NIGERIA – My name is Joshua Okpata (Jr), the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Eazyhire, Africa’s leading fully insured peer to peer rental platform. I am twenty-seven, proudly Igbo and Nigerian, a Power and Machinery Engineer, creative writer and member of the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 class of 2019.
Creating the Peer to peer Rental Platform
Much of my career has been relatively varied and that largely speaks to my personality, always willing to take up new challenges. Right out of school, I secured an engineering job that allowed me to combine my profession with my newfound love for technology. I didn’t fully understand the scope of what I had taken on until my job description literally started to oscillate faster than a displaced pendulum.
Still, it was fun as I got involved with new concepts; hardware and microcontroller programming, building automation, EMS, engineering design, 3D rendition, procurement, and even sales. Between working 84+ hour weeks (and loving it). I had the pleasure of working as a seconded contractor on the enormous American Dream Meadowland project; while struggling to rein in a desire to do even more.
In that period, I truly felt that I was called to something bigger than me but didn’t know what. I resigned in 2015 and made the tricky decision to confront some of the everyday challenges facing my country, Nigeria. I started asking all the right questions until I founded Eazyhire and that was how I stumbled on entrepreneurship.
The goal was to create a secure platform where people could share (read rent) items they own to those who needed them temporarily and earn money doing so. I was leveraging the potential of the sharing economy and betting on conventional wisdom that due to the ever limited economic resources in Nigeria, over 70% of people live on less than $2 per day. People could get access to items they could not afford to buy and make money off items they underutilized. In no time, the product-market fit was validated in Nigeria. We launched in Kenya, revenues started coming in and the awards too.
Running Eazyhire along with my co-founder and talented team comes with the following; mentoring tens of aspiring entrepreneurs (through Project 100 Degrees). We’ve hired dozens of young people across two African countries, 60% of them women and minorities. The leasing out items are worth over €20 million. Helped individuals save 97% of the cost of these potential acquisitions and support thousands of people to earn a living solely off the platform. We’ve created 903 direct jobs among vendors and nearly 18,000 indirect jobs. It has been one of the most challenging but rewarding journeys of my life; one I will always be super proud of.
Eazyhire is an award-winning Nigerian technology startup of 2016 and 2017. The first and only company to win such in the history of the annual NiRA awards. Eazyhire has raised funding from Greentree, Fledge, Barcelona Plataforma Empresarial, Founders Factory Africa and Standard Bank.
I have spoken at a ministers’ meeting of The Commonwealth in Kampala for Youth advocacy and empowerment through technology. Since I turned eighteen, I have volunteered actively as a tutor with the Chibuzor Okpata Foundation. We teach prison inmates across Nigeria’s three maximum-security prisons. They learn Computer Appreciation, Computer Networking, Physics, Mathematics, Use of English and mentor them.
This pro bono commitment is equally reflective of my passion for social justice. I have always felt, I can do more, so it’s really great to be doing all of this.