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NGOs - SDGs

Interview With Ayomikun Olugbode, Founder/Executive Director at Inspired Youth Network

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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.

 

 

BIO:

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.

NGOs - SDGs

Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship renew partnership to bring life-changing surgery to African patients

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Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship Team (Image: Supplied).

Humanitarian aid organizations Mercy Ships and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) have renewed their partnership to help bring life-changing surgical care to isolated communities across Africa.

Mercy Ships operates state-of-the-art hospital ships, providing free surgeries and healthcare services to sub-Saharan nations with limited access to safe surgical care. MAF’s purpose is to bring help, hope and healing through aviation to people living in isolation and poverty.

The renewed memorandum of agreement between these two faith-based charities enables Mercy Ships to extend their reach further inland to a broader spectrum of the population across Africa, bolstered by MAF’s logistical support. This partnership, launched in Madagascar, will enable teams to access hard-to-reach areas and transport patients in need of critical surgical interventions. This collaboration provides opportunities for those in the most remote and inaccessible regions of the country. Further joint initiatives are being explored in other African nations.

“Traveling by road in Madagascar can be incredibly challenging due to the rough terrain and poor infrastructure,” Michael Jurgensen, MAF Madagascar Country Director, said. “In many cases, reaching remote villages can take days by car, draining valuable time and energy. However, with MAF Madagascar’s support, the [Mercy Ships] patient selection team can cover vast distances swiftly and safely, enabling them to visit multiple locations within a short period. Flying not only saves time for the selection team, but also ensures the team can travel to evaluate and select patients from the most isolated and underserved areas for surgery on-ship at a later date.

A 2016 study of Madagascar revealed that only 20% of the population can access surgical services within a two-hour timeframe, and up to 95% would face financial ruin if they required surgery (source: BMJ Global Health). With a scarcity of surgeons — approximately 1 for every 100,000 people — the prospect of receiving necessary surgical treatment seems unattainable for many (source: WHO).

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Bernard van den Bosch, who has worked for both MAF and Mercy Ships, and current Director of the Africa Services Center at Mercy Ships, expressed his enthusiasm: “We are confidently re-engaging with MAF because together we are stronger. The country of Madagascar has many hard-to-reach areas, and MAF is the key to accessing them. Non-profit organizations can ‘compete,’ but ultimately, we all serve the same goal. I see many opportunities for future collaboration and intensive joint efforts.”

Bastiaan de Waal, Africa Regional Director of MAF, added: “By transporting Mercy Ships teams with our aircraft to the interior of Madagascar, we provide help, hope and healing to residents with the surgical care they desperately need. The need is high in these areas, and these people in isolated communities are equally entitled to care. We are pleased to partner alongside Mercy Ships to support this often-forgotten group. Being each other’s hand and foot is what we are called to do and we have a shared synergy of vision and values.”

This renewed collaboration between MAF and Mercy Ships exemplifies how strategic partnerships can enhance humanitarian efforts, ensuring that more people receive the critical medical care they need. The two organizations previously partnered from 2014 to 2016 in Madagascar and have worked together in Liberia.

Mercy Ships’ hospital ship, the Africa Mercy®, has been docked in Toamasina since February and is delivering surgery and training. The ship is actively collaborating with Madagascar’s Ministry of Health to identify the most pressing needs and strengthen the country’s surgical systems through its education, training, and advocacy program.

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NGOs - SDGs

Climate Launchpad: Beyond competition, a catalyst for change

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Climate Launchpad Competition 2023 Image.

Despite the success of The Climate Launchpad Competition 2023, Climate Launchpad through the support of Climate-KIC and Irish Aid provided additional support to the participants of the competition through the Post-Climate Launchpad Accelerator. Given that the majority of the participants are early-stage businesses, capacity building is a necessity. The post-competition support is divided into 2, The masterclasses that are being handled by the Climate Launchpad Global team which has participants from over 7 African countries, and The national capacity-building session handled by the Climate LaunchPad Nigeria Team. 

The Masterclass session featured a business-changing session on important modules like funding options & Instruments, Gender and Climate, Communications and Storytelling, Climate Impact etc.  The national capacity-building session focuses on marketing strategies, practical and optimal use of social media and analytics. As an early-stage business in Nigeria, one of the major challenges you face is reaching and communicating with your potential customers at the market entry stage. The modules were selected after feedback from alumni of the competition. 

The modules have been proven to be useful as we have started seeing the tractions of the businesses on social media. Overall, the post-competition support program has been no short of helpful to the businesses. We had 5 active participants from Nigeria who have expressed their gratitude for the post-competition support. Each of them will be given a grant of EUR200 to facilitate their marketing and social media usage.

The National Lead for Climate Launchpad Nigeria, Oluwatosin Ajide affirms the importance of the accelerator program “If we have more competition dedicating their support beyond just the pitching like Climate Launchpad does, We would have more green businesses with solid foundations”. He also thanked the Climate Launchpad central team and the sponsors the Climate-KIC and Irish Aid for their constant support in building the green ecosystem in Nigeria.

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NGOs - SDGs

GEANCO Foundation and Archewell Foundation Announce Mental Health Initiative for Nigerian Youth

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The GEANCO Foundation and The Archewell Foundation has announced an expansion of their partnership, currently serving girls and young women across Nigeria with menstrual health products and education, to include mental health resources and training for young men and women. 

This expanded partnership kicked off with its inaugural Mental Health Summit, taking place over two days and serving nearly 200 students in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and co-Founders of The Archewell Foundation opened the Summit by delivering inspiring remarks to the young people in attendance.

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GEANCO intends to hold summits throughout the country over the next year, providing teenage girls and boys with the information, skills, and coping mechanisms necessary to flourish mentally.

“Youth in Nigeria are critically underserved in terms of mental and menstrual health”, said GEANCO’s CEO Afam Onyema.  “I am deeply grateful to The Duke and Duchess for partnering with us to address this crisis and provide this vulnerable but inspiring young generation with what they need to thrive in body, mind and spirit.”  

A strong stigma also surrounds mental health in Nigeria, which is critically neglected in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3% of the federal government’s health budget goes to mental health, and while up to one-third of Nigerians have mental health challenges, fewer than 500 mental health professionals serve the country’s 200 million plus citizens.  Nigeria’s teens and youth in particular have little to no access to mental health support.

The expanded partnership will also continue the ongoing work to support young girls with menstrual health products and education. An estimated 37 million women and girls in Nigeria experience “period poverty”, meaning they are unable to access or afford menstrual products like pads, tampons, and underwear. Because of the material difficulties caused by period poverty and the deep stigma surrounding menstruation, millions of girls in the country miss school every month, crippling their educational advancement and deepening Nigeria’s already vast levels of gender inequality.

GEANCO Foundation provides critical health care and education services in Nigeria. Its David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship provides full tuition, medical care, and social and emotional support to young female victims of terrorism and gender inequality in Nigeria.

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