Entrepreneurship Corner: Empowering Africa's youth with online, 21st-century bartering

Africa is a rich continent, bursting with opportunities. Unfortunately, a persistent lack of, for instance, efficient and reliable community-based, online networks makes it difficult for people to access these opportunities. The emergence of platforms ran for and by Africans such as Afrinection are making a huge difference. Another online tech start-up, this time from Nigeria, that is enabling change by connecting individuals is Repools. The company has given way to an online bartering system and a messaging platform. Afrinection Ambassador Michael Alimo recently spoke to founder Karlista Okoh about what his company is all about. 

Q. What does Repools do?

A. Repools is an online community-driven company. Our mission is to build unconventional online communities that connect people, give them opportunities, and improve lives. We do this via our platforms Barttar and Tiimebomb.

Q. How does Repools contribute to the development of Africa?

A. Repools contributes to Africa through Barttar, which essentially is an online bartering system. This platform encourages people to swap their talents, skills, services, and goods for other talents, skills, services and goods. It has the potential to, for instance, help local programmers and graphic designers to get much-needed experience whilst receiving other skills to complete their projects.

Popular users are brand strategists, graphics designers, website and app builders, coders, accountants, and writers; We also organize coding classes in Lagos, Nigeria for young boys and girls from ages 10 and 14.

Q. What are some of the challenges you face as a company?

A. The key challenge we face is access to reliable data about the various local markets. This information is needed to make informed decisions and understand market trends. Access to startup credit is also a challenge.

Q. What has been the highlight since Repools opened its doors (in the African context)?

A. It has been the manner in which Barttar has been deployed. Many users have sought to exchange programming knowledge, time, educational material, physical therapy, books and so much more.

Q. Why did you choose to go the entrepreneurial route?

A. Living in a part of the world that is rich in potential and problems, we chose to be part of the solution. We have always sought to build systems that help make life better for others. The best way was for us to create something that did just that.

Q. What makes Africa such an interesting business destination for start-ups?

A. Africa is a region where start-ups can grow and scale. With a growing middle-class and a huge mobile internet penetration, opportunities for tech businesses are springing up in numbers. The propensity to leapfrog is also a characteristic.

Q. What is Africa's greatest promise, and why?

A. Africa's greatest promise is its young population. The potential to develop, innovate, gain relevant skill sets is immense. If properly harnessed, it will drive Africa forward. 

Q. What is your main bit of advice to African entrepreneurs who want to make it?

A. Never become too attached to the current form of an idea that you refuse to accept it in a better form.

Q. Where can we follow you on social media?

You can follow us on Twitter. Our website is https://www.repools.com.


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