“I believe that the creative economy can boost competitiveness, productivity, sustainable growth, employment and export potential.”
Yoanna Chikezie, Nigeria
- Program studied
Paving the way for Nigeria’s future leaders
Yoanna’s greatest strength lies in the fact that she’s naturally creative. She is determined, adventurous and intuitive, and believes she can always find a way to leverage her position for the benefit of others. Yoanna has always been passionate about creating opportunities for young people and pushing the agenda of social and economic development in Africa and diaspora communities through the arts, trade and innovation.
Yoanna graduated from the London College of Fashion with a Master in Strategic Fashion and Management, and she holds a Bachelor in Culture, Society and Communications from the University of Birmingham. She worked as a fashion editor for a number of national and international lifestyle publications, focusing on changing the narrative of fashion and lifestyle from the African continent and diaspora. In 2013, she became Head of Channel of the first 24-hour international African fashion and lifestyle TV Station, SPICE TV. During this time, she led a team of over 30 producers and editors in content creation and co-created numerous brand consumer experiences for various broadcasting channels.
Before joining the EMIT program, Yoanna was and still leads The Assembly Hub, the platform and consultancy based in Lagos that she founded in 2017. The Hub has become the leading creative hub in Africa in just four years. It currently supports over 2000 entrepreneurs through capacity initiatives such as training, mentoring, market access and job matching.
“I was interested in joining a global network where I could benefit from diverse backgrounds and experiences, while learning from leaders in business, development and academia.”
Yoanna developed a keen interest in trade and sustainable development in Africa. This prompted her to join the International Trade Center’s (ITC) SheTrades initiative in 2019, where she trained over 150 female-owned SMEs across Nigeria in export strategy. That same year, she joined The Africa Technology and Creative Group (ATCG), a grassroots effort that seeks to support African SMEs and startups in the digital and creative sectors.
She chose to study at IE University after being awarded the ITC’s SheTrades Scholarship. Yoanna was attracted by the idea of being part of a global network, benefitting from diverse backgrounds and experiences and learning from leaders in business, development and academia.
The opportunity to study international trade has opened Yoanna’s eyes to just how interconnected trade and other issues are, from socioeconomics and technological innovation to gender and climate. The topics she has explored throughout the program have encouraged her to critically think about the role she and her organization play within this global dialogue. Having gained knowledge on the technical aspects of trade, such as the Harmonized System code classification and Rules of Origin systems, she now feels better equipped to support entrepreneurs in textiles and apparel and provide detailed training on issues related to exports. Better understanding the framework around the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has also been key to her organization’s agenda. Additionally, the courses she has taken in public speaking and policy writing have been game changers in improving her communication and presentation skills.
Overall, Yoanna describes her experience at IE University as fruitful and enriching. She’s grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn alongside professionals with such deep knowledge and expertise in trade and business. Her network has been strengthened with colleagues in sectors covering trade, finance and international development. Despite the time zone differences, she was able to work closely with her classmates, who supported each other throughout the program.
In the long term, Yoanna is passionate about bridging the gaps in the trading of services between developing and more established markets. She’s eager to use her practical experiences and perspectives on entrepreneurship to help women, young people and SMEs.