“There is a major gap to connect Nigerian youth with careers, and our idea could really transform many lives,” she said.
Nkechi, known as Ink, is a Nigerian entrepreneur and Founder of Nigeria's leading online fashion business AsoEbiBella.
She is currently studying for a MBA at the Said Business School and Wadham College with the support of the AfOx Graduate Scholarship and Standard Bank Africa Chairman's Scholarship.
Guided by her belief that people are bound by a sense of community that trumps ethnic tensions, Ink looks for opportunities to contribute towards her country’s economic and social progress.
Since experiencing personal loss and witnessing the transformative power of community at a young age, the value of collaboration has been entrepreneur Nkechi Balogun’s guiding principle.
Her intention to expand her fashion business in the global market led Ink to apply for the MBA programme at the Business School in Oxford.
“Many people believe business school is a place for bankers and financial analysts. But it is also a place for unconventional people like me who want to learn how to expand our business ventures.”
In 2013, Ink decided to turn her love for culture, fashion and media into a business. Started as a passion project, AsoEbiBella now has over two million followers worldwide, making it Nigeria’s most popular fashion company. AsoEbiBella is an online platform that connects Nigerian wedding vendors such as fashion designers, tailors and stylists to a global audience and promotes their products.
Over the last 7 years, Ink has partnered with international brands such as Samsung and HP, leading innovative marketing campaigns which led to a 100% increase in revenue in 2018 and 2020
However, Ink’s business decisions don’t rely only on what is most profitable, but also what has the potential to make a difference in her country. In Nigeria, many wedding businesses are run by women. As Ink started promoting Nigerian fashion, she discovered many of these women had skills gaps such as lack of adequate financial knowledge.
While expanding her business, Ink looks for ways to empower the women she works with. In an effort to bridge knowledge gaps she organises leadership and training events for women.
To further support women-led small and medium-sized enterprises, in 2017 Ink partnered with Orijin, a Guinness Nigeria drink, to start a digital campaign showcasing mostly women-led wedding businesses. Thousands of women business owners across all six geo-political zones of Nigeria were promoted on the AsoEbiBella website and were given access to free ads, while five businesses received support to renovate their shops and upgrade their equipment.
Upon the completion of her course, Ink plans to expand her business with commerce, by taking African fabrics to the global market, and continuing to empower other women-led SMEs in Nigeria to do the same.
“Oxford has opened my eyes to the turns my future could take, but the path will always lead me to making a difference in Nigeria.”