Why this graduate turned down a job at Microsoft to start a business helping young Nigerians find employment
WHEN 23-year-old Nigerian computer science graduate Chris Kwekowe met Bill Gates, he didn’t ask the founder of Microsoft for a job. Instead, Chris told Bill Gates that he had already turned down a job offer from Microsoft to be a software engineer.
When he told the multi-billionaire his story at a forum for Africa’s brightest young entrepreneurs, Chris recalls: “[Gates] was really intrigued, and he smiled.” Once the gathering was over, Chris says “…all the directors were like, ‘Dude, you mean you actually turned down a job at Microsoft and had the guts to tell Bill Gates?”
But he had a great reason to decline the job offer as he was creating his own startup company, Slatecube.
Slatecube helps other young Nigerians who graduated college find jobs.
In 2016, a survey of 90,000 young Nigerians discovered that 45% of college graduates didn’t have jobs.
In 2014, when Chris graduated from college, he and his brother Emerald, 20, they started Slatecube.
The brothers financed their fledgling company by freelancing as web designers and operating a software solutions firm.
The Kwekowes’ company operates on a three-tiered system.
In the first part of the process, users complete a course, many of which are free, in their chosen field. Some of the available courses range from corporate finance to anger management.
Once the course is complete, Slatecube assigns the students virtual internships. This allows them to work remotely for companies such as IT giant, Cisco and accounting firm Grant Thornton. If the student has a successful virtual internship, the company they worked for is free to hire the Slatecube graduates.
So far, Slatecube has an 80 per cent 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.
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 cheque.
He is currently spending almost four-months per year seeking investors and potential employers to use Slatecube in America.
The company is expecting to open offices in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa in 2017 and Chris is now in talks with Google and Microsoft in regards to using his platform.
When asked about how he is able to compete in the business world, Chris said: “If you can do business in Lagos, you can do business anywhere in the world. The struggle is real here.”