Towards the close of his law degree programme at the University of Birmingham, a suggestion was put forward to him to cast his mind back to the idea of a job in Nigeria. Without thinking much about it, he replied it would be unfair of him to go take a job in Nigeria. He is a full blooded Nigerian quite alright and looks forward to being part of the Nigerian life. But not taking a job in Nigeria because, by his reasoning, it would amount to snatching such an opportunity from those to whom it rightly belongs. For him, those it rightly belongs are those who have lived in Nigeria and suffered its privations all through, not he who was born and has lived in Britain all the time. So, the idea of rushing to Nigeria and picking up any job using his advantage of a qualitative education to edge out other job seekers died. Although the idea died, the source of the suggestion was happy that a very young man was capable of such high mindedness, irrespective of wherever it came from: family, Church, UK educational system, guts feeling or all of those sources.
Having paid close attention to anti-money laundering aspects of his law degree, he did get into the financial sector in England but a big idea was still in ferment in his mind. Now, that idea has come to life in a postmodernist barbing saloon called Genus that he and his friend, Efekemo Okoro, a Biomedical graduate of Brunel University also in the UK incorporated in 2017, with the web platform going live in January 2018. What might this be all about?
Omasirichukwu Anyanwu, the 25-year-old law graduate, told Intervention that Genus is a platform for businesses and customers to seamlessly connect with each other in the hair and beauty space. “Whether it’s a man going for a haircut, or a woman going for a manicure, the hair and beauty industry is an integral part of many people’s lives the world over. Genus marries the industry with the latest technology to make accessing of beauty services more efficient”. From their perspective, the idea behind Genus is as simple as ABC: providing a simple way for customers to locate, book and review the hair and beauty treatments they desire. That way, the platform provides hair and beauty establishments a way of completely automating the running of their business.
By his account, the idea was born out of the frustration experienced when attempting to book quality barbers for a haircut. This is from poor quality haircuts to extremely lengthy queues and a lack of technology in the booking process.
But how does it work? This, too, is straightforward. All that a customer has to do is create a free customer profile on their smart phone or any other digital device. Once this is done, a customer can search and book local hair and beauty establishments around them on their smart phone and on any other digital device connected to the Internet. For hair and beauty businesses, Genus provides a platform where they can take bookings 24/7 bookings every day. The Genus calendar management system means that bookings are automatically recorded with text and email alerts sent to the establishment and the customer. The beauty of the Genus platform is that there is no hardware or software that is needed. Once an establishment signs up on the platform, they can
manage their business from ANY digital device with internet access.
The duo are not coming from nowhere into business. Since graduating from law school, Omasirichukwu has worked within compliance for global corporations such as Accenture, Deloitte and Deutsche Bank. Similarly, since completing his biomedical degree, Efekemo has been working for multinational corporations, but within the pharmaceutical industry. Efekemo also competes as an international athlete over the 400m and 400m hurdles, with his most recent accolade being selected to represent team Great Britain in the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships.
The twosome can also be associated with a truly global worldview. This comes not only from their experience working for international corporations but also their Nigerian heritage. Efekemo and Omasirichukwu have grown up as both Nigerians and Brits, navigating the differences and embracing the various elements of both cultures. This has led to an awareness of how big Genus’ customer base could be on an international scale. They are, therefore, calculating that Genus will eventually be a global brand and Nigeria will play a very big part in that. Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, with a population of over 190 million people and a hair and beauty industry currently worth billons while the opportunities are endless. Nigeria is currently proving itself to be a massive cultural force, with its music, food and fashion permeating the UK and other Western countries. Add this to the fact of the hair and beauty industry set to be worth £522 billion globally by 2020. At present in the UK, where Genus was founded, the hair and beauty industry is worth £17 billion.
However, money is not the fire dragging this venture. Public spiritedness is that fire. Omasirichukwu puts it this way: at the core of Genus is making people’s lives better. Genus attempts simplifying customers struggling to book quality services or the hair and beauty establishments themselves overcome hurdles in the business such as depending on manual processes such as phone calls to take bookings. As such, it simultaneously helps both customers and establishments take their business to another level. Then there is the emphasis on community – the belief that a responsible business should always give back to the society around them. This is already being manifested in what the two co-founders are doing in terms of actively supporting charities such as Cancer Research and running a ‘haircuts for the homeless’ initiative for homeless people in the Midlands region of the UK every December.