20 Young ‎Nigerian Entrepreneurs that will Inspire Entrepreneurship in 2015

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ENTERPRISE54 – The coming of each new year, brings to light extraordinarily talented young minds whose inspirational works are the catalyst of youth development in countries where they reside and beyond. In recent times, young entrepreneurs in Nigeria have been known to be risk-takers, very daring and absolutely unapologetic in their quest to fearlessly follow their passion until it becomes a contagious reality.

While some people might think of an entrepreneurial success as being vaguely ludicrous or completely unattainable, these vibrantly youthful entrepreneurs have defiled that perception and rendered it invalid.

I consider the Nigerian entrepreneur below to be some of the most versatile and courageous beings of human existence.

Banke Kuku: Founder/Creative Director, Banke Kuku Textiles

Banke’s entrepreneurial ability blossomed at a very tender age of 5 when she took the initiative to start kitting. Her continued fascination with fabrics led her to study an Art and Design foundation course and eventually Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design. With a work experience in fashion houses such as Matches Fashion Store, Burberry, Tank Magazine, Designers Guild Interiors and Jasmine Di Milo (where I honed my skills in textiles for fashion), what she brings to the table through Banke Kuku Textiles (founded in 2011) is a fusion of traditional African and Western culture to create unique fabrics for fashion industries.

Mark Essien: Founder, Hotels.ng

mark essien

Mark Essien, a software and mobile development expert, epitomises how you can transform a dedicated passion for technology to a company that redefined the hotel booking process in Nigeria. Motivated to be a part of the technology space through seeing his father build various mechanical devices, Mark decided to gain Computer Hardware Engineering degree and an M.Sc in Computer Science for post study degree. Hotels.ng, a vibrant startup (founded in 2012) is the largest hotel booking portal in Nigeria which hit 6000 Hotels sign up and profit in 2014. Mr Essien was a nominee of The Future Africa Awards 2014 in the category of Technology.

Honey Ogundeyi: CEO, Fashpa.com

Honey Ogundeyi is a young achiever who carved a niche for herself in the e-Commerce sector with Fashpa.com (founded in 2013) which was borne out of the frustration she felt at the limited nature of accessing fashion in Nigeria. Combining her experience in technology (through Ericsson and Google) and her passion for fashion, it was easy to make the transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship to provide trendy clothes through a viable technology platform to a variety of audiences which the view to creating a convenient online shopping customer experience for them.

Mosunmola Umoru: CEO, Honeysuckles PTL Ventures

Mosunmola needs no introduction in the Nigerian agricultural space. An agro business entrepreneur who specializes in food production, farming, processing and distribution, Ms. Umoru is known by the moniker “Pretty Farmer” because her passion for agriculture through her company Honeysuckles PTL Ventures which she founded in 2004 wasn’t quite the norm of your average Nigerian female entrepreneur. A Fellow of Ashoka and Founder of a social enterprise ABIRA Agribusiness Support Initiative, Mosunmola has served on several Panels as an inspiration to women in various African countries.

Bankole Cardoso: CEO, Easy Taxi Nigeria

Bankole has always taken a keen interest business concepts, which propelled him to study Accounting and Business/Management, a business-related degree at Boston College, USA. Through Easy Taxi Nigeria (founded in 2013), he developed the Easy Taxi app which is a technology-driven app that provides convenience for passengers in booking for taxis anywhere and anytime with the click of a button.

Bankole-Cardoso

Bankole has been featured in Forbe Magazine’s 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa 2014 and CNN Africa Startup, also in the same year.

Yasmin Belo-Osagie: Co-Founder, She Leads Africa

Yasmin co-founded She Leads Africa in 2014 with the intent to focus on providing funding and mentoring to empower the next generation of dynamic female entrepreneurs in several countries who are constantly faced with the challenge of accessing capital, as well as proper guidance. Through a well-structured concept, its first competitive event took place in 2014 and proved to be very inspiring to upcoming female entrepreneurs. Ms. Belo-Osagie, along with her business partner, Afua Osei (Ghana) where list by Forbes as one of The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2014.

