On September 8, 2017, my Youth Afripreneurship Town Hall in
Lagos was filled with young Nigerian entrepreneurs and aspiring
ones: students, traders, bankers, side-hustlers, business managers,
engineers, and at least one very memorable social entrepreneur.
About 425,000 viewers were also watching online!
When Bashiru Adamu stood up to share his entrepreneurial vision
during the Q&A, my first impression was exactly as he tells it
here in his book, “Wow, wow, wow, wow!”
He opened his brief pitch by telling me and about 300 others
crowded in the room: “I help prisoners escape from prison”.
Although this slight young man from Kaduna State in North West
of Nigeria, did not look like a jailbreaker, he got all our
attention immediately. A few people laughed and then all grew silent.
I asked: "You did?" and he answered without a hint of a smile,
He tells the rest of the story in this book. Not only did Bashiru’s
pitch show passionate commitment to serve humanity, but he had already
developed and executed a plan, drawn together key decision-makers,
and found partners who supported his idea of setting up libraries
and business skills programs for incarcerated prisoners in Nigeria.
His vision [first sparked in 2012 during his National Youth Service year in Benue State]
came to be known as the Dream Again Prison and Youth Foundation.
Having heard Bashiru boldly speak in Lagos that day,
I was surprised to learn in the book that when growing up,
he himself felt imprisoned and paralyzed by a mindset of self-doubt
and trepidation. He writes striking words that will probably
resonate with people everywhere, facing challenges at different
times in their lives:
“I was dead while alive. I was hopeless even when surrounded with opportunities.
I just didn’t see life beyond the pain, hunger, helplessness,
and the chain that held me down in my head.
My life was not just a joke, it was a junk.
It was a miracle I broke out of the chains”.
On the contrary, the social entrepreneur I met that Friday
at my town hall, who'd also been following my Facebook
entrepreneurship blog for years, stood out as someone special
who did not just talk the talk [which he did memorably that day]
but was also walking the talk of what he said was his favourite quote:
"It's better to prepare and not meet opportunity than to
meet opportunity when you are not prepared”...
He was prepared!
The fifth of seven children, Bashiru shares in one chapter
about the life of his entrepreneurial mother. Amazing.
These are the inspiring stories of resilient, visionary,
and solution-seeking African business founders that need to
be published as books, made into podcasts and films, and widely shared.
Make no mistake: Amidst the challenges on our continent,
greatness is being born and nurtured every day.
Dr Strive Masiyiwa.
Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Group.