Many people who live south of the River Niger and who have never crossed the demarcation to the Northern part of Nigeria have no idea what life is like here. It’s okay, you can admit it. However, there are many geniuses making a difference in society and doing some pretty amazing things. Ibrahim is one of them.
Ibrahim, 30, is the founder of Kadamall.com, an online shopping mall tailored for the people of Kaduna. In fact, Kadamall.com is the first online mall in Kaduna state. I wondered why he tailored it for the Kaduna people.
‘Kadamall.com was born out of the need for the people of Kaduna state to enjoying ecommerce services which were not available in Kaduna. Other states like Lagos and Abuja have their own local online stores which provide fast delivery service and provide local vendors an opportunity to showcase their products. Kadamall.com brings this opportunity to the people of Kaduna state.’
Ibrahim was definitely speaking from personal experience. He had been buying products from the top ecommerce platforms in Nigeria and like most people, had to wait a required number of days to get his products. He wondered what it would cost to have products delivered on the same day as purchase and this prompted him to start developing Kadamall.com.
For someone who went to the Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) staff school and the Nigeria Military School (NMS) for his primary and secondary education respectively, this was a huge task for him. Add to the fact that he studied Microbiology at both Kaduna State Polytechnic and Kaduna State University, you can’t help but wonder what he knows about coding and web development.
But Ibrahim is tenacious. He was intrigued by computers when he was in secondary school and though no one was available to teach him, his fascination with computers remained. So, he taught himself. It took him a while but he learned a lot about computers, web development and coding.
With his knowledge, designing an online shopping mall was not that hard a task.
After working exclusively for six months, Kadamall.com was ready to be birthed but the push to launch kept eluding Ibrahim. True to his perfectionist nature, he kept finding something wrong with his creation. Was it good enough? Could it compete with the existing brands? Would people care about it?
Then, the big question: Were the residents of Kaduna state READY for an online mall?
‘I would say yes. Most people in Kaduna have embraced the ecommerce shopping style but they use platforms which are not available in Kaduna. So I believe they are ready. Most people we have spoken to are excited about the prospect of an indigenous ecommerce platform.’
You know it is one thing to be excited about a new project and another to actually buy into it. I expressed my worries, asking how he was connecting to prospective vendors to list their products and services on his platform. The answer seemed simple enough.
‘We have been doing rigorous marketing campaigns to get vendors to understand the benefits of listing their products on Kadamall.com. And this effort has paid off, because we have seen a spike in the number of vendors who are willing to list their products. Also we have a marketing team that goes from shop to shop to get vendors to list. We also have partnership with local fair organizers like The GreenHub. The partnership is such that if a person registers for a stand at The GreenHub, they automatically qualify to have their product listed on Kadamall.com.’
It all sounded good and dandy, with the potential to make lots of money. That was my next line of questioning. Ibrahim then explained something which set off warning bells in my head.
‘Vendors don’t have to pay to be registered on the platform; it is totally free. We operate with a philosophy that helps vendors sell their products. So if we have not sold your products like we promised, we don’t think you should pay us a dime.’
That sounded pretty straightforward and ethical, but then how did he plan to make money?
‘We have a commission structure for every product category. If we help vendors make sales, they pay us a percent commission on any product we sell; depending on the category they fall in.’
According to Ibrahim, this approach has been favorable in attracting vendors.
‘Yes it has been. And we hope more vendors come on board so that customers can have a variety of products to choose from.’
Ibrahim seems to have it all figured out. But then, there is the issue of competing with well-established online shopping brands for the loyalty of customers. We know most people would rather stick to a company that has been around than take a risk with a start-up.
Ibrahim isn’t fazed by that.
‘Kadamall.com is Kaduna’s first online mall. Kadamall.com offers the people and residents of Kaduna state a unique platform for vendors to showcase their products and services to the millions of customers in Kaduna state. We also are the first to introduce same day delivery in Kaduna. So to cut a long story short, you don’t just trust someone or something in one day. Each of these brands you mentioned started out like us. So we are investing a lot in building trust between ourselves and our customers and vendors. Rome wasn’t built in a day.’
While it is easy to think Ibrahim is talking tough, I got to spend some days with him as he worked and his drive was infectious. He turned on his charm when meeting possible vendors and worked those Kaduna shops, boutiques and malls like his life depended on it. In one day, we visited more than ten shops to pitch the mall.
Most web developers would prefer to live in Lagos or Abuja because they can be sure to make more money and have more influence. With Ibrahim, it is more about solving a problem in the town he grew up in – a town that accepted a man from Oyo state like her own and allowed him flourish until he became the man he is today.
When he is not coding, he is quite the people-person. I couldn’t help but be amazed at just how many people knew him. I realized his friend were also my friends so I wondered why we had never met. The cocky sanguine said, ‘You needed to wait to enjoy my awesomeness.’ The nerve right?!
Since we live in opposite ends of Kaduna, I assumed he would be a fish out of water in my neighborhood but boy knew everybody! Okay. I kid. He knew quite a lot of people. It was not out of place to hear ‘Hey Hunta! How you dey na?’ Oh! Did I forget to tell you? His nickname is Hunta; one of his only keepsakes from his time in military school. Turns out he was such a good marksman that his superiors gave him the name and it stuck!
I noticed his phone was almost always ringing – and usually for personal calls – and I had to ask how he balanced his work and his life. He answered with a simple, ‘I love to have fun. So I work in the day time and play at night.’ And he knows how to have fun! He took me out to a couple of spots in Kaduna and everywhere we went, he was the life of the party.
In the end, Ibrahim Mustapha is really just a simple guy with big dreams. I’m sure he will be successful because he has identified a problem and is focused on solving it. Isn’t that the hallmark of true greatness after all?