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Task 6

Really, the past ten days has been so hectic but a lot of progress has been made.

Chief of the progress made has been towards getting the organization which should be the platform for the project registered with the government. Usually, getting an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) registered in Nigeria really cost a lot say between 900 to 1000 US Dollars. Luckily, while i was sharing the content of the project with a friend in church who coincidentally is a lawyer that he offered to assist with the registration at a very affordable price; 400 US dollars.  Barrister Anorld Onyeka (which is his name) expressed his desire to be part of the success story and felt his gesture can indeed contribute to the project’s success.

I have equally been able to raise a Board of Trustees made up of young and amiable young persons currently doing well in their chosen careers. Prominent amongst them is a member of parliament, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, he is an astute politician although on the opposition  but he commands a huge presence on the floor of the lower legislative house. I also have Mrs. Ibironke Babalola who runs http://www.feelnubia.com, Mrs. Kemi Okenyodo who currently runs the leading security and public safety NGO in the country (www.cleen.org), Mr. Lanre-Leke, a lawyer with a leading ICT firm and Barrister Ime Asanga, a Commonwealth Professional Fellow. All of them have agreed to be a part of this worthy cause.

However, what impresses me most of all the progress in the last ten days has been the support i got for our proposed website ; http://www.ja4d.org . A friend who got interested in the project offered to pay for the website which will cost about 300 US dollars. So in all, i have got close to a thousand dollars worth of support in ten days.

I am currently trying to get members of my board to sign the papers for registration of the organization. Then after, i will be going on to raise funds to start-up the charity shop.

Who Can Help?- Task 5

Who can help?

I am currently considering the following sets of people to help me get my plan to a possible realm of materialization:

  • Individuals who are working towards the same goal; synergy works better than individual effort
  • People who have the funds and are committed towards the same cause
  • Organizations who can make donations of what they do not need any longer; furniture, books, etc. towards the helping us achieve our goal
  • Volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise.

How do we get them to help?

I and my team will recruit local volunteers and equally invite foreign volunteers who will help train local volunteers. We are in touch with some foreign volunteers who have promised to come over whenever we are ready.

We shall also write to organizations to donate items they no longer need to support our cause. We will also solicit the support of transport and airline companies to assist us in lifting donations from different part of the country to the location where the pilot of the project will be carried out.

Skills and resources we will count on

Skills

  • Public Relations skill
  • Accounting skill
  • Sorting and setting standards of donations
  • Media skill
  • Advocacy Skill
  • Research skill and;
  • Logistics skill

Resources

  • Stationeries
  • Personal Computers
  • Till
  • Furniture
  • Training Manuals
  • Internet facility and;
  • Printers

We are currently registering our organization in order to create a platform for the project. We are equally renting a shop and we will be putting together the facilities needed for the shop. We are equally having meetings with prospective partners and we are using the goodwill of our board to get these actions done.

My Solution (Task 4)

My Solution 002My Solution 002My Solution  

My solution to the lingering problem of unemployment in my community is the Youth-Led Job creation strategy through the establishment of Small Businesses.

I have created a model called the Grace2Support Initiative which is designed to empower young people in groups with loans without interest to start small businesses of their own.

The Strategy

 

Charity Shops: In a bid to involve the community in the development of their communities and also in a bid to raise adequate funds to empower young persons who have the interest to start small businesses of their own, I will start a charity shop. The charity shop model was and is still being used in the UK by various organizations to sustain developmental goals of registered charities. Members of the public will be encouraged to donate items in the following categories:

  • Clothing and shoes
  • Glass wares
  • Jewelries
  • Books (novels, educational materials, comics, etc)
  • Electronic gadgets
  • Toys
  • Artifacts and;
  • Voluntary cash donations

These shops will be replicated in many parts of the country after the success of the pilot. Donations will be received from any part of the country. Airlines and bus companies will be approached to help transport the donations from every part of the country to designated shops across the country at little or no cost. Through the use of volunteers, donations will be collected from collection points and will be transferred to the charity shop(s). At the shops, donations will be sorted and put in good condition and prepared for sale.

Funds generated from the shop will be deposited to the bank in preparation for use for the empowerment of young people for starting up their own small businesses. After the shop must have been sustained over a period of six months, a call will be made for young persons to partake in the selection process that will give them access to training and empowerment to start their own businesses.

Selection Process: A call for application will be placed online and offline for young persons who are interested in starting their own small businesses to enable equal access to the opportunity; making it competitive.

The selection process will ensure that there is a gender balance as it has been observed by many micro credit scheme in the country that micro credits that have targeted females have succeeded more than those that target males. We will ensure that every group that are successful after the training will include at least a female as we intend to group our finalists in threes.

Training

The training kit for the initiative would be a context specific version of the Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative (CYCI) Kit. Given that existing small businesses in Nigeria currently have challenges in meeting the productivity goal; the localized version of the CYCI kit contains alternative practices that can help small business operators in the country to enhance their productivity.

