Changemaker: Grace Ihejiamaizu
Youth Unemployment in Nigeria has been a major challenge in Nigeria. It has been an issue of national concern and has attracted numerous youth empowerment schemes both by the public and private sectors in a bid to tackle it. Despite the many efforts, however, the problem has continued to thrive. The impact can be seen in the unwholesome attitudes of our youths and engagement in unproductive ventures. It is often said that, ‘an idle man is the devil’s workshop’. This is the background from which the Raising Young & Productive Entrepreneurs (RYPE) Project was initiated, to reduce unemployment and idleness among youths. RYPE is an afterschool youth development program designed to empower a generation of transformational young leaders and entrepreneurs. We have developed an innovative approach to educate, empower and engage youths. The annual YouthLEAD camp training program, open youth forums, volunteering, internship, mentoring are amongst the activities the project implements to achieve its goals and vision. The Open youth forum is organized for senior secondary students from various secondary schools to interact, debate, learn and network; while the intensive 5 day YouthLEAD training is organized for school leavers who are selected from an application pool and interview process. These programs expose participants to positive values, knowledge of leadership, personal development, social and business entrepreneurship. It helps them gain experiences that help them discover their self, make informed decisions about their lives and careers as well as become leaders of change in their various capacities. Other key activities that drive the project are the inclusion of volunteer, internships and mentoring programs that helps us follow up and also gives the youths a more direct and experiential learning opportunity. As our main target group is Secondary school leavers, we are committed to engaging them meaningfully and putting to use the few years that they have to spend at home while they enrol for pre-university examinations Youths indeed are Nigeria’svand await their admission into the university. They can be empowered through entrepreneurial andvhope for the future. This venture is an attempt to inculcate in our youth, thevdevelopment programs spirit of entrepreneurship.