How I went from performing arts to pursuing fintech goals – Software Engineer, Bawa
Kelvin Bawa is a software engineer who made the transition to becoming an entrepreneur. The founder of Clamp, a fintech platform in Nigeria that provides remittance solutions to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), explains why young people must pursue real dreams against the odds.
By Simon Echewofun Sunday & Linda Ifeachor
You are a successful tech entrepreneur, how did you get here?
I have two financial technology (fintech) products, one is Clamp, the other is coming soon. Clamp is a fintech product primarily a remittance solution for SMEs.
After graduating from high school, I went for Theater Arts at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria in Kaduna State. It was in my third year, I decided that wasn’t what I was supposed to do, so I gave up and started over with IT and went to Middlesex University in London. At the time it was not funny because I had a lot of backlash.
My classmates called me a failure, but I would always advise people to stop whenever you think the road is bad and start all over again; it is better to be late on the right track than to fail on the wrong track. It’s what I tell people I did for myself and today I can’t wait to be there, I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
When you dropped out of school, did you receive support from our parents?
Yes, so very strong support. So even before going to school, I still only go to the internet cafe and sit on the computer. So my mom never really understood why I was going to this place called cafe, she started to suspect that maybe I had joined a cult because of my passion for computers. When I came back and told my mom that I wasn’t interested in what I was doing because my dad was late, she asked me what my plan was and I told her software genius.
Mom took a deep breath and came into the room then my uncle who is like a father figure came over and i told him i had given up and he asked what year i said i was going in fourth year. My uncle said congratulations to me because he thought I would give up early but at least I was persistent so he asked me my next plan. He said I should apply and he would support me and he made me raise my tuition 50% just so it wouldn’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 technology?
Before going there, I worked as a product designer with a company called BYTE in Abuja; it was right after i dropped out of ABU but the company was looking for a 1st class graduate but i told them i was not a 1st class and also a dropout. They laughed and said you were employed because of your skills, so I worked there for about a year and a few months, then went to Leadership Logs as a Senior Software Engineer.
Then I went to school and when I came back because of my leadership impact at that time the Punch newspaper took me to lead their engineering team and I worked there for over three years, then I went to another company and that’s when I decided to freelance on the side. I have created websites for several newspapers while others are about to launch their new websites.
What is the outlook for your tech business?
I started my startup which is in near beta and we are generating revenue and it has been going on for months and we have transacted over 300 million naira through the platform.
How many people have you been able to hire?
At the moment, on the payroll, there are in fact only three people because I have a very small team; I do most of the work. I’m looking to close an inning soon but I want to do enough traction before I decide to pitch publicly and then secure my team.
What advice would you give to young people who might want to retrace their steps and do what they passionately want?
Firstly 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 tokens crash at the end, not everyone who talks or has ever talked would be flying not their plane for them. .
Recently, I partnered with Ventures Platform to speak to young people getting into tech. I decided to give back to the community in partnership with Ventures Platform to continue to encourage those who hope and aspire to focus on technology. I am self-taught: I did all this learning myself when I did not even understand what it was and I am at this stage. A lot of people are like that and I’m trying to make it a bit easier to create a soft landing hub so that it actually fits in with the technology.