Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CIPE 2012 Youth Essay Competition is now open!!

In its fifth year, the CIPE 2012 Youth Essay Competition is now open! Submit your essay now in one of three categories:
Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Beyond technology  
  • What barriers do young entrepreneurs in your country face in translating their ideas into products and services?
  • How do young entrepreneurs in your country foster new ways of acting and thinking?
  • What supporting institutions do young innovators need to succeed?
Inclusive Growth: The entrepreneurial environment for scaling up business
  • What barriers do young entrepreneurs in your country face in translating their ideas into products and services?
  • What challenges do youth-led businesses and entrepreneurs in your country face when they're expanding their enterprises?
  • In your society, what tools or institutions do entrepreneurs need to grow small enterprises into larger, more prosperous businesses?
Social Transformation: The role of entrepreneurs in building democratic societies
  • How can entrepreneurship among youth strengthen newly-formed or emerging democracies?
  • How are young entrepreneurs from different backgrounds participating in your country's democracy?
  • In what ways are young entrepreneurs contributing to social transformations in your country?

The deadline is October 19, 2012. Winners of the competition will receive a $500 honorarium, and CIPE will publish winning essays as Economic Reform Feature Service articles. Also, one grand prize winner will be invited to an all-expenses paid trip to attend CIPE's upcoming Democracy that Delivers for Entrepreneurs conference in the United States, planned for April 2013. For more information about the contest visit

Best of luck to all participants!

Note: This message is from CIPE's newsletter!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beyond Consumerism: Empowering the Next Generation of Innovative Africans

Africans are often regarded as big consumers and small producers, even though the continent is rich with natural and human resources. Our capacity to consume in Africa far outweighs our local production level. We can boast of little or no industrialisation.

Instead, we import commodities that we have the capacity of producing locally and outsource challenges to expatriates rather than finding local talents to tackle them. From food to household appliances, to mobile phones, to the clothes we wear- the more we consume, the more we import.

Shopping malls/retail stores are standing proudly in city centres in major countries in Africa. Displaying imported goods of all forms and make-,middle-income earners swipe their debit cards proudly, purchasing items regardless of whether they're on discount or at full price.  A retail boom is gripping the continent and there is no doubt that intelligent investors are acting fast on the opportunity.

According to some analysts, 
consumer spending will reach $1.4 trillion in 2020, from about $860 billion in 2008. A news portal reporting on business and investment trends in Africa, HowWeMadeItInAfricarecently published a story about how international retailers, such as Wal-Mart, are honing their investment interests on selected countries in Africa. Their target -  the continent's growing middle class. But beyond the glitzy, sparkling malls and high sounding figures of profits and investments, African countries must tread warily. The next generation of Africans are taking hold of the potential of not allowing the opportunity to seize the ownership of the African market pass them by. From starting up different local ventures, to using technology to solve social problems on the continents, young Africans are putting on their thinking caps and tapping into the growing retail and high consumer market, through different innovations in technology.

Twelve years ago, The Economist dubbed Africa "the hopeless continent" because of political instability and war that riddled the second largest continent in the world. Over the past decade, however, Africa's progress has helped overturn this notion. But the African economy is unduly dependent on the resource sector. Africa needs more invention, more indigenous inventions.

The next generation of Africans have the DNA (brains and tools) to champion the indigenous innovations Africa. They can enable Africa stay ahead of the predicted economic curve, be self-reliant, use locally made products to meet local needs and keep the continent's resources within the continent while fostering sustainable development. The need to create an enabling environment to encourage these local innovations cannot be over emphasized. More indigenous innovations could also open new doors of opportunity that will foster trades across borders.

Young Africans are treading the forefront of innovations; they are risk-takers, tech savvy, well informed and able to rise above oppressive conditions to venture out with their ideas. Global Press Institute recently reported on how young people in Rwanda are embracing technology to foster entrepreneurship. This can be said of other African countries- from East, West, South, North and Central Africa- young people are innovating.

