Seven Women Who are Defining the Face of  Agritech in Africa
A story of Women in Fintech, Cellulant's International Women's Day Campaign

On this Month in 1913, the 8th day of March was set aside to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s day is a global celebration that is marked each year as a focal point in the women’s rights movement.

At Cellulant, we are marking this year’s theme of ‘An equal world is an enabled world‘ by highlighting the significant strides and contributions that our women, who by virtue of thriving in technology, have continued to break down the perpetuated myth that certain professions within the technology sector cannot be led by women.

Unlike fintech – a term used to describe the integration of technology into financial services offerings- which has been around relatively longer, Agritech remains a virtually less known term and still an emerging sector. Cellulant has been among the pioneers of Agritech in Africa.
In 2012, Cellulant implemented one of the largest and most impactful technology-based solutions for Agriculture in Nigeria; the Nigerian Government’s GES Scheme.

Fast-forward from 2012, Cellulant’s Agrikore is an online marketplace (e-marketplace) solution creating value for smallholder farmers, agricultural input and produce traders by digitizing at both the input and produce stages and linking all the players in agriculture at the input level (farmers, agro-dealers, financial institutions, governments, development partners ) and at produce level ( FMCGs, produce aggregators).

In this first article of a 2-part blog series on Cellulant’s Women Tribe, I spoke to the women who, over the years, have been an integral part of building the Agrikore marketplace’s Agritech ecosystem. They continue to setup up critical structures and workstreams that support the whole value Agriculture chain for all the players right from the farmer to the consumer.

Jennifer Onyebuagu Manager, Retail Marketplace

Jennifer Onyebuagu, Manager, Retail Marketplace, Cellulant

Jennifer is an astute, driven, practical, strategic and fun-loving professional with over 9 years in sales, enterprise engagement and project management.

For 5 years, she has been responsible for building out the 3 critical standard business units of the Cellulant Nigeria business. After sustaining the success of the retail payments network, she went further to lead a dedicated team to build out the food processing marketplace and now is currently building the retail marketplace business; completing the Agrikore farm to plate strategy.

She manages two strategic workstreams – The Retail marketplace that extends finished goods from food processors down the value chain and the retail payments network that ensures all payments are made in a secure way.

Jennifer is passionate about Agric, retail and finance and believes these are the 3 verticals that will shape the next frontier in the continent. She is also passionate about building solutions that improve the livelihoods of Nigerians. She loves to mentor, train and challenge people to be their best.  One of her biggest influencers and mentors has been Cellulant’s Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Bolaji Akinboro who inspired her love for Agritech.

What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you as a woman in tech? – None to be honest. Tech is a unique equalizer. You are competent or not. So it’s not about Gender. I come with a triple-A star attitude to work. I face challenges like any other individual.

Which have been the most rewarding 

The impact our solution makes with people that really need it.

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them 

Tech is the sector of the future. We need to be part of the future.

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
The challenges, opportunities and the ability to experiment one’s ideas. More importantly, the people.

Before joining Cellulant, Jennifer worked in a micro-finance institution that provided financial wellness for B2B2C customers. 

Unini CampbellEnterprise Lead, Agrikore

Unini Campbell- Enterprise Lead, Agrikore, Cellulant

Unini is a passionate, analytical, result-oriented and dynamic Enterprise Business Manager, Food Processor (FP) Marketplace where she manages a team to drive the demand side of marketplace business; this includes the onboarding of Food Processors across different segments onto the Agrikore platform, and strategically managing these FPs to create and capture the most value for them, the supply actors on the platform, and for company.

What are some of the things you are passionate about
I am driven by the desire to build/create- I look to build businesses and systems that give people and communities access and empowers them for self-actualization and wealth creation… and of course, making money. 

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?
Impressive alignment with my interests and passion- Fintech/Agritech is a huge engine for value creation at scale in Africa. 

What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you as a woman in tech?
None

Which moments have been the most rewarding?
The visible and measurable impact created by our solutions, particularly- The successful launch of the Coscharis Farm Rice Business. As this was made possible with Agrikore as the platform that managed the supply chain to its Mill.

