8 days to go…. Countdown to our 2014 Person of the Year Awards

Woooowww…. welcome to Year 2015 and happy new year to all of you, out there! The year promises to be a great one as it was welcomed with so much expectations from people across the world, especially here in Nigeria.

2015 is an election year in Nigeria and that may be the reason for this excitement in the country. The people are in a hurry to vote for the leaders of their choices across the board… not minding their political affiliations!

Any way, that’s a story for another day… let’s continue preparations to celebrate the man or woman who has touched and impacted on the lives of young people in Nigeria more than other successful young social entrepreneurs below 40.

Wooowww…. it’s just 8 more days to go!

This is the first edition of this award and we’re glad for the responses we are getting from you people.

Voting is still on and would stop on Friday, the 9th of January, 2014 by 4.00pm.

So, the question remains, who’s your 2014 Person of the Year? The following successful young persons have been shortlisted for you to choose from….

  • Gossy Ukanwoke

Gossy Ukanwoke is a 25 year old President and Founder of the Beni American University from Abia State. He was profiled on CNN African Startups and dubbed “Nigeria’s budding Mark Zuckerberg” by Forbes.

He wants to transform how education is provided and make it readily available for people who otherwise might not have access or the resources for higher education. Prior to BAU Research and Development, Gossy founded Students Circle Network, an academic network for students, teachers and institutions that brings over 10,000 academic resources from over 200 universities and shares it free for students and teachers. The success of SCN had led to Gossy being referred to as “Africa’s Top Tech Entrepreneur” by ITNews Africa in 2011.

  • Cynthia Umoru

Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru is a 31 year old celebrated Agro entrepreneur. She is a self-taught farmer, who started her company, Honey Suckle as an undergraduate. Cynthia, the Future Africa Awards winner is also the CEO of Farmshoppe. Cynthia is an agribusiness entrepreneur who is extremely passionate about food, farming and the community.

Proudly calling herself a farmer, her dream is for Nigeria to attain national food security which can only be achieved through increased education of youths and women within the local communities. She is a zoology graduate, an alumnus of the Pan African University under the Enterprise Development Center (CEM), an Ashoka Fellow and Alum of the U.S Department of States International Visitors Leadership Program and was one of the youths that participated in the recently concluded national conference.

  •  Chude Jideonwo

Chude Jideonwo is 29 years old, a Nigerian lawyer, award-winning journalist and media entrepreneur  and the co-founder of Red Media Africa, a leading marketing and corporate communication company that is subsidiary of the Red Media Group.

Chude also founded EnoughisEnough Nigeria, one of the country’s foremost civic participation groups. He chairs the Public Relations & Communications Committee, and in that position has secured buy-in from national and international media including CNN, BBC, Radio France, Reuters, The Associated Press, amongst others. The organization was also a driver for Nigeria’s first ever youth-centred presidential debate in March 2011.

He is the youngest journalist ever to interview a sitting Nigerian president; securing an exclusive sit-down with Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. in May 2012, appointed the youngest member of the awards committee for the Ford Foundation Jubilee Transparency Award. Nigeria’s foremost daily, The Punch listed Chude alongside thirteen others, as one of the young people to watch in 2012. In February 2013, both Jideonwo and Williams were named in Forbes 30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs.

  •  Oluseun David Onigbinde

He is leading digital innovator in Nigeria and an advocate of the open data movement who works to foster greater transparency and better understanding of government budgets.

Currently a Knight International Innovation Fellow with the International Center for Journalists, his work focuses on advancing the Code4Africa open data movement and promoting the use of creative digital tools in media organizations to increase public engagement around key development issues such as health and education.

In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship, and in that role he co-founded a civic startup named BudgIT, which uses digital technologies to make government budgets more accessible and understandable to Nigerians.

In 2013, BudgIT was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the top five exciting African startups to watch out for. Onigbinde is a contributor to the Data Journalism Handbook, a member of the Open Spending Wiki Group, an Open Knowledge Foundation Ambassador, and he has served as a consultant to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Federal Reform projects.

