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

By Damilola Macaulay

world communication

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

SIPA banner

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.

The Top 5 Things You Should Never Do At Work

By Kathy Caprino

Tired business woman I had an 18-year corporate career in publishing and marketing that was highly successful on the outside, but on the inside, it was not. I rose to the level of Vice President and managed multimillion-dollar budgets and global initiatives, but throughout my career, I faced a number of excruciating experiences of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, work-life balance failures, chronic illness and exhaustion, being sabotaged and betrayed by colleagues, and the continual nagging feeling that I was meant for different work (but simply couldn’t figure out what it was – here’s more on that story).

And I made a great number of huge mistakes. I did some important things right too, but my missteps were legendary (at least in my own mind). When I look back on my 30 years of working, and the careers of the hundreds of folks I train, coach and teach, five blunders stand out from all the rest as the most negative, damaging, and irreversible in your career and professional life.

The 5 things you should never do at work are:

1. Speak, behave or quit out of rage or revenge

Most people spend more hours at work than anywhere else, so it’s normal and expected that we will experience the full gamut of emotions while engaged in our work. I’m all for bringing our whole selves to work as well, and being as authentic, honest, and transparent as humanly possible at our jobs. That said, I’ve watched the inevitable destruction of losing control of your emotions and acting out rashly and impulsively from rage or despair.

For example, in my early 20’s, I screamed an obscenity at the top of my lungs to my boss who I felt was harassing me, and I did it in front of the entire office. He had no choice but to fire me. Thankfully, I had another job offer in the wings so the damage was not too serious. While it felt fantastic (for one split second) to swear at him, what has stayed with me over time is the shock and shame of how out of control I felt during that time. I vowed never to lose it like that and act out of rage or fury again. If you act impulsively and rashly at work, you will likely lose much more than your self-respect.

2. Backstab your colleagues

I’m astounded at how many people today feel completely comfortable ridiculing, disparaging or undermining their colleagues, co-workers and even their friends. I used to be that kind of person – talking behind someone’s back if I felt they were behaving poorly, meanly, or less than professionally. I learned later (in my therapy training) that this is called triangulation – telling a third party about something that makes you anxious or upset instead of dealing with it head on with the individual in question. Why do we do that? Because we lack the courage and fortitude to address the problem directly, or we feel it just won’t work out if we do. It relieves our anxiety to share the problem, but it does nothing to resolve it.

Other folks may call this “gossip” (gossip, by the way, is another “must not do” in the workplace). But backstabbing your colleagues is a special brand of negative behavior because it aims to hurt. And when you desire to hurt others, it will be you who suffers. In one job, I backstabbed a colleague because it seemed that she received all the accolades, promotions and perks because of her beauty and her obsequiousness to our bosses. All of that might have been true, but trying to take her down behind her back didn’t work. That behavior never will, in the long run. You’ll only embarrass and humiliate yourself and it will come back around to bite you eventually.

3. Lie

We tell lies most often when we think that the truth will hurt us somehow, or when we want to avoid facing the consequences of our truth. The problem with lying is two-fold: 1) When you tell yourself you’re not capable of facing reality or dealing with the consequences, you make yourself right – you’ll grow less powerful, capable, bold, respectable, and trustworthy over time, and 2) the lies you tell must be perpetuated, which is exhausting and drains you from vital energy you need to reach your fullest potential.

If you have told lies at work – about your skills and talents, experience and background, about the status of work you’re overseeing, or about who you are and what you are capable of, I’d highly recommend taking a long, hard look at what you’re afraid of, and instead of keeping up the front, get in the cage with those fears and begin working through them.

4. Proclaim that you’re miserable

Just the other day, I was talking to a former client who had marched into her boss’s office that week and shared that she was miserable at work and volunteered for a severance package. I’ve done that myself – been so unhappy at work that I put my hand up for a package. I didn’t get it, and neither did my client. After sharing that news and not receiving the package, you’re stuck in a deeply unsettling situation of the employer knowing you’re a terrible fit for your role. There are a few specific instances where this might be the right move, but in general, sharing that you hate your job is not the way to go.

But what if it’s the truth? My father used to say that there are 10 different ways to say anything, and I think he’s right. Phrases like “miserable,” “unhappy,” “fed up,” “ready to leave,” and “need to go” are not helpful when you’re talking to your colleagues, bosses, or HR staff.

What is the better way? Talk about what you’re great at and love to do, what you’ve accomplished, and what you’re ready for. Share your work highlights and new directions you’re excited and committed to take your career, and discuss your plans and desires for growth and change. Open the door for new opportunities at your current employer that will expand our skills, your resume and your talents. Try to find ways at your current job (where you’re already getting paid) to grow, stretch and build yourself. Explore every option available to you for becoming what you want to without walking out in anger and disgust. Your employer might very well be able to sponsor and support your growth and change, but it won’t happen if you stomp in and say “I’m miserable and it’s your fault.”

5. Burn bridges

Literally the biggest lesson I’ve learned in business is that success is all about relationships. It’s truly about who you know, and how they feel and think about you (and how you make them feel). I’m not saying that your amazing talent and skill aren’t important. Of course they are. I am saying that we don’t thrive and succeed alone. We need other people. And these people are not just our former bosses – they are people who reported to you, teamed with you, shared coffee and drinks with you, took training sessions with you, got yelled at alongside of you, and weathered tough times with you.

Every single one of your relationships is vitally important to you and your future, so craft them with care. Avoid people you don’t trust or like, but don’t burn bridges. After 30 years in business I’ve seen that there are hundreds of people we interact with daily who eventually could become our strongest allies, advocates and fans, if we protect and nurture our relationships as the key, enriching asset they are.

Article culled from for LEAP Africa


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