The Jack Ma Foundation’s 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) competition has announced its top 20 finalists and a University of Ibadan alumnus Ifeoluwa Olatayo and two other Nigerians (Metro Africa Xpress (MAX) co-founder and Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Chinedu Azodoh; Soupah Farm-en-Market owner and Oluwasoga Oni, CEO of medical tech startup MDaaS) made the cut.
These three founders and entrepreneurs progressed into the top 20 from the round of 50 and will be representing Nigeria in the penultimate stage of the ABH competition.
The top 20 finalists also include two entrepreneurs from Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda and Senegal, and one each from Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Benin.
Ifeoluwa Olatayo studied English Language in the University of Ibadan from 2008 – 2012. The idea for Soupah Kitchen was birthed from Ifeoluwa’s shopping experiences at the famous Bodija Market. Ifeoluwa came to the University of Ibadan with an eye for opportunities. On a good day, she went to visit a friend in another dormitory when someone indicated they were going for shopping in Bodija Market. According to her, the other girls started giving her their shopping lists to help them shop. She said the drama piqued her curiosity and she offered to help them do the shopping. This scenario birthed the idea of Soupah Kitchen.
Her business model was selling ready to cook or semi cooked food like parboiled grounded tomatoes vegetable fish and all sorts which could be easily cooked in few minutes thereby saving time cost and stress for her clientele which comprised of students and lecturers who very well needed speed in cooking their foods.
She got support from the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), University of Ibadan. CEI supported her business in the University of Ibadan which saw her establishing 4 outlets of Soupah Kitchen on UI campus; at the Student Union Building (SUB), the Mini Mart (popularly known as black market in UI), at Queen Idia Hall and at Obafemi Awolowo Hall.
She scaled her business beyond the campus to non-members of the university community.
In her undergraduate days, she was able to represent the University of Ibadan in European-Nigerian Students Entrepreneurship Workshop organized by Oxford Brookes University, UK where she and her team won the most creative idea in business. She won a couple other awards representing the University of Ibadan.
In 2016 – 2017 she had started making and selling Soupah sachets ready to cook foods for different food products like leaf vegetable, okra, tomatoes and pepper.
Currently, her goal is to digitize food logistics, helping rural farmers source produce for urban retailers in a way that cuts of the myriad of middle men, thereby helping to reduce food costs for the final consumer.
Some of her other awards and wins include
- In 2019, she won the 2019 National MSME Award organised by the office of the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The award earned her an SUV: Hyundai Creta, N2 million cash and other gifts.
- She also won the Food Connection Challenge in 2019 which held at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Lagos, Nigeria.
- She was selected in 2019 as a Borlaug-Adesina Fellow by the World Hunger Fighters’ Foundation in partnership with the World Food Prize Foundation USA.
- In February 2020, she won the Chivas Ventures Local Pitch and will be representing Nigeria on the Global Stage. The win helped her secure a whopping $1 million in funds to help develop her business.
- She also a semi-finalist in the ongoing GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize 2020 for Young Agrifood Entrepreneurs to win a $50,000.
She is a staunch advocate for Food Security and she gets her hands in the mud in her attempts to reduce hunger by providing affordable food for consumers and also trying to stop wastage and a proud alumnus of the University of Ibadan.
Profiling the other two finalists of the Jack Ma Foundation’s 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH),
Chinedu Azodoh (MAX)
Chinedu Azodoh, along with Adetayo Bamiduro, founded MAX in 2015 to offer motorcycle ride-hailing services via its mobile app in Nigeria. He doubles as the company’s CGO.
We could see the numbers . . . I had a car but I couldn’t drive it. I was using public transport to go everywhere.Chinedu Azodoh on establishing MAX
Chinedu Azodoh on establishing MAX
He obtained a Master’s degree in Finance at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has worked as an analyst and developer at Barclays and Goldman Sachs.
In the same year, MAX was founded, he joined the Techstars New York Accelerator Program. Two years later, he led MAX as one of 20 leading startups in growth and development at the inaugural pan-African XL Africa Program and participated in Alibaba’s eFounders Program.
Chinedu appeared on the 2019 Forbes Africa 30-under-30 in Business and Technology after winning the LAComotion Mobility competition in the preceding year.
Oluwasoga Oni (MDaaS Global.
Oluwasoga Oni founded healthtech company, MDaaS Global together with Opeyemi Ologun, Genevieve Barnard Oni and Joseph McCord in 2016 to bring up tech-assisted diagnostic facilities in Nigeria.
Oluwasoga is a Systems Design and Management Fellow at the MIT Legatum Centre for Development and Entrepreneurship and had worked as a software engineer in Nigeria before going on to study in the United States.
Together with his partners, he set up a mass Covid-19 testing centre in Ota, Ogun state to collect swabs, test them at the labs and donate personal protective equipment. Last year, Oluwasoga raised over $1 million in a funding round led by Consonance Investment Managers, with the Fund for Africa’s Future, FINCA Ventures, Techstars, Greentree Investment Co and angel investors participating in the round.
Nigeria’s three representatives among the top 20 ABH 2020 finalists will be looking to get through the competition’s next stage as they compete for their share of the $1.5 million grand prize.