Q&A: African Achievers Awards Shaping Continent’s Future Leaders

Written by Ann Brown

Nigerian lawyer and entrepreneur Tonye Rex Idaminabo is the founder of Achievers Media, which plays host to the African Achievers Awards, annual awards given to African achievers in politics, diplomacy and entrepreneurship.

The African Achievers Awards honor individuals and organizations that devote their energy toward improving Africa’s international profile and building stronger communities in Africa.

Among the past recipients are Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Zimbabwean businesswoman Divine Ndhlukula, founder and managing director of Securico, one of Zimbabwe’s largest security companies; the Kofi Annan Foundation; and Nigerian media mogul John Momoh, chairman and CEO of Channels TV.

Besides starting a popular awards ceremony in Africa, Idaminabo, 30, is the first West African to be on the advisory board of World Leaders Forum, Dubai. Idaminabo earned a degree from Glasgow Caledonian University in Glasgow, Scotland. He’s a member of the central working committee of the Scottish Pan African Initiative.

Idaminabo is focused on expanding his awards program as it nears its sixth year. He talked to AFKInsider about his plans.

AFKInsider: What made you want to be an entrepreneur?

Idaminabo: Having been a determined and hardworking young African, I was just growing with a burning passion to see where I could really fit in to become a problem solver and a pace setter for my continent. And just as every successful entrepreneur is defined, I decided to solve a continental problem which was rewarding hardworking Africans excelling in various fields fueling the positive progress of Africa. This in turn will motivate future generations to work hard. From that, I have become more passionate about how problems we face have the solutions at our own fingertips.

AFKInsider: Why did you start the African Achievers Awards?

Idaminabo: African Achievers Awards establishment was out of a great motivation through my association with various African advocacy organizations while studying for my masters in Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland. Having always wanted to be the voice of Africa in the diaspora, I decided to set the pace by creating one of the first continental initiatives to encourage quality, good and positive leadership in Africa through diverse ways. And I am glad years on, we are living the dream by rewarding and celebrating great African achievers.

AFKInsider: How do you fund the awards?

Idaminabo: If you have followed us through the years we have been running this awards, you would realize there have been no title sponsors. We have been able to fund this through strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations dedicated to the development of the continent as we recently did with VIP Express (tour company). Our networks have also provided resources we need to make this successful so far. We are still looking forward to have bigger brands sponsor, but we are just determined to achieve our goals in making the continent a better one. The organizing of the awards has also led me to establish Achievers Media which has given me and my team opportunities to manage events across the globe and that has also been a fundraising strategy for us because we get paid when we manage events for our clients.

AFKInsider: What have been some major business lessons in trying to grow the awards?

Idaminabo: If there are opportunities across the door, force the door and break it open. That’s what my team and I have been engaged in for these years. Africa has lots of opportunities and we can also break the barriers to those opportunities.

AFKInsider: What are your goals for this year?

Idaminabo: After a successful event in South Africa, the team is currently working on selecting the next host country which will be announced very soon. We are also looking at forming a consortium with our award winners where they can deliberate to find lasting solutions to Africa’s endangering problems.

AFKInsider: What are your long-term goals?

Idaminabo: The future is bright for Africa and we are just glad to be part of the shift. Years to come, we will give our awards winners extra motivation to continue their contribution towards the continent’s success.

AFKInsider: What impact do you think the awards have had?

Idaminabo: We have contributed to the growth and development of the continent through the motivation of African leaders, including the prospective and young ones by rewarding individuals and organizations contributing to the future of the continent. We have also brought together under a roof, notable and respected Africans. Recently in the U.K. Parliament, we held our annual lecture series, which was hosted by Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP for Manchester. This provided one of the best networking platforms among Africans and Europeans. And during our awards in South Africa, we did the unprecedented by assembling Africans from over 36 African countries. This activity will continue to break the border barriers between Africans as we want Africans to look at themselves as one without traces of tribes and countries.

AFKInsider: What are some things you would like see changed about doing business in Nigeria?

Idaminabo: It’s a growth process for Nigeria and to be ranked as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world will also definitely come with its challenges. Setting up the Young CEOs Business Forum with my friend David James Egwu, we are looking at unifying young businesses as well as supporting young startups. Even though we have challenges, we are now looking at them as opportunities and I hope very soon, the world will begin to see the fruit from the hard work we have been engaged in.

AFKInsider: What are the best things about doing business in your country?

Idaminabo: Nigeria is a viable market, with many good inventions and initiatives that can sell.

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About Ann Brown
Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.