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A Dreamer from Nigeria 

By Philemon Kajewole | Mon Sep 06 2021
"Dreams are extremely important. You can do it only if you can imagine it." This was said during a training, in a small lecture room at the University of Lagos, in Nigeria, which introduced me to the world of investments and finance. At the time, I was just an ambitious young student from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, devoting a 6-month period to a 130-mile, biweekly interstate trip, to learn everything required to break into the world of finance. I had just returned from my first trip abroad, which doubled as my first ever work/volunteering experience, and I was extremely fired up to secure my next adventure. Over the next few years, I held roles in New Delhi, London, Lagos, and Accra, and my next stop was Addis Ababa! This was in no way a coincidence, and I'll tell you why!
I grew up in the small town of Ijede, Lagos State, Nigeria, and luckily, I was exposed early on to the importance of education, and its capacity to be the wings to fly to the topmost height and achieve the loftiest goals. Private equity had always been a dream for me, fueled by the infamous achievements of Wall Street and the role of FDIs in Africa’s development, but I was never oblivious to the difficulties in landing a PE role. I had taken up five different roles, in five different cities, over the course of five years in preparation: business analysis, sales, project finance, investment finance and management consulting. The business analysis and sales roles were to acquire client relationship management skills after which I moved on to the investment finance role to build core skills needed to thrive in finance, and finally a role in management consulting to understand the strategic and operational side of building a business. During these five years, I developed an uncanny level of strength, learned the ability to convert setbacks into learning opportunities and the cross-cultural experience allowed me to truly appreciate the value of diversity. In December 2020, I received an offer to join RENEW, and it was the perfect way to wrap up a year that tested every form of resilience in me.
My time at RENEW has been nothing short of challenging and exciting. I have had the opportunity to meet truly talented and amazing individuals. The team’s diversity (a team of about 24 people from 10 different nationalities), exposes me to unique perspectives and contributions. I currently have the privilege of working closely with the investment team and the SGS team, supporting the investment process alongside Diana, Tamiru, Lincoln, Mary and Dagi, while learning from amazing coaches like JC and Pranay.
At RENEW, every day is different, and this is what makes it so exciting to work here as there is always something to look forward to. The exemplary leadership style of Matt and Laura has made working here such a dream and the culture is simply sensational. Everyone is given an equal level of respect irrespective of their level or position and this creates a very healthy working environment as every team member knows that their views will always be respected and acknowledged.
RENEW’s vision is to be the most successful SME investment firm in Africa, and we have assembled not just an army of dreamers, but dreamers with a track record of success, and this fuels my excitement for the future of the firm and the journey ahead. From my experience, I’m confident that if you can dream it, then you can do it!
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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