For Us By Us: Global Diaries – Abuja Edition

For Us By Us: Global Diaries is an initiative brought in partnership with the Hult Prize Foundation that is bringing to light the incredible behind-the-scenes stories that are occurring across the globe with young entrepreneurs trying to change the world through impact.

Reflecting on my Hult Prize experience as a Regional Director, brings to memory the historical Moon Landing on July 20, 1969 by Neil Alden Armstrong and his team. 

When Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, he famously said: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” I’ve often imagined how Armstrong felt on setting his foot on the moon eventually after strenuous preparations and moments of doubts. I learnt that at about 109 hours, 42 minutes after launch, Armstrong stepped onto the moon. 

As one might imagine, this was a great feat for the scientific community and opened up more opportunities to explore and discover the universe. It inspired scientists to continue to explore space and look for ways to do the impossible. Landing a man on the moon led many to believe that anything was possible and that if we could think it, we could do it.

When I was selected as the Regional Director for Abuja Regional, the thought of the big task ahead of me and the fear of failing or not living up to expectations made me lose sleep. I grew lean. Everything else didn’t matter to me except the Hult Prize. It haunted me every time. I read everything I could about Hult Prize and watched all the videos on YouTube. Yet, nothing was making sense as to convince me to embrace the task.

I then decided to call CQ and Nelly, the senior staff of Hult Prize Foundation that I frequently reach out to when I was faced with a difficult question, and told them that I can’t go on with the Regionals. I reflected on the conversations I had with CQ and Nelly days before. I thought about everything they told me. They treated me like their own brother. They told me to believe in myself. They reassured me that I can do it, that I have what it takes to organize the Regional Summit. They believed in me, and trusted me. This thought gave me strength. I became energized and empowered to do my best. I submitted the invoice and got my team onboard. We were at our best. We want to be part of the generation that is changing the world. Everything was working fine.

Then something happened. The funds for my event didn’t come in. It went to the wrong bank and it was my fault, as I had submitted the wrong swift-code in my invoice. My heart was broken. My team wanted answers from me, but I had none. What do we do? How can we raise that much money to organize the Regional? I couldn’t think straight. I asked myself a million questions. My heart was giving up slowly. Then I faced the toughest moments with questions about my honesty hanging in the air. Of course, Nigerians have a long history of scam, the mere thought of it made me sick. Yet Hult Prize members trusted me. They didn’t criticize me. They understood that I was going through difficult times. They supported me. Thanks to Nelly, CQ and Hamdi. They are amazing. I hope to see them someday. They helped me launch my Plan B to raise money elsewhere and make the Regional happen. It was the most challenging moment of my life. I was sleepless for a whole week, calling friends and families to lend me money. My team were up and running too. Spending their pocket money to get things done. I had the best team. 

Let me make this point clear. I was ready to sacrifice anything for Hult Prize because they trusted me even when it was reasonable not to. So I vowed to reciprocate that trust by making the Hult Prize Regional Summit Abuja happen despite all the challenges. And together with my team we made it happen. 

On the 15th of March, the Hult Prize Regional Summit Abuja kick-started. We welcomed teams and competitors from around the world into Abuja. Vibrant young people with amazing ideas. I cherished every moment. My team with the support of Hamdi on ground made the first of our summit awesome. I watched groups of young people engage in meaningful conversations about the difficult problems in the world and how to solve them. Watching them in this light, I saw problem solvers and changemakers; I saw the vision of a new world in the horizon, a prosperous world without poverty and hunger. For the first time in my life, I felt hopeful about the future of humanity and the world. 

On the 16th, the next day, I had the previlege to listen to the brightest ideas of young people to change the world. I was speechless at their brilliant ideas. Young people are ready to change the world. They are ready and prepared to lead to world into a prosperous and sustainable future. After strict judging processes and evaluation, our regional winner, Brycoal, emerged with their idea to conquer the energy sector. I was fulfilled. At last, we made it! 

Hult Prize is one giant leap for mankind and the world. We need initiatives that will empower the younger generation to come on board and create massive start-ups that will greatly impact the world. We need initiatives that will empower everyone to make a change. That’s is exactly what the Hult Prize has been doing since 2010, inspiring over 200,000 young people to become entrepreneurs, problem solvers, changemakers, world builders and champions of human inclusive prosperity. No other global initiative has broken such record! This is the world’s biggest hope and opportunity to achieving the SDGs. It channels the youth’s creative energy and talent to solving difficult social problems. And I’m delighted to be part of this global community of changemakers.

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