#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY: David Lanre Messan

Did you follow the #LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY campaign last year?

Well you can this year because it’s back again and we are not holding back as we bring you, weekly, a rich line up of stories of unstoppable, extraordinary young men and women who are driving up change and pushing boundaries.

We begin with one of the most enterprising social innovators in Nigeria, David Lanre Messan. Read his story to find out why… you’ll be truly inspired.

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David Lanre Messan, Idea Strategist, Social Innovator & Entrepreneur

LEAP Africa has enabled me change the conversation around my destiny from, “How do I survive?” to “How do I help people succeed?” This where my nostalgia starts from whenever I hear the name “LEAP”.

A brightly designed flyer lay on the road; I walked towards it, bent down and picked it up. On it was written details of LEAP Africa Youth Leadership Awards. “Wow! I love this and gotta apply mehn”, I said to myself.

Growing up within what I will term one of the inner cities of Lagos, I had always been involved in various developmental initiatives that could better the lives of the people within my community but never had I attended a leadership programme or awards with such an organization.

I applied for the awards but wasn’t selected but then, I was inspired by the invitation extended to me to attend the awards, which provided me the opportunity to apply for the Youth Leadership Programme.

I chose to find a way to attend the programme even if money was a scarce resource; this was 2006 and curiosity got the best of me.

The LEAP Africa Youth Leadership Programme, (YLP) was an eye opener, granting me the opportunity to learn the concept of visionary and servant leadership and how I can use this to effect change in the world around me. Prior to my attending this training programme, I was already a social entrepreneur working with young people through my initiative Lifeguard Youth Concerns designed to educate youth on HIV, teenage pregnancy and abstinence and I served as the President of Mass Communications department at Lagos State Polytechnic where I schooled and through my presidency, I was able to research internship opportunities that have taken beneficiaries to higher levels till date.

I was also founder, Gxchange, a communication and resource company where I put together knowledge based content for distribution to companies and individuals through newsletter and CD formats.

The (YLP) strengthened my resolve to better serve my community in more structured ways, boosting my perception and participation in volunteerism and enabling me to sustain passion for people. It also helped me to develop a social edge in every business I venture into.

I began by volunteering within LEAP Africa Alumni and rose to become the regional head of communications and president nominee. I was presented with a myriad of opportunities by LEAP Africa including international speaking opportunities where I represented the organisation, this included the University D’Abomey, Calavi and Benin republic national youth conference as keynote speaker. I was also selected as a 101 young African Leader to represent Nigeria in Accra, Ghana at the African Business Leaders Forum, a partnership platform delivered in conjunction with the Business in Africa magazine and LEAP Africa. The 101 young Africa Leaders platform was a melting pot for extraordinary youth in Africa and at its core, sought to foster collaboration between likeminded youth for the merging of ideas which will translate into global impact, a goal which was achieved in my life as I found my committed friend and business partner of over seven years, Koko Ombu who has gone ahead with me to start multiple businesses and initiatives.

One of such initiatives I created after this leadership partnership development programme was the Green Yaggy where over 5,000 youth were trained in varying skills to take on entrepreneurship or careers, making me a recipient of the coveted LEAP/Nokia Youth Leadership Award in 2008. Green Yaggy was later renamed YaggyEnergie, a technology based employment creation platform, employing micro entrepreneurs in industry specific enterprise hubs. YaggyEnergie is raising a new corps of skill-driven micro entrepreneurs to tackle youth unemployment in Africa by providing fully funded trainings in high impact hard skills sectors. It intertwines these learning experience with proficiency in soft skills in business development and the provision of enterprise work spaces, ensuring enterprise growth and sustainability.

I have come a long way from the exuberant 22 year old who discovered LEAP, founding companies such as an ideas portfolio management firm, Infinite Impact Ltd, taking over 100 businesses and social ideas to market for entrepreneurs and raising over $1 million in funding for small businesses through third party sourcing and development of strategic plans. I also run a creative talent management firm, Trogge Urban Ltd, where talents and brands are taken to market and CodedInvestors, Nigeria’s first alternative financing platform with a focus on lending and investing in fast moving consumer goods businesses.

My learning experience through LEAP Africa programmes has enabled me maintain strong mentorship network with a host of mentoring platforms and initiatives including Mara Mentor and INVENT where I support young people by sharing my personal and business experiences which help them believe in themselves, take root and grow into business leaders, social innovators and founders of change projects. I have also gone ahead to become the curator of the Global Shapers Lagos Hub, one of the multi-communities initiated by the World Economic Forum with members drawn from young people with achievements and exceptional leadership potential. There I initiated the Business Skills Workshop to support entrepreneurial growth through the provision of business resources that equip youth entrepreneurs with salient skills which include financial management, business development, marketing, strategy etc., to ensure business growth and sustainability through a series of engaging sessions. Under my leadership, the Lagos Hub won the Abraaj Growth Market Grant Challenge of $18,900 in 2015 to scale up the delivery of the Business Skills Workshop within the Lagos Community.

#LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY as I owe a lot of my foundational growth to the inspirational leadership of LEAP founder, Ndidi Nwuneli and the LEAP team, (Ngozi Obigwe, Mosun Layode, Asuquo Asuquo and Oje Ivagba) which I have come to know as family over the years.

LEAP Africa has enabled me change the conversation around my destiny from, “How do I survive?” to “How do I help people succeed?” This where my nostalgia starts from whenever I hear the name “LEAP”.

Have you attended our programmes and you know you have an inspiring story to share, send an email to info@leapafrica.org. We’ll love to hear from you!

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