UNBELIEVABLE! CEO of Co-Creation Hub, Bosun Tijani, was meant to be a Carpenter!

Many giant strides have been recorded by the trio of Bosun Tijani, Femi Longe and Tunji Eleso, ever since they founded Co-Creation Hub (CcHub) in 2010. But…wait! Did you know the career path of Tijani who now serves as CEO of the social innovation cum startup incubator could just have taken a different direction entirely?

Tijani told the audience at the Social Change Summit 2017 how his father, who owned a bakery in the metropolis of Lagos, enrolled him as an apprentice because the father wanted him to become a carpenter.

Aptly couched in a design thinking question, the theme (How Might We Connect More Africans to More Opportunities to Move up the Socio-Economic Ladder?) and summit were the right opportunities for Bosun Tijani to tell the touching, yet thought-provoking story of his life. Bosun’s story underscored the social mobility theme of the summit. The summit which was organized by CcHub in partnership with Omidyar Network and Union Bank of Nigeria, was held at the Federal Palace Hotel on Thursday June 22, in Lagos.

(L-R) Tunji Eleso, CcHub Co-Founder  with Bosun Tijani, CEO/Co-Founder, CcHub at the Social Change Summit 2017

“My father was one of the few people who started ‘Agege’ bread in Lagos,” he said. They would take the bread to places like Mushin, Ilasa and some other major spots. That was how people started getting to know Agege bread, until it became a brand that went across the whole of Lagos State.

According to him, there was this TV series which had ‘Akanni’ as one of the characters. That name was also the traditional name given to Bosun Tijani by the family. So, because Akanni was a carpenter in that TV series, Bosun was therefore nicknamed ‘Akanni the Carpenter’, whenever family members wanted to mock him.

“They would call me the name when they wanted to make fun of me. But unfortunately for me, the name stuck and people started calling me ‘Akanni the Carpenter’. When I got into senior secondary school, I chose technical class. I had the option of either doing metal work or wood work,” he said.

The hall erupted with laughter when the CcHub boss jokingly asked the audience at the summit to guess which subject he eventually chose, before adding that he chose wood work.

He continued: “My dad didn’t believe you had to go to school to be successful. He thought my path was already carved and I was going to be the carpenter in the family. He was going to do everything to make me the carpenter. He enrolled me into carpentry class after school. When I finished school around 1.p.m, I would find something to eat and resume at the carpentry class at 3 p.m.”

According to him, he failed in his final senior secondary exams, because most of his evenings were spent in a carpentry workshop. That was a perfect opportunity for the dad to perfect his plan. Tijani was brought from the city where he was schooling, to Lagos to continue full-time apprenticeship. However, it took a severe punishment meted to him by one senior apprentice at that workshop to change the course of his life, forever.

“I was in secondary school in Abeokuta, he took me back to Agege and enrolled me in full time carpentry school. I was going to do it for three years. My father had promised to get me the best machinery, but I went late to the carpentry school one day and a senior took the saw used in the workshop and he was whipping me with it. Because they [seniors] wanted you to feel the pain, they would twist it a bit and so the sharp edge would get into your skin. That torn the shirt I was wearing which was one of my favourite shirts.

After that incident, he told his dad he wanted to discontinue the apprenticeship so he could go back to school. His dad responded by telling him to go tell his mum. “And that was how my mum sorted me out. Fortunately for me, I passed and was admitted into the University of Jos. I was privileged to join a student organization called AISEC”

In an elated mood, Tijani told the gathering that the various activities in AIESEC (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) opened his eyes to how much power he had, to create social change and opportunities for others. It was the same motivation that led him to co-found CcHub.

“Today, I have co-founded CcHub which is probably the best thing that has happened in my life. I don’t think there is any other thing I could have wished for,” he concluded.

Bosun Tijani’s story is no doubt a pointer to the fact that a countless number of African youths can move up the socio-economic ladder, if given the right opportunities.

PHOTOS: Featured image: Bosun Tijani/Event photo: Williams Ojo/Outrepreneurs

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Deji Aroloye91 Posts

    a graduate of Linguistics and a staff writer at Outrepreneurs, Deji's forte includes tech, startups and innovations. Years back, Deji wrote on Entertainment and Lifestyle for a tabloid. If he wasn't a writer, Deji would be a photographer or teacher.


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