Two young Nigerians will receive the 2017 “Queens Young Leaders Award” at Buckingham Palace in London on June 29, 2017. These two are part of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth countries (25 are from Africa).
So, who are these two young Nigerians and what have they done to deserve such great accolades? Let’s find out.
Bukola Bolarinwa (28 years old)
A lawyer, an Advocate, president of the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) and founder of Haima Health Initiative.
Her story began at birth, Bukola was born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Nigeria records the highest number of people with the sickle cell gene and disease, more than any other country in the world. About 150,000 children are born with SCD each year and 100,000 of them die before the age of 5.
SCD patients usually require blood transfusions. Over the years, Bukola noticed a chronic shortage of blood donors for people living with the disease. In 2010, she joined her friend (and founder) at the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF), a youth led non-profit, non-governmental organisation which was established to raise awareness about the disease.
She subsequently started Haima Health Initiative to help raise awareness of the importance of blood donation – something that Nigerian are generally scared of and/or unaware of its importance. Under Haima Health, Bukola set up an online blood donation register which educates and encourages other youths to donate blood. During its first year, they linked over 500 blood donors with patients in urgent need of blood. And there is more to come. The team are working to recruit 5,000 registered blood donors by December 2017.
This is an incredible young lady who turned a personal struggle into a triumph for herself and millions of Nigerians with the SCD.
Nasir Yammama (26 years old)
Nasir is a farmer, tech enthusiast, innovator and entrepreneur. He was born in Katsina state into a farming family. At the age of six, he observed how hard the farmers on his father farm worked. He wanted to find a way to improve their working lives.
From an early age, he was interested in technology and won several national and international competitions including the British Council’s 2014 Enterprise Challenge competition, Oracles Thinkquest and Digital Peers International’s Digites.
In 2015, Nasir set up the social enterprise Verdant Agritech; he developed a mobile app which is designed to helps farmers to produce more crops and increase their sales. With this app, farmers can access market data, weather information and financial services. They are also able to learn management skills. He started with 50 farmers and now, Verdant (in collaboration with Oxfam and GIZ), is supporting 25,000 farmers through this mobile platform. Nasir’s vision is to transform agriculture in Nigeria and enable farmers to double or triple their yield.
Today many young people have moved away from farming because it is not considered a “sexy” industry. Nasir has been able to bring an age-old profession into the 21st century and beyond and he is supporting Nigerians in a sector that is relevant now and will remain relevant in the future.
The achievements of these two young individuals is extraordinary. We should also recognise the 8 runner-ups. Although they did not receive an award, their achievement is commendable which is why they got on the shortlist. They are: Chidinma Akaniro, Christiana Iyasele, Chukwuebuka Obimma, Grace Ihejiamaizu, Oluwafisayo Ajisola, Oluwaseun Osowobi, Omotayo Junaid, Onyinye Edeh
XeedBusiness wishes to congratulate all winners and the runners-up and hope their stories inspire other young aspiring entrepreneurs.
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