By Victor Ochieng
It’s newsworthy when someone in the STEM field turns down a job opportunity whose potential is undoubtedly bright. Seriously, how can someone turn down an offer from Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful companies? Even more interesting is that this person isn’t that high ranking executive in Google or some top geek at Apple.
It’s Chris Kwekowe. Ever heard of him? Most likely not. Well, he’s a 23-year-old Nigerian, a computer science graduate from Lagos State University. Now you know; that’s your guy who turned down the enviable software engineer position at Microsoft.
Kwekowe’s reason for turning down the offer is quite powerful. He wants to spend his time developing his own startup, Slatecube, a website that helps his young countrymen find jobs. Kwekowe and his brother are the sole funders of their project
His reason for declining the offer isn’t even the issue here; having the guts and the conviction to tell that to Gates. Kwekowe said Gates just smiled after he said no.
In a Facebook post, Kwekowe wrote: “Oh yeah, I did meet with Bill Gates in Durban, South Africa, where we had some candid discussion about everything, from his involvement with charitable causes in the continent to how he makes time to be a great father for his kids. My favourite moments were watching his reaction after I told him I turned down job offers from Microsoft and the likes to pursue something more defining for me, and how Africa’s development depends more on sustainable investments in innovative social startups like Slatecube that solve some of the continent’s biggest problems, rather than donating entirely to charity organizations who end up requiring more financial injection to deal with the minutest of issues.”
Besides the two’s interest in technology, Kwekowe and Gates also share the desire to develop Africa for the better.
Kwekowe is working hard to make it easier for Nigerians to secure jobs, while Gates, through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been doing amazing works in Africa in different sectors, including health, education and global development.
In his Facebook post, Kwekowe continues: “Anyways, we’d be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make our value proposition at Slatecube a pan-African privilege. Soon, you’d rather be in demand across the globe, and engage in companies and projects that make you better, and suits your career goals. Nothing can really be better.”
From such common interests, Gates and Kwekowe might just find themselves working together, albeit not through Microsoft. It looks like it’s going to be the beginning of a mutually fulfilling relationship between the two and a good step towards the betterment of Africa.