Ever since I started IBG, I have had the exciting privilege of meeting many awesome women- women who stretch my imagination on the possibilities of life and ambition. I have also had the opportunity of reacquainting myself with women from my ‘younger’ years. And each time, I am always immensely excited by the success stories these women share. Ada Osakwe is one of such women. My claim to fame here is that Ada and I attended the same primary school. I have always felt a twinge of pride and communal accomplishment each time I hear of something amazing she has achieved (which is quite often).
Meet Ada Osakwe
Ada Osakwe is a 2016 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow and one of Africa’s Youngest Power Women, as defined by Forbes. She is also the Founder and Chief Executive of Agrolay Ventures- the firm responsible for bringing us famous products such as –Nuli Juice and Nuli Foods
Ada’s CV is an envy worthy repertoire of distinguished roles and positions from serving as the Senior Investment Adviser to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, to serving as Vice President at Kuramo Capital Management including her role as Senior Investment Officer, at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), and as an Analyst in BNP Paribas investment bank.
As with all our #WCW features, we go behind the veil of success to really understand the motivations and values which influence these women. In this exclusive interview, Ada gives us a glimpse into her motivations, challenges and successes. She also throws in advice which women entrepreneurs, anywhere, can and should imbibe.
IBG: Why do you do what you do?
AO: My passion drives me. I have such a strong conviction in the ability of Nigeria’s food sector to transform our economy. I want to put locally grown, locally processed food & beverage products on the shelves in markets around the world. I am driven by my desire to have a front row seat on the journey to making this happen.
As a Creative Food Entrepreneur, I am focused on adding value to our agriculture products over and above better farming and enhanced value-added processing. Instead, I go a step further to ensure that processed foods not just taste great, but look great too. Manufacturing food products is an art and it’s only once we realize this we can begin to reap the true benefits of this $2 trillion global industry.
IBG: What motivates you?
AO: Lots of things. But I believe what’s most important is my quest to live a life that is relevant, and it can only be relevant if I have found solutions to problems that make a difference in the world I live in.
IBG: How do you define success?
AO: Truly learning from failure.
IBG: What keeps you grounded?
AO: My faith in the Lord Jesus and knowledge that all I am, all that I have achieved, all that I will be, is only because of His grace and mercy.
IBG: What has been your biggest entrepreneurial challenge and how have you surmounted it?
AO: Failed business partnerships. I have gone into my entrepreneurial journey over the past year with the view to co-owning my businesses with others. Many people advise that partnerships are difficult, and even the statistics show that 65% of start-ups fail due to problems within the team. But there’s still such a positive side of having someone or a group of people you can share ideas with and build something great with, and I wanted this. Unfortunately, I’ve found that not being motivated by similar things, or having differing views about the direction a business will take quickly starts affecting relationships, and eventually, the business itself.
I’ve had to learn from these mistakes, and focus on doing things differently in the choices I make regarding who I share my dreams, how much of them I truly know. I’ve had to stay focused on achieving these dreams, in spite of these setbacks, and this is how I have pulled through.
IBG: What has been your biggest success?
AO: I’m grateful for the accomplishments in both my formal professional career and in my entrepreneurial life. I have worked so hard and made a lot of personal sacrifices. So far, my biggest success would be my recent decision to take a leap into owning my own business, and actually now being truly in control of my journey.
IBG: What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs?
AO: Remember, you’re special! You have a unique ability to remain steadfast, in light of challenges. So don’t ever get frazzled or easily dissuaded. Trust yourself and believe in your vision. Alway
s remember, you are special, so work it girl!!