A 23-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur, Chris Kwekowe has reportedly turn down a job offer at Microsoft, owned by the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, to begin his own start-up in Lagos.
The talented entrepreneur had told the billionaire in August 2016, during a television interview that featured some of Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs, that he had to reject the software engineer role at Microsoft, specifically to building a startup called Slatecube – a website that aims to solve Nigeria’s unemployment problem.
Back in August, when Chris met the billionaire during a television interview that featured some of Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs, he didn’t ask the Microsoft founder for a job or business advice. Instead, the 23-year-old Nigerian told Gates how he had turned down a software engineer role at Microsoft.
“When I told him, Gates was intrigued and he smiled. After the programme, all the directors were like, ‘Dude, you mean you actually turned down a job at Microsoft and had the guts to tell Bill Gates?'”
Kwekowe emphasized his desire to use Slatecube’s digital internship to help other young Nigerians find jobs and based on a survey conducted on January 2016, among 90,000 Nigerian graduates, 45 percent were unemployed. Some research also pointed out the key reason employers often reject graduates – lack of professional skills; critical thinking, entrepreneurship, decision-making, etc.
The graduate of computer science from Lagos founded the company with his brother, Emerald, 20, in October 2014. Both siblings funded their efforts by freelancing as web designers and running a software solutions firm.
How Slatecube Works
Slatecube runs a three-tiered program. Users are expected to complete a course in their chosen discipline (most are free) – in classes range from corporate finance to anger management. Next, the startup assigns them virtual internships, allowing them to work remotely for companies including IT business, Cisco and accounting firm, Grant Thornton. Should the virtual internship go well, companies can hire the Slatecube graduates on a full-time basis.
It was reported that the platform has an 80% employment rate for users, and Slatecube says businesses saved more than $100,000 in 2015 by recruiting skilled labour from its platform.
In 2015, Kwekowe won the 2015 Anzisha Prize, a pan-African award for the continent’s leading young entrepreneur, with a $25,000 check. According to reports, he spent four months in a year, luring investors and potential employers for the platform in the U.S.
According to him, negotiations with several household names like Google and Microsoft to work with Slatecube are in order. And he also plan to branch out to other African countries like Kenya, Ghana and South Africa.
“If Slatecube is as successful as we hope, I will put it down to the patience and tenacity I developed from starting out in Lagos.
“If you can do business in Lagos, you can do business anywhere in the world. The struggle is real here.”