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After discussing the possibility of a consulting partnership with Omasan O*, an ambitious gentleman I met in Abuja late last year, he told me to also consider working with an equally ambitious lady passionate about helping young people take charge of their destinies. He couldn’t say enough good things about her – she’s smart, went to ivy league schools, driven, and so on. My interest was piqued. I looked her up, and indeed, Misan Rewane is all he said and more. Her vision – West African Vocational Education (WAVE) Academies – is to train West African youths in relevant vocational skills and empower them to gain and maintain employ-ability, place them in suitable, stable jobs with its employer partners, and support them through monthly workshops and mentorship.

I’m also passionate – about helping people start viable business ventures, business ventures that, in due time, will create employment for others. So, Omasan thought our passions intersected at some point, and I agreed. On that note, I sent her an introductory message on Facebook. I told her about Herança Financial, our offerings like entrepreneurship coaching, supervisory training, and so on. I told her I recently returned to provide similar services to Nigerian businesses and entrepreneurs. She responded favorably in a timely fashion, and got me in touch with her associate, Folakemi O*, who connected me with Morinola O* and Modupe A*. I explained my angle to them – there might be a few students every batch, if not all, that would benefit from a crash course in small business management, and there might be those who don’t want a job and would much rather be in business for themselves, or have a long-term goal of being self-employed. They agreed, and even suggested an alternative where WAVE could offer a special course in entrepreneurship development/training for youths considering starting their own business.

Anyway, long story short, I gave my first lecture at WAVE yesterday. I used my usual Entrepreneurship 101 format. It was fun. The students, or trainees (as they are called) were attentive and had a lot of questions too. Modupe A* had a few of them share what they learnt when I was done, and I was very pleased to know that it all sunk in.

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Afterwards, I finally got to meet with Misan in the flesh. She definitely is passionate about solving unemployment in West Africa. From all I saw firsthand, and all she told me, as startups go, they’re definitely not doing badly; especially for a not-for-profit. However, they have a long way to go, and they require more funding – preferably in form of grants – to get there. They (Misan Rewane, Karan Chopra, Bryan Mezue, and Navid Rahimi) were initially able to start by winning a grant through the Harvard Business School (HBS) New Venture Competition – Social Enterprise Track. Now, they also generate funds themselves – from tuition fees (currently ₦10,000.00 NGN), and job placement commissions (one-third of first month salary), but primarily from the job placement of the trainees; essentially, they don’t get paid if their graduates don’t get placed. That’s what I call commitment.

Wave Infographic

Naturally, being Nigerian, the project started here in August 2013 with 12 trainees. It has since grown – 128 trainees (on a budget of $125,288.00 USD) between 2013 and 2014. They’re focused on 500 trainees by the end of this year (on a budget of $410,000.00 USD), and the goal is 25,000 trainees (on a budget of $1,040,000.00 USD) every year from WAVE centers all over West Africa by 2019!

Over the past year, not only have they been able to secure a training center in Lagos, Nigeria – WAVE Hospitality Academy, 3 Spencer Street, Alagomeji, Yaba, under Misan’s leadership, they have also been able to partner with 55 employers and achieve a 70% successful job placement rate for their graduates – 156 of them have been able to double their income; now earning $200.00 USD (about ₦43,000.00 NGN) monthly. Come August 12th, WAVE Academies will be two years old, and moving to a new office site! It is still in Alagomeji, Yaba, but at 51 Hughes Avenue, off Herbert Macaulay Road. Oh, and did I mention they have been nominated for the UN Impact Sourcing Award?! It is a big deal, so please take a moment to vote for West African Vocational Education (WAVE) via link. Show our very own some love.

By the way, if you’re reading this, and would like to enroll for their 3-week training program, please click. You can also get in touch with them by calling +234-1-291-6586 / +234-817-723-6025, or visiting waveacademies.org.

I have no doubt that in no time, with continued support from organizations like, Agora Fund, Berke, Box.org, Cordes Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Echoing Green, LinkedIn for Good, Salesforce Foundation, and private individuals, like me and you, WAVE Academies is going to be an even bigger success story – changing the lives of the over 50 million unemployed and underemployed youths – not only in Nigeria, but in Benin, Niger, Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, and Cape Verde 🙂

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