Making my presentation at the African Green Revolution Forum at African Union, Addis Ababa
The six finalist at Agribiz4Africa Competition:(from left to right): Kevin, Me, Peter, Fatimah, Larry, Nickson
With Sarah Wanjohi
My recent experience at the Agribiz4Africa Business Idea competition is one of the best things that has happened to me.
Yes, it was a thrill to have been part of the top 3 in the business idea category, to have made a presentation to top business leaders and government officials in agribusiness across Africa and to have sat for a panel interview with BBC’s Lareto Mbele at the African Green Revolution forum.
It was a dream come true. Indeed as Lupita Nyong’o said, “Our dreams are valid.”
Long before this happened, I had been speaking to my mirror, imagining myself speaking to a global audience.
This has taught me a lesson to dream, to believe, to have expectations and always prepare for my opportunities.
I believe no man is limited by his circumstances, our opportunities might not just have come. The words of Alexander Bell rings in my head, “A man, as a general rule owes very little to what he is born with – a man is what he makes of himself.”
I believe that the real success in life is not what you get but who you become in the process of pursuing success. Personal development and character growth is indeed a life shaping experience.
Trust me, I didn’t have it easy. Preparing for this competition took a lot from me. I thought the work was over until I got to Nairobi.
The training on communication from MediaEdge was simply amazing and pretty intense. I won’t be quick to forget Evelyn and Maureen. They poured a lot into us to sharpen our presentation skills.
I could speak but they added the finesse that was needed to ensure I communicated my message effectively.
There were days that were too intense, so much that I forgot the luxury of the accommodation and food.
Being a finalist was even more demanding, as we had a more rigorous training to present our ideas in a manner befitting of the audience at the African union.
I commend James, Lena, Simon and Nangala for that Monday training and brain storming that simply left our minds drained. I can remember waking up the following morning feeling so weak, foggy and tired. I just had to encourage myself to keep pushing on.
Nairobi is a beautiful city and I’m smitten. The city’s ambience is a thrill, a long departure from the chaos called Lagos. I was excited to see the president’s office appearing accessible. Our own Aso Rock is an impregnable fortress.
I also couldn’t believe Bata is still in Kenya and they have left Nigeria.
I had interesting hangouts at a fine restaurant called Carnivore. Oh those meats (Still salivating). A drive around the city, visit to malls, to the slums of Kibera were interesting sights.
Our government has got work to do to make Nigeria attractive for foreigners to stay and live in. I will be back in Nairobi soon. Jomo Kenyatta airport is so nice that it makes Muritala Mohammed Airport look like a dog pen in comparison. I could freely charge my phone and access WiFi (though at a cost).
Addis Ababa is a quiet city made alive by the African Union. Don’t think I’m longing to go back except for a meeting with Heads of States soon (smiles). Our dreams are valid. Remember!
In all honesty, the beauty of Ethiopian women compensated for the gloominess of the city. And they look a very patient people. I could observe that in the traffic and in their driving. Lagos boy like me was wondering why the drivers were not speeding or over-taking each other.
The weather pattern in Nairobi and Addis Ababa are similar. Always cold at night and you wake up in the morning with blocked or running nose. And it can be nice when it is sunny.
I feel like the Kenyans are family. I like the people. They are quite warm, friendly and reserved.
My Kenyan delight was Sarah Wanjohi, my good friend. Her careful editing of my slides and papers were really helpful. And she listened to me present just before I went to the judges. She fascinated me by her beautiful simplicity, sense of humour and quiet intelligence. I won’t be quick to forget the candour and stimulation of the conversations we shared. She is one of my strongest memories from my stay in Kenya.
Fatimah Ademoh, my Nigerian counterpart was great to be with. I learnt a lot from her, picking her brain during conversations. She is simply brilliant and has got great potential.
Jannath Baggar is my Kenyan sister. I won’t forget her warmth and friendliness. She was my number one fan all through the competition. I cherish our dancing together. I hope she won’t forget the dance steps.
