The arrival of 2014 Jennifer Potter Emerging Leaders Fellow Adeshola Komolafe in Seattle, on her very first trip to America, was eagerly anticipated by the many business executives, IGD members, and supporters waiting to meet her. Adeshola is a brilliant young Nigerian businesswoman, and she discussed her perspective on many of today’s critical issues. Her first stop was the IGD Breakfast event, where Adeshola was officially introduced to IGD’s Seattle community. The audience was made up of IGD partners, supporters, donors, and, most importantly, founders of IGD such as Jennifer Potter, Bill Gates Sr., and Bill Ruckleshaus, as well as IGD’s supporter Fred Goldberg. In this distinguished company, Adeshola delivered an impassioned account of being a young female entrepreneur, as well as a leader in her community. Her energetic political activism was clearly evident, as it was when she, along with others, quit her 9-to-5 job and gathered 250,000 Nigerians from all over the world to support an anti-corruption presidential candidate for a vision of a “new Nigeria.” It was the largest movement in Nigeria since independence, a virtually unprecedented youth mobilization with a genuine desire for change. This lesson in youth organization, added to Adeshola’s breadth and depth of experience across sectors and areas in Nigeria, was an inspiration to her audience.
The next highlight of Adeshola’s trip was her special guest appearance on one of the most popular talk shows in Seattle, Margaret Larson’s “New Day” on KING 5 TV. Adeshola spoke with Margaret, the live audience, and TV audiences across the country on important topics like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the missing girls in Nigeria. The crowning moment was when she was able to engage directly with the live audience to address their questions on these topics.
In an in-depth interview with the influential Rainmakers TV that afternoon, Adeshola had the opportunity to share various stories of her entrepreneurship experience in Nigeria and the challenges faced by rising women leaders in the country. “It started with just $1000 my sister gave me, and now, after 3 years, we have been able to hire 26 staff across the country.” “However, it’s lonely on top,” she shared, explaining her hope for a Nigeria where more businesswomen will have the opportunity to advance to her level and create more businesses contributing to the country’s economic growth.
She is demonstrably a leader in the Nigerian private sector, but she also displayed her preeminence in the social sector through a Nigerian nonprofit organization that she founded: “Save Our Future.” During her trip, Adeshola also had the chance to connect with many nonprofits based in Seattle, in particular Global Washington, World Justice Project, Mission Africa, and Landesa. In these meetings, Adeshola expressed her commitment to promote youth education and the development of female business leadership on the African continent, and outlined how IGD’s fellowship could help her achieve those goals, working along side these organizations.
On top of all the meetings and interviews, Adeshola had the chance to interact individually with important people in Seattle, including Fred Goldberg and Jennifer Potter, who will continue to support IGD’s emerging leadership program and will work with Adeshola to realize her vision and potential.
As she prepared to depart, Adeshola noted that, “it has been a tremendously fruitful trip. I can’t wait to continue engaging with these important organizations, companies and individuals to identify ways to work together around our shared vision and goals.” She continued, “I consider it a most cherished privilege to be the 2014 Jennifer Potter Emerging Leaders Fellow. I am humbled to answer to aspects of the prodigious legacy of Jennifer Potter.”
Want to see more photos from Adeshola’s visit? View the entire album.
The Jennifer Potter Emerging Leaders Fellowship supports the rise of African business leaders as a way to ultimately reduce poverty through investment in the developing world. For more information, go here.