When, in August, 23-year-old Nigerian college graduate Chris Kwekowe met Bill Gates, he didn’t press the founder of Microsoft Inc. for business advice or a possible job offer. The meeting took place at a forum for Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs.
Rather Chris told Bill Gates during the forum that featured some of Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs, how he had turned down a software engineer role at Microsoft.
“[Gates] was really intrigued, and he smiled,” says Kwekowe, “After the program, all the directors were like, ‘Dude, you mean you actually turned down a job at Microsoft and had the guts to tell Bill Gates?” . The young entrepreneur was extremely confident in his abilities and had a great reason to decline the job offer. Chris was creating his own startup company, Slatecube, which helps other young Nigerians who graduated college find jobs. Slatecube seeks to solve that problem by nurturing the graduates through digital internships.
Chris Kwekowe graduated from college in Lagos, Nigeria with a degree in computer science. Along with his brother Emerald, 20, they started Slatecube in October 2014. The brothers financed their fledgling company by freelancing as web designers and operating a software solutions firm.
So far, Slatecube has an 80% employment rate for its users. Companies that have used the platform, have saved over $100,000 in 2015 by hiring skilled, ready to work employees. The interns that have used Slatecube so far, say it gives prospective employers a more realistic understanding of the Nigerian labor force.
Chris recently won the 2015 Anzisha Prize, a Pan-African award given to the continent’s best young entrepreneur. The prize came with a $25,000 check. He is currently spending almost four-months per year seeking investors and potential employers to use Slatecube in America. He is now in talks with Google and Microsoft in regards to using his platform.
The company is expecting to open offices in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa in 2017. When asked where his tenacious spirit to compete in the business world comes from, Chris said, “If you can do business in Lagos, you can do business anywhere in the world.”