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.
Nestlé ESAR announces industry-first pilot that reduces carbon dioxide emissions and recycles wastewater
Nestlé ESAR industry-first pilot launch (Image: Supplied)
In partnership with The Emissions Capture Company, Nestlé has successfully piloted leading machine learning-based technology in Babelegi, at industrial scale, to deliver significant Scope 1 emission reductions, and wastewater recycling.
Today, Nestlé – ESAR East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) unveiled an industrial scale pilot project that has successfully tested a global-first, Artificial Intelligence technology in Africa that reduces emissions and saves water, at its Babelegi factory in Pretoria. The industrial scale pilot project is a partnership with The Emissions Capture Company (ECCO) using its proprietary WhiteBoxTM technology, a machine-learning based system that captures Scope 1 carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and recycles wastewater.
Speaking on the partnership, Saint-Francis Tohlang, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director at Nestlé ESAR, said: “Our global commitment to reduce our impact on the environment influences every part of our business today. This partnership with ECCO demonstrates a significant evolution of our production processes to embrace circular principles at every step. We are extremely proud to be pioneering this industry-first technology on the African continent. This success takes us to the next phase, where we will be looking to scale this operation to other factories to deliver significant reductions in Scope 1 emissions in ESAR.”
The WhiteBoxTM set-up in Babelegi has been in successful operation for over 8,000 hours. The technology captures CO2 from flue gas emissions, recycles industrial wastewater and creates sustainable green products. The green products can be sold directly (for animal feed, human food, consumer goods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals) or used to eliminate sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions without the need for water. Data collected from the industrial scale pilot coupled with industry-first machine learning techniques, demonstrates that the WhiteBoxTM can be calibrated to capture between 25% to 70% of Scope 1 CO2 emissions and recycle available industrial wastewater per site. Much of this is done through direct air capture and energy-efficient gas processing, using low-fuel consumption methods.
“We are proud to have partnered with Nestlé in successfully demonstrating the capabilities of our cutting-edge technology set. ECCO uses green chemistry and Artificial Intelligence to extract CO2 from emissions, using it as an ingredient in everyday products. This partnership helps pave the way for a green economy. Our approach was holistic, ensuring that pollution remediation was key, along with other considerations such as water recycling and low fuel consumption. By design, the shift from legacy technologies to low carbon emission processes also improves livelihoods through employment creation, training, and upskilling,” says Thomas F Darden, ECCO’s CEO and founding board member of William McDonough’s Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and board member for Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy.
“The industrial scale pilot project directly upskilled and employed 15 people from the local community and has the potential to create more jobs when scaled. Part of the operation has also included skills development for the rest of our staff at the facility to ensure a just transition to low emission operations, with no one left behind,” concluded Tohlang.
ECCO’s WhiteBoxTM joins several ongoing long-term projects under Nestlé’s RE sustainability initiative, that reinforces the company’s sustainability initiatives, strategies as well as its resources to help mitigate sustainability challenges such as waste reduction.
Nestlé launches RE Pilot Project to empower informal waste reclaimers in Tembisa, Gauteng
In celebration of National Recycling Week and Let’s Do It World Clean-up Day 2021, Nestlé East & Southern Africa Region joined forces with Kudoti, a waste tech start-up, to launch its ‘RE-Imagine Tomorrow’ pilot project in Tembisa to demonstrate how the circular economy is a viable solution for tackling the waste problem.
By working with Kudoti and Destination Green, the implementation partner and buy back centre, Nestlé will enable 100 waste reclaimers to use technology to track the amount of waste collected and find buyers through Kudoti’s technology platform and network. The waste collectors will be empowered and trained on how to make an income and will receive a monthly stipend through a subsidy by Nestlé. Training will include business and finance education to equip the waste reclaimers to further boost their incomes along with the provision of physical resources such as protective gear. One of the other elements contributed by Nestlé will be the purchase of a forklift to further assist the operation in the long run.
The ‘RE-Imagine Tomorrow’ pilot project will be a phased intervention for the community of Mqantsa, Tembisa. The beginning of the phase is about awakening a focused increase of waste collection through the informal waste reclaimers. Engage will include educating the community on rethinking their relationship with waste and reducing their own waste footprint. Finally, the sustain phase will bring to life repurposing by creating beauty out of waste for the benefit of the community through public furniture created from the waste collected. The circular economy model aims to use waste streams as secondary resources and recover waste for reuse and recycling. This approach is expected to achieve efficient economic growth while minimising negative environmental impact.
Saint-Francis Tohlang, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR),adds . “Informal waste reclaimers play an important role in the management of waste. It is important that we appreciate their role as heroes and find ways in which we can empower them further as we strive for a waste free future. This pilot project is part of our broader RE sustainability initiative which focuses on the pillars of rethink reduce and repurpose. Through working with a tech start-up, waste collectors, recyclers and the community, we believe we are engaging key stakeholders in the waste management cycle to be able to RE-imagine tomorrow. We hope that through this pilot project our partners and the community of Tembisa will see that there are opportunities that can be found in what we see as waste.”
The RE initiative encourages society to RETHINK, REDUCE and REPURPOSE. The RETHINK pillar is about encouraging broader society to rethink its relationship with the environment. Nestlé will educate the public about ways to change their behaviour to serve the environment through responsible practices such as recycling. The REDUCE pillar highlights Nestlé’s commitment towards reducing its environmental impact to zero carbon emissions by 2030. Lastly, the REPURPOSE pillar focuses on upcycling and reusing materials which are crucial to driving a circular economy.
