Young people constitute a tremendous and essential asset worth investing in, as their numbers and skill sets contain the latent ability for an unparalleled multiplier effect. As a driver and mobiliser of corporate action to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria, the local network of the United Nations Global Compact, engaged with the young and brightest talent (Innovators) in its member companies to advance current corporate sustainability efforts, and also lead future-forward innovation through tangible market solutions.
On 3 November, 2021, the UN Global Compact Network Nigeria, held the final camp – The Offboarding Camp and Business Solutions Showcase of its accelerator programme, Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP), after a series of intensive camps facilitated by LEAP Africa and Impact Hub Lagos.
This first Nigerian cohort came to an end on a grand note with 8 companies making it to the final stage of the programme namely:
- CAP PLC – represented by Olubunmi Isiolaotan, whose “Employee Stock Ownership Programme” addressed SDG 8, with respect to developing an improved employee reward system;
- First Bank PLC – represented by Modupereola Orunmyui and Ruth Olabode, whose “Sustainable Footprints Project” was developed with respect to enabling the company achieve SDGs 7, 12, and SDG 17;
- Knewrow Resources – represented by Tomiwa Anjorin, Oluwaseun Oladapo and Olusegun Owoseni, whose “Built2Last” project focused on enabling sustainable SMEs business, and therefore enhancing employment and economic growth, through the standardization of business processes (SDGs 8 & 9).
- MTN Nigeria – represented by Kolawole David Somade and Nnyene Ime-Udofa Michael, innovators of the “Device Financing” solution, which enable low and middle-income earners to enjoy enhanced access to the internet connectivity, and therefore to a world of digital services and opportunities (SDGs 4, 8, 9 & 10).
- Natural Eco Capital – represented by Rantiola Akinola, whose work focused on enabling mechanisms to drive action for circular economy and climate action in line with SDGs 13 and 17;
- Oando PLC – represented by Busayo Balogun-Agusto, Oghogho Aghimien and Emike Etu, creators of the PET-to-PET plastic recycling Plant Project – a brilliantly practical execution of the ‘circular economy’ concept, in line with SDGs 11, 12, 13 and 17.
- Sterling Bank PLC – represented by Babatunde Olusegun Sunmola and Israel Aduralere, creators of “One-Learning”, a virtual skill acquisition Platform designed to drive youth employability and entrepreneurship, in line with SDGs 4, 8 & 9.
- Union Bank PLC – represented by Abiola Biya, whose solution, ‘Alpher’ – a Women’s Banking & Capacity Building platform, is set to drive SDGs 5 & 8.
The Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Network Nigeria, Ms. Naomi Nwokolo expressed her delight and fulfillment at the accomplishments of each of the Innovators. She commended their demonstrated commitment, diligence, and innovative thinking and commitment to driving impact for people and planet, whilst generating profit for their companies.
Delivering the keynote address, The Role of Corporates in Developing Sustainable Cities and Communities, Mrs. Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, Heineken Nigeria, lauded the work of the UN Global Compact and the UN Global Compact Network Nigeria in elevating sustainability and leading the private sector to actual transformative action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Whilst celebrating the SDG oriented solutions developed by the Innovators in the course of the programme, she urged all participants to leave with a sense of involvement and responsibility, bring the SDG-oriented solutions developed to life and integrate them into the very fabric of our lives and businesses, as part of a holistic and multi-sided approach to solving sustainability problems and building cities and communities where both present generation and future generations can live and thrive. In her words, ‘Business is uniquely positioned to shape the sustainable, economically competitive cities of the future’.
Addressing the topic, Managing Resilience: Insights into Sustainable Development Goals Innovation – Best Practices and common Traits of successful innovative Organizations, Mr. Adediran; Head, Transaction Banking Cash Management Products representing the CEO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan expressed optimism that this training had inspired them at First Bank PLC to become more effective at promoting the sustainability of people and the planet. In his words, “the 17 SDGs and attendant 169 targets present a clear blueprint to which organizations will do well to imbibe, as doing so will ensure that such organizations are resilient in the face of any crisis”.
Mr. Ayo Muritala – Managing Partner, Knewrow Resources delivered a ‘mini-masterclass’ on Managing Resilience: Insights into Sustainable Development Goals Innovation – Best Practices and Common Traits of Successful Innovative Organizations. He charged Innovators and Senior Management alike, to embrace the concept of corporate resilience in a world both driven by intense competition and innovation, and set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized the concepts of creating a Safe Space for Innovation, Broadening Perspectives, Celebrating Success and Learning from Setbacks, Enabling Organizational Agility, and Promoting and Rewarding Collaboration.
Equipped with the capacity built through the programme, the Participants representing their various organisations, developed sustainable business solutions, which addressed several of the SDGs: from zero poverty to gender equality; from access to education to decent work, and more; and all of which had an underlying emphasis on Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.
In the course of the Programme, Nigeria was proudly represented at the UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators’ Summit by Company Teams from Oando Plc. and the MTN Nigeria Group. The Young SDG Innovators Summit was featured as part of Uniting Business Live on September 21st 2021, which was held on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Both teams from the Network Nigeria presented truly groundbreaking solutions covering key issues within SDGs 4, 8, 9, 11 and 12.
ABOUT THE YSIP
The Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP) is an opportunity for participating companies of the UN Global Compact to identify young talent within their organizations to collaborate and accelerate business innovation towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that can contribute to building more resilient and equitable societies.
This ten-month accelerator programme activates future business leaders and changemakers to develop and drive innovative solutions through new technologies, initiatives, and business models and deliver on their company’s sustainability objectives.
ABOUT THE UN GLOBAL COMPACT NETWORK NIGERIA
The United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria is one of the 71 local networks (country office) of the UN Global Compact.
Guided by The Ten Principles and the 17 SDGs, we support companies and stakeholders in understanding what responsible business means within a global and local context and provide guidance to translate sustainability commitments into action. The UN Global Compact Network Nigeria stimulates and facilitates the creation of local connections and serves as a catalyst to companies and stakeholders to achieve Agenda 2030.
For more information, follow @globalcompactnigeria on Instagram, UN Global Compact Network Nigeria on Linkedin or visit our website at www.unglobalcompactng.org