Forbes magazine, in its 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, lists 600 young people (30 each across 20 industries) it describes as today’s leading change-makers and innovators. Two of them are Nigerians – Nasir Yammama and Bukola Bolarinwa.
All under 30 years, Forbes describes those on that list as young people who “are challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation of entrepreneurs, entertainers, educators and more.”
So impactful are their contributions that both Yammama and Bolarinwa were among 60 outstanding young people recently conferred with the Queen of England’s Young Leaders Medal 2017 at an elaborate ceremony held at the Buckingham Palace.
27-year-old Nasir Yammama is a creative technologist and founder of Verdant AgriTech, a low-cost technology and active solution that seeks to support rural crop farmers to achieve sustainable farming and improved food production using mobile phones.
“The efficiency of farmers depends on different factors – from weather, to financial planning and operational management. We understand these needs and share with the farmer a common goal of achieving improved food production and improved livelihood.
“This is why Verdant is designed to be an all-round companion for the farmer; from the pre-planting period to harvest and beyond,” he says,
Through Verdant, Yammama is offering mobile extension services, weather and market information, warehousing and financial services, including agriculture credit and index insurance services to farmers “on all varieties of mobile phones and on all major languages (in Africa).”
“We are also very dedicated to making sure that Verdant is accessible to users of low-end devices who may not be literate or tech-savvy. Using access to scientific data in partnership with research and financial institutions and even governments, Verdant intends to turn information into insight, presenting it to the farmer in a convenient manner that enables precise decision making.”
On what inspired him to create Verdant, Nasir recently told The Black Muslim Times UK: “The inspiration for Verdant was initially sentimental. My father was a farmer and I always wanted to be involved in agriculture, despite having gone into computing.
“I just happened to be around at a time when the world needed innovations in agriculture. I observed the global environmental and food crisis that had arisen over the past few decades, particularly across Africa.
“I figured that I could employ my skills in building technical solutions and apply them to agricultural development, as opposed to any other industry or phenomena.”
Nasir aims to have 20 million African farmers using Verdant by 2018.
Bukola Bolarinwa is the founder of Haima Health Initiative and president of the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF), a non-governmental organisation established to raise awareness about the sickle cell disease and related health conditions.
Ms Bolarinwa was born with the sickle cell disease (SCD), and she started her work after she noticed the shortage of blood faced by people living with the disease.
She joined SCAF in 2011 at the Nigerian Law School in Bwari where it was set up by her friend, Nkechi Azinge, who also had personal experiences with sickle cell disease, and wanted an avenue to create greater awareness and support for people living with the disease.
Nkechi’s three siblings also live with SCD, so they both understand firsthand the emotional, physical, psychological and financial burden it places on families. SCAF was established to support those living with the disease.
While Nkechi is the founder of the organisation, Bukola works in the capacity of the president.
She founded Haima Health Initiative particularly to support hospitals in need of blood, especially in the treatment of the SCD by promoting and sustaining a system of voluntary blood donation.
Bukola said recently in an interview: “I live with SCD and I have also been lucky to have an excellent support system of family and health care providers; but I know this is not the case for majority of people in Nigeria.
“I started Haima Health Initiative because our sickle cell beneficiaries often need blood transfusions and would ask us to get them donors. Most hospitals do not have blood in stock or they require a replacement for the one they use.
“We started by calling our friends and families to donate at hospitals, and as more people heard about us, we decided to help as many people as possible get blood.”
She said of the Queen’s Young Leader Award: “I believe (this) will improve my leadership skills and help me to cement already established links with universities and colleges to develop a culture of voluntary and regular blood donation.”
Bukola’s Haima Initiative currently has about 500 registered donors across eight states in Nigeria who have donated over 300 pints of blood free of charge directly to patients.
She aims to recruit 5,000 registered blood donors by December 2017.
Story from Tribune.