‘Be careful not to be the problem you are trying to solve for others’- Victoria Nwanna
Someone once said women are smarter by basic instinct because we juggle so many things together and still have excess strength. This is what Victoria Nwanna represents. A strong and active woman with an admirable zeal, passion for nation building, leadership, youth empowerment and education, she has nurtured over 3000 youths in personal development through trainings, mentorship platforms, volunteering opportunities, conferences, magazine and media. She is a two-time Amazon bestselling author of five books, a public speaker and trainer. She sets goals for herself and goes after it, she is conscious of her purpose and living it. The queen of multitasking shares her inspiring journey with me in this insightful and educative interview.
While growing up as a child, I always knew I wanted to be influential. I was very agile and active as a child. As little as I was in primary school I knew I wanted to study accounting. I never fancied other professions like medicine, law, nursing etc. People said it was because my dad is an accountant, maybe. While in secondary school, I was so good at writing, English was my best subject. I loved talking so it wasn’t any news when I joined the press club. Fast-forward to my SS1, my English teacher, Mrs. Obimma having heard I was going to the commercial arm called me alongside two other teachers. She was heartbroken that I decided to pursue accounting. Why not law? Mass communication? What is wrong with you? I want to talk to your parents! I love(d) talking and writing. I had the voice and the aura while presenting speeches. I remember I always picked my dad’s newspaper and pretended to be the newscaster, I remember holding my hands as the mic and introducing my self. I just spoke (whether it made sense or not but I’m sure it did make sense) I hosted all the events at my church; I anchored news in my school. It’s amazing how far I have come from my desires and dreams as a child till now.
Inspiration behind Get Up youth Africa
Get Up Youth Africa is a non-profit youth organisation focused on building a generation of change makers and African leaders who would champion sustainable growth in Africa. Via our three-fold mandate (to Inspire, Ignite Imagination and Provoke Right Action for sustainable nation building), we are establishing avenues for young people to proactively engage in personal and community development to fight unemployment through Quality Education (SDG4), create a positive environment for Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG8) and End Poverty (SDG1). We have executed several projects, the project pad a girl, our girl child empowerment where we trained over 1500 young girls on purpose passion, sex education and financial literacy. We have also taught 700 of them on digital skills in partnership with girl lead Africa and other facilitators in Benin City. We launched the skill Up Academy Last year where we empowered over 700 youths in relevant digital skills like website design, presentation and communication, brand communication, project management and 12 more skills, we partnered with Facebook and JCI. Recently we launched our secondary school tour, Not Too Young To Make Sense project .
Expectations and Reception
I expect the older generation to create a conducive environment for growth, there is no competition. If the youths are not properly allowed to grow in years from now when the older generations are no longer on the scene what will sustain our nation? I expect that brands increase the active participation and partnership with young people. The more comprehensively brands work with us as service partners, the more we all increase our public value to the entire community because Nigeria needs all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring forth.
It is disheartening that many times youth developmental projects lack funding while heavy funding goes into supporting a brand that sells things that don’t really benefit us as a people. I grew up to this fact; hardly do we have good sponsors for value adding events or projects. In my university days, huge sums are spent on beauty pageants and things like that but hardly on conferences.
Tackling Unemployment through Skill up Academy
The consequences of high unemployment rate in Nigeria affects each and every one of us as members of the Nigerian society. In present days, emphasis is laid on performance not just certificate. We are interested in your ability to do, not just in saying you know and this is where skilling up comes in. Our educational system is faulty to an extent, real life skills and even practical relevant skills are not taught but it is our responsibility as youths to take charge of our life and create what we want. I always ask the youths I have been honoured to speak with, what skills do you have that you can be paid for? What skills do you have that can upscale your business? What skills do you have that can be an extra source of income? What skills do you have that can add value to your employee? What skill do you have that can make you a better person? One major challenge is getting to partner with organisations that can provide jobs (full time or contract based) and opportunities to our students to use the skills learnt. Most of our projects are self funded, which isn’t really sustainable in the long run. Projects that are focused on human capital development is really capital intensive.
On Politics and serving the Nation
I have always been ‘interested’ in politics as a child, and I just have this special love for my country. But, my involvement in politics so far hasn’t been an active one in terms of taking ‘positions’. I want to be a leader in my own right who influences certain decisions for the good of my country but I am not sure yet if it is via any active political platform.
Being a Woman of Rubies
First of all, I appreciate this platform for celebrating, inspiring and being a sounding board to many women. I am a woman of rubies because I understand that I was not created as an experiment, I was not created as a test to see if I would function/work properly or not. The moment I realized who I am, the game changed. I am a detail oriented being and this has empowered my many actions. I am committed to being the best version of myself per time and act with the consciousness that lives are connected to me, my failure to raise and live my beet best is a hindrance to those lives.
Women who inspire me
• Udo Okonjo; She has built a business, is committed to investing in others as well and her relationship with God remaining unshaken. I am glad to know a successful woman can balance it all, actually believe in having it all.
• Esther Ijewere; She is fierce in a good way. She is the definition of support and even though I really don’t know any toxic person in my corner I am aware there are lots of them out there, having a woman who doesn’t hold back in helping is commendable.
• Dr. Yolanda (Aunt Landa); for a long time right from my child hood this woman was my woman crush back to back. Her outreaches are amazing; she is in fact love personified. She daily shows that love is an action word. To think of it now, maybe this unconsciously influenced my community actions.
•Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama; No way would I leave them out of this. I look forward to hosting them to a dinner event sometime in the future. These women are epitome of strength and more, they operate at a dimension I marvel at and this all the more makes my dreams look possible and valid. If they can grow into a delight we all applaud I sure can too. I shouldn’t be the one to say this but allow me toot my horn: let’s watch out for Victoria Nwanna.
Final word for young female change makers
While starting out it could be overwhelming trying to balance a lot and prove a point, the need to always do is heavy.
Hello hero, learn to pull down your mountains one step at a time. Be careful of analysis paralysis, yes drafting out a full plan is great but sometimes you can not see the next turn until you make the move. It is also important to understand the place of being and not just doing. You can’t give what you don’t have, grow, learn and volunteer. You can be a change maker not necessarily by starting out your NGO; sometimes by working with someone’s vision too you are part of the solution. It is an honorable thing to be a midwife birthing others babies and so the title of executive director or CEO shouldn’t be the motivation. Be careful not to be the problem you are trying to solve for others. In this journey called life it is you and your assignment, no one before you or after you. Finally God has left the creation process to you, you have been given the power to create the reality you want on your life. Life is by design not fate. You are the real deal, unapologetically so.
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