By Mary Nnah
Adebola Williams, the co-founder and chief executive officer of RED|For Africa, the continent’s leading media company, has been selected to join other change-makers in the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGL), an independent organisation under the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Williams was selected among thousands of applications from across the world following a rigorous vetting process designed to identify global leaders and young visionaries working to shape the future through inspired leadership.
Created to recognise the most distinguished young leaders from around the world, the Forum creates experiences for next-generation leaders to enhance their skills, broaden their world view through a peer network that will challenge innovators, and influence them to do more and be more via a series of engagements from Davos to Harvard.
Head of the Forum of Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum, Mariah Levin, said, “Every year, the Forum of Young Global Leaders recognizes the world’s leading change-makers under 40. Our role is to further cultivate their ability and influence to improve the state of the world,”
Speaking on the announcement, Adebola Williams acknowledged the importance of driving economic advancement collectively, especially by recognising specific issues in different African communities and addressing them through global collaborations and sustainable projects.
“The world is witnessing fast-paced transformation across many sectors – social, economic and technological – and Africa cannot afford to be left behind.
“In order to build a continent that is ready for the future, there has to be strategic investments in young leaders who would in turn invest their talent, time, and energy to address critical challenges, achieve global relevance, and improve multi-faceted growth for all communities,” Williams noted.
A pioneer at the intersection of media, democracy and social change, Williams has been profiled by Forbes and CNN as the man who helped elect a trifecta of Presidents in Africa.
He co-founded and runs RED Africa, Africa’s largest portfolio of youth media brands engaging the continent’s youth with leading brands like Red Media Africa, StateCraft Inc, The Future Awards Africa and YNaija.com.
His journey in media and television began with advocacy for youth and good governance. He co-founded EnoughisEnough (EiE), Nigeria’s foremost civic participation platform and a premier voice for young people on politics. He resigned after leading EIE’s board to steer the rebranding of the current Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari.
He pioneered a realigned national discourse and optimised media engagement, changing longstanding perceptions and swaying the elections. A consequent success in Ghana helped the opposition candidate win the presidency on his third attempt, and Adebola currently consults in other regions in the continent.
Williams inspires hope and faith from Africa to the world with his message of enterprise and leadership, routinely received by a social media audience 200,000 people strong. His 2017 cross continental speaking tour included several conferences and top ivy leagues schools Harvard, Columbia, Yale & Oxford. His address during the 2017 Obama summit went viral and earned a rare standing ovation from the former president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
Williams is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a member of the African Leadership Network, a British Council global changemaker. He was awarded an ArchBishop Desmond Tutu Fellowship and named by the UN as one of 100 Most Influential People of African Descent he sits on the boards of Africa Business Brain Trust and chairs the Young Entrepreneurs Network board.
He’s been named by Forbes as one of Africa’s best entrepreneurs under 30, and recipient of the CNBC Young Business Leader of the Year award.
Past YGLs include former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron; co-founder and chief executive officer, Google, USA, Larry Page; Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg; co-founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma; Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Esther Duflo, amongst others.
Created in 2004 by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum as a way to help the world meet increasingly complex and interdependent challenges, Adebola Williams will join a multi-stakeholder community of the world’s next-generation leaders in influencing decision-making through the contribution of new ideas, perspectives and energy.