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Alumnae of the month - August 2012

Chinnelle Anichebe
Postgrad Diploma in International Marketing, 1998

Amaechi Echedolu
BSc Business Information Technology and Management, 2000

Miriam Kennet

Together, Chinnelle Anichebe and Amaechi Echedolu make up The Culture Initiative – a growing social enterprise that aims to celebrate and promote cultural diversity and shake up people’s perceptions of Africa

Last autumn, The Culture Initiative’s first ever Africa Rocks Expo attracted over 2,000 people to the Hotel Russell in London’s Bloomsbury for a packed programme of events. There were in-depth seminar sessions on the arts, media and doing business in Africa.  

Olympic athlete Christine Ohuruogu, The Apprentice’s Edna Agbarha, Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin and designer Adebayo Jones were among the inspirational Africans sharing their experiences. The X-Factor’s Rachel Adedeji and the London Afrobeat Collective provided the soundtrack and the fashion show included up-and-coming designers Fee Uhssi and Kika Holanda.

That’s a pretty stellar line-up for a first-time event. And it gets even more impressive when you find out that Chinnelle and Amaechi run The Culture Initiative in their precious spare time. Chinnelle has a global role with the world’s largest education provider, while Amaechi works with international students at a London university and has recently completed an MBA.

So what motivates two women who’ve already got demanding schedules to take on the challenge of becoming social entrepreneurs? ‘We were tired of seeing Africa depicted as stuck in the Third World, not forward-looking or innovative,’ explains Chinnelle. ‘We wanted to dispel those perceptions and help bring people together.’

There are no shortcuts to getting through their daunting workload. ‘At the start of each day we plan what we need to get done,’ Chinnelle explains. ‘We email contacts before and after work and follow up queries in the evenings and at weekends. You’ve just got to be organised.’

Africa Rocks isn’t just a celebration of African culture and traditions. It also aims to stimulate investment in Africa and in particular to encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses. ‘There were so many trade fairs and events out there,’ says Amaechi, ‘but they’re often focused on big business and/or on a narrow theme. We recognised that there are lots of up and coming African entrepreneurs doing really interesting things and we wanted to give them somewhere they could come for guidance and inspiration.’

While the first Africa Rocks event focused mainly on Nigeria, this year’s expo will cover the very best of African culture, tradition, people, food, film, fashion, music, arts and investment opportunities. By 2015, Chinnelle and Amaechi’s goal is to have rolled out Africa Rocks across the UK and – eventually – the globe. ‘We’re thinking big,’ says Chinnelle, ‘but we believe we’ve got the skills and energy to succeed.’

Find out more at and follow Chinnelle and Amaechi on Twitter @weafricansrock.

Booking for this event has now closed.