Alli Ajagbe is a 2017 Alumni of the Sozo Networks SAFE Academy. He is a Tech enthusiast passionate about finding spaces to utilize his tech skills for community development. He is keenly interested in Computer Science and politics. Alli sees himself becoming the president of Nigeria by 2047. Below is his testimony about the SAFE Academy
I heard about Sozo Networks in 2017 while attending after-school classes at Jumpstart Academy, and attending the Securing Africa’s Future through Education (SAFE) Academy played a significant role in helping me decide what I wanted to spend my time and energy doing.
SAFE Academy increased my exposure, and my passion for tech was born during its digital skills training. The SAFE Academy opened the doors to all the opportunities that I have enjoyed. The Academy specifically trained us to be ready for unexpected opportunities. On a typical day in class, a facilitator would throw a random topic at us and ask us to talk about it; we also did many elevator pitches, which helped me introduce myself properly in conferences and networking events.
A year after I graduated from the SAFE Academy, I started my social enterprise called DesignIT after I pitched the Beyond School Challenge organized by the Mandela Washington Fellowship in Abuja. I caught wind of this opportunity because of my alumni privileges at the SAFE Academy, and the lessons I had learnt in the previous year prepared me for this moment. I started DesignIT with 2 other alumni of the SAFE Academy– Bolaji Oladejo and Deborah Benjamin. Our unique value proposition was to, and still is, to provide entrepreneurial and leadership skills to secondary school students so that they can utilize their tech skills for societal development in their respective communities. One of our beneficiaries is now using her skills to volunteer with education and leadership non-profit. Another has set up his graphic design business to help him raise extra income while he is in school.
We raised capital to launch DesignIT in December 2018, and we have impacted young scholars from secondary schools in different countries with tech skills. Our first-class had only 12 students, but now, we have reached over 500 teenagers from across Nigeria, South Africa & Asia, and partnered with 16 organizations like the House of Arts in Ibadan, Teens World Lagos, Save a Girl Africa, Saraj Foundation in India amongst others. Our training courses include Social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Graphics design and Leadership. Our goal is that our alumni can use their tech skills to accelerate social causes that they are passionate about, be it climate change or agriculture.
As a result of my work at DesignIT, I was recently recognized by the iKapture centre for development as one of the 25 under 25 game-changers in Africa. That recognition opened the door to others through the Opportunity Desk and Blankpaperz. Last year, also, I was the winner of two major logo competitions, one of which was for the Bezos Scholars program.
I’m currently studying at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, where I get to learn more about the continent, entrepreneurship & leadership in addition to my core subjects of Mathematics, Physics and Computer science. Being selected into this prestigious institution results from the experiences I built early on due to the exposure from the Sozo Networks’ SAFE Academy and starting a digital training startup.
- An Interview conducted by Lauretta Malaka.