9 Nigerian entrepreneurs leading the way for immigrants in the US
Nigerians are at the forefront of tech and industry all over the continent, and even abroad. Here's a list of Nigerian entrepreneurs who have founded and led startups and companies in the US.
Nigerians are trailblazers everywhere in virtually every industry, and tech is no different.
Living the American dream is something that all immigrants into the "world's greatest country" hope to achieve. In this article, we'll be looking at 9 Nigerian immigrants who are currently running successful businesses in the US, some of them valued at billions of dollars.
Tope Awotona is the founder and CEO of Calendly, a functional and effective scheduling tool that helps you schedule meetings, appointments and events without all the back and forth emails. The app is currently valued at over $3 billion. Tope grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the US, where he graduated from the University of Georgia. He then landed a job at IBM as a sales rep, before moving on to Perceptive Software, Vertafore, and Dell EMC. His first three attempts at founding a startup: a dating website “single to taken”, “projectorstop” that sold projectors and “YardSteals”, a platform for home and yard equipment all failed to take off.
He then struck gold when he founded Calendly LLC in 2010.
Abbey Wemimo was born in, and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. He moved to Minneapolis from Nigeria in 2009, and proceeded to earn degrees in business management and public administration. He founded Esusu Financial Inc in 2017 as a financial technology platform helping individuals save money and build credit for low-to-middle income consumers. Last year, in an effort to provide pandemic relief, the firm distributed $250,000 in interest-free loans to New Yorkers who couldn’t make their rent.
In July, Esusu raised $10 Million in Series A funding led by Motley Fool Ventures with investment from Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures.
Chinedu Echeruo is a well known serial entrepreneur. He is more commonly known for his startup HopStop, a pioneering travel app that helped millions of users navigate public transportation in major metropolitan areas around the world, Apple Inc acquired the city transit app in 2013 for $1 billion.
His most recent endeavour is the tech for good startup MindMeet, which allows users to share knowledge and raise money for charity whilst doing so.
Kelechi is the New York based founder of African inspired clothing marketplace, Zuvaa. She has a masters in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon and also appeared in the Forbes 30 under 30 list. After being frustrated due to being unable to find fashionable African-inspired clothing and accessories, she created an e-commerce destination for merchants from across the diaspora to sell their wares.
Zuvaa’ originates from the word ‘Zuva’ which means sun or sunshine in the language of the Shona people from Zimbabwe.
In 2016, Zuvaa was estimated to have made $2 million in sales.
Stephen is the CEO of the Silicon Valley based African Technology Foundation (ATF), offering mentorship and resource access to African entrepreneurs, in addition to running a venture fund. It connects companies and founders with potential directly to Silicon Valley investors through ATF’s VenturePATH program.
New York banker Anie Akpe was born in Calabar, Nigeria and moved to the US at age 10. Her 6-year-old startup, African Women in Technology (AWIT), hosts seminars and mentorship programs teaching African women how to become tech-industry leaders. It provides a unique combination of hands-on tech workshops, discussions about education, careers in tech, and how to pursue them.
Makinde is the founder of /dev/color, a non-profit organization that aims to advance the careers of Black software engineers. It aims to be the most powerful community of Black software engineers, technologists, and executives in the world. Alongside his role as founder and CEO, he is also a senior engineer at Pinterest, having also worked at Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Dropbox.
Kunbi is the founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz, a digital news platform focused on technology, science, business, and entrepreneurship. The startup is based in Atlanta Tech Village but before she started, she was an award-winning journalist and broadcaster in the United States. She is a Cambridge graduate and has worked at the BBC, NBC and published articles in The Daily Mail and Evening Standard in the UK.
Born in Lagos Nigeria, Toyin Kolawole was recently selected for Forbes The Next 100 2021.
Toyin’s startup, Iya Foods, is introducing West African flavors to American palates, in the form of everyday American staples. Just as Starbucks adds Nigerian Hibiscus to make its Passion Tea, Toyin is spicing up traditional American dishes, such as pancakes, bread and muffins, with flavorful, West African ingredients.