Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, was born on Sunday, December 9th, 1979 at the Maternity Hospital Ilorin, Kwara state (now University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital). She is the second of four children and only daughter of a Nigerian father and a Ukrainian mother. Her mother, Ludmila Kravchenko was born in Rakitna in the region of Chernivtsi in Ukraine; and her father, Dr. Jimoh Abdul Akpoti was born in Obeiba- Ihima, Kogi state (then Kwara state). Natasha’s parents met in the then Soviet Union where her father was a foreign medical student on scholarship at the Bolomolets Medical University, Ukraine.
Natasha spent her formative years as a child growing up and being educated in her native communities- Okehi and neighboring Okene, Adavi and Ajaokuta towns. Her most fascinating moments were lessons of philanthropy and empathy for humanity that her father (died 3rd November 1998) taught by practically treating the poor for free, paying tuition for thousands of school children, supporting hundred of local farmers and traders with their businesses and so much more. “Father came home one day looking pale and faint after donating 2 pints of blood to patients who couldn’t afford any”; that moment defined my believe that “helping the poor should hurt” and it formed my rhetoric rational on becoming a social entrepreneur.
Recalling her early childhood, Natasha loved cheering the colorful masquerades aka “Eku’ in her local Ebira dialect. She loathed being called “Oyinbo pepper” (the white one) by people of her community “I knew my mother had a complexion different from everyone around us; she was white. However, I didn’t think I was any different from the children I played with barefoot in my village… but I surely hated being followed and teased “Oyinbo” by the children whenever I expressed a different point of view“. Till date, Natasha experiences social sensitivities towards her multiracial heritage.
Education and Career
For 6 years Natasha attended Christ the King Nursery and Primary School Okene, Kogi state to attain her Certificate of Primary education. She was the social prefect and she was acknowledged in her testimonial to be very quiet, hardworking and responsible.
Natasha’s Junior Secondary education was at the Government Girls Unity Secondary School, Oboroke, Kogi state where then she proceeded to Federal Government College Idoani, Ondo state for her Senior Secondary Schooling. Her exceptional academic and personal performances earned her the leadership position of being the Head Girl. Graduating in 1997, Natasha’s Secondary School leaving Certificate and Testimonial acknowledged her of being responsible, hardworking and a diligent prefect.
Barely 3 weeks after losing her father, Natasha gained admission into the University of Abuja to obtain her Bachelor of Laws. A week later she got married at the tender age of 19 and had her first son Daniel months after. Natasha recalls her university years as those where she learnt that “the fragility of innocence attracted mercilessly the world’s monsters”. In 2004, Natasha proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, Abuja and was called to the Nigerian Bar by the Body of Benchers on the 8thNovember 2005.
In 2008, while employed as a legal counsel at Brass LNG, an international gas liquefaction company, Natasha participated in and completed resource development courses – International Gas Business Management Certificate program offered by the prestigious International Human Resources Development Corporation (IHRDC) in Boston, Massachusetts USA.
Natasha’s appetite for knowledge led her to acquire two professional certifications in the energy sector namely;
- Contracts Used in International Petroleum Development, and
- Monitoring and Regulation of the Upstream Petroleum Sector (Exploration and Production)
Both programs were offered by the Center for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy(CEPMLP), Scotland, UK.
Natasha also participated in a high-level workshop organized by the University of Aberdeen centered on the Bargaining Zone, Anchor Points and Negotiation Tactics) Preparation, First Moves and Concessions) where Natasha scored the most accurate bargain during a delegate-simulation.
In 2012, Natasha bagged her degree of Masters of Business Administration at the prestigious University of Dundee in Scotland, UK. Attaining a high Merit, she excelled in vital modules such as Strategic Management and Organizational Analysis; Leadership and Decision Making; International Arbitration; Management in Energy and Natural Resources Industries; International Petroleum Law and ultimately Business Strategy in the Extractive Industries amongst others which hugely aided in shaping Natasha’s advocacy for the resuscitation of the Nigeria’s Steel sector with focus of the revival of Ajaokuta steel complex in Kogi state, Nigeria.
Natasha’s decision to become a social entrepreneur and reformer in 2015 was born out of innate passion to position Nigeria on the fore of industrialization and judiciously harness the vast natural and human resources all in a bid to create employment and eradicate poverty in Nigeria.
Natasha knew most of her works would circulate amongst the neglected local communities; in 2016, she applied for the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Program in Singapore where she acquired applicable knowledge on smart innovative sustainable solutions for tackling neglected problems at all levels of the society.
Understanding the importance of innovating indigenous technology and building inclusive resilient economies, Natasha’s heart also rests with Start-Ups. This interest birthed a partnership between the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Small, Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN) of Nigeria and Natasha’s Builders Hub Impact Investment Program (BHiiP) to establish Nigeria’s first integrated technology development and business growth hub situated in the city of Uyo, in the coastal, oil producing part of Nigeria.