Mrs. Stella Obinwa is the Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer of Wakanow.com, Nigeria’s leading online travel company. In this interview with JULIUS JOHN, she opens up on the secret behind the brand’ssuccess story and the keys to thriving in online entrepreneurship.
What was the idea behind Wakanow.com?
Wakanow was founded to enable Nigerians book and pay for travel online from the comfort of their laptops, phones, desktops, tablets, or other technical devices. This enhances the traditional process of calling or going to see a travel agent to facilitate your booking.
What gap did the company aim to bridge initially?
The company aimed and succeeded in creating an efficient, affordable, and stress-free way to book/pay for travel without leaving the comfort of your home.
What will you say your company does differently that gave you leverage over existing travelling agencies in the country?
We are the first and leading online travel agency in Nigeria. Our leverage is based on the variety of travel products we offer, the lowest price offer, booking and ticket issuance online, and payment all on one platform.
What were you doing prior to joining Wakanow?
Prior to joining Wakanow, I was a Director of Operations & Finance at Wyndham Vacation Resorts in the USA. This is the largest vacation resort company in the world.
What challenges will you say SMEs in Nigeria face?
In my own view, the major challenges are infrastructure and sustainability.
What biggest challenge does your company face right now?
It is a challenge to be the leader in this industry because we must stay innovative and ahead of the pack that are constantly playing catch-up.
How were you able to gain awareness within a short time, what techniques did you utilize?
I listened….to my founders, to the customers, and to industry trends. This facilitated my awareness of the market and opportunities in Nigeria for the Wakanow brand.
Can you tell us five key points that will help businesses to thrive?
Any business that aims to thrive should consider these points: Innovation, technology, marketing, training, capital.
Where do you see Wakanow in five years?
In 5 years, Wakanow will still be the leader in this industry in Nigeria. We will also be the leader in Africa with considerable market share for all inbound and outbound travel into Africa. And we would have expanded tremendously into all continents.
Do we see your company floating another company any time soon?
If that is where innovation takes us, then yes.
What factor will you say is key in online entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
Perseverance and vision are key in online entrepreneurship.
Talking about funding, how can SMEs in Nigeria generate funds for their business?
Start small, invest in your own business, and show what you can do with the little you have. Investors will take a chance on you.
Which is more important in this line of business fund or strategy?
Both! Your strategy cannot go far without funding.
How do you get the best deal for your clients?
By partnering with all travel suppliers (airlines, hotels etc) and passing on the discounts we are given on to the customer.
Can you tell us more about you?
My name is Stella Obinwa nee Fubara. I am the 2nd of 7 children born to Prof Dagogo& Dr. MrsVinoliaFubara of Opobo town, Rivers state. I am married to Nnanna Obinwa, and we have 4 children together. I completed both my B.Sc and MBA at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to Wakanow.com, I worked at Deloitte &Touche, Walt Disney World, and Wyndham Vacation Resorts. I am most proud of my husband who supports my career dreams, and my children who are soaring and making names for themselves in their chosen career paths.