Trailblazer: Chelsea Monye bares it all on how She launched a business to connect entrepreneurs to opportunities at 18 (Exclusive interview)



Can we meet you, Miss?

My name is Chelsea Monye

Chelsea Monye

What is your state of origin and state of residence?

I’m from Delta State, Nigeria but i live in the UK.

Tell us your about your family background.

I am from a family of 6, 2 brothers, a sister and my Parents.

When did you start The Esquire Network?

I started TEN around 2015 summer, through social media and no ‘staff’ I had a goal in sight but had to start with twitter and instagram to build momentum and create awareness. I launched the network with an open mic night in Abuja in August 2015 and a year later designed and created our directory and website


What exactly is The Esquire Network about?

TEN is a creative network that promotes, creates and reveals available opportunities for entrepreneurs. We do this through our online directory and in person networking events.

What prompted you to start The Esquire Network?

I was interested in drawing all kinds of creatives together, no matter the field. I love hosting and organizing events so the network was a perfect way of fusing my passions and sending positivity back into the world.

You’re doing a wonderful job with The Esquire Network.

Thank you very much.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by different things and different people. I am mostly inspired by the work of powerful enterprising women like Toke Makinwa, Kehinde Smith of MyExtensionz, Bonang Matheba. Tara Fela Durotoye and similar networks and organisations such as SheLeadsAfrica.


What aspect of your background or education has been most helpful to your experience as a young CEO?

Definitely being a first child… lol. I’m naturally patient and calm which is very necessary when you run an organization, especially working in Nigeria or working with Nigerians.

What were the defining moments for you when you started?

Making my thank you speech at my first event, I couldn’t believe how it had turned out! We planned it in about 3 days and had about 25 performers and crew. I was overwhelmed and knew we could now do anything.

Could you tell us the part of your job you enjoy the most?

Brainstorming new ideas for events. It is so cool to wake up one day, think up an idea or event and have the capacity to make it happen.

To what extent do you think Nigerian youths are creative?

To a large extent. We are very resourceful; especially now that the economy is not soaring. The major part of the problem lies in the case where parents or society tries to mask our creativity. There has been a huge misconception in the society in that they think we can’t be academically successful and at the same time be creative/entrepreneurial. This is simply not true.

I am studying to become a lawyer out of choice, I was not forced and also have creative passions; but to be honest they both go hand in hand. I hope that just because previous generations were not exposed to alternate paths, this does not hinder our generation and generations to come.

What has been the turnout of Nigerian youths under The Esquire Network?

A lot of youths have been inspired by the idea and the fact that their age mates run the network. Many have gone on to start small businesses like make up artistry, graphic design and others have started blogging or modelling which is so cool. The network has also inspired me to explore other streams of incomes. On that note I am now into modelling again and i’m taking bookings! lol

How have your camping meetings gone so far and what has been the practical impact on the participants?

In 2016 I had the idea to start an annual summer camp for underprivileged children in Nigeria who would normally not have the ‘summer camp experience’. The 3 day camp entails arts, music, dance and bible studies.

With children ages 9-16, the turn out was great. They left feeling inspired and ‘elevated’ in terms of creativity and spirituality.

Which of your events have recorded the largest popular interest?

Our Power Women in Business series last summer proved quite popular. We had a free trial run and that sat so well with all our participants, most of whom requested a part 2 which we had at the end of august. Since the networks inception a year and a half ago, we are proud to say that we have recorded about 200 young people at our camp and events.

How do you hope to reach across to empower Nigerian youths in the future?

I hope to expand physically in the different states and regions of Nigeria as there are many talents and creatives in other places apart from lagos and abuja! I hope we can extend our events to these areas and use technology to pass across important skills and lessons.

How can a Nigerian youth discover his talent or develop his creative side?

I believe everyone has an interest and talent that is unique to them. Most people have an idea of what their talent is but don’t know how to develop it. Education on your subject matter is so key, watch youtube videos, read books and articles, listen to key people from that field speak.

The idea is to enrich yourself with your industry’s specific knowledge so that you can

become the best at what you do in a crowd of many. To discover your talent, if it isn’t so obvious, don’t go looking too far- don’t look at the typical routes and force yourself into a box. Just think about what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. This could be as trivial as making people laugh or even being a good friend.

You can then explore how you can monetize this, if you want to.

Have you won any awards, honors or special recognition as an individual or on The Esquire Network.

A few years ago I won a Nigerian Teens Choice Award for best make up artiste. Those were the days when I really explored all the possibilities within the creative industry. Running the network now allows me to do anything!


How do you define success?

In my opinion, success is the result of fulfilling your purpose on earth. Until you have done this, you have not attained success.

What would you describe as your secret formula for success as an entrepreneur?

There’s no secret. Hard work, passion and determination are the ingredients. Alongside prayer, figuring out your purpose is also crucial. If you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, then it is much easier to persevere when the going gets tough.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I wouldn’t say I have had my ‘greatest achievement’ yet.

What were your major obstacles during the initial years of The Esquire Network?

We are only a couple of years old, thankfully we haven’t had many obstacles. The only thing I would change is consistency of activity which is a challenge because of Education. Most, if not all of the network team are students.

What are your plans for the future?

I can’t say too much, however I plan on organizing more events internationally as well as locally and growing the concept of the network digitally.

What have you learnt that you think every forward looking young person should know?

Don’t tell people your next move, many will steal it.

Do stay on your lane, don’t compare your success or progress with others.

Be real and stick to your original motives.

And that’s my advice for serious minded youths.


Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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