Peace Obi

In an effort aimed at positioning the Nigerian youths towards playing key roles in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all critical sectors of the nation’s economy, Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Association of Nigeria (MWFAAN), is set to host over 1000 Nigerian youths during its 2018 edition of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) award .

The programme which will hold on September 20 and 22, in Abuja, will feature the grand finale of the alumni group’s annual competition, “Beyond School Community Challenge” which has been described as a coordinated infusion of entrepreneurial and leadership skills in the learning process of Nigerian youths. The organizers hinted that it is envisioned to strategically position Nigerian youths towards contributing to the realization of the SDGs as well as youth and economic development of the country.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lagos recently, the President of MWFAAN, Dr. Segun Fatudimu noted that during the three days programme, 30 top finalists from selected schools will slug it out at the grand finale to clench the coveted grand prizes in the challenge.

The challenge is basically to harness entrepreneurial skills in secondary school students. The first edition’s grand finale was held here in Lagos, but this year, we felt we can actually reach more people and make this bigger. So, we expanded the final and scope of the competition to now have 10 schools in the final. So, we are having 30 young entrepreneurs from secondary schools that will be competing at the final stage of this year’s challenge.

“As a national community development and entrepreneurship programme for secondary school students, it is aimed at engaging young people in Nigeria for the purpose of creating impact within their communities and developing critical entrepreneurial skills. The programme also seeks to inspire students to improve their communities through entrepreneurial actions. Each team will be tasked to provide an innovative idea or solution in their community within the framework on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ” Fatudimu stressed.

The alumni president said each of the 10 teams will be given 10 minutes to present their business idea/project.

According to him, the judges would be drawn from the Mandela Washington Fellows with business and entrepreneurship track, the winners would be selected based on the viability, feasibility and sustainability of the idea as well as audience votes.

The prizes, he said, will include a grant of N400,000 to the best three project teams, access to three months mentoring from industry experts and fellows, additional educational grants for each winning team member, award of plaques, certificates for the schools involved and cash prize for the best mentor/teacher.

The Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Margaret Nongo-Okojokwu said the award is designed to recognise, celebrate and encourage youths and individuals who are contributing immensely towards the pursuit of the sustainable developments goals as well as youths and economic development in Nigeria.

“This year’s theme: “Paradigm Shift: Creating a Youth-Lead Development Agenda for Nigeria”, will be dissected through in three powerful keynote speeches; panel sessions; a set of syndicate and action plan development sessions.