BY ANITA OKOH
Toyin Umesiri is an entrepreneur and the convener for the Trade with Africa Business Summit. In 2017, she made the big leap from corporate America into full-time entrepreneurship to focus on increasing trade between U.S. and Africa. After over a decade of working in corporate America, at Fortune 1 & Fortune 150 companies. She is now taking all the lessons learned, skills acquired and global networks built as leverage in empowering businesses on the continent of Africa.
Tell us about your background
I was born in the northern state of Kaduna, Nigeria. For my first degree, I attended Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and graduated with a BSc. in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science.
In the fall of 2004, I arrived in the U.S. to pursue a Master’s program in Information Systems at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Upon the completion of my graduate degree in 2006, I joined Whirlpool Corporation in Michigan as an Analyst.
I grew my career there designing and developing global technology solutions that addressed complex business problems in manufacturing, finance and supply chain. In 2013 I was hired as a manager to help roll out the global sourcing solution for Walmart in the UK and North America.
I am passionate about empowering women and I have had the opportunity to serve on various leadership committees that advanced women’s agenda. In 2016 I was published in a book called ‘Leading Women’ and was also featured as a leading and inspirational woman in technology on the platform.
What made you walk away from Walmart to start Nazaru, and what skills would you say you acquired that prepared you to start your own company?
I have been on a journey of reconnecting with Africa for the past 2 years. It all started when I made an emergency trip to Nigeria in 2015 following the passing of my father. And that one trip changed my life.
While there I had the honour of writing a mini-biography of my father which gave me a front row seat to understanding how he lived. The experience rocked my world and I came to realize that my late father was a man that served his community in meaningful ways.
Following that trip, I decided I needed to be of greater service to my generation. I didn’t know exactly how to help then but after 2 years of research in this area, I do now. When I returned to my base in Arkansas I made a strong commitment to Africa. Being naturally situated in the global headquarters of Walmart it was there that I first ignited my dialogue on Africa.