Kike Oniwinde is the Founder and CEO of BYP Network. Kike grew up in East London and has always been a hard worker, achieving 3 A grades at A Level and going on to study Economics at the University of Nottingham. She is also a ex-Great Britain javelin thrower, and has a BSc (Hons) Economics degree from the University of Nottingham and a MSc Management degree from the University of Florida, where she received a full track and field scholarship. Work has always played an important role in Kike’s life; during all the years of her academic studies she had a part time job alongside training for athletics. She also worked as an intern at Goldman Sachs and Citibank.
Two years ago, Kike founded BYP Network – a digital platform described as LinkedIn for black young professionals. It connects professionals and entrepreneurs with one another and with corporations, and hosts networking events that attract major names such as Spotify. “If you’re the only black person in the workplace, which tends to be the case for a majority of black professionals, and work long hours and go home, you’re not seeing anyone like you. But actually there’s a whole community of people like you who are going through the same thing. And if you find them you can help each other and that’s how you grow.”
For Kike, one of her driving motivations for launching BYP Network was growing up in a community where nobody imagined it might be possible to find, and share insights with, fellow black dream-chasers. The University of Florida, where she met a community of exceptional black students, academics and professionals, became a liberating experience – and planted the seed of her future as a tech pioneer. Florida gave Kike the invaluable experience of being out of her comfort zone in an unfamiliar environment, struggling with the pressure to perform in sports and study while receiving a full scholarship. It’s an experience that helped steel her for the plunge into the tech world, where survival can hinge upon making the right connections and finding creative solutions even when you’re completely out at sea. While calling herself “an entrepreneur and an activist,” Kike quickly found herself growing frustrated with the limitations of protesting inequality and discrimination - “I want to offer a solution.”
Today, the BYP Network has 30,000 members in 65 countries and is growing fast. Representing Britain in international competitions prepared her well for the challenges of running a tech start-up, with pressure, defeat and soul-testing exertion all providing invaluable lessons. The fact that there are more avenues to success in business than in sports also gave Kike the confidence to see a world of opportunity. While she hopes one day to return to elite sports, for now she has found a higher purpose that gives her a new sense of mission.
Copyright (Accenture UK, Accenture, March 05 2019)
© 2019 Kike Oniwinde