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Exclusive Interview with Akose Enebeli

Founders Spotlight with Founder, elArc Designs Limited

Akose is a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria. One of his recent noteworthy works is the home of Grammy-Award-winning artist Burnaboy, which was featured by the renowned International Design Magazine- Architectural Digest, making it the first Nigerian project designed by a Nigerian Architect.

Lawunmi Nwaiwu interviews Akose, who shares insights on his entrepreneurial journey as an Architect and top tips on getting your first client.

Q: As the founder of a elArc Designs Limited, how did you start this business?

I started in 2015 and that was about three years after I graduated as an architect and I felt like I had a lot more to offer than doing a 9 to 5. So I ventured into this entrepreneur thing, registered my company, and been at it since then. Architecture has been a passion I've been chasing since I was a kid. I studied it as a person in school and today I'm practicing and I've been practicing for almost 10 years.

Q: What are your two must have technologies? One, everybody needs a mobile phone. So I'll say a mobile phone and a computer. Now computer could be in laptop, a tablet or old school, desktop. Funny, I know people still use the old school Desktop because there's some powerful computers that you literally can't carry around. So you have to get back to your workstation or your home office or whatever. I say a mobile phone, cause you need it to communicate and so on. These days you have apps on your phones that you can use to do your work design and do other stuff. Personally, my two will be my phone and my tablet. Oh and something important - all my devices always have a stylos. I need to write, scribble. You can't type some things, sometimes you just need scribble.

Q: What do you look out for in a client before you start a new project?

Well one thing I always try to do is to have a meeting with the clients. And these days I, before it always used to be a physical meeting because I always want to read your body language and sometimes just talking over the phone doesn't just give me enough. when I meet with people, I need to just have a good sense of judgment because some people can't really communicate what they want, but just from their body language and probably their style, I can say - okay, this person's sophisticated or this person's a little relaxed.

Therefore, I can find a way to express that or tied towards what're trying to do, whether it's their office space, their house, their home, or whatever it is. So it's always about that conversation with the clients and then we take things from there.

Q: In your opinion, what would you say can drive the economic development and growth in Nigeria?

I would say, in my line of work, materials used apart from the basic sharps and cement and granite, are imported. Reinforcement is being imported, wood is being imported. Light fittings, tiles, paints. After a hundred percent of what makes that project stand or coming from inception to completion, you may have as high as 90, 95% of the items being imported. So I feel that if we switch a little from a consumer society or consumer economy to a production economy, it will do a great deal. We just lack government backing. The government has to do a lot with making power constant by presiding. That's a big deal. If you have an industry that relies on the artificial power be its solar power or power generated by diesel generators, it's expensive. If we just switch a little to more of a production economy than a consumer economy, it will do a great deal.

Q: In that case, would you say the federal government, are doing enough to promote industry growth and support for new start-ups in your opinion?

They're not doing enough, in my opinion. They are trying but there is more that can be done.

Q: What would you say is your biggest or your greatest achievements so far within profession?

Professionally, it would be sometime last year, September last. Yeah, pretty much a year, almost exactly a year ago I got one of my projects featured one of the biggest architectural magazines in the world, and then coincidentally happened to be the first Nigerian architect to be featured on that platform. It's Architectural Digest. Interestingly of the most interesting part for me was I didn't see coming, but Architectural Digest happened to be the first ever magazine I bought as a student back in maybe year one. I still have a copy of that magazine that I bought in year one. Year one or year two. So I'm coming down to some 10 years after getting my work featured and needs and being the first Nigerian architect and having the first Nigerian project featured on their platform. I think that's the biggest achievement that I can speak of that. I mean, it was quite so something.

Thanks Akose, from everyone at The Moment of Truth Nigeria.

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