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Meet The 27 Nigerians Who Made 2018 Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 Promising Young Change-makers’ List

Nigerians, with the work they do in their respective fields, let the world see that there are positives to the nation. This is important at a time like now where all the world thinks of us is Boko Haram, economic recession etc.

This year, 27 of these young men and women were recognised by Forbes Africa for the role they play as Africa’s most promising young change-makers. This year’s edition, the fourth, due to the large number of these trailblazers expanded the list of 30 to include three sectors: technology, creative and business. This brought the list to a total of 90.

Herein are the Nigerians who made the list in the three categories.

Forbes 30 Under 30 Business

Ladipo Lawani, 29, Nigeria

Founder: L&L Foods

L&L foods is a food processing and packaging company focused on the Nigerian market. They source agricultural produce from local farmers and transform them into quality snacks. Their primary line of products is a premium brand of nuts called Mr Ekpa. Lawani employs 12 people.

Emmanuel Ademola Ayilara, 29, Nigeria

Founder: LandWey Investment Limited

LandWey is a real estate development and management company turning over $14 million per year. It started with just five employees. Today, they employ 42 full-time staff, 370 realtors and 16,000 consultants.

Ayilara’s journey to entrepreneurship started when he was in school. His first stint was at a coaching center in Abeokuta, Ogun State in Nigeria. The business failed. He tried his hand again, this time, running a vocational training program with over 3,600 students.

Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed Falalu, 28, Nigera

Founder: FaLGates

Falalu saw an opportunity to make money when he realized Nigeria consumes about seven million metric tonnes of rice and only produces 2.7 million metric tonnes, forcing the country to spend more than $2 billion in imports.

With a total annual capacity to produce more than 5,000 metric tonnes, he founded FaLGates, a rice mill producing a variety of rice products. They employ 30 people in Kaduna and over 150 people at their anchored farms in Niger and Kebbi. They turned over about $450,000 in 2017.

Falalu holds a degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Management from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. He also holds an MSc Degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Nottingham.

Anita Adetola Adetoye, 26, Nigeria

Founder: Anita Brows Beauty

Adetoye is an Irish-Nigerian professional makeup artist, beauty educator, and entrepreneur. She is also the founder of Anita Brows Beauty based in Lagos. With over seven years of experience, she has single-handedly built an award-winning brand, creating jobs for young Nigerians.

Over the years, she has featured and liaised with the founder of international brand ‘Iman Cosmetics’, and worked with numerous celebrities across the globe. She has also been recognized in Uganda as the best makeup artist in West Africa and won the Future Awards Prize for beauty. Adetoye employs 13 people and has several sold-out makeup classes in Europe, the US and East Africa. This year, Anita Brows will launch a cosmetic range.

Akinwande Durojaye, 28, Nigeria

Founder: JustBrandIt

While at Covenant University, Durojaye saw the need for a printing and branding business. He started doing business as an intermediary between the students’ association and the print world. In 2014, he used this experience to start JustBrandIt, a printing, branding and advertising agency competing with larger companies in Nigeria. The astute Information and Communications Engineering graduate is also the founder of FixMyRide, a fleet management company which manages different taxi hailing platforms like Uber, Taxify and Oga Taxi. It also houses an auto workshop for vehicle repairs, maintenance and servicing. He employs 13 full-time staff and about 210 contracted drivers. Combined, the companies turn over $1.2 million each year.

He is also the co-founder of FueledUp, a technology-driven company where customers request for fuel and cooking gas delivery via an app. He is also the co-founder of LashBells Food Company, a local snacks production and packaging company.

Bidemi Zakariyau, 28, Nigeria

Founder: LSF|PR

She founded LSF|PR which started as a fashion PR agency.

“Securing my first client was very difficult because I had no public relations experience; I would visit different blogs in Nigeria and look for contact numbers in the article credits and call the designers requesting to work with them for free,” says Zakariyau.

When the door finally opened, she charged very little and worked hard. Client satisfaction led to referrals and new clients.

