Words by Florence Robson
Miracle Olatunji is a young woman with remarkable focus and drive. Living through a difficult birth, Miracle’s mission is to inspire others to ‘live purposefully on purpose.’ Her passion for creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation has already led to her becoming one of the world’s most notable young female entrepreneurs.
While still in her final years of high school, Miracle helps to run The Diamond Challenge – a global entrepreneurship competition for high school students – and has founded OpportuniMe with the goal of connecting a diverse range of young people with experiential learning, enrichment, and employment opportunities for passion, career, and self exploration. She speaks internationally on a variety of topics including youth entrepreneurship, diversity & inclusion and education. In 2017, Miracle was named one of Mogul Inc.’s ‘50 High School Students You Need to Know About.’
You’ve already achieved so much for someone who hasn’t even left school yet! What drives you forward?
I am driven by the realities of statements like ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. This statement encapsulates the problem of the dearth of female leaders in technology, business, politics and other fields. It emphasises the importance of having inspiring, authentic, and relatable role models to look up to. The most rewarding compliments I’ve received are ones where people tell me that I am one of their role models. When I hear that, I think of Oprah Winfrey, one my biggest role models. Her story of overcoming many challenges motivates me to persevere. Recently, before I went on stage to speak at an event, the emcee said “When I introduce you, I’m going to only say your first name. You know how people hear ‘Oprah’ and automatically know who that is? That’s going to be you.” That was really encouraging!
Was there a particular moment or experience that ignited your passion for entrepreneurship?
Yes, my participation in the 2017 Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs ignited my passion for entrepreneurship! I was enthralled by the challenging and exciting process of taking an idea and turning it into an actual business or social venture. I was inspired by young entrepreneurs like Justin Lafazan who were living passion-filled, purposeful lives by working on ventures that make an impact in the world. Now, as an ambassador for the program, I am a leader, liaison, and community builder between the Horn Entrepreneurship team and thousands of Diamond Challenge participants from around the world.
At The Female Lead, one of our key values is to find strength in setbacks. Is there a particular obstacle or setback you’ve experienced that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?
The major obstacle I’ve had to overcome is self doubt. I believe that total self confidence is not a destination, but a never-ending journey of stepping out of your comfort zone, and accepting yourself for who you are- each and every day. It’s very true that the biggest enemy that everyone has to overcome is themselves. When I participated in my first entrepreneurial pitch competition last year, I gained valuable skills and experiences that have helped to mitigate my self doubt. I have since become more confident and comfortable with taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone daily.
You’ve said that you founded OpportuniMe when you were having difficulty finding enrichment programmes and internships. How did you go about starting the project?
I decided to start OpportuniMe after spending countless hours searching for experiential learning and enrichment opportunities to participate in outside of school. After talking with hundreds of students and parents, I realised just how widespread of a problem this truly is. I started OpportuniMe as a solution to this problem. I hope to help high school students explore possible careers, build their network, and start finding or cultivating their passion(s) before they head off to college. I am working to scale OpportuniMe and the goal is to democratise and simplify access to valuable information and life-changing experiences for youth and eventually people of all ages.
Education seems to be a key passion for you. Why do you think it’s so important to give young people access to a broad range of learning experiences?
I’m passionate about education because I know what a privilege having a great one is. Millions of young women and girls around the world don’t have access to it. Furthermore, I believe that experiential learning is the best education method. Experiential learning is also known as ‘learning by doing.’ It allows you to develop personal skills like confidence and agency; interpersonal skills like communication and relationship building; exposes you to the world beyond just the walls of a classroom; allows you to have memorable experiences; opens doors to even more opportunities; and so much more. There are so many benefits to it! In fact, I personally chose Northeastern University, the institution where I will be attending college, because of its rooting in experiential, global learning experiences.