Surayyah Sani Ahmad is the former CEO at YDS ONLINE, co-founder of ETHCO GROUP UK, TECH TANK, and the convener of Feed The Needy Charity. The happily married entrepreneur is one of the successful women in the United Kingdom who have been able to successfully set up and run a successful business on international soil. Her effort and contributions to the tech industry has put her company among major contenders when it comes to tech consulting companies that deplore software and other tech services to organizations. This young and agile CEO has become a body of inspiration to young ladies from humble backgrounds, making them understand why coming from a poor or uneducated background shouldn’t dictate how far they go and succeed in life, as she also started her journey from an unpleasant childhood of late education and lack of funds to sustain her nor her education while growing up as one of the many Nigerian child.
Years downs the line and Surayyah, a daughter to nomadic Fulanis parents. can boldly address herself as a successful entrepreneur with countless groundbreaking accomplishments.
In her word, my focus, doggedness and high-risk innovation in business made a huge difference in her life saying “My parents are nomadic Fulanis by design, so we hardly stayed in one location. We were always relocating from one state to another’.
Surayyah, who was born in a northern community in Ibadan, spent most of her life there, then the rest of it in the north, while moving around with her parents. Her education was on and off, as she was 12 years old and hadn’t gone past primary 1. Her spoken English was poor, couldn’t even speak or understand on a conversational level.
Buttressing how her story turned around, Surayyah Sani stated “At some point in her life, she had to relocate to Abuja, where she attended Command government primary school, after which, she left to Tudunwada in Zone 4, Abuja, Nigeria. She was really dedicated to studying and was really getting good grades, maybe because she had been delayed for years, so when she finally got the opportunity to get educated, she pounced so hard on it. Then came the Nigerian Turkish International School scholarship competition that involved over 600 students from all over the FCT. Just 3 candidates from the 600 students who wrote the examination were picked, and she was one of them. She rounded off her secondary education at the Nigerian Turkish International School and was hoping to make it into the Turkish University, but that plan didn’t see the light. She opted for ABU Zaria, where she met her husband. He got admission to a university in the UK to further his education, and they both relocated together. On getting to the UK, she also decided to further her education, which led her to apply for jobs so she could pay her school fees and sort some bills.”
On the secret behind her business, she also makes us understand that she had been practicing entrepreneurship since she was a teenager, 16 years old precisely, but in terms of having a structured business, that started that in 2015, when she kickstarted an e-commerce company. But before that, she worked for some companies in the UK; JUST EAT and OCADO UK. Those were the e-commerce companies at the peak of their game at the time.”
Surayyah gained a lot of experience from working for UK based companies; JUST EAT and OCADO UK, thereafter, started her own e-commerce and fulfillment service company YOUR DAILY STORE ONLINE ‘YDS ONLINE’. YDS was an e-commerce company, servicing Nigerians who wanted to buy things abroad. They supplyied wholesalers and retailers from the UK, the United States, Malaysia, Turkey, and Dubai. YDS ONLINE also did fulfillment services. After a few years of more experience, Surayyah Sani’s YDS ONLINE took on Miniso fulfillment, fulfilling all their orders nationwide and within West Africa. Managing Miniso’s entire online process, from the website management, maintenance, delivery to customers, fulfillment nationwide, and sometimes, across Africa, from Niger to Cameroon, Chad, and others. All this happened a few weeks before COVID. She states how tough it was for her and her team, having to open fulfillment centers with all the restrictions on movement across the country.
The brave entrepreneur, Surayyah, started YDS all by herself and grew it into a 30 employees company. Few years down the line, Surayyah Sani Ahmad is selling YDS ONLINE for 7 figures in Dollars, to a local company that wants to remain private because they are trying to break into the e-commerce market and expand their brick-and-mortar stores across the country and across Africa. They intend to create lots of innovative products across that customer base, one of which is getting software as a service product out of it, as well as maintaining the main YDS products.
YDS ONLINE raised some equity funding of about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in 2020. It was after that raise; it expanded the fulfillment service and took on Miniso. Miniso never had an online store, so she and her team prepared a proposal and took it to Miniso, and were given permission to create their first online store globally.
Surayyah is no doubt making Nigeria proud in the UK as she continues to use her new company, ETHCO GROUP UK, TECH TANKS & TECH TANKS SOLUTION to affect lives positively.
When asked where she sees her brand in the next 5 years, Surayyah says “I see my UK brand at an IPO level. So what I want to do with this is to help communities. I started my charity when I was 17-18. I did that because I went to my communities and saw a lot of people I know who couldn’t feed their children and would come to beg for 200 Naira, which was not up to a dollar to feed their children. That really touched me and made me want to help the needy. And I think at the back of everything I do, even in this business, there is that social responsibility to help communities and ETHCO is filled with the most underprivileged communities in the UK.”
She goes on to state how difficult setting up her first business in the UK was, not having the required skills and tools to get her first project up and running. This led her to many sleepless nights and countless days of learning and testing new tech skills. At some point, she had to go back to school in the UK, solely to learn to programming just so she could get her first company up and running. Surayyah states the main purpose of setting up her company ETHCO, is to help communities of ethnic minorities who come to the UK to establish businesses and haven’t got the technical skills to run their businesses. Leveraging AI to make business easier. She feels strongly that with the right tools and the right type of platform, these people will be able to adopt technology and they will do that very well.
“So with that passion for helping communities and ensuring that communities strive. For example, a lot of these store owners have missed their children’s school activities for years. I was speaking to one of my children and she told me all her education, her father has missed all her school activities simply because they wake up by 5 am to work and close by 11 pm, every single day, 365 days a year. So families are really suffering as a result of this lack of operational efficiency of ethnic and independent convenience stores, and much more than a business that.”
Surayyah Sani Ahmad concludes by saying ‘if you are solving a real problem, a real pain point, you are going to get a business out of it anyway. And you are going to get a business that your customers are going to be very passionate about and actually love. And that is what we want EFCO to be.”