She rented an office and started hiring workers. Today, the agency’s clientele consists of local and international brands including Philips, Rémy Cointreau, Godrej, William Grant and Sons, Brown-Forman, ARM, AfriOne, Ventures Platform. She employs eight women and runs an online magazine.

Kene Rapu, 28, Nigeria

Founder: Kene Rapu

Through her first product line, ‘Slippers by Kene’, launched in 2011, Rapu became an entrepreneur who promotes the growth of Nigerian industry by using locally-sourced materials to make slippers and sandals. She says running a business is hard work, even more so in Nigeria.

Rapu holds a law degree from the University of Bristol and a Master’s in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion. In 2016, she was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation as one of 1,000 African entrepreneurs whose idea could change Africa, and in 2017, was listed as one of 100 Most Influential Women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa.

Gozie Coker, 29, Nigeria

Founder: Coker Creative

Coker is the ultimate planner.

“Planning events is something I have always done, so much so that growing up, I was nicknamed ‘the organ’, short for organizer. I derived joy planning all my family and friends’ celebrations, from vacations to birthdays, and even anniversaries,” she says.

She spent her holidays interning for event companies. Soon after graduating from Baylor University, with a degree in marketing, she interned with Kennedy Creative, a full-service event management company in Austin, Texas.

A boutique event company, since its launch almost four years ago, it has executed events for private and corporate clients including Etisalat, Zippy, Redrick Public Relations, Access and Bella Naija.

Forbes 30 Under 30: Creatives

Yemi Alade, 29, Nigeria

Singer, Songwriter

Alade’s songs will make you want to dance. She sings in English, French, Swahili, Portuguese and Pidgin English connecting to most parts of the world. Her song Johnny has been viewed over 89 million times on YouTube, competing with international artistes. She has won numerous awards, among them two MTV Africa Awards. She travels the world performing and telling African stories through song.

Falz, 27, Nigeria

Rapper, Actor

Although he got his big break with the song Marry Me, Folarin Falana, known as Falz started music when he was still in school. He released his debut album, Wazup Guy: The Album in May 2014, His second album Stories That Touch came in 2015, while his third solo album 27: The Album was released in October 2017. Marry Me earned him a nomination in the ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ category at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In 2016, he accepted the International Viewers’ Choice Award from BET. He has appeared in a number of movies and series. He is also the founder of Bahd Guys Records.

Davido, 25, Nigeria

Singer, Songwriter

David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, has scaled heights in just six years. His first single in 2011 planted him firmly in the music business and Dami Duro, recorded in the same year, was the crown jewel for his acclaimed 2012 debut studio album, Omo Baba Olowo. It made him a household name.

“It was people like [Nigerian music veterans] P-Square and D’Banj who made me believe that all this was possible,” he said in an interview with FORBES AFRICA last year.

He has many accolades including two MTV Africa Music Awards and the BET Award for ‘Best African Act’. He has also worked with MTN, Guinness, Unilever and has millions of views on YouTube.  Davido has collaborated with Young Thug, Future, Trey Songz and Rae Sremmurd, and has toured the world. He is a 2018 BET Award nominee.

Joyce Jacob, 28, Nigeria

Founder: Joyce Jacob Beauty

A renowned celebrity makeup artist with an eye for striking detail, she launched Joyce Jacob Beauty in 2009. She has worked on the sets of many local and international music videos, magazine photoshoots and TV commercials.

Some of her notable clientele includes former British first lady Cherie Blair, African billionaire Folorunso Alakija, Angela Simmons, Alek Wek, Angelique Kidjo and Wizkid.

Adebayo Oke-Lawal, 28, Nigeria

Fashion designer, Founder of Orange Culture

Oke-Lawal has been designing clothes since the age of 10. He founded Orange Culture in 2011 after working with several Nigerian designers to turn his unique vision of fashion into reality.

