Thursday, October 27, 2011

The final report of the 7th #UNESCOYouth Forum

The 7th UNESCO Youth Forum, which took place from 17th to 20th October 2011, in Paris, France brought together about 210 youth delegates, representing 127 Member States to discuss “How Youth Drive Change.”

At the end of the forum, the delegates came up with some recommendations to improve Education, Sustainable Development, Youth participation and general improvements to the Youth Forum to ensure full support, real engagement and maximum participation.
Because youth represent a significant proportion of the world’s population they heavily influence and, equally, are affected by social, political and economic conditions and the well-being and livelihood of current and future generations, we are resolved to ensure that youth is included as one of UNESCO’s global priorities. (An excerpt from the report).
The General Conference of UNESCO at its 35th session will include the Youth Forum as a separate item on its agenda and it will be discussed for the first time in its Programme Commissions.

Click the link to read the final report of the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum in any of the official languages of UNESCO:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Youth Leadership VS Youth Engagement? Is there any difference? #CrowdOutAIDS

Earlier, young people gave insightful definitions on what youth leadership means to them. Now, lets take it to another level. 

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear organizations, government bodies and the UN talking about youth leadership and engagement? 
Oluwatobi Lala Da-BigOne says: Lip service! particularly in Nigeria where it is presumed by the political class that youth starts from 40
Is there any difference between Youth leadership and Youth Engagement?

Youth Engagement is Government, Policy makers acknowledging the role youths play in the developmental process of our society and seeking their contribution and involvement in planning, organizing, formulation of policies and implementing such to achieve sustainable results.
Ramatu Umar Bako says Positive role models and positive empowerment!

We want to hear from you! Click the link below to join the conversation:
Middle East and North Africa (Arabic) 
Africa (English) 
América Latina (Spanish) 
Asia and Pacific (English) 
North America, Western & Central Europe (English) 
Afrique Francophone (French)
Восточная Европа и Центральная Азия (Russian) 
China (Chinese) 

/CrowdOutAIDS team

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is Youth Leadership? #CrowdOutAIDS @UNAIDS #youth

How do you define youth Leadership? Here are some insightful answers from young people via FaceBook status:
Akachukwu Nnaemeka Okafor : Responsibility today in all respects to be better Leaders today and for the future!
Grace Ihejiamaizu : It means a lot, but basically for me it is recognizing challenges and developing problem-solving ideas to make a difference!
Ayo Abiola : Leadership is showing commitment to values that are generally accepted to bring positive change. Wherein, such commitment is visible in your action, speech and attitude such that others may be do likewise.
Chris Ehidiamen : leadership has to do with character, vision, service, responsibility, timing and luck!

Fasasi Adedeji Yusuff : A comitment to serve dedicatedly,accepting responsibilities,giving hope to the hopeless,lending a helping hand where most denies it.and above all giving a reason that the future will be brigth no matter the current situations.These ar what leadership means to me.
Oni Gbenga Isaac : Hmmm!....Its inspiring others wit ur creative problem solving ideas, while acquiring skills, that would place u on the edge among ur equal in the future!
Okuntade Tope : The definition? functions, qualities and effects should be traced and defined via the Habitat" of termite!! (leadership). Ants has no leadership but work-hand-in-hand to achieve their respective aim (prov 6:6). I'll define leadership as a distinctive xteristic or trait or attributes which can unbiasely direct a colony positively.
Maple Tammy Dappa : To me it means to bear an 'old head' on my young shoulders.
Douglas van Imaralu : Service 
Adeyemi Oladotun Yussuf Shouldering responsibilities and being a good example through actions and not speeches

Oluwa-Remmylekun Alex Ojekunle Empowering ur fellow youth with selfless services.

Thanks to everyone who shared their views!

Join the conversation! 

Twitter: @CrowdOutAIDS #CrowdOutAIDS

FaceBook Open Forums:

Opportunity for Young People to Debate, Draft and Work with UNAIDS... #CrowdOutAIDS

UNAIDS will use crowdsourcing technologies and social media platforms to engage young people in developing AIDS policy

GENEVA, 25 October 2011—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is launching, an online collaborative project to crowdsource its new strategy on youth and HIV—a first in the UN system.

Crowdsourcing is a technique used to rapidly engage large numbers of interested people to develop strategies, solve problems or propose relevant and fresh ideas. With around 3000 young people aged 15-24 becoming infected with HIV daily, leveraging new modes of communication and online collaboration with young people is essential for an effective response to HIV.

