• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Empowering Youth to take the lead for a sustainable future: The 2023 S.M.I.L.E’s Youth Leadership Summit and United Nations International Youth Day celebration


The Strategy for Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E) once again demonstrated its commitment to fostering youth leadership and driving positive change as it successfully hosted the Youth Leadership Summit and commemorated the United Nations International Youth Day.

The event, which took place at the Regal Hall Oregun Lagos on Saturday the 12th August 2023, brought together over 600 guests which includes young leaders,undergraduates, entrepreneurs, professionals, and advocates from diverse backgrounds to engage in thought-provoking discussions, dynamic workshops, and meaningful networking opportunities.

The event kicked off with a warm welcome and house rules set by the compere, setting the tone for a day of meaningful engagement.

The Nigerian National Anthem was beautifully rendered by a saxophonist Mr. Oluwafemi Omomowo, creating a patriotic ambiance that resonated with the spirit of unity and empowerment.

The opening remarks by Mrs. Olabisi Ibitayo, CEO of Limelight EduConsult, marked the beginning of a journey filled with insights, inspiration, and transformation.

The event seamlessly transitioned into the United Nations International Youth Day segment, focused on the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards A Sustainable World.”

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale conveyed the United Nations Secretary-General’s message by Mr. Antonio Guterres, emphasizing the pivotal role of youth in shaping a sustainable future.

A video message by Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, further underscored the importance of youth-driven initiatives in addressing global challenges.

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale, also delivered a special remark that highlighted the importance of youth acquiring green skills to enable them access green jobs and foster a sustainable world.

The program continued with an introduction to the Green Economy through a video by the International Labour Organization (ILO), shedding light on the evolving landscape of opportunities in sustainable practices.

Mr Segun Tekun

The day’s momentum continued with a presentation by Mr. Tekun-National Project Officer, Social Protection and Youth Employment, International Labour Organization (ILO) on the Opportunities and Skills for the Green Economy. His session emphasized the need for young people to embrace the Green Economy, promote sustainable practices and learn green skills such as analytical skills, renewable energy skills and so on.

To further engage the audience, a Question and Answer session was moderated by Mrs Ajibola Babalola.

Ms. Ejiro Sharon Okotie, who is visually impaired, delivered a heartfelt TED Talk on the topic: “Learning Beyond Disabilities.”

(Ms. Ejiro Sharon Okotie, Founder of the Hope Inspired Foundation for Women and Youth with Disabilities)

Through her talk, she shared a powerful perspective, advocating for equal opportunity for education, employment and leadership positions for Persons Living With Disabilities

Ms. Okotie shed light on the fact that living with a disability is a part of the human experience.
Her message emphasized the importance of understanding and acknowledging the unique challenges and strengths that come with different abilities. Her inspiring words illuminated the stage, highlighting the remarkable abilities and resilience that exist within the visually impaired community. Her talk underscored the importance of recognizing the diverse strengths that individuals bring to the table, regardless of any perceived limitations.

Arc (Mrs) Olajumoke Adenowo delivered an engaging keynote address on the topic: “The Role of Young People in Nation Building.” Her words struck a chord with the audience, emphasizing the incredible influence that young individuals wield in shaping the course of their country. The session also spurred the Youth to identify and solve problems that irk them. She emphasized the need for young people to contribute to their nation’s development because a nation is not a geographical entity but a collection of people with a common vision, powered by the resource base of their common wealth.

(Arc Olajumoke Adenowo, a member of the Board of Trustees of S.M.I.L.E, the Principal Architect AD Consulting and Founder, Awesome Treasures Foundation)

Mrs. Toyin Oke-Osanyintolu, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, represented Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State.

(Mrs. Toyin Oke-Osanyitolu, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development )

In her address, she highlighted the vital role of youth empowerment and how organizations like S.M.I.L.E play a crucial part in helping young people tap into their full potential. Her words emphasized the power of youth to shape the future, and she highlighted the collaborative efforts needed to ensure their growth and success.

As the event’s focus shifted, all eyes were on the eagerly anticipated launch of the Youth Lovers Tribe – a global network of Youth enthusiasts, advocates and mentors composed of top executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs above the age of 40 years who share an unwavering passion for youth growth and development.

The President and Founder of S.M.I.L.E, Mrs. Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, took the stage and eloquently introduced the Tribe’s vision. In her own words, she referred to it as “a global network” and urged more adults to be involved in mentoring young people within their sphere of influence.

