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Six years ago, the Annual Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards by LEAP Africa was rebirth in Lagos as the Social Innovators Programme& Awards. On Thursday 18 October 2018, LEAP (Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism) Africa hosted the 2018 edition of its Social Innovation Programme & Awards (SIPA) in Lagos at the Glitz Event Centre. Annually, LEAP hosts the awards ceremony to celebrate, showcase and support youth social entrepreneurs across Nigeria and SIPA has been hosted in Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Enugu and the FCT. It remains one of Nigerian’s indigenous platforms for showcasing and nurturing Nigerian change-makers in social entrepreneurship.   This year’s SIPA was a showcase of Nigeria’s top Social Innovators and it focused on ‘Equipping African Youth for Social Transformation’ as the theme to highlight opportunities, approach, platforms for engendering social entrepreneurship to thrive on our continent. Using the popular footballer, N’Golo Kanté as a case study, the Keynote Speaker of the 2018 SIPA by LEAP Africa – Dr. Patrick Awuah Jnr. (Founder of Ashesi University, Ghana) re-ignited a fire in the hearts of delegates to continually give their initiatives their best shot with no room for giving up in spite of the incessant setbacks. Patrick emphasised the need for social innovators to be at the front lines of driving socio-economic change which he said would salvage the problems that will emerge in the face of Africa’s unpreparedness to manage its population bulge by 2050. Following the keynote speech was a fireside chat with Patrick Awuah, Jr. handled by Ms.Yewande Apatira, Programmes Coordinator for LEAP Africa. The fireside chat provided a glimpse into Patrick’s career in some of Fortune 500s including Microsoft, his transition into social development and his work with Ashesi University in Ghana. He talked about his initial fear of leaving a familiar terrain and taking courage by the horns to birth a new vision for education, integrous leaders and the creation of opportunities for excluded youth. There was also a panel session with players and stakeholders in the Nigerian social entrepreneurship space moderated by Ms. Kehinde Ayeni Manager, Communications & PR for LEAP Africa. The panelists included Ms. Folawe Omikunle, CEO TEACH For Nigeria, Mr. Olufunbi Falayi, Partner Passion Incubator, Ms. Okocha Nkem, Founder Mamamoni, and Mr. Akintunde Oyebode, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The conversation revolved around demystifying social entrepreneurship, harnessing youth agencies, collaborations, the challenges of being a social entrepreneur, finance and sustainability. Discussing policies that support youth-led entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Akintunde’s belief that young people can make a difference drives his work to create frameworks that supports SMEs to thrive and increase job creation opportunities in Lagos State. He reflected on Loan schemes, Private Public Sector Partnerships, citizenship engagement with the government and eschewing corruption/ societal values as some key areas to look into. Folawe says Teach for Nigeria model is addressing gaps in the educational ecosystem through the deployment of young graduates to underserved communities as teacher leaders. Their goal is to make education available to every Nigerian child and increase the level of numeracy and literacy skills in our primary schools. Inspired by her own mother’s (a widow) inability to care for her family as a teenager, Nkem Okocha who is also a LEAP SIP alumnus talked about how she is driving change with her social enterprise, MamaMoni. Nkem shared her grass to grace journey and struggles to become a social entrepreneur. Her social enterprise is a FinTech that distributes income and economic opportunities to disadvantaged young women, widows, single mothers with vocational trainings, start-up capital and ongoing access to more finance. It is evident that the line between social innovation and social entrepreneurship could be blurry. As a social entrepreneur and alumnus of SIPA, Olufunbi describes social entrepreneurship in three stages: identifying a problem, solving it and being sustainable while solving it. He also clarified how he is equipping Africans for social transformation through an incubation structure that moves from ideation to being a corporate entity. The educational ecosystem, women and youth are all agencies that are being challenged to ensure social transformation is happening in Nigeria and across Africa. And really there has never been a better time in Africa than now for social innovators. Ms. OgochukwuEkezie-Ekaidem, Manager, Corporate Affairs Communication, Union Bank Nigeria reiterated the bank’s commitment to supporting LEAP Africa’s Social Innovation Programme. She stated that they are more interested in providing a platform for young social innovators beyond funding to enable youth proffer solutions that can shape the future. Three (3) Outstanding Fellows AmusaTemitope Victor (Founder, Vicfold Recycling), Okoroleju Alero Sandra (Founder, Rural Development and Reformation Foundation, RUDERF) and Ayeni-Babajide Olamide (Pearl Recycling) won 1 million Naira each as Outstanding Fellows of the Year to increase the reach of their innovation and strengthen their enterprises. Olumide Adeyeye, Founder of Twim Academy and an associate fellow of The Royal Commonwealth Society was awarded the The Dr. Pamela Hartigan Prize for Social Innovation. The Dr. Pamela Hartigan Prize for Social Innovation created by Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli recognizes an outstanding SIP Alumni who has translated the learning and professional insights acquired from the fellowship into channeling innovative solutions to address critical social problems in society. The event also saw the induction of 20 new set of social change makers into the next fellowship year of the Social Innovators Programme (SIP). SIP supports creative young Nigerians (ages 18 – 35) with ideas and initiatives that profer effective solutions to identified challenges in communities across the country. These social innovators are highly creative youths who are championing social enterprises and improving the lives of community members across Nigeria.

