Nkechi (Ink) Balogun is a Nigerian entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of online fashion business AsoEbiBella, currently studying for an MBA in Business Administration at Oxford’s Said Business School.
Studying for an Oxford MBA
Ink is an AfOx Graduate Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Culture and Media and before coming to Oxford, had never studied finance. Her intention to expand her business in the global market is what led Ink to apply for the Oxford MBA programme:
“Many people believe business school is a place for bankers and financial analysts. But it is also a place for unconventional people like me who want to learn how to expand our business ventures.”
The journey so far
In 2013, Ink decided to turn her love for culture, fashion and media into a business. Starting as a passion project, AsoEbiBella is now an online platform that connects Nigerian wedding vendors such as fashion designers, tailors and stylists to a global audience and promotes their products. With over two million followers worldwide, it is now Nigeria’s most popular fashion company.
Over the last seven years, Ink has partnered with international brands such as Samsung and HP leading to sold out products and award-winning events:
“Turning my passion into a business needed foresight and bravery. It was a first-of-its-kind business in Nigeria so there was no precedent.”
While expanding her business, Ink seeks ways to empower the women she works with. In discovering that many of the women who run wedding businesses in Nigeria have skills gaps, she organises leadership and training events for women, to support these women-led SMEs.
Now at Saïd Business School in Oxford, Ink is creating a business plan for an academy to provide scholarships for women.
Life in Oxford during the pandemic
Studying for an MBA during the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns in Oxford has been a drastic change from Ink’s entrepreneur life in Nigeria. Her value of community and collaboration stayed with her as she adjusted to life in Oxford. During the pandemic, Ink created support sessions with her peers at the Said Business School to share her expertise in subjects such as marketing, and learn from others’ experience in finance.
Upon the completion of her course, Ink plans on expanding her business with commerce, by taking African fabrics to the global market, and continuing to empower other women-led SMEs in Nigeria to do the same.
Article adapted from Makings of an entrepreneur: going beyond business & leading by example by the Africa Oxford Initiative.