Voices of Youth Inspire! “Failures are the best eye openers.”
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Your name: Salu Oluwamayowa Adepeju
Your age: 28 years
Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
I am from Igbogbo, Lagos State, Nigeria, but I grew up in Bariga
and I still live in Bariga, Lagos State.
According to your business card – what is your job title?
I am founder and Executive Director of Iba (Malaria) Eradication
How does your current job compare with what you wanted to do when you were much younger – say 10 years old?
My years growing up were not so smooth so survival was my
foremost ambition during those years. However, I have always had
a knack for helping people, no matter their situation or
circumstances. My current job as an anti-malarial advocate seems
to tally with my childhood ambitions in a way.
Give at least 5 key words or phrases that describe your typical work day.
In a nutshell, how did you get to where you are right now? Name all the important milestones, including training programmes, work experience and awards.
I got here simply by the grace of God. I am so grateful to God for all the achievements I have had in my short and budding career.
I also believe in failures. Failures are the best eye openers. In fact, it was the failure that I had while an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan that encouraged me to take on more challenges. At that time, I was privileged to be the president of a 50 year old organization and to lead its Golden Jubilee. My job was to reunite the “lost” members of the organization and organize a befitting anniversary. However, due to lack of experience and leadership skills, I left the organization more fractured than I met it. It was painful, exhausting and very discouraging. However, I bought a book by John Maxwell on “Failing Forward” and then I realized that without failing, you can’t move forward or know the value of success!
I bounced back by starting a youth and community development organization called PEER Group Initiative (which has now transitioned to Iba Eradication Foundation) in my community. Through my organization, I have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives through distribution of durable treated mosquito nets and massive environmental cleanup exercises. We recently built the first Malaria Mobile App that is available on Google Play Store and we have received honourable mentions and awards for our programs.nd meaningful s to kindly drop with its socia they should make room for logyng peoplert up social enterprise is, do not give
In 2011, I emerged winner of our one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps Bauchi state award and then in 2012, I was nominated and got to the final round of the African section of the Commonwealth Youth Awards. I have also been part of meaningful mentorship programs like the Carrington Youth Fellowship and the Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa Fellowship where I won an award.
An important milestone I will forever remember was when I secured sponsorship from Exxon Mobil and Red Cross International for my Kick out Malaria Program, despite approaching them as an amateur startup and an unregistered organization. I was so inspired and motivated because I had been told it was not possible!
I have also been privileged to represent Nigeria at many international gatherings.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get to your current position and how did it help you to grow as a person?
The biggest obstacle I have faced so far, though now over, was the challenge of working full time for another NGO and trying to manage mine. It is the reason why I have moved and worked for four organizations and though I acquired good knowledge, I was unable to move as I wished or make the impact I wanted. All that is now over as I have moved on to confront other challenges, because I work presently as the Executive Director of the organization I founded.
How important was your choice of degree/field of study at university for what you are doing now?
I studied Forest Resource Management but I now work to combat malaria. They have no relationship whatsoever.
What are the top three things someone needs to excel in your field?
1. You need to have great resolve in your thirst for opportunities and challenges.
2. You have to persevere. Do not give up when you are betrayed or let down. It is part of the game.
3. You must continuously think of how to run your organization sustainably without relying on grants or begging people for money.
What do you think is the most important thing governments and/or companies can do to help young people get started in their careers?
I would advise governments at all levels especially in Africa to ensure every policy is centered on young people. It is the easiest way to develop any economy, to strengthen and ensure survival of culture and traditions and it helps to deepen democracy. Youth centered policies are necessary to guarantee sustainable development.
Companies should help government by performing their Corporate Social Responsibilities. I would passionately appeal to companies to kindly drop/reduce their showbiz CSR approach and focus on making substantial social impact in target communities. While I understand that they want publicity for their CSR projects, they can do better by working on impactful youth programmes and with genuine startups that have meaningful social impact at the core of their affairs.
On a lighter note, tell us about the strangest day you have ever had at work or the strangest thing you had to do.
For a startup, everyday is always strange! You get selected or approval for things you never believed you could and some outcomes are staggering. The only thing you should do as a startup social enterprise is, do not give up. Tell yourself, my time will come!
Please share with us what you think the youth in your country needs the most.
With the high rate of unemployment and government’s inability to provide answers, any young person reading this should take my advice.
1. Do not rely on your certificate or degree. They may not give you anything at the end of the day. Depend on your skills, passion and will power.
2. Do not wait for tomorrow before you start to think about it. In fact, your tomorrow already started today.
3. Make God your number one ally and you will excel.
What advice can you give the youth as they strive towards their career aspirations?
Start early. Do not be money conscious but excellence conscious. Excel in your academic work but sharpen your skills and talent and ignite them more than anything.