Under-30 African Game Changers
Everyone has dreams but not many remain unsettled until they see it come to fruition. Burning with the desire for change and unsatisfied with the state of affairs, some of Nigeria’s finest trailblazers are redefining what business means and changing the lives of many while at it.
Forbes Africa recently released it’s 30 Africans Under 30 annual list and it is no surprise that Nigerians putting the country on the global map made the list.
These game-changers are using technology and their entrepreneurial skills to change the African narrative.
The Guardian Life takes a look at the profile of 10 young Nigerian game-changers.
AKOMOLAFE HENRICH BANKOLE
At the tender age of eight, Henrich was introduced into the world of business by co-founding a company with his father where he still serves on the board of directors till date.
A graduate of Computer Engineering from the Kharkiv National University of Radioelectronics, he obtained a Masters degree in Information Technology Strategic Management from Barcelona School of Management (BSM) – Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Spain. He also acquired both
engineering and commercial experience in 2016 from MP Ascensores Sevilla, Spain where he served as an intern.
An engineer turned businessman, he started his career in the elevator industry in 2016, at a time when Nigeria slipped into recession. During this time, he also assumed the position of the managing director of Akotex Nigeria Limited, a company concerned with the delivery of Engineering services (Elevators and Escalators).
Putting to use three business strategies, the company has generated remarkable profits within years in business and also established new business lines such as BNR a real estate and construction company and M7R, an Information Technology company.
However, unlike many companies who would request years of work experience, Henrich is keen on taking young passionate graduates in related fields that are working towards being the best at what they do.
Agriculture has always been in the heart of Uka Eje. It is, therefore, not a surprise that fresh out of school, the Benue-born entrepreneur used the first four years of his entrepreneurial journey capturing value for smallholder farmers.
During this period, the graduate of Biochemistry from Covenant University was able to identify the major problems plaguing Nigerian farmers; finance for their farms, access to better inputs, low yield from their farms because of insufficient data to help improve their yield and access to premium markets.
A solution was proffered with the birth of Thrive Agric, an agricultural technology start-up he co-founded in 2017 with his friend, Ayodeji Arikawe. Since then, Thrive Agric has provided solutions to 18,500+ farmers.
An alumnus of Y Combinator, Alibaba Business School, Google Launchpad Accelerator and the University of Leeds’ Future of Food Programme, Eje has been on notable world stages such as the World Bank and the Harvard Business School, providing insights and perspective on Winning in Africa’s Agricultural Sector working with rural farmers.
A curious conceptual thinker and a born problem-solver with a penchant for retooling ideas, Uka stops at nothing every time; reinventing to deliver value across the agricultural value chain.
Eje’s dream is bigger than just 18,500+ farmers because, by 2022, he hopes that Thrive Agric would have provided the necessary solution to the challenges of over a million farmers.
At the age of 25, Charles Edosanwan, a graduate of Computer Engineering from Covenant University started Nigeria’s first technology PR firm in Nigeria, Teksight Edge Ltd. Teksight was founded with the aim of creating a business that will manage clients’ brands and make them more effective based on data analysis from the market and their customers to proffer solutions that will be efficient and cost-effective.
The name Teksight in itself is a strategic one (Edge (Tek –Meaning: Using Technology, Sight – Meaning: Using Data and Insight, Edge – Meaning: Advantage) as it means using technology, insight and data to give clients a competitive advantage.
Established in 2014, Teksight in its five years of existence has grown beyond the shores of Nigeria as it has extended to four other countries with over 35 team members and clients across East and West Africa. Presently, Teksight Edge Limited manages 60% of the mobile phone brand in Africa and in Nigeria manages about 70% OEM market share.
What is more? In 2018, Charles founded a technology news brand called askifa.ng with the sole aim of helping people understand technology better in Africa and creating quality awareness for African tech brands. Within six months of its establishment, askifa.ng became the largest and most followed tech brand on social media in Nigeria and in mid-2018, it became one of the official media partners for the World Mobile Congress in Kigali, Rwanda.
Through askia.ng, Edosanwan invested an average of N6,000,000 in 2018 to promote poetry and technology. This, in turn, gave birth to Demystifying Technology. Demystifying Technology’s aim is to use spoken words to simplify and explain technology with topics picked based on social issues and events in the country.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos, 29-year-old Damilola Olokesusi is the co-founder and CEO of a transport and tech company, Shuttlers.
Shuttlers is a Lagos-based startup that uses web and mobile app tech to enable users book trips along fixed routes at 60-80 percent less than ride-hailing services without surge or peak pricing. It is also the first of its kind in Nigeria.
