During the Covid-19 lockdown, my webinars are the only way for me to reach potential applicants wishing to learn about the Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies.

It is also a great opportunity for me to meet everyone from different countries and particularly those who are based outside of the UK.

Jadesola Opawumi from Nigeria came to my webinar and shortly after, asked me to help her with her Stage 1 endorsement application for the UK Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies #TechNationVisa.

When I first learnt about Jadesola, I was inspired by her journey as a start up entrepreneur.  Jadesola is the co-founder of not one, not 2 but 3 successful fintech startups in Nigeria.  I am the founder of one start up so I was immediately in awe of all her successes and achievements.

Jadesola is also a very high achiever who, when she sets her goals, she will reach them.  And she knows who to seek support from to achieve them.

Every Wednesday for 7 weeks, Jadesola and I worked on her 15 pieces of evidence, her criteria and her experts.  With the new changes that are due to take effect on 1 December, it motivated Jadesola to finalise all 15 documents to submit well before the new changes take place.

While Jadesola was running her 3 startups, she hit each milestone every week so that we could keep on track to enable her to reach her goal of submitting her Stage 1 endorsement application on time.

Each piece of evidence we worked on increased my admiration for Jadesola. It was so clear that she worked so hard while running her start ups and she deserved all her achievements and successes during her journey as an entrepreneur. She also deserved the endorsement for exceptional talent and my goal was to help her get it!

Jadesola chose the Innovation, Leadership and Continuous learning criteria*.  Like most applicants I help, Jadesola faced challenges with each criteria.

Initially, Jadesola didn’t choose the Leadership criteria however, after discussing this at length with her and looking at her evidence, Jadesola had enough evidence to fulfil the Leadership criteria.  In the end, she had too many!  This is because again, like most applicants, they don’t either see themselves as leaders or feel they don’t have evidence that is good enough to fulfil the criteria.  Jadesola had written 2 newspaper articles, was interviewed on TV for her work in promoting her women in business community that she founded, she was a keynote speaker and she won a place in a very sought after 12 month “Grooming for Greatness” leadership program in Africa that garnered national media attention. 

This is because Jadesola was one of the top 12 out of over 350 applicants who won a spot on this program. It brought together leaders across sectors to share their experiences and expertise, and groom the next generation of African business leaders.

If that isn’t leadership, I don’t know what is!

The Innovation criteria was also challenging for Jadesola because she is so busy running her 3 startups that stepping back and looking at it from a high level perspective required a lot of retrospective thinking.  As most entrepreneurs, we are so focussed on working and getting things done that retrospective thinking doesn’t happen because of lack of time.

While it was a challenging process, the 3 pieces of evidence that Jadesola created for all 3 of her startups were extremely clear, well structured and her innovation was articulated very well.  I’m so pleased that my innovation templates helped Jadesola with the structure she needed and she nailed it!

Jadesola can now bring all 3 pieces of Innovation evidence into her business and use them in pitch decks, presentations and share what her business does and how her concepts and work were innovative.

Finally, Jadesola also completed numerous courses however, struggled to find all her certificates*. So, as one of her pieces of evidence, she used her recent participation in a 12 week fintech accelerator program where she represented one of her startups. She was one of the top 5 out of 191 fintech startups selected by the accelerator after a gruelling 3-stage interview process because Jadesola and her co-founder were recognised for solving key problems in innovative ways  in the financial industry and changed how users access and consume financial services. 

The accelerator invested $20,000 USD in her start-up after the completion of the program and she also secured investment of $200,000 USD.

Jadesola and I worked over a weekend to ensure all her documents were ready to be submitted but we decided to submit fresh on the Monday morning, the 2nd of November.

After submission, Jadesola forced herself to keep busy and while it was very tempting, she resisted looking at her emails.

However, curiosity got the better of her and by Tuesday 3rd November at 6.45pm, Jadesola received an email from the Home Office notifying her that she was endorsed for Exceptional Talent!

I usually work with applicants for 8 weeks and Jadesola submitted ahead of our final meeting.  Little did we know that our 8th week meeting would be our celebratory zoom call!

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Jadesola and I am so grateful that she chose me to share her journey with.  And with the recent launch of the Tech Nation Visa report 2020, it revealed that only 30% of applicants from Nigeria are endorsed. Jadesola is one of the 30%. She truly is a role model and inspiration to her country and while she will be sorely missed, she has a very bright future ahead of her in the UK. We are so lucky that she will be joining us.

Tech Nation Visa 2020 Report
Applicants endorsed by country

And in true leadership style, Jadesola wanted to inspire others to apply for the Stage 1 endorsement so they too can apply for the UK Global Talent Visa.

“I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed when I was trying to make a decision about who to work with but i was drawn to Michelle because she knew exactly how i was feeling as she had gone through the same thing I was about to go through. She made the application process very enjoyable but she kept her eyes on our goals and held me accountable on all my weekly deliverables.

Her wealth of experience working with diverse applicants was shown as she worked with me to present each piece of complex evidence in the best possible way. In the 7 weeks that we worked together Michelle was always quick to recognise when I hit a roadblock and she would immediately take charge and offer solutions or offer advice and even go as far as working on my documents herself.

She was very detailed and up until I submitted my application, she ensured that all ”I’s” were dotted and all ”T’s” were crossed. We worked really hard and we had the cause to laugh harder when I got my endorsement a day after submission. 

I am thankful for the experience to work with one of the best there is!”

Jadesola, Fintech Entrepreneur, Exceptional Talent recipient

Watch my interview with Jadesola where she shares her advice, journey, her hesitations and what research she did before she engaged me to help her.

Jadesola is now making plans to move to the UK as soon as she can travel.  Now, she is busy spending as much time as possible with her family and friends in Nigeria before she begins her new adventure in the UK.

I can’t wait to welcome Jadesola with big open arms or a socially distanced air hug!

For more Inspirational videos, head over to my You Tube channel here! And if you’d like to learn how you can also apply for the UK Global Talent Visa in Digital Technologies email me at [email protected]

Read another Inspirational Woman in Tech from Nigeria, Mofoluke Ayoola who was endorsed just before Christmas 2019 and right before her existing UK Visa expired!

*On 1 December 2020, qualifying criteria 3, continuous learning, will be removed. Read more about the new changes on the Stage 1 endorsement criteria for the UK Global Talent Visa here.

This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Consultant, Speaker, CEO & Founder of Made With Glove. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the Exceptional Talent Visa (now called Global Talent Visa) and is the former #TechNationVisa Ambassador.  Michelle consults for highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and people working in digital technologies on how they can receive the endorsement for exceptional talent or exceptional promise. Read Michelle’s other blogs on the #TechNationVisa here and Michelle’s own journey here.