#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY: Olufemi Omotayo

olufemi

Olufemi Omotayo, Social Entrepreneur & multiple award-winning Journalist/Blogger

Although I had been busy with my initiatives prior to the SIP fellowship, my selection and participation accelerated my activities. I was able to redesign my website and it now attracts even more visitors. Also, my organisation has been able to partner with 3 local businesses and cater to 52 startup founders.

My name is Olufemi Omotayo. I am a Social Entrepreneur and multiple award-winning Journalist/Blogger with expertise in technology and entrepreneurship writing. I hold an MSc degree and I’m a member of the HDPC Youth Sub-committee of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). I volunteer to speak, mentor, facilitate, coordinate and judge in youth initiatives in Nigeria. I founded EntrepreNEWS to share entrepreneurship resources and the Young Startup Network (YSN) to support young entrepreneurs.

Although I was born in Lagos, I spent part of my childhood in Kwara State. Involuntarily, I ended up becoming a “village boy” when my mother took me for an occasion as a 4-year-old and her sister-in-law (my dad’s oldest stepsister) decided to “adopt” me. Growing up in the village certainly had interesting episodes. My earliest memories include qualifying to start schooling by placing my right hand over my head to touch my left shoulder. And as one of the brilliant pupils, I had special relationships with my teachers all through the primary school. I finally reunited with my parents in 1991, which began my new orientation and relationships. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, I made friends from other tribes. So far, I’ve traversed 17 states across Nigeria and my wife is from Akwa Ibom State.

My decision to become an entrepreneur started in August 2011, after attending a job fair that got me very disturbed due to the large number of unemployed graduates it attracted. Immediately, I saw the need to create a solution that will provide entrepreneurship resources for young Nigerians. After contemplating for a while, I resigned my employment to start EntrepreNEWS without much capital. It coincided with the birth of my daughter and everyone thought I was crazy. But after 3 years, EntrepreNEWS is supported by entrepreneurship institutions and circulates in 12 Nigerian states. It has also earned me several accolades and rewards.

EntrepreNEWS is a newspaper type journal with a complementary online platform that provides information, education, inspiration, and empowerment for entrepreneurs. It appeals to a broad readership of governments, corporate organizations, SMEs, Startups, and Individuals (the employed, underemployed and unemployed).

Online, we have an average daily visit of 7,319 and 21,042 current subscribers. Offline, we produce 3000 copies per edition and circulates in 18 states across Nigeria. We also have paying advertisers and subscribers.

The impact of EntrepreNEWS birthed Young Startup Network (YSN), a social enterprise committed to reducing the death rate of startups in Nigeria. It is a response to the challenges many early stage entrepreneurs face in getting their ideas off the ground. It incorporates business advisory, mentoring, networking and opportunity sharing. Our targets are young people with business ideas.

Apparently, someone who has followed my work decided to nominate me for the LEAP Africa Social Innovators Programme (SIP)  in 2014. And I was shortlisted. Sometime later that year, a member of the LEAP SIP team contacted me to confirm my acceptance of the fellowship and I did. The rest, as they say, is history.

I found that 19 other young Nigerians had been selected for the fellowship. After confirming our acceptance, we were confirmed for a week-long workshop at the magnificent facilities of FirstAcademy in Iganmu, Lagos. The general elections in Nigeria ensured that the workshop dates had to be postponed to April 19 to 25, 2015. But it was worth the wait.

For five days, 16 young Nigerian change agents, innovators and social entrepreneurs came from different parts of the country for the training programme. Four of them could not be physically present due to other commitments, yet they ‘participated’ with their colleagues from a distance through various social media channels.

Being part of the 2015 SIP workshop was a great experience. The quality of training personnel LEAP Africa assembled made this so. Starting with the coordinator of the event, Asuquo Asuquo, every one of the facilitators proved their expertise in the various subjects.

LEAP’s volunteer, Jennifer Pearse was courteous. She kept contact touch with the fellows and gave directions to the venue, somewhat located in a hidden part of the bustling Lagos. Indeed, it was an avenue for others associated with LEAP Africa to render their service as a former staff and lead facilitator, Oje Ivagba took the participants on a journey of self- discovery, revealing the possibility of blind spots about oneself. Others included Osayi Alile, Jide Adeyemi, Sola Adewumi, Henry Ononiwu, Ndifreke Okwuegbunam, and Dayo Oluwole who led the class into engaging development sessions.

Without a doubt, the workshop achieved its aim, as the Fellows actively engaged in all the classes, asked relevant questions, did the activities, participated in exercises and completed all surveys. After the strategy session with Ademide Adefarasin, a representative of Accenture on the last day of training, I was able to set new goals for my initiatives from there on.

In June 2015, we created “WHAT CAN STOP YOUR STARTUP?” survey that attracted hundreds of feedback from across Nigeria and other parts of the world. EntrepreNEWS also supported the leadership of Final Year Committee of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union on August 22nd as it organised an entrepreneurship event for its final year students.

From September 15th to 24th, 2015 we travelled with the AMPION Venture Bus that toured 5 West African countries. And on November 12 2015, LEAP held its annual Social Innovators Awards in Abuja and I was named one of the three outstanding Fellows of the previous Fellowship year.

Although I had been busy with my initiatives prior to the SIP fellowship, my selection and participation accelerated my activities. I was able to redesign my website and it now attracts even more visitors. Also, my organisation has been able to partner with 3 local businesses and cater to 52 startup founders.

#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY 

Have you attended our programmes? Do you have an inspiring story to share? Send an email to info@leapafrica.org. We’ll love to hear from you!

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