. So many young people are not patient. They want to make it quick and very ready to scuttle any SME’s growth in their own favour. In the area of funding, Nigerian entrepreneurs do not readily have access to cheap funds in order to expand their businesses. The interest rate on borrowing in Nigeria is one of the highest in the world.
In tackling the challenges, however, we rely heavily on power generator in order to ameliorate the power challenge but this in itself is quite expensive and the better part of our income that should be invested back into the business is expended on this. In the area of funding, we currently rely on what we generate to sustain the business and for expansion. However, we are looking forward to securing a loan with less stringent conditions or investment from interested investors for our expansion to major cities in the country. By and large, the government needs to come up with a system where certain funds are set aside where the young entrepreneur can access in order to expand. The more the expansion, the more the employment and the more people we are taking away from the streets and ultimately more taxes will be paid to the government.
The solution to some of the problems besetting us is for the government of our country to really invest in human capital and invest more on their people by providing a good educational system, better curriculum, better infrastructure and by supporting vocational/technical education. I believe that will reposition our country as an investment destination in the nearest future. I will also suggest a five-year tax holiday to newly established SMEs in order for them to concentrate on building the business in the first five years.
Patronage and special recognition
When we first started, we relied mainly on online marketing and promotions that direct prospecting clients and students to our website and in addition to that, we currently get patronage from many referrals from our past students and existing clients.
Since inception, over 1000 youths have passed through our academy, many of whom are doing well in areas of their endeavours, and many others engaged by corporate bodies, broadcasting, entertainment and film industries. Our Academy has received notable awards from many organisations for her contributions to youths development in Nigeria. Chief among them are Student on the Runway 4 & 5 Awards 2017 for my contributions to the youth development in the society, Outstanding Youth ICT Centre of the year 2018 by Young Achiever Nigeria Magazine, Global Most Innovative Quality Multimedia Academy of the year 2018.
Long term goals for business
Our plan is to train more and build more entrepreneurs in Nigeria so that they will be able to tackle the challenges facing us in this part of the world by establishing more of our training centres in major cities across the country. In the nearest future, we are set to expand beyond the shores of Nigeria into other viable Africa countries to offer multimedia services, training and e-learning solutions. My overall goal is to become a globally acclaimed one-stop human capital development institution by leveraging on emerging technologies to deliver needed skills and certifications for diverse industries.