We’re on a mission to build Africa into a world power in 10 years —Oluwatoyin Banjo, project director, Ideation Hub Africa

Oluwatoyin Banjo is a social innovator, the project director of Ideation Hub Africa and the founder of Managers Toolkit Africa. With an extensive experience in integrated marketing communications and strategic volunteerism, she has helped businesses and individuals achieve their goals. In this interview by Kingsley Alumona, she speaks about her experience studying mass communication; her work and volunteering endeavours, the social media and hate speech bills proposed by the Senate, and what the award conferred on her.


Tell us why you decided to study mass communication and what your experience was like studying it.

Mass communication wasn’t my core choice while trying to gain admission into Lagos State Polytechnic. I had the intent of studying accounting, but because I didn’t have a credit in mathematics—and by divine providence—I came to study mass communication. I excelled and came out top of my class, with upper credit. After my national diploma, I gained direct-entry admission into Bowen University in 2005 and later obtained an MSc mass communication and media technology from Lead City University in Ibadan in 2011. In Bowen, I specialised in integrated marketing communications, graduating with a first class and as the second-best student in my faculty. It was an opportunity to unravel the gifts in me.


You are the project director of Ideation Hub Africa. How is the hub changing lives and business?

Ideation Hub Africa is a social-impact incubator providing early-stage social entrepreneurs and non-profit professionals with experiential education, enterprise incubation, and growth advisory and collaborative platforms to start, scale and sustain their big ideas. We also provide executive education that equips those who work to achieve all 17 SDG goals. We’re on a mission to build Africa into a world power in the next ten years, by empowering  one million change-makers to solve Africa’s pressing problems through social innovation.


Is Ideation Hub Africa restricted to Nigeria only? And, how do you fund your projects?

Ideation Hub Africa is not restricted to Nigeria. It operates across all the 54 countries in Africa. We fund our projects majorly by leveraging partnerships and funding opportunities with organisations that share similar interests, and are keen on driving social impact and innovation.


Why did you establish Managers Toolkit Africa? So far, what societal impacts have you and your team made with it?

I founded Managers Toolkit Africa to bridge the competency gap in Africa by upskilling and reskilling its workforce. We’re focused on building an Africa whose human capital is highly sought after in the world and to raise a generation of African leaders who uphold a great sense of their civic responsibilities to changing the narrative across all borders and sectors. In the area of societal impacts made, we have and are equipping business owners, NGO professionals and social entrepreneurs with requisite and pragmatic knowledge to build a super-powered team of volunteers in order to achieve greater impact with their work across all strata.


You facilitate master-classes on volunteerism and volunteer management. How  can people benefit from them?

This master-class on volunteerism and volunteer management runs as an online or on-site course crafted specially for NGOs, for-profit organisations, business owners, project directors, project managers, volunteer managers, volunteer coordinators, lead volunteers and anyone who interfaces with volunteers. The benefits of this course/training programme include: The mastery of proven strategies for attracting, engaging, and developing the right volunteers for your projects/organisation; and mastering pragmatic methods of evaluating volunteer skills and performance; etc. the benefits also include learning how to leverage brand equity to attract the right volunteers to your organisations and/or projects.


Tell us about IMMERSE Coaching Company. What is your job description there as a support coach?

IMMERSE, which was started in 2014, is a personal transformation bootcamp, equipping women to launch a higher version of themselves. Through a breakthrough coaching framework, we deliver mindset re-engineering that often leads to significant rebirths in the lives of our clients. Our mission is to empower women to live a life of purpose, abundance and personal success. At IMMERSE, we’ve a fundamental belief that personal transformation can change your life.

As a support coach, I’m committed to helping the members achieve the desired outcomes/expectation, or lead them in the direction of achieving same. We work with members to promote self-awareness and encourage self-determined learning which supports personal responsibility.


In what way is the coronavirus pandemic in the country and the lockdown directive by the government affecting your business? And, how do you improvise?

We know how serious this pandemic is and we know the government is making efforts to combat its spread across the country. On the other hand, we as an organisation are forward-looking, law-abiding in our business approach, and we are going to abide by the laws of the land. That said, our business rides on technology and it’s service-orientated. So, the lockdown doesn’t have adverse effect on us. Instead, it has been a pedestal to leveraging technology to provide impact-driven solutions that’ll transform the businesses and the sector we play in. Our team has been working remotely and we use different communication modes to deliver our deliverables. Responsibilities are clearly delineated and communicated, and we’ve performance matrix put in place to monitor and evaluate assignments.


As a mass communicator, what is your take on the social media bill and the hate speech bill before the Senate?

Freedom of speech can’t be suppressed. There’re pre-existing laws and regulations that are ready in place that address and govern some of the excesses highlighted in the social media bill and the hate speech bill as regards the operations of the mass media and the digital media. I believe if there are pre-existing laws that address these issues then there’s no need to enact into law another set of regulations when there’re subsisting regulations addressing these excesses


Early this year, you were one of the 50 people that were conferred with the Royal African Young Leadership Forum award by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II. Tell us about the award and what its conferment on you means to you?

The award celebrates and recognises outstanding young Nigerians that are breaking status quos and birthing new achievements, visible and invisible, across Nigeria and Africa. It’s so humbling to be a recipient and an ambassador of the award for my unwavering commitment and allegiance to the development of youth empowerment, transformation and nation building. It was a recognition of my leadership excellence, vision and outstanding work. It means as you serve selflessly, there’re eyes on you even when it looks like your work is almost invisible. But people are watching, and they recognise the outstanding work that you do. It’s a worthy recognition, and I glorify God for it. It’s a proof of whatever you’re doing, keep at it and keep doing it excellently.


In five years, where would you see yourself and career?

In five years, I see myself fulfilling the mandate of God as a catalyst for social reformation and revolution. I see myself at the forefront of advancing Africa’s frontiers and as a force in strategic alliance for expanding Africa’s skills and employability market. I see myself building a new Africa and innovatively redefining its socio-economic environment.


What do you like doing at your leisure? If you were to go on a tour in a foreign country, which country would that be, and why?

I love volunteering, networking, watching movies and humorous comedies. I’ll love to tour Sao Tome and Principe. I heard it’s African Eden or African paradise on earth. My reason of wanting to tour there is because it’s the second smallest African country, maybe with a population of about 220,000 people. The country has so many beautiful natural wonders and sceneries, with a profound history.


What advice do you have for young people, especially the female ones, who are aspiring to be like you?

They should continue to embrace opportunities to grow and evolve, personally and professionally. They should be undaunted lovers of learning on a daily basis. One key way you learn new things is through your commitment to serve. Service can be in different ways—giving of your time, resources, intellectual knowledge to the transformation of others. More importantly, commit to a life of meaning, focused on the development and transformation of humanity in your own way and with your talent. Go for that idea brooding in your heart and in your mind to solve a critical problem. Don’t short-change yourself and your society.



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