He is a graduate of Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, and also attended the University of London and Loyola College in Ibadan. He began his career in the financial sector providing critical analysis of budgets and strategic research to help banks perform better. Later, he decided to apply these same principles to building a better country by providing the general public with tools for budget analysis and by finding creative ways to present and disseminate budget data.

  •  Gbenga Sesan

He is 36 years and founder/Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities and focuses on consulting, research, telecentre support, youth-led social technopreneurship and capacity building. In October 2001, he was appointed Nigeria’s first Information Technology Youth Ambassador.

Gbenga’s initiative has directly benefited over 7300 young people across Nigeria and beyond. He was recently listed among Schwab Foundation’s “Social Entrepreneurs of The Year 2014″. He is a  member of the United Nations Committee of eLeaders on Youth and ICT, he is a CyberStewards Program Fellow, Crans Montana Forum Fellow, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, Our Common Future Fellow and Cordes Fellow.

Gbenga serves as a member of the Presidential Committee on Roadmap for the Achievement of Accelerated Universal Broadband Infrastructure and Services Provision, was listed in 2012 by CNN as one of the 10 Leading African Tech Voices and by Ventures Africa as one of 40 African Legends Under 40.

  •  Grace Ihejiamaizu

She is 23 years and a Sociologist lecturer at the University of Calabar, Nigeria  and  a Social Entrepreneur and Global Changemaker with over five years of experience working in the nonprofit and youth development sector.

In 2010, she started an after school youth development project called ‘Raising Young and Productive Entrepreneurs’ – RYPE Initiative, with the aim of educating, engaging and empowering young high school leavers to become leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities. RYPE’s impact has spanned across various communities in Nigeria, directly reaching more than 300 young people. Grace also founded iKapture Networks in 2013, a social enterprise strategically focused on providing educational and leadership services for students, school leavers and graduates.

Grace is also the founder and chief editor of Opportunity Desk, one of the largest online platforms for information on youth opportunities, scholarships, events, summits, etc. Opportunity Desk has over 100,000 visits monthly and has a growing social media platform for youth engagement.

Grace’s outstanding leadership skills has earned her multiple national and international awards and recognition including being named one of Google’s 12 Brightest Young Minds in 2011, and the recognition by the US State Department as the ‘International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month for September 2012’. She is the youngest to receive this award.

The changemaker joined 59 other youths for the British Council Global Changemakers’ Summit in Brussels, Belgium 2012 and was one of 11 outstanding speakers at the TEDxYouth event at Bukoto, Uganda, same year. In 2013, she was one of the Honorees of the Future Awards Africa Young Person of the Year Prize and has been recognized by many other organizations in Africa for her work and achievements including the Under35 CEO and Remarkable 30 awards.

  •  Japheth Omojuwa

A 30 year old Nigerian blogger, socio-economic and political commentator, environmental consultant and social media expert. He is currently a lecturer (on Africa: Democratic prospects and challenges) at Free University of Berlin, and a consultant with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation and editor of the blog, Omojuwa.com which he began in 2009.

He has led panels organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), African Development Bank (AfDB), the Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ, Heinrich Boell Stiftung amongst other local and international organisations. He is the creator of Naija Teenz, a platform of engagement and value orientation for Nigerian teenagers and the curator of Omojuwa, which has since become a tool of expression for many Nigerians.

He was one of the outspoken voices during the #OccupyNigeria revolution of 2011, along with other key activists and coalitions, like Eggheader Odewale, Tolu Ogunlesi, Abang Mercy and Enough is Enough Nigeria.

In 2012, YNaija named him one of the most influential young Nigerians under 35 in Business, Fashion, Media, Entertainment, Technology and Politics! with writer, Ifreke Inyang describing him in particular as “king of the click.” In July 2012, he was named ProMaCon Project Management Ambassador, to use the social media and other platforms to educate his fans and followers on the ideals of project management and its indispensability to national development.