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them
There is no such thing as something not being for you; except you just don’t want it. If you do, then you do not need anyone’s permission. 

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
Dynamic environment, amazing people, and making real impact

Before joining Cellulant, Unini worked as a Research and Program Associate at the Ford Institute for Human Security, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania- a Research Institute focused on Economic development and political violence.


Deina Mayaki- Manager, Agrikore

Deina Mayaki- Manager, Agrikore

Deina describes herself as a daring, fearless, result-oriented and focused individual

What are some  of the things you are passionate about 

Helping people, making sure people around me are stirred to think beyond their environments and reach out to greater heights, bringing people out of their dark world. Plants like I was taught in school, are the root of all drugs, I’ve studied plants for a while especially for their medicinal components and I’ve always wondered that there could be something more they could mean or offer.
Technology has been my flair, because of my obsession with innovation, growth; for me the question was what sector is highly untapped and has potential to scale if given the right technology with the right strategy and solution. Solving this puzzle wakes me up in the morning and keeps me up late.

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?
I met Mr Bolaji whose passion for Agritech and the impact it can have on food security in Africa.

What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you as a woman in tech? 
Keeping up with the trends. In tech, you always have to pay attention to the most minute changes. I’ve learnt to cope over time.

Which have been the most rewarding moments?
Watching the people and business grow. From 3 people in 1 state to over 50 staff in about 10 states. This feeling is worth it.

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them?
Anything can be done by whoever is willing and ready. You have to be interested enough to exert yourself. Stay true, represent golden womanhood, there’s power in you to conquer your world. Anything and everything is doable and possible. Believe. 

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
I get to explore new ideas every time. You are constantly given the opportunity to blaze new trails and you get to do it while young. For me, I love that I’m solving real problems that have a direct impact on people’s lives

Before joining Cellulant Deina worked as a Pharmacist

Kofoworola KolawoleDeputy Operations Manager, Retail Marketplace

Kofoworola Kolawole-  Deputy Operations Manager, Retail Marketplace, Cellulant

Kofo describes herself as a detailed oriented, practical and observant individual with a compassionate perspective of initiative to respond to life situations with a positive outlook of enthusiasm. 

Her role is in the retail market place which has two workstreams; Retail Work Creation and Retail Market Integration. This is the 2nd division within our “Farm to Plate overall model” whose focus is the “industry to retail” model workstream. This business division came into operation this year and has been from one level of speedy success to another. We have switched on our first trade within less than 1 month of establishing the division. This is super exciting as it can only get better. 

What drives you? 

A fast-paced working environment. Ability to put my creative skills to use. Seeing tangible quantitative measurable results from my effort. The gratification of overcoming an obstacle is one of my greatest motivations

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?

Innovation, new frontiers for growth, development

Which have been the most rewarding moments?

Hmm. solving problems around the world. Bringing about solutions to the cry of many in different forms and ways thereby impacting the lives of many through our payment solutions

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them

There is no such thing as “Certain professions are not for female gender” it’s a mirage of the mind. Anything you set your heart to achieve, you can achieve it.  It all starts in the mind, once you can conceive it, you can achieve it, simple!

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?

Cellulant is the ground for training, opportunities and perfection for the bigger world outside. Cellulant is a revolving system that affords you the opportunity to be versatile in different skills. 

Before joining Cellulant, Kofo worked with the Military – Nigerian Air Force as a civilian where she managed the project for the housing and constructions mortgage allocations, payment and settlements for both personnel and civilians.

Milkah Wachiuri- Chief Operations Officer, Marketplace

Milkah Wachiuri- Chief Operations Officer, Marketplace, Cellulant

Milkah describes herself as a driven and focused individual with a strong will who loves to organize in chaotic and complex situations. Pretty pushy yet patient.