The startup is currently revolutionising the way professionals and organisations commute in metropolitan cities like Lagos. Shuttlers enable professionals and organisations to share rides in corporate buses to and from work. Besides reducing commuting stress professionals, it is also contributing to the reduction of traffic congestion and carbon emissions.
With several awards such as Demo Africa in Nigeria, Unreasonable Institute, Award for Digital and Tech award at the Women in Africa Contest in Morocco, and Award for the Best Idea at the Aso Villa Demo Day under her belt, she is also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum where she leads the Entrepreneurship and Innovation team and also the Vice-Curator of the hub for 2019/2020.
She is a part of the Harambean Team for 2018 cohort; an Alliance for highly educated young African social, business and political entrepreneurs, attending leading universities in Asia, Europe and North America.
Chinedu Azodoh is the co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at MAX, a technology company building the infrastructure for last-mile mobility in Africa.
Azodoh has always had a passion to change the African experience and his start-up, MAX. MAX is on a mission to make 2 and 3-wheel mobility safe, accessible and affordable to one billion Africans. Azodoh and his co-founder, Adetayo Bamiro, came up with the idea for the company as part of an assignment while studying at MIT Sloan School in Massachusetts.
Prior to establishing MAX, Azodoh built his career working on Wall Street. He has worked at Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital among others. He left Barclays to attend the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Finance. He also possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Among his many accomplishments, he is a recipient of the Prestigious Lila Self Leadership Academy Scholarship – a $200,000 academic scholarship given to four first-year students at the Illinois Institute of Technology for exceptional leadership in the community and the classroom.
In 2015, he was invited to the Plug and Play Startup Accelerator but decided to join the Techstars New York Accelerator Program. In 2017, he was admitted into the first XL Africa Program, as one of a select 20 innovative companies across Africa leading growth and development. He was also admitted to the Alibaba eFounder Program, organised by Alibaba under the guidance of Jack Ma. In 2018, he was admitted into the Mastercard Startpath program and won the LAComotion Mobility Competition.
As a speaker, he has delivered a Ted Talk on the Power of Human Connection. He also delivered the Vision Talk at the MIT Africa Business Conference in 2016, where he challenged the audience to build businesses that provide Social and Financial Systems of Support across Africa.
A social entrepreneur, branding expert, filmmaker, motivational speaker and youth leader with a staunch belief in the abilities and chances of Africa, Bright Jaja began his journey in 2012 when he established an NGO called Redance Africa. This NGO later became a strong movement resounding towards inspiring young people, in general, to develop whatever skills they have with pride and dignity.
In 2013, during the Bring Back Our Girls Movement following the abduction of the Chibok girls, Jaja played a major role in drawing the world’s attention to Nigeria by mobilising over 6,000 children across 50 schools in the capital city of Nigeria (FCT Abuja) to dance for peace at the National Stadium. This action fuelled global conversations about the Chibok girls. That same year, he won the Abuja Young Entrepreneurship Award and also the Abuja Advancement Awards for the most effective concept in the FCT. He was the youngest speaker at the first TEDx in Abuja where he shared the platform with His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and His Royal Highness The Emir Of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. In 2014, he became one of the youngest national winners of Naija Diamonds, a project by Diamond Bank and Ebony Life TV to celebrate heroes in Nigeria.
In 2017, he established iCreate Africa, a hub for skill excellence and development in a bid to raise the profile and recognition of skilled professionals by rebranding and projecting the value of vocational skills in the mainstream.
Recently, he was awarded alongside Mo Abdou and Maryam Uwais as Africa Game Changer reformer at the Africa Reformers Awards.
For more information on how to iCreate Africa is disrupting TVET and preparing the youth for skills of the future, visit www.icreateafrica.com.
Adeniyi Omotayo is the founder and MD/CEO of the Betensured Group, a sports prediction service. The 29-year-old Metallurgical and Materials Engineering graduate from the University of Lagos is from a family of lawyers.
With an internship experience with Total E&P Nigeria Limited in 2011, he secured his first full-time job with oil servicing firm Sellafield Energy in 2014 while his company Betensured was established shortly before the commencement of his NYSC program in March 2015. The company started as a free betting tips blog but began paid service officially in November 2015 and was officially incorporated in Nigeria one year after it was founded on 29 March 2016.
Betensured has since expanded operations to East Africa and currently has physical offices in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda with over one million registered users and at least 35,000 yearly subscribers. Betensured operates in eight different languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Russian and Chinese) and has subscribers from at least 70 countries.
