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<strong>Gbemisola Abudu: Shaping the Future in NBA and Business – Chief Original Gangstar</strong>

Gbemisola Abudu: Shaping the Future in NBA and Business – Chief Original Gangstar 

As proud as we are of Nigerians who are pacesetters in the sports and business industries respectively, some trailblazers are firmly redefining the combined world of sports and business; alternating between both fields and creating an equal intensity of impact on society. This edition’s COG is undoubtedly one of the key players in this category. She is a basketball enthusiast turned entrepreneur, who seamlessly blends passion, leadership, and a vision for empowerment. This COG is also a visionary in Nigeria’s business landscape.

In today’s issue of Chief Original Gangstar, our COG is Gbemisola Abudu, the NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head for NBA Nigeria, and the founder and managing partner of BMGA, an EdTech finishing school for the future of work. In this issue, we will be highlighting how she is not only changing the game of basketball in Nigeria and Africa; but also rewriting the entire playbook. We will also be shining the spotlight on how Gbemisola is making waves in the business world by steering the ship of BMGA Enterprise Limited into uncharted waters of innovation and empowerment.

Abudu’s journey began with a passion for basketball sparked in 1996. Fast forward to 2022, and she stands at the forefront of the NBA’s expansion into Africa. Her strategic path involved experiences in law firms, luxury brands, and even the Business Aviation industry. Fate, however, led her to a unique intersection of sports and business. After the passing of her father in 2011, Abudu’s call to return to Nigeria intensified. In 2014, she made the move, continuing her career in luxury and later venturing into EduTech and philanthropy. The launch of the BMGA Fellows Program, aimed at narrowing the gender skills gap, showcased her commitment to fostering positive change.

Gbemisola’s NBA journey began in 2013, a desire she pursued despite initial setbacks. In 2021, when the NBA announced its expansion into Nigeria, she hesitated. Little did she know that the stars were aligning for her to take the helm. Appointed as NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head of NBA Nigeria in January 2022, Abudu brought a wealth of diverse experience to the court. Her impact was swift and strategic, laying down foundational blocks for the NBA’s stronghold in Nigeria. Building a robust team, understanding the fan base, and fostering relationships with agencies and partners became the pillars of her playbook.

One of Abudu’s most remarkable feats was orchestrating the Afrobeats-themed Halftime Show during the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend. Inspired by a vision from NBA Commissioner Mark Tatum, Abudu worked tirelessly to bring Afrobeat to the U.S. spotlight. The historic event, featuring Tems, Rema, and Burna Boy, showcased Nigeria’s cultural prowess on the global stage. Acknowledging the collective effort that made the halftime show a reality, Abudu emphasised the importance of collaboration and a shared vision. From the NBA Entertainment team to the remarkable production crew, the result was a testament to what can be achieved when diverse talents unite for a common goal.

Through Gbemisola’s brainchild, BMGA Enterprise Limited—an extraordinary hub fostering crucial skills for the ever-changing business scene in Africa, she and her team offer courses that go beyond traditional learning. These courses embody the BMGA approach, a strategy in sync with how humans learn. With BMGA, Gbemisola isn’t just crafting courses; she’s shaping the future. The BMGA Fellows Program, a six-month online learning experience, aims to bridge the gender skills gap in Africa. It’s not just a program; it’s like a mini-MBA, a transformative journey giving participants the know-how, resources, and access to a successful 21st-century career. It reaches beyond borders, spanning seven African countries, showcasing the impact of Gbemisola’s vision.

As Abudu continues to lead the NBA charge in Nigeria, her vision extends beyond the courts. She envisions world-class facilities, a thriving basketball economy, and the NBA taking centre stage in all elements of culture, mirroring its status in the U.S. Her commitment to creating opportunities for talent, fostering sports tourism, and igniting the sports industry’s spark reflects her boundless aspirations.

In a conversation with The Will Downtown’s Editor, Abudu shared insights into her love for basketball, her responsibilities, and the strategic planning behind the 2023 NBA All-Star Afrobeats-themed halftime show. Her aim is clear: she wants to make watching NBA and BAL games as accessible as football in Nigeria, create more NBA experiences for fans, and influence the basketball ecosystem positively.

Gbemisola isn’t just a business leader; she’s a passionate advocate for women’s rights and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Her philanthropy extends to initiatives empowering women in business, narrowing the gender skills gap, and championing children’s rights in developing nations. She actively engages with organisations promoting inclusivity and gender balance in the business world.

With a wealth of experience in the United States, Africa, and the Middle East, Gbemisola Abudu is no stranger to making a global impact. Her journey, featuring roles at prestigious entities like Louis Vuitton, The Walt Disney Company, and White & Case LLP, is a tale of development, growth, and influence.

In just a year, Gbemisola has earned recognition, named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Women in Sports in the World by Sports Illustrated. She’s also listed among ISPO’s 30 Female Changemakers Shaping the Future of Sports. Her work with the BMGA Fellows Program landed her a spot in MIPAD’s Global Top 100 under 40 in activism and humanitarianism.

Gbemisola Abudu isn’t just reaching milestones; she’s setting them. Her journey, marked by passion, dedication, and a commitment to societal impact, defines what it means to be a Chief Original Gangstar. In her, Africa has found a leader actively building a better future—one innovative program and basketball court at a time. Get ready, world, Gbemisola Abudu is here to redefine the game.

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