Odunayo Eweniyi is Cofounder and COO at Piggyvest, an automated savings and micro-investment platform that helps young Nigerians access financial services. She is also the Co-founder at FirstCheck Africa, an angel fund and community for women in tech whose mission is to advance equity, capital and leadership for a generation of women in Africa. She talks about how she is helping promote equality for women via FirstCheck Africa.
How The Journey Began
I think everyone sets out on a journey not knowing what it will turn out to be but definitely hoping for the best possible outcome. I’m no different. I started out in tech hoping to make a difference and make an impact. The journey is still in its early days but I think I’m well on my way. The belief in myself that I can, or I’m well positioned to do anything I’ve done is mostly borne out of a great support system. So many people very vocally believe in me so much that it’s easy to believe in myself.
My Driving Force
The one thing that drives me is the desire to always leave a situation, circumstance or space better than I met it. I believe in constant improvement and I like to believe I take that everywhere. So I’m compelled to do my best to make things better and that’s what I’ve spent my career trying to do.
I have so many memorable milestones. One is getting my first job in Tech. That happened in 2013. And then, there are the milestones of launching my first startup, PushCV, in 2014, shutting down a startup, 500Dishes, in 2016, launching PiggyVest (then called Piggybank.ng) in that same year,, and getting the first 1,000 users on Piggyvest in 2017. We then raised our seed round in 2018, got to our first million users in 2020, and launched a fund for women (FirstCheck Africa) in 2021. The list goes on.
One lesson I have learned over time in my career is to always be prepared for any and everything. This is because everything that can go wrong will definitely go wrong. If there are no plans to ensure things don’t go bad, and put the right structures in place to mitigate the crisis, there would surely be a crisis. So, we must always be two steps ahead.
On Women Empowerment
I’m a woman, I don’t need a reason to create a level playing field for myself and people like me. It is something that has to grow to become our second nature. We don’t need to be motivated to do this. It just happens. Not wanting a level playing field is essentially not being on my own side, and that’s not smart, at all.
For instance, I am creating a level playing ground for women via FirstCheck Africa, where I am a Co-founder. FirstCheck Africa is a fund that’s dedicated to advancing Equity, Capital and Leadership for a generation of women in Africa. I’m also the Co-founder of The Feminist Coalition – a group of young Nigerian feminists who work to promote equality for women in Nigerian society across Financial Literacy, Women’s Health and Safety and Legislative Power for women. I work to make sure that whatever space I occupy, representation and diversity follows.
There is a saying by Hilary Clinton that I love so much. It says ‘Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all. I believe so strongly in representation, and this reflects in all my projects. I also believe that closing the gender gap requires a lot of hard work and intentionality, so I don’t believe that one thing will cut it. But if I had to wave a wand and magically cause a change, it would be to bring equal representation into existence.
For young girls and women out there, one thing you need to do is to find the one thing that makes you special. For me, what I bring to the table is my grit. Whatever I need to do to bring a vision to life, I’ll do it. I’ll learn it. This has been my superpower and I deploy it in all the projects I work on.
I have a saying I borrow from my dad. It says “aim very high, work very hard, care very deeply”. When you do this, you begin to see parts of you that you never knew existed. You begin to understand what drives you and the issues that you care deeply about. As you evolve, you would then find your spark.
Odunayo Eweniyi is the co-founder & Chief Operations Officer, PiggyVest. She has 5 years’ experience in Business Analysis and Operations and is a First-Class graduate of Computer Engineering, Covenant University, Nigeria. She was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 Technology in 2019 and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators 2019. She sits on the advisory board of TrainFuture, an Education Technology company based in Switzerland. She was also one of the featured speakers at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting in 2019.