In order to raise human capital through the simplistic approach of the bottom top method, SASSBUC was conceived in October 2019 on a crowd funding platform to raise funds for the implementation of the project.
The campaign posted on Gofundme has since been generating funds to initiate the preliminary steps of recruiting suitable participants who would benefit from the project, its objectives being the following:
. Develop communication and social skills in young people
· Inculcate team building and lifelong skills which include culinary skills, domestic budgeting, time management, organisational skills and sourcing for information
· Assist participants to set SMART targets for their education and aspirations
· Engage role models/public figures to provide support, advisory services, good connections and networking opportunities for participants
· Expand SASSBUC into major cities across West Africa.
The appointed co-ordinator for the Lagos chapter successfully recruited suitably qualified candidates from a sub-urban area of Alimosho local government area where a large part of the population is underserved with limited socio-economic opportunities. This group of 10 participants aged 14 to 23 forms the pioneer beneficiaries of the project under the coordinator’s tutelage.
The first meeting was held on 18th January 2020 where the objectives of the project were shared with participants with a strong emphasis on target setting of SMART goals and aspirations through regular bi-monthly meetings. At the backdrop is the real dissuasion of the participants from falling victim to traffickers who prey on vulnerable young people. The clear objective is to empower youths with clear target setting skills, which they aspire to achieve as discussed within communal meetings and a signposting to a plethora of immediate resources through training, networking opportunities and engagements with successful role models.
The co-ordinator, Omobola Idowu is a passionate, qualified and experienced secondary school (KS3 and KS4) Nigerian teacher to students in Lagos, the bustling commercial capital. Her subject specialism, Home Economics has placed her in a good position to provide and develop culinary and team building skills in young people as they prepare to hold their meetings. She has been instrumental in boosting self-esteem and confidence in the participants, including target setting skills. She donated her home as a meeting point to discuss learning experiences, develop communication skills through target setting and signposting participants to different resources and training workshops to help them achieve targets. Drawing from her culinary expertise, her preparation of a 3-course meal involves the participants who in effect are enhancing their team building skills. As she presents the objectives of the project to all participants with a clear focus of individual target setting, she clarifies that is constitutes the small steps towards the building of their human capital; small efforts to dissuade them from falling victim to human and sex trafficking. As a complement to the meeting, was a schedule of exemplary community models who are meant to enthuse the participants, develop good networking opportunities, help them achieve their targets and access voluntary work with business organisations.
Idowu-Agida Omobola is a lover of God who is passionate about youths and teenagers and their well-being. She believes in using every opportunity available to reach out to them and impact their lives for the better. She studied Textile Technology at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. She’s also a nutritionist who is passionate about good food and healthy living. She believes in the youths and teenagers of today and in giving them an opportunity to impact their world positively. She’s married to Olufemi Idowu-Agida and they have four wonderful children.
Participants’ Profile and Personal Targets
The 10 participants are aged between 16 and 23 years with basic educational qualifications ranging from middle secondary school qualifications to National Diploma (pre-university) qualifications. Participants were recruited from the outskirts of Lagos in an underserved community called Ipaja, where very minimum infra-structure exists for the welfare of the local people. Community amenities such as government schools, libraries, leisure centres, shopping centres, community centres hardly exist in the area except for a large religious organisation. Local private schools situated in the area charge a premium which may not be affordable by parents. A group of government hospitals is located 10 miles away making it very difficult for locals to access healthcare. Due to these challenges, participants have become a target for human traffickers, who lure them with deceptive schemes to migrate to Europe under the guise of jobs within the travel and tourism industry.
During registrations for the project, the participants entered the following as their expectations which reflect the plight within the local community:
As explained by the World Bank, human capital comprises of the knowledge, skills and health that people accumulate throughout their lives, enabling them to realise their potential as productive members of society. Knowledge can be conceived as the basic skills as taught in schools that is often taken for granted. Be that as it may, skills are not taught and cannot be equally perceived as curriculum content. They however command a universal value placed on the same scale as interpersonal qualities as highlighted in a 2017 poll. It is such skills or its awareness cum target setting that SASSBUC attempts to bridge in young people to enhance their outlook in life, to widen their horizon and prepare effectively and productively for the future.
The World Bank continues in its effort by reiterating that extreme poverty can be arrested with the creation of more inclusive societies by developing human capital. This requires investing in people through nutrition, health care, quality education, jobs and skills. While SASSBUC is concerned with skills building/knowledge acquisition, it cannot unfortunately with constrained resources address health matters. As a result, the focus is on youth skill development, training, intervention and building of human capital using the simplistic bottom top-approach.
While the consequences of inaction on human capital development increases, youths are continually abandoned, exposing them to the limited option to join underworld. Thousands of youths including young mothers continue to migrate to Europe through the Sahara enduring inhumane experiences under the watchful eyes of the criminal gangs with the sole purpose of profiteering. This bitter experience is totally unnecessary and must cease with appropriate intervention that raises awareness of the dangers and most importantly the skills development and human capital leading to sustainable employment. Without human capital, countries cannot sustain economic growth, will not have a workforce that is prepared for the more highly-skilled jobs of the future, and will not compete effectively in the global economy.
Participants’ Personal Targets
With the current COVID 19 pandemic, bi-monthly meetings are suspended under the lockdown in Lagos. The project will continue under normal circumstances with engagement with a role model, a renowned and award-winning jeweller, Bimbo Balogun, CEO Bimbeads Concepts. It is expected that she will support the participants using her craft making skills and influence to develop some human capital and direct them to opportunities within her network.
The project continues with the objective to grow and expand it into other fragile communities. Interested stakeholders and funding organisations are encouraged to donate funds into our Gofundme campaign. A new cohort of participants will be recruited shortly while it is expected that the current group continues to engage with UKAPES and the Lagos Co-ordinator, Bolanle Idowu-Agida.