“We’re asking youth around the world to debate, draft and work with UNAIDS to implement this new strategy,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “It is absolutely critical that we engage young people—not as recipients of our messages but as the actors and creators of change.” is a completely new way for UNAIDS to develop policy on HIV. It will use crowdsourcing technologies and familiar online tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Renren to ensure youth engagement and action in the AIDS response. follows a four-step model and is open to anyone aged 15-29. Young people will be able to shape the new strategy from conceptualization to final drafting via a wiki-platform.

“It is important to involve young people in policy development in order for our views, expectations and aspirations to be fully represented,” said Jennifer Ehidiamen, a blogger and journalist from Nigeria, and online content curator for “ is an innovative way to build a strong community, interested in sharing solution-based ideas and actions on AIDS.”

The project will run over a period of two months with the final crowdsourced strategy being produced in January, 2012.

To find out more, visit, and follow @UNAIDS and #CrowdOutAIDS on Twitter

Los jóvenes desarrollarán la nueva estrategia de ONUSIDA en materia de jóvenes y VIH

ONUSIDA utilizará tecnologías de participación pública y las plataformas sociales para que los jóvenes tomen parte en el desarrollo de la política sobre sida
GINEBRA, 25 de octubre de 2011—El Programa conjunto de las Naciones Unidas sobre el VIH/sida (ONUSIDA) ha puesto en marcha, un proyecto de colaboración en línea para someter a la participación pública su nueva estrategia en materia de jóvenes y VIH, el primero dentro del sistema de las Naciones Unidas.
La participación pública es una técnica que se emplea a fin de llamar la atención de un gran número de interesados para desarrollar estrategias, solucionar problemas y proponer ideas pertinentes y frescas. Alrededor de 3 000 jóvenes con una edad comprendida entre los 15 y los 24 años contraen el VIH cada día, de modo que es esencial potenciar la colaboración en línea y nuevos modos de comunicación con los jóvenes a fin de conseguir una respuesta eficaz al virus.
“Estamos pidiendo a los jóvenes de todo el mundo que debatan, reflexionen y trabajen con ONUSIDA para poner en práctica esta nueva estrategia", declaró Michel Sidibé, director ejecutivo de ONUSIDA. “Es absolutamente esencial que hagamos que los jóvenes se impliquen, y no simplemente como receptores de nuestros mensajes, sino como actores y creadores del cambio".
Para ONUSIDA, constituye una forma totalmente nueva de desarrollar una política en materia de VIH. Ésta utilizará tecnologías de participación pública y conocidas herramientas electrónicas como Facebook, Twitter y Renren a fin de garantizar que los jóvenes se comprometan y actúen en el ámbito de la respuesta al sida. sigue un modelo basado en cuatro etapas, y está abierto a cualquier persona con una edad comprendida entre los 15 y los 29 años. Los jóvenes podrán elaborar la nueva estrategia desde la conceptualización hasta la redacción final a través de una plataforma Wiki.
“Es importante que involucremos a los jóvenes en el desarrollo de las políticas con el fin de que nuestros puntos de vista, expectativas y aspiraciones se vean completamente representadas”, declaró Jennifer Ehidiamen, blogger y periodista nigeriana y gestora de contenidos de " es una forma innovadora de crear una comunidad fuerte, que se interese en compartir ideas y acciones basadas en soluciones en materia de sida”.
El proyecto se desarrollará durante un periodo de dos meses, y la estrategia final de participación pública estará disponible en enero de 2012. Para más información, visite y siga @UNAIDS y #CrowdOutAIDS en Twitter