Omojuwa was ranked 29th on a list of the 100 Most Influential Black People on Digital/Social Media in April 2014 alongside Barack Obama, Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey amongst others.

  •  Blossom Nnodim

She is 33 years old, a Nigerian writer, entrepreneur and public servant. She is popular across major cities in Nigeria for her social media educative start-up known as #AdoptATweep,  Abuja’s and probably Nigeria’s foremost largest offline social media event, specifically targeted at the use of twitter for business, networking, marketing, Social Good and branding for creative folks..

Consequent upon graduation in 2005, she had a brief work stint with Guaranty Trust Bank, Port Harcourt, as a Customer Care officer.

Blossom Nnodim was awarded the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of the U.S Department of State as one of the Young African Leaders selected to monitor the U.S Elections in November 2012.  She was one of the speakers at TedX Abuja. Her pieces have appeared on Bella Naija. In July 2012, she and another leading Nigerian social media expert, Japheth J. Omojuwa , were named ProMaCon Project Management Ambassadors, to use the social media and other platforms to educate their fans and followers on the ideals of project management and its indispensability to national development.

Blossom has become a sought after public speaker with her message of Social Media for Social Good. She recently shared a stage with Nuhu Ribadu at “Project Mentor-Me”. In 2013, she was named alongside other A-class individuals as one of the top ten Nigerian celebrities to follow on Twitter. Notable in the list are Don Jazzy and P-Square. In 2014, Blossom got a surprise listing in a high powered listing of Social Media personalities. This is a list of the top 100 most influential black people on digital/social media. Notable in the list are Barack Obama and Beyonce Knowles.

  •  Abasiama Idaresit

A 34 year old digital marketing expert and founder and CEO of Wild Fusion, one of Africa’s leading digital marketing agencies.

Idaresit founded Wild Fusion in 2010 with no external funding, but with only $250 and with a bootstrapped budget, transforming the company into a $6 million (annual revenues) digital marketing firm offering Internet marketing and digital strategy solutions to some of the largest international corporations operating in in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wild Fusion’s clients include Visa V -1.71%, Vodafone VOD +1.1%, Samsung and Unilever UN +1.81% as well as several large Pan-African corporations. Wild Fusion, which is on track to make $10 million in revenues this year, also has operations in Kenya and Ghana. Wild Fusion was also Google’s first Adwords certified partner in West Africa. He is a graduate of the London school of Economics and Political Science.

  •  Misan Rewane

She is founder  and CEO of  WAVE Hospitality, an entrepreneurial solution that addresses education challenges in Africa, particularly vocational education that provides skills and jobs to the continent’s most disadvantaged. Misan previously worked at Monitor Group, Technoserve, Bridge International Academies, and The Center for Public Policy Alternatives.

After receiving a seed fund from Havard, she launched WAVE Hospitality Academy in August 2013 which was designed to focus on the training and placement of unemployed youths in the hospitality and retail industry. She has also co-founded IMPACT Initiative (a youth development non-profit), and Designing Futures (an education incubator). Misan has received degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Business School.

  •  Dr. Ola Orekunrin

She is 26, a medical doctor, a trainee helicopter pilot and an entrepreneur  and founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria,  West Africa’s first air ambulance service which provides urgent air ambulances services to leading health institutions, insurance and private companies in Lagos Nigeria.

Dr. Ola started studying Medicine at the University of York in England when she was 15 years and became a medical doctor at the age of 21. She started the new venture after her younger sister died of anaemia. Her sister was always in and out of hospitals and eventually died for lack of the availability of an air ambulance. But starting this venture was not easy. In 2013, she was named among the list of Young Global Leaders by World Economic Forum.

  •  Toyosi Akerele

She is the  founder  and CEO of RISE Networks, a leading Social Enterprise with a deliberate interest in Technology and its relevance to Youth and Education Development across Africa. She was in June of 2011 described by Mrs. Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States of America, as one of her personal inspirations in a televised address to America as a prelude to her arrival in Africa for the Young African Women Leaders Forum of which Toyosi remains the only Nigerian member till date.

