Young African Bamidele Is Advancing Africa’s Agricultural Sector

By Nkosana Mafico

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting to Bamidele Seun Owoola, a 24-year-old entrepreneur living in London, about her entrepreneurial journey and the impact she is making on the African continent.

bamideleBamidele was born in the UK after her parents emigrated from Nigeria. In her earlier years, she was bombarded with negative sentiment about Africa and being African.

“Growing up we used to ‘jamaicanise’ our names because being African wasn’t so cool, due to the constant negative portrayal of Africa in the media.”

Because of this, for a very long time Bamidele admired places like Miami, Ibiza, Dubai and Paris, whilst maintaining a weary attitude towards African cities. In 2011 her attitude changed when she embarked on a trip to Ghana, The trip was supposed to be 19 days but ended up being over 3 months because she fell in love with Ghana and shot a documentary during that time. Not being Ghananian, and not having a background in film production where some of the challenges Bamidele faced. She says,

“I couldn’t operate as smoothly as I could in London. For example, when I would go for walks, I didn’t understand why taxi drivers would always honk at me, especially when I had not indicated I was in need of a taxi, Customer service typically terrible, while time keeping was even worse. Noise pollution was a norm and landmarks were used as postcodes. The list of all the things I thought were odd (at the time) went on and on.”

Upon arriving back in London and attempting to get sponsorship and interest for the ‘documentary’, she instead received a lot of polite criticism and many rejections. In 2012 and 2013, Bamidele decided to go back to produce another documentary.

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“I was back briefly in 2012 to register the concept in Africa; then back again in 2013, spending another 9 months to produce what I thought would again be a world class documentary that would attract people in the west to Africa. Again, upon arriving in back to the UK, and although the video documentary was much better than the first one I produced, it still was not producing the expected results.”

It was after this moment that she realised that her strategy had to change. After conducting extensive research, she discovered that foreign businesses were interested in the opportunities within Africa but did not have the knowledge or the resources to take advantage of the opportunities. Welcome2Africa was therefore born.

“When I first conceived Welcome2Africa, I wanted to reveal the positive cultural, political, social and economic transformations and developments in Africa that are often overlooked within current affairs, broadcasted documentaries and publications. I wanted to use tourism to address the misrepresented perceptions of the African continent whilst exposing new developments, possibilities and opportunities that exist in individual African Countries.”

bamidele2After some thought, she pivoted from tourism to agriculture because of the massive opportunity the latter had to advance Africa’s development. According to a recent report, Africa has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total. And on the land that is being used, outdated technologies and techniques mean productivity is low.

In defining Welcome2Africa’s objectives, Bamidele developed the Agrique Africa Investment Summit, an investment conference for African agricultural businesses. The Agrique Africa Investment Summit has the key theme of ‘match making’ agribusiness in need of finance from across Africa and financial institutions from around the world with an interest in African agriculture. With a team of 5, the first summit is scheduled to take place between the 17th and 18th of November 2015 in Accra, Ghana. Bamidele hopes the summit will run annually across different African countries.

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From our conversation, it became very clear to me that Bamidele is a young African who has a great vision and is executing on that vision well. I found her story even more inspiring when I discovered that she studied criminology and psychology at university but she’s now operating in the financial industry. When I asked her about this she said,

“It was a big change in the beginning however, I have managed because I’m not afraid to ask people questions. I now really enjoy finance and regularly meet up with finance professionals for Welcome2Africa.”

It just goes to show that with passion, hard work and perseverance, you can do anything.

As a result of her work in Africa, Bamidele has amassed a great deal of experience when in comes to doing business within the continent. For those looking to do business in Africa, she advises the following:

  1. Spend some time to gain a better understanding of the market in respective African countries.
  2. Stay aware of the fact that Africa is filled with many different markets and various segments within these markets.
  3. Research, network, research, network.

For more information on Bamidele, please see her LinkedIn profile.

Nkosana Mafico Philanthropist, Entrepreneur, Writer & Speaker

Nkosana is a 20 year-old Zimbabwean Australian philanthropist, entrepreneur, writer and speaker passionate about social and economic development. At present, he is the Founder of Shanda Enterprises and the Council for Young Africans Living Abroad (CYALA).

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