Молодежь разработает новую стратегию ЮНЭЙДС по ВИЧ
ЮНЭЙДС будет использовать технологии краудсорсинга и платформы социальных сетей для привлечения молодых людей к разработке политики по СПИДу
ЖЕНЕВА, 25 октября 2011 г.—Объединенная программа ООН по ВИЧ/СПИДу (ЮНЭЙДС) объявляет о начале совместного проекта по привлечению посредством интернета широкой общественности к разработке новой стратегии по молодежи и ВИЧ — Это первый проект такого рода, осуществляемый в системе ООН.
Краудсорсинг — метод, используемый для быстрого вовлечения большого числа заинтересованных лиц к разработке стратегий, а также к поиску актуальных и свежих решений общественных проблем. Ежедневно около 3 000 молодых людей в возрасте 15—24 лет заражаются ВИЧ, поэтому использование новых средств общения и сотрудничества с молодыми людьми через интернет играет крайне важную роль для осуществления эффективных мер в ответ на ВИЧ.
«Мы просим молодежь всего мира принять участие наряду с ЮНЭЙДС в обсуждении, разработке и внедрении новой стратегии, — заявил Мишель Сидибе, исполнительный директор ЮНЭЙДС.  — Абсолютно необходимо привлекать молодежь не только в качестве получателей информации, но в качестве деятелей и творцов перемен». — это совершенно новый для ЮНЭЙДС способ разработки политики по ВИЧ. Для осуществления проекта будут использованы технологии краудсорсинга и такие известные интернет-платформы, как Фейсбук, Твиттер и Ренрен с целью привлечения молодежи к активному участию в мерах противодействия СПИДу. основан на 4-этапной модели и доступен всем молодым людям в возрасте 15—29 лет. Все они смогут внести свой вклад в разработку новой стратегии — от концептуализации до утверждения конечной версии через вики-платформу.
«Важно привлекать молодежь к процессу разработки политики для того, чтобы наши взгляды, ожидания и надежды были полностью отражены», — отметила блоггер и журналист из Нигерии Дженнифер Эхидьямен, курирующая содержание CrowdOutAIDS. org. « — это инновационный способ создания сильного сообщества, заинтересованного в обмене идеями для решения проблем и принятия действий в области противодействия СПИДу», — добавила она.
Проект будет проходить на протяжении двух месяцев и завершится разработкой финальной стратегии в январе 2012 года. За более подробной информацией обращайтесь по адресу:, или подпишитесь на @UNAIDS и #CrowdOutAIDS на Твиттере

Les jeunes vont participer à la rédaction de la nouvelle stratégie de l’ONUSIDA sur le VIH et les jeunes
L’ONUSIDA va recourir à des techniques de sollicitation des internautes comme source d’information et aux réseaux sociaux pour faire participer les jeunes à l’élaboration de la politique de lutte contre le sida.
GENÈVE, 25 octobre 2011—Le Programme commun des Nations Unies sur le VIH/sida (ONUSIDA) lance le site, projet participatif en ligne pour solliciter les internautes comme source d’information pour élaborer sa nouvelle stratégie sur le VIH et les jeunes – une première pour le système des Nations Unies.
La sollicitation des internautes comme source d’information (crowdsourcing) est une technique utilisée pour faire participer rapidement un grand nombre de personnes intéressées à l’élaboration de stratégies, à la résolution de problèmes ou à la proposition de solutions pertinentes et novatrices. Dans la mesure où 3 000 jeunes environ de 15 à 24 ans sont infectés par le VIH chaque jour, il est essentiel d’exploiter les nouveaux modes de communication et de collaborer en ligne avec les jeunes pour mettre en place une riposte efficace au VIH.
« Nous demandons aux jeunes du monde entier de discuter, de rédiger et de travailler avec l’ONUSIDA pour mettre en œuvre cette nouvelle stratégie » a déclaré Michel Sidibé, Directeur exécutif de l’ONUSIDA. « Il est absolument essentiel que nous fassions participer les jeunes – non pas en tant que destinataires de nos messages, mais en tant qu’acteurs et créateurs du changement ». représente un moyen totalement nouveau que l’ONUSIDA entend utiliser pour élaborer sa politique de lutte contre le VIH. Le site aura recours à des techniques de sollicitation des internautes comme source d’information et à des outils en ligne devenus familiers – tels que Facebook, Twitter et Renren – pour obtenir des jeunes qu’ils participent et agissent dans la riposte au sida. suit un modèle en quatre étapes et s’adresse à toutes les personnes âgées de 15 à 29 ans. Les jeunes pourront déterminer la nouvelle stratégie, depuis sa conception jusqu’à sa rédaction finale, via une plate-forme de type wiki.
« Il est important de faire participer les jeunes à l’élaboration des politiques pour que nos opinions, nos attentes et nos aspirations soient pleinement représentées » a déclaré Jennifer Ehidiamen, bloggeuse et journaliste du Nigéria, et gestionnaire de contenu (content curator) pour « est un moyen innovant pour construire une communauté solide, désireuse de partager des idées pour trouver des solutions et d’engager des actions pour combattre le sida ».
Le projet durera deux mois et la stratégie finale qui ressortira de cette vaste consultation des internautes sera publiée en janvier 2012. Pour plus d’informations, rendez-vous sur le site et suivrez @UNAIDS et #CrowdOutAIDS sur Twitter

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unemployment- a shared global challenge #UNESCOYouth

Josephine Mwakisambwe, one of the youth representatives from Tanzania is a youth activist and currently a medical student in a college in Tanzania. “It is an honor for me to attend the 7th UNESCO Youth forum. It is my 1st time to ever attend such an international youth conference. I have enjoyed it all through.” She says.

Josephine says she has a passion for almost everything that affects the youth, especially unemployment. “Unemployment is actually a big issue on the planet. It is actually a time bomb that we have in our hands and it is going to explode anytime.“ she says cautiously.

