Ms. Funke Opeke is one of the big names in ICT and founder of Main Street Technologies. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company Nigeria Ltd.
Early Life and Education
Born and raised in Nigeria, Funke’s father was the first Nigerian Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria and her mother, a retired teacher who headed several private schools. Funke attended Queen’s School, Ibadan and graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in 1981 with a degree in Electronics & Electrical Engineering before then proceeded to New York for a Master’s degree at Columbia University.
After graduating from Columbia, she worked for over 20 years in the U.S. telecommunication industry and ended her career there as the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division. Funke returned to Nigeria in 2005 to join MTN as Chief Technical Officer. She advised Transcorp on the acquisition of NITEL and briefly served as the interim Chief Operating Officer.
She is currently the CEO of Main One Cable Company.
via Al Jazeera
The Birth Of Main One Cable
When she returned to Nigeria in 2005, to tackle ICT problems starting with an attempt to revitalize Nitel, which at that time was Nigeria’s incumbent fixed and mobile operator. The attempt didn’t yield much except birthing the idea to create a cable company when she saw the absence of submarine cables.
Tired of the operational system herself, she decided to fix the problem herself. Funke raised $240 million plus $28 million in contingency to start Main One Cable Company.
After pledging all her savings, facing more challenges of raising capital for the start up cable business, carrying out in-depth foundational works, feasibility studies, business plans and technical plans, Main One Cable Company become more tangible. Although the company at that time was to be built over a 2-year period, from inception to launch, with a total investment of US$240 million, Funmi Opeke had to seek investors, both global and local, to help make the dream a reality.
It was no easy thing to do but she had her eyes on the goal and there was no stopping her. The company proceeded to lay 7,000km fibre optic cable running under the ocean from Portugal down to Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria and is delivering wholesale broadband capacity across several countries in West Africa today.
Since Main One’s cable network went live on July 22, 2010, the company has continued to break ground with its open access, wholesale broadband connectivity.
Funke And Her Battle Against Corruption In The Telecomm Sector
As the interim Chief Operating Officer of NITEL, Funke made decisions that clashed with the way things were usually done in Nigeria, for instance not paying junior personnel their salaries which is not an uncommon practise in Nigeria.
After NITEL, Opeke had no intention of leaving Nigeria defeated. She had come back to make a difference, so decided to do it her own way.
Fola Adeola, Chairman of Main One Cable Company and founder GTBank, who got involved with Opeke‘s start-up after a promise he made out of guilt, joined Opeke in raising a total amount of the $240m.
In 2012, she received the CNBC All Africa Businesswoman of the Year award.