It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I reflect on the passing of Dr. Herbert Wigwe, a mentor, friend, and visionary who left an indelible mark on my life and the lives of many others.
My journey with Herbert began in a remarkable chapter of my life, right after my startup was acquired. I was a young entrepreneur, barely 30, stepping into a Senior Role at one of the largest banks in Africa, Access Bank. It was Herbert who believed in my potential to spearhead digital transformation, a task that seemed daunting but was made achievable through his guidance and faith in me.
Herbert was not just a boss; he was a mentor who shared his entrepreneurial journey with me. He co-founded a bank around the same age I was then. “Why can’t you do the same?” he would challenge me, pushing me to expand the horizons of my ambition. “GB, what’s the size of your ambition?” he would ask, a question that echoed in my mind and drove me to dream bigger, to aim higher.
He was one of the few who not only encouraged my dreams but insisted they were not crazy enough. Under his mentorship, I learned the art of setting monumental goals and the strategic planning required to achieve them. This guidance was crucial in shaping my approach to angel investing. “Why wait to invest back in Africa?” Herbert would say. “Who is the next GB? Back them… Make the journey easier for the next guy.”
Herbert’s influence was instrumental in the early successes of Flutterwave. Despite not owning a single stock in Flutterwave, he went above and beyond to support us. He traveled with me and my co-founders, meeting investors and potential customers, demonstrating a commitment that went far beyond professional obligation.
In tough times, Herbert’s wisdom was a beacon of hope. “Hang in there… Only the test of fire makes very fine steel!!” he would text, always ready to offer advice and assistance. I remember vividly when I met Satya Nadella personally, and upon sharing this with Herbert, his response was a testament to his unwavering belief in us: “I told you, you can build this. You can do what I have done. I am proud of you.”
Recently, Herbert shared with me his vision for Wigwe University, a testament to his never-ending aspiration to uplift and transform. “Imagine a world where you can do your PhD in Nigeria and receive a world-class education?” he mused. His vision for Africa’s development was boundless, always thinking of ways to elevate our continent on the global stage.
Herbert’s sudden departure is a profound loss. When we had a difference of opinion, he always separated the person from the issue, a true mark of his character and leadership. His passing leaves a void not just in the professional world but in my heart. He wasn’t just a leader; he was a mentor, a friend, and a constant source of inspiration.
As we mourn Herbert Wigwe, his wife Chizoba Wigwe, his son Chizi, and Mr. Abimbola Ogunbajo, we celebrate the extraordinary life he led and the countless lives he touched. His legacy is a beacon that will continue to inspire us to extend a helping hand and make a difference in the world.
You shouldn’t have gone so soon, sir. Your absence is deeply felt, but your impact will forever be remembered.
Rest in peace, Boss.