“Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black raccoon–
for implements of battle”
– Countee Cullen
My parents’ 14-hour workdays barely supported our family’s primary welfare needs; thus, my four siblings and I had limited access to quality education and other learning opportunities. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to be mentored toward an outstanding educational pursuit that earned me a University scholarship to study dental surgery. This fortunate access to education opened several career and leadership development opportunities for me. While still in college, I volunteered for civil society and community organizations and led efforts to provide development and educational opportunities to marginalized youths. These volunteering experiences inspired me to pursue a career in the social sector.
Upon graduating, I co-founded UrDentalPlace Limited, a social enterprise ensuring that dental care is affordable and accessible. Also, realizing how significant my mentors were in changing my life trajectory, I felt obligated to provide similar opportunities and training to other disadvantaged youths by establishing a youth development organization called Sozo Networks. Leading and managing the Sozo Networks was initially difficult due to the lack of support systems and training. Although I was passionate and my organization met crucial needs, the lack of technical knowledge, resources, and support frustrated and limited me.
As I grow, I lift others
Fortunately, I got selected for some personal and professional development programs such as a certification course at the Appalachian State University through which I learnt the rudiments of non-profit management and social innovation. I scaled Sozo Network’s impacts across six states and held virtual programs for youths across West Africa. I developed solid partnerships and raised funds to implement several national youth development projects, including the annual SAFE (Securing Africa’s Future through Education) project, grant writing certification training, and the Youths in Development Boot Camps. Over three years, we reached more than 12000 young people with educational support and capacity-building programs. These works earned me more professional affiliations and further learning opportunities that I am leveraging through Impact Toolbox to extend critical training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to passionate young change-makers who lack a support system, tools, resources, connections and professional development opportunities to be effective and impactful.
“Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
I had my graduate studies in international development and policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy on scholarship through the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. Through this rigorous and robust education, I have learned policy design and analysis with a concentration on international development and policy. I finished top of my class in microeconomics and data analysis. I can now apply evidence-based analytical approaches and cutting-edge research tools. My coursework projects and experience working on research have empowered me with the skills to manage research studies independently. After this, I joined the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of British Columbia as an International Doctoral Fellow.
I have consulted for several local and international organizations, including the American Red Cross, United States Technology Association Grant-makers, International Research and Exchange Board and the African Union Mission to the United States. I have spoken at several high-level conferences organized by the U.S. Department of State and John Hopkins University Carey Business School. I served as the President of the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Association of Nigeria where I provided leadership for 300+ Mandela Washington Fellows and over 120,000 YALI Network members in Nigeria. In this role, I led the implementation of several U.S. Mission-funded national youth development projects in Nigeria. Some include The Impact Project, The Young Leaders Assembly, the YALI Leadership Awards, and the Beyond School Community Challenge.
I have received several local and international recognitions. I am a U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, an Associate Fellow of the United Kingdom Royal Commonwealth Society, and one of the African Youths Award Top 5 Leaders of 2018. I received special recognition from the U.S. Consular General to Nigeria-John F. Bray in 2018 for my work on youth development in Nigeria. I am an Obama Foundation Scholar, Clinton Global Initiative Scholar and Second Runner Up of the Maersk Group X-Innovation Challenge in Dubai. I won the 10th John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge organized by the Chicago Booth Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. I am a 2020 Ron Tarrson Fellow at Chicago Booth Business School, 2022 Don Levoie Fellow at Mercatus Center, George Mason University, 2023 Robert Bertram Scholar at the Canadian Foundation for GovernanceResearch (CFGR) and currently an International Doctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia.
I am married to the intelligent and beautiful Olayinka, and we have a wonderful daughter – Chayil. We have lived in Ibadan, Lagos, Tennessee, Illinois, Connecticut and now in the beautiful British Columbia Okanagan Valley.