After being introduced to coding since 12, Clinton Imaro has gone from first coding on paper to learning over eight programming languages, getting an internship at Microsoft, running his own startup, while still in his second year in school.
Clinton Imaro is not your regular 19-year-old. My first encounter with him was when I saw his post on LinkedIn. The algorithm brought it on my timeline as one of my connections liked his post.
His post piqued my interest and even more impressive was his bio which reads, “19y old Cloud Engineer @Microsoft”. I sent a message to request if he’d be willing to do a spotlight, and he thankfully obliged.
At the interview, Imaro’s greeting was casual. He had a surprisingly baritone voice and comportment that belies his age. His lively manner of speaking set a natural mood for what would become an interesting conversation.
How the coding journey began
The Imaro we see today is a product of a seed planted seven years ago in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. At the age of 12 when he was still in secondary school, Imaro spent most of his playing games, as it was one of his favourite activities. His uncle who was an engineer told him he could create games rather than play alone.
“He started giving me clues, about programming, coding and some basic programming language that we have. He even registered me in a Java basic programming lecture. That was when my interest in coding actually started,” Imaro said.
The initial plan was to be the second doctor in the family. Imaro had an aunt who was a doctor. He looked up to her and aspired to follow the same career path.
Imaro lost his dad at quite a young age, but fortunately, his mum has always supported him. So, it didn't take much convincing to do once his uncle showed her the possibilities in coding and cited examples of people doing well in the field. Since then, he’s jettisoned his supposed doctor’s career and never looked back.
When he started, he just moved to Abuja and had to code on paper because he didn’t have a laptop. A year later, his mom was able to gather some funds and send to him to buy a second-hand (used) HP laptop. It didn’t enable productivity, but it was a good start.
Leveraging Covid-19 lockdown
When the world was lockdown due to the Covid-19, it was an opportunity for Imaro to immerse himself in coding, and he willingly embraced it. Before the pandemic, he wanted to learn some programming languages. When the lockdown happened, Imaro used the period to learn different skills.
“I started with Java, but today I'm a self-taught programmer in over eight programming languages. I also used the opportunity to dive a little bit into graphic design and UI/UX design, so I could always be useful in a team,” he said.
It was during the pandemic that Clinton secured his first tech job designing a website for ASEN AUTO INC. He also deepened his knowledge in web and mobile development, blockchain, and cybersecurity during this period.
Getting into Cloud Engineering and Microsoft
Imaro’s journey into Cloud Engineering started during the pandemic. He first came across the skill during the lockdown and spent time learning and using Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and other stuff.
A strong believer in Western education, after graduating from high school with distinction, Imaro travelled to Belgium for his undergraduate program. He combined his studies with working with some tech organisations.
One of the company he previously worked with was Go Talent, an educational technology company worked directly with Microsoft. Since he was more fluent in English, he was Go Talents go-to guy handling all communications with Microsoft.
So when there was an opening for a summer internship at Microsoft, Imaro applied, and he was called for the interview. “It was actually the first job that I've had to submit my CV. Fortunately, they reached back and we had like two interviews. After the second mail, I got a mail confirming that I've been admitted into Microsoft Summer student internship,” Imaro narrated.
Delving into entrepreneurship
Imaro is also building out a startup to enable payments in for Africans. The startup, Bimepay, is a blockchain powered payment gateway that allows users to pay and receive value in a new way.
Speaking on why he is building this startup, Imaro said, “I'm driven to build Bimepay due to a strong desire to enhance financial inclusivity and efficiency for Gen-Z in Africa. I believe that by harnessing the potential of blockchain technology and tailoring this platform to the unique needs of the region, I can make a significant positive impact on the lives of millions of people and contribute to the growth of the African economy as a whole. And as well, give Gen-Z the ability to convert their digital assets into real world purchasing power.”
With Bimepay, users can convert cryptocurrency into cash. The platform issues physical and virtual Mastercard to convert digital assets into real world purchasing power.
It’s not easy
Looking from the outside in, it’s easy to presume that Imaro is living the dream; combining academics, working in a multinational tech company, building his own tech startup and maintaining an active social life.
“Finding balance between work, academics, entrepreneurship and personal life hasn’t been easy,” Imaro said. Setting priorities and making sacrifices has, nevertheless, made things easier to get done for him.
“Whenever, my school work is hectic, I try to drop everything else, because education is paramount for me. As a tech professional, a university degree offers you the opportunities to earn more and explore more options,” Imaro added. “Also, this has actually made me become like an introvert, whereby I don't go out too much.”
The journey of Clinton Imaro, so far, at 19 is just beginning, but it’s a testament to his unwavering determination. It also spotlights the transformative power of technology, and it's inspiring the next generation to pursue tech careers.