In a changing and unpredictable Nigeria, more youths are now stepping out to change their own story and that of their society. In this interview, EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST, COMPERE, TOASTMASTER, BEHAVIOURIST . Founder/President READ AND LEAD FOUNDATION & President Ikeja Toastmasters Club Hammed Mustapha Olawale tells me about his foundation. Excerpts
Read and Lead Foundation was inspired from the popular saying "Readers are Leaders". On the 28th of March 2011 I was reading an article on one of Nigeria dailies and I discovered that the secrets and ideas that governs the world are scattered in books and the westerners did that with the notion that the best way to keep a secret from the blacks is by putting it in books. So when I finally discovered this through the article I decided to start advocating for reading as a requisite for leading. Though not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.
What are the challenges that surfaced since the establishment of the foundation?
At first, like minds joined the movement online because I took it to the micro blogging website (Facebook) as a group and it was all going fine as we challenged ourselves on a daily basis to read up life transforming literatures to prepare ourselves ahead for the future. After a while, transition into a full fleshed organisation was imminent as we continue to grow in size and reach on the internet and we started meeting in person on the 27th December 2011 and that was three days before our first conference. Our members are scattered across Nigeria tertiary institution so we had the challenge of not having everyone available at the same time due to the variation in our respective school calendars. We later structured annual programs so as to take the advocacy to a wider reach in real life just as it is on the internet so we needed fund and we had to raise that from our respective allowances which was also a bit difficult.
After we discovered this challenges, we decided to start a "Robbin Hood" measure. Raise fund through envelopes and letters from people in our respective communities that have enough and using it to organise our programs. We also needed more man power, so artisans with like minds of societal development were also brought on board for efficiency.
LEN seem like a perfect acronym, what do you intend to achieve with it?
LEN (Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Networking) to us is the synopsis of all Nigeria crux and we believe we can contribute to minimizing or rather eradicating the challenges we face with L.E.N by unraveling measures with which we can savour those ordeals. We also believe that been an entrepreneur is the only solution to our ever growing rate of unemployment in the country and a successful entrepreneur is one who have mastered the qualities of leadership and also develop skill for thorough networking. So L.E.N was just natural for us and it was an easy theme for us.
What's your advice to youth out there who are still waiting for white collar jobs?
Youths, white collar jobs? The last time I checked , Forbes rich list was flooded with business owners. People who started their businesses with little or no capital at all. So the only way out the mediocrity of always hunting for white collar jobs is for youths to start up their own business and be their own boss. Every idea, tips and mental resources they need will be the subjects at LEN2014 on the 27th December, 2014. So come and have a life transforming experience and by planning to attend LEN2014, you will make this month a December to remember.It is a free event and you can't just afford to miss it.
For inquires about the Read and Lead Foundation or LEN, please call 08162726997.