Africa: Riding the WAVE Towards Ending Youth Unemployment in Nigeria

Africa: Riding The Wave Towards Ending Youth Unemployment In Nigeria

Lagos — West Africa Fellow Molade Adeniyi applies management classes from the Acumen Fellowship as CEO at WAVE

When Acumen Fellow Molade Adeniyi moved lower back to Nigeria over a decade in the past, one actuality stood out amongst others. She could not ignore how her classmates from excessive tuition struggled to get respectable employment. “Their trajectories were very different from mine,” Molade explains. As an oncology pharmacist who had been training within the United Kingdom, accessing respectable work had on no account been a problem for Molade, which made her interested in why others’ experiences in Nigeria have been completely different from hers.

She would start asking questions and shortly recognize that the state of affairs was not extraordinary to her excessive tuition classmates alone. “I found that my nanny, whose three children were of work-ready age, could not find decent work. There was also my parents’ driver whose children were locked out from job opportunities.”

As she dug deeper, Molade uncovered a usual sample. “My access to quality education and international exposure played a role in the types of opportunities I got. And beyond access, the people most affected did not have a university degree.”

For Molade, the establishment screamed injustice.


The unemployment charge amongst younger Nigerians between 15 and 34 years previous is 42.5%. “When you speak to your own or others’ extended families, there are often one or two persons without work even after completing university level education.”

The World Bank forecast that by 2050, 50% of the inhabitants in Africa will likely be underneath the age of 25. Molade describes the implication of those statistics as a “powder keg waiting to be set on fire.”

“In a normal climate, this youth bulge would be a great thing for any economy. However, in a context where there are not enough job opportunities for this growing population, people will look to other means to create a livelihood for themselves and their families.”

Seeking to immediately resolve the youth unemployment challenge, in 2019 Molade took the position of CEO at West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE). The probability of  “helping people move from point A to point B was compelling to me,” Moalde says.

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“As a frontrunner, you would like persons to attain outcomes, and this entails constructing significant connections. I discovered at Acumen at Acumen Academy Fellowship the way to lead with intention, empathy, and compassion” – Molade Adeniyi, CEO at West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE) & Acumen Fellow

WAVE works to resolve youth unemployment and degree the taking part in subject for work-ready youth by using a two-pronged method. First, WAVE focuses on upskilling children, and both matches them with new job chances or helps them in establishing their very own organizations.

Modale discovered she had a ardour for connecting with college students for the time of her earlier position as a pharmacist and trainer practitioner. “The goal then was to bridge the gap between classroom and practice for university students.”

The differentiating thing during this Tenor is the scholars’ profiles. “About 60% of our students are high school graduates from low-income families who, most often, cannot afford a dollar bus fare to the WAVE Academy. 40% have never seen a computer before joining the program.  — this is bothersome considering we are in 2023.”

But upskilling college students with all these profiles did not pose as a lot of a problem as recruiting younger people who find themselves self-aware concerning the abilties they lack in the present day, with the humility to gain knowledge of with a view to develop their futures.

According to Molade, “this is significant because the job opportunities are there — especially among micro and small businesses — but what’s lacking are people with the right skills. Each year, we’re only able to fill 60% of the roles that we get and the reason is we cannot find people with the skillset the roles demand. Our interventions, therefore, include coaching and mentoring, which focuses on making our students employment-ready.”

WAVE’s second part of intervention is to help organizations to appoint true. “We re-orient employers to focus on competence over credentials, particularly for entry-level positions.”

Over the final decade, WAVE has furnished job chances to 70% of its 5,000 graduating college students by using its employer accomplice community of 800 organizations. Over time, WAVE has additionally demonstrated how hiring biases can impede enterprise development, a procedure Molade says should be would becould very well be  “tedious and painfully slow” to display influence in.

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Having discovered that altering techniques requires all of us, Acumen Fellow Molade Adeniyi continues to encourage her workforce to proceed constructing upon these partnerships. “We realize we cannot tackle this problem on our own, so we also partner with similar-purpose organizations, supporting them with curriculum development and blueprint for operations.”


Proving to Nigerian employers that there is enterprise worth in “hiring right” is not the solely vicinity the place Molade has needed to embrace the lovely battle of driving change. Learning invaluable abilties by using the Acumen Academy Fellowship has helped her be a stronger chief equally inside and out of doors of the institution.

“As someone who is very process-driven with a high-achiever mentality, I came into WAVE with a very heavy hand, wanting to get the work done. But I struggled. I learned the hard way that, when you come into a new environment, you need to let go of what you know and learn about the people first. As the saying goes, ‘People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.'”

In these early days being CEO, “I came in with new ideas and new ways of working which to me seemed like the best approach, but I kept hitting roadblocks,” says Molade.

My lowest factor got here when a senior supervisor advised me I had misplaced affect with him. I grew to become determined about bettering my management and commenced researching completely different packages that might support. I located out concerning the Acumen Fellows Program by using an e-mail publication and utilized.”

“During the Fellowship, one session completely changed my mindset about implementing change and bringing in something new. We were discussing the idea of losses that occur as a result of change. This was critical because in my new role at WAVE, I was taking over for the Founder and CEO. I had not, until that point, really considered how the team perceived the transition and my taking over. After the session, I was able to take a step back and create space to address the things we were losing, but also acknowledge what we were gaining —this was a game changer.”

“As a leader, you need people to achieve results, and this involves building meaningful connections. I learned how to lead with intention, empathy, and compassion. And I am not talking about a yummy-yummy, meet-me-at-my-house or take-you-out-for-coffee type scenario, but investing time in knowing and understanding people.”


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As a frontrunner at West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE), Acumen Fellow Molade Adeniyi is dedicated to pushing herself and her workforce to sort out the challenge of youth unemployment head-on.

Reflecting on WAVE’s strides over time and looking out forward as she applies greater of the management abilties she discovered from the Fellowship, Molade emphasizes her intention to proceed strengthening her workforce and partnering for deeper influence.

“I had always struggled with delegating. During the Fellowship year, I was able to unpack why this was the case and unearth how I was stopping people from growing. As a leader, one of my biggest KPIs should be helping my team grow and become the best version of themselves. To do otherwise is a failure of my leadership.”

WAVE presently operates throughout six states in Nigeria by using its development companions and has supported greater than 70,000 children with education and employment. In Lagos state, for instance, WAVE has partnered with the State Technical and Vocational Educational Training Board (TVET) to upskill 150 lecturers.

Having discovered that altering techniques requires all of us, Molade continues to encourage her workforce to proceed constructing upon these partnerships. “We realize we cannot tackle this problem on our own, so we also partner with similar-purpose organizations, supporting them with curriculum development and blueprint for operations.”

As a frontrunner at WAVE, Molade is dedicated to pushing herself and her workforce to sort out the challenge of youth unemployment head-on.

“Do we think we have all of the answers? Of course not. We are learning every single day but I think the more we are able to help one person and then another, we learn what works, we tweak, and we go again. This definitely brings me a level of fulfillment and I wake up ready to go every day”.

Applications to the Acumen Academy Fellowship Program in West Africa open in June. Register to be the primary to gain knowledge of greater.  

Acumen Academy in West Africa: 2023 Fellows Selection

Acumen fellowship in West Africa – 2023 Programme Overview

Author: Oghenekome Oruade

Bio: Through the Acumen Academy West Africa Fellows Program she leads, Oghenekome is constructing a group of social entrepreneurs and leaders with the abilties, resources, and group essential to resolve difficulties of poverty.