How Media Maven Adebola Williams Made Millions From Delayed Gratification
Adebola Williams is a trailblazer in journalism, democracy, and social change.
He is the co-founder and CEO of RED, which owns Africa’s largest portfolio of youth media brands, including Red Media Africa, StateCraft, the Future Awards Africa, and YNaija.com.
RED engages millions of young people throughout the continent. In 2010, Williams co-founded EnoughisEnough (EiE), one of Nigeria’s most prominent civic involvement organisations and a political voice for young people.
He was chairman of the board until resigning to take charge of the campaign communication and rebranding of Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2014.
Williams was part of the team that created the national conversation and optimised media engagement to shift long-held beliefs about the president.
In 2016, he did the same in Ghana, helping the opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo secure a similar win for the third time.
William and his team, in February 2019, played a pivotal role in Macky Sall’s presidential win in Senegal. Williams also works as a consultant in other parts of the continent.
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Lost Wealth in His Early Days
Williams grew up in the face of financial uncertainty. Describing it, he said, “I was born into wealth, but before I was nine, everything was lost, and that is the most difficult situation to be in.
If you were born in a particular state, you would be used to it, but if you were born in a particular state and it reversed to the worst, it will be difficult to adjust. If I was born in a one-bedroom apartment, I already know the drill, but being born into wealth, adjusting wasn’t easy.”
Adebola Williams began his career as an actor. He was always on set hunting for roles since he was 14 years old; he enjoyed acting.
Soon after, he was cast in two soap operas that never aired. He also did theatrical acting for a fee of 50 cents.
He began working as a psychologist’s assistant at 15, despite having no formal training. He was not paid during the job.
Adebola Williams worked for NTA for three years as a youngster and was only paid after the first year.
Adebola Williams accumulated several voluntary activities that enhanced his CV and attracted companies later in his career.
Subsequently, he got a job as a producer with Economic Watch, which offered him a lot of exposure.
Adebola Williams’ experience with the psychologist and at NTA provided him with the foundation he needed to succeed later in life.
Founding RED, a Media Giant
Williams and Chude Jideonwu co-founded Red Media Africa in 2005. RED Media is a group of media companies in Africa that focuses on the youth.
Yproductions, RED Communications, Statecraft, and The Future Award are under the umbrella of RED.
Yproductions does documentaries, TV shows like Rubbin Minds, events, and music. Its content arm makes Ymagazine and Ynaija.
RED Communications is a public relations business. Clients include Guinness, the British Council, and the House of Tara.
Williams was designated The African Young Achiever by EMY Ghana in 2017. He was awarded one of the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent by the United Nations in the same year.
Decorating the Family Shelf with Awards
In August 2021, Adebola Williams married his wife, Kehinde Daniel. Kehinde is the daughter of Gbenga Daniel, the former governor of Ogun State.
Adebola Williams has spoken at conferences at London Business School, Wharton, Stern, ALF New York, WIMBIZ, AU conferences, UNFPA conferences, and most recently at Yale, Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard.
In 2017, Adebola Williams spoke at the Obama Foundation Summit’s concluding session.
He delivered the closing session’s “Collective Power” speech to a standing ovation from the audience, which included Barack Obama.
He is a member of the African Leadership Network, a Global Changemaker for the British Council, and serves on Slum to School Africa and Young Entrepreneurs Network boards.
William was one of CNBC’s Young Business Leader of the Year. He was on Forbes’ 30 Under 30, and BusinessDay’s 40 Under 40. At the businessC4F Davos Award in 2017, he was dubbed “Evangelist of the Future.”
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