Her initiative, RISE Networks, has attracted hundreds of thousands of Young People in over 20 Nigerian States in the last 5years. An instinctive entrepreneur and consummate young professional, Toyosi’s leadership skills were recognized early in 2007 when she was selected as one of the 101 Young African Leaders by the African Business Leaders Forum of the Business in Africa Magazine.

An accomplished writer, author and public speaker, Toyosi is the author of  STRATE-TRICKS {strategies and tricks, the winning formula for emerging businesses} and other writings and interviews published in a wide variety of journals, newspapers and magazines, including the Nation, the Guardian, Forbes Magazine, Punch and This Day.

Toyosi is the recipient of numerous awards including recent recognition by Crans Montana Forum in Europe as a 2012 New Leader of Tomorrow, 2012 This Day Awards for Nigeria’s Women of Distinction, Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 of Success Digest Entrepreneurial Awards, The 2011 Excellence Awards of the School of Media and Communication – Pan African University, The 2008 Future Awards (Best Use of Advocacy Category) and the 2007 Nigerian Youth Leadership Awards jointly organized by Leap Africa, International Youth Foundation and NOKIA.

She also owns printmagicng.com – Nigeria’s first online Print Store that delivers 24hours Printing Service at low cost to Small Businesses via the Internet. Toyosi is also the founder of  passnownow.com – Nigeria’s prime Learning based social Community that employs contemporary solutions and innovation to teach, engage, entertain and empower Young people growing from Teenage into early adulthood.

  •  Tunde Kehinde

He is the former co-founder of Jumia Nigeria, Rocket Internet’s largest online store in Africa where people can purchase and browse through a wide range of electronics, fashion, home appliances, kid’s items and more.

He and his co-founder Raphael  took over reins of the ecommerce startup mid-2012 with a multimillion-dollar investment from Berlin-based Rocket Internet. Tunde is a trained business person from Harvard and currently reported to starting a new company called NewCo. NewCo is reported to be a logistics company.

  •  Esther Agbarakwe

A 29 year old social entrepreneur and founder of the Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition and an international climate change campaigner with experience working on environmental sustainability, social and environmental policy analysis, biodiversity conservation, justice and reproductive health and rights.

She currently works as a communication advisor for the Association for Reproductive and Family Health.  Esther is also the youngest chair and convener in the General Assembly of ActionAid Nigeria with the responsibility of driving ActionAid’s policies and programs in the country. Previously, she worked as an international advocacy fellow (population, health, environment and climate change) at Population Action International, Washington DC, USA.

She has led several youth representations to major climate change and development conferences including Rio+20, Durban Conference and COP17. She has also worked on other projects with UN Commission on Sustainable Development, UNICEF and the Society for Family Health.

Esther is one of the Youngers of the Elders+Youngers initiative involving notable leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Gro Harlem Brundtland. She is also a Commonwealth Youth Climate fellow, Atlas Corps international fellow and Dekeyser & Friends Foundation Academy awardee.

We are anxiously waiting for your votes to speak for us… these young people have really used their ideas to solve societal challenges and thereby impacting positively on this country.

These achievements call for celebration and that’s the major objective of this award.

We’re waiting for your decisions….

Once more, happy new year!




African Youth Development Foundation (AFRYDEF) is a not-for-profit development organization established in Nigeria in 1999 to mobilize resources and to promote and support sustainable youth empowerment and rural development initiatives in Africa. Our Mission is to cost-effectively empower young people; women and children choose a better future for themselves through facilitating sustainable youth and rural development initiatives. In AFRYDEF, we envision a society where children, youths and women are viewed as assets and resources, and thus encouraged to develop their full potentials. For more information, please, visit www.inspireyouths.org or call +234 (0) 803 870 2075 or email: afrydef@yahoo.com
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