Ayomikun Olugbode is the Founder at Inspired Youth Network
Alaba Ayinuola spoke with Ayomikun Olugbode Founder/Executive Director at Inspired Youth Network, inspired with a vision is to create a platform where young people will be deliberately empowered with the skills, drive and character required to be a transformational leader. Excerpt.
Alaba: Tell us about Inspired Youth Network and the role you play.
Ayomikun: Inspired Youth Network is a not-for-profit organization based in Lagos, Nigeria. Our mission is to deliberately prepare young people for future leadership role, by increasing the participation of young people in the fight against corruption, providing a platform to demand accountability from government representatives and advocate for youth inclusion in governance and democratic processes. I am the Founder/Executive Director.
Alaba: What is the vision behind this initiative?
Ayomikun: The vision is to create a platform where young people will be deliberately empowered with the skills, drive and character required to be a transformational leader.
Alaba: How are you funding this Initiative?
Ayomikun: The initiative is being funded through support from partners, personal sources and fund raising activities. In 2018, we received financial support from Youth Alive Foundation to implement the Make a Difference Against Corruption Today in My School (#MadACTInMySchool) project under the Youth Participation Against Corruption (Y-PAC) project.
Alaba: How does the organisation measure its impact?
Ayomikun: We measure our impact by listening attentively to our stakeholders to get their feedbacks, focus on our outcomes by assessing the progress of our objectives, as well as learning from others.
Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Ayomikun: The challenges are numerous and cannot be exhausted. Some of the challenges we face include inadequate fund to implement projects and limited capacity building programs for my team. Another major challenge is the barrier created by stakeholders especially the gatekeepers and members of communities. Many developmental projects initiated by NGOs have been hindered because of the barrier created by stakeholders. The processes involved in getting some of the stakeholders on board could be very tedious. Some even expect you to give them money before implementing projects in their community. This is sad! Furthermore, changing lives and people’s attitude can be very tasking especially in this society of ours where people are faced with unemployment, illiteracy and different religious belief that affects their mindset.
However, the challenges will not stop us from making impact and achieving our goals. In order to overcome the challenges, we have collaborated with a number of not-for-profit organizations and we are open to more partnership. In 2018, we received support from Youth Alive Foundation to implement the #MadACTInMySchool. We’ve had collaborations with ActionAid Nigeria, Youth Leadership Initiative for Social Justice, The Africa We Want, GoldLife Initiative, Youth Agenda Initiatives and many more to reduce cost and make more impact. In terms of capacity building, we are working with partners to build the capacity of our team. In December, 2018, two members of my team were supported by Youth Alive Foundation to attend the Africa Youth Congress Against Corruption (AYCAC). We also encourage members of the team to participate in capacity building programs. We make our projects open to the stakeholders and we get them involved at all stages of the implementation. Based on our level of integrity and reputation, we have been able to build a mutual relationship with our stakeholders to the extent that whenever we have a project it speaks for us. One of the key strategies we use in changing public attitude is to engage people using practical examples of the consequence of an action or the benefit to them as the case may be. We have also been able to engage influencers to get our messages across to the people.
Alaba: What are the major issues facing African youths today and solutions you can proffer?
Ayomikun: The youths are the power house of Africa. About 42% of people in Africa are under the age of 25. The major issue facing young people in Africa is corruption, which has resulted to high rate of unemployment, poverty, poor state of education that has led to illiteracy and unfriendly government policies among others. I have heard people say African youths are lazy, but I disagree with them. African youth are not lazy, it is the bad leadership that brought us to where we are. Most of the recent innovations in Africa were created by young people. No citizen will think straight in an unfriendly atmosphere where leaders are not accountable and transparent. We cannot continue this way. The youth should get involved in governance by making government representatives accountable. Young people should also change their attitude towards corruption because you cannot fight corruption with corruption. The youths should support their fellow youth who has the competence, character and vision to lead. The strategy being used by the older generation is to divide the youths so they can’t speak in one accord. Young people should collaborate and speak in one voice to save their future.
Alaba: What advice would you give potential social entrepreneurs who intend to start an initiative or invest in Africa.
Ayomikun: Africa needs more young social entrepreneurs to develop the continent. As a potential social entrepreneur, you have to believe in yourself and challenge yourself. Do not let your current situation hinder your success. Potential social entrepreneurs should identify people of like minds and collaborate with them. You must be willing to learn and unlearn, and most importantly don’t compromise your integrity. Integrity is everything.
