Resilience, passion pushing most Nigerian entrepreneurs – Coker

Jimmy Coker, popularly known as King Cokes, is the founder of Scream Awards and publisher of Scream Magazine. He speaks with TOLUWALOPE KAREEM about his career and involvement in youth activities

I studied Communication and Language Arts at the University of Ibadan.

Back in the university, I wrote entertainment news and stood out because of my first hand information and genuine sources. I always wanted to publish a youth magazine and have a youth platform that could entertain, educate and inform young people. After some years, I became the editor of a popular youth magazine, and I also produced events. I also consulted for individuals and entertainers, while shaping my direction in promoting talents. Right now, I am involved in several things ranging from events to promotions and content creation.

I have always wanted to celebrate youths but that wouldn’t have been possible if the youth didn’t choose us.

As the editor of a popular magazine then, the popularity made us influential in youth circles (especially in neighbouring universities). Because of that, I thought of holding an all-youth awards. However, after the follow-up edition, the brand was disbanded and I had to carry on since I had the initiative. And, there was an available audience that had been built over the years.

The goals and vision of one’s organisation determines one’s priorities and how things are handled, as well as and the results that one gets. We stick to being a brand that wants to positively contribute to the lives of youths, while maintaining a reputation without blemish. Before we make decisions, we check if it aligns with the direction and path we set out from inception.

I believe in building ‘cool’ relationships with everyone who works with the brand. It is basically a family system where we watch one another’s back and project our image of a ‘youth-friendly’ brand. We maintain cordial relationships with workers, clients and all those who grace our platforms. I believe that as a youth brand, we should be pleasant, accommodating and welcoming.

It is important to be a servant leader. One should take on challenges like one has a superior not be too relaxed because one has designated duties. I believe in showing people how it’s done. My vision for everyone who works with me is for them to move on and take on new challenges that would take them to the next level.

Many people find it hard to believe that I’m the head of the organisation. That is because I always work like I have someone I report to. The system leaves one with no excuse to be unproductive.

We create a level playing field for everyone who gets on our platform. Our brand is for everyone; not just the elites, popular figures or established individuals. We celebrate those making considerable efforts in their fields, regardless of their background. This has got us a vote of confidence from the public.

Also, we don’t overlook certain fields of endeavour. We would rather create a new path and celebrate them. I believe we were one of the first award platforms that celebrated video vixens, sound engineers, hypemen and other categories that the ‘industry’ never deemed fit to put them on the same level with others. Quite a number of top entertainers got their first shots on our platforms, and that gives credence to the fact that we are masters at discovering gold in its raw form.

Support is relative but to be honest, we would not have got this far if youths did not support our platforms. However, there is one major form of support― finance― and we don’t really get that on a large scale.  There are only few individuals who appreciate our efforts and render financial assistance to push the brand forward.

For one, we could not have a colourful event like we have always done. The activities leading to the grand finale were also left out but the good thing is that we live a digital age. Youths are digitally inclined, so holding a virtual edition on social media brought several people from different parts of Africa together. The experience was very nice as it was a break from the norm that turned out well. We did not have several brands on board but the cost of production also reduced drastically.

The awards industry does not really have rewards because of the situation of things in the country in terms of support and financing. I have always said that we did not make money from all the editions we have hosted. However, there is a strong belief in several quarters that the sector is money spinning.

When we started, our current position was a dream, and it must have looked far-fetched to some people. All I can project now is global domination because we have been able to ‘hold down’ the African scene. We have had participants from over 12 countries and are not resting on our laurels. We are constantly working to take the platform to the next level. I see the platform providing succour and inspiration to youths. That is why we are tirelessly working on a campaign targeted at empowering youths and sponsoring their education.

It is not easy as the odds are usually stacked against one because there is no enabling environment. Resilience, passion and drive is what pushes most of us. There is no system in place to support young businesses and entrepreneurs.

In our field, many people feel they know how things should be done and claim to have a better judgment than those at the helm of affairs. I have had situations where people tried to change decisions because of their personal interests or perceived popularity of an individual. In such situations, I simply follow the laid down procedures and detach sentiments.

The irony is that I am supposedly a social person and extrovert but the brand has not allowed me to have a social life for years. This was meant to change in 2020 but thanks to the pandemic, that has been almost impossible. Right now, I am working on getting my long lost social life back on track.

I relax by taking time out. I am learning to pamper myself right now because life is short and one should not postpone enjoyment.

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