In spite of the current lack and challenges on African soil, there are many remarkable innovations on the record. Another example is the recent launch of a Tablet device, Vantium v1.

A Nigeria-based technology company, Websoft, created the Vantium V1. In an interview, 
they said it took about two years to bring the device to light. But now that it is here, they hope it will boost the tablet market in Africa that is currently dominated by Samsung and Apple products. The number of mobile subscribers in Africa is estimated as above 500 million, according to Mobile Africa Report.

The hopeless continent is today regarded as a developing frontier for global economy. However, there are still some challenges to tackle. There is a high rate of unemployment. Political unrest and fragile democracy are good enough reasons to be cautious. Some analysts are warning against euphoric confidence on the growing economy. But this must not overshadow the hope in maximizing the current growing economy in some countries. The major challenge often encountered by young entrepreneurs and innovators is funding, or rather, the lack of it. How can we combat this? Here are my thoughts:

1. Political Stability: Innovation cannot be boosted on a continent without a stable political system. Some African countries are still "ruled" by tightly wedged-in leaders and dictators while some others practice a fragile democracy continuously in danger of ethno-religious conflagration. African leaders need to work in tandem to create stable systems that promote peaceful co-existence among its citizens. Other countries should replicate successful African democracy and practice. Africans on their part should realise audacious development aspirations cannot be achieved without peaceful co-existence. With a stable political structure, foreign experts and Africans in Diaspora with the right skill-set will feel more secure to return home and contribute their quota in boosting local innovations.

2. Government Funding: The primary role of the government providing financial support to SMEs in Africa cannot be over emphasized. The governments need to increase their funding opportunities through accessible loans and grants, beyond the minute efforts currently being provided across board. Corruption hindering access to these funding opportunities also needs to be eradicated.

3. Private Investors: African Angel Investors and venture capitalists are not as popular as in Western countries. Perhaps, the billionaires in Africa can find a common ground to provide mutual investment funds for young entrepreneurs. Building the next generation of billionaires should not be left for outsiders. In addition, private investors could also contribute to advancement in research through funding and establish institutions that would encourage more research studies.

4. Collaboration: Young entrepreneurs should cultivate the habit of collaborating and co-creating. There is more advantage in pulling resources together to achieve a similar goal than running in parallel and struggling with funding. In addition, partnership links with local and foreign experts should be encouraged. The same energy and more, used in importing foreign consumable goods should be channelled towards transfer of skills between expatriates and indigenous talents.

5. Savings: Young entrepreneurs currently working full time should cultivate the habit of saving some of their income for the raining days when they venture out to establish their business ideas. Avoid eating with two hands when you can save more for the future.

Kingsley Ighobor, quoting Ernst & Young, a US-based business consulting company writes on HowWeMadeItInAfrica: "There is a new story emerging out of Africa: a story of growth, progress, potential and profitability…Africa represents the next global economic frontier." Africans must not fold their arms and watch others benefit from the economy boom, without them acting upon the opportunity to be more inventive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

YALDA Nigeria Conference 2012: Third and Final Round for Applications is HERE!

YALDA is pleased to announce that they have opened the third and final round of applications for the 4th Biennial conference for Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa ( 

The conference will hold from the 4th to 7th October at the Lagos Business School, Lekki-Ajah Campus in Lagos, Nigeria. 
"This year's conference is completely unique as you will get a once in a lifetime chance to generate or refine your own development or business ideas for Africa in the presence of industry experts!" 

For more information, visit their website at and to apply please visit  The third and final round deadline is the 24th September, 2012.

This year's conference will also be in partnership with Lagos Business School (, LEAP Africa ( and (

Please forward this link to all your friends, members and groups who would benefit from this conference.

Photography vs Photojournalism

Learning the art of photography is a first step towards the practice of photojournalism. Well, here is doffing my hat to all 21st century journalists who know how to work the SLR.

