Eradicating poverty remains one of the greatest challenge facing humanity despite the number of people living in extreme poverty dropping by more than half between 1990 and 2015.
Youths in developing countries are struggling to leverage themselves from the poverty cycle with unemployment being their greatest setback. In this regard, unless we empower and equip the youth with skills that can help them make a significant lifestyle, we are headed to losing a generation with the most desired talents and innovations.
Everyone should take part in poverty eradication regardless of their age. All it takes is the will and a hands on experience to create an impact.
Dahunsi Oluwanifemi, a 16 –year-old Nigerian is the founder of Teens World Empowerment (TWE). His key interest is to eradicate unemployment, poverty, and unawareness of the SDGs.
An engineer since the age of 9, Dahunsi has made great milestones in advancing the sustainable development agenda. Through his organization, he has empowered over 2,028 youths with both mental and physical skills.
The ‘super-brain’ narrates his sustainability journey with Impact Africa.
Tell us about Teens World Empowerment (TWE) and what it stands for.
Teens World Empowerment is an organization keen to eradicating unemployment and poverty by basically empowering teenagers to acquire effective skills.
Our channel of distribution is sustainable. We train the youth on substantial skills – tailoring, web design, graphic design, digital marketing. After skill acquisition, we transfer the teens to our partner organizations where they can get certificates and later connect them to institutions they can work and earn a living for themselves.
Growing up as an African child, what inspired you to venture into the world of sustainability?
Well, growing up I had everything a normal African child needed. However, my elder brother who could not afford to go to secondary school by then inspired me to start a campaign – #EradicatingUnemploymentThroughEmpowerment – which was my first venture at the age of 13.
The rate of unemployment amongst youths was overwhelming. I felt that if teenagers had the skills and the right connections, they could thrive in their various fields and fend for themselves hence improving the economic sector in Nigeria and Africa at large. This gave me the insight to start the Teens World Empowerment project. It focuses on training teens in poverty-stricken communities to acquire desired skills for their future careers.
Share an example of a sustainability project goal or strategy you developed and has been of much help in your campaign to eradicate unemployment among teens.
Our strategy is “Persistency and Commitment.” All of our projects are sustainable. Also, our empowerment programs reach a large number of teens while at the same time we spend fewer resources.
Highlight some of the projects Teens World Empowerment has engaged in to achieve sustainable development.
At teens world empowerment we hold projects/ conversations aimed at provoking change in Africa. Such projects include:
a) Teens Talk Time
b) Change maker’s hangout
c) Cleanup festival
On September 28th, we will be hosting the TweGIAwards and the Grand Launch – one of the biggest events of the organization. The Grand Launch will bring together teens and students to enlighten them about the SDGs. This year’s theme is focused on suicide and its relation to unemployment. It will provoke a campaign against suicide among teens mainly due to unemployment. On the other hand, TweGIAwards is an award that celebrates people who have effortlessly and passionately contributed to sustainability in Africa.
What are some of the challenges Teens World Empowerment has faced in its pursuit of sustainability?
To be candid, there are a lot of challenges especially in a contemporary African society like Nigeria where everyone is focused on getting money. Challenges like schools denying us access to train/empower their students due to the wrong perspective that I am a small boy who does not know anything of value. We also have issues getting funding as well as getting halls and accommodation for our workshops.
What factors do you consider when proposing a sustainability initiative? And how do you ensure the empowerment project is impactful?
Our major focus for the projects is the state of the community. How sustained are the youths and their contribution to economic growth?
To ensure that the projects are impactful, we monitor and connect with the teens. This ensures that they apply the skills they learn as well as give back to the community through volunteering, empowering other youths and donations.
Provide an effective method you have used to ensure the youth are interested in the empowerment projects.
We encourage or make the empowerment series attractive with fun activities like dance for change, draw for change where we give prizes and awards to winners. We also expose them to interesting apps as solo learns for coding which attracts most teens.
Having founded the Teens World Empowerment at such a tender age, how did this impact your prospects and focus in life?
I would say it was not easy balancing school and the organization. There was also a lot of stress learning how to successfully run an organization and staying in school.
This affected my relationship with my peers. I was the odd one among my friends. I knew about the SDGs and most issues that faced the youths in Nigeria, unlike most teens. Most people discouraged me as they did not believe in just a young boy with a great mind.
But besides that, I was able to balance my education with my organization. To top it all up, I did my final exams and I came out successfully. This gave me a lot of zeal to keep pushing forward.
What is your concern about our ability as a continent to create a more sustainable world?
The sustainability of Africa revolves around us. If we do not take action to change to win the SDGs, we shall all lose the battle. There is a need for each one of us to be the change we desire. The government has a role to play by including us in decision making positions because we know our problems and we have the solutions to solve them. I believe everyone in Africa should find a problem and solve it.
What piece of advice would you offer to others seeking to create change in the world?
My keywords are Find your space, Stand Out! I am charging all young minds to #LeadYoung. Identify a problem and solve it! Take action!