She is a woman of many talents;producer, writer, film reviewer, editor, voice over artiste, educationist, TV and radio host on stations like Africa Magic Family channels, Radio Continental 102.3 FM just to mention a few stations. Isabella Akinseye speaks to AfricaInterviews on her journey to self-reliance as a media entrepreneur. It might interest you that Isabella recently quit a job in Nestle to startYellow Tamarind Productions. Enjoy the excerpts!
Why did you quit a well-paying job to pursue a dream?
It was time to move on. I had known for a while but I had been delaying it because I wanted to have a plan. For me, I knew the day I would quit would be the day I walk down the tunnel of no return. So I quit to try other things that interested me out. YOLO!
How did your friends and family react to this decision?
Many had seen this decision coming so it was not so much a shock but it is one thing for someone to say they want to quit their job, it is another for them to actually do it. Reactions were mixed but overall, positive. People were excited for me and wished me well. The haters well…they kept hating (that is what they do, right?).
How easy or difficult has the journey been so far?
The easy part was seeing the big picture and that was what has kept me going since day 1. The vision crystallizes each day and I am grateful to God, my family and friends for that. And my fans, the ones who send me messages on social media. The hard part is not knowing how and when I will get there. And I do miss the perks of working in a multinational. Entrepreneurship in the early days can be a very lonely road especially with my kind of work which sometimes only requires a computer and an internet connection.
With what you know now, will you encourage people to leave their comfort zones to pursue their dreams?
Yes I will. Funny a friend of mine recently told someone looking to follow her dream to contact me. I told her to go for it but to also count the cost and be prepared for it. If you have family commitments, it might not be as simple as A, B, C, but again with God, all things are possible. You owe it to yourself to live…even if for a little. You live when you are intentional about following what God has put in your heart…better that than to eventually end up in the belly of the whale.
Do you think we have the enabling environment in Nigeria for entrepreneurs to flourish?
We have the population to support so much but the enabling environment, not so much. Abroad, you want to be an entrepreneur, there are free resources to help you not to mention tax breaks, grants and the like. In Nigeria, sadly, entrepreneurship is not seen as the career, it is what you do as a side hustle or when you can’t get a good job. What is even a good job these days? Right now, my fantasy career would be football.
What do you think can be done to create this environment?
Government needs to do more. Banks need to do more. Private sector needs to do more. Our schools need to do more. Right now, I like what the Entrepreneurship Development Centre is doing with the private sector to provide affordable training. I am currently taking part in the Diamond Bank Building Entrepreneurs Today Season 6 and it has been very worthwhile. Structure is key for MSMES to survive.
What advice would you give people who want to become entrepreneurs especially during this recession?
Do your research. Be prepared. Go for it! And God, yes, God is key. Also, allow yourself to have fun!
Who are your role models and why?
Bola Atta, Toni Kan, Shaibu Husseini and Biola Alabi. Their stories and experience inspire me. I have also been lucky enough to know them personally and they have been gracious with their time, wisdom and resources.