The Future is Here
By Funke Ajomale
If one were to believe only the reports of newspaper headlines and late night TV roundups, one would be assured Nigeria is mere steps away from a cliff drop. The evidence is incontrovertible. Isn’t unemployment on the rise? Isn’t the naira falling and failing? Just when we thought Boko Haram was ‘technically defeated’, bombs death and destruction made a bloodletting return to the North East.
A group of people would however have us believe we are not a country beyond saving. That Nigeria possesses a new breed of heroes, shaping a future that holds a lot more promise than the present. Enter The Future Awards Africa.
Now in its 11th year, The Future Awards Africa is an awards body that recognises and celebrates hardwork, talent and achievement in young people, aged 18-32. This year it has nominated 105 young people across 21 categories of industry where young people are turning the tide of bad news into good fortune for themselves and their communities, impacting lives positively.
The class of and nominees of The Future Awards 2016 are an eclectic bunch. They are a collection of people some of whom you have probably never heard of,and some you might have. This is a beautiful quality about the awards, it rewards those too who work hard in silence, those who would likely never receive recognition elsewhere.
The future of work, of our cities, of our children who will come after us is likely promising if left in the hands of these ones.
Ayo Thompson, 30
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for On-Air Personality (Audio)
As the host of Nigerian Info FM ‘The Woman,’ a weekly show that focuses on the Nigerian woman and everything that makes them phenomenal, Ayo Thompson gets to promote and uplift women distinguishing themselves in their various fields. This is a task she’s taken very seriously, drawing from a wide pool of seemingly ordinary to widely celebrated women and engaging each equally for their personal contributions to their communities, their country and women in general. Prior to that role, she was a co-host of the popular Breakfast Show on 99.3, Nigeria Info FM ‘Morning Crossfire’ where she garnered a wide following.
Dr. Olumo Adedunmola, 24
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for YOUNG PERSON OF THE YEAR
If one were to call Dr. Olumo, a wonderwoman, you wouldn’t be too far off. She is a recent graduate of the Medical School at the University of Debrecen in Hungary. It goes without saying that an education in Medicine is a difficult path to follow. Yet, Dr. Olumo did this, excellently while also managing four successful businesses across varied industries. She achieved financial independence from her retired single mum. She became an entrepreneur. She finished her medical studies. All in one fell swoop. She runs Dedun’s Cakes, a four-year-old cake and pastry company; Hair by Dedun, a six-year-old hair styling business that caters to every hair texture; DedunCooks, a six-year-old Nigerian food catering business, and Belle Artistry by Dedun, a new beauty-focused business she started earlier in 2016. She is just 24 years old.
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Business
How often do you get a chance to pull out the trusty old ‘When life gives you lemons’ quip? Well, Seun and Seyi Abolaji have been able to say it, without cheese or sarcasm for the last six years, as their startup Wilson’s Juice Company company has grown out of their room in Convenant University Ota, to fill shelves and freezers across the country. The Abolaji brothers’ little experiment has grown to become a nationally acclaimed food business, and the brothers have raised over $200, 000 in seed capital from friends, family and their savings. The multi-million Naira business now has a factory that produces 24, 000 bottles a day and employs 30 workers. Wilson’s Lemonade is distributed to over 650 locations and 18 states in Nigeria. Not bad for two guys who polish off a played out adage every morning.
ARESE UGWU, 31
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Education
Arese is an author whose book, ‘The Smart Money Woman’ has become a movement. She is a finance whizkid and analyst (this generation’s Bismarck Rewane) who is using pop culture to teach finance. She features in several TV shows and importantly presenting two shows on the economy and finance on Guardian TV and Ndani TV respectively. Arese’s book became a best seller in 24 hours of launch. She has taken this financial education to Accra, Johannesburg, Abuja, Durban and will resume the 2.0 phase next year. She is also setting up a the Smart Money Woman book clubs in different cities with the first already launched in Ghana. Arese is helping a generation build wealth. Her book was endorsed by business tycoon and billionaire, Aliko Dangote. He called it “an entertaining way to learn about money.”
SOLOMON OJEAGBASE, 30
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Professional Service
Sports is big business in Nigeria, but until Solomon Ojeagbase, it was an ecosystem trapped in a repetitive cycle of soft sell print newspapers, terrestrial radio stations and heated discussions outside viewing centres. Ojeagbase, who prefers to refer to himself as a digital marketing expert, almost single handedly brought Nigeria’s vocal but digital wary football community online, through the Complete Sports website and digital communities which he single handedly built from the ground up.
His work has received much deserved critical acclaim, with honours as Sports Website of the Year at the 2016 Media Awards, and Top Sports Blog in Africa at the 2016 African Blogger Awards.
