Nigerian tech entrepreneur, Samuel Obeghe, is daring to change the world, using Africa as his launchpad and he’s gaining traction. After 15 years of acquiring knowledge and broadening his technology scope in-between the United States and the United Kingdom, Samuel conceptualized a big idea – to launch the first Africa-owned social platform that would challenge the current way Africa’s economic value is measured.
Having identified a lapse in the way economic impact and value is being measured worldwide, Samuel believes that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) system is obsolete and cannot capture the true economic impact of any social and structural change in society, paving way for the birth of ECO Africa.
ECO, which stands for Environment, Community, and Organization, is a social platform Samuel founded to not only help people and organizations connect, but also track their goals and growth that would positively impact their local space.
ECO would be the first social platform created by an African and made for Africans and by extension the rest of the world. Samuel said ECO would “measure the economy of any country using a different set of metrics – the environment, community and organization data – to create a new way or a new ecosystem for the digital economy”.
Why did you start ECO?
Where is the biggest problem in the world? Where is the biggest project happening around the world? And who is doing the most? Who is doing the best? Is it Donald Trump or is it the queen of England? Is it Jeff Bezos or is it Mark Zuckerberg? These are the questions that go through my head when I think about the economy or when I think about how we value things in the world in the age of digitalization, data, and design. In 2017, I started my second company after I started a company called Innovation for Africa and I was thinking to myself how I was going to transfer all the innovation that I learned in the western world to Africa after being out there for over 15 years. So the idea of ECO was ignited. ECO was supposed to be a filter that will filter how those innovations were going to reach Africa, focusing them on the environment, the community and the organizations within the continent.
We wanted to measure what part of the environment was being depleted and how it is being managed. Key economic players in this community – where are they, and what community is it, urban or rural? How are they faring? And finally, the organizations there – how can we make them sustainable? Then you think, which organization is erupting in this time of change taking place in Africa? And as I studied economics, I realised that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was outdated. It is not the best way to measure the economic value of any country.
So, ECO is a new movement to measure the economy of any country using the environment, community, and organization data, thereby creating a new ecosystem for the digital economy that changes global dependence on the GDP approach. We believe that data plus digital people can create a process of measuring economic growth and development for what we call the digital economy. ECO is to measure every individual’s impact – ethically, socially, and even sustainably, but also be able to measure organizations’ impact the same way. We started this to change people’s mindset, to improve lives, and to create an equitable economy for the future
You believe a nation’s economy shouldn’t be measured by its GDP considering we live in a digital world. Wouldn’t that be premature for Africa that is still struggling to catch up with the world digitally?
As I said before, GDP is outdated because it only measures productivity and forgets the fact of impact. So I will only focus on moving forward to be productive, but I forget the impact I’m making while I’m trying to reach that productivity, whilst at the same time, we’re destroying the earth and people’s lives, not measuring our impact as we live on this earth. I understand that Africa is premature in the world of digitalization but the moment of studying the basis of something will nudge everybody else to start to think differently.
We understand fully well that Africa is not there yet but we also think that if every African player can use social media tools, then creating ECO, will engage people to register themselves, create credibility for themselves or be able to engage in their local development using the right data of what really exists in their local place. For example, the ECO platform allows you to put tasks using the UNSDG (United Nations Sustainable Development Group) goals to be able to measure how you’re engaging in your local place in relation to the UNSG goals.
For instance, I could decide to join a task of ending poverty in Nigeria by doing the task put on the platform by individual entrepreneurs, innovators, or even organizations – charities, NGOs that already aimed at solving that problem. ECO helps to make sure you’re engaged on a digital social platform without just putting comment and likes but engaging to create credibility and ratings for myself that gives me points in that local place. So yes, Africa is far off from the digital world but I’m telling you ECO would be that thought for people to start reinventing their minds and start to think differently and question themselves – why I’m I on an online platform if I’m not there to make an impact…
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the full interview here. It’s on page 66 – 68 of our latest edition, ’25 Entrepreneurs & Brands to watch in 2021′.
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