I'm still learning...
This could pass for a landscape photograph

The blur effect ;-)

Winery and tourist castle

GPI's camera (used in taking these pictures)



Another attempt at framing the image

Get the idea?

Farmer's market

Ghanaian entrepreneur at the farmer's market 

He import these baskets from Ghana

One thing I'm thankful for... everyday miracles and victories!!

Alright! I should probably re-activate my flickr account ... Feel free to leave a comment, share links to your photos or best photography website... will love to learn from others! Enjoy

This photography training was made possible by GPI... follow on twitter @PressInstitute and of course the trainer @PaigeStoyer

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Speak Up and Speak Out: Media and Movement Building

I finally met the GPI Executive Director, Cristi Hegranes,  for the first time this week- yup, first time meeting since joining the media organization in 2010 (well, technically I started reporting on the news wire in January 2011)! 

Women who inspire other women
It is always inspiring to meet a passionate woman who skillfully adopts a 24/7 approach to work and still consciously create time to enjoy life. Cristi is a delight to work with! She laughs. She innovates. She has successfully, successfully run GPI since 2006 and is still very actively passionate about the vision of her organization- you will see this every time she speaks about GPI and her approach in the way she engages those that work at GPI. She is a strong compassionate and inspiring leader. My friend, Chioma, calles her an amazon.

A strong global and local network
GPI's story is very inspiring. The team members at the HQ as well as the different women working at the different news desk across the world are so committed to raising global awareness by providing strong local news coverage on issues, important issues often ignored by mainstream media. Trust me, it is not an easy feat but the resounding impact each story makes keeps the engine running.

Let your root run deep
You know, these days people just launch an organisation and in a few months start chasing big awards and recognition...well, yeah there is nothing wrong with that- right? But wait until you hear this- Like I mentioned earlier, GPI was founded in 2006 and has spent the past years really building and making a substantial impact. 

The 2012 Grinnell prize shows how allowing one's root to grow deep pays off. This is something we can all adopt in our approach to work and life- focus on the goal and let the foundation run deep! Other things will fall in place at the right time!! Again, I say a big congratulations to Cristi and all at GPI (HQ and 26 other countries where we have news desk)!

At GPI Office. Photo by Maura B

We are still celebrating this new achievement!! Join us! Leave a note of congratulations on the GPI's website , join the celebration on Facebook, and/or make a donation in Cristi's honor by clicking here

Speaking at the EDGE Funders Alliance conference
Oh before I forget, today I will be speaking at the EDGE Funders Alliance conference, along with other incredible panelists- including the GPI founder! 

Here is an excerpt of what the session is all about:
Speak Up and Speak Out: Media and Movement Building Dynamic and strong independent media is necessary for the progress of any social movement for change, including the movements for gender, racial equality, and global justice. Organizations have developed cost-effective strategies to enable people to speak up and speak out on issues and perspectives not previously covered in mainstream media. Join us to gain an understanding of how funders are making media a central strategy, and how they are helping grantee partners to amplify their stories and make waves locally and globally. We will discuss how journalism, radio and film serve to change laws, policies, behaviors and mindsets leading to true paradigm shifts. With: Selly Thiam, None on Record; Cristi Hegranes, The Global Press Institute; J. Bob Alotta, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Jennifer Ehidiamen, The Global Press Institute

Watch this short video about GPI

Follow on Twitter:

Read the latest news update on GPI News wire:

Enjoy the rest of your week! And don't forget, in whatever you do, let your root run deep and other things will fall in place!  

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Winners of the 2012 Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize Announced!

Grinnell College today announced the winners of the 2012 Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize (“Grinnell Prize”) and the call for nominations for the 2013 Grinnell Prize. This prize program, now in its third year, honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. Up to three $100,000 awards will be divided evenly, with half going to the individual(s) and half to the organization(s) committed to each winner’s area of social justice.

