Did you know that Mr Nnamdi Ezeigbo who is CEO of electronics retail chain, Slot, had a big hand in the success story of Chinese mobile device maker, Shenzhen Transsion Holding (Tecno, Infinix, iTel and Oraimo) coming into the Nigerian market? The Nigerian businessman who hails Umuahia is easily one of the most impactful names in tech but keeps a really low profile unlike many in his class. He had his small beginnings fixing computers having failed to get a “real job” coming out of university and service in 1996. From apprenticeship, he branched out on his own and through old connections from his apprenticeship days, was able to start Slot as a computer repair outfit. He eventually expanded to selling phones too.
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The relatively poor reception of Nigerian telecom operators meant people ended up owning more than one phone. Mr Ezeigbo saw an opportunity. He reached out to Nokia to make Nokia dual SIM phones for the Nigerian market but they turned down the idea because it meant they won’t sell as many phones apparently. He was able to meet a Chinese connect who turned out be Zhu Zhaojiang (founder of Shenzhen Transsion Holdings) who at the time worked for NingBo Bird, another Chinese phone maker which has since gone under.
Ezeigbo’s collaboration opened Zhu’s eyes to opportunities for a niche budget market in what could be its biggest market-all things going well- in Nigeria. So they came up with the Tecno name and marketed the Tecno T101. That phone did not do too well in the market which led to the T201. Ezeigbo practically fronted Tecno’s entry into the Nigerian market with his own funds by giving merchants the phones on credit to sell and remit returns while keeping commissions for themselves- a popular practice in Nigerian trade circles.
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That venture became the turning point in the story of both brands as they have not looked back since then. Transsion Holdings has gone on to become Africa’s biggest phone manufacturer by a securely large margin and as far as Nigeria, Slot is the biggest retailer there is by a huge margin. Slot’s partnership with Transsion has gone beyond just phones (Tecno, Infinix, iTel) to accessories and home appliances and electronics in Syinix and Oraimo.
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