She has been in Cellulant for 8 years in finance & strategy. Eight weeks ago, she joined the marketplace team running Operations. The new chapter in my work life and my day job is to support our marketplace team comprising of the food processing and retail team to organize around our results, plan and achieve set targets through working with different departments in the business who support our work; tech, finance, people etc

What drives you?
In life, I`m driven by an insatiable need to beat the odds and do things that would otherwise not be typical of my level or age etc. I am passionate about living a life that meant something to me, to my friends and family and to those whose lives I touched. At work, I am passionate about taking on risky but fulfilling projects and seeing every team member I work with realise their dreams and seeing cellulant truly break the mould in creating a business we can all be proud to have been a part of.

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?

Pure luck really and a lot of things falling into place, I, however, fell in love with fintech and with Agritech for the many possibilities it offers us – Agritech today if we do a really good job in the marketplace we can actually be a part of reducing hunger in a continent that needs it the most in the world – how about that for something to wake up to!

What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you as a woman in tech?

I wouldn’t want to think of my challenges as being there because I was a woman as I have never felt less than or treated less than in the business for being a woman. My most challenging moments though were when I was CFO running a finance function that had little to no money but still needed to keep the business going and growing. I was pushed to my limits, survived and learnt a lot of lessons along the way.

Which have been the most rewarding moments?

The most rewarding moments if I could summarise them would be successfully executing on series B&C funding, Building a finance reporting culture and the team from scratch and challenging myself with taking on the Operations role in the marketplace.

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them

Tech is certainly not just about the technical part of it – every tech business has non-tech roles that one can take on. 

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?

The business is agnostic of age, experience etc to take on any role or project – there is nothing I have wanted to do or take one where I was not fully supported especially by my bosses Bolaji and Ken.

Before joining Cellulant, Milka was previously an auditor with Deloitte 

Joy Agbator -Product Management Team Lead

Joy Agbator -Product Management Team Lead, Cellulant

Joy describes herself as a joyful person, diligent, easygoing, meticulous and focused.

She is responsible for leading the Product Management team to focus on enhancing the definition and growth of our products in the market and overseeing the development and management of the product’s roadmap based on the strategies and vision of the organization.

What drives you?
People’s needs, Excellent Solutions and Cellulant.

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?  
The needs, the problems  and the solution I could bring to them

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them
What a man can do, a woman can do better…

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
I love the fact that we are solving real human problems and bringing solutions to many that have already lost hope. Also, it’s great fun working with the people of Cellulant Nigeria…

Before joining Cellulant, Joy worked with MTN via Tavia technology as the Quality Assurance Manager team lead from November 2011 to November 2013.

Ada Ubah – Legal and Compliance Manager

Ada Ubah -  Legal and Compliance Manager, Cellulant

Ada describes herself as a strong, determined and resilient woman. She is an experienced Legal and Compliance Manager in the Financial Services industry 

At Cellulant, Ada manages legal and compliance functions across 18 markets countries. Her role involves the implementation of legal and compliance processes that relates to legal drafting, negotiations, coordination of Group Sanctions and policies, as well as defending the business interest in commercial contracts.   

What drives you?
I am driven by the inner desire to make an impact. I am very passionate about my job, I often tell people that my work is my ‘trademark’. I am also passionate about learning and growing; I intentionally measure the progress I make in every aspect of my life on a daily basis.  

What drove you towards Fintech/Agritech generally?
The desire to be part of a system that is changing lives and solving known problems in its space. 

What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you as a woman in tech?  I have not exactly encountered any challenge as a woman in Tech, working in Cellulant has given me a soft landing.

Which have been the most rewarding
To work in an environment that recognises your input/effort – Cellulant.  

What words of inspiration would you give to young women and girls who still feel that tech or certain professions are not for them
Every woman/girl has the opportunity to become who they desire with the right attitude, passion and resilience. 

What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
We are dynamic, spontaneous and brave. 

Prior to joining Cellulant in 2016, Ada managed a petroleum marketing business. Post law school, she worked as a Legal Associate in a Law firm.

In our 2nd part of this blog series, we shall be celebrating the Cellulant women who play different technical roles. Follow our conversations for this campaign using #IWDCellulant on all our social media channels.