In 2015, Uche Nnadi was working in Sales in Santa Barbara, California. While preparing for a career pivot to software engineering, he met Michael Paccione who was getting a BFA in Web Design and New Media at Academy of Art University, San Francisco.
Two years later, now friends, Paccione was hanging out at Nnadi’s apartment in Fillmore District. Nnadi, now employed as a Data Platform Engineer at Ernest, a fintech powered by artificial intelligence, brought up the idea of starting an educational nonprofit.
Nnadi felt privileged enough to migrate to the United States with family, albeit with nothing. He got into university and later attained a successful career as a Software Engineer. Nnadi had been asking himself a lot of questions, seeking answers to how to transfer some of the privileges he was fortunate to have attained. He decided he wanted to help other curious young Nigerians gain access to career opportunities and mentorship.
A few days later, Nnadi invited Paccione to a restaurant, with some other friends and announced that he wanted to start a tech non-profit. Together, they raised $10,500 and co-founded Enye with Uche Nnadi as Executive Director, Michael Paccione as Financial Director, and Emmanuel Ezegwuala as Technology Director.
Enye is a play on the Igbo word “Inye”, meaning “to give.” The organization, registered as a 401(3)c tech nonprofit, believes in investing in budding tech talents and entrepreneurs at no upfront cost. Four years down the road, Enye has consistently grown in impact. After five cohorts, over 90 software engineers and have gained full employment and successfully built out their MVPs through the program.
Evolution of the Enye Team
In 2018, all the non-Nigerian members of the founding team left, except Michael Paccione. The current executive team comprises Uche Nnadi, the Executive Director of Enye, Manny Ezegwuala, the Technology Director, and Michael Paccione, the Financial Director.
Ama Udofa – joined the team in July 2019. Uche Nnadi travelled to Nigeria to execute Enye’s Demo Day: a physical meetup where engineers and founders showcase the products they have built after every cohort. Nnadi met Udofa at a coffee shop in Ilupeju, Lagos, two weeks to Demo Day 2. After a brief conversation with the founding executives, Udofa signed up with Enye as a Press Writer, a role that has since evolved into Head of Marketing. He has transformed Enye’s brand equity and is currently helping to build a thriving community of founders and engineers.
Ayobamigbe Teriba – joined the team in March 2020, as Head of Nigerian Operations. His addition to the team helped drive the partnerships that facilitated Enye’s entry into the Nigerian tech scene; in 2019, Enye pivoted from primarily placing Nigerian software engineers in foreign firms, to focusing more on the Nigerian ecosystem.
Later that year, the Enye team started a Founders Program to connect well-trained intermediate software engineers to early-stage founders looking to build and scale their MVPs.
Chika Obiwuru – joined Enye in February 2021 as Product Manager. She has helped streamline Enye’s product process across founding teams in the Enye program, and also brought stability to the execution of Enye’sprimary and ancillary projects.
Plans for the Future
As Enye prepares for its sixth cohort, the goal remains the same – give founders and engineers the right tools and skillset to run successful companies. The team will continue to expand in order to spread its value proposition of helping young professionals build Nigeria’s tech future.