My name is Ricky Toh, and I am a volunteer that is part of Leadership Initiative's International Business Alliance Program, a program that helps high school students connect with Nigerian businesses to help solve business and technical solutions. Throughout my time with this program, Leadership Initiatives has really encouraged me to take a stand in fundraising and researching solutions for my business partners. In addition, Leadership Initiatives works hard to make sure our solutions and progress is consistent through online Skype calls with Leadership Initiatives and regular calls with our business partner in Nigeria. They are committed to their cause and working with others, especially since they had to set aside special times for my team, which is located in Indonesia, because of time differences. I really appreciate the work Leadership Initiatives is doing and know that it will change the lives of the Nigerian communities it partners with.
Leadership Initiatives (LI) is inspirational in its work empowering local leaders to start businesses in their communities to address a problem that they see. It has been a pleasure working for Leadership Initiatives and I am consistently impressed by the training that LI provides, but more importantly by its focus on "the local" to ensure that everything comes from within the community from ideas to leaders to funding. The more I learn about the leaders themselves and hear their stories, the more I am inspired by the work they are doing and the positive impact they are having on their communities.
My name is Ismaila Adamu, I was born in 1990 at Yelwa makaranta, Bauchi. I have eight (8) siblings. Just as I began my final year in secondary school, I had to drop out because my father couldn’t afford to pay for my education any longer, this was very painful. But then LI came along and gave me the opportunity to go on. Today I earn about N300 – N600 daily; my desire to complete my education was my drive and I am glad I met with LI.
I am Abdurahaman Aminu, one of the beneficiaries of the LI welding program. Before I met LI, my story was just like most of my colleagues, I was broke and unable to take care of myself or my siblings, I had no education but just over the space of a short time. My welding business has grown. I now operate from Katsina state, where my business skill caught the attention of a Chinese company that I also now work for on a contract bases. This has helped widen my knowledge base and built me up financially. All thanks to LI.
My name is Muhammad Ali, I am the first child in my family with 10 siblings, my father works as a labourer, doing menial jobs and my mum is late. Because of the size of my family and the little income that comes in I barely finished my secondary school education with a lot of challenges and difficulties along the way. After which I stayed at home doing nothing. When LI empowered me through training on motorcycle repairs, I moved from a idle young man who could not help his family to one who had a full time employment and could now help with some money at home to take care of my siblings.
I am Ibrahim Hussaini, though I am disabled, I always strived not to allow my condition limit me. So despite my disability, I obtained my Diploma in 2006, yet was without an employment until my paths met with LI. LI saw beyond my disability and still reached out to help me, by empowering me and some of my colleagues with computer skills. Now with the help of the training I received from LI, I got a job at a business centre here in Bauchi, after which I earned enough to establish my own business. And now I not only own my own business but I am an employer of labour and also I have built a house in my village- Jama’are all thanks to my encounter with LI.
All I did was wait till the raining season to plant my crops in my little farm and harvest it to feed my family. But after LI’s intervention, I, Sani can now provide much more for my family and even for my community. We no longer just eat majorly carbohydrates, but we also have some protein from the fish to go with it. Our finances have improved and even our health too. I am now respected within my community for bringing such help through the fish farm to my people, with the help of LI.
I am Salamatu Mohammed, born in 1991 at Yelwa makaranta, Bauchi state. I have eighteen (18) siblings; my father is a retired civil servant. I completed my secondary education in 2008 but could not continue because my father could not afford to sponsor me any longer. Until I met LI I had no source of income. But after my skill acquisition training with LI, I now earn at least N200-N400 daily. I became a part of LI so I could help my parents with my siblings and also cater for myself, now because of my tailoring skill; I have been able to help her parents send some of my siblings to school. Also I got married and was able to finance what I needed to. LI has helped me build my world and reach greater heights, I never thought possible.
I am Uzairu Salisu, a 16 year old who is currently undergoing my post-primary education at Bakari Dukku secondary school in the JSS (junior secondary school) class. My father Mallam Salisu a peasant farmer, has two (2) wives and twenty two (22) children. He could only afford to send just three (3) of us to school, of which I was not a part of these three (3).
Life has thrown its challenges at me since I was only four (4), daily survival was next to impossible for me and my 21 siblings, as my mum and step mum are both house wives and my father’s income was too small to cater for the large family. All these and much more did not drown out my drive in life; rather they served as the thrust I needed to strive harder.
The Leadership initiatives cobbling business program was an answered prayer for me. Because of my dedication and determination coupled with my mentor’s patience (the LI allocated trainer), I was able to learn the cobbling skill well, not only that, but I became one of the highly skilled apprentice on the business having the ability to design and create fantastic shoes for both men and women of various styles and sizes.
I plan to start my own business soon, so this could help me make a living and also employ other youths in my community. Because of LI, I, my family and even my community will never be the same again.
I am 14 years old; my name is Yahuza, both of my parents are still alive. My father is a tailor with three (3) wives and fourteen (14) children; I am the sixth child and though I was privileged to complete my primary education at Jahun primary school in 2011; but due to financial insufficiency, I have not been able to further my education beyond that level. Therefore, I chose to learn a skill in order to help me raise enough finances to complete my education. That’s when I met with LI and I was given the opportunity of a life time to be trained as a carpenter. And today my desire to fund my education and also support my parent as well as my siblings is gradually becoming a reality with LI.
I joined the LI business program at age 21 as one of the car mechanics apprentice; I am the eldest son in my family with nine (9) siblings and my father- Mallam Lawan is a low income earner who cannot afford to send his children to school. I, Haruna have never attended school before. But after LI’s intervention, I raised enough money to finance my own education at an adult education class, which was the starting point for my education pursuit. This was one of the greatest longing that drew me to the LI business alliance program, to further my education with the proceeds from this business skill.
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.