Last week, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu approved the appointment of Charles Odii as the Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). SMEDAN was established to promote and facilitate the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.
Who is Charles Odii?
Charles Odii, at the youthful age of 35, is a highly respected entrepreneur and advocate for small businesses. He describes himself as someone on a mission to empower entrepreneurs and startups in Africa to create jobs, drive economic growth, and build a better future for all. With over a decade of experience in senior management roles in the technology and business development sectors, he has a proven track record of success in leading and growing teams, developing and executing strategies, and building partnerships.
In 2009, Charles Odii earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Covenant University. He further honed his skills by pursuing a Project Management Certification (Prince 2, Foundation, and Practitioner) in 2011 at the same university. His academic journey continued as he obtained a Master’s Degree in Marketing and Communications and a PhD in Media and Communications from Pan Atlantic University in Lagos, Nigeria.
In his most recent role as Country Manager at Elephant Healthcare, United Kingdom (Sept 2021–Sept 2023), he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company’s operations in Nigeria. Prior to that, he held the positions of Senior Vice President, Marketing at Softcom (Sept 2020–Sept 2021) and Executive Director at SME100Africa (July 2014 – Sep 2020). Charles Odii’s professional journey began with roles such as Chief Operating Officer at The Future Project (December 2013 – July 2014), Projects Team Lead at Bilateral Data & Communications (April 2012–October 2013), and he started out as an Account Manager at Dimension Data (NTT Group) (December 2009 – April 2012).
Small Business Initiatives
Charles Odii has, for over the past decade, exuded an unrivaled passion for the development of small and medium businesses in Nigeria. He founded several initiatives to promote the cause of small and medium scale enterprises, including:
100talks (Radio/Tv/Magazine) – A media organization set up to tell the stories of young entrepreneurs impacting their communities.
International Women’s Day Summit – Now in its 8th year, the summit features a pitch competition and digital marketing training for women.
Nigeria’s Youth Entrepreneurship Leadership Program a.k.a 25 under 25 – Every year, this initiative seeks out young people under the age of 25 who are doing amazing things and contributing to socio-economic development in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Small Business Summit – A yearly event that brings together government, academia, SMEs, and the private sector to discuss the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Nigeria.
100ClubAfrica – A teenage entrepreneur club that educates young Nigerians about the importance of starting early.
Charles Odii has been recognized for his outstanding contributions. He was listed as one of the top 100 innovative entrepreneurs in Nigeria by YTech 100. He has been selected for the United States Young African Leaders Initiative twice (2017, 2018), both as a leader and a mentor. In 2019, he was named on Forbes’ list of 30 under 30 and won the Future Awards Africa Prize in advocacy for his work promoting small businesses.
Charles Odii is a Fellow of the United States International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). He is also a founding member and the first Chair of the SME100Africa Global Youth Council. He is a member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, the Nigerian Institute of Management, and the Nigerian Small Business Council. Additionally, he serves as an advisor to the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency.
Expectations as SMEDAN DG
As the new Director General of SMEDAN, Mr. Odii is expected to use his skills and experience to help the agency achieve its mandate of promoting and facilitating the development of MSMEs in Nigeria. His focus is expected to revolve around improving access to finance and markets for MSMEs, providing training and support to MSMEs, and advocating for policies and reforms that support MSMEs. Overall, Mr. Odii is anticipated to play a key role in helping MSMEs in Nigeria grow, succeed, and create millions of jobs. He possesses the skills, experience, and passion to make a real difference.
Charles Odii’s experience as a social entrepreneur will be valuable in this new role, bringing a fresh perspective and innovative solutions to the challenges of the SME community. The SMEDAN DG officially assumed office on October 16th, 2023, and was received by the former DG, Dr. Tunde Fasanya. Nigeria looks forward to the positive impact Charles Odii will bring to the vital sector of small and medium enterprises.