As 2020 draws to a close, the year couldn't have been so more aptly named. So interesting a year, it was never going to just be one of those quiet years that just happened. It came with a bang, and it is leaving with a bang!
Personally, the year started with a lot of changes and strategic planning for me. I was off to an early start. Downsized at LoftyInc, while hiring a lot at Vertmance. We went all in into the ranch project in February. I remember picking up the phone call to our financiers, and asking for a huge sum and it being approved over a mere phone call and deck. This was our saving grace in that business, so far.
Then, I hit the road to Tunisia. The only foreign trip up until now in the year. As soon as we took off from Nigeria, we heard the first COVID-19 case was detected in Nigeria. In Tunisia, it was a fun eye opener to a country that could be. Educated, manufacturing giant at the tip of Africa. I enjoyed every bit of it. Engaged the tech ecosystem and visited farms, factories and fun places. As soon as we took off from Tunisia, we saw a news flash that they too discovered their first COVID-19 case. Then 2020 happened.
Very quickly, the world started to shut down. But not until I snuck a quick trip to Yola, the North East's answer to Abuja. Clean and very lovely city, I fell in love with it immediately I landed. COVID-19 seem distant away as we enjoyed the balmy warmth at the banks of River Benue, and the scorching heat as we toured the Nyarko Farm and Agric Export Zone, hardly did we know it was the last normal week in the year. I remembered jetting back into Abuja and everything literally shutting right behind us. And then we went into lockdown.
For us, it meant farming time. Every minute of those next three months were spent tilling, ploughing, herding and haggling with above ground issues. The rainfall was coming, so we took advantage of the lull to farm, farm, farm. It was helpful to be liquid when everyone else lacked funding, so we went in 200%.
The downsize of late 2019, also ensured the business at LoftyInc was better prepared to weather the storm even as we shared the pain and secured some useful win as the lockdown bit harder. As we got back to normal in July, we were set for a rapid fire second half which it has been: without, the travel.
This is what I consider the biggest lesson of 2020- without the expensive travels, our revenue is not worse off. With a phone call and zoom, deals get done a lot faster. We skipped the face to face and still left well off. We are grateful. For the till that got filled, and the hands that gave: thank you.
Human relationships also mattered the most in 2020. People called to give us things we never deserved. Some just called to say hello, that we mattered. We are grateful.
Grateful for Love and Family too, who won't be? Though the storm raged when we got hit by the virus in November, we are grateful to be alive and well. So grateful. For those who checked on us, thank you. To those who prayed for us, may you never be forgotten.
A few of those. Fitness wise, could be better. I ate too much and exercised little in 2020. The lockdown feeding of madam did not help matters. For the first time, I failed my annual physical exam in the borderline cholesterol matter, and I agreed to start taking statins. It was a reminder that we are not getting younger. Oh well, the alternative to getting old is being dead. And Ol boy, are we grateful for life!
2020 was also a tough year for reading books. I'm current reading "Sapiens" after struggling to read "The Next Factory of the World" about China and Africa relations in business. I finished that, after 8 months! Phew! The psychological insecurity of the COVID era made reading much harder. Before March, I had finished two books. One, " The Gatekeepers" about USA Chief of Staff was such a pleasure read.
The year is ending up as a memorable one. Lots of wins and some disappointments in the entrepreneurial life. The business cases in farming is taking shape. We are on track to raise a $500k convertible, even as the construction/developer business is maturing with two key wins literally on the last business day and the VC business seem destined for a trajectory of greatness thanks to my friend, the Afropreneur..look at his head below :) Isn't he such a gorgeous guy? Read his blog on how far this awesome head has brought him and us here...we call him the Rain Maker, AKA Hush Uncle, the Connector.
Some got away. We lost some good people. My sister's grandmother in law was the most personal, thankfully. But the world lost some fine human beings in 2020. May their soul rest in Peace. Kobe was a shock. Ajimobi was needless for those of us who shared his progressive politics in Nigeria. Some young ones also flamed out. Mental health was a thing. May God heal our land.
What I'm stoked up the most about? I finally got this Classic! Yeah, it is an addition to the Beetle from last year. But Ol Boy did I always want one.
Best thing that happened in 2020? Donald Trump Lost! Now my son can get back to loving American Presidents again!
That is it. What a year!