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7up’s 2021 Harvard Business School Scholarship Produces Desayo Ajisegiri As Winner

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From left: Ziad Maloouf, Managing Director, SBC; Desayo Ajisegiri, Scholarship Winner and Segun Ogunleye, GM, Marketing, Beverages, SBC.

Resolute on contributing its quota to Nigeria’s progressive growth and development, Seven-up Bottling Company Limited (SBC) has supported and celebrated young and promising Nigerian graduates through its prestigious 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship Programme.  In 2021, the bottling giant is once again sponsoring a deserving Nigerian youth on a fully-funded MBA program at the prestigious Harvard Business School.

This year’s recipient, Desayo Ajisegiri, comes from a modest background. Having been inspired by the tenacity and courage of her mother, she sailed through adverse circumstances to graduate from Howard University, Washington DC with Summa Cum Laude honors and has dedicated herself to impacting the world through a fusion of entrepreneurial and humanitarian initiatives that solve current global challenges.

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During her time in college,  Desayo who had been a quarterly survivor of malaria found a way to prevent malaria by investing in a detergent that could fortify one’s clothes, serving as a repellent and insecticide to dangerous mosquitoes. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for solving problems also led her and her friends to start up a micro-investing platform – Trove, that allows Nigerians invest in U.S stocks from the comfort of their homes while on their phones.

Desayo joins Misan Rewane (2011), Olujimi Williams (2012), Mayowa Kuyoro (2013), Oluwasola Olaniyan (2014), Bankole Makanjuola (2015), Chidozie Ibekwe (2016), Ahmed Alimi (2017), Ulunma Izejiobi (2018), Anyanwu Maureen Uzoamaka (2019), and Abdul Rahman Buhari (2020), who have benefitted from the fully funded two-year programme at Harvard Business School.

Restating the company’s unwavering support for the Nigerian youth and its commitment to Nigeria’s development, the Managing Director of SBC, Ziad Maloouf, said, “We believe in the transformational difference great leadership has on a country. One person can make a huge difference in the trajectory of a people and their development. That’s what this scholarship is about. We are on a mission to inspire extraordinary people to create exceptional ideas.”

He added that SBC believes in the power of people to drive innovation and change. In line with its mission to inspire extraordinary people to create great ideas that make communities better, SBC continues to partner with Harvard Business School to train transformational leaders who would contribute to national growth and development.

Going further to explain the choice of this year’s recipient from the list of applications received, Mr. Maloouf said, “Desayo has proven her mettle and passion for people and development, as evident in her work to enhance the financial status of Nigerians. We believe we have identified a leader Nigeria will be proud of. By contributing to her story, maybe we can do our part to change the wider narrative about Nigeria.”

Speaking on the importance of the unique initiative, the Chief Corporate Services Officer, Yemi Faseun, emphasised the multiplier effect of leadership. He said, “We cannot change the world all at once; however, we can change our world one person at a time. The 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship gives us the opportunity to do that. We wish our 2021 winner, Desayo, the best and look forward to the remarkable impact she would have on the country.”

In attendance at the event, alongside key stakeholders and representatives from the company, were members of the  National Youth Corps Service (NYSC), who were challenged by Desayo’s story. They remarked on the impact it has made on their lives, as they take courageous steps towards achieving their dreams.

In an eloquent remark, Desayo Ajisegiri expressed her gratitude as she was unveiled as the 11th recipient of the 7up Harvard Business School Scholarship, at SBC’s newly renovated headquarters in Ijora, Lagos. Desayo challenged the youth to remain tenacious and promised to uphold the values upon which the scholarship was awarded. Having mentored 15 Nigerian college students in the U.S through college into Medical schools, PhD programs, and corporate careers, Desayo’s passion for community improvement and rehabilitation was evident. This in addition to other sterling qualities that singled her out amongst thousands of entries received.

The scholarship recipient plans to come back to Nigeria upon completing her education at the Harvard Business School to float her micro-investing platform. She believes that her team has only scratched the surface as they plan to empower Nigerians with the means to make wealth.

Rounding up her speech, she encouraged Nigerian youths and aspirers like her to follow their passion and believe that their dreams are valid. Admonishing the young audience, Desayo said, “You have to step into the driver’s seat of your life and do your own part of the equation. I didn’t know I was going to win the scholarship but I planned the whole year ahead of my application to HBS. Now I am here and going in fully funded by SBC. It is amazing. So do your own part, keep your eye on the goal and the vision and be optimistic.”

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