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Nigerian businessman uses the Mandela Fellowship to better his country

Mandela Washington Fellowship

As he came to Des Moines from Nigeria Asher Adeniyi planned on using the six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship to provide him some insight to improve his business.

He did just that.

Adeniyi came to Des Moines as the co-founder of Gidijobs—a human resources company—and he’s returning to Nigeria with three partnerships with Kuder, Des Moines Area Community College and Drake University that will improve the pool of applicants in Nigeria and hopefully, the overall culture.

“Nigeria is a country of 180 million people, we need to make sure people are gainfully employed,” Adeniyi, 28, says. “What I have seen here has changed my life and changed my perspective. It has brought me to a new place that I feel more confident that this is possible.”

Adeniyi says Kuder will work with students in Nigeria to find the right career path for them, DMACC will provide vocational training and Drake University will provide executive training to business leaders from Nigeria.

These partnerships formed because Adeniyi says he’s learned more about leadership through the Mandela Washington Fellowship program and professors at Drake University.

‘He gets things done’

Laura Kinnard, Drake University Professor of Entrepreneurial Management, said Adeniyi is the only one to her knowledge who has formed these partnerships.

“I think the partnerships he has in the works are amazing accomplishments way beyond what the program necessarily is intended for,” Kinnard said. “He has a good grasp on what the problems are with unemployment and skill deficits and he is bringing a whole suite of solutions and tools to the table on both the employee and employer side.”

Kinnard described Asher as a “shrewd negotiator” and a “visionary.”

“He also has the unique dual ability to dream and do,” Kinnard says. “He gets things done. He has a philosophy to assign one major goal per day to accomplish in addition to tasks and he will rarely rest until he has made that daily goal.”

Improving his business and his country

On the plane ride to Iowa, Adeniyi says he wasn’t sure what he was getting into. But he knew he wanted to better his business.

Adeniyi said his human resources company is the number two HR company in Nigeria. GidiJobs currently has 43 customers and recruited for over 1,800 positions in 18 months.

“The biggest company has been there for about 8 years now but they are just a job listing firm that does not solve the day to day problem of the employer,” Adeniyi says. “An employer wants to retain talent and in retaining talent, you need to develop them. So companies face that challenge of retaining and developing talent. So that’s where we come in.”

Through the partnerships with Kuder, DMACC and Drake University, Adeniyi believes Nigeria and its employers will benefit.

“Kuder helps us hire the right fit for each vacancy,” Adeniyi said. “DMACC is about vocational skill. A lot of people are out of jobs and don’t have a degree, but they are into some form of vocation, but they just aren’t very good. It’s about empowering the people into vocation.”

Kuder is expected to start working in Nigeria within six months while DMACC starts their work next year.

Drake University will host executives from Nigeria next Spring for training.

“We want to be a model for business leaders in Nigeria,” he says. “It’s not just about what we say we can do, it’s about who we are.”

Past coverage

Pappajohn to Young African Leaders: Do something, but enjoy it

Young African leaders submerged in Des Moines startup community

Nigerian businessman uses the Mandela Fellowship to better his country | Clay & Milk
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