Since inception, Betensured has worked with over 20 different bookmakers from different
countries and generates its revenue mainly from user subscriptions and advertising collaborations
with these bookmakers. The company’s current clientele includes top bookmakers 1xbet, Betking, UBC 365, Betway, Bet9ja and Betin Kenya.
Adetola Nola is the founder of Veritasi Homes, a real estate company that provides marketing, advisory and developmental services across the entire real estate value chain in Nigeria.
His expertise, knowledge and experience span sales, marketing, real estate investment, property finance, real estate advisory, management and leadership development.
Starting his real estate career as a real estate sales consultant with Grenadine Homes, he recorded a plethora of success in closing property deals. After facilitating projects for other real estate companies, he founded Veritasi with just one staff – his secretary. In less than two years of operation, the company has recorded over 2 billion Naira in revenue, a feat he attributes to the company’s vision of solving the housing problems of middle-income earners in Nigeria. Today, he has over 12,000 real estate consultants, 1300 Veritasi realtors and 18 full-time staff.
Having failed in business severally, he is passionate about helping other businesses succeed and has a vision to raise at least 200 successful African entrepreneurs who will, in turn, create employment by 2020. He helps friends and family members to analyse their businesses and he has helped in restructuring about 20 of these businesses free of charge.
Nola is championing the emergence of smarter communities with green energy in Nigeria. He believes in fast real estate, that is, developing and providing properties that are timely in delivery, cost-effective, energy efficient, and durable. He is also a strategic investor with investments in the automobile industry, fashion and agriculture. He impacts his community in various ways, including acting as a resource person at many learning and discourse sessions. He has spoken in many local and international conferences including – University of Mazda, Abu Dhabi and Property Investment & Homebuyers Show, London amongst others.
As a humanitarian, he has partnered with a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with the aim of eradicating poverty and establishing a positive legacy.
A graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering from Anambra state University and armed with an MBA in Oil and Gas Management from the Coventry University, London, Barbara Okereke became a cake designer by accident.
After futile attempts to get a job, she decided to focus on baking cakes even though at the time, she still didn’t think she would be a cake designer for the rest of her life.
Honing her skills with a knowledge in cake decorating from the Fair Cake Premier School, Greenwich, London, where she acquired cake baking and decorating skills, she kicked off her cake business, Oven Secret, known for its unique statement cakes in September 2015. So far, she has created over 1000+ amazing cake designs, and trained over 500 students both physically and online.
Between 2017 and 2018, she gained national recognition and featured on notable media organisations such as The Guardian Newspaper, Vanguard, Nigerian Tribune and the British Broadcasting Corporation Africa (BBC). And in June 2019, she became the first Nigerian cake decorator to be listed on Forbes 30 under 30 Africa.
Chika Madubuko is a business professional, bioengineer, entrepreneur and a job creation advocate. Madubuko has an MSc Biotechnology and Bioengineering from the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK.
Her business experience spans across three continents and blue chip multinational companies. She was an Inbound Quality Control Officer at Amazon UK before she moved back to Nigeria. While in Nigeria, she quickly landed the role of Business Development Manager at Nigeria’s pioneer agritech company, Novus Agro where she increased its market share and launched the ‘Money at Hand’ campaign. The successful campaign connected rural farmers directly to FMCG conglomerates in Nigeria. She joined Guinness Nigeria Plc after this as a Business Development/Sales Executive and was part of the team that increased the Malta Guinness depletion rate and market share in Northern Nigeria.
Madubuko is the co-founder and CEO of Greymate Care, a digital platform established in 2016 that connects patients that need 24-hour care to an insured and professional caregiver. Given its success, Madubuko is now considering expansion into Kenya and South Africa.
In addition, Madubuko has successfully started an agricultural venture called Shefarms, where smallholder rural women are given access to market, input and advisory services on the best agricultural processes. Her aim is to partner with key firms within the health sector, expand to other African countries, as well as increase the service users to 35,000 by 2030.
She has in her name, several awards including the She Leads Africa Accelerator 2017 Bronze Prize sponsored by Intel US, OCP Africa and GTB.
That is not all. She represented Nigeria at the Women in Africa Initiative hosted in Morocco and sponsored by Renault Global and King Mohammed V, the Prime Minister of Morocco,with other notable personalities such as former Minister of Finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, and the daughter of MKO Abiola, Mrs Hafsat Abiola-Costello.