Elegant, graceful, focused and energetic; are the words that best describe this pretty African woman.
Grace Ihejiamaizu has stepped out from the crowd to proffer an unconventional solution to a conventional and age long problem. You know …….exactly what you are thinking; yeah, the problem of lack of employment. I find that this is one problem that has stuck with our dear continent and has now assumed an exalted position as a ruling party. For years the only attempt that has been made to snuff the life out the monster has always ended in talk, all talk and plenty talk. For Grace empty talk never gets the job done, and she insists that it is either action or nothing.
She is the founder of the RYPE (Raising Young Productive Entrepreneurs) Initiative, an afterschool youth development project that is established to help young people acquire great skills and become leaders and great entrepreneurs. The young entrepreneur has emerged in utmost determination to curb the prevailing evil that has pervaded the youth development and remained the major setback of the African youth.
Grace has always been at the fore front; her unmatchable passion has always distinguished her and set her ahead of her equals. Grace graduated top of her class from the University of Calabar and has since been involved in several projects that help to develop the youth in her local community.
She has maintained a good name for Africa amongst her counterparts; the blazing beauty was a participant in the 2010 study of the United States institute for student leaders on Social Entrepreneurship program. She was also selected by the US Department of State as September’s State Alumni Member Month; a position that was a rare privilege as she was the youngest and first representative from sub –Saharan Africa. She was also selected to represent Nigeria at the British Council Euro-Africa Youth Summit 2012 in Brussels, Belgium.
When asked what the motivating streak was for her she said; “After school and upon return from the SUSI program, I felt a strong need to do something to help high school leavers make good use of their time, have a change of attitude, develop positive attitudes, have proper career guide and achieve success on the long run. I saw that there were no programs that cater for these set of youth in these areas in the local community. This led me to carry out a research and the statistics and implications were quite disturbing. It is the knowledge of this coupled with my passion that motivated me to start RYPE I have passed that stage and I believed that I could handle the target group confidently and make greater impact in their lives.”
The sociology graduate’s commitment to ensuring that young people are properly guided and engaged to achieve their dreams won her the Michelle Obama Young African Women Leader’s Forum Grant in 2011 in support of her work in the community. She also manages a blog at opportunity desk (http://opportunitydesk.org/). She was also recognized by Google’s Zeitgeist as one of the 12 Brightest Young Minds in 2011.
And to the very people that ignite her passion; the African youth the change maker says: “Stay focused, get smart, find your niche, your passion and do something. Be teachable, learn to unlearn and relearn. And above all, please find God and draw closer to Him, His teachings are the best principles anywhere in the world and His grace is sufficient for those who believe and trust Him.” Words on marble I daresay.
Grace is one of the 2013 Future Awards nominees for the Young African Person of the Year Award, even more recognition of the awesome work she has and continues to do in changing the African story. Kudos!
© 2013 – 2017, Lovelyn Okafor. All rights reserved.