But Ojeagbase isn’t just a sports head, he is also an accomplished philanthropist and activist, serving as the NRG Ambassador for Nigeria, an event organized yearly and sponsored by Shell to provide greener solutions to the world’s daily energy needs. He also volunteers his time and expertise to Learningtreeng.com, an innovative e-learning resource portal that prepares candidates for major Nigeria examinations using the Computer Based Test (CBT) model.
KENNETH OKWOR, 24
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Professional Service
If ever there was a law prodigy in Nigeria, it would be Kenneth Okwor. He is only 24 but already a Templars Law Firm Associate AND an Adjunct Lecturer of Corporate Law and Practice at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus. He graduated with First Class Honours from the Nigerian Law School and a Second Class Upper Honours from the University of Jos, where he made distinctions in Commercial Law, International Law and the Law of Evidence. He graduated top of his class at the Nigerian Law School, winning several awards and prizes including the Council of Legal Education Star Prize, the Best Overall Performance, all categories of Best student of the year, Best student in Corporate Law Practice and Property Law Practice prizes, among others.
SOMKELE IYAMAH-IDHALAMA, 28
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa and Ebony Life Prize for Acting
The saying goes, there’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. The saying could also be used for a person. Somkele’s time has come. She was recognised as a Rising Star by the Toronto International Film Festival for her role in 93 Days. She was arguably the heart and the soul of the heartbreaking film that retells the story of how Nigeria overcame Ebola. Perhaps the most important film to have come out of Nigeria in a decade. She was also a winner of the Africa International Film Festival Special Jury Award, a high honour, for an actress whose filmography is well shy of the length of those she overcame to claim the award. She was also awarded (Big Screen) Actor of the Year at the ELOY Awards, which took place last weekend. She has appeared in almost every major production to be released in 2016: ‘The Wedding Party’, ‘The Arbitration’ and ‘The Department’.
Oluyomi Ojo, 32
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Technology
Many startups wrestle with grand ideas and massive problems but as Oluyomi Ojo’s Printivo shows, it is just as important to simplify small ones. Hpe went about this by creating a platform that simplified the process of print work for small businesses, allowing them whip up cards, flyers and other business paraphenalia, straight from their phones and laptops. By democratizing the process and ensuring a standard level of quality no matter the print product, and increasing ease of business by offering a delivery service, Ojo revolutionized business print, and took out the hassle of diversifying a small business. It helped Ojo win a coveted grant through the government run business development scheme YouWin, and a cash award of $10,000 dollars from the Etisalat Innovation award.
KEHINDE PAUL, 28
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Sports
Its tempting to describe the achievements of this man as having excelled where able-bodied men failed. But that would be saying only part of the story. Paul is a 28-year-old power-lifter won Gold in the Men’s -65 kg category at the recently concluded Rio Paralympics. He was one of those who restored pride in our sportsmen where athletes at the Olympics hadn’t performed up to expectations. Arguably due to no fault of their own. Paul also competed in the men’s 72 kg event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where he also won a gold medal. His is a record of excellence against all odds.
Samuel Ajiboye, 25
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa for Media Enterprise
Ajiboye is a vanguard in the field of user experience and digital communications. He is the country manager at the Nigerian arm of Alpha and Jam, a full service creative digital agency with offices in Nigeria, Ghana and Paris. He has worked on various multinational and local brands in the country and regionally. Prior to his current role, he was country manager at Tribal Lagos which was a regional role for the company’s multinational accounts across west, east and central Africa. In that position, he helped brands and senior management client team in the dynamic and ever increasing space of content, technology and new media. He was also director at Chatad Niger, a full service digital marketing agency in content creative and interaction.
Osa Okunkpolor, 27
Nominee, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Arts & Culture
Osa Seven tells expansive stories through urban GFX and Graffiti Art, reclaiming public spaces through art and community service. His medium has allowed him the unique opportunity to create art for different street art media, and major brands Including, Globacom, MTV Base, Diageo, Chicken Republic, Live Mechanic, and Empire Mates Entertainment. Some of his popular work includes a Live Graffiti Art Performance on the MTV Base, Guinness #MADEOFBLACK Campaign, #TheSpecialOne Brand launch for Guinness Africa Special, and the award winning Superstar Album Art for Wizkid. In mid 2016, Osa Seven broke ground when through his management agency A2 Creative, he repurposed the Kia Showroom in Victoria Island, converting it into a resident studio and gallery , where he exhibited a series of graffiti work and promoted graffiti art. He also used the platform to promote his social projects, the ‘Worm Free Zone’ Campaign for kids, and The AMG Project that seeks to provide self-sufficient toilets build across rural schools.