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Blessing Abeng | Nigeria | Don’t Make Excuses

Branding & Communications Director | Co-Founder

I was studying Biochemistry at University, on the journey towards becoming a medical doctor. In my third year, I took on mandatory internships to practice what I had learned so far, and while it was good, I realised that this wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. I aspired to become a medical doctor because I wanted to save lives, but for the first time in my life, I realised there was more than one way to save lives. So I explored my business writing skills, and a friend inspired me to consider branding and communications. It wasn't popular then, and I already had the foundational skill and interests.

As soon as I graduated, I moved out of my parent's house to an entirely new city to enrol in a branding school. It was a crazy step, but I knew I needed to learn more about branding and build a level of discipline and maturity that only independence could teach me. So I moved out using the money I had saved from a book I wrote in my final year at University and got a small one-bedroom flat. I also got a job and started building from there. Since then, I have worked with small businesses, agencies, and multinationals across various industries. In addition, I have served in C-level marketing roles, being a co-founder of a tech business acquired by a unicorn. Currently, the co-founder of a nonprofit helping people build careers in tech to increase their earning power. We have trained over 150K Africans and built a community of over 250K Africans. It's amazing.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

One of the first hurdles I faced was leaving home. As an African daughter, it wasn’t trendy then for girls to move out and live alone. I remember some people (who were not even family members) calling me out of concern. They were scared that I might not find a husband if I was too independent, and it may not be safe for me to live alone. Some of their concerns were valid, and some were not. The only opinion that mattered to me was that of my parents. I had a conversation with my dad that included committing to returning home after two years if I didn’t achieve specific results. It was literally a contract. My parents left their homes to build their lives. I know a part of their fear was out of concern to ensure we didn’t go through what they went through, but I am super grateful that they put their trust in me and gave me a chance to make my own mistakes. I am also grateful that I proved myself right and made them proud.

Another hurdle was raising money for the nonprofit - Ingressive for Good. I was one of the founding members, and when we started during the pandemic, we had no money, but I came up with a pilot idea (like a proof of concept). It worked. We surpassed our pilot goals, and some of our results were double our goals. This made people feel more confident backing us, including Google’s Alphabet.

Any advice to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

My number one piece of advice will be to start where you are with what you have. Achieving small victories will eventually lead to big ones. Ask yourself, “what do I have, and how can it get me to where I want to be?”. If you have the internet, leverage it. If you have the knowledge, leverage it. Don’t make excuses; make opportunities. Build relationships and nurture them. Add value to any relationship you find yourself in.

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