Some of this year’s innovators are:

Outstanding Fellow of the Year Award winner – Victor Amusa
Outstanding Fellow of the Year Award winner – Olamide Ayeni-Babajide
Outstanding Fellow of the Year Award winner – Alero Okoroleju
: Dr. Pamela Hartigan Prize for Social Innovation winner – Olumide Adeyey
Idehai Rita (MD, Ecobarter): Ecobarter is addressing human induced degradation of the environment not only with sensitization, but also curb side recycling collection scheme for households and businesses in Abuja using low cost pedal cargo bicycles thereby creating income for poor and unemployed persons. Adegbite Mayowa (CEO, Ashake Foundation): Mayowa’s foundation assists widows via one of his initiatives: the Widows Business School. Through the vocational training from this school, widows are able to set up small enterprises. Adereni Abiodun (CEO, HelpMum): HelpMum is helping achieve SDG 3, Health & wellbeing through the provision of sterilized ultra affordable clean birth kits in rural areas to reduce infant & maternal mortality caused by the use of unhygienic equipment by traditional birth attendants. It also uses cheap technology like SMS to enable women in rural communities access basic health care information. Tochukwu Egesi (Co-Founder/ED, RemindMe): RemindMe provides an automated vaccine reminder for immunization, maternal care routines & vaccination for people in rural and urban centres using a USSD string and SMS technology. Alayande Abiola (Strategy & Product Lead, TREP Labs): TREP (Test, Refine, Evaluate and Prototype) Labs is a Talent Accelerator that recruits top talents, democratizes access to IOT and builds indigenous replicable solutions for African problems. Its most notable product of is REALDRIP, a device that prevents back-flow of blood during drip treatment. The one-year fellowship programme culminates in the annual award ceremony, SIPA. There are assumptions that social entrepreneurs are accidental CEOs. Therefore this platform is a deliberate attempt to raise access to trainings across Africa such as the SIP Fellowship for youth. In his closing remarks, Femi Taiwo, the Executive Director of LEAP Africa expressed the commitment of the organization to raise leaders across sectors that will transform Africa and help her realize its fullest potential. He also acknowledged the role of the sponsor, Union Bank, in partnering with the organization to raise leaders in the social innovation space. The event was anchored by Rufai Oseni, a social entrepreneur, author and OAP at Inspiration FM. LEAP Africa is a youth focused leadership development non-profit organization raising leaders to transform Africa. The organization is tackling issues of leadership dearth, enterprise and employability skills gap, governance and social transformation. Its interventions for youth, bridges gaps in youth leadership development. LEAP is working in partnership with development partners to close these gaps and ensure lasting institutions across sectors. Media Contact Kehinde Ayeni Manager, Communications and PR (+234) 01 2706542 Visit for more information.

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This article was first published on 5th November 2018

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