Alaba: What’s the future for your initiative and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Ayomikun: We have been working with communities and students of tertiary institutions in Lagos to increase their participation in the fight against corruption and promote accountability and transparency. Plans are in the pipeline to extend the projects to other tertiary institutions and communities in Nigeria. Discussions are currently on with both local and international partners to build the capacity of my team and implement innovative youth development projects. Furthermore, our core values and impact of our initiative will make us an attractive option for partnership and will improve our chances of receiving grants from funding organizations.
Ayomikun Olugbode holds a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry from Adekunle Ajasin University and a Masters Degree in Biochemistry from University of Ilorin. He holds a certificate in Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD Pro) from APMG International, United Kingdom.
He is the Co-Convener of Make a Difference Against Corruption Today in My School (#MadACTInMySchool) and the Convener of #iStudyiVote Campaign. Ayomikun is a Fellow and President of Canvassity Pan African Youth Democracy Fellowship 2018, a Fellow of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centre (RLC) and an alumnus of Kukah Centre Young Leaders Program. He was a delegate at the Canvassity Learning Visit 2018 to the African Union (AU) Headquarters, Addis Ababa to understudy the African Governance Architecture (AGA).
Ayomikun is passionate about the participation of young people in the fight against corruption and inclusion of youth in democratic governance. He has about four years experience working with both local and international organizations.
Interview With Oyetola Oduyemi On The END Fund, Impact Philanthropy And Sustainability in Africa
Oyetola Oduyemi is the Africa Regional Adviser (Public Affairs) at The END Fund, a private philanthropic organisation whose big goal is to see an end to the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTD’s) that, together, cause up to 90% of the NTD burden in sub-Saharan Africa. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Oyetola shares insights on the organisation’s mission, some of it’s challenges, impact philanthropy, social development and sustainability in Africa. Excerpt.
Alaba: Tell us about The End Fund and the gap its filling?
Oyetola: The END Fund is the only private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the most neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). They are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect over 1.5 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 836 million children. NTDs are diseases of neglected communities that do not have a platform to advocate for themselves and raise awareness. They can cause severe pain and long-term disability and lead to death for more than 170,000 people per year. Effects from NTDs such as deformed legs and blindness result in social isolation.
Since being founded in 2012, we have supported the delivery of over 724 million generously donated treatments for NTDs with a value of over $1.3 billion. In addition, over 1.8 million people were trained in NTD control and prevention methods and over 13,000 people have benefited from surgeries.
NTDs have held back human progress; and at the END Fund, we imagine a world free of diseases caused by worms. We are filling the gap by delivering treatments to communities in need. We achieve this by growing and engaging a community of activist-philanthropists, managing high-impact strategic investments, and working in collaboration with government, NGO, pharmaceutical, and academic partners.
There are many generous funders in the space including USAID and DFID, but the END Fund was created to help fill the funding gap specifically with money from the private sector. In some countries, we are even the only funder, and are able to go places that traditional funders cannot go due to instability and conflict. We are also able to move quicker than traditional funders thanks to our unique model.
Alaba: What is the mission and vision of this Initiative in Africa?
Oyetola: The END Fund’s mission is to end the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases. In Africa, about 40% of the global NTD burden occurs here, affecting over 600 million Africans. In Nigeria alone, over 120 million people are at risk of one or more NTDs. We envision a continent, indeed a world where people at risk of NTDs can live healthy and prosperous lives.
Alaba: How have the priorities of the organisation evolved?
Oyetola: Due to improvements in disease mapping and much broader engagement by in-country and global stakeholders, the END Fund has been able to get key stakeholders and leaders in disease-endemic countries to make commitments around NTDs. There are many more partners with whom to collaborate and coordinate new opportunities. Also, there are more detailed maps of disease prevalence in high-risk communities, indicating an increased level of interest and sophistication. These additions to the space enable us to have more in depth discussions on extending the financing of NTDs and gradually requiring countries to self-fund treatment.
Alaba: How does the organisation measure the impact of its giving?
Oyetola: We convene savvy, international investors interested in impact-driven investments that make the most efficient use of their private capital – “the best bang for buck.” This enables us to ensure that our treatments are the most cost-effective. In addition, the progress that we make in countries when it comes to eliminating the prevalence of NTDs as a public health problem also enables us to understand our impact. Another way that we measure the impact of funds invested in the END Fund is through our ability to provide technical assistance and capacity building, as needed.
We seek to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) requirements for treatment, but in many cases we look to exceed their targets and ensure the highest levels of treatment possible. We also work with governments and implementing partners to ensure the highest quality of data reporting. In 2018 alone, with our partners, we reached over 134 million people with more than 220 million treatments valued at over $430 million, trained over 745,000 people, and provided over 1,800 surgeries.
Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?
Oyetola: Raising awareness about what NTDs are and why they should be on the top of the agenda for governments, donors, and even those affected can sometimes be a challenge. People may be aware of one or two of them but are not necessarily aware of the health and economic implications. Thus, we want to put real-life stories forward, and hope that it would help us reduce the neglect of the attention and awareness about these diseases.
Alaba : What’s the future for the organisation in Africa and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?
Oyetola: In the future, I see the END Fund continuing to work with its partners to not only improve the health of underserved communities but also contribute to Africa’s growth. Research has shown that deworming treatment, for example, has the potential to increase an adult’s earnings by 20% and reduce a child’s likelihood of school absenteeism by 25%. Alleviating the NTD burden would not only improve lives, but it would also have a ripple effect on the community, nation, and continent.
We are very strategic and intentional in the steps that we are taking towards achieving our preferred future. We are working tirelessly in bringing together local and global philanthropists to control and eliminate NTDs. Our CEO, Ellen Agler recently co-chaired the 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa and participated in key dialogues on how addressing health inequalities – for example, scaling up treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and achieving Universal Health Coverage – can help catapult Africa into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I also believe that more investments would be seen as one and the same – instead of being seen as either good for business or humanity.
The END Fund hosts the Reaching the Last Mile Fund – a ten-year, multi-donor fund, initiated and led by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with additional support from other funders. It works to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis across the Middle East and Africa. By working to eliminate these two NTDs, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty by reducing their footprint.
We were also named an Audacious Project in 2019 – a philanthropic collaborative hosted by TED. This project aims to eliminate the public health burden caused by parasitic worm infections in four countries in Africa. In these countries, where local leaders have already made trailblazing commitments to their national deworming programs, the Project’s “Deworming Innovation Fund” will support and amplify these commitments with the goal of eliminating childhood sickness caused by the most prevalent parasitic worms, a feat which has not yet been achieved in Africa.
Alaba: What’s your view on the development of impact philanthropy in Africa?
Oyetola: At the heart of philanthropy, is giving. Africa, and indeed Africans generally have an embedded culture of giving or charity, which some would argue is philanthropy in its most basic form. We believe in the concept of giving back, of being your brother’s keeper, and of sustaining your wealth and happiness by helping others. So it is a familiar concept.
Having said that, impact philanthropy is nuanced to reflect a desire to make specific impact, rather than just seemingly random giving. To that extent, it is a practice that the continent is catching on to quickly. It is being practised more by high net worth individuals and activist philanthropists, rather than corporates. The latter are increasingly embracing strategic social investments, which also varies from philanthropy simpliciter.
Alaba: Why are you personally passionate about the work of The End Fund Initiative?
Oyetola: My passion about our work stems from my personal interest in driving the social development of Africa. I have worked in this space for about 15 years now, and the reality is that as more is achieved, more comes to light as needing to be done. For instance you take on education as a cause, and then realize that the health space needs support. And then it is the environment; or infrastructural development. etc. However delivering on the mandate of the END Fund, which is to end the neglected tropical diseases, has positive ripple effects across quite a number of indices – poverty, malnutrition, education, health, sanitation, and partnerships for development (Sustainable Development Goals 1,2,3,4,6 and 17).
As a mum myself, I am passionate about children, they are our future; and the brightness of any nation’s future is determined in large part by the state of her children today. I am passionate about advancing the cause of my nation and continent, and so I have an interest in her youth. As a woman, I am eager to tackle diseases that disproportionately affect women, We are typically the home-makers and primary caregivers. So when family members are unwell, we are the ones with careers or work opportunities that suffer, while we nurse them back to health. We are the ones that are open to STDs and related secondary infections, as a result of urogenital schistosomiasis. Schistosomiasis by the way is the second most deadly parasitic infection globally after malaria, and Nigeria has been reported to have the biggest global burden of this disease.
Our work at the END Fund seeks to end the suffering, illness and debilitating conditions caused by the NTDs, and both the sought impact and picture of success, serve as impetus to do and love the work I do.
Alaba : As an expert in the CSR, sustainability and impact philanthropy ecosystem in Africa, can you share your experience?
Oyetola: This is a richly multi-layered ecosystem indeed, with different stakeholder groups, interests, and expectations. The good thing is that the foundational principle of corporates and HNIs contributing to the development of their locations, is here to stay. Having said this, the practice of CSR is not without its criticisms and issues, and Africa is no exception to this. However with issues, always come possibilities and opportunities. For Africa, CSR or social investment, and impact philanthropy present opportunities to drive sustainable and inclusive development; especially given the relatively high levels of inequalities and poverty found here. There is the creation of shared value, when CSR is properly practiced.