But Josephine is hopeful. “I think whatever youth are doing to tackle the issues of unemployment, they are just not getting there because the policies that are made to tackle unemployment are not sufficient.”
To tackle the increasing rate of unemployment, Josephine advocates for government to put more effort in supporting self-employment or initiatives that will encourage more youth to venture into entrepreneurship. “Lack of capital, lack of experience and access to bank loan is still a challenge.” She says.

“I would like to see everybody doing something to have an income, an income that will facilitate youth to get out of poverty. I want to see the youth in my country get out of poverty so that they can afford quality education, quality healthcare etc.”  

Youth participation in development in Tanzania is on the rise.
“At first we used to think older group of the population can bring change but as time go on, nothing changes. The youth are engaging themselves in matters that affect them. They want to be involved in decision-making. They are speaking up. A case-study is seen in how youth are joining the opposition party because it has open doors for youth to express themselves.”

According to Josephine, before 2010, the percentage of youth that voted in Tanzania was really low.  “But we are trying to advocate that the number increase. Trust me by 2015, there will be a major change.” She chirps.

Overall feedback about the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum
I asked Josephine if the forum met her expectations.

She said the forum being her first experience in international conference met her expectation. “But even if something is good, there must be a better way to polish it.” She adds.

She suggested that the forum should in future be more interactive. “The youth should be given more time to speak out, not just speeches but more workshop should be included. We have very many great ideas. People have the zeal to make change and they want to be heard. More time should increase for interaction and debate.”

 After the forum, Josephine says that she will go back to Tanzania and share her experience with her peers.

“…the problem that we face are the same. The unemployment is all over, the education is poor almost everywhere, the cultural changes needs to be addressed. I want to go back to the youth in the interiors of Tanzania and tell them about this.”

Josephine hopes to inspire others to take action and tackle the issues of a shared global challenge.
Josephine, during the forum, served as the African representative on the drafting committee. Now that the draft report is ready to be presented to the member state representatives during UNESCO General Conference, she says “It is my hope that the world leaders will take our recommendations seriously. Even if they don’t, we will continue to push for change. We will plant that seed for change and the seed will grow. Having African solutions to Africa’s problems will help.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

“Really, what brings us together is commitment.” #UNESCOYouth


Esther Afolayan and John Paul, Nigerian Delegates

 Youth from different corners of the world came together to discuss, debate, and exchange ideas on how youth drive change.

There were presentations, interactions, report drafting and amendment. One of the end results was for delegates to come up with a draft report of recommendations. And they did, despite the long back and forth process of amendment...

They elected delegates from Switzerland and Finland to represent them during the UNESCO General conference and present these recommendations to the representatives of Member States during the 36th UNESCO General Conference coming up next month.

The closing ceremony at the 7th UNESCO Youth forum just took place.

The drafting committee presented their recommendations to the Director General. These recommendations are expected to be integrated into the decision making process of government leaders during the upcoming General conference.

Youth delegates were assured that UNESCO is committed to ensuring the voice of youth are heard and taken seriously by government leaders. But this is not the end, Ms Irina Bokova said. It is the beginning and the stakes are very high. However, as youth we must keep holding UNESCO accountable on the promise while advocating for government to implement the recommendations in our various countries.

The President of the UNESCO General conference, Mr Davidson Hepburn, in his closing remark made some very interesting points. He noted that people speak of youth as if it is a single group but it isn't. Each of us are different but yet we are going stand together as one in our believe that we can make the world a better place. 

Thus, we must stand together as one, despite our differences. We must support one another to birth the changes we want to see in our communities.

The event might have ended but the process is just starting. 

If youth must drive change, we must always stay engaged, act and continue to speak out and advocate until more opportunities are created for youth in political and public life, until factors instigating youth exclusion, vulnerability and violence are curbed; and policies and programs that will eradicate employment barriers are implemented.

In the words of Golda El-Khoury, the Chief of the UNESCO section for Youth, Sport and Physical Education, “Really, what brings us together is commitment.”

Youth can drive change. Youth will drive change. Youth MUST stay committed to drive change. 

May our generation not fail those coming behind us.

Nigerians in the house!

Youth Voices from Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi and Cote D'Ivoire Driving Change #UNESCOYouth

Watch this interesting video of youth from different African countries saying hey! Youth can drive change!!!

Stay inspired!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Voice of Youth is the New Economy of Africa #UNESCOYouth

“But our biggest challenge is not the age or the change but the quality of the change.” Says George Gachara from Kenya.  Change in Africa is not just a question of change but also a question of positive transformative change that improves the quality of lives of young people. Timothy Lamba from Zambia and Mame Mbodji from Senegal, also share their views on the kind of change youth are driving or should be driving on the continent.

