The year Eniola Osabiya turned 12, his church held a boot camp for his peers on coding. For the teenagers, it was another tiresome church activity. But for Eniola, it was an opportunity too important to ignore. Five years later, he has built on the craft, becoming an easily recognisable face in the Nigerian tech ecosystem as a full stack developer.
How did his journey start?
It was basically to teach the teenagers back then how to code. That’s how the whole journey began. It was to equip teenagers within three days, getting them to understand coding.Eniola Osabiya said in a recent interview with Technext.
Since after the program in which they (Eniola and his peers) had to build a library management system — which even at that young age he said “was fun” — he has developed over time, foregoing, he said, 95 per cent of his spare time into perfecting his craft, acquiring more skills, being better.
His days of humble beginnings
His early days of learning to code were not as seamless. For starters, he didn’t have the most essential tool of the trade, which was a personal computer. He had to resort to relying on those around him who had PCs.
He also didn’t have a community of teenagers in tech in those days after the boot camp, which he said hampered his success.
“I didn’t know like-minded people around me that could be like my partners in crime,” he said. “I was literarily almost the only person that knew how to program. It could be discouraging at times.”
On building a community
Last year, he overcame this stumbling block with the start of GenZTechies, a community that he said now has more than 75o members for Gen-Zers in tech.
“That (GenZTechies) started out last year in January. The idea was just ‘I had this issue of linking up with other programmers when I just started my journey,'” he said.
“I met some other young people, so, I was like ‘let’s just be in a WhatsApp group.’ It wasn’t a community. It was just a random WhatsApp group. Sometimes we had some meaningful decisions. Then, when the numbers increased to 30, 40, we decided let’s make it a community.”
Now that community has over 750 members on Slack.
We wanted people who were really committed.Eniola Osabiya
“Like, what have you done? Do you have a portfolio? But people had to resume school and we had this backlog, so we just made the community open.”
That community also includes some young founders in the space some of whom he said are trying to raise funds to grow their businesses.
Eniola’s career path
Even though Eniola has been able to build for himself over the years the backbone of what could become a stellar career as a designer in the burgeoning Nigerian tech ecosystem, his mind is not fully made up on if he wants to pursue tech as a career in the nearest future.
“I won’t say I’ve really decided I want to pursue tech as a career,” he said.
“I just took it seriously because generally, I’ve always been a person who likes to stay around computers and laptops. And, programming and building software is something that involves having to stay with computers, and not having to stress anybody. I just fell in love with it.”
And so what does he plan on doing with all these skills he has acquired?
I’ve just not made any serious decision career-wise about it like this is what I want to be doing forever.Eniola Osabiya
But he has set his eyes set on the big fish, the prestigious title that is “startup founder.”
“I probably just want to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t know whether I can classify this as a career path. I’ll just like to have my establishment and be able to be diverse in a lot of things. I have interests in a couple of things that I’ll like to build solutions around; education, social good. I am working on some of them.”
He is currently working on a product, FrelaPay, to monitor productivity.
Is Eniola Osabiya making money?
As he started getting good enough to take on jobs here and there, the harsh realities of corporate life, especially corporate life in Nigeria are catching up to him. At the first company he worked for, he did not receive any payment after a two-month probationary period.
“They didn’t pay me for the first few months. I kept going, they kept talking about investors. They knew I was young that’s why they were able to probably get away with that.”
But, he has found solace in other things like when he builds a solution or finishes solving a bug. Or last year, when he first got paid for a job he did. “It felt good,” he said.
But, working young, even when one is paid, comes with all kinds of doubt that he has experience. But for Eniola it’s no biggie. When he starts providing solutions and contributing sensibly “all of that go away,” he said.
On taking a gap year
He was supposed to have gone to the University to study computer science, but he has taken a gap year, something he said he had been telling his parents subtlely that he wanted to work a bit more this year. A decision has now worked weirdly in his favour as universities have been on strike since February.
“I actually did not apply,” he said. “They remind me every time that I should not look away from school,” he said about his parents on his decision.
What lies ahead for Eniola?
Even as he has found this opportunity working in tech and is paid for the solutions, he is not in a hurry to jump the guns. He is still living with his parents for instance.
His focus is on the hackathon slated for July that GenZTechies is planning.
He wants other Gen Z looking to make it in tech to be “consistent. It can be hard, but don’t look too much at the money at the start,” he said.
For now, he wants the world to “expect projects and solutions I am working on to be the next big thing in the startup space in a few days.”
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!