“Through this initiative, we hope to drive a paradigm shift by formulating and implementing solutions that will safeguard the environment. We hope that initiatives such as RE will encourage people not only in Tembisa, but across the country, to play their part and RETHINK, REDUCE and REPURPOSE,” concluded Tohlang.
Members of the community and over 20 waste reclaimers, along with Nestlé, Kudoti, Destination Green and members of the media took part in a clean-up in Mqantsa, Tembisa on the day to strengthen its collective contribution to a waste-free future for the community.
Innovative partnerships needed to tackle climate related disasters
Drought Image (Supplied)
The devastating crisis in Madagascar sounds a stark warning of the need to take urgent action for Africa according to Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director General of the African Risk Capacity Group.
“Drought may well be the next pandemic after COVID-19 and there’s no vaccine to cure it.” If the words of Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction don’t compel us to take immediate action, Africa will continue to bear the scars of barren wastelands caused by climate change-induced drought. Southern Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa and now Madagascar are just the start. The short-term solution to building resilience requires a multi-faceted approach involving both private and public sectors, says Diong.
“Our affiliate, ARC Ltd, which recently received a BBB+ Insurer Financial Strength rating from Fitch, works with governments, NGOs and funders to provide customised parametric insurance. This empowers African governments and NGOs to respond swiftly to natural disasters on the continent, but there’s a lot of work that needs to go into building distribution networks to ensure that we can reach as many people as possible. We need to build a coalition of the private and public sector,” Diong adds.
While governments are key in dealing with resilience to climate change, it’s the ability of the private sector to take action that will make all the difference, he says.
“Partnerships should extend beyond governments. The private sector is an essential partner for leveraging funding and experience demonstrates that private-sector entities are capable of rapidly taking up opportunities when and if these make sense from a business angle.”
There are several examples where a collaborative approach is already working well. Diong cites ARC Group’s partnerships with organisations such as the Start Network and World Food Programme (WFP), and funders such as the German Development Bank, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and African Development Bank which are working to provide that resilience for African countries.
Shifting the disaster risk architecture
Emily Jones, as Climate and Disaster Risk Financing Advisor for WFP, highlights the challenges of convincing authorities to be more proactive than reactive when preventing human suffering and hardship when events like drought occur.
“Unfortunately, no one person or organisation can make the necessary shift alone. Change starts with building resilience and insurance plays a significant role in that, particularly in climate change,” says Jones.
Governments pay a premium every year and receive their agreed-upon pay-out if and when a predicted disaster occurs. “This money can then be used to help those people affected, with the remainder of the pay-out going towards covering other consequences that might not have been expected, such as conflict or a loss of progress in terms of important local development projects,” she says.
“Humanitarians are working on highlighting the need to predict crises and act before they manifest in an effort to avoid human suffering. After all, why wait if you don’t have to?”
Jones speaks about how most authorities in African countries perceive insurance as a gamble when it should rather be seen as a risk management tool. Unfortunately, many simply don’t have the necessary tools available to plan, which is where ARC comes in.
“It’s amazing that ARC Limited is offering this type of insurance. However, insurance is really only cost-effective for catastrophic events that happen infrequently – perhaps once every 10 years – and if the governments that they’re selling the insurance to don’t have other solutions, they’re going to be taking out insurance that’s less than optimal,” Jones explains.
“So, something that WFP, ARC, and the African Development Bank wants to work on in the coming years is a risk-layering approach. This would involve introducing other tools for coping with those medium-scale events so that we can optimise ARC and hopefully offer better products, as well as ensure improved buy-in, a greater understanding of the products’ importance, and a track record of success,” she adds.
Responding swiftly to natural disasters
Since ARC Limited was established in 2014, the company has paid out $65-million in drought-relief efforts to seven different countries.
“In particular, the collaboration between the African Development Bank and ARC shows how coming together makes a major difference. In 2020, the ARC drought-relief pay-outs to Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire totalled $6-million,” says Diong.
Madagascar received a payment of over $2,1-million, which was allocated to food assistance for 15,000 households, nutritional support to 2,000 children and 1,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women, and water supplies to over 84,000 households.
Reaching the most vulnerable, however, is difficult, adds Malvern Chirume, Chief Underwriting Officer ARC Limited. “One of the big challenges is access to the final customer, bearing in mind that most of our beneficiaries of the programmes are small- to medium-scale farmers and therefore it’s not cost-effective to access them one at a time.”
With climate change, we can expect extreme weather events to hit harder and more frequently in coming years. In a 1.5 degree warmer world, there is no doubt that drought will be a more regular event.
The GAR Special Report on Drought 2021 launched earlier this year is a call to action: we must act now if we are to meet the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and create a safer, more resilient, risk-proofed future for all.
“Drought is not something that hits us suddenly, nor something that we can quarantine our way out of. Drought manifests over months, years, sometimes decades, and the results are felt just as long. Drought exhibits and exacerbates the social and economic inequalities that are deep-rooted within our systems and hits the most vulnerable the hardest,” says Chirume.
“While we may not be able to prevent it, we can certainly be prepared to deal with its impact by building resilience and providing swift support to those who are left vulnerable.”
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