After the training, these young persons will be asked to form groups of three and will be required to prepare their business plans in order to apply for the loans. Those who get their business plans approved will be awarded the grants which will be returned within a specified time. These young persons awarded loans will be assigned to a mentor (within their chosen area of business) who will guide them through. A reward package will be given to awardees that will stand out with their SME every half of the year. This reward will be in form of cash donations or free technical support.

Those who are not successful with their application will be encouraged to take a short internship. These applicants will be asked to choose from our list of internship available on our resources and information base known as Naija Info Bank; a comprehensive information bank. The information bank will be available to both successful and unsuccessful applicants. Free membership opportunities abound for non applicants which also gives them access to the information bank. After their internship, they will be asked to reapply for the loan.

 

Monitoring and Evaluation

 

A standard Monitoring and Evaluation kit designed by the UNDP and by the Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative has been adopted by the initiative.

The various evaluations will be carried out at the end of every month. Mentors will be of great assistance in this wise as they will be helping in filling in the gaps where necessary.  These evaluations will be based on meeting the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time bound) objectives as it relates to the initial goals of their various projects (SMEs).

Assessments will also be carried out every six (6) months and based on the assessment; the best three SMEs will be rewarded with cash donations to support their businesses.

Sustainability

Before the end of the first 18 months, we will establish more charity shops across the country to enable us collect more donations from the public and generate more funds to support more of our targeted groups.

We also intend to increase our employment placements at the various shops and increase also our volunteer base. We will continuously promote the initiative and be opened to new partnership that will help to increase the number of our charity shops across the country which will invariably increase the number of our targeted groups that we support.

Funding

Funding for the project will be generated from the charity shop and from quarterly charity musical festival. However, we hope to get support from the Board of Trustees whom will be selected from a pool of influential and credible part of the country to start-up the charity shop and run the shop for the first quarter.

We hope that in the long run, the project will be able to attract funding from donor agencies with the kind of potentials the initiative presents.

One problem significant in my community is the increased rate of unemployment. For many years now, the numbers of young people who graduate from the Universities are increasing drastically at a negative proportion to the number of jobs available.
Our education system has not helped matters either as it only prepares us to stay away from risk and take our place as employees instead of preparing us to be employers of labour. But of course, not everyone can be employers of labour . However, to reduce this trend, we will need to create adequate jobs that will reduce the job deficit that we currently have.
One of the dangers this problem brings to our communities is restiveness of youths. Majority of crimes committed in our community today is committed by young people. Recently in the news, a young man killed his parents and his three siblings out of frustration and most recently too, an armed robbery gang paraded by the Nigerian Police Force comprised mostly of young people. Our most troubled region in the country is characterized by incessant kidnapping carried out by mostly young persons. The situation is currently given the country a huge concern. The major cause identified was unemployment and this buttresses the saying that “an idle hand is a devils workshop”.
I have puzzled over the issue severally with a means to contribute my quota to reducing the trend and recently, I became committed to attempting to solve the trend. First of all, I identified that the education system was not connecting students to real world experience and it will take time to get government to revise curriculum since politics is an overriding factor in governance these days and most times it is difficult to get policies passed without having some level of politics being played in the process.
One alternative that we have identified is the establishment of Small and Medium scale Enterprise (SME) with young people leading the pact. It is important to pursue a youth-led job creation efforts through the creation of Small and Medium scale Enterprise since young people are the most committed to any cause around the world. Young people are curious, possess enormous energy and are the sustainability of every society. I recently designed a module that can jump-start youth led job creation through the creation of SMEs.
The module seeks to empower young persons with knowledge of how to effectively run small businesses, encourage them to run this businesses in a group of three (3), assign them to mentors who have huge experience in their chosen area of business and then, empower them with soft loans without interest to kick-start their small businesses. Each business supported by our loans are assessed every half of the year and the best three are given cash prizes in a bid to stimulating excellent performance. Each small businesses are given targets to create a certain number of jobs within a specified period after due assessment of their growth and expansion rate. Loans are returned after a specified period of time although, certain exception will be given to small businesses that have some understandable challenges.
The reality of this module is that, if all things being equal, jobs will increase proportionally to the rate of the number of groups we support with knowledge, loans and mentorship. Our loans are generated from various charity giving from the public through concerts, charity shop models, and auctions.
From my projections, if 50 groups are supported and are given a target to create 5 jobs each within a period of 24 months, 250 jobs will be created within that same period. This is my realistic approach to the challenge of unemployment in my community.

