Ejiro Enaohwo is a woman on a mission. The 23-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur left a cushy job at Atlantic Records to blaze a new path as the creator of Music Moves Africa. Her goal is simple – to change the global music scene one beat a time.
Tell us about your former position at Atlantic Records?
I worked in the Video Promotions department where I enhanced television opportunities for the label’s artists. From music video premiere spots to award shows, TV interviews and more, I worked actively with numerous television networks to ensure that Atlantic’s artists—like Janelle Monae, Jill Scott and Wiz Khalifa—had maximum visibility in the TV space.
You created Music Moves Africa in 2015. What made you decide to switch gears?
Being African and working in the U.S. music industry, I saw it as a necessity and not a choice to help bridge the gap as African musicians started to gain more notoriety in the West. The understanding of my real passion for Africa only fully manifested itself last August after I went back to Nigeria for the first time since I moved to America. I’m not sure if it was the universe reconnecting my soul back to its birthplace or if it was experiencing the vibrancy of Nigeria and seeing the way people worked tirelessly to provide a living for their families, but something just clicked. After that trip, I knew my purpose in life was to use my experience in music and entertainment to impact change in Africa, and this led to the birth of Music Moves Africa. MMA allows me to fulfill my dreams of positively impacting Africa through music in a way that brings benefits to the continent as opposed to taking away from it.
What is the mission of MMA?
The mission for MMA is to bridge the gap between Africa and the Western market through the power of music, global initiatives and the arts. The growth of African music has opened many doors for Africa and is slowly changing the face of the continent to the rest of the world. More and more people are interested in traveling to Africa, wearing our clothes, trying our food, learning African dance moves and more. Music Moves Africa plans to prove that music and the arts are a vital part of the upward development of the African continent.
How did the position at Atlantic help to prepare you for MMA?
It gave me the confidence I needed to have in myself that this was something I could do. After working—and surviving—in a cut-throat business like the music industry, you feel like you can conquer anything. It instills a level of toughness in you that is essential for the entertainment business.
Who are some of the top artists from Nigeria to watch for? What about the rest of the continent?
Some of the top artists from Nigeria to look out for and the ones that I think have the most cross-over appeal are Wizkid, who has made tremendous strides into the U.S. music industry, most notably for his single with Drake—“One Dance”—which actually gave Drake his first #1 single. Davido is another big one to look out for he just recently signed to RCA records and has an upcoming single with Tinashe. Then there’s Ayo Jay, who also recently signed to RCA. Ayo Jay is interesting because his song “Your Number” is actually on the radio right now in heavy rotation, which makes him the first Nigerian artists to have his own song on the U.S. airwaves. We can also look out for Tiwa Savage, who recently signed a management deal with Roc Nation. She just finished a mini U.S. tour and has been sitting down with some heavy tastemakers in the industry so I’m excited to see what she has in store.
What obstacles have you faced with creating MMA and how have you overcome them?
Leaving the safety net of a stable job to chase your dreams is never easy. I left my job with no idea as to where the income would come from, but I knew I had to start building my company, so I took the plunge that many entrepreneurs have taken before me. It hasn’t been easy by any stretch, but most great accomplishments require a level of intestinal fortitude that I had to acquire. I have surrounded myself with a great support system that helped me get the company to where it is now. You simply just can’t give up. I studied great success stories like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and even the artist Jewel who sacrificed everything for their dreams. Now looking back, I have no regrets. My company is thriving and I have the freedom to continue my dream.