Didi Akinyelure: Success has no format

didi akinyelure

You are the creator, producer and presenter of “Entrepreneur of the week” segment which inspires startup companies and entrepreneurs. What ignited the desire to start this segment and what impact have you made on these entrepreneurs?

“Entrepreneur of the Week” is part of my daily show “Open Exchange. I felt like the news on CNBC was not being simplified enough and needed a way to make everyone understand a it. So I decided to create something where people can relate and also draw more audience. I created a slot where every single week I pick an entrepreneur across Africa; go out of the studio to their businesses to enquire about their work. I wanted to experience their work firsthand; their challenges, processes and get a sense of who they are. I have learnt more from them; many people have connected to this segment and featured the interviews on many blogs.

Entrepreneurs I have interviewed also gained by sharing their interviews with their followers and customers. The mind of an entrepreneur is a wonder to behold. I am always blown away by the kind of ideas that these entrepreneurs come up with.

What is the most inspiring start-up idea you have covered for the “Entrepreneur of the week” segment?

I mostly focus on social entrepreneurs who are making a change in their communities. I have interviewed many entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things like Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola who is into recycling, Alain Nteff of GiftedMom who created an application that provides mothers with prenatal and antenatal information / advice.

But the one who inspired me the most was Otto Orondaam, Founder of Slum2School. This entrepreneur observed that many children in the slum community of Nigeria do not attend school so he empowers these children by putting them in school and giving them a formal education.

What caught my attention was his reaction when a sponsor cancelled their visit to the slums on the last minute. He was so sad because he knew the children would be disappointed. There is no denying the passion in his eyes.

You recently won the Komla Dumor Award. How important is such recognition to you, personally, and to your career?

Personally, it is amazing for me. I know I enjoy doing what I do. I know I’m not getting bored at work which is amazing but being recognised shows me that I am doing something right. I don’t know if it’s because I’m on TV but I am my worst critic. I always have a sense of self-doubt because I go on air expecting to have a great show only to watch the videos and feel otherwise. So to get such recognition from a big international media company like BBC is beyond wonderful.

Career wise, it is very good for me because I can just imagine the amount of training and new things I am going to get and learn from there. I learnt on the job at CNBC. I did not have a formal background and it would be nice to know the media way told from a large organisation.

What kind of responses did you receive from other journalists in CNBC after you were awarded?

Everyone was really happy and supportive. My boss encouraged us all to apply but never taught someone from the organisation would actually win. It is also good props for CNBC since this shows that we are doing everything right. Everything I know, I learnt from CNBC.

How do you feel about joining the BBC News team in London this September? Has this always been your dream?

It wasn’t my dream. But when the awards came last year and I heard of it, obviously I dreamt about it and applied but did not win. When it came this year, I applied for it once again but I never for once imagined I would be awarded. Once you apply for such an award, you start dreaming about how it would feel like if you should win. Who wouldn’t want to work with such an organisation?


What preparations are you making towards the three-month placement with the BBC News Team?

I have been keeping up with the news and what’s going on globally. My job is to focus on Africa and not just Africa but mostly the financial market in Nigeria. So each day is about focusing on the job at hand since I have to deliver each day. This time however, it would be great to see things globally.

Now that you are joining the BBC, who will be managing the “Entrepreneur of the week” slot that you created, produce and present?

I don’t know what’s going to happen it but we have capable journalists who can host the show beautifully. Whoever would be presenting the show will decide if he or she wants to continue or not. But I hope the show continues as it amazes me how people are able to battle through challenges and achieve their dreams. Sitting with them and hearing their stories inspire so many people.

Do you feel that it is important for someone to be passionate about the journalism profession to be successful?

Absolutely.  Absolutely. People are watching. And can sense your passion from watching you. When on television, you cannot fake anything. It would be best to know what you want to do and believe in then pursue it. When you do things you are passionate about, you shine. One must be passionate about telling the story because you want to make a change in the community etc. It is a creative career path and you need the passion to go along with it.

What is the most outrageous story/assignment you had to cover?

I won’t call it outrageous rather interesting. My favourites are my interview with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos which was an honour.

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank, Nigeria whose journey and challenges will leave you wondering about your purpose in life.

Nike Davies-Okundaye who I must say is made for the television. Her passion for arts and culture always lifts the energy in the studio.

There is also DBanj whose personality filled the room with such excitement.

I have also interviewed Professor Wole Soyinka twice. Each time I interview him; I am amazed by his carefree nature and uniqueness.  He always speaks the truth. He does not hide anything nor care about what people think of him. He doesn’t hold back his thoughts for anybody. He shocks you with information. You leave thinking he didn’t just say that. If you ask me who is the most interesting person I have interviewed it would be this playwright and poet.

About Naana Joa Braso

Dorcas Naana Owusu Afriyie (aka Naana Joa Braso) is a poet, writer and the cofounder of Cre8 Content - a freelance online business in Ghana which specialises in content creation, branding, administrative support, social media management and consultancy (fundraising & finance). With a background in secretaryship/ management studies, experience in various industries and the gift of writing, Naana has managed to secure jobs with brands in and out of Africa. Naana’s dream is to own several businesses, make a great impact in the world, live in a different city every night and enjoy the finer things in life, namely gourmet meals. Naana is currently studying Communication Studies (Public Relations option) at the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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