A Nigerian swim school start-up, the Dolphin Aquatic Centre and Dolphin Swim School, has won a grant from the Moroccan-funded African Entrepreneurship Award for 2018.
Founder Aderoju Ope-Ajayi, 38, who is a FINA-certified swimming instructor and coach, was one of three award recipients in the sports category funded by the BMCE Bank of Africa that is headquartered in Casablanca.
The African Entrepreneurship Award aims to help Africans build sustainable for-profit businesses supported by technology via mentoring and funding.
30 finalists out of over 4,000 applicants were flown to Morocco for a week of boot camp and mentoring before 13 winners were selected to share a total prize money of $1million.
The entire process was a 10-month long journey that started in March and ended in December.
Aderoju has been running the Dolphin Aquatic Centre and Swim School since 2017, where she trains families and mostly women and children in swimming skills while also helping young athletes achieve their professional goals.
The grant would help build her business across several locations in Nigeria, provide more jobs and encourage female participation in the area of swimming education.
“I want to expand the business across several locations. We will also launch an online water safety instructors training portal and sport advancement programmes in targeted locations,” Aderoju Ope-Ajayi said.
“This experience has shown that sports businesses in Nigeria can be viable and have the potential to make impact not just in Nigeria but in Africa and around the world. Swimming is not only a life-saving skill,
Aderoju’s natural flair and talent for swimming was discovered at a very tender age by her father, the late Coach Y. A. Amodu, who was a national swimming coach.
Trained to a level of excellence by her father, she was introduced to the world of competitive swimming and participated in many age grade competitions.
Her efforts culminated in gold medals at the Nigerian University Games and the West African University Games where she represented the University of Lagos.
She was also one of the Accredited FINA Swimming Officials during the All African Games hosted in Abuja, Nigeria.
In the last decade, Aderoju made the decision to focus primarily on swimming as her professional career and has invested in her swimming development.
She was recently nominated to the Board of the Lagos State Swimming Association and is committed to raising the standard for the sport across the country.
She continues to deliver the best swimming education to students of her swimming academy in Lagos as well as in Abuja.