This is perhaps one of the hardest lists to make ever. That's because many people work hard to move the us forward, whether in the spotlight or in the shadows. But we spoke to people who live and breathe this space, and asked them who their most influential 10 are in the space. The metrics we used are; They've earned the trust and respect of the community, they make shit happen, and they're very proactive in pushing the ecosystem forward.
The 10 most influential people in tech this year
We made a hard-to-choose list of some of the shining stars in the Nigerian tech ecosystem for 2017.
1. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji.
Iyin’s work in the past few years has earned him a place on this list for the next year or two already. From helping build Andela, to his current work with Flutterwave, Iyin is helping us believe, and hope.
2. The #ForLoop Army.
These guys, led by Ridwan Olalere, are building the largest independent community of developers and tech enthusiasts, one meetup at a time.
It’s the largest community of software developers and tech enthusiasts across Africa. And they are just getting started. There are already networks, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.
Starting 19 months ago with a meetup of just about 30 techies, ForLoop has become an integral part of the tech ecosystem. 32 events already in 18 cities, including 15 campuses, is a really big deal. Known most notably for its meetups and hackathons held across venues in Nigeria, nothing seems to be bringing the ecosystem together like ForLoop. Some of its most important builders include Yomi Osamiluyi, Christian Nwamba, Prosper Otemuyiwa, Fatai Salami, Ire Aderinokun, Nosa Obaseki, Wale Martins, Mustapha Garba, and the late Imogie Mubarak.
3. Mark Essien.
Not only is Mark Essien running a thriving Hotels.ng, he’s also doing one of the most important jobs for the future of the ecosystem; raising talent. Mark Essien’s Hotels has one of the most interesting and efficient internship programs in Nigeria right now. They currently partner with the Akwa Ibom Government to make this happen. Hotels' Yaba office is also open to free use on weekends for trainings, amongst other things. Awesome.
4. Bosun Tijani.
Buson is the Co-Founder and CEO of CcHub, one of the most important incubators in the Nigerian space. They were quite instrumental in the Mark visit last year. Facebook is trusting them again this year, and choosing them to work on a Hub. 2018 is already looking interesting.
5. Ire Aderinokun.
Ire is one of those type of people we should carry on our shoulders everywhere, and shout from all the high places, saying with all the bragging rights, “We have Ire! Who do you have?” Ire is a young leader, by every standard. Not only is she a self-taught UI/UX and Frontend Developer, she’s one of the the only three Google Developer experts in Nigeria. This year, she awarded scholarships to 5 people to take get Udacity Nanodegrees. One Nanodegree costs $199/month. That’s a big deal yo.
6. Oo Nwoye.
Oo just makes things happen. Period. When YC came to Nigeria, his hands were in that soup. He has the ear of every important person in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. He even organised an event for all the CEOs and CTOs in the system.
7. Juliet Ehimuan.
Everywhere there’s a tech community, there’s Google, and that automatically earns whoever runs the Google in that community some relevance. But it’s more than that for Juliet. Her contributions to the space this year have been immense. There’s the Google For Nigeria event that Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai attended. There's Google's work equipping Nigerians with digital skills. The Google Launchpad Programmes. There’s also the part, where we believe, that she’s establishing Nigeria firmly in its place as one of the most important emerging markets in the world. When she's not killing it at Google, she's lending some help at Beyond Limits Africa, a personal initiative.
8. Prosper Otemuyiwa.
Prosper’s reputation is rock solid. While his influence mostly leans towards the developer community, he’s stood on almost every dev stage in the world, and carried the Nigerian gospel everywhere with him. He's also a very important player at ForLoop.
9. Maya Horgan Famodu.
Maya is a mover, and shaker, literally. With the company she leads, Ingressive, Maya lives to bridge the gap between local startups, and global investors. Early this year, she brought in troops from Silicon Valley for the Geeks On A Plane tour to Nigeria.
10. Shola Akinlade.
Last year, Paystack raised a game changing $1.3 million from Y Combinator. That is a huge deal. But that’s not just what makes Shola and his team at Paystack special. They offered to guide local startups on how to apply to get into Y Combinator, which is in fact the biggest startup incubator in the world. They also have a knack for sharing interesting insights and numbers, something Nigerians don’t do enough of.
In the end,
The Nigerian tech ecosystem is young, but it is growing really fast, and with so much promise, against all odds. Companies will be born, some will crash along the way, but not without lessons for everyone else.
In the end, one thing will remain, the most important thing; the people who make all of it happen.
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