The 2012 winners of the Grinnell Prize, selected from more than 300 nominations, include Cristi Hegranes, founder and executive director, Global Press Institute; Jacob A. Wood, president and co-founder, and William B. McNulty III, vice president and co-founder, Team Rubicon (shared award); and Jane Chen, CEO of Embrace Innovations and co-founder of Embrace, and Linus Liang, COO of Embrace and co-founder of Embrace Innovations, Embrace (shared award). They will receive their awards on campus at the Grinnell Prize Symposium the week of November 12, 2012.

Watch a short video on the founder of Global Press talking about her work

Grinnell encourages entries for 2013 from across a wide range of fields, including science, medicine, the environment, humanities, business, economics, education, law, public policy, social services, religion and ethics, as well as projects that cross these boundaries. Nominations are also encouraged from areas that may not have been traditionally viewed as directly connected to social justice, such as the arts and business. Nominees may be U.S. citizens or nationals of other countries; no affiliation to Grinnell College is required.

A selection committee will evaluate the nominations based on how candidates have embraced the values of a liberal arts education, including critical thinking, creative problem-solving, free inquiry and commitment to using and sharing knowledge to better humanity. The selection committee will be chaired by Eliza Willis, professor of political science at Grinnell. Committee members are recognized individuals who work for social change in various capacities – largely Iowa-based – and represent the college’s faculty, student body, alumni, staff and trustees, plus prominent individuals not formally affiliated with Grinnell.

The Grinnell Prize program directly reflects the College’s historic mission to educate men and women “who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.”

The idea for the Grinnell Prize originated with Grinnell’s president, Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., who began his tenure as the college’s thirteenth president in August, 2010. “Given the college’s longstanding belief in social justice as a core tenet of its liberal arts academic mission, I am proud to recognize and honor young individuals who embody our values and organizations that share our commitment to change the world,” said Kington. “With this award, we’re honoring those who practice what we teach. Our 2012 winners have made extraordinary contributions in the pursuit of positive social change, and I look forward to an even larger group of outstanding candidates for our 2013 Prize program.”

Nominations for the 2013 Prize are due by November 5, with winners to be announced at the beginning of the academic year in 2013.

Grinnell College is a nationally recognized, private, four-year, liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Founded in 1846, Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students from all 50 states and from as many international countries in more than 26 major fields, interdisciplinary concentrations and pre-professional programs.

Note: This post is a press release.

2012 Ibrahim Forum to be held in Dakar and focus on youth in Africa

"If we don't take care of our future, if we don't make sure that young people are really given opportunities to realise their potential then we cannot hope to develop our continent." - Mo Ibrahim

The 2012 Ibrahim Forum, scheduled to take place in Dakar, Senegal from 9 -11 November will focus on youth and highlight the opportunities presented by Africa's rapidly growing population of young people.

Announcing the theme and venue of the gathering ahead of the United Nations' International Youth Day on Sunday, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said today that the Forum will bring together leading figures from across the continent and beyond to determine how best to engage Africa's most valuable resource - its youth.

Members of African civil society, the private sector, governments, multilateral and regional institutions, key partners from the international community and a range of young Africans engaged in innovative and inspiring work will gather in Dakar for the 3-day event.

Commenting on the Forum, Dr Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said "We have chosen this year's topic in recognition of the great potential of African youth and the role they played in the transformative political events of last year, and must continue to play if we are to collectively realise our potential. We hope the Forum can play a role in ensuring that the aspirations of our youth are met."

"The Forum has become a key annual event that gathers a range of influential partners" he continued. "We are delighted to be able to convene this group with the addition this year of a diverse array of informed and inspired young people. I am excited by this opportunity to work with, and listen to, the next generation of African leadership."

The Forum will form the central part of the Foundation's annual Governance Weekend which also features a public event and cultural celebration. The events in Dakar will follow the release of the 2012 Ibrahim Index of African Governance and the announcement of the 2012 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership – taking place on 15 October.