My name is Hamza Ya’u, I was born in 1985 at Kofar Fada, but later settled at Yelwa Markaranta of Bauchi, I have thirteen (13) siblings and my father is a local farmer. My father could not afford to send me or my siblings to school. I spent most of my time on the farm with my Dad during the raining season and he just sits idle at other times.
LI’s intervention greatly transformed my life and that of my family. I was trained on the welding skill and I who earned nothing before and sat idle when I was not on the farm with my dad, now earns about N300 – N400 daily, giving me the financial power I needs to take care of myself and even help my family. Also I am working on enrolling in an adult education system to help me get the education I couldn’t get prior to LI’s intervention, and now even help to send about four (4) of my siblings to school.
As a nonprofit professional, I have an intimate knowledge of how important organizations are to people that are disenfranchised and in need of support. I am a firm believer that real change happens in a bottom up format, empowering those who need support to change their circumstances and develop in order to reach their true potential. LI accomplishes this with innovative and precise programs- helping communities survive and thrive in a sustainable fashion.
Leadership Initiatives is determined to change the world, one community at a time. I have volunteered with LI since 2003 and visited projects in both Namibia and Nigeria. One difference this organization has is their constant presence. I have met many people in developing countries that have gone through training of some kind through one organization or another. More often than not, these people struggle to apply their skills outside of the classroom. Leadership Infinitives' Computer Literacy course is a great example for taking the abstract and making it applicable. I had an opportunity to meet Ibrahim, a graduate of this program. He now makes a living servicing peoples printing needs, creating banners, business cards, advertisements and wedding invitations. Throughout his transition from student to entrepreneur, LI has been there, checking in on him and assisting along the way. Ibrahim is more than just a success story for LI, he is a teacher and supervises the development of new graduates. He is one of the many people involved in that is committed to changing the world, one community at a time.
Having spent many years living in developing nations, I have been impressed by the model of sustainable economic development put forward by Leadership Initiatives. The model builds entrepreneurial leaders at a community level, taking local entrepreneurs through a process of identifying a business/service that is needed, developing a business plan, and raising the necessary funding from within their community. The results are sustainable businesses that empower individuals and their communities to invest in their futures. The success of the new businesses and the willingness of successful entrepreneurs to reinvest in new projects is a compelling model that I feel proud to support.
Leadership Initiatives (LI) is an outstanding example of how we should guide and direct our foreign policy initiatives in regards to peace-building and international development. LI strives to create an atmosphere where the people of Nigeria have the largest say in how their needs are met, thus this does not create dependency and allows for more brighter days to come in Nigeria. After having had the opportunity to meet individuals who have been affected by LI's work, I am forever hopeful that LI will only grow to do greater things in the years to come. Leadership Initiatives has taken social entrepreneurship to a whole new level.
I have been involved with Leadership Initiatives for the past two years, and have been familiar with the organization for the past four years. I was first introduced to Leadership Initiatives when my older brother was involved with the organization, working to raise money for the “Water for Nigeria” project. His group raised enough money to build a water purification facility in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria. After seeing how my brother was able to help a deprived community through Leadership Initiatives, I knew I wanted to somehow be involved. I was then fortunate enough to be asked by Marshall Bailly, the Executive Director, to be the group leader of the Fish for Freedom project. As the group leader, I am now able to be a part of some of the incredible projects that Leadership Initiatives is involved with.
While working with Leadership Initiatives, I have been privileged enough to work with those who need the help the most. Our group project is focused on providing affordable fish to the people of Birshi State in Nigeria, and we are currently in the midst of raising money to help expand the fish farming program into other areas of the state. In doing so, we are helping regions that have been severely depleted of crucial nutrients for years, specifically quality protein and Vitamin B.
My work with Leadership Initiatives has been occasionally interrupted by the actions of political and religious extremists throughout Nigeria. Leadership Initiatives’ ability to overcome the constant adversity faced each day by these extremists is truly remarkable. It is a well run organization and repeatedly completes projects that have a lasting impact on many less fortunate communities in Nigeria. I am proud to be a part of this respected organization, and I anticipate further growth of their humanitarian efforts.
Leadership Initiatives’ International Business Alliance Program (formerly Sister Schools Program) connects emerging businesses abroad with high school students across the United States. American student leaders are tasked with solving local development issues through business development, thus fostering cross-cultural collaboration. High school students involved in the program have been instrumental in increasing capital for their business partners through business process changes that enhanced efficiency and minimized costs. The success of the International Business Alliance Program on the high school level led LI to introduce its first program at the university level this past year at Georgetown University, with plans to expand to other colleges/universities in the future.
Leadership Initiatives is a great example of social entrepreneurship. The people behind the organization are driven -- their bottom line is social capital. The LI model is to provide just enough assistance and infrastructure that the people in the community can establish their own businesses -- which often beget more businesses. I have watched this organization grow from the inspired idea of a college student ten years ago to an engine for social change fueled by altruism, business savvy, and a sincere desire to help improve people's quality of life -- by showing folks how to do it themselves. I have taught in the university system for over 25 years and specialize in social entrepreneurship. Leadership Initiatives is an example of the best of the best.
Leadership Initiatives creates businesses, but there's more to it than that. In a time where relationships between countries have become very tense and unpredictable, LI takes everything back to the very basics, which is presenting oneself and seeing others as humans with emotions and desires and goals. By connecting leaders in the beneficiaries' communities with outstanding US high school students poised to become leaders for their own generation, we promote intercultural relationships with teamwork. This results in a continuing positive relationship. US students will take this positivity with them to college and beyond. Finding ways to improve cross-cultural relationships can be difficult, but often times the answer to the problem is the simplest solution.
I joined Leadership Initiatives this year, and am already impressed by the widespread effect this organization has on all aspects of the community. Leadership Initiatives promotes developing businesses, creating a safe environment for entrepreneurs in the Nigerian and Bauchi community. These developments are facilitated by the youth of the International Business Alliance Program which fosters the promotion of leadership skills among high school and college students, allowing the next generation to become active members in their community and the world. This organization not only strives for a wonderful cause but is also possesses the progressive and effective skills to make a difference.