He is not only the driving force behind TraderMoni, but the entire GEEP micro-loans program which has disbursed over 1.5 million micro-loans since 2016.
(Picture Above) Mr. Uzoma Nwagba with the Executive Director, Bank of Industry (Mrs. Toyin Adeniji) and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in a market reporting on progress of the TraderMoni programme. Source: Thisday, Sept 27, 2018.
Unless you live in a cave, you have probably heard a lot about GEEP TraderMoni, the intervention prorgramme of the Federal Government giving loans to millions of petty traders, starting at N10,000. But what surprised us is that it is apparently run by a young guy known as “Oga Uzo” within the GEEP circle.
The Chief Operating Officer of TraderMoni is one Mr. Uzoma Nwagba from Abia State, and he is 31 years old! Sources say he is a prodigy of the current Minister of Industry, Trader and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah. Speaking to our sources at the Bank of Industry, we learn he has in fact been a driving force behind the entire Federal Government GEEP project, since 2016 (so he started at 28?).
Our sources reveal that a typical work day for the ex-Goldman Sachs Analyst is full of high-pressure meetings with field operators, technology providers, agent networks and payment partners, laced with long sessions with “the ED” (referring to Mrs. Adeniji, the Executive Director at BOI), and frequent visits to the “villa” (presumably referring to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo). “He comes in and is usually on the phone, giving instructions to the teams. He checks in on everyone, goes to see the ED. Next thing he is off to the airport. He is hardly ever in the office but always in touch,” a source said. Most other days for the ex-Microsoft Project Manager are filled with dusty, muddy roads from Sokoto and Yenagoa, and market squares in several obscure locations in Nigeria, surrounded by cray-fish, pepper, tomato, cattle, and all kinds of eager and excited traders across the spectrum.
“Uzo is young but very smart and very confident; almost intimidating. You can’t bullshit him. He works even harder than us, and asks a lot of questions” a source said.
Having a young person drive such a massive national project with over 4,000 employees is quite commendable, so we looked him up. It is curious how the Harvard grad has made the leap from Engineering or Investment Banking in New York, to taking interest-free loans to millions of traders across the country.
Online sources reveal that Uzoma Nwagba attended Kings College, Lagos where he was head boy of the main campus and consistently top of his class. (KC boys, can you confirm this?). He then proceeded to Howard University, Washington DC where he graduated with a First Class in Electrical Engineering. Whilst at Howard, Mr. Nwagba was a Student Government President, and Student of the Year 2008. After Howard, he worked as an Analyst in Goldman Sachs, New York. He subsequently moved on to Microsoft in Redmond to work as a Project Manager, one of the youngest in the history of the company to hold that role, at age 21.
We are told Nwagba left the dream job at Microsoft and returned to Nigeria for a year to complete his NYSC, after which he proceeded to Harvard University for his MBA. Online sources also show he served as a member and leader of various clubs: African Business Club, Management Consulting Club, Public Speaking and Negotiation Club, Business in Government Club, and the Harvard Christian Fellowship. Uzoma’s LinkedIn profile seems not to have been updated in years.
In a country where 70-year-olds run everything in government, this is strange, but very commendable. We tried to get Mr. Nwagba to talk but our correspondents could not reach him.