Isoken Igiemwonyi and Wonu Okoye: Founders, L’Espace

The duo of Isoken and Wonu founded L’Espace in 2011, a boutique that is a one-stop hub for made in Nigeria fashion products by Nigerian entrepreneurs. L’Espace as been able to grow significantly since its formation to one of the industry leaders in fashion retail management due to its quest to promote and support fashion brands that are owned by experienced and upcoming Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Simeon Ononobi: Founder/CEO, SimplePay Limited

SimplePayOnonobi

Visionary tech entrepreneur Simeon Ononobi started SimplePay to develop a solution that will disrupt payment services in Nigeria. The third party payment processing platform founded in 2011 acts as a web and mobile-based wallet that provides convenience to end users in the payment of services such as school fees, recharge cards and taxes to name a few.

Adiat Disu: Founder/Lead Consultant, Adiree

With a resume that includes working for big corporations such as; IBM and TJX Inc (where she affected an average of $90 million in sales weekly by identifying and maximizing business opportunities), it didn’t come to many who knew Adiat as a surprise when she went on to launch top PR brand Adiree and create the prestigious Africa Fashion Week (AFW) in the fashion captials of identified fashion-hub countries. I.e. New York, Tokyo, Milan, London, Paris and Berlin. The focus of her brand is to re-brand Africa as the number one destination for luxury brands. Adiat Disu has been featured in Black Enterprise’s Power Women of the Diaspora 2014 and Forbes’ 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa 2014.

Raphael Afaedor and Gbolahan Fagbure: Founders, Supermart.ng

Raphael, founder of QluQlu and one half of the founders of Jumia Nigeria teamed up with Gbolahan, a former Director Operations also at Jumia Nigeria to form Supermart.ng; an online grocery delivery service that formed a synergy with top local stores in Nigeria to upload their inventories (ranging from; meat, milk, books, stationeries and food stuffs among others) to their online platform and make daily delivery to customers through a routine scheduled process. With strong partnerships with leading stores like; Park N Shop, MedPlus, Spar and Office R us, the duo seek the continuous promotion of the online shopping culture which now has a mainstay in Nigeria.

Maya Horgan: Founder, Ingressive.com

With a background in Private Equity Research and Entrepreneurship Journalism, Maya founded Ingressive.co in 2014. Ingressive is a company that specializes in connecting African companies to international investors for a viable synergy that leads to a maximised growth rate of the companies and increased returns on investment to the investing party through an adequate preliminary assessment she undertakes with her partners.

Adaora Mbelu: CEO, Innovation Factory Limited

Adaora is a young business development and PR guru who took a keen passion for entrepreneurship with the view to create viable business strategies for organizations to adopt. With her company Innovation Factory which she founded in 2011, she has been able to positively affect the business growth of her clients by developing successful branding strategies based on an extensive feasibility studies. Ms. Mbelu has received several recognition for her work, some of which include; Future Awards nomination for Entrepreneur of the Year (Media) 2012, Promising Young African Entrepreneur 2011 by MTV, FAB Magazine Nigeria’s ‘Top 30 Under 30′ 2012 among others.

Eseoghene Odiete: Founder/Creative Director, Hesey Designs

Despite studying Mass Communication at Covenant University, Ogun State Nigeria and finishing with good grades which could have seen her entry into journalism as seamless, Ese decided to go with her passion to build a fashion brand that would promote the Nigerian economy which she had always nursed while growing up. She established Hesey Designs in 2011 which focuses on making clothes, shoes and bags that embody a strong identity of Nigerian fabrics. Ms. Odiete was a Future Awards 2014 nominee in the category of “Tony Elumelu Prize in Business”. In addition to this, she was one of the winners of the 2014 Google Africa Connected Success Stories Competition, in which she not only won $25,000 with an enrollment opportunity to study a Foundation Course in Entrepreneurship at Branson Center of Entrepreneurship, but also got to make a shoe Sir Richard Branson admired and wore.

