The Nigerian tech entrepreneur, Desayo Ajisegiri has emerged the winner of 2021 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship program.
She was unveiled to the media in Lagos having joined past winners who are Misan Rewane (2011), Olujimi Williams (2012), Mayowa Kuyoro (2013), Oluwasola Olaniyan (2014), Bankole Makanjuola (2015), Chidozie Ibekwe (2016), Ahmed Alimi (2017), Ulunma Izejiobi (2018), Anyanwu Maureen Uzoamaka (2019), and Abdul Rahman Buhari (2020).
They have benefitted from the fully funded two-year programme at Harvard Business School sponsored by the bottling giant, Seven-up Bottling Company (SBC).
This year’s recipient, Desayo, comes from a modest background. Having been inspired by the tenacity and courage of her mother, she sailed through adverse circumstances to graduate from Howard University, Washington DC with Summa Cum Laude honors and has dedicated herself to impacting the world through a fusion of entrepreneurial and humanitarian initiatives that solve current global challenges.
During her time in college, Desayo who had been a quarterly survivor of malaria found a way to prevent malaria by investing in a detergent that could fortify one’s clothes, serving as a repellent and insecticide to dangerous mosquitoes. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for solving problems also led her and her friends to start up a micro-investing platform – Trove, that allows Nigerians to invest in U.S stocks from the comfort of their homes while on their phones.
According to the Managing Director of SBC, Ziad Maalouf,
“SBC believes in the power of people to drive innovation and change. In line with its mission to inspire extraordinary people to create great ideas that make communities better, SBC continues to partner with Harvard Business School to train transformational leaders who would contribute to national growth and development.”
Restating the company’s unwavering support for the Nigerian youth and its commitment to Nigeria’s development, Maalouf, said,
“We believe in the transformational difference great leadership has on a country. One person can make a huge difference in the trajectory of a people and their development. That’s what this scholarship is about. We are on a mission to inspire extraordinary people to create exceptional ideas.”
Going further to explain the choice of this year’s recipient from the list of applications received, he said,
“Desayo has proven her mettle and passion for people and development, as evident in her work to enhance the financial status of Nigerians. We believe we have identified a leader Nigeria will be proud of. By contributing to her story, maybe we can do our part to change the wider narrative about Nigeria.”
Speaking on the importance of the unique initiative, the Chief Corporate Services Officer, Yemi Faseun, emphasised the multiplier effect of leadership. He said,
“We cannot change the world all at once; however, we can change our world one person at a time. The 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship gives us the opportunity to do that. We wish our 2021 winner, Desayo, the best and look forward to the remarkable impact she would have on the country.”
In her remarks, Desayo expressed her gratitude as she was unveiled as the 11th recipient of the 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship, at SBC’s newly renovated headquarters in Ijora, Lagos. Desayo challenged the youth to remain tenacious and promised to uphold the values upon which the scholarship was awarded.
Having mentored 15 Nigerian college students in the U.S through college into Medical schools, PhD programs, and corporate careers, Desayo’s passion for community improvement and rehabilitation was evident. This in addition to other sterling qualities that singled her out amongst thousands of entries received.
The scholarship recipient plans to come back to Nigeria upon completing her education at the Harvard Business School to float her micro-investing platform. She believes that her team has only scratched the surface as they plan to empower Nigerians with the means to make wealth.