Task-Week 2

My Trash

  • Printing papers (Every used printing papers are converted into recycled paper with the back sides used for printing )
  • Egg shells (egg shells are dried, grinded and added to poultry feeds to provide them with calcium)
  • Plastic drinking bottles (Used drinking bottles are washed and sterilized. They are later filled with drinking water and kept in the refrigerator for it to cool for drinking)
  • Noodles pack
  • Shredded candle remains
  • Onion skins
  • Food seasoning wraps
  • Used toothpicks
  • Used toilet papers/rolls
  • Cornflakes paper bags

My Excess

S/N Things I don’t Use Donation recipient
1 A stripped blue shirt Al Hassan Mohammed (my friend’s son)
2 A red Ralph Lauren shirt Salihu Abubakar (my neighbor)
3 A blue baggy jean Salihu Abubakar (my neighbor)
4 A T.M Lewin stripped shirt Salihu Abubakar (my neigbor)
5 Rage for change (an inspirational book for young people) Mikaila Salihu (A young intelligent boy in my street. I gave it to him to inspire him for change in the community)
6 A world Bank report on desert areas in Africa Abdulrasak Abdullahi (A state security official interested in geography and climate change)
7 End Poverty hand band Dorcas (My Girlfriend)
8 A Blue dotted tie Abdullahi Abubakar (My neighbor)

 

My Consumption

  • Money (day-to-day spending)
  • Food
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Sugar

Who am I now?

How do you feel?

I feel inspired and motivated towards achieving change in my community

Do you have professional questions? What are they? Yes, how do I effectively fundraise for my projects given that I currently run a newly established organization?

What are your dreams?

My dream is to run a dependable youth organization which will serve as a model for other youth organizations within Nigeria and indeed Africa to follow. ? What are your challenges? My major challenge has been to get organizations within the country to support my projects. I have in the past being able to get support from individuals who give for the purpose of grace but I am yet to secure any support from organizations.

Why do you want to take part in the Warriors without Weapons 2011?

To take up a new challenge that opens an avenue for me to build my capacity and learn from the experience of other young persons who are doing tremendous work in their various communities around the world.

My action ? Have you ever done something which demonstrates that you are a “Warrior Without Weapons”? Tell us!

Oh yes! I recently spear-headed actions against an amendment of a section of our constitution which was proposed by some members of the parliament in my country. The section (section 65-1(a & b) as I perceived, was to reduce the number of young persons in the country who vied for seats at the nation’s parliament. I started a facebook campaign and mobilized as many young people as possible to kick against the move. I equally carried out some political lobbying at the parliament and the move for the amendment was reversed. What actually happened was that, a member of the parliament I had been close to and had been speaking to about the amendment was drafted into the final committee that will take a final look at the proposed amendments and made sure that the amendment of the particular amendment which I mentioned earlier did not see the light of day. Today, that amendment has been reversed. I had no influence in government, I am not related to any parliamentarian, I did not belong to any political party or in politics but I was able to influence the reversal of an amendment in our constitution, that’s what I call a warrior without weapon.

My commitment ? What are your plans? What do you want to do when you return from the program?

I am currently working on a project that is aimed at promoting youth-led job creation. This I hope will help to reduce the unemployment rate and job deficit in the country. Everything I will gain and learn at the programme will be channeled into making the project a huge success. We plan to train young persons within the ages of 18 and 30 years old and further equip them with loans without interest. As a leader, my capacity will determine how far I can effectively carry out the project. Therefore, this programme will be vital to my quest to deliver my best and lead my team effectively on the project.

Who am I?

 

 Growing up was not particularly a great experience.  I grew up seeing other young kids living my own fantasies.  My parents separated when I was only four and I had to live with family members occasionally. Growing up was more like an avenue for me to see the other part of life in a way that it will later become my major concern.

Growing up in a developing country was fascinating; fascinating because most things were done in the abnormal way so much so that I have continually watched people crying for change from the age of 9 years old and as you may rightly have guessed; we are still yearning for change 20years after.

I grew up learning that getting to the top requires huge focus and diligence. After my high school days, I proceeded to the University. The University was a similar picture of our society inspiring my quest for change to grow wild. I joined an activist group which spoke out against ills on campus and took actions which were not immediately popular but in the end our names were written on the hearts of many years after we graduated.

Based on various works which I carried out on campus, I was invited for the Civicus Youth Assembly in 2007 and my whole life took another course; a course which I will for the rest of my life be committed to. At the event, I met young people who were contributing tremendously to the development of their communities and the great Gandhi’s quote reechoed, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. After the event, my life and my career took another dimension.

Today, I work in one of the most unpopular sector; the development sector, you can call it the Third sector. While most of my peers are chasing jobs in the corporate world and leaving the fantasies they have always dreamed of, I am reaping my fulfillment from bringing change to my community. My argument for committing a lifetime to what I currently do is borne out of the fact that if we all go about our businesses without paying attention to our communities, when these communities finally collapse, where would we practice our businesses?

I am 28plus and will be 29 years old in November, I am passionate about change and development, I am strong willed, extremely creative and highly resourceful, and I am who I am because of what I do.

My name is Olukayode Ajayi-Smith, I am a Nigerian.

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