Richard Branson trying on an Hesey footwear

Richard Branson trying on an Hesey footwear

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola: Co-Founder/CEO, Wecyclers Corporation

An MBA graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (IMT), Bilikiss conceived the idea of Wecyclers in her development ventures class at the university. The model of Wecyclers is designed to solve urban waste challenges for households and recyclers in Nigeria by using a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer convenient household recycling services especially in populated low-income neighborhoods. She has been featured in CNN African startups, and has been recognized by Applause Africa as one of the 20 African Women with Powerful and Inspiring Voices. In addition to this, Bilikiss was a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in 2013.

Anthony Adebo: Founder/CEO, Kingdom London

Born into a design family with his father being an architect and mother an interior designer, Anthony’s path to fashion designing was effortless. After studying International Business with French at the European Business School (EBS), London, he sought to carve a niche for himself in the luxury market by creating the Kingdom brand in 2013, which focuses on making bespoke outfits, styling and providing expert advice for personalized wardrobes tailored to meet the specific needs of corporate and business clients.

Dr. Ola Orekunrin: Medical Director, Flying Doctors Nigeria

Ola Orekunrin became a medical doctor as the age of 21 and by 26 her name had become synonymous with innovation, excellence and success in Nigeria. Her passion to improve the healthcare system led to the formation of the first indigenous air ambulance in Nigeria in 2009. Flying Doctors Nigeria started off as a pediatric children’s air ambulance service to convey sick kids from one area to another. As the business grew, her clientele base included corporate organizations and the private sector. She has received several awards and recognitions some of which include; ThisDay Awards (Contribution to Health in Africa) 2012, The Future Award as ‘Entrepreneur of the year 2012′, NewsDirect Awards as ‘Outstanding Female CEO of the Year 2013′. She is also a TED fellow and has been honoured by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader.

Damilola Solesi: CEO/Creative Director, Smids Animation Studios

Damilola’s interest in cartoons started when she was a game programmer at the age of 7. The choice to do Computer Science at the university was aimed at enhancing her know-how in computer animation design, visual effects, motion graphics and creative production, which are the core focal areas of Smids Animation Studios, a 3D animations studio. She is a beneficiary of the YOUWin Initiative by the Nigerian Federal Government for her animation project design.

Hannah Kabir: Managing Director, Creeds Energy Limited

Hannah is a renewable energy expert who founded Creeds energy in 2012 with the sole aim of significantly containing the energy and electricity issues in Nigeria by providing a viable alternative that helps to effectively address it. With a strong background in business analysis at Galaxy Backbone PLC and an M.Sc in Renewable Energy and Enterprise Management at the University of Newcastle, UK where her final project was based on Solar Hybrid Systems for Urban Households, she has been able to ensure Creeds Energy promotes the awareness and adoption of renewable solutions which leads to the development of a green economy, characterized by low carbon emissions, resource efficiency, sustainability and social inclusion.

Summarily, we are lucky that they are young because we have a lifetime of their work to look forward to and be inspired. Suffice to say a good number of them are already involved in mentoring upcoming entrepreneurs through several mentorship initiatives.

For anyone who is on the downside of advantage and rely solely on courage to excel significantly in entrepreneurship……………. It is possible!

Disclaimer: Views expressed are those of the author.

happywheels

Mark Nwani is the Project Manager, One-on-One (Nigeria) at Mara Foundation.

2 Comments

  1. Adebisi Olusayo

    June 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Inspiration is the word to describe this article. I am more inspired by the story of Maya Horgan. In the process of finding myself, I have been reading many articles on entrepreneurship which brought me to reading about the founder of Dressmeoutlet.com, Olatorera Oniru. I was so inspired that I met with her and after she had told me her story, I concluded that I could do something too. So, I drew a business plan and it is now ready for execution. Thanks for the article, I am so motivated.

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