Tech Woman: 5 Questions with Odunayo Eweniyi of Piggyvest

In this feature, we talk about being a woman in the tech industry with Odunayo Eweniyi.

Shes is the co-founder and COO of Piggvest, the largest online savings & investment platform in Nigeria.

She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa and has over the years been recognised for her solutions in the tech industry, with a lot of awards to her name.

Odunayo was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Technology in 2019 and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators 2019. She also made the World Women in Fintech Power List for 2017; the YNaija Most Influential People in Technology 2017 and 2018.

In 2019, she was named one of 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa and one of 50 most visible women in Tech by Tech Cabal.

In this interview with Founders Africa, she answers 5 questions that take us into her journey in the tech industry and reveals a lot about being a tech woman.

1. Tell us about your journey into tech

I got into tech right out of University. I met a few friends from school who were working on a startup and joined them to build it. They are now my cofounders at Piggyvest and our other ventures today.

I also worked as a journalist at TechCabal and Techpoint, both engagements that I’ll credit with helping me plug into the tech ecosystem.

2. What’s your day like in your current role at Piggyvest?

I work as the COO so my job is a bit of everything. And it most certainly isn’t predictable. I can summarize it as ensuring that roles and tasks without headcount don’t fall through the cracks; and working with the management team to ensure that the company is growing.

So a day can be just managing a bunch of people and cranking away at work, and sometimes it is speaking to members of the team to understand pain points or happy points, or it can be an endless stream of meetings. 

3. What’s the one thing that excites you about being in the tech industry?

Driving change. One of the best things about working in tech is that the gratification isn’t really delayed.

Because of how impactful and different digital technology solutions are, you can see the change in real-time. You can see habits change, you can read the stories of people whose lives are being improved, and that is very motivating. 

4. What do you do to ensure you’re constantly up-to-date skill-wise and with happenings in the constantly evolving tech industry?

I take a lot of courses, and I read a lot.

There are so many MOOCs out there that can help you upskill and educate yourself without the grand time commitment of actually being in school. So I take full advantage of those and I encourage people to do the same.

You can also read a lot of literature – articles, books, etc – about the subject matter you’d like to be educated in. Most of these are incredibly accessible.

5. What advice will you give young women trying to build a career in tech?

Just do it. Times are changing and the involvement of women in tech is at an all-time high. We hope that it only gets better from here.

So I’d tell anyone trying to build a career in tech to start. There are so many ways to be in tech, it’s not limited to being a founder or being a programmer. All tech companies need designers, UI/UX experts, Strategists, Content Developers etc. There is a role for everyone in tech.

Rodrique Msechu is Implementing Economic Transformation in Africa

Many companies, whether big or small, often find themselves at a crossroad that can hinder development for them, both in internal and external growth.

Sometimes, new startups need intelligence on market strategy to boost their growth or expand their business, times like that calls for experts that can come up with strategic plans that can provide comprehensive but efficient and sustainable options for firms to follow. Most companies often need trade advisories for such occurrences.

Anza strategy is a trade advisory company that was established by Rodrigue Msechu to foster economic advancement in Africa. The company was founded after Msechu left his job at French trade office in Nairobi after three years of working there. Msechu studied communication and public relations at Moi university and proceeded to study diplomacy for his MA.

His previous job as international trade adviser at French trade office birthed his idea of Anza strategy where he aimed to foster economic growth in Africa and attract foreign interest into the region.

He founded Anza strategy in 2016 to foster economic advancement by encouraging participation and accountability of African changemakers. Over the years, Anza strategy has advised more than 30 companies from four continents on market intelligence and entry strategy into Africa.

They have provided tailor made comprehensive approaches and solutions to foreign private sector players working to access the East African market. They further assist in formulation of business exports and investment business.

Msechu’s passion is to foster dynamic collaborations between businesses to spark economic transformation in Africa. His passion and aspiration for Africa’s economic transformation, most especially East Africa has earned him a spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa.

Tanzania’s Brigitha Faustin is Setting The Benchmark for Women Agripreneurship

Brigitha Faustin is the founder and Managing Director of OBRI Company, an Agro-Industrial company whose main businesses include edible oils manufacturing and fractionations under the OBRI brand.

