She is a pioneer in numerous fields: an entrepreneur who can recognise a great idea, and a philanthropist by nature who believes in ‘profit with purpose’. She is the quintessential modern woman – and her name is Uneku (Neku) Atawodi.
Neku is the CEO and founder of Malaik, Africa’s first impact-focused equity crowd funding portal. Malaik was created to connect global and local investors with entrepreneurs raising equity finance. It aims to offer potential investors the chance to participate in Africa’s growth story.
“Africa is brimming with entrepreneurs with growing high-impact businesses that could not only positively impact Africa, but the world,” Neku says.
It is no wonder then that social entrepreneur and presenter of Chivas, Win the Right Way, Audu Maikori, tracked her down to share career insights over a glass of Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Whisky.
Chivas, Win the Right Way is a TV series on CNBC Africa, featuring Africa’s most inspiring social entrepreneurs who run their business based on profit with purpose and use their shared success to inspire other African entrepreneurs to join a growing movement.
Neku is one of the few international female polo players in Africa – her non-profit organisation, Ride to Shine, is the first self-funded NPO based in Abuja, Nigeria. Ride to Shine gives orphaned children access to equestrian activities and experiences. The organisation has a strong belief in the power of sports to develop key individual characteristics in a child.
“Ride to Shine aims to use the sport of polo as a tool to open unimaginable doors for our children, giving them a global reach to develop into responsible individuals that go on to inspire their peers with a strong pay-it-forward ideology,” says Neku.
When she is not working to enrich her community, she is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, an associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a Clinton Global Initiative Lead mentor.
In addition, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) recently scooped her up as General Manager in its Lagos Incubator programme, which provides training, investment and mentoring to aspiring technology entrepreneurs. The programme’s goal is to create globally successful companies that generate wealth and jobs locally in Africa.
“I am a believer in all things that spur innovative disruption across sectors,” says Neku. “Technology is proving to challenge the status quo globally, and is now offering a solid route to empowering Africa’s youth.”
Neku is living proof that opportunities are plentiful when you are willing to aim high and work hard. For her, the biggest rewards are gained through living a lifestyle that is inclusive and generous, and for Chivas, she is undoubtedly winning the right way.