2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Echika Obijiaku, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Echika Obijiaku

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford

“I’m an actuarial and finance professional turned entrepreneur; the Founder and CEO of Mwanga helping Africans better manage their debt using technology.”

Hometown: I hail from Imo State in Nigeria. Grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Currently living in Oxford, UK.

Fun fact about yourself:  I love dancing, and quite a good dancer too if I do say so myself.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Sciences from the University of Lagos, Akoka, Nigeria. I am also certified with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, ACCA.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I’m currently the Founder and CEO of Mwanga, a technology enabled Business Processing Outsourcing start-up that I founded in 2018. We help high growth businesses as they scale support, ethical tele-collections etc. and engage over 300k customers monthly. Our ambition is to enable a healthier credit system in Nigeria, we aim to get at least 10 million Africans out of debt by 2030 leveraging technology and innovation.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? I did not need to intern as I was working full time in my start-up Mwanga

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll continue building Mwanga and exploring new and exciting ways to achieve my vision of building for impact on the African continent. The MBA has been transformative in the process of exploring what that looks like, and I am quite excited for what will come as a result.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Here are some of my roles, awards and honors:

  • Co-chair for the Oxford Africa Business Alliance: I am one of two co-chairs leading the Oxford Africa Business Alliance which is a platform that drives the Africa Initiative of the Said Business School
  • Skoll Foundation Scholar for MBA’23-24 Set with the University of Oxford, Said Business School: This scholarship is giving by the Skoll Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Skoll Foundation
  • Laidlaw Scholar for MBA’23-24 Set with the University of Oxford, Said Business School: This scholarship is giving by the Laidlaw Foundation
  • Forte Fellow 2023: Awarded based on being a scholar with one of the top global institutions
  • Ambassador for Nigeria -Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation (WEDO): I am one of three ambassadors for Nigeria with WEDO, a global organization in 100+ countries focused on educating, empowering, celebrating and supporting women
  • Top 100 Women in Business Recognition by the Power Women Network
  • Top 15 female-led startups to watch out for in 2023:
  • Global Advisory Board Member, Mentor & Facilitator with Steering for Greatness Foundation: A movement with a goal to make quality, innovative and relevant education easy to access for teenagers and young adults.
  • Lead, Volunteer Management at The Bloom Story Organisation: A not-for-profit initiative organizing annual gatherings from various orphanages and underserved communities serving 1,000+ children so far.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Completing the Impact Lab – This is a co-curricular course that I got admitted into during the Michaelmas term. The lab is an impact leadership programme that supports University of Oxford students who are committed to having an impact-driven career. It is run by the Skoll Centre for Entrepreneurship and empowers transformative mindsets around impact. I am so proud of the conversations we had in the classes, the immersive retreat, the story telling skills I have built and most importantly a renewed mindset towards impacts and systems change.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Building a completely bootstrapped business as a solo female founder in Africa has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding things I have ever done. It’s been over 5 years, with a team of over 70+ members engaging over 300,000 customers weekly. It has been an incredibly difficult and lonely journey, but it’s also one I’m incredibly proud of what we were able to achieve given incredibly limited resources and funding.

Why did you choose this business school? To achieve the goal to get 10 million people out of debt in 2030, I needed to join a network of like-minded social impact-focused change makers who could be collaborators, resource channels, knowledge portals, and a support system to empower me to achieve this feat and more.

The Said Business School at University of Oxford was my first and only choice for an MBA because of its rich curriculum, experienced faculty, and impactful communities like the Skoll Centre. Building a global impact-led business, it was a no-brainer that this is where I needed to be and I am super excited to be one of the Skoll and Laidlaw scholars for such a renowned institution with one of the best impact communities in the world.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have met so many insightful professors during the MBA but Timothy Gallpin tops the charts so far. He is one of the lecturers that take the course “Strategy” in Hilary term. During his classes, he showed an exceptional practice of classroom management ensuring that many students engaged in discussions. He also taught the theoretical aspects by sharing practical scenarios. As a founder, listening to his class made a lot of theoretical concepts practical as part of his delivery.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? The entrepreneurship project is the one of the most interesting so far. Aside from being aligned to my current state of being an entrepreneur, I would say Thomas Hellman and the rest of the teaching team have gone through tremendous efforts in sharing practical approach to entrepreneurship in an academic context. It’s incredibly useful for first time or current founders looking to engage an idea from first thought to product or service launch. Each module is rich and the lecturers have a great command of the topic. In addition, I was able to gather a great team for EP and got matched to Laurence Krieger as a tutor. These are some of the many benefits of doing an MBA in a school that is keen on impact and entrepreneurship. The university brings so much learning opportunities which leaves you to take good advantage of it as much as you can.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? It will be the formal dinners. It is truly an interesting experience – the ambience, camaraderie, community of your fellow course mates soaked in the history and tradition of Oxford is a sight to behold.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? This one thing will be to be more intentional about visiting other colleges. This is because the history of the school and Oxford lies behind the stories from these buildings and most importantly the people. This also opens a unique opportunity to spend time with colleagues from various colleges and other courses at Oxford to build meaningful, diverse long-lasting friendships with the short tenure of the MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Oxford is very big on impact” – I am proud of how the school imbibes impact in its curriculum and events. With relevant collaboration with the Skoll Centre of Entrepreneurship, Creative Destruction Lab, Entrepreneurship Centre, SDG Impact Lab, and others, the school immerses itself in activities and provisions that affect systems change and this affects the mindset of the students in the long-term making them some of the prominent global system change agents.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The beautiful ancient buildings, the lovely meadows and the peaceful city in general.

What surprised you the most about business school? I would not really say surprised, but I was more excited to see how supportive the school and cohort is towards people’s experience and goals.it is also one of the most diverse MBA programs in the world. Oxford is a gift that keeps on giving and a safe place for you to be vulnerable enough to explore and create impact. You can literally find almost all you need during your time here. That includes the agile careers team, Skoll Centre, the faculty, Oxford seed fund, and amazing people. Whatever you might be optimizing for, Oxford seems to have something in its curriculum, extra-curriculars, or groups that can provide some insight, support, network and education to contribute to your journey.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Permit me to speak about two. Oxford has blessed me with two friends and ladies that I deeply admire

Simeen Kaleem: I have watched her closely and seen how she embodies similar strong value systems with myself. Despite co-founding a Unicorn social impact start-up, Grahmal, Simeen remains dedicated to creating impact at work and school. She is able to create a healthy balance, be present, and deliver excellently as the need arises. I went to cheer her at the 100x Social Impact event in London and was deeply proud of the level of work she and her team have pulled through. We understand each other and have walked similar paths. She is also a Laidlaw and Skoll Scholar like me.

Ifeoluwa Olokode: There are many hurdles that come with being one of the co- presidents for the student council and the co-head of engagement with the Oxford Africa Business Alliance.  I see Ifeoluwa constantly show up and give her best. She always pushes herself not letting personal limitations deter her to give excellent output which is one of numerous values that we share.

I feel blessed to have been connected with these two ladies. It is a divine connection and I look forward to how we will grow together.

What made Echika such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Echika has had phenomenal success prior to joining the programme and this, coupled with her selection as a Laidlaw scholar and success studying with us in Oxford, makes her a standout candidate for Best and Brightest. Echika had great success in growing her start-up prior to joining the programme and has been able to combine academic excellence with business acumen as well as a drive to make a mark on her programme experiences leading activities across Co-Curricular areas as the co-chair of the Oxford Africa Business Alliance. Echika is an inspiration to the rest of her cohort and her career will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Tom Parnell
Associate Director
MBA Programme Delivery


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