Ayo Olunuga was raised by a father who owned a logistics business in Nigeria. With his experience at the Royal Mail and Jumia, he had mastered the terrain and fully understood where the market gaps were. He was eager to solve the warehousing and last-mile delivery problems but he knew the journey is a marathon, and to win, he couldn’t go it alone.
Ayo teamed up with his friend and former colleague, Damola Ajayi, a sales professional, to start Warenext, an end-to-end digital marketplace. According to the duo, the mission is to shoulder all the logistics burden of SMEs in Nigeria.
Read the full interview HERE
Warenext is helping online retailers warehouse their goods on a pay-as-you-go plan, with efficient and customer-centric last-mile delivery options to choose from on the platform.
Ayo and Damola told Business Elites Africa in detail about their journey as employees and now as business owners.
BEA: Firstly, let’s talk about your professional journey before you started Warenext.
Ayo: I have been in the logistics business for about 10 to 15 years. I grew up around a logistics business owned by my father and that’s what I studied at the University as well. I actually had my formal logistics job in the UK, with the Royal Mail. From there I moved on to Aston Martin. I worked with Jaguar Land Rover and I also worked with Jumia. I was the head of delivery at Jumia. When I left Jumia, I tried my hands on a small logistics business, where we did road and rail transportation for a number of businesses. We moved goods from Apapa all the way to the Kano-Kaduna axis and down south as well. That was what we did for a while, then this modernization of the railway came about, and the railway actually stopped working for some time. That literarily halted the rail side of the business, but we went on with the road. That’s what I did prior to us joining and starting off Warenext in 2019.
BEA: For someone coming from the logistics industry in the UK where the system works, how would you compare it to the Nigerian terrain?
Ayo: In a way, logistics is similar everywhere, because it’s the same thing that you’re doing. It’s how you do it that differs, and what the rules and regulations allow in each country. Then, the environment is also different – the people you work with and the level of expectation or exposure that they have to the job are really what’s different. In the UK, it’s very regularized, there are certain jobs that you can do for a certain period of time, then you have to go on, and there are certain rules you have to follow. But in Nigeria, not so much.
Damola: I started off in Human Resources (HR). I was doing recruitment, talent management, and facilitating a lot of training, as far back as when I was a student, a member of the International Association of Students in Economics and Commerce (AISEC), a student organization that basically caters to young people developing their leadership potentials. So we did a lot of projects, training, and conferences across different countries. This student organization is in 115 countries. So you could travel and do exchange programs. Shortly after school, I went to Ghana, where I did a bit of AISEC stuff as well as talent management. From Ghana, I traveled to Gabon for a project with the United Nations and AISEC. Then, I went to India, where I also worked as HR personnel at TATA group – the IT arm of the company.
We had over 200,000 employees, and I was managing about 9000 people back then. After TATA, I came back to Nigeria and worked as an HR staff at an engineering firm; then quit and went to Jumia. At Jumia I did recruitment and training as well, more like HR and sales, which was my first experience in sales. Later in Jumia, I moved to become the director for the marketplace because the company needed to move from the retail business into a marketplace business, which informs some of the things we do at Warenext today. After Jumia, I Joined Carrry1st, a gaming company. I was the manager for growth and expansion in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. After that, I ran into Ayo and Warenext happened…
Read the full interview HERE
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