About Niara Africa

creating oppportunities out of scarcity

Niara, pronounced NIY-AA-RAA, is a Swahili word meaning ‘one with High Purpose’.

Niara takes its raison d’être from the understanding that Ideas rule the world.

We have witnessed in the recent past how toxic ideas have governed systems that affect us all. The purpose of business being solely to maximise shareholder value, a value expressed only in monetary terms, for instance, was an idea that resulted in many decades of the destruction of the environment and in-human working conditions in many companies and countries; a situation which is still prevalent today. ‘World poverty’, Muhammed Yunus the 2006 Nobel Laureate is convinced, ‘is not created by poor people. It is imposed on the poor people by the system we have created.’

In order to truly transform society, the dominant ideas, theories and thought on which society is built must be directed towards the fulfilment of a purpose that benefits the masses and not just the privileged few; a higher purpose.

Our world is facing difficult problems: global warming and the effects of generations of abuse of the environment, the escalation of terrorism and religious extremism and world poverty and it’s effects. In addition to these, we in Africa also grapple with neo-colonialism, tribalism and institutional corruption among other ails.

We know from Einstein that, ‘no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ We need an elevation of our ideas-source to truly innovate. It was from the life of Job that we learned the famous words, ’there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.’

To solve difficult problems, we need inspired innovation.

Niara is an eco-system for inspired innovation to solve socio-economic problems in Africa.

There are currently three arms to Niara;

Niara Network

The right network dissolves the illusion of limited resources of money, knowledge and time.You don’t need money if you are connected to the people with money, you don’t need knowledge if you have mentors with the knowledge and you don’t need time if you have a team committing their time to your project. The Niara Network is a dynamic social enterprise online network where aspiring and veteran entrepreneurs alike connect to exchange, ideas, opportunities and best practices everyday.

Inspire Conference

A yearly gathering that brings together men and women who recognize and feel the burden to take on the challenge of the times. The conference has as its essential objectives, to question our inertia, challenge our old beliefs, redefine our leadership thinking and inspire innovation to empower us to create the societies that we desire and deserve. This year, the conference will take place from the 22nd to the 25th of January.

One of the highlights of our conference is the Niara Pitch, where contestants seeking seed funding pitch their business ideas before a panel of business leaders. This year, awards of N1million and N500,000 will be given to the two top pitches. An additional N500,000 will be awarded to ten small scale enterprises.

Niara Institute

A think-tank for inspired Innovation. The first course of the Institute which will introduced at this conference, is the Niara Leadership Development and National Transformation Course. The course which will take place from February to June 2015, will stir minds and impart knowledge that builds capacity for leadership, by equipping participants to prototype solutions and refine them for execution in their sphere of society.

The Team

Carlton Williams, Host, Inspire Conference

Carlton’s professional career over the past 25 years has seen him occupy many roles in technology and finance on three continents. He is passionate about fanning the entrepreneurial spirit, which he believes resides in each individual and teaching entrepreneurs principles that enable them to develop businesses that create sustainable wealth.

He founded Niara, this business eco-system focused on inspired innovation; connecting aspiring and veteran entrepreneurs across Africa to connect, create and contribute wealth and solve difficult problems facing our continent and our world. He is host of the Niara Inspire Conference and founder of the Niara Institute.

Rele Adeshina, Executive Director, Niara Business Eco-system

Rele Adesina has enjoyed a professional career in financial services over the last two decades, both in the UK and in Nigeria. She has focused the last 15 years of her career on analysing companies in various sectors, both quantitatively and qualitatively, understanding what makes for success in the short, medium and long term and advising professional investors around the world accordingly. She believes that the creation of an effective ecosystem will facilitate the building of businesses that are dynamic enough to grow in a rapidly changing environment, yet founded on tried and tested principles that are essential for longevity, thus creating employment and helping to drive economic growth.

Solomon Ikhioda, Provost, Niara Institute

For over two decades, Solomon Ikhioda has designed marketing strategy and communication for leading global brands in Nigeria and the larger EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) markets at MC&A, Saatchi & Saatchi and InsightGrey. Now as Curator at Inimitable Limited, he consults on Corporate Visioning, Corporate Culture and Messaging; as guarantees for corporate financial performance. Solomon Ikhioda is committed to pushing the agenda of the “design premium” as a policy for Nigeria – the notion that good design enhances the value of a service, product or system; thereby creating profit and wealth.