DECEMBER 17, 1999,the United Nations’ General Assembly endorsed the recommendation of World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 1998) that August 12 be declared an International Youth Day (IYD), thus affirming the need to celebrate the contributions of youth to world development. Every year, IYD is celebrated with young people engaging in various activities such as rallies, parades, community volunteering projects, environmental awareness, free Medicare, advocacy campaigns and other developmental programmes. One of such was the New Media Conference held recently at Magrellos Eatery, Ogudu G.R.A, Lagos. Organised by Positive Development Foundation (PDF), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help young people develop their skills using modern technologies, in collaboration with Committee of Relevant Art (CORA) and Dream Art Design Agency (DADA), the conference was a platform to bring young people together to discuss the applications and challenges of the New Media and the various creative ways Internet can be optimised. While explaining to participants reasons for IYD, Miss Adenike Fagade, founder PDF, said the conference was initiated to help youths explore the benefits of Internet, especially in their businesses. She said such a programme promotes individual’s social and economic development. FACILITATED by Deji Toye, a member of CORA, the conference featured discussions on blogging/ e- mail, social networks/ sites, online research via search engines, online freelancing/ schooling. Tosyn Bucknor (Top Radio), Niyi Tabiti (gistmaster.com), Chude Jideonwo (Future Youth Award), Anwuli Ojogwu (Fate Foundation), Shakiru Taiwo-Jalupon (Nigezie) and others, who work with Internet, anchored these discussions. Mrs. Olufunke Fadugba, Executive Director, Media Ethics Organization, encouraged young people to use their time and energy meaningfully while Mr. Ogbo Ogbo, CEO Giantthoughts International, dwelt on financial freedom. About 138 youths drawn from different parts of the state were in attendance. Also present were Opeyemi Bamidele, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy and Mr. Bolaji Uthman, Director General, Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau, among others.
Bank of resources for the fresh ones
AS part of efforts to positively channel the energies and resources of the youths, a new initiative, the YouthBank was recently launched in Lagos. The organisation is a small business incubator designed to connect street youths between ages 15 and 25 in the urban developing world with the skills, mentors, and resources they require to set up their businesses and pull out of poverty. Speaking at the launch of the programme at the US Consulate in Lagos, Clara Chow, president and chief executive officer, Youthbank International, said, “our ‘community hub’ model trains and evaluates street youth as they work in a core business, makes targeted investments in the most innovative ideas from the most promising young entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs repay their in-kind loans and commit to hiring and investing in other YouthBank graduates.” She continued: “Built on the principles of microfinance, venture capital and community development, YouthBank is financially sustainable, scalable, and impactful for its young entrepreneurs and their communities. We will take the young people to the next level of life. We welcome quite a number of people to be part of this programme. We don’t train youths to be employees, we train them to be employers of labour.” However, the President, YouthBank Nigeria, Mr Victor Gotevbe said the core social strategy of the initiative involves a two-step process. The first step is on-the-job training and experience through employment in the YouthBank core businesses, while the second is the provision of a small microcredit loan on successful completion of the employment programme to start a micro-enterprise. He said, “we would give them soft loan and buy them the equipment they need to do the work. They will later repay the money collected. We want them to grow from business managers to business owners in the country. People are suggesting we take the initiative to the Northern and South-South geo-political zones to enable them benefit from the programme.” With this, he continued, “we can fight corruption to barest minimum in the country, fight against robbery and other social vices. This will also change the idea of people searching for job instead of developing their own businesses. Meanwhile, one of the beneficiaries of the project, Fagbemi said she was grateful she was selected along side other eight people. Another beneficiary, Oluwatobi Oke said he would pass on what he learnt to others, adding that Youthbank has brought a light to his situation.