The OBRI Company is modeled as a co-operative social enterprise. Under this model, OBRI has empowered more than 230 local Tanzanian farmers who are organized under farmers associations in Tanzania by providing sustainable market channels for their produce. OBRI’s cooking oils are sold in retail outlets across the country.

Being a self-taught entrepreneur who has a deep flair for agribusiness and human development. Faustin runs OBRI company as a co-operative social enterprise, ensuring that farmers and communities are supported. This was aided by her desire to see more women in the agriculture industry.

Commenting on her experience at the time when she was a newbie in the game and to encourage entrepreneurs who are just starting out, Faustin said:

“The first three months after I started my company, I wasn’t 100% sure that my brand will stand out in the market and survive the competition. I had limited perception of what my business is capable of! I chose to shed my illusions, understood the core value proposition in my business model and demystified the workings of the business world. Finally, I found myself achieving more than what I have ever dreamed was possible.”

She often challenges the government to support access to land, provide financial opportunities and design friendly policies that will encourage more women to take agriculture seriously.

In Faustin’s words “The future for women agripreneurs is blossoming. I think it’s high time now for women in Africa to feel confident and start to participate in agriculture for business.”

Meet June Syowia, Founder of Kenya’s Fast Growing Marketing Firm

Advertising in the contemporary times does not entirely make use of the physical approach anymore. It has evolved, thanks to the digital and internet age that most content creators now use to appeal to audiences on behalf of companies and businesses.

It is on this fact that Kenya’s June Syowia founded her digital marketing agency. She launched Beiless Group to change the advertisement game to improve productivity for Kenyan business owners.

She is an alumni of the University of Nairobi where she studied economics, accounting and finance. Her entrepreneurship journey started from school when she participated in Google Ambassadors Training.

Beiless Group is a fast growing experiential and digital marketing agency that has handled marketing campaigns for more than 50 popular Kenyan brands.

Their services include social media management, strategic online communication, digital advertising and content creation. Beiless Group also covers digital technology in terms of e-commerce and web development.

The program seeks to impact skills in technology and digital advertising to university students. June decided to use the acquired skills from the training to establish Beiless Group in 2014. Despite early challenges of starting a new company, June has expanded Beiless Group to be one of the most sought after digital marketing agencies in Kenya.

Since the establishment of the company, June has been a recipient of several awards in recognition of her massive impact.

She was a recipient of top 40 under 40 awards by the business daily Africa in 2015, most influential Kenyans in 2016 and global student entrepreneur award in 2017. She is also recognized by Forbes in 2018 under their top 30 under 30 young innovators and 2018 most promising entrepreneurs in Africa.

June is an inspiration to every young Africans entrepreneurs. In her words “I aspire to rise above mediocrity and all odds to become a force of positive energy and change”

Bosswoman: 5 Questions with Leah the Female Shoemaker

Meet Leah, the female shoe maker!

She’s the founder of D’­Leah Wears, a shoe making brand focused on creating quality.

She shared her journey into shoemaking with Founder Africa.

Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself

I am Oluwadamilola Leah Ogunleye, the founder and creative director of D’Leah Wears. A native of Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, I studied English Language at Ekiti State University, Nigeria.

Hand Crafts is really a hobby for me and I just enjoy anything that has to do with creativity and innovation then bringing it into reality with my hands.

What inspired the idea for a shoe making business?

Well, my quest for creativity and innovation led me to this path, I love crafts and creating things with my hands which is the reason I learnt so many craft works, bags, belts, shoes, sandals etc.

About a year ago, I was into importation of wears, shoes and the likes, I then discovered a good number of them were of inferior quality and I could make more quality and durable footwear here in Nigeria. Then D’Leah wear kicked off.

What has been your most exciting moment since you started out?

I have exciting moments, but basically the first time I finally made my own footwear using my brand name. Like seeing that piece of work with D’Leah Wears on it was quite exciting. You know how it feels when a mother carries her long awaited new born baby for the first time.

Being a female shoe maker, what are some of the reactions you get when you tell people what you do?

Reactions from people have been amazing, encouraging, awkward, good and ugly. Most people feel shoe making is a man’s craft and isn’t something a lady should venture into at all.

You know a guy visited my office one day and saw me using a hammer and he was like women like me will definitely overpower my husband and I felt disturbed that how can someone utter such statement just because of my ‘hustle’, but I have learnt over time that humans will never stop talking irrespective of what you do, so do not stop doing what you do inasmuch as it pays your bills and it is legal.

