Odun Eweniyi: A Head Full Of Ideas
“So how do I explain to all my awesome, incredible new followers that this kind of day is only once in a while and I’m mostly tweeting memes on here?” Odun Eweniyi tweets on January 25, 2021.
With the name “Tech Bro” as her name on her Twitter handle, one can decipher the personality that is behind the name, Odunayo. An unassuming person who would rather stay with her dog in the comfort of her home watching tv shows and reading novels, it is hard to imagine that the 27-year-old first class graduate of Computer Engineering is the co-founder of Piggyvest, one of the Most Innovative Companies of the World according to FastCompany, and Feminist Coalition.
In an interview with “Techcabal” in 2020 she says that, “Put simply, PiggyVest wants to be the company ‘allowing young people take full advantage of the financial ecosystem without having to break the bank for it.’ ”
And she is not just allowing people take advantage in the financial ecosystem but is extending it to other facets of life.
A Platform For Women
Born into a family of two professors, she grew up in an environment where her parents taught her to have a solution-oriented mindset. “My parents always told me if something is wrong, do something about it.” It is this mindset that has formed Odunayo’s ideologies.
If you want to go fast go alone but if you want to go far go together. Creating platforms where people can speak up and be heard has been the number one factor she had identified that could create more solutions and she did just that.
So in 2019, after having several conversations with her friend, Dami Odufuwa, where they always “ranted” about their fears of having fun in a safe environment, Dami came up with a brilliant idea. She figured/thought that there might be a community of women who will embrace the idea of a safe space for meetups, events, and parties. They decided to have a call on Twitter to see if there is a community that will be open to having conversations about problems that women are facing, providing solutions and doing it in a fun non-judgmental way. Whine and Wine would be the beginning of more successes.
Even more so because it was at one of Whine and Wine’s get together that the idea to found Feminist Coalition sprung.
FemCo quickly became the most notable organisation and the front for protesters of the EndSARS campaign. It was applauded for its accountable and transparent management of the N147m donation money received from Nigerians to take care of protesters. In a few weeks, it became the beacon of feminism and inspiration to young Nigerians who were seeing for the first time, that accountability is achievable in Nigeria. It would also attract attention from international media and get mentions from public figures including BlackLivesMatter’s co-founder, Opal Tometi.
Before this stake, Nigerians perceived feminists to be “angry” and “bitter” women who cannot stay married. Odun says that she disagrees with the impression of” angry” and “bitter” and calls for a reeducation of feminism. “That being said, I think it did help to put a positive spin on the previously negative connotation that the word ‘feminism’ had.”
As the world adjusts to the balance that feminism brings, Odun admits that even in developed countries such as the United States which is just celebrating their first female vice president, pushing the woman leader narrative is still in process. She adds that although the Nigerian system still is in its early stages of accepting a woman in a leadership position, it is better as there are more women taking up spaces. Only the outliers such as herself are lucky to have the support system, friends and business partners that have pushed her thus far.
As such, her drive to push for the uplift of women is not only born for the fact she is a woman, but because to whom much is given, much is expected, and the responsibility to hold the door for others to come through also falls on her.
“In 2013, I used to be a tech journalist and I can count the number of women I wrote about. It is still very much a minority issue and it needs to become a normal thing where we are not saying, the first woman to do this, the first woman to do that.
Nigeria is 60 years and in 2021, we are still saying ‘the first woman to do this’. We need to get to that place where having a woman in an esteemed office is not a thing that the whole world has to stop and marvel at. My motivation, I think, is my sense of self. I want to see more people who think and look like me being in power.”
A 2013 UNICEF report revealed that about 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday. Nigeria also records the 11th highest rate of child marriage. With such a prevalent mindset, there is a need to uproot this ideology. For those who question the need to educate the girl-child, Odun argues that the need to have a reason is in itself problematic.
“Why not empower people that make up half of the world’s population? They are human beings. But if we did need a reason, it would be that there are statistics that show that the empowerment of girls and women is always to the betterment of any economy. And there are social reasons. You empower a girl, she pays it forward, you empower anyone, they pay it forward. So why not?”
Despite all the mentions and deliberate education of feminism, she says that even in the fintech industry, she still has a running with the patriarchal system with incidents of “microaggression, weird comments,” but has learnt to not give it any attention to the indistinguishable lump of patriarchy.
Recognising that for a player to win a chess game, this player must be strategic, assertive and calculative, in order to checkmate the opponent’s queen, these skills are what Odunayo possesses as she continues to make the right moves in the game of life.
Given the success of several undertaken projects such as PushCV and PiggyVest, she says that, “I thought that it was interesting how young people were going to be able to contribute to the future of Nigeria… I can only say that I was taking a chance on being a viable part.”
And with the growth rate of these projects, she notes that having a driven team whose goal is to solve humanity’s problems by understanding what those problems are.
Besides PushCV, she and her team have been involved in creating solutions to various problems in different sectors.
PiggyVest was inspired by a lady who broke her kolo (piggy bank) and shared on Twitter that she had saved a 1000 everyday for the whole year and had 365k inside of it. The lady’s story inspired her cofounder Joshua Chibueze who shared it on the group chat and convinced others that it was worth starting a test version. However, she and her co-founder believed that “if we had at least one thousand users download we have succeeded.”
But what happened was unprecedented: People would go back to Twitter to say that they got profits after saving with them… Now with over 2 million users, “it is completely mind-blowing how incredible the support [from the public] and growth have been, when you start, you hope that there is something there but you never know. All I can say is I have worked with my team since 2013, and if there ever was a team to try and experiment crazy ideas with, they are it,” she says.
But it has not all been roses.
Standing outside looking inwards, one can presume she has the Midas touch because it seems that everything she touches turns into gold but the lack of fear of failure and consistency is the actual secret to her successes.
With the failure of 5 companies and several personal projects which she was actively involved in, these failures were what helped with the reduction of issues during the start of the Piggyvest project.
“We put everything we had learned into starting up new projects like PiggyVest. So when you fail, don’t let it disturb you, instead you take all that knowledge into the next and the next, till you strike gold. I don’t want the narrative to be skewed to the positive because it is about learning from these failures, and not just assuming you can’t fail cause you probably can and you will, so don’t stop. I will fail, stumble but I will get up to find solutions. Keep moving forward because the successful ones are built on the ashes of those failed ones.”