A young-world revolution is unfolding before our eyes, rupturing the idea that only experience can change the world. Increasingly, young people are participating actively in all aspects of human life, and changing the way we think, look and do what we do.
At YNaija, we know these stars from across Nigeria – the decision-makers, changemakers, and influencers breaking boundaries in Nigeria; and we’ve made it our duty annually, to celebrate them over the last nine years. In delivering this year’s edition, we have worked with an eminent jury to review and ensure it remains truly ‘powerful.’
Abubakar Sadiq Falalu
Abubakar is the founder of Falgates, a company that farms and mills rice.
Falgates’ rice milling facility has a capacity of 15 tons per day with a total annual capacity to produce more than 5,000 metric tonnes and a variety of rice products. The company employs over 30 people in Kaduna and over 150 people at their anchored farms in Niger and Kebbi.
Falalu saw an opportunity to make money when he realised 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. “I always had an interest in farming, I remember writing in our high school’s yearbook under feature ambition that I wanted to be a farmer,” he says.
The passionate farmer who has always been a lover of farming, is very hardworking and vibrant in his bid to continue investing in Nigerian youths and the economy. Falalu has been recognised as one of Africa’s most promising young business people in Forbes’ Under-30 List among numerous awards.
Iyin was instrumental in founding Flutterwave and Andela, as well as seeing to the phenomenal growth of both.
And while he understands that the subject of funding is nearly always top of mind in Nigerian startup and venture spaces, he focuses his time on venture capitals across Africa and the growth of the tech ecosystem.
Iyin launched the Future Africa Collective, as he looks to democratise the opportunity of investing in African tech startups for younger interested investors. The model will see the collective search for startup investment opportunities and offer investors, who join, a chance to invest.
He is the founder of The Fund for Africa’s Future (also known as Future Africa) – a people powered innovation fund that provides capital, coaching and community to mission driven innovators turning Africa’s biggest challenges into business opportunities.
He is passionate about partnering with missionary talent and capital to build an African future. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree and a member of Nigeria’s Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council.
Timothy is a creative, vibrant, innovator and serial entrepreneur with keen business strategies.
The CEO of Optiweb – an innovative Digital and Mobile solutions company that specializes in bringing valued innovation to consumers and businesses in African regions, is best described as a result-oriented innovator and phenomenal business leader. He is also the Executive Director, Opticomm Media, Executive Chairman, Tim Homes Nigeria Ltd., Executive Director, Tim Farms Nigeria Ltd. And Chairman, Vantage Crown Trust Company.
He is passionate about youth development in mental health, technology/STEM and entrepreneurship at large. He gives his support to youth across Africa through the Tim Adeleye Foundation for Africa (TAF).
Tim is passionate about youth development in mental health, technology/STEM and entrepreneurship at large. He gives his support to youth across Africa through the Tim Adeleye Foundation for Africa (TAF).
He is, indeed, one of the African Agents of change.
Sandra Uleyi Itu
Sandra is a certified fashion stylist from the University of Arts, London College of Fashion and School of Style, Los Angeles, California.
She is the founder and CEO of Leyi Ush, a fashion brand that offers opportunities to emerging and established African fashion brands.
With an influential clientele base spanning over the years, Sandra has provided unique styling services both home and away to media houses, public figures, celebrities and the average working-class man and woman.
In 2019, Sandra was nominated as a mentor for the Youth Empowered Nigeria Workshop, by the Nigerian Bottling Company, in which her team emerged as winner of the business plan investor pitch.
In 2020, Avance Media named her one of the 100 Most Influential Young People of 2019.
Sandra is passionate about African Fashion, because it resonates more with the African persona; our struggles, wins and innovative minds.
Ogechukwu Alexis Obah
Ogechukwu kicked off her business in 2014 and in 5 years emerged the winner of the Next Titan, an entrepreneurial reality show with over 50,000 applicants
She was listed on Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in the Business Category in July 2019, and won the 2019 Nigerian Entrepreneurs Award for Most Enterprising Personality of the Year.
Her Skincare and cosmetics brand, Bodylikemilk has grown, phenomenally, and is one of the few Nigerian-owned beauty companies, with foot prints in more than four West African countries.
She skin-care entrepreneur has an academic background in Business and Marketing, in case you are wondering how she has become one of the prominent faces of African entrepreneurship.
We all pass through that defining moment, when we make big decisions that affect our near and far future. Helen decided at an early age to redefine luxury in Africa and understood that playing with dolls and playing dress-up meant something very different to her.