Entrepreneurship is sure not an easy journey. Tell us the one thing that keeps you going.

THE FUTURE looks so good! It is sure not an easy journey, there is no journey without challenges, I am not the first that will venture into this and will obviously not be the last, but I want to create a lasting mark in this industry knowing fully well that Dangote, Mark, Bill and other top billionaires today are all entrepreneurs and they all had a very challenging beginning which is just a phase, the end is always sweet.

Meet Gloria Otieno, The Entrepreneur Disrupting Kenya’s Human Resources Industry

Most times, deciding on the perfect niche for one’s business venture is always a tricky thing, but for Gloria Otieno, she knew intrinsically that her entrepreneurial journey would drift towards human resources and training.

She is the Founder of Recours Four Kenya Consultants Limited, a leading human resources consultancy and training firm based in Westlands, Nairobi.

The startup uses innovative approaches to curb unemployment, progress careers and improve organisational staff development. Their focus is on progressing the youth in a competitive job market and giving them the skills to help bridge the gap between unemployment and the workplace.

Otieno was working at Kenya Airways before she quit her job due to a lack of work satisfaction.

She had always felt like there was a gap in the HR sector and was concerned with the way the youth conducted themselves at interviews. The way hiring companies selected candidates contributed to her decision to make an impact and eventually decided to start her own HR firm.

She is also the Founder of R4K student Ambassador program in Kenya, which allows bright students to be mentors to students that are having problems getting through university. The program basically empowers the student leader to motivate and inspire the group members into action and completion of university.

Gloria aspires that her startup becomes the leading Human Resource Consultancy in the world that promotes profitably within any organisation by helping them achieve success through their young people. She is also looking to gain international investors that can help expand reach to more people.

Gloria continues to fuel her passion for human resources and skills development. She is making a huge difference to the development of a new, well-trained population who will drive the future economy of the country.

How Swvl Founders Are Reshaping Africa’s Mass Transit System

Swvl, an Egyptian-based leading transport technology company was founded by Mostafa Kandil, Mahmoud Nouh and Ahmed Sabbah in March 2017. The three friends had previously studied together at Elementary school in Egypt.

Although all three entrepreneurs had good jobs before founding Swvl, they still decided to take risks by leaving their jobs to start Swvl, most especially Ahmed and Mahmoud who had to invest in Mostafa’s idea.

Swvl is an Egyptian premium public transportation that provides buses to every neighborhood in Cairo. It allows people to share a ride in a van or bus during morning and evening commutes for a fixed flat rate with no surge pricing.

With over 450+ employees and numerous investors like Dubai’s Beco capital, US’s endeavor catalyst, China Msa, Egypt’s Sawari ventures, Sweden’s Vostok new ventures among others.

By providing a technology based alternative to public transport, Swvl has proven itself to not just being an ordinary start-up company but a reliable and efficient solution to fix bus routes problem by using the passengers location and destination to determine the shortest possible trip time based on the nearest bus stop.

According to Mostafa “We are trying to build a platform that connects all forms of transportation in emerging markets. We want to build an operating system for affordable and convenient public transport in emerging markets.”

Although the co-founders are relatively young, their influence and impact stands as a source of inspiration to young African entrepreneurs.

Swvl is not just a means to facilitate commuting but a deep hunger to strive for solutions, encourage the contribution of youth in innovation and inspire change.

Co-founder Mostafa Kandil has this advice to give to young African entrepreneurs. “Don’t over engineer everything. Take risks and learn more by learning faster”.

From Mechanical Engineering to Fashion Design: 5 Questions with Katelem of Ofonti World

Meet Katelem Ogbuluijah, the Mechanical Engineer turned fashion designer.

He is the founder of Ofonti, a fashion brand that fuses African and Western styles.

According to Katelem, he is building a brand that Millennials and Generation Zs can relate with.

In this interview, he takes us into his world and his journey to building a fashion empire.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Owajikatelem Ogbuluijah (a bit of a tongue-twister), but you can just call me Katelem. I am a 25-year-old proud Nigerian. I tend to see myself like rain because I’m one thing, but I fall in different places.

