Key Insights from ‘Building Resilience’: Sustainability & Innovation

Leaders within Nigeria and beyond featured in the third #FinBiz2030 Building Resilience online series of 2021. Over 1,600 finance and business professionals from around the world joined the live webinar which sought to address the local and global perspectives on the shared challenges we all face to build a better future.

This event was co-hosted by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Chartered Accountants Worldwide and One Young World.

Opening introductions by Kate Robertson, co-founder of One Young World

Kate welcomed the One Young World Ambassadors hosting and speaking at the event by reaffirming, “we exist only to identify, connect and promote young leaders all over the world, knowing that you will make a better world.”

Coming from Africa myself, I think of young people all over Africa with this incredibly young demographic. I always think in terms of resources. Africa has the greatest resource in the world and that is in her incredible people.

Kate echoed the call “Africa is rising… this century will be your century”. Acknowledging Africa’s global struggles against corruption, Kate highlighted the critical role of the financial industry across Africa. “For me the work that Chartered Accountants and the financial industry does right across the continent is holding the future of the continent and the world in their  hands”.

Keynote speaker Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, funder of the African Institution of Technology

Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a globally successful inventor, engineer, author, entrepreneur and Harvard Business Review contributor, spoke passionately about ‘Resilience, Sustainability and Entrepreneurship’.  “Pythagorsas said ‘the world is nothing but numbers”.

The elements of market systems

Professor Ekekwe outlined the elements required to build capabilities and overcome challenges in our society as  Knowledge, Entrepreneurial Capitalism, Capital, Land and Labour.

“When you have the capacity to create new knowledge you build a high level of reliance”. Professor Ekekwe highlighted knowledge as the key to the resilience of nations. “Universities such as Harvard, MIT, John Hopkins, Princeton allow a nation to renew itself from one generation to the other”.

He also outlined the critical need for entrepreneurs or pioneers to translate ideas into products and services “because in the end, the only thing that can overcome the problems in society are products and services. If you do not have people with the capacity to transform ideas and knowledge into products and services, societies cannot even function.

Innovation is what companies, communities and nations need to utilise their resources.

Professor Ekwkwe concluded with hope, outlining how throughout history societies have grown and developed by bringing commercialisation to invention, creating innovation.

Converting ideas

It is not enough to have an idea. You must be able to convert your idea into a product or service. “These are the conversations we bring to our young people. The greatness of a nation is always correlated with a capacity to solve problems in their society. It turns our products, services and the ability to create innovation and market systems, comericalise ideas so that customers can find things to buy to overcome friction. This is going to become extremely critical to take this country and continent to the next level.”

I want to challenge you…unless you build a nation of innovation we will not reach our promised land.

Watch the full event on-demand by clicking here.

Key Insights from Marc Alain Boucicault, founder of Banj

Marc Alain Boucicault is founder of Banj, the first and biggest entrepreneurship hub of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. From his background as an economist to his experience as a successful tech entrepreneur, Marc Alain outlined the ingredients needed for resilient, sustainable and innovative ecosystems.

Marc Alain shared 3 things he wished he knew sooner on his entrepreneurial journey:

  • Start building networks early.
  • Find a great idea and build it sustainably by starting small, test and grow.
  • Build strong partnerships, don’t go at this alone.

Marc Alain also referred to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a starting point for direction and purpose. “Look at the SDG’s, full of problems around the world. If you can find a solution, that’s great, you are relevant. Then you need to build something strong around it – we call it a business model.”

He concluded by speaking about the need to begin with a business model but to think beyond that.

If you want to build a strong ecosystem don’t just think about building a great business, think about building a great network that’s going deep into the social tissue around you. Make sure that everything you do is really looking at the opportunity to bring people together and create value together.

The panel discussion was led by Dr Ijeoma Ogochukwu Anaso, Technical and Education Director, ICAN

The three panelists were young leaders successful social entrepreneurs and One Young World Ambassadors: Kaveto Tjatjara, CEO of Flushh, Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti is the Managing Partner for AGS Tribe, Abideen Olasupo, CEO and Co-Founder of dHub Innovation Centre.

The panel offered some inspiring contributions:

Abideen spoke about his experience as a child, watching his mother walking long distances to gather firewood and how harmful cooking with wood is for women’s health across Nigeria and beyond. “It bothered me and I knew there had to be something I could do.” He did not have the solutions as a child but now employs over forty people on an innovative business project finding solutions.

Ifedayo spoke of the strong pull home after studying abroad to contribute to her country “If I cannot come back to contribute to the country, who would? I can do much more here. Nigeria is still a struggling country, we still have a lot to do, there’s so many industries, there’s so many things that need to be done, need to be built and we need the people who have the knowledge and everything to build Nigeria.”

Later Kaveto spoke about building sustainable organisations rather than chasing quick profits, which will lead to economic growth and sustainability. “If you take care of the planet, it will take care of the people and the people will take care of the profit”.

The panel also discussed a number of key questions including:

In your view, how can finance professionals and accountants worldwide in business, contribute to the sustainability objective, while ensuring the long term profitability of business?

Finance professionals please volunteer with start-ups that you see, whose mission you are aligned to.” Ifedayo spoke about how many start-ups don’t have the resources to have professional accounting support and many businesses discover too late that their profit margins are too narrow. Professional accounting support can be critical to help start-ups and SMEs to succeed. Basic voluntary support from financial professionals from the very beginning of a start-up will massively increase their chances of successIfedayo Durosinmi-Etti

How can finance and business professionals, regardless of the size, drive innovation to create meaningful change?

Accounting and finance professionals have to be prepared to push the boundaries and be open to thinking differently. As accountants we are trained as historians. We look at past data to prepare financial statements. So, we are a bit backwards looking but if you want to be innovative like entrepreneurs you need to think like a futurist. Be prepared to do things differently. Small little changes can create innovation and make people’s lives betterKaveto Tjatjara

Innovation is what a company needs to create sustainability. It all comes down to data and research. Accountants need to start working with available data and research to create products that are needed in the market. Without this we are creating products that are dead on arrival. So as accountants we need better research to inform our decision. It may not always require a high tech solution. Start small and go global by demystifying and democratising the solutionsAbideen Olasupo


Poet Maryann Osinachi Okoli performed a powerful piece for attendees which concluded the line “we will tell the story of our courage, determination and resilience”.


Closing remarks by Mrs. Comfort Olu. Eyitayo mni, FCA, President of ICAN

Mrs. Comfort delivered her closing remarks by reflecting on the word innovation and the critical role it has to building resilience and sustainability. “The word innovation cannot be overemphasised. We have to innovate.” She also highlighted the need to think beyond profit to create sustainability and to work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s not something one person can do alone. To achieve the 17 goals, it is a job for all of us. For sustainability we need to join hands together”.

Despite the enormity of the challenge there are also endless opportunities right now for finance and for businesses to bring in the sustainable development goals as part of their recovery plans to build resilience and sustainable economies.

We must be prepared to push the boundaries and help the business world trise to the challenge of sustainable development. You, as young leaders, play a key role in influencing and affecting change. The first steps don’t need to be big but they are a start on the journey to transformative change.

Event hosts Chimere’ Hope Ulukwu, founder of WholeLife Initiative for Development in Africa and Olubunmi Odekunle, founder of LendKash, Chief Strategist and Operations with IBF Markets, concluded the event.

With one of the largest youth populations in the world, it is up to our generation to ensure we can build a stable, prosperous and safe countryOlubunmi

We truly hope that what you have learned today will help move the needle in the right direction, and that each and every one of you can catalyse changeChimere