So, playtime became an expression of style and creativity where she would channel her talents through ideas generating fabrics and trims. It never occurred to her that she would want to do anything else but be a fashion designer.
Helen is an inspiration to all young and aspiring entrepreneurs. She started her fashion career at 18, and since then, with Helen Couture, she has grown in leaps and bounds.
Helen Couture is known for her uniquely tailored, sophisticated, exquisite and timeless fashion pieces, with outlets in Dubai, Los Angeles, London, and Lagos.
She was listed on the Creative list of the 2019 Forbes Africa 30 under 30, and continues to take the world by storm.
Chioma, the serial entrepreneur is CEO, Good Hair Limited, an international premium hair extension brand with a client base that’s spread all over the globe, including countries like the US, Russia, Sweden, Jamaica and the Middle East. She is also head honcho at Brass & Copper Lifestyle and Next by Good Hair.
Chioma, who is famous for assisting female-owned start-ups with seed capital in collaboration with The Women International on the platform of her monthly ‘Fund My Start-up’ initiative, has clinched numerous recognitions for her work and passion.
On why she supports women to also be great entrepreneurs, she says, in an interview with Vanguard, “I’ve always encouraged female enterprise and most of my mentees are female. So, I’m much more familiar with their struggles. I also believe that women have it a lot harder when it comes to raising capital due to the usual stereotypes and expectations of women. Some men also try to exploit their situation. Thus, we felt the urge to take on women first at least.”
Kola is an entrepreneur, technology operator and investor with vast experience working in Africa’s largest economic market.
His prior entrepreneurial experience spans several sectors including venture capital, technology, media, agriculture, infrastructure, publishing and real estate.
Kola has lead investment in about 28 companies including Payments company; Paystack, Connectivity company; Tizeti, Healthcare company; MDaaS and the Agric-tech company; Thrive Agric.
He is a founder partner of early stage African VC firm, Ventures Platform – a leading early stage African VC fund that provides founder friendly capital and support to early stage companies in a framework that is buoyed by corporate governance and hands-on support.
Kola is a leader in the African startup and investing ecosystem, a Ted speakes, volunteers his time advising founders and speaking at events.
Evans is a Product Manager with hands-on experience collaborating with agile teams to deliver digital web platforms and products across multiple industries.
Over the past 8 years, he has been working across functions in product design and management, UI/UX design, visual design, design thinking, market research, wireframing, prototyping, user research, brand storytelling, business development, marketing, analytics and growth as part of innovation teams.
He has been listed by Forbes 30 under 30 and has won The Future Awards Africa prize for Creative Professionals.
In 2018, he founded another tech platform, Farmkart, which enables people to bank in agriculture by investing in fish farming. In the same year, he also launched Acts of Random Kindness, Cregital’s CSR initiative to give back to the community.
Evans has continually shown an entrepreneurial spirit, notwithstanding the adverse conditions. He continues to inspire.
Ogwa’s foray into the fashion designing and manufacturing has gone over the 15 years mark. Talk about the Fashion-Socialpreneur, Author, Content Creator, and Coach whose vision has always put Nigeria on the map as the hub where fashion meets innovation.
In her quest to achieve her goal, she founded Runway Abuja, a fashion show that infuses culture, with fashion, and music. This unique concept has had several successful and consecutive runs promoting the unison of fashion designers across Abuja on one platform.
Using herself as a catalyst for the promotion of Fashion, she has created a web series called ‘Fashion in the City’ where Ogwa captures different looks inspired by various sceneries in Abuja, Dubai, Abidjan amongst others
As the Creative Director of Dzyn Couture, Ogwa leads a team of talented designers to create an array of versatile pieces that appeal to the style of every woman. From ready to wear pieces to bespoke designs, Dzyn prides itself on its versatility, comfortability and most importantly affordability. Frequently participating in Lagos and Arise Fashion Week, Dzyn Couture has seen tremendous growth across Nigeria and notably recognised for their unique prints and statement pieces.
As a Socialpreneur, Ogwa is an advocate for supporting “Made in Nigeria” brands and has created platform to educate aspiring designer through her Fashion business strategy class called Fashion for Profit. The initiative was birthed to change the misconceptions about the fashion industry, and encouraging those with a passion and aspiration to be a fashion brand to change their dreams and make it a reality.
Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi
Olawale is an agripreneur, recognised young leader in Africa’s agriculture sector.
