The Entrepreneur Alumni Award: Celebrating outstanding entrepreneurial success.
The Entrepreneur Alumni Award recognises alumni who have achieved outstanding entrepreneurial success while upholding the highest standards of business practice. This award acknowledges the importance placed on entrepreneurship teaching, research and practice at the School.
Alumni who have won this award will:
- Have sustained professional achievement at the highest levels.
- Sustained high level of business performance over a period of 3-5 years with firm growth and value creation.
- Solvency and profitability of company.
- Profitability of the business model, or in the case of social enterprises, a self-sustaining business practice.
- Contribution to the economy and society, including job creation and exports.
- Demonstrates ethical conduct/standards of business practice.
- Have had a demonstrable impact on the market and the consumer.
- Be committed to innovation.
- Be regarded as a role model for entrepreneurship.
- Have international reach, influence or impact.
Meet the 2023 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner
Jerry Ejikeme (Exec MBA 2020)
Founder and CEO, Sochitel Group
Jerry Ejikeme is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry.
In 2007, he founded Sochitel UK and Nomiworld to focus exclusively on the emerging international remittances industry.
Sochitel UK is a leading global FinTech platform and hub, specialising in the distribution of digital products and services. The Sochitel platform provides over 60 million unique end users with digital products and services, from some of the world's leading brands.
With office locations in London, New Jersey, Johannesburg, Accra and Douala, plus several other pan-African locations, the business has developed a strong footprint serving major African banks, mobile money operators and fintech platforms, as well as corporate clients across the globe.
Jerry’s passion for improving the quality of people’s lives through enabling access to digital products and services has led to him supporting several charitable initiatives and causes across Africa.
Jerry has a law degree from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and has been called to the Nigerian Bar. Jerry also holds an Executive MBA from Cranfield School of Management.
Jerry said: “I was surprised and humbled to be nominated, let alone win this award. I am driven by personal conviction and inspiration to provide solutions that enable digital access to and from Africa. The Cranfield Entrepreneur Alumni Award is a wonderful ‘cherry on top’ of all our activities. I am absolutely delighted to be the 2023 recipient of such a prestigious award.”
Meet the 2022 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner
Martin Thatcher (BGP 2001)
Managing Director, Thatchers Cider
Maintaining the heritage and traditions of the family business remains close to Martin’s heart. As a rural company, he knows just how important it is to protect the world around us. Therefore, his firm focuses on creating world class cider sustainably and maintaining the business’s Somerset orchards, not just to be the source of the highest quality apples, but also a rich haven for biodiversity.
Since 2015, Martin has been a Trustee of the Bath and West Society, a great Somerset organisation that works to promote and represent farming, agriculture and food & drink production in his home county.
His personal experience of learning all aspects of the cider making business from an early age has led Martin to be a firm believer in skills development, encouraging people to fulfil their potential through apprenticeships.
With his family, Martin has established the Thatchers Foundation, a charitable trust which supports good causes in Somerset. He has been honoured to take up the role of Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, and through this position looks forward to being able to support all those who live and work in the county.
Martin has been married to his wife Anne for 25 years and their grown-up children, Eleanor and Peter are both now working within the business.
Meet the 2021 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner
Lolade Oresanwo (MBA 2011)
Lolade Oresanwo started her career in commercial banking, providing financing and business development advice to SMEs and large corporates in the oil, gas and retail sectors in Nigeria - building credibility with clients on mergers and acquisition transactions/negotiations, Business Development and Renewable Energy Sales.
She is currently the business face and co-founder of WestAfricaENRG - a renewable energy company focused on ensuring ‘Zero Waste’ to landfill in the communities they work in. For over 8 years, treating waste in a sustainable manner, creating long-term jobs, empowering women and eradicating poverty through sustainable waste management and renewable energy has been Lolade and the company’s focus. WestAfricaENRG now operates the first materials recovery facility in Nigeria, deploying technology to recycle waste into reusable materials for electricity production and composting by driving every stage of the waste management value chain providing employment for over 3000 people.
A recent recipient of the Outstanding Young Nigerian Entrepreneurs’ award, and with WestAfricaENRG recognised by the UK Prime Minister at the 2020 UK Africa Investment Summit as being a company to look out for; Lolade is very focused on developing people and empowering women in all categories of life.
Lolade also works with South West Nigeria state governments in preparing solid waste infrastructure master plans for their states. She was a member of the Lagos state 2019 transition committee, sitting on the Health and Environment sub-committee that designed the Health and Environment infrastructure plan for Lagos state, Nigeria.
Meet the 2020 Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winner
Eyal Ben-Cohen (MBA 2004)
Founder & CEO, Verifile Holdings Limited
In 2003, the story of a security driver who faked his identity to gain employment before committing a robbery sparked my interest in the dangers of lax recruitment processes. Consequently, I founded Verifile, a technology-led background screening company, applying investigative rigour to quality data sourced from around the world within a proprietary, highly secure platform.
Having previously worked in the innovative Israeli internet industry, Cranfield is where my Verifile journey began in earnest. With the support of my lecturers and fellow students, a business plan began to take shape as I worked towards my MBA. It’s a place that provided me with access to everything an aspiring entrepreneur could hope for, including a strong network, client introductions, investment capital, research resources, and an office.
Sixteen years on, and with Verifile having just received a Queen’s Award for International Trade, I’m still passionate about creating transparency within a workforce and understanding how technology can help achieve this – and I’m still incredibly proud to be a Cranfield alumnus.
Getting to know you with Eyal Ben-Cohen
Eyal Ben-Cohen answers questions from staff and students.
Eyal Ben-Cohen answers some quick questions.
Previous Entrepreneur Alumni Award Winners
- Geeta Sidhu-Robb (Business Growth and Development Programme 2013)
- Jamie Waller (Business Growth Programme 2010)
- Angus Thirlwell (Business Growth and Development Programme 2000)
- Jon Thornes MBE (Business Growth and Development Programme 2006)
- Glenn Collinson (MBA 1994)
- Tristram Mayhew & Will Galbraith (Business Growth and Development Programme 2006) Jerome Mayhew & Rebecca Mayhew (Business Growth and Development Programme 2010)
- Debra Charles (Business Growth and Development Programme 2007)
- Richard Salvage (Business Growth and Development Programme 2004)
- Harry Clarke (MBA 1992)
- Nick Jenkins (MBA 1999)
- Lara Morgan (Business Growth and Development Programme 1999)
- Lord Karan Bilimoria (Business Growth and Development Programme 1998)
- Steve Jolliffe (MBA 1986)