OLA OREKUNRIN (Age: 30)
Ola was born and raised in the UK by Nigerian parents. She graduated from Hull York Medical School at the age of 21, making her the youngest in her class. She later went on to work with the National Health Service in England for some years as a helicopter pilot trained in aviation medicine. However, she quit her job in England and let go of her dreams of becoming the president of the British Medical Association. Her organization, Flying Doctors Nigeria began following the motivation that trailed the unfortunate loss of her sister who passed away due to a lack of air ambulance in Nigeria. According to her, “Coupled with my growing passion to help improve the healthcare system in Nigeria, which I believe is poor, I became even more determined to bring a similar service to Nigeria”. Her organization has since won multiple awards as well as being named among the top twenty brands in Nigeria adopting high tech innovations in delivering services to people. Her company has also been featured on BBC and CNN.
OBINWANNE OKEKE (Age: 28)
Obinwanne is the founder, CEO and Chairman of the Invictus Group. He was born and raised in Ukpor village, Anambra State, Nigeria. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Forensic Criminology from Monsah University, South Africa and later bagged a Master’s degree in International Relations and Counterterrorism studies. Before Invictus, he had worked with an events and entertainment company for students, from where he moved to Australia for a while where he supported himself by working several jobs. Finally, he moved back to Nigeria and invested all the savings into Invictus. The company has since grown in success and he was featured on the cover of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Class of 2016. His motto is “Dream, believe in yourself and work on it”. The managing editor of Forbes Africa, Chris Bishop, commended Obinwanne by saying “Entrepreneurs like Obinwanne are proof that there is hope for Africa”
LAOLU SENBANJO (Age: 34)
Laolu was born and raised in Ilorin, Nigeria and later moved to Lagos where he studied Law. During his sojourn as a Lawyer, he spent his leisure time creating art and music which was his true passion. His art for which he coined the term, “Afromysterics” in 2007, is a self-taught form of art that makes use of mostly charcoal, although he uses other materials. According to him, Afromysterics means the mystery of the African thought pattern. Laolu’s work is inspired by his Yoruba heritage as well as places he visits whilst traveling and the songs he writes. He currently works in both Nigeria and Brooklyn, New York catering to the needs of his prominent clientele. He was recently signed on by Nike to design their ‘Air Max’ range, and most recently, Beyoncé for her ‘Lemonade’ visual project.
During an interview, he described the process of working with Beyoncé saying, “It was crazy, because I couldn’t say no. If Queen B wants you…it was so unreal. I just left everything I was doing. I had projects I was doing and I just left them halfway.” According to OkayAfrica, he gave an account of his experience as being a beautiful one. He had the opportunity to meet other celebrities who were also working on the shoot and marveled at the pool of great talent. Much to his surprise, Beyoncé came up to him during the shoot to commend his work and thanked him for showing up at such short notice.
OPEYEMI AWOYEMI (Age: 28) OLALEKAN OLUDE (Age: 32) &
AYODEJI ADEWUNMI (Age: 32)
These three young entrepreneurs are the co-founders of Jobberman, the popular platform that links potential employees to the right job opportunities. They were born and raised in Nigeria and all attended the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife where they met each other. Opeyemi and Olalekan studied Computer Engineering while Ayodeji studied Medicine. The trio are equally fond of one another and describe their relationship as a partnership, friendship and brotherhood. However, they were interested in other business opportunities. Olalekan and Ayodeji worked at Goldman Sachs where Olalekan interned for three years and Ayodeji worked briefly.
The Jobberman concept was originally Opeyemi’s, following inspiration from one of his library books at the university. The company currently has over forty staff with more than fifty thousand unique users each day. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has partnered with them to launch ‘Internet.org’ in Nigeria. Forbes has also described Jobberman as West Africa’s most popular job search engine and aggregator, and was ranked as the eighth tech start-up to watch in Africa by Forbes magazine. Ayodeji describes his partners as “some of the most driven and committed individuals I have ever known”.
By Idegbua Higo, Media & Communications Intern at Zenera Consulting