He is the founder and CEO of JR Farms Limited (registered in Nigeria and Rwanda) – an agribusiness in Africa determined to transform Agriculture in Africa by undertaking opportunities for growth and business that will engender sustainable food production and increased incomes for farmers in Africa.
JR Farms has agribusiness operations in Nigeria (Cassava value chain), Rwanda (Coffee value chain), and Ivory Coast (Cocoa Value Chain) respectively.
Olawale champions Agric initiatives with social impact such as Inmates Farming Scheme – for Nigerian prisoners; low interest farmers’ cooperatives supporting 93 farmers in Nigeria and over 500 cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast.
Olawale’s initiatives continue to create jobs for young Nigerians and help in the diversification agenda.
Maryam Ali Adamu
Maryam established Aljism Skincare Products to address her own skin problems. Now, Aljism Skincare is a 100-percent organic skincare products company that targets major skin issues.
“I used to have skin problems like acne, spots, discolouration and sunburn. I decided to study skincare after my masters in Law in England in order to find a solution to my own skin problems. Shortly after my two and a half years programme, I was able to start my own skincare line, using everything I learnt and it has been success story so far,” she stated.
The wife of Yusuf Gidado Idris, son of the former Secretary to Government of the Federation during the General Sani Abacha regime set aside her Law degree to pursue two main objectives – making women attractive and empowering them to change the narrative about Northern Nigerian women.
She is one of the few ladies from northern Nigeria who have gone deep in the skincare products business. An inspiration and role model to many young upcoming Entrepreneurs in and outside Nigeria, she has also helped a lot of people restore their confidence through her organic skincare products and guided others to become successful entrepreneurs.
Maryam says she is in the business to also break gender stereotypes.
Oluyomi is the man making printing a seamless process for SMEs, corporations and the general public, through Printivo – disrupting the Nigerian printing industry by putting the power to design in the hands of everyone, offering businesses and individuals efficient printing expertise with a wide range of designs.
He started off his career as an intern at Richbrands Ltd as an art director before proceeding to set up Urbanbaze Designs.
The Art Director has worked on brand communication strategy with the likes of Honda, Etisalat, Pfizer Africa and in 2019, Printivo was awarded by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as one of the Top 100 African companies to inspire Africa.
Printivo launched a new line of ecological packaging and promotional products targeted at micro-businesses, SMEs, and large corporations in a bid to be ecologically friendly and create a sustainable branding service line.
Gossy is the Founder of the Beni American University, BAU, R&D and President of EduTech an education technology company focused on helping African universities take their on-campus degree programs online through the implementation of the very best of technology.
He is also the Chairman of Alistair Maine Group. AMG delivers top quality lifestyle, hospitality and leisure experiences centered on the shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean, Creeks and Lagoons in Nigeria and currently serves as the Managing Director of BetKing.
Gossy has worked with African governments on the development of policies to assist in creating better access, quality and relevance of learning in higher education institutions.
Dr Ola Brown
Dr. Ola Orekunrin is a medical doctor, helicopter pilot and the healthcare entrepreneur founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria; the first air operated Emergency medical services in Lagos, Nigeria.
Flying Doctors have 20 aircraft and 44 doctors, and offer their services at major events in Nigeria, as well as offer insurance to wealthy companies and families in the country. Dedicated to bringing trauma care to the most remote parts of Western Africa and her company, the air ambulance service based in Lagos, is doing just that.
She was motivated to start the company after her younger sister tragically died in the absence of no medical air service available to transport her to hospital. The Doctor believes that improvements in her country’s position in the world will result from the action of entrepreneurs and not the government.
Brenda is the Founder of Momentswithbren, an organisation that provides a suite of helpful academic opportunities, career development tools and free resources for individuals to connect with their communities, support a culture of innovation, and promote a vision for self-determined learning that is learner-centered, forward-thinking, and designed to meet the vast needs of today’s learners.
As a mark for true leadership, Brenda purposefully creates opportunities for the growth of those around her, both personally and professionally. She has worked with students around the world throughout their career pathways and college admission with a record of $8.2 million fully-funded scholarships, graduate funding and tuition fee waivers, and also securing over 600 jobs.
As a Grant Writer, Brenda has worked with organisations to help them access funding of $1.2 million. Brenda’s interests are in Educational Equity, Information Literacy, Decent work Opportunities, Laser Coaching and Behavioral Psychology.
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram