Endeavor Mentor Spotlight – Chidi Iwuchukwu

We profiled Chidi Iwuchukwu, the Head Of Investment Banking/Banking Division Africa Regions at Rand Merchant Bank, at the last edition of our Mentors Roundtable, a gathering of Endeavor Nigeria mentors where we spotlighted one mentor and one Endeavor entrepreneur (Deepankar Rustagi, CEO of OmniRetail).

Chidi shared his career journey and mentorship experiences with Endeavor. He talked about how he found mentorship rewarding, especially witnessing the success of the businesses he helped select. He believes mentorship fosters connections and future business opportunities.

Chidi advocates for more investor focus on early-stage companies and is working on initiatives to support this. Finally, he expressed pride in being a mentor and considers the Endeavor Network a vital part of his professional journey.

Read excerpts from the interview below:

  • What is your Background?

I have spent most of my life as a Leverage Finance Banker, dealing with mergers, acquisitions, and debts. The world of investments and investor profiles is my day-to-day. I have practised in this field across the globe – including the US and Europe- so I am familiar with the nuances that exist when people make investments and when they intend to exit. My role has always been facilitating investments and exits depending on what side of the coin I sit on when discussing with my clients. 

  • Why and how did you join Endeavor Nigeria as a mentor?

I was approached by Eloho Omame (founding  Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor Nigeria) to join the network as a mentor. It was around the time I joined RMB to kickstart their leverage finance business in Nigeria, and I relocated from Dubai, where I was working with a competitor. RMB then discussed expanding my focus to cover Africa, which I considered an even bigger challenge. So, when Eloho proposed the network, I was sceptical about adding more to my plate. However, with a bit more insight into the network – the pipeline and portfolio companies, I was more interested. I realised it was relevant to my work and gave me an avenue to engage with the players in the ecosystem.

  • What has your experience been so far? Please share one memorable experience.

It has been very interesting. I have enjoyed my time as a mentor. I try as much as I can to give my time once I am asked. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have been approached and not shown up. I have seen companies transition, and what I foresaw then is what is happening now. Endeavor has midwived these entrepreneurs, with those companies now becoming the brides of many large investors. Something good is happening with the Endeavor Network—selecting the right entrepreneurs who go on to be global champions.

Today (at the Mentors Roundtable in February 2024), we are spotlighting an entrepreneur (Deepankar Rustagi–CEO of OmniRetail), whom I had the pleasure of meeting during his selection process. These things happen for a reason. If I can beat my chest and say that I was a part of his selection process, it means that I have faith in what is being said when his name comes up in my function at RMB. It helps that I don’t have to speak from both sides of my mouth. Again, this speaks to how well the network is growing and how important the network is.

  • Why is mentorship important?

Mentorship is important because it helps to build a bond. I am currently involved in several transactions with some Endeavor portfolio companies. I remember during the deliberations at the Local Selection Panel (LSP) for one of the companies, the conversation had been going back and forth, and I think a tipping point for them must have come from me saying – this is a very high-growth company; you better select them because if you don’t, you’ll miss out. Today, that entity is a very recognisable brand and has grown significantly since then. My team and I are currently working on a very large project for that entity. I am currently on two sides of the coin as a financial adviser to the firm and as a part of the Endeavor Network. Pushing this transaction and talking about the growth of this entity is very much a proud moment for me. Because of where the business is, what they are doing, and how important they are to the ecosystem. I can say that I am sentimentally attached to this company, and my first touch point with them was during the Endeavor selection process. This is the impact of Endeavor and the impact of the contributions made by mentors – during and after selection. 

As for me, I am always happy to contribute my time to be a part of the journey and contribute. I feel like this is a space where not many large investors play – everyone is looking at valuation numbers and looking for high-growth opportunities – but very few are playing in the early stages. I have been working with a few institutions to know what we can do to support the space. Many entrepreneurs would come up, but from my experience, not so many will succeed. However, ensuring that the ones who succeed have the highest impact is important.

  • Any other insights/advice you want to share with the community

It’s been a superb experience for me. I’m proud to continue to be a mentor. My professional journey would not be complete without this network. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to engage with one another as mentors and, more importantly, to engage with the entrepreneurs, as their success is our success.