Writer: Ade James Williams
Emmanuel Lahai is the 21-year-old CEO of the most reputable e-commerce startup in Sierra Leone.
Emmanuel Francis Lahai was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to Francis Lahai and Ashmiru Lahai. Due to the war in Sierra Leone, his parents migrated to Ivory Coast in 1998, where he spent most of his early life. He later moved to Ghana because of the civil war in Abidjan but returned to Sierra Leone in 2012.
Throughout most of his primary school, Emmanuel attended the Groupe Scholar La Farandole Internationale, Abidjan CI.
In Ghana, he attended the J.T. Addo Memorial School. He left the school in 2011, holding multiple certificates of merits and certificates in computer studies.
Upon his return to Sierra Leone, he studied at the Saint Francis Secondary School Makeni. He was part of the most outstanding students the school had ever produced. During his time there, he represented the school in debates, workshops, seminars, and quiz competitions.
In 2014 when he took the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), he was not only first in the school of Saint Francis but had the best grade in the whole city of Makeni. He moved to Freetown in 2015 after the Ebola outbreak and started attending the Prince Of Wales School.
During his years at the Prince of Wales, he was appointed a school prefect, served as the Secretary-General of the literary and debating society and was president of the Scrabble Chess Riddles and intellectual games Club (SCRIGaC). He later took the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in 2017 and passed with exceptional grades.
From his formative years, Emmanuel constantly demonstrated a keen interest in business and exhibited tendencies of stewardship well beyond the average of his peers.
His early childhood experiences and modest upbringing moulded and shaped his outlook on life, particularly concerning wealth and prosperity. His father was unemployed for several years, and the family struggled considerably to make ends meet.
Despite the prevailing circumstances, his will to not merely survive but to turn the proverbial ‘lemon’ into lemonade never diminished. His ‘light bulb moment’ would eventually come when by chance, he stumbled upon a book written by Robert Kiyosaki titled ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’, little did he know that this dusty collection of pages would eventually change his life.
Empowered with a billion ideas on the dynamics of commerce, investment and entrepreneurship, he wasted no time to breathe life into these ideas. He founded lahai industries when he was just 18. Lahai Industries was conceived as a conglomerate of companies, one of these companies was LAHPhtography (pronounced laftography) was a photography business that eventually snowballed, helping him generate money to pay his college tuition, provided daily lunch and supplemented the family income.
While engaged in this, he met an entrepreneur who encouraged him to think big and solve a problem, he pondered on the thought and came up with the SEND ME platform. Initially, it was supposed to be an app that connects consumers with service providers like plumbers, carpenters etc.
While working on this, he enrolled for a Bachelor of Engineering at Fourah Bay College in 2018. After a couple of months, he applied for a scholarship offered by the People’s Republic of China through the Ministry of Education.
During the course of his studies in China, he realised the latent potential of e-commerce in Africa and refined his approach to the problem he wanted to solve. His focus veered around examining the difficulties small businesses encounter in reaching a wider audience and the complications arising from sourcing logistics, commodities and products in Sierra Leone.
In September of 2019, he moved to Dongnan Daxue (South East University), Nanjing, China. Where he is presently pursuing his Bachelor of Engineering in Chinese. During an interview with Salone Messenger, a Global Multimedia and Public Relations Firm based in Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Lahai said “I have completed many courses in Business management, accounting, economics, and computer science. I currently holds a certificate in HyperText Markup Language, Java and is aware of C programming language and C++.”
In the professional realm, Emmanuel Lahai has worked as a data analyst for the Fahrenheit Engineering Company, a subcontractor to African Minerals Limited to construct railway lines, connecting the iron ore mines. He’s also worked at the Home Health Education Service (HHES), where he performed calculated marketing and sales in key urban areas in Sierra Leone.
Emmanuel is fluent in English, French and Chinese, he also has some understanding of Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese and is working on learning Arabic. He is an avid reader and is primarily focused on business books. He is a problem solver and a critical thinker.
I believe Sierra Leone has the potential to be a tech hub as there are many intelligent individuals and a lot of talent just waiting to be harnessed. Developed countries were once at our level, but with dexterity, consistency and an innovative spirit they made it, we can also make it – Emmanuel Francis Lahai told Salone Messenger, A Global Multimedia and Public Relations Firm Based In Sierra Leone