Get to know Chi Okafor: Class of 2020-21

5 minute read

Tell us about yourself.

I am an avid advocate for women’s development, with more than five years’ professional experience working across communities, governmental and non-governmental organisations. My passion and commitment to driving gender parity has led to key engagements between the Houses of Parliament London, Senate of Nigeria, United Nations Addis Ababa and TEDx.

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Pharmaceuticals/NGO/business
Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Entrepreneurial
Country of residence before coming to Oxford: Nigeria/United Kingdom
College: New College

Social media:

Instagram: @chiokafor_

In one word, how would your best friend describe you and how would your manager describe you?
Best friend: Purpose-driven
Manager: Determined

Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford and, more specifically, the Oxford MBA.

I was born and lived the majority of my life in the UK but have also lived and schooled in the US, Ireland and Nigeria. My early exposure to different cultures, societies and perspectives has shaped my global approach to life. 

After graduating from King’s College London, I made the decision to move back to Nigeria where I worked in the development sector. I was not happy with the situation in the country, particularly with how society treated and viewed women. I then went on to found The Walk with Women and Children, an organisation that leverages off the ‘power of the collective’ to advance the personal, social, health, education and economic rights of children and women across Africa. 

I also double up as the CEO of Kendake Honey, a social enterprise that focuses on utilising the apicultural sector to empower women through the provision of employment, turning them into sustainable income generators, enforcing food security and, in turn, wealth creation for the African economy. In all honesty, I had always wanted to study at Oxford at some point but I didn’t fully believe that this would be attainable. After putting the foundations of my business in place, I knew it needed strategic direction and so I decided to apply for the MBA at Oxford, as I believed it would provide just that.

What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

As the Founder of Kendake Honey, I have gained first-hand experience of running a social enterprise in a complex market. After the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, I took time to re-evaluate our business needs and how this aligns with all that the MBA programme has to offer.

What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

Put simply, the technical know-how, resources and networks to take things to the next level. Also, I look forward to collaborating and learning from the diverse cohort to amplify my efforts towards creating social impact.

What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA? 

‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, submerge yourself into the course and networks and get involved in as much as humanely possible. Be specific and intentional about exactly what it is you hope to gain from the programme. Lastly, you are young and studying an MBA at the world’s most revered university – enjoy every moment!’

Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?

The Oxford MBA programme is very unique in that it ties in an element of social responsibility in business at every level. I would ensure that this is something that is already being reflected in your work or something that you envision incorporating into your journey after the programme. Also, apply and be yourself while doing so! The prestige of the University of Oxford and certainly this programme can be quite daunting but apply anyway. What do you stand to lose?

What part of the programme are you most looking forward to? 

I look forward to being a part of Impact Lab (I think this co-curricular pathway was made with me in mind). I am excited by the various learning opportunities that will help to strengthen the social impact of my business, which is one of its competitive advantages.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?

Discerning and filtering the many opportunities that the programme has to offer. Between the floods of emails, Telegram notifications and word of mouth, it has already proved quite difficult to actualise this, as every opportunity seems more tempting that the last. I am now having to checklist the objectives of opportunities against the goals I have set for myself.

How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?

I plan to leverage off the diverse cohort that the MBA programme has to offer, with 312 students from 67 countries!! I look forward to learning, connecting and collaborating with the great minds on the course from all over the world. I think the perspectives, networks and expertise I stand to gain will help take my social ventures to the next level and increase my chances of changing the world :)

Are there any sports teams, societies or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

Yes, I’m the Co-chair of the Oxford Women’s Leadership Alliance (obviously had to be involved lol), already involved in or planning to be a part of all things entrepreneurial and impact-related: Impact Lab, Social Impact/Entrepreneurship OBNs (Oxford Business Networks) and MBA Impact Investing Network and Training. Also, I’m interested in the Oxford Union, Oxford University Equestrian Club and Oxford University Polo Club.