The second day at the UNESCO Youth forum started with a different energy level. After a long day of taking in a lot of inspiring presentations from invited guest leaders a day before, some of the youth delegates were ready to have their say and experience something phenomenon, as Paul Farlane described his expectations.
The session on Youth-led social innovation in Africa, led by Social and Human Science Sector and the Africa Department, did not go below expectation. I walked into the hall, expecting to learn about the different projects that were being carried out in Africa region, as well as listen to youth delegates and speakers share ideas and recommendation on the way forward.

I was right in time to sit-in and listen to George Gachara’s panel session. He spoke his mind and the mind of many youth delegates in the hall.


He said “African youth KNOW what they want to do. All they need is support! The voice of youth is the new economy of the continent." And I nodded in agreement.


If the economy of Africa must grow, then African youth must be ready to drive the change they want by being loud, and loud for a purpose. This is not a time to sit in silent apathy. We must speak up, and take action.

Photo by Rajnessh B
Before you ask, who is George Gachara to make such an audacious statement? Read this chat I had with him and two other youth leaders.
George Gachara is a youth worker, speaker, an author and the co-founder of the United Nation supported Picha Mtaani National Reconciliation Initiative in Kenya. He is a British Council Global Change Maker and a Fellow of the International Youth Foundation. A few days ago, he received a Global Award- International Development Committee Outstanding Youth Leadership award in San Diego. But yes, George is is based in Kenya. Another youth acting local but yet being recognised globally.
One of the sub-themes of UNESCO Youth forum explores the issue of youth in political and public life. In addressing this issue, the first thing that comes to mind is youth leadership. What does this mean to an average African youth? Oh George says it is not just about political positions. It also drives through different sectors of the economy.
“Youth leadership in Africa is no longer a discourse, it is a practical thing” George says. What are the factors changing this sphere?
“75% of the population in Africa is below 35years.  So by design, leadership should be young leadership whatever you define that to be- either by age, or ideas….” He says. He reiterates the significance of Arab Revolution that shook the garment of leadership in some African countries, with its rippling effect finding its way to other parts of the continent, despite the resistance.
“Youth leadership in Africa is inevitable, and dynamic. If you look at South Africa, we have a strong presence of youth leadership through the political party system. If you look at the Arab, they have gone out to the street to demand change. It is only in sub-Sahara Africa that we have a few dead spots who are trying to cling on to power…”
But beyond political leadership, George points out that there are other sectors where young people are leading. Such as the creative sectors, the media, social enterprise… “If you look at social media driven business, innovations in technology in agriculture, most of these fields considered traditional have been revitalized by young people. In East Africa, we have innovation of money transfer by young people. Use of mobile technology in Zambian agriculture led by young people, in Congo the rice fields… Traditional sectors driven by young people.”
It is just a matter of time before tides change on what we consider political leadership.
“But our biggest challenge is not the age or the change but the quality of the change.” So I ask myself “what kind of a young leader takes on leadership? Is it the same oppressor who is younger or is transformational leadership by different people who think innovatively and creatively?”
 For George, change in Africa is not just a question of change but also a question of positive transformative change that improves the quality of lives of young people.
“It is about time that we stop talking about the future that we want to go to and start doing something about it. Many young people who saw gap in their own society and instead of complaining about it, they stood up and did something, have encouraged me. I met young people who have designed robots to help disabled people, in Kenya, young people who have innovated social media tools to help in money transfer, micro finance…” Says George. “It is about time young people, wherever they are identify gaps and did something about it.” That is how it starts. A transformational change.
Do other young Africans share his views?
Timothy Lumba, a graduate from University of Zambia with a degree in Art and Education says Education is an instrumental vehicle that can push forth this transformational change quickly.
“I have a profound believe in the power of education to transform a society. Education is the greater tool or vehicle that we can use to add value to any body’s life. If not for my education I will not be here. What education has given me is an opportunity to explore my potential. That is why government should invest more in education system from lower level to higher education. Educations should be quality and relevant and adaptable to the needs of our society.” Timothy says.
Timothy says he is basically interested in issues dealing with education. “I’m a former Student Union president and also the national student union president for 2010/2011 and also a board member for national youth development council and many youth organizations in Zambia.
He is quite active in advocating for education, qualitative education.
“A good quality education must be able to add the relevant skills, competencies and abilities to an individual. At the same time, it has to look at the quality of the teacher. It also has to look at the environment the education is taking place and the facilities available. It is important that the people are exposed to technology from an early age.” Says Timothy. But not without noting that some countries are limping in providing such.
Timothy sees the UNESCO Youth forum as an opportunity for young people to come and share their divergent experience from all corners of the world. This, according to him, gives more credence and it has confirmed that despite being separated by mere physical or imaginary borders, the challenges that youth face from one country to another are the same.
“Therefore the world needs concerted efforts to address some of them. I’m very optimistic that the recommendations that we shall make will be taken seriously by the UN General Assembly.” Says Timothy.
Zambia recently held its election. Were young people active? Did the new era open opportunities for young people to be active in political and public life?
“There were 1.2million news voters. Majority of them comprise the youth…many of them casting their vote for the first time. “ says Timothy. According to him, the election result demonstrated the power of the youth. “The celebration after the election shows the new regime was driven by youth effort. The expectations for the new government are quite high, especially since the new government campaigned on the premise of addressing issues affecting the youth- unemployment. They told us they will initiate developmental projects within 90 days. The new government seem to be taking stride to ensure there is a clean up in the system.” He says.
Every change is a rebirth. It provides new opportunities. We hope young people will explore these opportunities. “As a youth you must not sit at home and expect to take your share of what the economy is providing. Society rewards you for your potential. As a youth, it is your duty to ensure you do express yourself and by so doing your society will recognize you. The spirit of “ubuntu” (oneness) should continue to heal the many wounds that we are facing as a world- famine, poverty etc. The world needs to be united beyond our ethnic belonging, cultural differences and economic differences…” Timothy noted.
Mame Mbodji, a student of African Leadership Academy in South Africa, is an observer at the Youth Forum. She agrees with Timothy and George for a need for transformative change in African countries. “Entrepreneurship and leadership are very important in tackling the issue of unemployment. I think one thing education system needs is to incorporate entrepreneurship and leadership into school curriculums.” She says.
As young Africans delegates debate and come up with insightful recommendations which the Youth Drafting Committee will develop into a draft report to the general conference, it is hopeful that this key to the growth of African economy- the voice of African youth- will be heard by local leaders as well as global leaders, in all sectors.
 By Jennifer Ehidiamen, UNESCO Youth Forum
About UNESCO Youth Forum
The UNESCO Youth Forum, held prior to UNESCO's General Conference, brings together young delegates from all over the world to exchange views, share experiences, reflect together and, above all, detect common preoccupations and problems. The event allows young people to voice their ideas and concerns and make suggestions directly to the UNESCO General Conference.
George Gachara's Photo courtesy of: Rajneesh Bhandari. Multimedia Journalist based in Nepal- Website:, Follow it Blog:

Monique Coleman’s special message to youths at the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum.

Monique Coleman's special message to youths from Rajneesh Bhandari on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Youth Embrace Entrepreneurship to Tackle Unemployment in Nigeria

by Jennifer Ehidiamen Reporter, Tuesday - October 18, 2011

Fashogbon Abiodun David, 34, is the CEO of Fashi Fizzie, a fashion boutique, and Fizzie Republic, a marketing company, in Ibadan, a small city in southwestern Nigeria.

David says he started his business a decade ago with less than $20 USD.

“Yeah!” he says. “I started with 2,650 naira [NGN ($16.65 USD)]. I ventured into business to conquer poverty.”

David started out in 2001 selling suya, a shish kebab with thinly sliced meat and seasoning, at the University of Ibadan. As his business evolved, he decided to venture into cosmetics, while selling suya on the side, before embracing the fashion and marketing sector fully in 2008.

But he says the transition was not easy. One of the challenges he faced was intimidation from established companies, which he calls “sharks” and says almost forced him to fold.

“The sharks are the big existing businesses that frowns at competition,” he says.

Although society has developed since David launched his company, he says the challenges entrepreneurs currently face are similar, including business intimidation, intelligence theft, funding and electricity.

To overcome these challenges, he says he’s careful about where he discusses his ideas and bought a generator to provide electricity for his company. But he says physical abuse from business rivals is out of his control.

“I was beaten up by a fellow businessman because he was afraid I will take up the business,” he says of a 2009 incident. “The trauma was so much I wanted to close my doors.”

But he says he pressed forward and didn’t even report his assailants because he was more concerned about the future and moving forward.

“I was slapped four times, punched in the chest the first time and a repeated attack the next day,” he says. “I was slapped six times again without raising a finger because of where we are going in the future.”

Since 2001, this Nigerian entrepreneur has expanded his enterprise. David now has four employees.

He says he hopes the government will start to provide more assistance to entrepreneurs so that he can continue to grow his business without fear of violence.

“Government can protect small businesses by establishing good judicial system to punish business intimidation,” he says.

