Utiva is Poised to Equip more Africans with essential Tech Skills in 2021
Utiva is an emerging talent accelerator startup which is making a lot of waves in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. Established in 2017 by a young, smart, and enigmatic entrepreneur named Eyitayo Ogunmola, the startups has availed many Nigerians access to essential tech skills that are needful in today’s 21st century workplace.
In this exclusive interview with Business Elites Africa, Eyitayo tells us more about the company and some of the plans they already have in place to ensure that Nigerians learn more skills in 2021. Enjoy the read.
BEA: Nice to meet you, Sir. Kindly tell us a bit about yourself.
Eyitayo Ogunmola: My name is Eyitayo, CEO and Practice Lead at Utiva, a technology education company that combines remote learning models with instructor-led approaches to help people acquire the skills they need to make a transition into new tech roles. I have a background in project management and international development both in Nigeria and in the United States. I have a Master’s degree in business strategy from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.
I was a 2016 Atlas Corps Fellow in the US, a Global Good Funds fellow in 2019, and a Halcyon Incubator fellow in the US and this year. I was also selected as one of the 2020 Facebook community leaders.
BEA: What do you do at Utiva and why is your company’s existence so integral to the Nigerian tech ecosystem and job market at large?
Eyitayo Ogunmola: I started Utiva in 2017 when I decided to move back to Nigeria to be a part of the change. I wanted to solve the problem of unemployment that I personally experienced for 2 years.
Last year, 3.3 million jobs were unfilled, yet Africa has an unemployment rate that is as high as 24%. Also, for a Nigerian and an African, the cost of learning new tech skills is high because of the cost of the internet and the steep cost of enrolling in these programs.
We are constantly seeking to provide value throughout the entire talent development value chain. We have structured our learning programs in a way that is easy to complete and also cost-friendly.
We work directly with companies across several industries to create industry-focused learning solutions as well as develop talents for hiring in those industries.
BEA: Is the company for-profit or a social enterprise?
Eyitayo Ogunmola: Let me say we are a blend of both. We set our sights on profit but that is only possible as a result of the lasting impact we create across the world.
BEA: How much does it typically cost to undergo training at Utiva and what is the duration for each programme?
Eyitayo Ogunmola: Our programs cost from 25,000 to 250,000. Of course, the prices tilt toward the lower end of the spectrum. The maximum length of completing a program is 6 weeks.
BEA: What essential skills would you say every Nigerian employee needs in order to excel in today’s job market and how is Utiva helping them with that?
Eyitayo Ogunmola: Our new world reality is that automation across organizations is accelerating to about 41% with most roles backed by technology. So for anyone to excel in the new workplace, they have to be intentional about both soft and hard technology skills.
The structure we built into our program pedagogy satisfies this well. Our Product Management and Design programs teach Design Thinking as a foundation before they dive into tools like Figma.
Our data school incorporates a consulting practice session where learners get a deep-dive understanding of data strategies and consulting across various industries.
BEA: In what ways did the COVID-19 pandemic affect Utiva’s operation?
Eyitayo Ogunmola: Honestly, it was a tough time for us but we quickly learned and adapted to the prevailing reality, and this has resulted in massive growth.
We had to set up our programs virtually and find a way to convince customers who are quite used to the physical model to buy into virtual programs. Then we expanded our team to 25.
We understood that despite the times, we needed to scale the work that we do if we were going to stand a chance; and that was what we did.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read the rest of the interview on page 42 of our latest magazine edition: 25 Entrepreneurs and Brands to Watch in 2021.
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