He has also worked as a fashion editor for Wow Magazine, has styled numerous celebrities such as Kate Henshaw, Rita Dominic, Munachi Abii, Lala Akindoju, Ice Prince and has done editorial work for magazines like Vogue Italia and Nataal. The label has collaborated with numerous brands such as Huawei, Dennis Osadebe, Rokus London and Maxivive.

Among many accolades, the label was selected in 2015 by Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessey for their first-ever LVMH prize as one of the 20 finalists selected from over 1,221 brands all over the world in Paris. Last year, he showed for the first time on the runways at London Fashion Week. The brand is currently stocked in Lagos, Paris, London, New York, Hollywood and Kenya .

Wizkid, 27, Nigeria

Singer, Songwriter

Wizkid is spreading the Afrobeat sound to the world. He co-wrote and co-produced One Dance, Drake’s Hot 100-topping hit, has signed a multi-album worldwide deal with Sony Music International and is a Pepsi ambassador. WizKid, born Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, made his mark with Holla At Your Boy in 2010 and has since won many awards, among them the BET Award for Best International Act Africa in 2012 and MTV Europe Music Award for Best Worldwide Act. His rise to fame started with singing in church at the age of 11 before collaborating with M.I in the award-winning Fast Money Fast Cars in 2009.

Beverly Naya, 29, Nigeria

Actress, Entrepreneur

Naya is an award-winning actress and budding entrepreneur. She studied script-writing and film-making at the University of Roehampton in the UK before relocating to Nigeria to join the Nigerian film industry.

She has acted in a number of well-received movies including When Love Happens, Before 30, Something Wicked, Catch.er, In Sickness and Health and The Wedding Party 1 and 2. She has also done theater in London and Nigeria, among them Stoning Mary and Crave (Psychosis 4:48). In 2018, she produced her first project under her company Be Naya LTD, a documentary titled Skin which focuses on colourism and empowering people to love themselves as they are.

Sonia Irabor, 28, Nigeria

Writer, Filmmaker, Actress

After spending time as a writer and PR guru, Sonia Irabor enrolled at the prestigious Drama Studio London where she trained for two years. Since then, she has appeared in a number of classical plays such as her critically-acclaimed work as Helen of Troy in Trojan Women, and the Tanya Ronder play, Table, where she played three characters in the two-hour production. She is also a screen and stage writer most recently known for her work as a co-writer on the hit Red TV series, Inspector K, now in its second season. She is currently working on her debut feature film under her newly-founded production company, Sonic Boom Media.

Tania Omotayo, 26, Nigeria

Model, Entrepreneur

Omotayo is creative director of a fast-growing fashion brand, Ziva Lagos. With a dedicated in-house design team, her collections are on trend.

“Ziva Lagos is dedicated to boosting the Nigerian trade and labor market. Hence all fabrics are locally sourced and the clothes designed and produced in Nigeria.”

The brand is becoming the go-to for the creative industry, being featured in music videos, magazines and even a movie. Since its inception in December 2016, it has had a number of successful pop-up sales. In June 2017, Ziva opened its first store in the heart of Lekki Phase and launched a second store early this year.

Forbes 30 Under 30: Technology

Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, 27, Nigeria

Co-founder: SureGifts

Director: SureRemit

Samuel-Biyi has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative technology ventures in Africa, either as a critical employee, investor, or entrepreneur.

With the help of his co-founders, Adeoye Ojo and Babafemi Lawal, Samuel-Biyi launched SureGifts, a digital shopping voucher aggregator and retailer in 2014.

Today, the company operates in Nigeria and Kenya with over 200 retail brands and utility service providers on their network. SureGifts vouchers are used by over 250 major companies across the world like Airtel, KPMG and Coca-Cola for their employee and customer rewards programs.

His company also developed a project called SureRemit, a non-cash remittance product that will leverage cryptocurrency to power remittances intended for non-cash use-cases like utility payments, groceries and medicine, leveraging the SureGifts merchant network and other global partners.

“Again, my team finally brought Africa into the Blockchain playing field by executing the most successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) out of Africa yet, raising $7 million within two days from participants in 65 countries, including participation from the largest cryptocurrency fund in South Korea.”