The field also goes beyond the social aspect, to companies doing business responsibly, and with sound corporate governance structures firmly established. These also benefit the communities in which they operate, and stakeholders such as employees, regulators, investors, etc. Furthermore, these drive sustainability, of the companies, their host communities, and the environment.
Pertinent to serve as a guiding thought, is that a sense of mutuality is key, between businesses and host communities. And so combined effort, the pooling together of resources, and the mainstreaming of a sense of responsibility – individual as well as corporate; are all critical to finding sustainable solutions to our developmental challenges as a continent.
Alaba : What is your advice to aspiring impact philanthropists?
Oyetola: Anyone can be an impact philanthropist, high networth individuals as well as people with comparatively lower income. Technological developments, innovative offerings and the emergence of digital platforms such as crowdfunding, have paved the way for a new crop of impact philanthropists to emerge. Things to bear in mind in becoming an effective impact philanthropist, include efficient resource management, motivational picture of success or desired impact, innovation and scalability, where applicable.
Kindly click the link to watch how The End Fund is using football to tackle the NTDs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSZJye2aeN4
A great place to start is by joining us to end the neglected diseases!
For more information, please visit The END Fund
B I O G R A P H Y
Oyetola Oduyemi was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2003, and has more than sixteen years working experience. During her time in the Nigerian Law School, she interned at Kyari Chambers, the law firm of JK Gadzama (SAN). Subsequently, she worked at Babalola chambers, law firm of Dele Adesina (SAN).
‘Tola is a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators UK, and also a member of the Nigerian Society for Corporate Governance. She holds an LL.M. degree from the University of Warwick, with dual majors in Corporate Governance and International Economic Law. ‘Tola has broad experience across sectors, having worked in real estate, banking, oil servicing, and telecommunications industries.
Her specialty is building sustainable brands that have stood the test of time, wearing different though inter-connected hats, including public policy manager keeping employer organisations abreast of policies with an impact on their respective business; corporate communications lead with responsibility for ensuring effective internal and external engagements; and sustainability expert advising business leaders on required and best-practice measures to adopt; all with the focal objective of creating strategic and sustainable value.
For her work in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ‘Tola was recognized as the most outstanding CSR practitioner, at the Sustainability, Enterprise & Responsibility Awards (SERAs) for Africa, 2016. Her passion lies in driving business transformation, providing leadership and finding innovative solutions to business challenges, successfully managing multi-layered key stakeholder groups, and developing and executing best-in-class management strategies to drive business sustainability.
She also enjoys driving ideation of the construct that eliminates barriers between entities and possibilities. In seeking to accomplish this bridge-building, she has discovered that empowering people, communities, companies, even the planet; to survive and flourish, enables all to make possibilities, realities.
‘Tola is an alumnus of the University of Lagos – Nigeria, and University of Warwick, UK. She has also attended numerous training programmes at the Lagos Business School.
Walking To Preserve The Ozone Layer
Lagos, Nigeria- September 16, 2019: In 1987, the United Nations adopted the 16th of September as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.
The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
The Montreal Protocol has led to the phase-out of 99 per cent of ozone-depleting chemicals in refrigerators, air-conditioners and many other products. The phase out of controlled uses of ozone depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer, but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change.
This year’s theme, ‘32 Years and Healing’ celebrates over three decades of remarkable international cooperation to protect the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol.
In a bid to promote the “green life” and the cause of preserving the environment, Sahara Group launched the Green Life Initiative in June 2019. The Green Life Program seeks to galvanize action towards tackling climate change through collaboration, recycling, capacity building awareness as well as investment in clean, affordable and sustainable energy.
To commemorate World Ozone Day, Sahara Group staff volunteers will plant trees at Egbin Power Plc which is the largest privately owned thermal plant in sub Saharan Africa. Staff at Egbin Power, an affiliate of the Sahara Power Group will observe the day by “Walking to Work” to promote environmental consciousness. Studies have shown that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year. The ‘Walk to Work’ initiative aims to create awareness on how people can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially from vehicles. Sahara Group is an avowed promoter of causes that enhance environmental protection across its locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion completed in 2018, shows that, as a result, parts of the ozone layer have recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000. At projected rates, Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone will heal completely by the 2030s. The Southern Hemisphere will follow in the 2050s and Polar Regions by 2060. Ozone layer protection efforts have also contributed to the fight against climate change by averting an estimated 135 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, from 1990 to 2010.
