Laura Kinnard brings her entrepreneurial skills to Nigeria

Laura Kinnard recently had the opportunity to bring her twenty years of experience in marketing and teaching entrepreneurship and share it with entrepreneurs and business leaders in Nigeria.

Kinnard is a Drake University Professor, Entrepreneurial Fellow and most recently, the founder of Curated Growth. She teaches entrepreneurial management and works as an adviser for Drake University’s Student Startup ‘Hatchery’ and for the visiting Mandela Washington Young African Leaders.

The trip of a lifetime

Kinnard was recently awarded a reciprocal grant through the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) program to do entrepreneurial management and marketing training in Nigeria, Africa.

She spent three weeks this summer traveling to different accelerators and incubators in Nigeria, teaching entrepreneurial and management skills, and speaking about technology trends. It was a busy three weeks, to say the least.

The reciprocal grant was applied for by Asher Adeniyi, who spent six weeks in Des Moines last year as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship with the goal of improving his business Gidijobs, a human resources company located in Nigeria.

Asher Adeniyi, Managing Director of Poise Nigeria, and Founder of in front of the new Poise building in Lagos city, Nigeria. Photo courtesy of Laura Kinnard.

Since then, Gidijobs has joined forces with a company called Poise, an image and brand consultancy company. The two companies are now looking at how to best merge the two companies together.

To celebrate the partnership, Gittyjobs and Poise held an innovation launch at the new Poise building, where Kinnard was a guest speaker.

During her time in Nigeria, Kinnard visited four different co-working and accelerator spaces, a university, two churches, three entrepreneurial training centers, and a graduation dinner, where she spoke on the topics of entrepreneurship, marketing, technology trends, and managing change.

“There were some interesting parallels between economic development and innovation and starting entrepreneurial centers in a smaller, tertiary market like Des Moines and what a developing country is trying to do,” said Kinnard.

Kinnard also was a guest speaker for the grand opening launch of a multiple-story Innovation Hub sponsored by the Federal Government in Nigeria and Edo State. It is the first of its kind in the state and is located in the ancient city of Benin.

The Innovation Hub Kinnard spoke and taught at. Drake University was represented by having a Drake University classroom where Kinnard taught classes while she was there. Photo courtesy of Laura Kinnard.

“The keynote speakers were myself, the governor of the state, and the Vice President of Nigeria,” said Kinnard. “I didn’t really know that that was going to happen at the time. It was kind of crazy.”

She also spoke with the First Lady of Edo State about programs for job creation and skills for women.

“I don’t think I understood all the issues economically that Africa, as a continent, faces, said Kinnard. “Because I mistakenly, as do many other people, tend to think of Africa as a country instead of a continent. And all these countries have separate governments, infrastructures and resources.”

Kinnard said that landlocked countries often have more difficulties because they have to transport products three or four countries over before they can even ship them.

Once you understood and listened to each one of them individually about what was happening in their countries, it becomes very clear why some countries are prospering more and while some aren’t,” said Kinnard.

Curated Growth

Drawing on more than twenty years of marketing and developing and promoting business, Kinnard recently founded Curated Growth. Curated Growth intentionally curates human capital, resources, and physical spaces, for the purpose of fostering innovation and growing new business ventures.

“After seeing all these problems and obstacles entrepreneurs have to deal with, I started getting really interested in entrepreneurial ecosystems. Living here in Des Moines, I’ve seen the evolution of what’s happened here. And that really made me think about how ecosystems affect the success of entrepreneurship. ”

Kinnard says she is working on a setting up a fund for grants and seed money for entrepreneurs. Kinnard hopes to have Curated Growth located in the Southridge Mall.

“What we want to accelerate is how technology relates to the built world, logistics, omnichannel marketing and the future of retail. It’s an area of focus that we don’t have people focusing on here in the city.”

Previous coverage:

Nigerian businessman uses the Mandela Fellowship to better his country – August 30, 2017