Last week was the SME Conference 1.0 and this is everything that happened

5 min read

Two months ago, the official email kicking off the SME Conference came in from the management. Many months before, Facebook had told us of their intention to partner with us.

After many days of hard-work and preparation by our team, the SME Conference 1.0 happened on Thursday, 19th, January, 2017.

Over the last six years, VConnect has hosted knowledge transfer sessions for small businesses, but the SME Conference was going to be our biggest outing yet. We pulled all the stops on this one.

With the help of Facebook, Diamond Bank, Airtel and our other partners, it turned out exactly how we hoped.

Here’s what happened:

Early arrivals. We admitted 200 entrepreneurs for the SME Conference and people turned up early.

1 registration 1

VConnect social media team is setting up the livestream. Abdulkareem (our social media overlord) has the baseball cap on, and Prakash (who is really an operations geek and not on the social media team) is the other person in the picture. 

2 social media and live stream

Up next, VConnect CEO, Deepankar Rustagi’s opening address

3 deepankar

And then Oluyomi Ojo, CEO at Printivo with the keynote address. “It’s 2017, every business is technology business.”

3 soluyomi ojo printivo

There is so much to learn from him

3 taking notes

So much …

4 taking notes

Diamond Bank corner. Diamond bank is a co-sponsor of the SME Conference

5 diamond bank corner

People shared information about their businesses

7 conversations

… and exchanged business cards. (Tawa Bolarin of Airtel is the one dipping her hand in her handbag)

8 conversations

Karl Matzke of Stanford SEED on the tech panel

8 karl matzke tech panel

HotelOGA CEO, Marek Zmyslowski (R) and Airtel Director of Enterprise Business, Tawa Bolarin  of Airtel on the tech panel

8 marek and tawa on tech panel

VConnect’s Naveen Luthra moderating the tech panel

8 naveen luthra tech panel

Paul Akinola is probably our favorite panelist from SME Conference 1.0. He has a good grasp of what online presence really means for small businesses. Paul is the CEO of Possible and Affordable Furnitures.

8 paul akinola tech panel

Paul Akinola, Tawa Bolarin, Marek Zmyslowski, Naveen Luthra, Afua Osei and Karl Matzke of the SME Conference tech panel.

8 tech panel lineup

Chika Ochonogor from Filament Consulting took a masterclass on IP rights and protection for small businesses.

9 chika ochonogor masterclass

Head honcho at RDM, Mark Slade was around

9 mark slade

Njideka Esomeju, Head of Emerging Businesses at Diamond Bank. Keynote address on Growth Financing for small businesses.

9 njideka masterclass

Product Lead at VConnect, Ramanathan Solayappan. Masterclass on effective online presence

9 Ram masterclass

Paga’s CEO, Tayo Oviosu on the finance panel

9 tayo oviosu

An entrepreneur needed to be clear about a few things, so he asked questions.

10 more questions and cae neo

Cafe Neo Baristas in Residence never stopped supplying the coffee

10 powered by robusta cafe neo

Some water and sandwiches for strength

10 sandwiches

Airtel surprised everyone with a giveaway. Two people won smartphones and 15 people won goody bags.

11 airtel giveaway

More intimate conversations about business and growth

11 conversations

Business Day Editor, Anthony Osae-Brown (L) moderating the finance panel. Deji Agboade (R) of BPI Advisory getting ready to field a question.

11 finance panel anthony and deji

At the post-event Business Workshop, a few SMEs took some of the suggested internet tools for a test-drive. VConnect reps helped out.

11 hands on with SMEs 1

Gbenga and Meher from the marketing team with Deepankar Rustagi and Bellarose Okojie of City FM (event co-host).

11 marketing with host

Post-event “selfiesta”. Tayo Oviosu with some entrepreneurs

11 selfie session Tayo

Even more intimate conversations. Karl Matzke with Yuliy Shenfield of

12 conversations

Deepankar with Olalekan Olude, Senior Vice President at Jobberman

12 deepanks and lekan jobberman

Mary Alale-Yussuf of Channels TV interviews Seedvest’s Kehinde Oyeleke from the finance panel

12 mary and kehinde

Enough schwag packs to go round

12 our schwags

Find more picture from the event on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Ps. We like your feedback. 

How do you want us to make the event better?

Take the quick survey:  


Many thanks to all our partners and sponsors including, BusinessDay,, Nobel Carpets,, Cool FM; Wazobia FM; Nigeria Info and Wazobia TV.

All pictures by Maxwell Aigborga (Octo4Photography)

Team VConnect

On a mission to make it easier for people to find, and hire the right service professionals. We are also helping businesses serve their customers better. Learn more at

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