Larry Keya is simply fun with his boyish confidence. I won’t forget his many quirks.
Kevin is the easy-going gentleman who printed business cards for me on his own tab. I enjoyed working with him and really appreciate him.
Nickson, the Agribiz4Africa winner was a humble and unassuming gentleman. He deserved to win.
Ayo Faloye, my Nigerian friend was a down-to earth and funny guy who could literally talk himself out of anything. He deserved to be called Mr. Eloquence. You just want to listen to him.
Peter is also one gentleman who has come a long way. I admire his courage and fighting spirit. Don’t stop believing in your dreams.
I also appreciate Tunde and Salisu for their love and encouragement while we had to stay back in Nairobi and at Addis.
My sincere gratitude goes to God for his grace, mercy and strength. I have that firm conviction that it is at his discretion that men are made great and given strength. His mercy and love humbles me every day especially in the past few months.
I have been weak, strong, helpless, deluded, hopeful, excited, depressed but you carried me through on eagle’s wings.
I want to appreciate Syngenta and Enactus Kenya team under the leadership of James Shikwati for giving me a great personal development experience, the best I have had so far. I commend their organizational skills in putting together a great training and competition. I’m still impressed.
James Shikwati, the country leader for Enactus Kenya is a quiet inspiration. He inspires leadership and a spirit of pan-Africanism. I learnt a lot from him especially about the virtue of honouring time.
Simon, our Project Manager had an admirable patience and friendliness. He did a good job managing us over the internet and in Nairobi, ensuring we were comfortable and cared for.
I also appreciate Joan, our chaperone from Syngenta. She ensured we didn’t miss our meals and were comfortable. She exuded warmth and calm in spite of the stress she was apparently going through.
I also fondly remember Evelyn, my speech trainer. Her feedbacks and friendliness were really helpful.
Lena, the Enactus Vice President from Washington DC was great in her invaluable feedbacks and contributions to ensure the finalist gave their best show at Addis Ababa.
I really appreciate my friend, Kolawole Talabi who put me up to this and ensured I participated. It all started with you. I’m grateful.
I appreciate Wale Ogunmilade for his assistance with Market research. Your help was invaluable.
Fisayo Durojaye and Comfort Osemwegie made invaluable contributions to the financials of my business plan.
My ever-supportive friend, my number one fan is Jesse Onomiwo. You always ensure I don’t quit and you look out for me like a brother. You are indeed a great friend.
My siblings, Lanre, Ayobami, Lolade, Tunde, Ramon and Zainab have made invaluable contributions to my life. Space will fail me to make mention of them. I love you all. Thank you for your constant love, support and encouragement. You were always the voice assuring me that I had great potential.
My mum, Mrs. Adeyemi deserves more than enough credit. She was the one who gave me the chance at life and that’s private. She has longed for these days and I’m glad she is seeing it. She is my queen and the best mum I can wish for. She has chosen to understand me when she could not. I know you would do anything for me Mum. Your sacrifices for me and warm love as your last child show it. I love you dear.
I appreciate my Aunt, Mrs. Fashoyin for her love, support and belief in me. She has been a mother to me indeed.
My cousin Tobi Fashoyin was a great help as I developed my ideas. His eagle eyes always wanted the fine details.
My dear friend and sister, Tinuke was helpful with the visas. I put her through awful lot. Thank you for your patience and warm reception in Abuja.
I also appreciate my ex-Bosses, Aruosa Osemwegie and Lanre Oniyitan. Your inputs while working with you have made me a better and stronger person.
To all my many mentors, friends and home fellowship members who have upheld me in prayer, I’m eternally grateful. You saw these times and you have encouraged me to be patient when it was dark.
I also want to thank the 34 participants at the Agribiz4africa for making it an interesting experience. You guys rock. I know there are greater things ahead of us all. Just ensure you keep striving. Don’t forget the words Ndidi Nwuneli Spoke to us about vision, passion, values and personal development. They are cardinal stones for the foundation of a great future.