Meet Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Helps Start-Ups Make Better Decisions
Here is my story
My name is Rilwan Akeyewale, I am a 29year old Techpreneur!
I spent my early life in south-west Nigeria, where I was raised by very enterprising parents who despite having no formal education ensured that I got an education.
As a youngster, I watched my father’s business thrive and grow, till he became one of the biggest distributors of bagged beans in our city then I watched him fail when he diversified his business into an area he knew next to nothing about. That was my baptism into the world of entrepreneurship.
Upon graduation from university, I cut my teeth working as an Audit and Assurance Associate with KPMG where I learnt a lot working on projects involving some global, regional and local business giants.
My Biggest Influences and Supporters
My dad influenced my business acumen at a very tender age. On weekends, I would accompany him to his shop at the Bodija market in Ibadan, where he had many staff and apprentices and I would dream endlessly of becoming a boss like him one day.
When I was around 8, I noticed that there were usually lots of bean seeds lying around his shop from waste during sampling or bagging. I would sweep up these seeds, clean them up and sell at cheap prices to the ‘akara’ seller on our street. It was a good business for the curious 8-year old that I was and my dad never discouraged me.
When my dad lost all his money in his second business venture, I was already a teenager and I understood why that happened. So when it was time for me to choose a career path, I chose to help entrepreneurs and investors like my dad make better-informed decisions with in-depth market research, professional business plans and bankable financial models that can help them minimise risks.
That burning desire was what birthed TechPlan Africa, Nigeria’s first Management Consulting firm for tech and tech-enabled start-ups.
To date, my parents, siblings, friends, and of course my big TEF family have been my greatest cheerleaders.
My Tony Elumelu Foundation Encounter
I first learnt about TEF when some of my friends joined the Foundation’s entrepreneurship programme and became alumni in 2015 and 2016 respectively. I became a TEF alumnus in 2017 and the opportunity gave me a deeper insight into what business really entails. The 12-week training, for example, was mind-blowing even for me who had management consulting experience. The TEF program gave me a sense of direction and my business an advantage among my competitors.
Armed with the deep insights from a network of over 5,000 entrepreneurs across Africa, my company has been able to provide business planning services to over 100 start-ups in the last one year.
My TEF Entrepreneurship Forum Experience
I have attended every TEF Entrepreneurship Forum since 2017. I volunteered as one of the organizers in the 2019 edition. The experience was and has always been awesome.
I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion that had Professor Akinwunmi Adesina of the AfDB talking about the willingness of the AfDB to take risks in African startups, and their openness to collaborations with organizations like mine. This is good news because our dream at TechPlan Africa is to partner with funding organisations like TEF, AfDB, as well as VC firms and Angel Investors, to connect the brilliant startups we work with to direct investment opportunities.
This way, the startups will be able to reach their full potential, changing the future of Africa, while creating many jobs in the process.
I became a World Economic Forum’s Agenda contributor in 2018, as an expert on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). I have since been quoted by international media platforms like VOA, Brookings, Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and AllAfrica.
Also, in 2018, I was a panelist at the World Youth Forum in Egypt, in a workshop that discussed “The Role of Startups and Entrepreneurs in Global Economic Growth”. I was also a discussant in the discussion tagged ” Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want”.
I am currently a Mentor at the African Entrepreneurship Award (funded by BMCE Bank, HQ in Casablanca, Morocco).
Earlier this year, I was contacted by one of the largest think tanks in Europe, Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB), to write an opinion piece on the AfCFTA. The opinion piece has been published in print, distributed and read in over 63 countries.
I have trained over 3,000 business owners and professionals in the last one year, helped our clients raise cumulative of over $1.5 million in investment for their businesses, our team has also grown to a 7-man team.
I have TEF to thank for setting up on a path for all these and what is to come.
We have operated in Nigeria, my home country for a few years now and the next steps would be to expand our horizon to other frontiers like Kenya and Egypt by 2022.
The rules I live by
- As an entrepreneur, you must know your market to serve it and anticipate its needs.
- You must encourage and appreciate your team, just as much as your clients.
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