Saturday, 17 September 2016

My First TED Talk

By Sinmisola Nojimu - Yusuf

In February this year I applied for the 2016 Venture In Management Program organized by Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) in partnership with the Lagos business school. I took my application very seriously; I got some alumnus of the program (shout out to Ellen, Rosebud and Sabina) friends and advisers to review my application and everyone though it was fantastic. I thought I did a great job as well but unfortunately , I did not get accepted into the program. It pained me. It did indeed. But overtime I began to look at it as a lesson in managing my expectations and handling rejection. I am grateful for the opportunity to even apply though. One of the requirements of the program was “Imagine you have been asked to give a TED talk of an idea that will change your community and or the World, write your 10 minute speech” So just like that, I wrote my first ever TED Talk. Here it is:


Wadi Ben-Hirki, is a 300 level student in Covenant University, Nigeria who started the Wadi-Ben Hirki Foundation at the age of 18 with nothing but a deep longing to change the world, one under-privileged child at a time. Wadi, despite being a young undergraduate with no experience in the Non-Profit Sector has led the Wadi Ben-Hirki foundation to touch the lives of no less than 100 children in barely 2 years of existence. 

Toyin Saraki, a onetime victim of the failed Nigerian health care system has today through her Well Being Foundation birthed the Personal Health Record (PHR), a ground breaking health resource which ultimately is intended to reduce infant mortality and maternal death. Toyin Saraki is a lawyer with absolutely no background in Medicine, yet her giant strides in the health care sector is preserving priceless human lives.

Otto Orondaam, a young African born and raised in Nigeria founded Slum 2 School Africa in 2012 during his NYSC. He did this as an intervention to advocate for and improve access to quality of education for disadvantaged children in slums and remote communities. Otto Orondaam was a youth corps member who with no prior experience in Social entrepreneurship or any expert knowledge in education started a foundation that has so far has attracted over 5,000 volunteers from 12 countries.

My name is Sinmisola Nojimu-Yusuf, I volunteer with the Eagles Hope foundation to develop the leadership potential in teenagers by training and mentoring them on the principles and values that would help them excel in life. I also volunteer with the Hope for the old foundation to champion the cause of the elderly making them know that they still matter in this fast paced world.

Wadi, Otto, Toyin and I are ordinary human beings who just like everyone in this room have the innate desire to help people. I am sure that everyone here in this audience has at some point nursed an idea or longing to do something good for a relative, local community or even the world at large. The difference between us and some people here, however is that we did something about it.
We all know what corporate social responsibility (CSR) is. We demand it from multi-national corporations, Oil companies and even Small and Medium scale enterprises. How about we demand it from ourselves?

Imagine a world where everybody is responsible, everybody. From, Iya Basira; the shop owner in Makoko to Chinedu, the small time car exporter in Apapa. I know a word that can be used to describe that world; Amazing!

Imagine if what we valued most was how much we could help other people. I’m talking about Individual Social Responsibility (ISR). This is not about commuting acts of charity or working for communities in which you have material interest. ISR is about individuals taking responsibility for their actions and how they affect the immediate community around them. It’s about each one of us taking part in the development of our local communities and beyond. For example, you taking part in the cleaning of the street you live or rendering services to orphan children and elderly people. The opportunities for ISR are endless. But, how can we make this more “normal”? I mean how can we spur Iya Basira and Chinedu to give back every single day. 

The NYSC scheme puts graduates in secondary schools and organizations to render development services to their Nation but this isn’t very sustainable because for many of them it is the first and last time they really engage in work that has an impact on their community.

But, what if just like the government has incentives for CSR engagements, we introduce same for ISR?

  • A Percentage cut in taxes for being responsible citizen?
  • ISR as a requirement for accessing government grants, scholarships and loans?
  • ISR as a requirement to be admitted into Tertiary Institutions?
  • ISR as a requirement for being awarded a degree?
The possibilities are endless. There is so much we can do to encourage Individual Social Responsibility in our country and ultimately the world.

We have a population of 170million people in Nigeria, 57% of which are above the age of 14, that’s approximately 97 million. Imagine if 97 million people actively served their communities, coming up with laudable initiatives like the Wadi Ben-Hirki Foundation, Slum 2 School and Well-being foundation or maybe even just like me volunteer with foundations like those mentioned to better our communities and world at large.

In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him”. That means where ever a man turns he should find someone that can help him. Let’s start turning

Thank You.

Sinmisola NY.
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