Gbenga Uriel Ogunjimi, a leader within his field of social entrepreneurship, recently achieved recognition for his efforts and motivation in promoting employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Gbenga the CEO of Landmark Internship International recently described his life story of finding his voice as a young man living in Nigeria. Through his exploration of self and the development of confidence for oneself, Gbenga was able to achieve more than the status quo. He describes the panic stricken feelings of finding oneself as a young person, and the difficulties of believing in oneself by following ones heart and dreams. For Gbenga, the revelation came when he realized he needed to become a social entrepreneur and follow his compelling desire to help Nigerian youth through a service system called NYSC, National Youth Service Corporation.
The NYSC is a corporation created by the Nigerian government in hopes of placing emphasis on national pride through organizing a ‘compulsory’ one year service for graduates of various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This system has been created to help promote community services, a stronger economy within Nigeria as well as provide an excellent opportunity for Nigerian youth to not only get involved within their community, but develop hands-on experience within the Nigerian work force. However, the NYSC system was tailored to suit the needs of nationalists and not the needs of Nigerian youth and their professional goals, thus making it an undesirable option and causing it to fail in achieving its ultimate goals.
Gbenga Ogunjimi sought not to criticize the NYSC for its failures but created a new system with similar positive missions; synchronizing these missions with the professional goals of young Nigerian graduates. From this, Landmark Internship International was born.
Landmark Internship International, LII, recognizes the need to assist Nigerian youth by providing a network of unique global internship and volunteering opportunities. Through deploying various employment alternatives, Nigerian youth can attain global competitiveness and ultimately becoming world-class employees, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs.
The need for such a service has never been more imperative. Since the current Nigerian education system is failing to educate Nigerian youth in a way that is compatible to the global community, many Nigerian youth have found themselves unemployable after many years of education, thus increasing unemployment, decreasing social financial stability and increasing poverty levels within Nigeria. Gbenga’s mission has been to address these issues through LII, organizing a link between the global market and Nigerian graduates.
Unlike other programs, LII provides its volunteers with a given platform to deploy their unique skills, passion and educational experience to help small business, schools and not-for-profit organizations thus making Africa, and the world at large, a better place. One unique development opportunity is the SME Internship program. This platform provides young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs and MBA students a chance to turn around small businesses in Nigeria, thus providing hands-on practical opportunities in Africa for highly educated Nigerian youth.
When asked about the development process involved in starting a social enterprise, Gbenga explained how the initial steps one needs to take to follow their heart can be the most difficult path. One may question whether they have the education, money or experience to take on a lead role within their community. Gbenga explained that finding others who have the same global and social perspectives can be a wonderful charge to action. He reached out to others and found Ndidi Nwuneli, a very successful social entrepreneur. Through mentoring sessions, Ndidi asked Gbenga, ‘If you like to help people and still make money, then you are a social entrepreneur’; these words confirmed he was on the right path. Since then, Gbenga has experienced wondering successes such as winning the Global Knowledge Entrepreneurship Award (GK3) for young social entrepreneurs along with a successful campaign to revive the waning culture of volunteerism in Nigeria.
The GK3 award was the break Gbenga was waiting for. Through networking and additional funding, Gbenga is now able to focus on some of the challenges involved with connecting international companies, SMEs and non profits to the LII programs for young Nigerian professionals. Through recent developments and positioning statements such as: ‘promoting professional volunteerism to Africa’ and launching a ‘Come to Africa’ campaign, Gbenga and LII can address the serious issues of attracting new businesses to African countries, this being one of the most difficult challenges Africa faces within the current global economic community.
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I have been fortunate to have experienced a variety of excellent opportunities such as, working at EMI Music Canada, a recording studio, djing in night clubs in Toronto and Tokyo and participating in photography festivals in Tokyo; but, nothing has been as rewarding as working with youth.
SME Internship program Laura Kenyon
| Feb 7th, 2008
I thought this was a really great idea - offering MBA students or young professionals the opportunity to get experience by helping out small businesses in Nigeria. A really great way to give both sides exactly what they need, and smaller businesses avoid having to pay huge consultancy fees!
| Feb 15th, 2008
Wonderful and inspiring!
| Dec 11th, 2008
good, gbenga keep representing.
| Dec 11th, 2008
good, gbenga keep representing.
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