Shadi Sabeh’s Photo Blog
On the 12th December 2012, I became a part of the Tony Elumelu Foundation by receiving the Tony and Awele Elumelu Legacy Prize as the best performing M.Sc graduating student at Usman Dan Fodio University. Since then, my life has transformed for the better.
In the same year, I founded the Brilliant Footsteps Academy with 68 pupils and 23 staff. After a series of mentoring and capacity building opportunities from the Foundation, I was able to scale up to 512 pupils/students and 103 employees by 2015. Today, my dreams have been activated as I was opportuned to visit the United States of America based on the nomination/sponsorship of the Tony Elumelu Foundation for me to attend the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs Event held by President Barack Obama at the Whitehouse, Washington DC.
Here is a run-down of what happened:
Stepping into the United States of America
I was filled with anticipation as I stepped out of the British Airways flight to arrive in the United States of America. My itinerary had one main focus- to attend the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs event taking place at the White House. Beyond my wildest dreams!
Excited to be at the White House
As we waited for an entry permit into the White House, all the participating entrepreneurs from the across the world got a chance to meet each other for the first time. There was a clear sense of excitement in the air as we looked forward to hearing from President Obama and a host of global mentors and investors such as Julie Hanna, Tony Elumelu, Antonio Gracias, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.
Meeting Tony Elumelu: An Inspired Beginning
This historic moment of my life could not have started on a better note than meeting with Mr. Elumelu at the White House. As his mentee it was really awesome having the honour to have a warm handshake before moving into the venue of the event.
Listening to President Obama
The moment was finally here when the President of the United States walked into the venue to deliver his speech. We all paid rapt attention as President Obama challenged us to lead the development drive in our varying communities. This was not from the television or magazine, but face to face. The Tony Elumelu Foundation had given me (from far away Sokoto-Nigeria) the opportunity to listen to the President of the United States live in person. How Awesome!
The Nigerian Flavour
After the event, it was fulfilling taking a snap shot with Tony Elumelu who stood as the only Non-American to have participated in a panel discussion moderated by Secretary Penny Pritzker of the US Department of Commerce. By his side is Adepoju Jaiyeoba, another young Nigerian entrepreneur at the event.
Mentor and Mentee
The event was so fulfilling as I stood side by side my mentor in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House, exactly where Obama had just spoken. The opportunity to attend such an event is a spark in my career as an entrepreneur and I particularly remember the inspiring statement of Mr. Elumelu, “Dare to dream”.
At Georgetown University Listening to Mr. Elumelu
At the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, we listened to Mr. Elumelu talk on Entrepreneurship. He outlined a series of strategies and models that can spark entrepreneurship across the globe. He advised us to be focused, courageous and innovative. He also called on the 2015 graduating class of the Business School to be change agents by creating a future we all want to live in.
And I was recognised….
It was gratifying as Mr. Elumelu recognised me during his speech amidst many. That singular act boosted my networking power and made me as popular as can be. It expanded my international exposure and put me on track to discuss business ideas, models and proposals with entrepreneurs from across the globe.
A brief Stop-Over at the IMF and World Bank
As a University Lecturer, I have been teaching students in my Economics class about the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Today through the Tony Elumelu Foundation I have been opportune to visit the IMF and World Bank in Washington D.C.
Sights of Washington D.C
In all, this trip was a great learning curb for me, I left inspired, more confident than before with a new network of people that I intend to collaborate with in the future. As my first trip to Washington DC I also gained new perspective and culture- priceless!