SOZO Networks begins second Youth in Development boot camp, fellowship

SEQUEL to the success of the maiden edition of SOZO Network’s Youth in Development (YID) Boot-Camp and Fellowship Programme in 2019, a second edition of the leadership training boot camp took place from Thursday, February 25, to Saturday, February 27, 2021, while the fellowship programme will run for three months.

In acknowledgment of the peculiar public health requirements of the times, and in deference to the diversity in current locations and nationalities of the applicants, this year’s YID Boot-Camp and Fellowship programme is an entirely virtual exercise.

The programme was preceded by a baseline survey where the current leadership status, motivation and expectations of the participations were gauged using some exercises that were embedded in the participant selection process.

A total of 150 applicants were selected from a pool of about 2,079 applications that emanated from 21 African countries and diverse fields of youth-led community development and civic leadership.

With an average age of 24, the 2021 cohorts for the YID Fellowship are young, energetic and forward-looking.

So far, a total of 600 people and counting are being reached through the step-down and one-on-one mentorship training programme.

In line with its mission to equip young people with the requisite skills and confidence for fostering sustainable and vigorous community development, SOZO Networks organised a highly educative edition of the YID boot-camp enriched by presentations from facilitators, including a representative of the US Embassy in Nigeria, a Danish minister and former parliamentarian scholars from the University of Wisconsin, Appalachian State University and prolific social entrepreneurs from Africa and other parts of the world.

The theme for the first day of the boot camp was the value of building resourceful partnerships for the sustenance of fundraising initiatives in the spirit of social entrepreneurship.

On the second day, participants were informed of some of the challenges of social entrepreneurship in developing countries and were taught some strategies for accountability and prudence in the management of human, material and intellectual resources.

On the third day, the participants were taught the rudiments of story telling as a primary means of changing counter-productive narratives and value reorientation.

They were introduced to the concepts of impact analysis and measurement for social projects, ideation, grant writing, financial planning and marketing strategies for social enterprises.

Speaking during one of the highly interactive sessions, the founder of SOZO Networks reminisced on his personal experience as a social entrepreneur and serial volunteer in Nigeria. From working in an environment that forces you to improvise or give up, to his sojourn as a fellow in the Mandela Washington and Carrington programmes, his awareness of the absence of an effective mentorship network and intellectual bank for aspiring, young and curious social entrepreneurs and researchers and its implication for the attainment of development targets.

This informed his resolution to found a network that is deliberate in its resolve to provide mentoring for young leaders, a repository of resources for social entrepreneurship and a knowledge hub for the exchange and dissemination of social innovations and management. The Youth in Development Boot-camp and fellowship programs is one of the signature programmes of Sozo Networks.

Others are The SAFE (Securing Africa’s Future through Education) Project that attempts to elasticize the contents of typical school curriculum and improve upon the soft skills of Nigerian students; the youth volunteering programmes where young people are provided a platform to engage with experts and earn critical leadership, management and communications skills. The Impact toolbox (I-Toolbox), a subscription based digital social venture incubation and networking platform, Social Impact Strategy and Accelerator Programs, an intensive and personalized empowerment programme for social entrepreneurs and Grant Writing training for young people from all walks of life.

Continuing, Dr Fatudimu described how these initiatives serve as means for the translation of his own vision for a society that is able to muster appropriate human and material responses to social issues.

He welcomed the participants of the 2021 YID boot camp and fellowship to a unique community of change-makers and effective leaders with an explanation of the cyclicality of knowledge and a caveat that knowledge is a baton that must be passed onto the next person in line.

Hence, the climax of the YID programme is that each participant has to demonstrate a strategy for stepping down the knowledge and experience gained from the boot camp.

The 2021 Youth in Development Boot camp and fellowship programme is powered by the US Embassy in Nigeria (Lagos) and Impact Toolbox, with the support of Appalachian State University, Chicago Booth Rustandy Center for Social Innovation and the Institute of World Affairs University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, U.S.A.

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