Kunbi is the executive director of SESEWA; a company she founded while still in university in 2009. She holds an LLB from Obafemi Awolowo University and was enrolled as a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2010. Her company, SESEWA is at the forefront of providing internship and career opportunities for Nigeria’s young generation and she is building a legacy for internship businesses in Nigeria. Adekunbi is a frequent speaker at youth events, and a big inspiration for young people in Africa cities in Africa. In this interview, the beautiful entrepreneur opens up on how she has been able to build SESEWA into a formidable brand.
Growing up for me was fun and filled with lessons. I was the child that was born to work…. I was really enterprising, I still am but when I was younger, I engaged in several kinds of businesses. I was particularly thrilled by the reward and satisfaction I got when I delivered a certain value or sold something. Let’s just say I was born for enterprise!
Inspiration behind Sesewa?
My sesewa experience is one that has changed my life forever.
For me, SESEWA is not just a business idea; it is more like a mandate attached to my life. It is seated at the core of my existence. SESEWA started first with my deepest desire to have people experience clarity and pursue a career they were really in love with because that was what I felt like after I had an internship in a law firm as an undergraduate. That experience left me empowered and I felt everyone deserved this opportunity- To be sure about what they wanted to create with their lives.
This desire grew into a business because of my highly entrepreneurial spirit. The business operates as a social enterprise designed to tackle the diversified problems of recruitment and unemployment in Nigeria. We specialize in providing internship, volunteering and job-shadowing opportunities to youths. With our well-developed curriculum, training school and set of assessments, the regular Nigerian graduate is transformed into a job-ready professional. This serves a dual purpose, in that it also provides organizations the best wave of talents to drive their corporate vision. For those who don’t know, the name SESEWA is a coinage gotten from a Yoruba expression ‘Se ise wa?’ (Is there a Job?)This seems to be question on the lips of many Nigerian graduates and SESEWA will always say YES! We have got the RIGHT JOB for you!
The truth remains that the big picture for SESEWA keeps expanding as we break new grounds; and yes! SESEWA is having the effect I caught a glimpse of in my mind years back. It just keeps getting better. Today, young people walk into my office with potentials that are worked upon and made valuable. They always leave better than they came. I have my interns go to clients and I get feedbacks from clients saying the interns are so fantastic that it is difficult to pick just one intern for the job. We call it the SESEWA Experience… As I will always say, “there is no discrimination against excellence.” Once you deliver excellence with innovation and passion, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin, you will stand before kings.
Just like every other ‘new’ idea, SESEWA had some acceptance issues, basically because the concept was not so popular when we started. We just did our part, defined the value we were offering and we were determined to be the best at it. It wasn’t long before individuals and organizations started warming up to the idea. Let me mention here that there are times you just need to believe in you enough to give others the right reasons to believe in you too. I had people who believed in SESEWA because of the confidence and passion with which I spoke about the value we proposed to deliver even though we were doing it for the first time. I look back now; I am so fulfilled and grateful to God for being my Anchor.
This is one truth not so many people talk about. Fulfilling purpose is not as easy as spelling P.U.R.P.O.S.E. It sometimes feels like swimming against the current, it is super difficult. There were days that didn’t look so bright, there were days I didn’t feel up to the title “Executive Director” but at such times I was reminded of the WHY behind SESEWA and I got energized again. This is one thing I tell everyone who cares to listen, understand the purpose behind anything you do because when the road gets rough, you will be in one piece, strengthened by WHY you started in the first place. So, at the times I felt like giving up, I remembered SESEWA is not about me. This makes me jump out bed every morning whether I felt like it or not. Though right now, I feel we have gone too far to look back. The only RIGHT way is FORWARD!
Relationship with Interns
Yes, we have succeeded in building a FAMILY. It is not just a work relationship. Our lives are so intertwined with the entire process that after the internship, it is hard to go back as just regular people. For the SESEWA family, we are consciously raising a new breed of excellent, talented professionals to redefine work in this part of the world.
Every idea, business and journey has peculiar challenges. SESEWA had the challenge of acceptance as certain organizations didn’t understand what we were proposing at first. We had to work on our product, curriculum to ensure we deliver excellent value every time. We were also faced with fund challenges just as many start-ups with bills rising and demanding attention.
Future Plans for Sesewa
We hope to expand our sphere of influence, reach out to more youths, develop more products and programmes that can come in handy to youths as we groom the best waves of talent, the most sought after in the land. We also hope to establish solid local and international partnerships with other organizations.
Advice for Young unemployed Female Graduates?
Give yourself more credit. You are awesome too if only you can believe in yourself. Please don’t define your entire life by your current phase of being without a job; just don’t be idle. Keep your hands and mind busy. Get as much skills as possible. The internet has made it so easy for you to learn practically anything, enroll for online courses, volunteer for projects, get an internship just ensure you are increasing in value. What employers pay for is not the number of years you spent in school or the kind of school you graduated from but the value you can bring to the table.
For those who want to run their businesses, don’t get too excited yet; get the needed skills and knowledge and please get a mentor! The concept of mentorship has been abused but I am sure you can still find great people who will be willing to take you through the paths they have walked in smarter ways.
What Makes You A Woman Of Rubies?
I will just describe who I am in my own words and you will decide if that qualifies me to be a ‘Woman of Rubies’, I am simply Adekunbi Adeoye, a woman passionate about living out the blueprint of the Master for her life. I love God with my whole being. The process of fulfilling my purpose of helping others discover who they are has developed traits in me that I find amazing myself. I am a fantastic problem solver. I don’t see problems; I see opportunities to touch lives. I am highly enterprising, I am so gifted that I believe I can sell anything even sand and still create a lucrative business out of it.
Final Word for Young Women?
Don’t put a pause on your life waiting for anything! It doesn’t suggest that you shouldn’t be patient; just don’t be mediocre. Discover what your life was designed to be and spend every moment living it out. Live freely! Dance, Sing out loud! You are beautiful, celebrate yourself always and quit settling for less!