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YALI Network Abuja’s Interactive Session

Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network Abuja’s #YALIMEETS Interactive Session.
Saturday 16th July was a day that underlined the willingness of Nigerian youths to appropriate their sentiments with actions. The YALI Network which is a signature effort of the U.S government to help harness the next generation of African leaders presented the ideal platform for Young people passionate about making sustainable social impacts to interact and highlight common societal problems, challenges and efforts to improve the state of their communities.

The Diascuss was themed ‘Social Entrepreneurship, A Tool for National Transformation’, with a breakout session to accentuate ‘Why Youth Networks Must Collaborate’. With close to a hundred young leaders in attendance, it was 3 hours of intense deliberations, probing the realities of social problems this generation of Nigerian youths must overcome if they stand any chance of achieving National transformation.

The fine breed of panelists to discuss this very important subject did absolute justice in the most erudite and motivating manner.

Hamzat Lawal shared his experiences as an activist running a non-governmental organization; “Connected Development”, as well as co-founding a grass-root data-driven movement; “Follow The Money”. In his drive to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, he among other successes helped save the lives of about 1,500 children suffering from lead poisoning in Bagega, a remote village in Zamfara state, Northern Nigeria.

Kiki James, who only returned to Nigeria from the UK in 2010 stressed Social Entrepreneurship must be passion driven and not profit driven. Through her charity organization; “The ACE Charity Africa organization”, she’s tackling illiteracy, poor healthcare delivery and economic challenges with well thought out and sustainable systems. Part of her goal is to help increase the literacy level of at least 6,000 Africans by 2017 and in line with this goal, she’s building well stocked libraries with state of the art technological facilities in rural communities.

Andy Madaki an ICT consultant, CEO of Decy4 Technologies and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Abuja Global Shaper’s Community shared how his experience in social entrepreneurship has challenged him to seek solutions to several humanitarian cases. Currently one of the brains behind the #RebuildBorno project tackling gross malnutrition in the war torn Borno State, North-East of Nigeria, his commitment to social good has seen him make daring trips to parlous locations at the risk of his safety and life.

Ijeoma Sorochi-Okorie inspired us with her unenviable personal life story growing up. Since 2011, she’s been running the Teenz Global Foundation helping teenagers and women in personal and professional capacity development. She’s also the co-founder of Open Community Schools Network and in April this year lunched her first open community school in Kuje, a suburb in the Federal Capital territory.

Edwin Ikhuoria who is presently the Country Representative of the global ONE Campaign explained that Social Entrepreneurship is simply using business models to solve social problems. With over 15 years experience in the development sector, he opined that whilst social entrepreneurship should not be profit driven, it however should be profit based as the profit realized is used to finance more social intervention projects. He highlighted the 4P’s necessary for developing a sustainable social enterprise viz Policy Framework, Partisanship, Pop Culture and Public Mobilization.

Jake Okechukwu, a radio broadcaster with the BBC Media Action, Lawyer, Human Rights Activist and erstwhile Curator of the Abuja Global Shapers Community shared how being a problem solver has helped open doors for him.  He buttressed that identifying a problem in the society and fixing it brings just about the greatest satisfaction in life. In answering the ‘how to start question’? He says ‘Just start’.

To complete the panelists, Adewunmi Emoruwa the president of the League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria outlined his commitment to ensuring active youth participation in politics. He didn’t deemphasize the realities of challenges facing Nigerian youths in forms of economic limitations as well as inept civil and public systems. He however established the place of advocacy as a vital tool for achieving National Transformation.

Other notable attendees included Salihu Tanko Yakasai, DG Media and Communications Kano State Government, Anne Bella of the U.S Embassy Abuja, Nigeria, and Adetola Onayemi Special Assistant to the Vice President on Trade and Investment.

Overall, YALI Network Abuja’s #YALIMEETS witnessed full representation of some of the most vibrant youth networks in Nigeria; from the President Barack Obama recognized Mandela Washington Fellows, to the ONE Champions fighting extreme poverty, then the Abuja Global Shapers Community who are committed to improving the state of the world, and of course the League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN) advocating for a legislation to reduce the age specification for elective offices in Nigeria to allow for more youth participation; the room was filled with brilliant problem solvers who all left with a new desire to innovate ideas, think critically, make decisions and collaborate progressively toward attaining national transformation.

Pictures from the Event:

By Dozie Nwafor @thenwafor

Twitter @yaliabuja

About Kene Okoye

A creative writer, banker, pianist, composer and music promoter, Kene documents events and presents his viewpoint in compelling narratives. He sets out to create vivid pictures with his intelligent use of words and seeks to engage, thrill, educate and inspire the reader. Come on and enjoy yourself.

One comment

  1. A great gathering and every minute was worth it. Great team I must mention too.

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