Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti: The journey from biochemistry to fintechpreneur

  • Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti, founder of Herconomy, is passionate about empowering women in business through funding, mentorship, and training.
  • She transitioned from studying Chemical Engineering to Biochemistry before gaining diverse work experience in the UK.
  • Ifedayo founded Parliamo Bambini and Philos and Zoe, and later launched Herconomy to provide women with access to funding, information, and mindset change for economic empowerment.

If you follow entrepreneurship news and trends, then you probably should have heard of Herconomy, a startup focused on empowering entrepreneurs with what they need most – funding, mentorship and training.

This week’s founders profile features Herconomy founder – Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti, and the interesting story of how she went from almost becoming a chemical engineer to becoming an entrepreneur. Ifedayo is applying her over-a-decade worth of experience across various industries, to build a platform that has improved the lives of so many women.

Ifedayo was born to an Engineer dad, and a lawyer mom, although her mother gave up her career early on to devote more time to nurturing the children. Her parents valued education highly and did not hesitate to teach the same values to their children.

  • “From a very young age, I knew I had to work hard and be independent. I also knew I needed to help other women, hence why I started Herconomy,” she later said.

How she came to study Chemical Engineering Biochemistry

Ifedayo recounted that at the time she got admitted into the university at age 15, she had no idea what she wanted to study, so her parents filled in Chemical Engineering (probably because her dad was an engineer as well).

  • “I was a strict science student from secondary school. I loved Chemistry and Biology at the time. My University didn’t have Pharmacy as an accredited course. My Dad is a Chemical Engineer like I mentioned earlier, so the closest course that my mum felt was aligned to my skills, was Chemical Engineering,” she recounted.

By the end of the first semester at Covenant University, Ifedayo knew for sure that Engineering was not her destined path for life. She grumbled for about three more semesters before eventually making a switch to Biochemistry, a course that she had no plans of doing after school. Explaining the choice of Biochemistry, Ifedayo said:

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  • “After my first year, I wanted to change my course to Management and Information Systems (MIS), but because I wasn’t failing, my Dad didn’t understand when I tried to explain that I was struggling and like any loving Dad, he encouraged me to continue pushing. After my second year, I knew I couldn’t continue again but this time, my University wasn’t allowing people to change to MIS anymore. My only other choice was Biochemistry.”

The 6-months internship which came up later in the course of her study soon showed Ifedayo that Biochemistry was also not the path for her. At this time, all she wanted was to graduate and start piecing her life together.
After her first degree, she served the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year at Standard Chartered Bank. At this point, she fell in love with a different experience.

  • “I loved the experience. I loved meeting different people every day and solving different challenges. So I decided to work some more, then do an MBA, hoping that no one will send me back to a lab or a brewery. That’s how I made the shift.”

She then proceeded to bag an MBA in Global Business in the UK.

Career experiences

While still in the United Kingdom, Ifedayo started getting more work experience. She worked with Arcadia Group Plc, a British multinational retailing company headquartered in London, England. It was the parent company to British Home Stores (BHS), Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Debenhams, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topman, Topshop, Wallis and Warehouse.

  • “I used to work at the Head Office in Marylebone, and the 2 top things I learnt while working there were how to treat customers right and also the reality of customer fraud. All of these experiences would come in handy much later when I went into business,” she said.

Ifedayo also worked with Aspire Acquisitions, a direct marketing company in the UK. This job was so gruelling that she would later describe it as the hardest job she ever did. It was also quite rewarding, teaching her everything from storytelling to sales, and how to deal with rejections and face fears.

“It taught me the power of tunnel vision. I had one goal and I had to hit it,” she said.

By the time Ifedayo returned to Nigeria in 2012, her cumulative experience in sales and marketing had toughened her up to take on bigger challenges. She joined Nigerian Breweries (Heineken Operating Company in Nigeria) as a Young African Talent (YAT) and transitioned to their Corporate Communications Department in the position of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Support Manager, where she successfully managed various corporate social responsibility and sustainability projects.

Founding Parliamo Bambini

Ifedayo launched Parliamo Bambini and Philos and Zoe, startups disrupting the baby and child industry through locally manufactured furniture and clothing for children to reduce poverty, empowering the youth and promoting access to quality education in Nigeria and Africa.

In 2016, Parliamo Bambini was selected as one of the companies whose idea can transform Africa by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and she would later become one of the Alumni Hub Leads for the South West region of Nigeria under the Foundation. Parliamo Bambini is also a beneficiary of the Variant Adisory and Winner of the Jumia Super Startup Competition.

Herconomy – building a better economy for women

She is the founder of Herconomy (formerly called AGS Tribe), a brand that is passionate about the empowerment of women in their businesses, career or personal development journey. The dream for Herconomy stemmed from experiences and observations where women end up with the shorter end of the stick due to lack of access to self-development, and finances.

  • “I’ve been passionate about the empowerment of women from a very young age, because of some of the things I saw growing up. These issues weren’t issues I saw only in Nigeria; I saw them across the continent, probably even worse outside of Nigeria. The underlying issue was access to funding, information and mindset.”

And this was why Herconomy set out to build a society where women have a voice and equal access to funding and opportunities.

Herconomy provides women with a platform to save money and earn high interest, connect with other like-minded women in the community, and build their capacity, so they can become empowered. Herconomy has trained over 100,000 women online and offline, and mentored and provided grants to hundreds of women-led businesses. In 2021, Herconomy raised $600,000 in 24 hours. They have also partnered with organisations like Amazon, Google, Meta (Facebook), and numerous others.

Awards and recognitions

She was part of the Africa Startup Initiative (ASIP) Accelerator Programme and also a recruitment partner with Amazon. Ifedayo is an associate member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).

An alumnus of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ifedayo was invited to African Development Conference at Harvard University as a panellist in 2018, to discuss the role of women in democracy and how it impacts businesses in Africa.

Ifedayo is a recipient of the Women’s Advocacy Award from the West African Leadership Organisation, in recognition of her exemplary leadership and dedication to socio-economic development in West Africa. She was also named a Peace Scholar by the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs and in 2019 was appointed as a Youth Advisory Group Member for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition formed by the World Bank, aimed at providing catalytic support to employment and productive work for 150 million youth by 2030.

Ifedayo Durosinmi–Etti was selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow in 2021. She was also selected as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and is currently the Project Lead for Startup Dome, a project launched to bridge the gender gap through the socio-economic empowerment of women in Nigeria.
She has authored a book; Accessing Grants for Startups: A Guide for African Entrepreneurs Kindle Edition.

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