You see, I grew up wanting to be a footballer; I hold Mechanical engineering and Aerospace engineering degrees, but here I am as a fashion designer. It’s a strange one; but in my life, God leads…I follow.

Tell us about your brand and the solutions you offer

Ofonti is an afro-centric brand that fuses the African and Western styles of fashion. The major value we stand for is empowering the African.

Our focus is on the millennials and Generation Z. This sounds like such a deep description, but this value is very important to us.

Ultimately, we want to be a brand these sets of people can relate to and be a safe space where they can say, “I belong here”.

What inspired the idea for it?

One day I was through clothes in my friend’s box when I came across a t-shirt designed with African fabrics (Ankara) and I fell in love.

I wondered why I related with it so much. I eventually realised that it was the fusion of the aforementioned cultures (Ankara – African, T-shirt – Western) that created that spark. People from my generation, and below, grew up with a lot of western influence (school, music, lingo, sports, role models, etc.), but we are also deeply rooted in the African culture.

This synergy was like art to me, so creating a brand out of it was a no-brainer. Giving people the confidence to be proud of their roots/self was also an inspiration for me; because the pre-cursor to doing great things is belief.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt in your entrepreneurship journey?

How much time do you have? Lol. For me, the greatest lesson is that you will fail…and fail…and fail again.

You have to try to stop judging yourself when you do because it will happen.

The good thing is that failure is on the path to success, so anytime you fail, you’re actually closer to success than you were before. These are just my 2 cents.

What has been your most exciting moment since you started out?

I would say it’s the day we attended a trade fair in our home city, Abuja.

That day was magical because it wasn’t even a big trade fair, but just seeing the awe and excitement on people’s faces when they approached our stand and how interested they seemed to be in the journey so far was a movie.

They instantly felt like family. Scratch that, they became family. That was a really special moment.

Nigeria’s Ronke Bamisedun is Disrupting Africa’s Communications Industry

Ronke Bamisedun is the founder of BWL Agency, a leading Public Relations agency based in Lagos, Nigeria. She is a PR consultant, one who is skilled in strategic brand development and communications, coupled with a wide range of experience covering music, fashion and consumer goods.

Ronke has had the privilege of advising multinational companies such as Pandora, Moet Hennessy, Pernod Ricard and Universal Music Group as well as many non-governmental organizations.

She had her primary and secondary education in Nigeria before moving to the United Kingdom for her tertiary education at Birmingham City University. Ronke has worked for major stores such as TopShop, interned at different music PR agencies in London, then later interned at Grayling, a leading global communication firm.

She launched out her career at Kaizo PR where she worked as a consultant, managing several clients such as House of Marley and Trivia, handling their social media accounts, being part of their management team and going to events with them including London Fashion Week.

With a passion and flare for fashion, it was no surprise that she went on to work in fashion, working for iconic designer Diane Von Furstenberg as well as retail giants Selfridges and Matchesfashion. Ronke also worked with high street giant Topshop as a personal shopper, bringing forward her media skills to deal with its celebrity clientele

Ronke was also listed in the 2018 class of Forbes‘ 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa. She is a typical beacon of intelligence, class, beauty and an astute entrepreneur that stands as a source of inspiration to African entrepreneurs and youths.

Doreen Estazia Noni’s Unmatched Impact in Africa’s Multimedia Industry

Doreen Estazia Noni is the founder of Eskado Bird, an upscale Tanzanian fashion and lifestyle brand that produces accessories inspired by East Africa’s Kitenge fabric.

She is also the owner of 102.5 Lake FM, a community centric commercial radio station in Mwanza, Tanzania. Doreen has over five years of experience in the Multimedia industry, specifically focusing on television production and radio broadcasting.

Her main objective is to contribute to social and economic progress, using radio as a platform to creatively address challenges that lower income earning citizens regular face.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia from Nottingham Trent University. She is passionate about youth empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Through engaging programming that enriches lives, she uses creative channels to help eradicate poverty and voice issues that are common in society, Her radio show, Tena Na.Tena is an educational and inspirational platform featuring interviews of young and aspiring youth.

She talks about issues they often experience; including those classified as ‘taboos’ and provides solutions for their challenges.

Doreen is keen on building a multimedia empire in Africa. She plans to utilize multimedia as a platform to help unlock the cycle of poverty and help young Africans identify their purpose on this earth.