Last week, on Democracy Day, Techpoint's CEO, Adewale Yusuf invited me to discuss Education & Entrepeneurship with Cecilia Ibru at a Fireside Chat. I had 20 Minutes with a Philanthropist and Financial Executive who is recognized as the First Lady of Nigeria's financial sector as well as a noted contributor to humanitarian efforts & founder of Michael & Cecilia Ibru University, a large scale educational system qualified as an international standard university education in Nigeria.
In these 20 Minutes, I gained a wealth of insight that everyone needs to know about Cecilia Ibru. And just because sharing is caring, I'll give you 10 quick reasons why you should love Her.
Her Late Husband, Michael Ibru was a Genius and she adores him!
She says & I quote "Being married to a Genius is a rare Privilege... My husband taught me a lot about combined entrepreneurial pursuits... He inspired me most in my Life". Her husband (25 Dec 1930 - 6 Sept 2016), did not attend university but instead negotiated for a managerial training. He would have become a film star in Paris but ventured into business and finally found his niche in Fishing, Aviation & Oil blocks. It is believed that he was the first man to introduce ice fish into Nigeria.
A Sociologist & Educator
She is from an educational background where her father pioneered primary & secondary commercial schools when there were none in Delta state which offered courses from Choreography to Welding. She says "You educate your mind & also educate your body physically (sports, dancing etc). I feel that Nobody should be without Education. You just need to be able to read & write and express yourself either in English, Yoruba, Ibo or Hausa; which ever way, but be able to express your mind."
She's rooting for Nigeria Entrepreneurs
"Every Nigerian is an entrepreneur because we love Trading & exchange of values. Nigeria is an el-dorado and money is flowing on the streets; that's the average talk among Europeans." She lived in England for 17 years & built a career as a treasurer but felt unfulfilled, seeking excellence within herself to contribute to the Nigerian Economy which led to her return. She further implored on professional and entrepreneurial Nigerians not to quit their nation. She says "It is the private sector that will move Nigeria into its rightful place in the economy of Nations. The government won't be able to do it because they are not that way inclined."
A Motivation & Inspiration
"You need people to tell you that you are better than you think are". She advises young people to find their passion and discover how to create a niche to it, working hard until they become successful. "Do you have a niche? What is the passion behind your niche? How do you create that niche and work through with it until you become so successful? Perseverance, dedicated pursuits of those ideas, ability to articulate, strategise those ideas and keep on nurturing it without losing sight of it"
A Business Woman
She shares her mantra for building a good Foundation for a Growing Business; "Your thoughts must be written down; and then analysed, packaged into bringing out the business proposition."
"Many of us need to have a mentor that has been through it before. Be submissive & listen to him/her. I was submissive to my husband. He was teaching me what to do in business and I listened to him and we became successful in Oceanic Bank."
Watch Out! She's planning a Comeback!
Talking about Oceanic Bank, She Says "If not for the tsunamis of the banking industry, we would still be there. But never mind, you never know, we will come back!"
She Says "After leaving the banking industry, there was no where I could go apart from large scale education. At Oceanic Bank, we had over 500 branches across Nigeria and I was managing it so going into education now, the primary school is not good enough. It won't task me. We had to scale it through Creche, Nursery, Primary, Seconday & University".
She says "In our school, there is no question of being rich or poor. You come according to your ability. Whether you can pay or not, we insist you must pay even if it is N20. We try to achieve an even playfield in that the uniform & home clothes are the same, no food in the dormitory & they are fed 6 meals per day."
Even at age 70, she's gunning hard to ensure her children (Students) are well fed and educated. She believes that they are young and need to feed their brains. She says "Students at MCIU are fed 6 meals per day! We believe that if you feed a child well in a good environment, he/she will excel and give all his/her best."
Additionally, she has joined the Tech vision and implores on Leaders of Industry to invest in IT education. She is soon introducing Skype lectures with professors from HAVARD university in her school who have pledged to render this service pro bono.
This is a new kind of woman. Are you still blinking your eyelids? Watch the full video of our chat in the following video by TechPoint. Fast forward to 2:37:15:
Download my version of her bio here to learn more about this Badass Woman!
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