An Indianapolis-based social enterprise is building bridges to enhance economic development opportunities and partnerships with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. INNOPOWER LLC is a driving force behind the initiative.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer Emil Ekiyor, who was born in Nigeria and emigrated to the United States, says he is working to develop workforce talent and create opportunities in underserved communities here and abroad.
“How do we create opportunities to solve problems in a different way, in our black communities here in the US, and also in Sub Saharan Africa, knowing that entrepreneurship, and education are truly avenues to making a difference,” said Ekiyor. “Not just entrepreneurial education the way we’ve always done it but doing it with a different way with a true focus on talent and skill development.”
Ekiyor’s parents sent him to Florida when he was 15 years old to pursue education opportunities. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Central Florida. While at UCF, he played football and was later drafted to the NFL.
Ekiyor uses those life experiences to help shape the mission of INNOPOWER.
“One thing I took away from the NFL, other than relationships, was the deliberate approach of skill development,” explained Ekiyor. He says once top-talent is identified in sports, every step through high school and college is about developing skills. “We feel that model can be replicated in different industries. And it’s something that we are already seeing the benefits of focusing on doing it that way.”
Ekiyor says INNOPOWER also invests in businesses and real estate that helps generate wealth in and for black communities. INNOPOWER is partnering with Sagamore Institute, the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute and 1150 Academy.
Ekiyor previously served as president of the Indianapolis chapter of Indiana Black Expo.