When talking about the foremost female advocates of entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Adenike Adeyemi, CEO of Fate Foundation definitely gets a mention!
She shares a fundamental belief, as do most social entrepreneurs, that social entrepreneurship is about deploying business as a force for good.
Social impact entrepreneurship largely involves using business to solve major social and environmental problems and in Adeyemi’s case, tackle unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.
Though passionate about entrepreneurship, she reveals, in an interview with techbuild.africa, that she had not always set out in that direction.
“Though it wasn’t an intentional journey, everything I’ve ever done had prepared me for whatever the next stage is.”
From sociolinguistics to social entrepreneurship
With a background in Linguistics at Nigeria’s premier higher institution, the University of Ibadan, one might have expected that she’d pursue a career in Sociolinguistics (the study of language use in relation to all aspects of society, including cultural norms) or a related profession.
Instead, she took a different route and decided to pivot, transitioning into the entrepreneurial space rather than pursuing a Master’s degree in Sociolinguistics.
She acknowledges that the principles of Sociolinguistics were invaluable in that they helped her to engage people better, understand the social impact of whatever organization she’s in as well as the historical implications of present realities.
According to her, the experiences she garnered as an intern and subsequently as a Corps. member at WANGONet- a civic-tech social impact organization set up by her uncle- kindled her love for social entrepreneurship.
At a time when the glamour of banking jobs, telecoms, and other career options attracted job seekers in droves, she decided to pursue her newfound interest which she finds most rewarding.
Being at WANGONet afforded her the opportunity to explore what it means to work in an impact-focused organization with peers as well as experienced colleagues.
“For me, I was learning, I saw a huge impact, I saw progression, I saw a change, My time there was the best foundation for the career I have now,” she adds.
She is a stellar example that one doesn’t necessarily need so much experience to kill it, as long as they’re willing and committed enough to learn on the go.
In a bid to gain more expertise in designing and implementing strategies, and policies that accelerate entrepreneurship and high growth enterprises, she went on to bag a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s in Diplomacy and International Relations respectively.
Over the years, she has developed the ability to work with people, support them, identify where their gaps and needs are, and link them up with information and resources that would help them to expand and grow their businesses.
As the CEO of Fate Foundation, Nigeria’s leading non-profit organization that is on a mission to create wealth by providing entrepreneurship knowledge and support to people in Nigeria, she leads 45 innovative people and over 500 volunteers across Nigeria.
Talking about the impactful work her organization does, she says, “At Fate foundation, we use technology to enable entrepreneurs to expand, deepen their work, be more operationally efficient as organizations as well train them on the digital tools and knowledge that can enable them to become financially literate, reach more markets and improve their business model.”
In her capacity as the CEO, she also sees to it that the organization is agile and progressive.
In a world where one either evolves or dies, Adeyemi is steering the rudders of Fate Foundation, enabling the organization to remain innovative, adaptable, quick to understand, respond and react to the need of the evolving entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Under her experienced and innovative leadership, Fate Foundation has been able to raise about $5M in funding; rolled out programs with digital technology, one of which is msmehub.org, and has launched e-learning products.
With a deep love for sharing relevant knowledge on how entrepreneurs can develop needed capacity in building scalable and sustainable businesses regardless of their sector of interest, Adeyemi initiated the launch of twelve research publications and eight well-researched books on the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
On the subject of funding
She agrees that the problem around funding is a multidimensional one. According to her, one aspect is funding opportunities, as in monies being available and getting access to the available capital. She also explains that with regards to funding, there should be a clear understanding of various categories of entrepreneurs.
“We have different types of entrepreneurs. Because we have micro-entrepreneurs, MSMEs, startups, scale-ups in different sectors, that also means there has to be a diversity of funding. I think the funding space has sort of improved, but there needs to be funding that is representative of the different types of businesses that we have.
Another dimension is around the demographic perspective. That’s where the issue of the gender gap in funding comes up.”
To address this problem, she recommends, “We need to increase the ability of women to grow and ensure that they have funding and finance to grow as well as the financial literacy, knowledge, and empowerment to build investment-ready businesses.”
She also opines that investors need to be more deliberate about designing funds. Hence, funding should be considered from a sector perspective and from a business stage perspective.
Achievements so far
Prior to joining Fate Foundation, the organization only had programs with entrepreneurs in two states in Nigeria.
With Adeyemi under the helm of leadership, the organization has reached 180,000 entrepreneurs across 24 states. She has also expanded their programs such that Fate Foundation now offers nine signature incubator and accelerator programs.
She discloses that at some point in her career journey, she was selected as a member of Junior Achievement Nigeria. More recently, she’s a recipient of the 2020 Eisenhower Global Women’s Fellow honor.
Presently, Adeyemi sits on various boards including BudgIT Nigeria, and Youth Business among others. Like other inspiring women leaders, she dedicates her time, energy, and resources to mentoring and building the next generation of women entrepreneurs.
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