For the seventh consecutive year, YNaija brings you its annual ranking of the most powerful young persons under the age of 40 who are getting things done in the brave new world of technology. From serial investors chasing the next big wave, to developers and communication leaders. These 10 are breaking all the boundaries.
Kola Aina is founding partner at Ventures Platform, a full-service innovation hub in Abuja that provides hybrid incubation programmes, residence for need-based cohorts, and a paid co-working space for freelance entrepreneurs and professionals. Ventures Platform has invested in a host of Nigerian startups, including Paystack, Printivo and Gerocare. An avid angel investor, Aina has worked in corporate finance and administration in another life. He serves on the Presidential Committee on Job Creation and is a mentor at the World Bank XL Africa program.
Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi
Online payment trends in Nigeria have been on the rise and Paystack – co-founded by Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi – is right in the thick of this growth. Over 17,000 business, both big and not-so-big, have so far trusted Paystack with their payment needs. This year, Paystack announced it has raised $8 million in a Series A round of funding led by Stripe, Visa and Tencent. The startup processes over 10 billion naira in monthly transactions every month. It should be mentioned that Akinlade and Olubi are building a company culture that prioritises staff welfare.
Omolara used to head JumiaPay Nigeria’s operations as country manager until last month when she joined SureGroup as managing director. SureGroup is a group of companies providing retail solutions around digital retail vouchers. SureGroup companies include SureGifts which provides shopping vouchers for gifting and rewards, SureRemit, a voucher-based international remittance powered by cryptocurrency and SureCredit, convenient voucher loans for regular income earners. Awoyemi’s brief is to deepen the adoption of giving and gifting through gift cards in Africa.
As far as Lagos state is concerned, Tosin Faniro-Dada may be the most important woman in tech. A certified accountant and former finance analyst, Tosin Faniro-Dada joined the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) as the head of strategy & partnerships. She currently heads Lagos Innovates, LSETF’s program for tech startups and innovation-driven enterprises. Faniro-Dada oversees a set of programs aimed at encouraging successful tech startups in Lagos. Lagos Innovates helps founders and startups by facilitating access to quality workspaces and infrastructure, learning, early-stage investment capital and investor and peer networks.
An accomplished athlete and professional polo player, businesswoman and investor, Neku Atawodi-Edun packs so many lives in one. In the tech space, she serves as Country Director for the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a not-for-profit that invests in and trains African entrepreneurs, with an aim to create Africa’s next tech entrepreneurs and provide jobs for the continent. She holds a Masters degree in International Business from the European Business School.
Odunayo Eweniyi isn’t 25 yet, but she’s built a tech company from scratch. Twice. Fresh from University, Eweniyi joined a team that started Sharphire global, the company behind Frontdesk and PushCV, two products that solve real-time job recruitment problems for both employers and employees. What she did next? Co-create Piggybank.ng, a platform that makes saving possible through a combination of discipline and flexibility. Eweniyi is the chief operating officer at Piggybank.ng and has guided the company to raise $1.1million in seed investment, not to mention a savings growth of 3000% between 2016 and 2017.
A serial entrepreneur and creative, Sanusi Ismaila is the founder of CoLab, Kaduna’s first co-working space and innovation hub. CoLab opened for business in 2016 and promotes gender parity by encouraging female tech enthusiasts to practice for free. This communal space has stimulated Kaduna’s budding tech scene. Ismaila runs two tech companies: Precognition and PrecogMedia. At Precognition he provides businesses with bespoke technology solutions to pressing problems. At Precogmedia,- an offshoot of his hobby, Techsuplex—one of the leading Nigerian technology sources). Ismaila creates media content for millennial Africans.
A former technical trainer with Andela, Prosper Otemuyiwa is an avid open source advocate, performance expert, trainer and a Google Developer Expert in web technologies. He is a full stack software engineer who has worked on biometric, health and developer tools. Otemuyiwa recently joined the San Francisco-based Meteor Development Group as a developer advocate. He is a co-founder of forLoop Africa, Laravel Nigeria and Angular Nigeria, all developer communities that are spreading the gospel of software development in and outside Nigeria.
After graduating from Covenant University, Maria Rotilu worked at Deloitte Consulting and at Uber – as country manager – before joining Branch International, a financial technology company that provides services to underserved citizens. A UK certified chartered accountant, Rotilu leads the Nigeria and West Africa operations of Branch and has unlocked financial access to customers around the region, overseeing the company’s disbursement of over 100 thousand loans in Nigeria. Branch has operations in Kenya, Tanzania, India and Mexico.
It takes a lot of balls, brains and brawn to invest in Nigerian startups. Olumide Soyombo has been doing that for a while and winning. His company, LeadPath Nigeria, a seed capital fund that specialises in providing funding to small and medium-sized start-up businesses in high growth technology areas such as software, web and mobile technologies have racked a couple of wins including Paystack, Piggbank.ng and Fashpa. As co-founder, Soyombo has grown the business from two employees to one with over 80 consultants spread across Lagos, Accra and Lusaka.