Mrs. Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, President, Strategy For Mentoring Initiative and Leadership Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E)

During the Awards and special recognitions session, outstanding youth, change makers, and mentors were honored for their exceptional contributions. Mrs. Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins presented awards alongside other members of S.M.I.L.E’s Board of Trustees and Mr. Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, emphasizing the importance of youth-driven initiatives in shaping a progressive society.

(Award recipients)

  • The Awards presented include:
    Inspirational Youth Of The Year Award – Mr. Thaddeus Timbee founder, Betta Coal Energy, Benue State
  • Community Change Champion Award – Mrs. Vera David-Emesiobum, founder Project Grey Elderly Care Initiative, Lagos State.
  • The Youth Mentor Of The Year Award – Mr. Elijah Olupona, founder I.N.V.E.N.T Project, Lagos State.

An immersive and fascinating segment dedicated to youth health and well-being, led by the dynamic Mrs. Vicky Akingbade, the head of Just Dance Entertainment, added a special and exciting touch to the event.

The event was also designed to create a lively atmosphere of excitement, energy and relaxation.

The event continued with a deep dive into success strategies through the session “Visioning and Developing a Strategic Road Map for Success’ by Mr Gbenga Folayan, Managing Partner of Rossette Consulting and member S.M.I.L.E’s Board of Trustees. He shared valuable insights and tools for crafting a roadmap for personal and professional success.

Stepping into the spotlight, Mr. Idy Enang, CEO of Corporate Shepherds Limited/ President of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria(NIMN) and a cherished member of S.M.I.L.E’s Board of Trustees, led an insightful session on the art of Branding Yourself, Your Ideas and Initiatives.

(Mr Idy Enang, CEO Corporate Shepherds Limited/ President & Chairman of Council – National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, NIMN/Member S.M.I.L.E Board of Trustees)

He emphasized the significance of crafting a genuine personal image that aligns with one’s passions and ideas. This enlightening discussion empowered attendees with insights into how a compelling positive and consistent personal brand can fuel their projects and aspirations.

Another highlight of the day was a brief session by Mr Sinari Bolade Daranijo-CEO Sinbol Group and Board Member, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund who spoke on “Building Personal Wealth and Attracting Investments”. He highlighted the fact that young people can build their businesses and they should not be discouraged by limiting factors such as lack of funds as viable business ideas always attract funding.

An engaging panel session comprising of Mr Gbenga Folayan, Mr Idy Enang, Mr Sinari Bolade Daranijo and Mrs Temitope Okunnu(Founder, FABE International Foundation) moderated by Mrs Ajibola Babalola was set up to give clarity and answers to the burning questions of the young leaders and participants.

Leaving no one behind, the inclusive panel session gave ample opportunity for participants who are hearing impaired and visually impaired to ask questions and seek for workable solutions in their quest for new career opportunities.

A major highlight of the event was a spotlight competition tagged “pitch-a-thon” moderated by Mr. Tobi Olaitan. It was so exhilarating to watch these promising young leaders pitch their ideas to the audience and judges.

From the preliminary stage to the final stage of the competition, we saw the young participants deploy their networking, negotiating and public speaking skills to convince the judges about the potency of their ideas.

After a keenly contested competition that also had a person with disability in the final stage, three winners emerged namely:

1) First Position: Mr Mustopha Olorunwa Najmudeen

2) Second Position: Miss Opeyemi Adeyemo

3) Third Position: Miss Divine Ezendiokwere

Special thanks to the amazing Judges comprising of: Mr Tunde Mabawonku, Engr Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, Mr Idy Enang and Mr Gbenga Folayan who helped assess these Youth ideas using parameters namely: Relevance, Uniqueness, Impact, Innovation, and Sustainability.

(Mr Tunde Mabawonku-Executive Director, Retail and Digital Banking, Wema Bank Plc and the three Pitch-A-Thon winners in awe)

To wrap up the entire summit there was an engaging networking session coupled with refreshments, announcements, photo sessions, and red carpet interviews. The energy and enthusiasm in the room underscored the commitment of young leaders to drive change and innovation.

As participants departed with newly gained insights, connections, and inspiration, the echoes of the day’s theme, “Take the Lead,” continued to resonate.

The Youth Leadership Summit and United Nations International Youth Day celebration served as a catalyst, igniting the passion of young leaders to take charge of their future, lead with purpose, and contribute to a sustainable world.

( The National Youth Service Corps with Mrs. Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins, President, Strategy For Mentoring Initiative And Leadership Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E) )

S.M.I.L.E’s commitment to mentoring and nurturing youth leadership, fostering intergenerational collaboration, and celebrating excellence stands as a beacon.