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Rise Networks’ artificial intelligence lab hosts The CEO Apprentices; here are key takeaways



The CEO Apprentices
Embracing adequate entrepreneurship education, business supports and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data/analytics, etc., will brighten Africa’s future in the Fourth Industrial Revolution [4IR] era.

This was the unanimous view of speakers at Rise Networks, Lagos, when The CEO Apprentices under BusinessDay Media’s programme visited the Rise Lab, Nigeria’s first AI-powered work readiness centre.

Rise Networks is Nigeria’s leading Social Enterprise that is using technology innovations to create advocacy, skills empowerment and learning opportunities for the inclusive growth of youth with the core objective of preparing them for effective Value-Based Leadership at all levels in the public, private and social sectors.

This simply aligns with The CEO Apprenticeship Africa program which seeks to develop the next generation of disruptors.

So, the CEO of Rise Networks, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji; A Software Engineer and Sematic Web Architect Founder, Mr. Emeka Okoye and CEO, Huntrecht, Mr. Kayode Odeyemi, spoke about leveraging data and other emerging technologies to advance entrepreneurship in Africa; here are some interesting statistics that support their statements:

The CEO Apprentices at Rise Labs

The CEO Apprentices at Rise Labs paying attention to details

Africa’s youth population is growing at such an alarming rate that trumps any existing initiatives to adequately cater for them. Something needs to be done urgently and the speakers agree that entrepreneurship is the only sustainable option.

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Speaking to the young, energetic and enthusiastic apprentices, Akerele-Ogunsiji, said that The CEO Apprentice program is a confirmation that the biggest investment the continent should embark on is investing in human resource.

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Dropping some business nuggets, the CEO of Rise Network, said, “The biggest investment you’ll ever make is in people. As you start your entrepreneurship journey, even though you are free to veer the path, you must never allow people to determine the measure of your individual power. As you walk along the way, the greatest asset you are going to need is people; whether they are your mentors or your teachers who have taken you on the path of entrepreneurship or your parents; who may not even believe in you. Because their lack of believe or confidence in you, it keeps the fire burning in you; because, you need to prove a point.

The CEO Apprenticeship

CEO of Rise Networks, Mrs. Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji

“History has shown that Africans don’t build sustainable businesses. According to report, only seven businesses in Nigeria are businesses which are in the second generation…

“As an entrepreneur in 2019, you are not competing with others around you; you are competing with others in the world. As long as you have the internet, there’s no reason why you should not be globally competitive. Your experience keeps you at a competitive edge that is higher than that of your peers because you know the things they don’t know. It is okay if you say, ‘My path is not entrepreneurship, but a 9-5 job’. Do not let anyone box you into a corner”.

The CEO Apprentices at Rise Labs

The CEO Apprentices

Why Rise Labs?

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“Rise Labs is the first Artificial Intelligence powered research and work centre in Nigeria and it leverages AI which is important in preparing young people for the future of work and the fourth industrial revolution. Statistics show that over the next few years, 11 million people will be going into the labour market, every year. That is why you need to be different every step of the way.

“You need to know your stuff. Richard Branson said that if you take him out of his businesses and put him in the desert, he will set up a business called Virgin Sands, because everything that made Virgin what it is comes/came from his head. He didn’t need to read from any book. In other words, everything you need to succeed is right there within you. The moment you think you need a written document to be excellent at what you do, you have no business doing it in the first place”.


Speaking next was Mr. Odeyemi, who said that having data at the fingerprint is necessary, however using the data to make informed decisions in business is the ultimate.

Why businesses should go for AI-powered solutions

“The earlier AI is applied in business, through automation, the better advantage the business has. It will save time and make the business a smart one. This way, the product you build will be driven by the information you have”.

He further told the young people to pay attention and collect as much data as possible before venturing into any business space.

The CEO Apprentices at Rise Labs

CEO, Huntrecht, Mr. Kayode Odeyemi

Mr. Odeyemi said, “If you pay attention and collect enough data, you can predict what will happen and build with it. You need to pay attention to everything that is happening around you. You and your team need to harvest the data and process it; then you can understand and predict what will happen every now and then”.

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To start a business, you need a lot of data

Then, Mr. Okoye, spoke about the rudiments. According to him, it all starts with data.

In his words, “Data is purely observation. Data is what you observe with your five senses. It is observation in a reusable form. You observe the relationship between two entities.

The CEO Apprentice

A Software Engineer and Sematic Web Architect Founder, Mr. Emeka Okoye

“If data is too large, our brains can’t process it. However, we need these data to make our businesses better, so this is where we need algorithms. Algorithms help us process this data and make sense of it for us.

“To start a business, you need a lot of data to validate the decisions you need to make. You can’t work with feeling. You need proof to validate facts. Data is essential for the growth of your business, as it helps you understand your business.

The CEO Apprenticeship

Emeka, Toyosi, leader of the BusinessDay team and Kayode

“Algorithms and AI help us process huge data. AI is simply helping machines understand the human process”.

The key message of The CEO Apprentice by BusinessDay, which the speakers subscribed to is that Africa’s survival in the 21st Century revolves around disruptive business models and unapologetic supports of its disruptors, who are the visionaries that will enable the Continent exceed the sanguine predictions of “Africa Rising”.

The CEO Apprenticeship

The participants

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