Sunday, February 27, 2011

Youth inspiring and empowering youth: Grace Ihejiamaizu

Grace Ihejiamaizu is a graduate from the Department of Sociology, University of Calabar and an emerging Social Entrepreneur. As an undergraduate, she served as the Project Director of Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), University of Calabar team. Grace, like many young emerging leaders is poised with great passion for positive change in Nigeria. Passionately committed to creating value and helping young people develop their leadership and entrepreneurship skills towards nation building, she has recently initiated and launched the RYPE Project.
Before now, Grace has been actively involved in various community based and youth-led projects under the auspices of various youth organizations. In 2010, she was conferred with the SIFE Nigeria’s Prestigious Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service. She also got a US Government Sponsored scholarship award to study Social Entrepreneurship at the University Of Connecticut's Global Training and Development Institute, Connecticut, USA.

Here is a short interview feature to inspire you:

What is Rype? If not RYPE what else?
RYPE is an acronym for Raising Young and Productive Entrepreneurs. The RYPE Initiative is a youth-led “afterschool youth development program” designed to empower secondary school graduates to be more competent. These set of youths are found to be the most vulnerable to social vices. Their strengths and energies are all opportunities, not ‘threats’ and must therefore be meaningfully engaged and channeled towards productive ventures. It is the sole aim and purpose of RYPE to reduce unemployment, violence and idleness amongst youths, by educating, inspiring and empowering them to develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Apart from RYPE, I am also working on producing the maiden edition of the GoldenYouth Magazine later this year as well as helping out with SIFE UNICAL activities and projects while awaiting my National Youth Service Corp. 

What inspired RYPE?
The venture idea is inspired by the entrepreneurial drive in the United States that has led to most of the visible and sustainable development in the country; coupled with the fact that many youths in Nigeria (especially the Niger-Delta area) are wasting their youthful energies in violent and unproductive activities when they can actually invest them in more meaningful and productive ventures and contribute to nation building.

You recently held a youth forum for youths in Calabar, how is it different from other youth gathering events?
Yes! I would start by saying that aside consolidating on the basic entrepreneurial skills, goal setting, self awareness and leadership, which is the first goal in the action plan of RYPE Initiative, the main aim of the forum was to harness maximally the potentials, passion and strength of young people towards attaining socio-economic benefits for themselves, communities etc. It was to serve as a medium where young secondary school leavers can get application forms and become part of the one year RYPE program. Top highlights of the event hinged on sessions that exposed the participants to major guidelines to passing JAMB and Post-JAMB with ease.

The forum brought together over 30 young people in Calabar. Its focus was on secondary school graduates who have not yet been admitted into the University. Many Youth gatherings hardly focus on this target group. It was a huge success as the facilitators used practical means involving group exercises to teach the participants the various topics. The topics ranged from Creativity, Goal Setting and self-awareness to Leadership and tips for Success. This for me stands it out from other youth gatherings. It was more involving and more interactive and the comments we received from both the participants and the facilitators confirmed this.

How do you intend building a synergy with other youth organizations in your community?
RYPE for now is at its startup and we hope to work in partnership with other youth organizations here in Cross River State to achieve some of its objectives. Currently, we have links with ASPMP headed by Esther Eshiet and SIFE UNICAL headed by a team of undergraduate students. We hope to organize programs, brainstorming sessions and conduct other activities and programs that will attract youth organizations with similar interests and foster partnership.

What is your long term vision for RYPE?
To build a solid and globally competitive platform on which youths, from the secondary level up to the higher institution level can acquire real life skills, express themselves, expand their horizon and become productive social/business entrepreneurs.

Who is your role model and mentor(s) and what role do they play in your life and work?Jesus is my role model as well as my dad who is late now, may his soul rest in peace. I look up to adults who inspire and motivate me, apart from my mum, I have Mr Nelson Ozoduru, Regional Manager of AfriHUB, South South Region. He has always been there! He also happens to be the RYPE Team’s Ally/Mentor.

What is your message to Nigerian youths?
I am greatly inspired by Nelson Mandela’s quote that “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that great generation”. Yes indeed you can be that great generation. This statement calls for concerted action not just words. Do you have the vision? Have you got the passion? Then start taking action. The world indeed is hungry for action not words. Nigerian youths must rise up and start taking action; they must realize that their potentials, strength and number are all opportunities, not threats and must therefore be channeled in more productive ventures and harnessed in taking action for positive change. No matter how little, please start something, do something and make a difference. Your good works and impact will find you out. God Bless you.

No comments: