15 May 2020

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How Sozo Networks Connected Me to Development, Alumni Hammed Kayode Alabi Testifies

How Sozo Networks Connected Me to Development, Alumni Hammed Kayode Alabi Testifies

Name: Hammed Kayode Alabi

Name of Organization or Project: Kayode Alabi Leadership and Career Initiative 

Occupation:  Social Entrepreneur/ Regional Manager – Peace First 

Tell us in 50 words, what you or your organization does? 

I am the Founding Executive Director of Kayode Alabi Leadership and Career Initiative (KLCI). We help children in rural communities develop life and 21st century skills needed for the workforce and future economy. We do this by empowering youth educators toward empowering secondary school students in rural communities in Nigeria through activity based workshops and boot camp. 

Why did you start this work? 

I have lived in 3 different slums/rural communities in Lagos, Nigeria. I lost my mum at 7 and my dad became unemployed at the same time. I also stayed out-of-school for a whole academic term. This sparked my interest at age 15 to teach basic literacy and numeracy skills in a low income private school in Igbogbo, Lagos. More so, I strongly believe that children in rural communities are solutions to the problems they are facing if they have access to quality education, skills and opportunities. I believe they can be solutions to my dad’s unemployment and I also believe that they are not learning some key skills in school such as creativity needed for the workforce. This  is a huge gap as they might become unemployable when they graduate. So this is how we birth KLCI to empower children in rural communities to be solutions to their own problems and develop key career readiness, life and 21st century skills. 

How did you come across Sozo Networks?

I have heard a lot of work about Sozo Networks in 2017 and I am really inspired about how they were preparing teenagers with life and essential skills before they turn 18. So I started following the founder and when I saw an opening to volunteer for the Before I turn 18 project in Ajegunle, I gave my shot and later fully applied to join the main team. I later became the Director of the Volunteers Program. 

How has the Sozo Networks Impacted you, your career or your work?

Sozo came as a great blessing to me. It gave me an opportunity to learn how to build a volunteer led based initiative. Currently, we have over 60 volunteers leading our work in my initiatives. More so, as a volunteer I got a Scholarship to attend the Sozo-Appalachian State University Grant Writing Masterclass where I developed key competencies in Grant writing. I won Peace First mini grant and went ahead to work with Peace First and managing grant application in more than 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sozo Networks positioned me for opportunity such as this. I also got into the Carrington Fellowship and got a $5000 grant to create Teaching Egde NG, a first learning management system for teachers in Nigeria as well as empowering teachers with contemporary pedagogies and innovative teaching methodologies. Sozo allowed me to take leadership roles that deepened my knowledge in the non-profit space.

What are your achievements so far? 

Through KLCI, we have been able to train over 60 volunteer trainers and empowered over 3057 students in three states in Nigeria on 21st century, Global Citizenship and leadership skills, our Skill2Rural boot camp have been able to empower 150 students, 15 teachers from over 20 schools in Olambe, Matogun Community Nigeria. 99% of our beneficiaries now sees themselves as problem solvers.

Rejoice Otitoloju is one of our success stories, Rejoice at age 15 created Say No To Girl child abuse initiative to empower young people in her community life skills and sex education. More so, one of the project “Project Ilera Mobile Clinic emerging from our Skill2Rural Boot camp made it to the semi final of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Nigeria Beyond the School Challenge. 

Individually, I was 1 of the 20 who joined the Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative in 2018 and won the US Consular General Awards. I won the Keenista Africa Youth Essay Competition Award (Top 2 -7), I was one of the 7 to join the Global Team of the Peace First Fellows-in-Residence where I support youth social innovation projects in more than 30 Sub-Saharan Africa Countries. I have spoken in the Middle East and Africa on youth social change. 

How many of this achievements were after you participate in a Sozo Networks Program?

I got into the Carrington Fellowship Initiative after volunteering for Before I turn 18 Ajegunle. I also got the Peace First Micro grant to organize Skill2Rural Boot camp after participating in the Grant writing training and finally working with Peace First as a Fellow-in-Residence and Regional Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa! 

My plan for the future is to create and build an education design hub for children in rural communities to co-create solutions to biggest problems in rural communities and have access to mentors. More so, deepening my knowledge in educational policy and development and working with development agencies to increase funding for education in poor communities in Africa and Nigeria. 

In what other ways can the Sozo Networks help or support your work?

Connecting me to think tanks and mentors who will help me to continue to make profound impact in my life and work.


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