• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Sold T-shirts in college, traded crypto, Harvard-bound: What you didn’t know about Chizi Wigwe

Chizi Wigwe

Chizi Wigwe was a financial professional with exceptional skills in investment analysis. His outgoing personality was a rare combination in the sector, and he preferred to maintain a low profile despite his family ties.

We trace his 29-year journey from his home country of Nigeria to the UK and back, following in his father’s footsteps to enhance the financial sector across Africa.

Early life

Young Chizi Wigwe

Chizi Herbert Wigwe was born on January 30, 1995, in New York City. The first of 4 children– Tochi, David, Hannah, and Okachi. He began his schooling in Nigeria at Greenwood House School.

However, he left Nigeria at 8 years of age to continue his education in the United Kingdom.

Chizi became the only African child at Port Regis School in Shaftesbury, England for his preparatory education.

Chizi Wigwe

He continued his studies at The King’s School in Canterbury, England and later earned a diploma from The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut.

Chizi developed an interest in business and finance and pursued a bachelor’s in science, technology and international affairs at Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, United States in 2018.

While in college, Chizi’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to begin selling T-shirts to fellow students to earn some money on the side.

“He was an entrepreneur at heart exploring various business adventures…He turned everything he touched to gold,” Tochi, Chizi’s sister, said about him.

After his study, Chizi’s home called and he answered. He returned to Nigeria in 2019 to complete his National Youth Service (NYSC).

Chizi Wigwe in NYSC uniform

Life at AFC

Chizi served at Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), following in his father’s footsteps. He did not only inherit his father’s name but his drive and interests in the finance and banking sector in Nigeria.

Chizi quickly grew to become an inaugural member of the AFC Capital Partners (ACP) core incubation team, which he co-created alongside Ayaan Zainab Adam, his boss and senior director at AFC where Chizi was a senior analyst before his passing.

Chizi Wigwe and his boss Ayaan Zainab

“People joked with me that I was his professional mother and that was true because the first time when Chizi came, we had nothing we started from scratch we sat in the same room we shared a table,” Ayaan said in a tribute to Chizi

“When I went home, he was with me. I would call him middle of the night, we were together and we really crafted the strategy of what is AFC Capital today. So far we have been able to raise 350 million and hopefully are closing the first Pan African fund dedicated to climate,” she said.

Chizi had a reputation for speaking quickly, but he was known for his exceptional business writing.

“He was writing some of my speeches. He’s an amazing writer, like a gifted writer in business…He was a powerful written orator,” Ayaan said.

“He had a passion to change the course of Africa. He was an African talent, an African youth.”

Chizi Wigwe

Harvard-bound

Chizi was on his way to a Harvard education. It was part of his plan to acquire further education and acquire business knowledge. He had completed level one of the Chartered Financial Analyst CFA program and was working towards completing the entire charter.

“I don’t think I’ve had anyone talk about CFA more than Chizi you know from Friday to Sunday you know you can turn up with him you know but then Monday Friday you call him he’s speaking about his preparation for CFA,” said Omatsola Otubu, one of Chizi’s friends.

Chizi was planning on leaving AFC to apply for an MBA program at Harvard Business School.

“My journey was Chizi was three full years…The first year was a year of building and bonding…The second year was the year of his accomplishment and shining throughout the organization…The third year which is this last year was his year to set him free to set him free for greater and grander things,” Ayaan said.

Chizi had also tried to convince his friend, Tunde to apply, assisting him with the GMAT tests, and updating his CVs and cover letters.

Crypto trading and side jobs

When he was not in the AFC office, Chizi was in the crypto market or working his other jobs.

His passion for business and finance led him to cryptocurrency trading at its early stages, earning him some passive income.

“He would always be making money like trading when I’m not looking, He will be like oh Ayaan I just made 10,000 from Crypto, and I will be like why?” Ayaan said.

“I have to make more money than my dad,” Chizi had told her.

Chizi served as a consultant to Craneburg constructions, his mother, Chizoba Wigwe’s construction company from 2018 to 2019.

Family, friends and life outside work

Chizi Wigwe and family

Outside his professional life, Chizi was the” life of the party”. His extroverted personality made him many friends.

His career dedication and blooming social life earned him nicknames like “Corporate rockstar,” from his sister, and “Chiz the Whiz” from friends.

“He was work hard play 10 times harder,” Tochi said.

He loved art and sport and would often spend time with his friends playing basketball and tennis every week on Wednesday or Thursday nights.

Chizi’s outgoing personality didn’t disrupt his relationship with his family. The strong bond he shared with them was witnessed by his friends and colleagues at work.

“I listened to Chizi show his love for his family. He talked about his uncles and aunts. He talks about visiting his grandparents. I’m looking for him and he’s like, “Listen man I can’t talk now I’m with my grandparents,” Ayaan said.

“I learned about his family. I learn how much sometimes he competed with his dad. He thought Tochi was a spitting image of his dad. I know he loved his mom,” she added.

“Chizi embodied some of the best characteristics of his parents so much so that there was a point in time when I couldn’t even distinguish the voices between him and his father,” Nicole, his friend said in a tribute.

“He inspired each and every single one of us with his never-ending passion but now were infused with strength and energy to carry on every legacy he wanted and to ensure everything he holds dear to his heart continues to find expression and continues to find growth,” Tochi, his eldest sibling, said in her final tribute.