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Richard Branson said he was sure she had a “very bright future”. Turns out he was right. Eseoghene Ise Odiete took part in the British Council’s Enterprise Challenge, an online competition developed in partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airways. The competition provided a platform for young, brilliant entrepreneurial minds to further develop their skills, businesses and bring their innovative ideas to the fore for possible future development. It is designed to test a range of consumerist skills and is open to Nigerians living in Nigeria who fall within the 18 to 35 year age bracket. The Enterprise Challenge encouraged young Nigerian entrepreneurs to showcase their business ideas in an Apprentice-style competition. Made up of three rounds, candidates wrote an essay on their entrepreneurial journeys, created a video pitch for their businesses or business plans, and had their ideas judged by a panel of experts in Nigeria and the UK. Today Eseoghene Odiete is an award-winning young female fashion entrepreneur.  She is the brain behind Hesey Designs, an online store selling African-inspired accessories – through which she empowers and mentors young African women. She designed the sneakers Richard Branson CEO of Virgin Atlantic wore for the launch of the Virgin Atlantic uniform recently in London.

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Eseoghene Odiete: As Bright as Claimed

In summary, Eseoghene Odiete is a self-taught Nigerian fashion entrepreneur. She has created one of Nigeria’s leading fashion brands, HESEY Designs, with a strong vision of empowering women and youth in her local community. Having been raised and inspired by a strong mother who also had entrepreneurial pursuits, Odiete always knew she would follow in her footsteps.  Odiete created HESEY Designs five years ago and has honestly never looked back.

Starting with just N10,000 after graduating from Covenant University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass communication in 2011, Ese has been able to further grow the business. This business growth has been attributed to her “can do” spirit and absolute tenacity. This has also seen her emerge as one of the winners of Google’s Africa Connect awards. She has shared the stage with world celebrated personalities, Richard Branson and Vivienne Westwood amongst others, following her British Council Enterprise Challenge win which gave an opportunity to have a special mentoring session with Sir Richard Branson and the opportunity to attend the Branson centre of entrepreneurship.

Ese was also a nominated for the Tony Elumelu Future Awards Africa prize in Business and recognised as one of the top 40 under 40 Nigerian entrepreneurs by bizwatchng. Her areas of interest go beyond entrepreneurship. She is a social evangelist with a passion for people and women empowerment. 

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Ese has been privileged to inspire other young people through various speaking opportunities like the British council ‘mind the gap’ conference, Google Africa summit in the University of Nairobi, ‘Girls inspire Girls’ show, Unilag, just to mention a few. She is also a skills development volunteer of Slum to school Africa where she trains young underprivileged people on different crafts to become economically empowered.

“If you empower a woman today, she goes on to empower everybody around her. I want young women to look up to me and say: if Ese can do this, then I can do it.”

-Eseoghene Odiete

Our everyday hero: Eseoghene Odiete, inspiring and an inspiration.


Cnbc Africa

British Council

Featured Image Source: The Designers Studio

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This article was first published on 13th March 2020


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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