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“We were literally warned not to say anything” – CcHub’s Founder, Bosun Tijani Speaks on Mark Zuckerberg’s Visit, His Drive, & More

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Bosun Tijani

Bosun Tijani

The Chief Executive Officer/Co-Founder of Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), Yaba, Bosun Tijani, in an interview with PUNCH’s Tobi Aworinde, has shared how the business – an incubator for technology start-up companies – started, and how Mark Zuckerberg‘s first visit to Nigeria, was kept a secret.

When did you discover your passion for mentoring young entrepreneurs?

My passion is not mentoring entrepreneurs. My interest is in finding ways to make technology work for us as a society and the reason why I am passionate about that is, I believe that as a society in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, for us to move forward, we have to invest in our ability to create the future we want to see. That  literally means we need to imbibe the culture of building solutions. If we have bad roads, we need to imbibe the culture of understanding how to build roads that will last, not necessarily “importing” companies that will do it for us. If our education is bad, we need to be able to create a better education system. That is my interest. But fortunately, technology is one tool that enables and provides opportunities for us to do things at scale. We are a large country and if we use technology smartly, we can reach much more people within the country and also build exciting scalable solutions that last. That is why I have decided to do what I do, which is to find ways in which technology can be useful and one of those ways would be to find smart people.

If my interest is in building technology solutions, obviously, I have to find smart and creative people that will build those solutions. So, find them, support them, invest in them and expose them to people who can help make their ventures grow—that’s the first thing. The second most important thing is also working with civil society organisations; these are organisations that are passionate about solving social problems. It is important that we work with them and empower them to also use technology in exciting ways. The last one is that if everything I have said is ever going to work, we need talent—we need people who are talented. We need people who can build the technology, so I am also interested in how do we find and train such people so that they can then become the future we want to see? That is what I do and what is what I am passionate about.

When did you start CcHUB?

We founded CcHUB in 2010, but the innovation centre opened in September 2011. I still have the book in which I started jotting the idea and I met with my co-founder, Femi Longe. We were both privileged to be in London – we studied in Nigeria and got the opportunity to go abroad for internship through a student organisation. We stayed in touch, met and shared ideas. He was working in social innovations; I was working in innovation consulting. We started thinking of how we could help support creative people in Nigeria. We started writing ideas down two to three years before launching in 2010.

How do you involve the government, knowing that a  lot of this is its responsibility?

Some of it; it’s not the sole responsibility of government. Government should be responsible; we have to work with government to provide the right enabling environment to make all these things work, but to a large extent, it is the responsibility of private sector organisations. Government has no business being in business; government’s role is not to run businesses and if government’s role is not to run businesses, government can’t understand how to support businesses. But what government can do is provide the enabling environment, put in the right infrastructure, and ensure that it is easy to do business in the country.

Government can do all that by working with private sector organisations to understand their needs, understand what enabling environment and infrastructure they can put in place that would help the business do well. What policies can they put in place that would make sure that businesses are not being spaced and businesses are creating jobs and generating wealth for the nation? That is the role of government. For civil society organisations, we have to go out there to look for them, because they are exciting organisations that take on the responsibility to do social good. In every society, you need them. They are not necessarily meant to replace government, but they are meant to support the work that government is meant to be doing.

What do you think about all the excitement that has come about as a result of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria?

Who would not be excited? This man is worth about, how much, between $53 and $55 billion. That is a lot of money. He is worth much more than our budget. He is, probably, the sixth or seventh richest man in the world, walking the streets of Yaba, right here in Nigeria. I think for a country like Nigeria, with all the bad press that we get and the cynicism around the name Nigeria, that was a huge surprise for everybody. It is unbelievable to a lot of people that Mark actually chose to come to Nigeria. It gives us hope that there is something unique about this place. But unfortunately, we are not taking advantage of it. Again, think about it, do you know that he came in on the day Nigeria was proclaimed to be entering the worst recession in 29 years? What sort of coincidence is that? When the world is telling us that we are going down, one of the richest people in the world came and he was telling us, “You have a lot of good in you and you can go up.” It is a message.

How much went into keeping his visit a secret?

It was challenging. We were literally warned not to (say anything); if there was a leak, he would turn back, he wouldn’t come. The sixth or seventh richest man in the world; it was a security threat. We didn’t know on time that he was the one that was coming; we knew a CEO or executive was coming from Facebook. Then few weeks before his arrival, we were informed that he was coming.

Read the rest HERE.

 

15 Comments

  1. Marie

    September 4, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Don’t give up Nigerians …..God is with Us….God bless Nigeria

  2. Tosin

    September 4, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Love and Respec’ to all of CcHub, the whole community. You all are MVPs.

  3. madman

    September 4, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    BN abeg post my comment.

    • One4All

      September 4, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      Which comment? What have you said? See, take time o and don’t waste space!

  4. madman

    September 4, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    arrogant

  5. Sugar

    September 5, 2016 at 12:17 am

    That was the invite that was sent out heheeeee “Top Executive” from facebook coming to Nigeria. Linda Ikeji ignored and formed big girl in Banana islan. When she realized it was Mark hosting entrepreneurs she was so heartbroken.

    Lesson learnt…… Don’t feel too big and despise invites to gatherings or events, you never know whats in the box!

    • tunmi

      September 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      …. Proof?

    • Naijatalk

      September 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Give us concrete evidence or quit spreading rumors.

  6. Abike

    September 5, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I can imagine the tension Bosun must have gone through to keep such secret. It can cause sleepless nights. The slightest leak will be known through the internet. Mark and his team will be monitoring every information, even monitor Bosun in the dream incase he tries to communicate with his ancestors in the dream. Top secret that you can’t even share with your wife!

    • Ladybird

      September 5, 2016 at 4:52 am

      LOL “monitor Bosun in the dream”

    • Ninny

      September 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      LMAOOOOO…Kudos to Bosun, he really tried…i cant imagine myself in his shoes, the excitement alone can cause me to stay awake and not find sleep till he arrives.

    • Call Me Gorgeous...

      September 5, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Hahahahaha…
      Monitor Bosun in his dreams via technology….
      You BNers make my day…sometimes!
      🙂

    • ATL's finest

      September 5, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      @ Abike pls don’t kill me with laugh. All these monitoring spirits/things. Well kudos to them all :). I bet when he finally came, the weight was lifting off his shoulders.

  7. Soki Briggs

    September 5, 2016 at 9:36 am

    We hope his visit opens more doors to Africa and Nigeria.
    If only the international media will focus on that and publicize it instead of only reporting the bad.

  8. Prince

    September 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Very impressive. well done Bosun. you guys are doing fantastically well. Forget about Nigeria government and focus on the ruler of the universe. He has already showcase you to the world.

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