The SureRemit cryptocurrency, $RMT, is currently on the market. They employ 30 people

Prior to SureGifts, he managed data-intensive projects in commercial planning, business intelligence, and financial analysis at Jumia in Nigeria. He is also a senior consultant at Venture Garden Group, advising on startup investing, business risk, strategy, and finance and supports early-stage African entrepreneurs as a Venture Partner at Greenhouse Capital.

Mahmood Oyewo, 26, Nigeria

Co-founder: RubiQube

From an early age, Oyewo participated in science fairs and always wanted to know how things worked. This inquisitiveness led him to start his first company, Mabtech Solutions, before university.

In 2009, Oyewo and his brother, Mukhtar, built a mobile airtime top-up solution.

“The solution was to be tied to Globacom’s airtime APIs. We presented this solution to a director then and of course because we were young lads, we were never taken seriously.”

They didn’t let that disappointment affect them. Instead, they registered an app development and management company called MobiQube.

In 2012, with the intention of collating innovative mobile applications in Africa and offering locally relevant apps to users based on their location, they built a location-based mobile app aggregator.

In late 2015, they decided to pivot from a mobile application to the current video advertising service called RubiQube. It is an advertising technology company with focus on video and other super rich media, with a goal to acquire high-value users and drive customer engagement through its state-of-the-art advertising services.

Today, RubiQube Limited has worked with some of the top brands in Nigeria, which include Nestle, GSK, Visa, Zenith Bank, UBA and Coca-Cola.

Chris Kwekowe, 25, & Emerald Kwekowe, 21, Nigeria

Founders: Slatecube

Slatecube helps job seekers develop job-relevant skills, gain work experience, and land well-paying jobs through up-skilling courses and virtual internships.

Since launching in 2014, the company has helped hundreds of graduates get into full-time employment, trained over 13,000 graduates in full-stack web development, design (graphics design and animations), and digital marketing across Nigeria and Ghana and have 7,000 active users taking online programs.

Sunkanmi Ola, 26, Nigeria

Founder: Syracuse Digital

Established in 2012, Syracuse Digital is a digital advertising and product development agency. They help businesses grow through digital engagement marketing. Syracuse counts Adidas, Tecno Mobile, Mitsubishi Motors and Infinix among its clients. The company has reached Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon and the UK.

Ola also initiated a globally focused startup, Hirefreehands, through Syracuse Digital. It has an African outlook, backed by a Seattle-based Blockchain venture firm. He turns over close to half a million dollars each year.

Ola’s hard work has earned him many awards. In 2014, he was a finalist for the Anzisha Awards for Successful African Entrepreneurs Under 21, he was the first Nigerian to be admitted into the Young Lions Planners Academy at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and is the youngest-ever candidate admitted into the global executive MBA program at Hult International Business School, London.

Syracuse Digital also won the Digital Marketing Agency of the Year award at the African Quality Achievement Awards in 2015 and has had multiple features in Lürzer’s Archive.

Kola Olajide, 26, Nigeria

Co-founder: Bridge Labs

Olajide co-founded Bridge Labs and has designed solutions in education, marketing, insurance and banking.

He has partnered with insurance companies to design technology that empowers brokers to have a stronger value proposition and offer more personalized products, worked with banks and credit unions to rethink credit scores by writing more inclusive algorithms driven by data and built learning platforms that enable teachers to make their content accessible outside the four walls of a classroom.

His wit and hard work have earned him many accolades, among them a Microsoft technology partnership, a $40,000 innovation prize at the annual SAB innovation awards and a United Nations recognition for best innovation in education to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Timothy Adeyele, 29, Nigeria

Founder: Optiweb Communications

Adeyele grew up poor. His father was a painter and his mother a petty trader. Getting food to eat was hard and they lived in one bedroom. His parents struggled to pay public school fees of just under $1.50 per term.

