Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ovamba Co-founder, Viola Lewellyn impresses at Camerbloggers Hangout

Viola Lewellyn and Adeline Sede

The Ovamba hangout with Camerbloggers at Glacier Bio ice cream shop Bonapriso definitely stands out as one I learnt a lot from. It began at about 6.30PM with Adeline Sede Kamga, Ovamba's PR and the event’s organizer introducing us to the Ovamba team present, Emmanuel Enow, Fadilah Tchoumbah, Scarlet Njoyah and Ovamba co-founder boss lady, Viola Llewellyn who hopped in a couple of minutes later. There are no airs about Viola despite her status. She’s a down to earth, outgoing, jovial and funny woman who's got a prince-size-big-crush for late pop star, Prince. And she is still mourning his death. If you examine her photo well (lady on the left above), you'll still see her weeping and "Purple Rain" like tears running down her cheeks. Lol..Flees. (We’d already met virtually and chatted about…Kanye West of all people! (it’s a long story how we took off by chatting about Kanye.) I did not even know it was Ovamba’s first lady. (She doesn’t use her name on FB).

Adeline chaired the hangout. The first part was all about how Ovamba started and its functioning mechanism, to which the various “Ovambayees” chipped in contributions from different angles. Viola narrated in a torrent how it all came about –due to the difficulties faced by Cameroonian SMEs to obtain loans from banks triggered down from colonialist financial policies which constrain. It’s no secret obtaining financial assistance is such a tedious bureaucratic task in Cameroon, so Ovamba came forth to fill that gap and satisfy that need –online! It takes the best of online tech and blends it with very specific African culture by forming a trade partnership with its African clients, who take transactions, invest in their businesses, make profits and refund within six months. But there is a rigorous criteria they use to select SMEs they give transactions to. She explained how the west watches closely on their financial activities and the problems she’s faced obtaining funds from there. Questions about Ovamba’s functioning mechanism followed suit which the team did their best to answer. I’d earlier blogged about the Ovamba trade finance policy right here. 

Next, we delved into the Ovamba Plus Android App which Viola told us was created “to add value to Ovamba’s products”. We downloaded the app and checked out how it functioned, then asked questions about it. The Ashphase Review had blogged exclusively about the App right here.

The third part of the Hangout was the impromptu session, anything anyone had to ask or tell Viola. Arthur wanted to know how many countries Ovamba operates in and he was told Cameroon and South Africa for now. But they have serious expansion plans. Monsieur Tchassa Kamga said, he recently read that Africa’s queen techie, Rebecca Enonchong had just been included on the board of directors of Ovamba. He wanted to know why Ovamba had taken the move. Viola spooled back an interesting tale and reminisced about meeting Rebecca in her childhood, teenage hood and adulthood, meet ups and near misses spanning decades -brief, yet life binding meetings which culminated with Rebecca joining Ovamba. She said Rebecca’s profound tech knowledge and expertise has enabled her to provide very vital constructive criticisms of Ovamba which will help elevate their services. “This lady is a great conversationalist. Does she deliver motivational speeches in schools and conferences? She should, if she isn’t doing so oh,” I thought. The hangout lightened up to chats and jokes at the end and we devoured bowls of ice cream and cookies. Viola said she was happy to finally meet some great young people she had only been hearing about or met on social media.

“Where is the Chop Knuckle guy? Nice work you’re doing!” she said, and we made some noise for Clifford. “Arthur, come here and give me a hug!” Arthur did. “Oh you’re Writerphilic! I’ve read pieces from your blog, you’re a good writer!” And I covered my face in shyness sha. The celebrity of the night was our Solar energy girl whose name I can’t remember anymore. She recounted her experiences working with solar lamps and meeting Rebecca Enonchong which moved Viola. I left Glacier Bio after learning a lot, but these two Viola Llewellyn quotes will always stick in my memory.

“At Ovamba, our trade partners win and we also win. Another person doesn’t necessarily need to lose in order for you to win. If you can win and they also win, that’s a lot better.”

“Making it as an entrepreneur in Cameroon is difficult I must admit. But it should be all about solving problems. Just find the right problem among all the problems we have here and identify the right people to work with. Use the right approach to tackle the identified problem and you’ll succeed. For instance, Ovamba. We’re the only company in Cameroon who provide financial transactions online. We have no competitor. Don’t copy what others do, try something new. Don’t follow trends, set trends.”

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