Meet Ante Afahame, Co-founder of HPMA Solutions

On a mission to create opportunities for everyone

Ante Afahame was just 9 years old when he first realized he wanted to launch a career in entrepreneurship. The Nigerian American information technology professional is the co-founder of Arlington, Virginia-based HPMA Solutions, a tech startup that helps companies modernize their IT services.

Ante Afahame

Born and raised in Nigeria, Afahame didn’t move to the U.S. until he was 19. Growing up in Lagos, Afahame said he was exposed to a culture-rich environment at home and at school because he was surrounded by a community of more than 250 dialects and sub-cultures.

Being around so much diversity and taking that leap to move to the U.S. gave Afahame the confidence to chase his dreams he didn’t know he had. 

"I would say I was raised as an entrepreneur," Afahame said in an email interview with Lifewire. "I say this because Nigerians are entrepreneurial by nature, and like most countries in the developing worlds, entrepreneurship is born out of necessity."

Afahame’s parents instilled a self-sufficient and hard-working mindset in him and his siblings at a young age. He and his twin sister, Atim, were the first-born of five siblings, which came with a whole different set of responsibilities in itself. 

"My whole life, I’ve been raised to look out for the interests of those I was responsible for, and that outlook plays a big role in my relationships to date," he said. "I inadvertently find myself assuming a role of a mentor, especially when I sense a lack thereof, and this is one of the many qualities I think an entrepreneur should have."

Quick Facts About Ante Afahame

Name: Ante Afahame

Age: 36

From: "A native of Akwa-Ibom state in the south-eastern region of Nigeria however, I grew up on the west coast of Nigeria, in Lagos State–Nigeria’s largest melting pot."

Key quote or motto he lives by: "I once heard Steve Harvey say something like 'when a door closes on me, I just walk down the hall; there are always other doors.' That statement describes me more than I can explain."

From Inspiration to Reality

It was Afahame’s father who first inspired him to become an entrepreneur after he registered his first business and named it Antefre, a blend of Afahame’s first name and his brother’s. 

"I was old enough to understand that owning your own company was a big deal, and it made me very proud to have it named after me, I felt very loved," Afahame said. 

Similarly, Afahame and his co-founders pulled from that inspiration, as well, to name their company. HPMA, which has been in business since 2018, derives its name from the last names of the four founders.

Afahame and his co-founders have more than 30 years of enterprise IT experience combined, and decided to launch HPMA because they wanted to "build something that would stand the test of time," as the IT services market continues to evolve. 

"Businesses of all sizes struggle to keep up with the constantly changing technology landscape," Afahame said. "We help our clients become more accessible, efficient, and effective by modernizing applications, platforms, processes, personnel, and software solutions to keep them ahead of the curve."

Just like most Nigerian entrepreneurs became one out of necessity, I strongly believe an entrepreneur's responsibility is to help minimize that necessity by providing opportunities.

Outside of the four founding members, HPMA primarily works with industry partners. Afahame said that the company’s success is heavily dependent on the collaboration of experienced, resourceful, and innovative minds to solve problems that are not always straightforward.

HPMA is self-financed, besides an initial investment to get the startup on its feet, Afahame said HPMA hasn’t secured any venture capital and it doesn’t seem too focused on that. But after struggling to stay afloat when the pandemic hit last year, HPMA took a step back, focused on building better relationships with its existing clients and it all paid off in the end. 

"Over 80% of our new projects in 2020 came from existing accounts, and it led us to doubling our pre-COVID-19 revenue goals for 2020," Afahame said. "So yes, 2020 started out rough for HPMA Solutions, but we’re very thankful for our success despite the pandemic."

Creating Opportunities For Everyone

While juggling his responsibilities at HPMA, Afahame also has another full-time gig as a nightclub bartender in Washington, D.C. He’s maintained two jobs for over a decade now to stay busy and earn more for his family, he shared. One thing that has helped him wear multiple hats is the support of his co-founders. 

"One of the benefits of running a company with partners you trust and work well with is that shared responsibilities can help keep you from becoming overwhelmed," he said. 

And while Afahame is a minority business owner himself, he said he hasn’t faced many challenges at this point with growing his venture, especially since HPMA is able to fund itself.

Ante Afahame

One thing he said has helped grow HPMA is its reliance on previous business relationships and building a referral pool. He also said the company has made an extra effort to partner as an integrator with major technology companies like Microsoft, Axis Communications, Synology, and these partnerships created opportunities that created a domino effect of even more.

"The unintentional, yet positive effect of this approach is that we started out having acquaintances recommend HPMA based on past performances, then the quality of our work paved the way for future opportunities," Afahame said. 

Even though Afahame naturally fell into entrepreneurship, he wants to make sure that he isn’t just working for himself, but also providing opportunities for others. 

"Just like most Nigerian entrepreneurs became one out of necessity, I strongly believe an entrepreneur's responsibility is to help minimize that necessity by providing opportunities," he said. 

Creating opportunities is at the center of all of Afahame’s work, and will continue to be as he furthers his entrepreneurial career.

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