Nigerian youth leverage creativity for social change

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“The moon moves slowly, but by the daybreak, it has crossed the sky.” This quote from the stage play For the Love of Country, performed at LEAP Africa’s Creativity Workshop for secondary schools students captures the essence of Social Innovators Programme and Awards (SIPA) – youth across Nigeria collectively working towards a better Nigeria.

On November 13, 2014 LEAP hosted youth to workshops and an awards night to mark its Social Innovators Programme and Awards at City Hall in Lagos. The SIPA celebrates the leadership, creativity and civic engagement of Nigerian youth who take on social challenges in their local communities by crafting innovative solutions. Each year, LEAP inducts 20 social entrepreneurs into the programme and supports them with training and mentoring aimed at enabling their initiatives to be more impactful.

The day began with workshops for students, teachers and social innovators respectively aimed at encouraging leadership,LMP_0362 creativity and problem solving in their respective spheres. Students were engaged with assembling robots using LEGO sets and playing chess as a way of developing strategic thinking, problem solving and leadership skills. The workshops were followed by the stage play, which depicted Nigeria’s political history touching on the values of leadership, patriotism and ethnic diversity. Cynthia Moka from Dowen College, Lekki got a clearer understanding of Nigeria’s history and was inspired to be civically engaged viewing opportunities to change Nigeria positively.

Later that evening LEAP hosted the SIPA Awards night, an entertaining and inspiring celebration of young change makers. In addition to recognizing 10 outstanding SIP Fellows from the previous year, the 2014 set of 20 SIP fellows were inducted. The keynote speaker, Alex Okosi, the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), Africa spoke about his personal experience in creating a “Re-imagined Africa”, articulating values for a new AFRICA; Accountable, First-time winners, Respectful, Innovative, Collaborative and Accessible

One of the 2013 SIP fellows, Chinwe Laura Nwosu, founder of Laurel Personality Development supports young ladies from low income families to become meaningful contributors to society, says the fellowship exposed her to training which gave direction to her passion. “It exposed me to possibilities and encouraged me to set standards for myself. I now understand the importance of cultivating a positive culture at LPD.”

DSC_1350 Another SIP fellow and outstanding awardee, Bunmi Otegbade, co-founder of Generation Enterprise (GEN) an initiative which supports youth entrepreneurs through a business incubator system, described the fellowship year as “lots of trainings and social networking”. Pleased about his award, he said “As a social entrepreneur, you sell your reputation, so the more recognition you get, the better work you do.”

The new SIP inductees, all under the age of 35 are budding social entrepreneurs will receive training over the course of one year. Joshua Ihejimaraizu, founder Health Book Project, an initiative which leverages mobile technology for public health is one of the 2014 SIP inductees. Joshua looks forward to receiving business mentorship and training in managing finances. He hopes to learn how to create wealth from his solution to public health challenges.

LEAP also recognized outstanding youth trainers who successfully delivered its youth leadership curriculum under the YouthDSC_1435 Development Training Programme (YDTP) in secondary schools. These trainers supported by LEAP and its partners are making lasting changes in their school as well as churches, mosques and local communities driven by passion and commitment for youth development.   Outstanding trainers received gifts from LEAP supporters including bicycles aimed at promoting healthy living. Jonah Eromon, one of the YDTP trainers runs Next Generation Leader was evidently surprised by the recognition. He says his passion for learning and development is his driving force for equipping youth with life and leadership skills. His focus with young people is on changing their mind set and guiding them to make smart choices.

From start to end, the audience was captivated by the blend of entertainment and inspiring stories. By encouraging youth to leverage entrepreneurship for social impact, LEAP is moving Nigeria slowly and steadily towards a new dawn.

Social Innovation in Nigeria: Youth Blazing the Path for the Future

By Damilola Macaulay

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Recently Nigeria became the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of $509.9Bn which could translate to mean growth and advancement for the country but according to World Bank, 63% of Nigerians still live in abject poverty.

Communities still battle with issues like high unemployment rate, poor and inadequate education, insufficient social amenities, poor health care, increasing inequality, and a raft of other issues. These challenges offer the exact settings to look at old problems in new ways, an opportunity for social innovation fuelled by its large and growing youth population estimated at about 64 million.

Interest in social innovation is growing in Nigeria as organisations and government now recognize the need to pursue new and creative methods to achieve their goals with response to a changing world. Innovations are transforming the world, markets are undergoing massive change, and philanthropists are changing their practices. The speed of change is faster than ever, and the social and environmental need is reaching a frightening crescendo.

Globally, young people are helping to drive national competitiveness, economic growth, and achievement of social development goals. For Nigeria to remain competitive in the future, Nigerian youth must be prepared to be competitive in the local and global market.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of youth with creative ideas and initiatives only set to move the country forward. Different sectors have revolving issues which can be fixed within the sphere of our resources. Young Nigerians are distinguishing themselves and taking responsibility to tackle complex problems. They are providing lasting result to matters that had proven difficult with available resources. Nonso Okafor in Class

These youth only need support and reinforcement to improve proficiency. Collaborations between government, universities, NGOs and the private sector need to be strengthened. It is vital to note that celebration of youth creative leadership and innovation is considerably low in the social space. If provided with the requisite skills and tools for personal, organisational and community transformation youth can serve as effective change agents to actualize Nigeria’s full potential. These beliefs serve as the core thrust of LEAP’s vision of a Social Innovators Programme and Awards  (SIPA).

Out of many stirring youth, LEAP selected 20 fellows for SIPA last year. Each had benefited from a year-long fellowship in training, mentoring and networking opportunities which enhanced their impact, credibility and access to international funding for their initiatives.   Meet 20 Remarkable Youth who saw “Problems” but transformed them into “Solutions”.

Olufunbi FALAYI sees underserved students in public schools without skills

Opeyemi ADESEKO sees dearth of knowledge about environmental dynamics

Ayoola AJEBEKU sees drudgery in searching for important locations

Ogirinye ADOGA sees over reliance on imported food

Philip OBAJI Jr. sees youth violence and ignorance

Otto ORONDAAM sees uneducated children in slums

Abiodun ODUNUGA sees need for youths to own enterprises

Chinwe NWOSU sees need for young girls to discover themselves

Bunmi OTEGBAGE sees innovative ways businesses could create wealth

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Micheal IYANRO sees poor healthcare in underserved rural communities Yomi ADETULA sees need to foster entrepreneurship through text marketing

Vweta ARIEMUGBOVBE sees teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, and school drop-outs

Ayomide AJUMOBI sees idle youth with unexploited skills within the community

Princess DAVIES sees deviation of youth energy to social vices and less innovation

Garba SARBO sees communication gaps between youth in conflict resolutions

Olayinka ADEGOKE sees indigenous students not excelling well in academics

Ibironke Odewale sees need to improve diabetes through an online portal

Akor OJODOMO sees low economic status of hearing impaired persons

Tayo OLUFUWA sees less cost effective recruitment systems for SMEs

Ibrahim ADEDEJI sees dearth of information on health-related issues

WHAT DO YOU SEE? Nigeria already has what it takes to create a social innovation culture. Our priorities only need to be refocused on building a modern economy driven by innovation. Meeting these 20 Fellows is one highlight of the event. You can learn more about the SIPA 2014 or attend this event, click on this link Got a few ideas on social innovation or want to contribute to this topic, do send us your comments.

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