By Ethelbert Obinna Umeh
We had an exclusive chat with one of the few entrepreneurs in Africa; Adepeju Jaiyeoba. She was one of the prominent 2014 YALI fellows.We have decided to celebrate her this month, because of her sterling achievements.
During the presidential summit with YALI fellows, President Barack Obama recognised and appreciated her passion for mother’s delivery kit. Adepeju is a paragon of excellence, a woman of uncommon prowess and a true African feminine entrepreneur.
She has touched thousands of lives through her Brown Button Foundation. Below are excerpts from our encounter:
1. Tell us about your life and academic background
I was born into the family of Mr and Mrs Mabadeje as the second of five children. I had my primary school education at Unique Children School, Ikeja, Lagos, my secondary school at Federal Government College Ogbomosho, Oyo State before proceeding to the Obafemi Awolowo University, ile Ife, Osun State, where I studied Law. After this, I went on to study Global Change Leadership at the Coady International Institute in Canada as well as studied Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin.
2. Why have you decided to engage yourself with humanitarian work?
My desire to create a change in the health sector especially as it affects rural communities drove me to work in the humanitarian sector.
3. You participated in YALI 2014. Tell us about your experience and what made you happiest?
YALI 2014 remains a very high point of my life and the experience as well as opportunities it presented is beyond words. I met African fellows from other countries who were passionate about building a Stronger and better Africa. We collaborated on projects, discovered new ways of doing things and built a relationship that has lived beyond the lifespan of the program. Recognition of the work I do by President Obama at the presidential summit with fellows made me the happiest. Such recognition remains a motivating factor urging me to do more for the community I serve.
4. If you had all the resources you need, and the capacity to do anything you wanted with your time, and talents, what would you do?
Help other young African achieve their dreams and potentials. It's what am really passionate about because I know that we can only build the Africa of our dreams through joint efforts of people working towards similar goals.
5. What is your greatest fear about the world?
That the world would never be able to close the gap between rural communities and urban centres.
6. Are there major disappointments and failures you have experienced in your career?
Absolutely! In building a business, organisation or social enterprise, disappointments are just one of the normal things that occur. Sometimes things don't always come out the way you dream or imagined they would. You have to listen to your market and the people you serve so you can make amends quickly.
7. What are your biggest strengths?
My ability to sustain my passion and the energy that comes with it, so much that I'm quick to rise about challenges and disappointment to immediately start finding a way out.
8. If you were privileged to solve one big problem in the world, what will it be?
Increase economic empowerment by promoting education so that the gap between the rural communities and cities can begin to close up.
9. Do you think Africa has enough female entrepreneurs?
Absolutely NOT! I think Africa has a dearth of female entrepreneurs and I also believe that there are many women out there with dreams of becoming great entrepreneurs. All they need to do is to believe in themselves.
10. What legacies do you want to leave behind after your existential sojourn?
I want to be remembered as one whose innovation gave women the opportunities to watch their babies grow and babies, the chance to live out their potential. I want to be remembered as one who spurred Africa's young entrepreneurs to action!
11. What is your advice to other young people in Africa and around the world who are getting inspired by your work?
Let's share the knowledge and inspiration with others so they can be fired up too and help contribute towards building the great Africa we desire.
12. Overall, what have been your regrets in life?
Can't think of any. Everything that should actually be a regret has ended up being a learning curve to make me a better person.
13. How do you want to spend the remaining years of your life?
Focusing on my social venture, Mothers Delivery Kit. Focusing on building Africa's youth and spurring then to action.
14. Thanks for spending your time with us!
Thank you too for having me on your platform.