“I can accomplish anything that I want to achieve, and nothing is impossible for me.”
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
Fun Fact About Yourself: One of my favorite sports is boxing. I currently box 3-4 times a week. I picked up this sport during my undergraduate days when I was a member of the Boxing Club.
Undergraduate School and Major: Trinity College Dublin, BBS Business & French and The London School of Economics and Political Science, Law & Accounting
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Project Director, Mamalette Community Foundation
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:
In 2018 I was selected for 3 global programs; Blackbox Connect 21 through a Google for Entrepreneurs (now Google for Startups) scholarship, The Mandela Washington Fellowship (U.S. Department of State program for Young African Leaders) and the Facebook Community Leadership Program.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates are very accomplished in their various careers. Through my conversations with many of them, I can perceive that they would like to go on to build meaningful careers and make positive contributions to the world. I share a lot of similar aspirations with many of my classmates. For this reason, I am convinced that I am in the right school.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? In the last few years, I have been drawn to the social impact space and have been exploring ideas on how to use business to solve social problems. During the Blackbox Connect 21 program in San Francisco, I met an SBS Alumnus who had built a successful social business in Africa. He told me that he had learned very useful business and social entrepreneurship skills during his time at Saïd Business School and encouraged me to apply for the MBA program. After doing more research, I realized that I was very attracted to the school’s purpose of creating responsible business leaders.
What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? Matriculation is definitely the most ‘Oxford’ thing I have done so far. I really enjoyed myself going through this age-old ceremony and donning the sub-fusc. Being in the Sheldonian Theatre for the brief and poignant matriculation ceremony was a very special moment for me.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? One of the essay questions required me to write about a statistic or trend that shocked me. Why it was important to me and how could it be changed for the better.
I found that this essay required a lot of deep thought and introspection.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? One day in 2016 while browsing online, I came across the story of an Australian pregnant woman who had died while giving birth in a hospital. Curious about the story, I did a Google search and observed that all the major news outlets in Australia had carried the story. It was a big deal for them. A woman dying during childbirth in an Australian hospital was unacceptable. I then thought of the hundreds of nameless and faceless women in Nigeria who had died that same day and wondered if we would ever get to a time when our news outlets will also highlight the deaths of each and every woman during pregnancy and childbirth as unacceptable. At the time, I wondered what I could do to at least help reduce the shocking statistics in my country but felt helpless.
Early in 2017, in my quest to understand more and to be able to help, I conducted multiple desk studies and physical studies by visiting traditional birth attendant homes, general hospitals and primary health care centers. I also held focus group discussions in various communities in Lagos to try to understand why many urban poor women were having babies outside the healthcare system and why the maternal mortality rate was so high.
To penetrate the urban poor communities, I disguised myself as a poor pregnant woman and went to various facilities to inquire about registering for antenatal care. Some of the places I went to took me out of my comfort zone and seeing some of the dark, dirty rooms and sheds that poor and uneducated women were having babies in was traumatizing. As I visited these places I kept thinking of the sterile and well-equipped labour wards I had had my two babies in and I felt depressed. Rather than give up, I started to think of how I could leverage the online parenting community I had built for ‘real’ social impact.
This journey of discovery and exploration led to the launch of the ‘Mamalette Champions’ program in 2017, where we recruited and trained 70 experienced mothers from our online community to provide health information, support, and guidance to poor and marginalized pregnant women and young mothers in their communities. In 2019 we received a grant from Facebook which allowed us to run a well-structured project with 24 women providing home-visiting services to 488 urban poor pregnant women and new mothers. These home visits followed a defined curriculum on various maternal and infant health topics.
Program enrollees were taught in the comfort of their homes or shops. Health Champions also took pregnant women who were unregistered to Primary Health Care Centers and General Hospitals. They accompanied them to clinics and for those who had new babies, the Champions took the women and their infants to immunization clinics. Some even cleaned the houses of overwhelmed new mothers and washed their baby’s clothes.
Some Champions had to donate food, clothing, and materials to impoverished women. For pregnant women who had C-Sections and could not afford hospital bills, the organization had to crowdfund in one case and make contributions in others to support the poor women.
212 babies were born over the course of the 9 months program. Through this project, I was able to learn more about the effects of poverty and economic deprivation. I was welcomed into the homes of hundreds of families across Lagos and this rare privilege gave me a chance to see first-hand how the urban poor in Nigeria live and how underdeveloped and under-resourced our communities are.
These experiences have definitely shaped who I am and how I view the world.
Where do you see yourself doing ten years from now? I want my life and my work to have a huge impact on the lives of others. I want to build a pan-African career working in and or building high-impact businesses that contribute to the social and economic development of the continent. 10 years from now, I see myself maximizing the skills, knowledge, experiences, and networks I have gained after my MBA experience to influence social and economic development policies on the African continent.