Charles Ojei and his vision to scale African businesses

Laurel Dault
May 11th, 2017
Article by: Laurel Dault
Charles Ojei and his vision to scale African businesses

A year and a half ago, Charles Ojei walked along a wind-swept beach at the edge of the North Sea, stretching his imagination during THNK’s Visioning Day. As an essential component of the Creative Leadership Program, THNKers take this day to envision what is possible and where to take their project, venture, or career.


Combined with earlier program content that had been percolating in his mind,  it was during Visioning Day that Charles dreamed up HYBR - a business which empowers African entrepreneurs to work with corporations and investors to make big impact. Today, HYBR has launched in Africa, and is already collaborating with mammoth partners like Microsoft, Samsung, and Deloitte.

Thinking Big

“The concept of HYBR was born during THNK in class on Visioning Day. We were asked to spend two hours by ourselves, thinking about what we want to do, our future. Afterwards, while walking on the seaside with fellow Class 8 THNKer Rebekka Van Roemburg, she and I talked about what really is my strength, what really is my passion and purpose.” As he reflected, Charles recognised that throughout his 17 year career in the corporate sector, he excelled at pushing basic ideas into something real and blowing them up. He said to Rebekka,  “I’m a scaleup kind of person. I’m growth oriented. Why don’t I just focus on scaling?”

Envisioning how to scale business in Africa: Charles Ojei 1

Charles Ojei builds relationships at the THNK home with fellow Class 8 THNKers Paulo Garnel and Mai Chin A Paw.

Leveraging the Ecosystem

Today, Charles is helping entrepreneurs, multinational corporations, governments, non-profits, and investors to scale solutions in Africa. “We know that fewer than 0.5% of companies scale. Our mission is to address that problem in Africa. That is why we work with entrepreneurs, corporations, nonprofits, investors to scale solutions. Every single stakeholder in the ecosystem has a role to play; they cannot sit in isolation.”  

HYBR offers three services. The first is a 5-year venture support and growth acceleration program called the Young-Enterprise Scaleup (YES) Program. Mirroring THNK’s own ScaleUpNation program, YES identifies and empowers early-stage companies by providing venture support in leadership, execution, and strategy. The second service is a Corporate Solutions Program, connecting multinationals, governments, and nonprofits with innovators to find solutions. Lastly, in its Collaborative Financing Program, HYBR partners with impact investors and venture capitalists to raise and channel growth capital towards early-stage companies, positioned for scale.

In an integrated approach, each of the three programs supports one another: “We find the early stage ventures, improve them through the YES program, give them greater market access by integrating them with multinationals, and scale them up. Then we bring in the financing required for the ventures to operate and scale”.

HYBR leverages the intersection of technology, business and society to solve big problems and drive sustainable impact.

Among the Tribe

After dreaming up the initial idea for HYBR during Visioning Day, Charles went on to apply the THNK tools and frameworks to further refine and scale his venture. “I’m implementing a lot of things I learned at THNK, whether it’s the venture design canvas that we used to build HYBR from scratch, or how to pilot, or using the 360 Mirror for feedback with my colleagues.”

Of course, one of the most valuable takeaways from THNK is the community. “My classmates have been very supportive. Hayat Chedid and Scott Walker are partnering with me to develop HYBR. Their relationships, insights and support have been wonderful.” HYBR even partners with THNK, giving Charles the opportunity to collaborate with Co-Founder Menno Van Dijk. “I was so lucky to have a mentor like Menno to guide me on the path. I would never miss a chance to work with Menno!”

Today, HYBR has a bold vision: “How do we scale up 100 African ventures to have a combined revenue base of $1 billion and impact 100 million people by providing better access to quality healthcare, education and finance at a reduced cost over the next 10 years?” Charles welcomes any ideas you may have and invites you to follow HYBR on their journey.

“I am indeed fortunate to be among the tribe of THNKers. This has been one of the best investments I have made so far”.

Charles Ojei
Charles Ojei
"When I stumbled on THNK, the Creative Leadership Program content was in sync with everything I wanted to do. The main motivations to join were the values of THNK, the focus on social impact, the creative side of leadership, and venture acceleration. The program is really robust and the investment is worth it."

To discover how the Creative Leadership Program can help you envision your own enterprise, visit the program page or contact us at