We talk about problems a lot in Nigeria, but rarely proffer solutions. There are people who not only talk about problems but also do something to change the status quo. In so doing they meet a lot of opposition and encounter challenges, but they keep going nonetheless. We often do not celebrate greatness and people making change happen but through AlphaIMPACT we will celebrate people doing great things for themselves and other people. AlphaIMPACT is not about awards, it is about celebrating excellence.
Those words by Japheth J. Omojuwa, the Convener of AlphaIMPACT, set the tone for what turned out to be a truly inspiring night that left an indelible mark on the minds of attendees and speakers alike. Omojuwa, who is also the CEO of Alpha Reach, a new media and online strategy management company, stated his vision for AlphaIMPACT is to honour change makers, known and unknown, who are making Africa a better continent in their own little spaces.
From maternal and newborn health, to education, to entertainment and business, the line-up of speakers at AlphaIMPACT reflects a diversity of passion and efforts held together by a common purpose – birthing social change and impacting lives.
Faith Fookes, Geneva-based lawyer, is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridgewise, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the prevention and eradication of obstetric fistula in Africa. Faith was inspired by personal experience of what it is to suffer from pregnancy-related complications to embark on advocacy against fistula in Nigeria by raising awareness on preventive measures and sponsoring surgical treatment for fistula patients.
Ishaya Bako, a 29-year old award-winning film director and screenwriter studied at the London Film School. Ishaya is exploring the nexus between entertainment and advocacy by using his films and documentaries to raise the social consciousness of the public. “I love telling stories. I straddle between fiction and facts with the blurry lines between them” he said as he narrated his experience using the films Henna and Silent Tears to raise awareness on girl-child education and domestic violence respectively.
“We not only have an unemployment problem, we have an unemployability problem.” Simi Fajemirokun gave one of the quotes of the night speaking about her Read2Succeed initiative. Simi, whose Martin Luther King Jnr’s I have a dream narration held the audience spellbound, pointed out that nowhere in the world is education left in the hands of government alone. The impact of Simi’s advocacy is already apparent with a number of structural changes made at Utako LA Primary School in Abuja. “We didn’t dole out money to make this change happen, we just showed up!” she said.
Richard Nyong has through his company, Lekki Gardens, brought about a revolution in Nigeria’s real estate sector. Richard narrated how he, armed with a N750,000 loan and a dream, embarked on an audacious quest to make housing affordable for Nigerians of all income groups. Five years later Lekki Gardens has delivered over 6,000 housing units, making a lot of people millionaires in the process. “To make it in life you must be tired of making excuses” said Richard as gave insight into how he and his company have surmounted setback at different stages of the business. The philosopher and businessman in Richard combined effortlessly to give one of the most impactful and memorable quotes of the night when he said “we are not children of our circumstances, we are fathers of our future.”
The impact of the truly inspiring event extended well beyond the packed Alpha Reach Power Library as tweets sent through the hashtag #AlphaIMPACT reached well over 800,000 people on Twitter and was the third trending topic in Nigeria behind football related content from the UEFA Euro Cup.