Africa Leaders Magazine

KIKE ONIWINDE – THE GROUNDBREAKING FOUNDER OF THE FAMOUS LONDON-BASED APP BYP NETWORK

Kike Oniwinde is a British former javelin thrower, and the co-founder of BYP Network. BYP Network is a platform that connects Black professionals with each other and corporations.

A former javelin thrower, . Kike grew up in East London and has always been a hard worker, born in 1992, she lived with her mother and her two brothers. She took Economics and double Maths at A-level, gaining ‘A’ grades, and then entered the University of Nottingham, graduating with Upper Second class BSc Economics in 2014. She then studied at University of Florida, supported by a track and field scholarship, and gained an MSc degree in Management.

 

Her skills for javelin was recognized when she completed onwards havering athletics club in 2005, and then to Enfield and Haringey Atletic club in 2012. She represented her country the great Britain at the European Junior Championships I Tallinn in 2011. She has  won three medals in the British University Championships while at University of Nottingham, although a back injury affected her performance. While at University of Florida, she was in the university athletics team and reached the top twenty in performance with the javelin in the USA Collegiate competitions. She qualified for the Commonwealth Games. She continued competing until 2017.

Two years ago, Kike founded BYP Network – a digital platform described as LinkedIn for black young professionals. It connects professionals and entrepreneurs with one another and with corporations, and hosts networking events that attract major names such as Spotify. “If you’re the only black person in the workplace, which tends to be the case for a majority of black professionals, and work long hours and go home, you’re not seeing anyone like you. But actually there’s a whole community of people like you who are going through the same thing. And if you find them you can help each other and that’s how you grow.”

For Kike, one of her driving motivations for launching BYP Network was growing up in a community where nobody imagined it might be possible to find, and share insights with, fellow black dream-chasers. The University of Florida, where she met a community of exceptional black students, academics and professionals, became a liberating experience – and planted the seed of her future as a tech pioneer. Florida gave Kike the invaluable experience of being out of her comfort zone in an unfamiliar environment, struggling with the pressure to perform in sports and study while receiving a full scholarship. It’s an experience that helped steel her for the plunge into the tech world, where survival can hinge upon making the right connections and finding creative solutions even when you’re completely out at sea. While calling herself “an entrepreneur and an activist,” Kike quickly found herself growing frustrated with the limitations of protesting inequality and discrimination – “I want to offer a solution.”

Today, the BYP Network has tens of thousands of  members across the world and is growing fast. Representing Britain in international competitions prepared her well for the challenges of running a tech start-up, with pressure, defeat and soul-testing exertion all providing invaluable lessons. The fact that there are more avenues to success in business than in sports also gave Kike the confidence to see a world of opportunity. While she hopes one day to return to elite sports, for now she has found a higher purpose that gives her a new sense of mission.

 

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