He says that the media should also keep the public informed if opportunities for government funding arise.

Like most young entrepreneurs, he believes the way forward to tackling poverty in Nigeria is through entrepreneurship.
“The strength of a nation is the power of individual character,” he says. “America is what it is because of world-class entrepreneurs that are there: Bill Gate[s] of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple and Larry Ellison of Oracle, Diddy of Sean John.”

Entrepreneurs say that starting businesses, while challenging, holds the key to Nigeria’s economic future. Some have even started nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, to promote entrepreneurship and business education as solutions to youth unemployment. The government has been developing several initiatives to develop youth, including the launch of a youth entrepreneurial competition this month.

The national labor participation rate for Nigerians 15 and older is less than 60 percent, according to the World Bank’s most recent statistics. More than half of Nigerians live at the national poverty line.

Young Nigerians ages 20 to 40 make up almost half of the nation’s population, according to 2011 statistics by the National Population Commission and the World Bank. Many say this pins Nigeria’s hopes for a strong economic future on its youth.

David is not alone in his belief in entrepreneurship as the key to Nigeria’s economic future.

Jacob Ajayi, 26, a digital marketing strategist, is a pioneering partner of Flying Antlers, a digital marketing firm based in Lagos. He is also the chief operating officer of a new product the firm launched just last month,, a platform created to address the challenges of online marketing in Nigeria and Africa.

Ajayi traces his venture into entrepreneurship back to before his college years.

“I started even before I gained admission into school,” he says.

He started small.

“I got a loan from my dad, about 40,000 [naira NGN ($250 USD)].”

He used this to set up a public game center in the Lagos mainland metropolis. But he says the business failed. He says he couldn’t repay the loan to his father, who had warned him that entrepreneurship was risky.

“Unfortunately, I was only able to return 3,000 [naira NGN ($20 USD)].”

Undeterred, Ajayi set up a small computer center to provide email services to students at the University of Lagos, where his friends were in school.

“I had a couple friends that I visited,” he says. “Anytime I came around, I got mails opened.”

For a fee, he helped the students seeking employment to create email accounts, upload their CVs online, send emails and perform other Internet tasks. This was in 2001, when Internet services were not popular in Nigeria.
“I needed to find something to do,” he says. “I started by helping people upload their CV online at a fee.”

He says starting a business is all about providing solutions to what others need.

“If you are in any place, make sure you identify a particular problem people have and solve them,” Ajayi says.

Flying Antlers, the marketing company he started with his friend in 2010, now has between eight to 10 people on the payroll working full time or on a freelance basis.

Continuing to expand his reach, Ajayi is also currently a postgraduate student studying business education at the University of Lagos.

“In a way, it opens my mind to different vocational options and how to encourage people to get something started,” he says.

Another entrepreneur, Damilola Osilaja, in her mid-20s, launched her own business initiative six months ago. The initiative, called OneGoal, is a corporate social responsibility consulting firm.

But she still keeps her day job as a project officer in an NGO based in Lagos while her firm is still in its nascent stages.

“One of the reasons is funding because for me to be able to fund my own company, I will first need to work for a while,” she says. “I need the experience as much as I need the funding.”

She admits that keeping two jobs is difficult, but she says that her business venture doesn’t detract from her full-time job.

“This consulting job is part-time,” she says. “It does not interfere with main job.”

But she says it’s also important not to let full-time jobs drain aspiring entrepreneurs of their visions.
“Being an entrepreneur is difficult, especially in a country like Nigeria,” she says.  “If you have a vision you want to do, it is best you keep that vision to yourself. Don’t lose the vision.”

Osilaja says that the main challenge in entrepreneurship is starting up.

“I know a lot of Nigerians who are smart and have ideas, but they don’t know where to start from,” she says.

Osilaja says funding is crucial.

“There are some people their parents or guidance can assist with capital,” she says.

For those whose parents can’t give them money, she suggests finding another way to earn capital.

“But do not start something without income,” she says. “You should be doing things that will bring in income.”
She says that people should also use their visions to help one another.

“I am passionate about positive growth,” she says. “At OneGoal, we help people help others. Helping others is key to national development. In this country, like most countries, people are very selfish. If we can remove that selfishness, a country like Nigeria will grow.”

 Oluwatosin Agboola, 26, is doing just that. Agboola started Campus Attention, an NGO that is committed to the development of Nigerian youth on university campuses, in 2008. The project is one of many youth-driven NGOs that have been springing up to tackle the issue of youth unemployment in Nigeria.

“Projections indicate that the population of our subregion will cap 430 million inhabitants by 2020, with an ever-increasing number of young people seeking employment, accompanied by the ever-stronger pressure, which is being brought to bear on land and urban agglomerations,” he says.

