Oluwanifemi Kolawole, Techpoint Africa

Oluwanifemi Kolawole, Techpoint Africa

In our discussion with Oluwanifemi Kolawole, Senior Editor at Techpoint Africa, she unveiled her unforeseen path into journalism, driven by the pursuit of livelihood and a deep-rooted passion for storytelling, sharing stories that not only captivate but also impart meaningful lessons to readers.

What led you into journalism, and what would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?

The short answer? I stumbled into it in my search for livelihood. The long? My love for storytelling led me to apply for a writers’ boot camp where certain people decided to take a chance on me. If anything sealed my journey into journalism, it was my willingness to continuously improve, which demanded a level of vulnerability. Also, I hear I do well with people. I believe them. This particular soft skill has proven invaluable in this field; I admit that this, in some ways, eases some of the everyday struggles of journalism.

In a different world, I’ll probably be in academia, lecturing. I could also be an artist or pursue a different role in the creative industry; perhaps venture into something weird that somebody somewhere probably dared that I wouldn’t succeed in just to prove them wrong. Well, you just got an idea of a “2019 me.”

When you’re researching stories, what compels you to work on sharing a particular story with your audience? Any hot trends we should look out for in the coming months?

My approach hinges on this question, “How does this story resonate with my audience?” rather than solely focusing on utility, like “How will it be helpful to my audience?”

And this is why: the impact of an article on readers can vary greatly and is often beyond the control of the writer. But, I believe that once it aligns with the audience’s interests, that suffices. At the end of the day, effective communication is key, any outcome beyond that is out of your hand.

I’ll speak to trends in the industry I currently cover — Work — not necessarily hot, though. Look out for developments such as AI integration in workplaces and the evolving definition of employee experience.

Why is African business so unique and what makes it so exciting to report on?

My experience from when I was actively involved in telling African business stories helped me understand the resilience required to really thrive in this environment, particularly when building with the intent to someday expand globally. I think that shows great courage on the part of the builders.

I must note that my focus hasn’t always been on the “business” but on the “people.” So, beyond the business operations, you’ll often find me spotlighting the individuals driving these ventures — these are the unsung heroes, and they get my attention big time!

The African business landscape is still growing, and I’m of the opinion that it’s the surprises that spring up now and then that bring a sense of excitement into reporting the space.

Which sectors or industries do you like to cover most and why?

Work, as I earlier mentioned. When I was going to transition from startup reporting, my fascination with trying to understand the complexities of managing startups, particularly with regard to their most important resource — humans — was a driving force. I initially just fixated on HR and employee management, but these days, you’d find me obsessing over several other workplace-related conversations in my newsletter, the Modern Workplace Newsletter.

Why is it important that people around the world get to hear about young, growing companies on the continent?

To answer this, Techpoint Africa’s ethos comes to mind, telling Stories That Matter. And that is the exact “why.”

These stories DO matter, and they need to be heard.

Narratives surrounding young, growing companies on the continent are what give life to their successes, struggles, and survival. By amplifying these stories globally, we promote and encourage appreciation for the creativity in this region. Besides, controlling the narrative ensures that there’s an accurate representation of what’s happening here beyond our borders. One thing I’m perpetually proud of is the presence of Nigerian/African journalists in international media organisations, we get to shape the global perception of Africa’s capabilities in our OWN voices.

How can we encourage more people to join the writing community and dedicate their energy to telling stories about African tech and business?

We must make people understand that nature abhors vacuum. In the absence of authentic African storytelling, we cannot be annoyed at how others shape the narrative according to their own perspectives. Acknowledging this points to a need to groom more, let’s call them, ‘Stewards’ who have high regard for what we do here. Once we’re able to properly communicate our intent to these custodians, I believe it’ll set us on the right path. After all, that’s exactly how I found myself in this field.