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Movers and Shakers (Naija Edition): Interview with BYP Network Founder Kike Oniwinde

Zulaikhah Agoro

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Kike Oniwinde

Kike Oniwinde is the Founder and CEO of Black Young Professionals (BYP) Network, an app-based community that strives to connect black professionals and students with career and mentoring opportunities. Founded in 2016, the network currently has more than 30,000 members in 65 countries and has received a total investment of more than £200,000 from several top investors and corporations.

Alongside her work at BYP, Kike is a retired national athlete and has represented Great Britain at several international competitions as a javelin thrower. She is a Forbes 30 under 30 listee, a Maserati 100 innovator, 2018 Sky Woman in Technology Scholar, and one of the Top 100 BAME Leaders in the UK. Kike Oniwinde has a BSc in Economics from the University of Nottingham and a Master’s degree in Management from the University of Florida where she received a full track and field scholarship.

In this interview, she discusses her experience running BYP and her vision for the venture.

You created “LinkedIn for black professionals” in 2016. 3 years later, what has the journey been like?

The journey has been interesting. I’m always honest about the nature of business – there are always ups and downs. For me, BYP has gone from strength to strength each and every year. Founding the network three years ago, and seeing it become a global platform that has benefitted so many in the community, is humbling. I like to say that we are just getting started, so in reality, the journey is about to get more exciting.

 

You also host the BYP Leadership Conference. What is your vision for the event?

It’s now four weeks after the event and I’m still reeling. My vision for the event was for black professionals and talent to be able to connect with leaders and corporations, with the purpose of learning leadership skills and developing and nurturing connections that could help our community progress in their industries. The event was fantastic – we had over 800 delegates in attendance, over 50 speakers, panelists, and hosts and 12 corporate sponsors from Sky and Bloomberg to The Guardian, Accenture, and Airbnb.

For me, the most incredible part of the day was receiving feedback from a range of individuals, some who had traveled from as far as Uganda and the Netherlands to tell me how amazing the event was. For me, it felt like it reinforced why BYP as a network is so needed and why we need to continue to create these events. My vision now is for us to host this every year and to make it even bigger and better than the last.

 

Your app is chiefly for black professionals. How do you handle critics coming at you with comments about racism?

I’ve been quite fortunate to have had mainly positive comments about BYP and I haven’t come across much backlash. I think this is because people know there is a disproportion when it comes to the work pipeline and diversity/inclusion in certain industries.

Furthermore, BYP’s ethos is that we are first and foremost for the black community, however, everyone is welcome. We had a host of speakers from different backgrounds and walks of life at our conference and we strive to promote our network as being an inclusive one that welcomes all who support, champion and strive for our mission.

 

What is it like working and living as a Nigerian in the diaspora?

Living as a Nigerian in the diaspora is to have multiple insights into different communities. I am born and bred in the UK so I see myself as Black British. This means I am fortunate to be involved in both the Nigerian culture and British. In saying this, I get to understand how certain things work in the UK that can benefit Nigeria and vice versa.

How do you reconnect with home?

I try to go to Nigeria yearly around the Christmas period. Otherwise, there is a large Nigerian community in the UK so I’m always connected!

 

You can connect with Kike on Instagram and LinkedIn

Hey there! My name is Zulaikhah Agoro. I write and edit direct response email sales copy for Real Estate and Lifestyle brands seeking to connect with their audience. Currently, I curate the Movers and Shakers (Naija Edition) interview series where I have insightful conversations with Nigerian-born social entrepreneurs and innovators living and working in the diaspora. Shoot me a mail at zulaikhah.agoro@gmail.com, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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