“I was usually sent out of school for not paying my fees. For every time I was sent out, I will go to a cybercafé that was close to my school to learn how computers work. The idea of being able to operate a computer was fascinating to me and I was very curious,” he says.

These frequent visits caught the manager’s attention.

“He then decided to teach me operations, which seemed to be the only thing he could teach me then. I enjoyed every bit of my free lessons with Mr. Ayo who I fondly called Uncle AY.”

The more he learned, the more curious he got. He had a dream to start a tech company.

He wanted more out of life. After his secondary education, he got admitted into a leading ICT institution in northern Nigeria. He struggled to sponsor himself through the training and dropped out. He moved to Lagos and took up a job as a cement store sales attendant. He used the little earnings to research about the technology space, send proposals and attend business meetings.

“I faced challenges at the point of setting up my business. From struggling to get my startup capital, pitching my ideas to various companies only to be told ‘no’ discouraged me at some point. In fact, I was ready to give up but something in me kept telling me to push on.”

He did until he got a breakthrough with a Globacom partnership to found Glo Mobile School, an interactive educational SMS platform that inspires students to learn outside traditional classes.

It opened the door for the birth of Optiweb, a digital and mobile solutions company that specializes in mobile educational solutions, digital content, social media solutions, specialized CRBT, contest & gaming, mobile insurance solutions, among other services.

Optiweb has won many awards including Etisalat’s Most Innovative Service Provider of the Year, 2016, Africa’s Most Innovative Digital Mobile Service Provider of the Year award and the African Brand Leadership Merit award, 2017.

The company has operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Ivory Coast.

Optiweb Communications also serves as the holding company to the many startups and foundations in Nigeria and abroad.

Maya Horgan Famodu, 27, Nigeria

Founder: Ingressive

Famodu founded Ingressive, a tech integration company that provides market entry services and tech research for corporates and investors.

“I launched Ingressive LLC to solve the funding pipeline, redirecting global focus and capital to the continent,” she says.

Famodu also founded Ingressive Capital, a multi-million dollar venture fund focused on early-stage African tech.

“We have worked with thousands of African tech-enabled youths. Our client list includes over 50 investors and technology companies. Our clients have gone on to fund more than 20 African startups. I have funded three high-growth African technology companies, and we’re continuing to invest now.”

Last year, several of their past clients and partners became investors in the fund, including Michael Seibel, CEO at Y Combinator; Jason Seats, Partner at Techstars; and Gbenga Oyebode, Founder of Aluko & Oyebode, among other top entrepreneurs and investors.

Ink Eze, 28, Nigeria

Founder: Aso Ebi Bella

Ink Eze is the founder of Aso Ebi Bella, an online community connecting traditional fashion enthusiasts with SMEs in the fashion, beauty and wedding industry primarily in Nigeria with growing interests across Africa and beyond.

This fashion tech startup has over 17 million organic weekly impressions, over 1.5 million followers across social media, while their platform, AsoEbiBella.com, has garnered over 600,000 page views in the last 11 months. The company has delivered campaigns and collaborated with Nigerian and international brands including Orijin, Renaissance (now Radisson Blu) Hotels and Unilever’s Sunlight detergent.

Obinna Okwodu, 27, Nigeria

Founder: Fibre

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Growing up, Okwodu spent a lot of weekends at building sites with his civil engineer father. He developed a love for real estate, went off to study at MIT where he was one of the co-founders of Exposure Robotics Academy, a six-week summer robotics training camp that teaches secondary school kids how to program robots.

After graduation, he worked with the real estate team at Morgan Stanley in New York before returning home to Nigeria.

“I found that the issue for most of middle class Nigerians was not solely one of availability of homes but that there was a big problem in terms of accessibility. It was very difficult to find homes to live in and it was also very tough to cough up two years’ worth of rent upfront,” he says.

In 2016, he founded Fibre, a real estate booking startup that allows middle-income tenants to rent homes and pay monthly. The company employs 11 people, have raised $630,000 in funding and have booked over a million dollars in tenant revenue.

 

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