On this World Ozone Day, there is a lot to be cheerful about. However, climate action promoters must not lose sight of the task ahead. There is an urgent need for all stakeholders to work towards sustaining the gains so far achieved by remaining vigilant and tackling illegal sources of ozone-depleting substances as they arise.
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which entered into force on 1 January 2019 needs to be upheld without compromise. By phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent climate-warming gases, this amendment can avoid up to 0.4°C of global temperature rise by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer. And by combining action to phase-down HFCs with energy efficiency improvements in the cooling industry, we can achieve bigger climate benefits.
Living the Green Life is much more than an initiative for us at Sahara Group; it’s our way of life. Walking to save the planet is a priceless venture that Sahara Group is delighted to promote.
viSHEbility: Releasing Aspiration And Shaping Narratives One Story At A Time – Mary Mosope Adeyemi
Mary Mosope Adeyemi, Founder & Host at viSHEbility.
viSHEbility began as a simple idea in Dec 2017; a solution to the perceived lack of visibility of the amazing and positive work that women of colour – in particular black women – are engaged with in the marketplace. These women we found, have not been equally empowered to share their stories on visible platforms. Consequently, this community suffers; firstly from a lack of support for their ideas; and secondly, from a lack of representation in seats and corridors of power and influence.
There have been a number of clarion calls for a platform of this nature. In the 2018 race at work report by Business in the Community, race equality director Sandra Kerr (OBE) stressed the importance of having role models from diverse ethnic minority backgrounds and made a call to create forums to share these stories. In their book, Slay in your Lane (2018), authors YomiAdegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene, using stories of a host of trailblazing black women, put words to the essence of viSHEbility as they stressed the importance of visible role models & representation for black young women ‘to help navigate the inevitable hurdles that do exist; providing valuable advice, encouragement and support’.
viSHEbility has inadvertently become a direct response to these calls.
It is a talk show and social initiative that seeks to shine a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa. In amplifying the voices of such a wealth of talent, we aim to attract much deserved sponsorship in the broader market by uncovering the beauty, courage and grit within these women as they relentlessly pursue their passions and purpose.
On viSHEbility, we showcase smart, successful, talented, dynamic, beautiful black women from a wide range of academic, career and business backgrounds, whose stories are inspiring and will show the breadth of what black women are and can be. viSHEbility places value on their collective experiences in a diverse marketplace as they navigate their career and business pursuits. Through intimate sofa conversations, they share what they have learnt with a world desperately in need of enlightenment.
As a by product, we will positively contribute to improved diversity in our media so that our culture, history and narrative is fairly represented in the various stories being told.
Whilst we have started with a talk show, the vision for viSHEbility is far broader which includes hosting learning & networking conferences, a mentorship program and a niche recruitment service all tailored to serve this unique community.
We hope that by creating this uniquely exclusive platform, we can both generate greater sponsorship for their ideas and unlock aspiration in other women who are seeking real life super heroes who look just like them.
We truly believe that if she sees it, she can be it.
Some Featured Guests
B I O G R A P H Y
Mosope Mary Adeyemi is an experienced investment professional with 12 years’ experience supporting organisations in the risk focused deployment of financial capital to debt products across a number of sectors and regions. She has worked for global investment banks – Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.
Alongside a busy corporate career, Mary has championed social causes that matter to her in particular those that serve to empower women and ethnic minorities. To this end, she has led various projects and served on a number of steering committees. Most notable of these were co-chairing the Alumni Advisory Board of SEO London, a UK charity that creates professional opportunities for ethnic minorities, and serving as a volunteer consultant with Grow Movement, providing East African Entrepreneurs with bare bones business advice. This demonstration of passion and drive across disciplines earned Mary a WATC Rising Stars in Banking Award in 2017 for leadership, excellence and high value add in her field and also for her role in creating opportunities for diverse candidates in her various spheres of influence.
In 2019, Mary launched viSHEbility, a talk show and social initiative that shines a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa with the 2 key objectives – 1. Toencourage, educate and empower others and 2. to create a more positive narrative of Black females in the media. Mary Mosope’s mission is to support women who look like her to successfully navigate the sometimes muddy terrain of career and business by making herself accessible, and creating a platform that encourages learning, sharing and growing.
Mary Mosope holds a 1st class BA in Accounting & Finance from Lancaster University, an MSc in Management from Imperial College and is a qualified Chartered Accountant with the ACCA.
She is of Nigerian Descent, an amateur weightlifter and fitness enthusiast, an avid traveller and a fashion enthusiast.
Visit – viSHEbility
YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEGs5m183nhuQa97oMyluOQ
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn- @vishebility
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