He says that Campus Attention promotes entrepreneurship among youth.

“We are committed to raising the standard of economic activities of our continent,” Agboola says. “We encourage youths to start business in their areas of passion, as this will help combat unemployment.”

Agboola says that entrepreneurship is an economic solution to unemployment. 

“For any serious-minded youth, I will [advise] them to take up to entrepreneurship,” he says. “We must think outside the white-collar job and look inside.”

He says that agriculture is one sector that is rich with opportunities for entrepreneurs.

“Agriculture is one large sector that can help curb the unemployment monster if our government can lend a little hand and let us produce our food ourselves,” he says.

Agboola says his own passion for entrepreneurship is what drives him to nurture other aspiring entrepreneurs. While studying in university, he says he used entrepreneurship to sustain himself.

“I can still remember when I started my first venture, a campus magazine then at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife,” he says.

He says it was not without its challenges.

“I was beaten up by a printer for my inability to balance him 1,000 [naira NGN ($6.20 USD)],” says Agboola, whose sister eventually paid the printer for him. “I cried to my elder sister, who bailed me.”

Agboola blames the increase in the unemployment rate on the lack of business education among Nigerian youth.

“Our schools are not making us useful to ourselves but only teaching us how to be a good laborer and not a master,” he says.
He advocates for a revamp of the Nigerian education curriculum.

“Let’s draw up a modern university curriculum to reflect our present-day challenges and solution, so that we can produce employers of labor and not jobless generation of youths.”

In addition to organizing different campus outreach initiatives at the grassroots level, his organization is currently working on establishing what he says will be Nigeria’s first student enterprise fund.

“This is a pool of fund specifically for student entrepreneurs or those intending to become an entrepreneur,” he says.

The fund will aim to contribute to the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

“Since our government, banks and other financial institutions are not ready to help us, we have decided to help ourselves at the grassroots level,” Agboola says.

Ajayi says he is unaware of any government support for entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

“I don’t know any government support,” he says. “They need to come down to the level of the youth. We still see government as people that are up there and not accessible.”

He says that social media has helped bridge the gap.

“Thank God for social media,” he says. “If not for Twitter and Facebook, the only time we see the government is when we buy newspapers or watch TV. One thing they need to do is to come down to our level through local or regional meetings where youths can access the leaders. Our youths are innovative, [but] we need someone to carry us along.”

Osilaja agrees.

“It will be good if the government support entrepreneurs by organizing seminars, workshop, etc.,” Osilaja says. “The government should train youths more on how to start their own businesses.”

The government has developed various strategies to tackle youth unemployment.

This month, President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria, a business plan competition. The competition aims to create jobs by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial youth to develop and execute business ideas.

Last month, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi, the newly appointed minister for youth development, organized a youth forum for selected youth leaders in Nigeria. The interactive session aimed to share information about the federal government's plan to engage Nigerian youths in decision-making processes as well as other facets of Jonathan's Transformation Agenda, a youth development strategy.
Abdullahi said that his administration would leverage off the passion and energy of Nigerian youth to address the different challenges they face. He urged the youth to embrace the ministry as their own by sharing ideas and not leaving the responsibilities of addressing these challenges to the government alone.

“I cannot understand issues of young people better than young people,” he said.

Najmuddeen Imam Abubakar, the director of Youth Enterprises Development and Promotion under the Ministry of Youth, said at the forum that the new administration would collaborate with other ministries and youth-focused organizations to address youth unemployment.

“These issues of entrepreneurship and skill acquisition are not one man’s business,” he said. “It is very important. The collaboration will take effect immediately.”

In 2010, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, an agency set up by the government to look into the challenges of Nigerian education, developed a new senior secondary school curriculum that aims to ensure that every graduate is well-prepared for higher education and has acquired relevant functional trade and entrepreneurship skills needed for poverty eradication, job creation and wealth generation.

But Ajayi warns relying too heavily on the government, insisting on the responsibility of the citizens themselves.

“Everybody is blaming the government,” he says. “We should stop doing that. We are all responsible for the current situation.”

Ajayi emphasizes passion and innovation.

“Create something out of your passion, and start pushing it forward,” he says. “Our forefathers were not educated, but they were able to survive because they never relied on education or the government to provide everything for them. This made them innovative.”

Ajayi encourages youths to be creative.

“To tackle the unemployment rate, it is about going back to the basics,” Ajayi says. “Youth need to be innovative, think outside the box. Diversification is key so that at the end of the day, you can count different means of income.”

Source: Global Press Institute

Source: Global Press