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How I switched from theatre arts to pursue fintech goals – Software engineer, Bawa

Kelvin Bawa is a software engineer that transitioned to become an entrepreneur. The founder of Clamp, a financial technology platform in Nigeria that provides remittance…

Kelvin Bawa is a software engineer that transitioned to become an entrepreneur. The founder of Clamp, a financial technology platform in Nigeria that provides remittance solutions for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs), speaks on why youths must pursue genuine dreams against all odds.

By Simon Echewofun Sunday & Linda Ifeachor

 

You are a thriving entrepreneur in the technology sphere, how did you get to this?

I have two financial technology (fintech) products, while one is Clamp, the other is coming up. Clamp is a fintech product mostly a remittance solution for SMEs.

After my high school, I went for Theatre Arts at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in Kaduna state. It was in my third year, I decided this was not what I was supposed to be doing so I dropped out and started over again with information technology and went to Middlesex University London. At the time it was not funny because I had a lot of backlashes.

My classmates called me a failure but I would always advise people to stop whenever you think the road is wrong and start all over; it’s better to be late on the right track than to fail on the wrong track. This is what I tell people I did for myself and today looking forward to it, I think it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.

When you dropped out of school initially, did you get support from our parents?

Yes, so very big support. So, even before going to school, I only always go to the cybercafe and just sit on the computer. So, my mum never really understood why I was going to this place called cafe, she started suspecting perhaps I joined a cult because of the passion I have for computers. When I came back and I told my mum I wasn’t interested in what I was doing because my dad was late, she asked what my plan was and I told her software engineering.

Mum took a deep breath and went into the room and then my uncle who is like a father figure came around and I told him I dropped out and he asked what year, I said I was going to my fourth year. My uncle said congratulations because he had thought I would drop out early but at least I was persistent then he asked for my next plan. He said I should apply and he would support me and he made me raise 50 per cent of the tuition just so It won’t be easy for me to drop out again and then he took care of the rest.

Why did you return from the UK to Nigeria after studying tech?

Before I went there, I worked as a product designer with a company called BYTE in Abuja; that was just after I dropped out of ABU but the company was looking for a 1st class graduate but I told them that I am not a 1st class and also a drop out. They laughed and said you are employed because of your skills, so I worked there for about a year and some months then I went on to Leadership newspapers as their lead software engineer.

Then I went to school and when I returned because of my impact in leadership at that time, Punch newspaper took me to lead their engineering team and I worked there for over three years and then I went to another company and that was when I decided to freelance by the side. I have built websites for several newspapers while some others are about to launch their new websites.

What is the prospect of your tech business?

I started my start-up which is in close beta and we are making revenue and it’s been running for months and we have transacted over N300 million through the platform.

How many people have you been able to employ?

Right now on payroll, it’s actually just three persons as I have a very small team; I am doing most of the work. I am looking to close a round soon but I want to make enough traction before I decide to publicly launch and then I would secure my team.

What’s your advice to youths who may want to retrace their steps and do what they passionately want?

First, they have to be driven by passion and then secondly, they just have to understand that they are the pilot of their own plane and when the chips get down in the end everyone who is speaking or ever spoke would not fly their plane for them.

Recently I partnered with Ventures Platform to speak to young ones getting started in tech. I have decided to give back to the community in partnership with Ventures Platform so I would keep encouraging those hoping, aspiring to focus on technology. I am self-taught: I did all this learning myself when I didn’t even understand what it was and I am at this stage. A lot of people are like that and I am trying to make it a little easier for creating a soft-landing hub to actually fit into technology.

 

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