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

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.

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