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I like to describe myself as the “Quintessential African American”. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria to an American father and a Nigerian mother. My father, who is an international playwright and theatre director, filled our home with the works of his close artist friends and colleagues. I was always immersed in a world of artistic gratification; and as such, developed a deep love and appreciation for creatives. Although my studies were more focused on developing my talents in the realm of number crunching and data analytics, I always yearned for a meaningful way to participate in this artistic sphere.

Lagos City! by Najeeb Abubakar
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This yearning led to the founding of OSENGWA – a platform featuring contemporary African art, fashion and music conceived by artists at the forefront of today’s Neo-African movement. Through OSENGWA, I merge my creative upbringing, cultural heritage, global worldview and business savvy to promote and present African art in a new way.  OSENGWA has also given me the opportunity to help African creatives monetize and build their businesses, and as such I have worked as a creative and cultural connector with a roster of innovative designers, brands and artists; including Orange Culture, Data Oruwari, Ohab TBJ, Daniel Obasi, I.AM.ISIGO and Baingor Joiner.

The arts are often misunderstood as ‘free labor’, so I take pleasure in creating platforms, connections, and situations within which artists may not just survive, but thrive in the global marketplace and enjoy a reciprocal relationship where the world also benefits from their gifts and hard work.

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Spurred on by the success of OSENGWA and the continued desire to bring together our people and harness the power of us for us, I recently launched a new venture, iRAAMi – an app which helps Africans in the diaspora find resources and experiences that connect them with the continent and one another. On iRAAMi you can find African restaurants, markets, events, artisans and more in the US, UK and Canada. My intention for iRAAMi is to be THE place to engage with Afro Culture for all that may seek that experience.

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My innate ability to sift through financial data, spot areas for process improvement and execute on business strategy has also led me to a career in financial management. These skills have served me well thus far and helped me acquire a wide breadth of experience in the corporate world, working for multination corporations such as KPMG, Capital One Financial Corporation, Blackboard Inc. and K12 Inc. I also work as an independent consultant, providing business development support in the areas of financial infrastructure, brand identity and business strategy development for small businesses and start-ups in Lagos, Nigeria.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Richmond (magna cum laude), a Master of Science degree in Finance from the American University and a Masters in International Business from Georgetown University. This is the firm foundation on which I have developed my business acumen.