Entrepreneur - Gbolahan Fagbure
UK degree: MSc International Management and Consulting at the University of Reading
Gbolahan Fagbure is a serial digital entrepreneur from Nigeria who has set up highly successful online businesses that today employ over 1,000 people.
Where has your career gone since you left the UK?
When I left university, I worked for a number of leading financial services companies, including Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and KPMG. I then went on to found my own businesses.
After this, I started and led a number of entrepreneurial ventures. Since 2011, these have included Road Repair Company (which was focused on fixing potholes and other road repairs across Lagos), Africa Speaker Agency (which books African business and cultural icons for speaking engagements globally) and Jumia (the leading online retailer in Africa). To date, Jumia has over 1,000 employees.
Most recently, I co-founded Supermarket.ng, Nigeria’s leading online supermarket.
What part did your UK course play in your success?
The critical thinking that the course encouraged built my ability to assess and analyse complex problems
My UK education, and indeed my overall time in the country, played a significant role in who I am today.
The critical thinking that the course encouraged built my ability to assess and analyse complex problems, and increased my capacity to think creatively and strategically as well as to work to deadlines and under pressure.
In my course of study, key modules like corporate strategy, business ethics, operations management and organisational change have been of particular impact to me as I have navigated the difficult waters of growing a business.
I strongly believe the experience laid a solid foundation for me to pursue and fully maximise the entrepreneurial ventures I have started.
Has your work changed anything in your country?
When we started Jumia, professionally run e-commerce didn’t exist in Nigeria. We learnt everything from scratch and had to educate the market.
Those initial steps were the foundation of what is today a burgeoning sector. I think it’s important to share the lessons and skills I’ve learned. I developed a collaborative initiative called Safer Skies, working with the aviation industry to ensure flight safety standards are met and prevent avoidable loss of life.
In 2010, I launched a monthly forum where leading CEOs share their business experience with young professionals. For this, I was named a finalist in the Enterprise Support category of the Future Awards Africa.
The monthly Speaker Series has been highly impactful in shaping the thinking of young professionals. It provides an avenue for them to listen to the advice of leading CEOs, they gain invaluable insight into the lives of people who have succeeded and this serves as a motivation for them to pursue their ambitions. So far, there have been more than 3,000 attendees.
Gbolahan was the winner of the UK Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship, Nigeria 2016.