Startups: Sanni Murtala talks Wesabi, Artisans and Plans for Nigeria – Magnus Okeke (@iammagnus1)

Aha! There’s this Nigerian startup called Wesabi that you need to know about. Wesabi was born from a personal problem encountered by project manager Sanni Murtala. Sanni talks about it almost all the time. I was one of the lucky ones that watched him pitch Wesabi at the Co-Creation hub Yaba a few months back.

“I had just moved to a new suburb and it was difficult getting a proper artisan to come fix things in my place.” Sanni recalled.

“I had resorted to calling friends and friends of friends who sent me various numbers to call that didn’t work. Most of the replies I got from these artisans was “I dey road”, but they never showed up,” he’d say.

“In the end I needed to walk around the entire neighborhood looking out for numbers pasted on walls, poles and uncompleted houses. Eventually I got my plumber.”

Wesabi is here to solve this problem. Wesabi was launched by Murtala and co-founders: Lord-Mallam Nugwan, Zainab Oyewo and Japheth Omojuwa in July of last year. A marketplace where people can outsource tasks and find local service providers, the startup aims to provide an all-in-one service connecting customers to artisans.Though there are a number of categories on the platform, for now Wesabi focuses on the artisans and handyman category.

I ran into Sanni a few days after the pitch and I wanted to know more about Wesabi. Interview below:

Magnus: I watched you pitch at the hub the other day and according to you, “Wesabi is like a marketplace where people can outsource tasks and find local service providers, the startup aims to provide an all-in-one service connecting customers to artisans.”

Sanni: Yes.

Magnus: Is Wesabi for Nigerians alone?

Sanni: For now yes.. Although we are coming up with an app that allows our process to be fully automated. This will make expansion easier for us.

Wesabi was born from a personal problem encountered by project manager Sanni Murtala.

Magnus: Cool. We can’t wait. The app will make things easier.

Sanni: Yes it will.

Magnus: If I register as an artisan, do I need to have any criterion or documents submitted before a customer’s task is handed to me?

Sanni: So basically there two categories. The artisans and other service providers. For the artisans, you have to be recommended before you can be recruited into our network. Recommended either by home owners, master craftsmen or project engineers. For the other categories, you can register on your own. Say for example, as a web developer and a job is posted under that category. The various developers on the platform receive notifications. They can then come bid for the job. If the client assigns the job to whoever, the clients pays us until you as a developer finishes the job.

Magnus: Cool. These recommendations, does it happen offline or on the wesabi website (marketplace) or both?

Sanni: Yes offline. If you register on the platform by yourself as an artisan without recommendation you are not assigned any job.

Magnus: Understood. I thought about this recently: How does Wesabi plan to create awareness for artisans out there and individuals with skills? Will there be workshops or seminars in the future? What’s up?

Sanni: Yes, actually, we organise a seminar once a month on Abuja already. We are yet to start in Lagos though.

Magnus: Cool. Is that happening anytime soon in Lagos? I’d love to attend.

Sanni: Well, we’ll see. Seminar costs money. We are still looking to raise funds too.

Magnus: Understood. I read Tom Jackson’s article on Disrupt Africa about Wesabi and he mentioned that  Lord-Mallam Nugwan, Zainab Oyewo, Japheth Omojuwa and you founded Wesabi in July of last year. Are these people still with Wesabi?

Sanni: Yes, although we are looking to add one more technical officer. Someone who will have the same passion to drive this the way we plan to.

Wesabi is like a marketplace where people can outsource tasks and find local service providers, the startup aims to provide an all-in-one service connecting customers to artisans.

Magnus: Great. I’ll add that; in case anyone a techy person is interested?

Sanni: Yes we will appreciate that.

Magnus: As I mentioned earlier, I watched you pitch at Cchub. Are you guys through with Growth Academy?

Sanni: Yes we are.

Magnus: What’s next; after Growth Academy? Especially for Lagosians and other large states like Enugu where we need artisans almost everyday?

Sanni: We are taking it one at a time. Get very grounded in Lagos and Abuja first. Then we spread out

Magnus: Awesome!I love what you guys have brought to the table – I mean, I know a lot of startups that ask for certificates or educational qualifications before you could use their products. Thank you for your time.

Sanni: You’re Welcome.

Do you need help with anything around you? Wesabi is here to cater for your needs. The unemployment rate in Nigeria is climbing. Wesabi is here to do something about it.Visit www.wesabi.com today to register your skills or get help with your projects

Written by Magnus of Okadabooks

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