Olusegun Charles Vidjannagni
Olusegun has over 12 years of experiences working with orphan and vulnerable children, teen-agers, young women and men in urban and rural communities in West and Central Africa on well-being, education, entrepreneurship and civic engagement. Having lost both parents before age 14, he founded FORAM center for Education, Entrepreneurship and Development (FEED) in 2009 where he has provided more than 50.000 teen-agers and the youth with life skills and resources they need to succeed in life. Olusegun organises motivational conferences and training seminars on entrepreneurship and volunteerism, invite successful and inspirational young entrepreneurs and social workers to share their experiences with participants in schools and universities. He also volunteers time and energy to meet with children; teen-agers in orphanages and young people in remote communities, have them understand that whatever be our background, we all can have a decent shot in life and that we should hope in the face of difficulties and in the face of uncertainties. He has delivered such motivational speeches in many public high schools and universities. He is skilled in negotiation, fundraising, partnership development and government relations. He was selected in 2011 as the first ever Benin youth aged 25 by the U.S. Department of States to participate to the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) in 7 States in USA (More than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 500 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government). He won the All Bar None scholarship and became his country’s official Delegate to the One Young World 2015 Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. His strange background and tested methods to engage at-risk youth in community service had the Summit’s committee make him one of the panelists on the session themed: The Case for Volunteering, How Volunteers can change the World. From 26 to 27 July 2019, thousands of young people from each one of the 54 African countries gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum (TEF FORUM), the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship community. Olusegun Charles VIDJANNAGNI, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beninnovations Magazine was officially invited by the TEF Forum organizers as a media partner. While there, he witnessed the unique resourcefulness, creativity and innovation African young women and men are endowed with. As he watched some of them share their ideas, as he toured the Africa largest entrepreneurial fair, and as he listened to speakers including Head of States, policymakers and business leaders, it became crystal clear to him that a peaceful nation creates the conditions to empower African youths, provide them with the right resources so that they are able to compete on the world stage and lift their families out of poverty. Before leaving Nigeria, he reached out to some of the TEF Forum participants from ECOWAS countries, discussed with them about the importance of peaceful nations in the survival of their startups, future enterprises and industries, called on each one of them to always seize every opportunity to advocate for peace in their respective country so that more and more youth from generation-to-generation benefit from peaceful environment to unleash their ideas and find the necessary support. The ‘FORAM Road to Peaceful & Greener ECOWAS thus emerged as a sustainable platform with the aim to strengthen a regional movement for the culture of peace and zero violence against children, girls and women as guarantees for stability, regional integration, equality, women and girl’s empowerment and economic growth in West Africa. Since then, FORAM has partnered with GEN Benin on GEN Benin’s GCP (GEN Country Plan) and both are developing a program tagged PEACE'PRENEURSHIP—Highlighting the Role of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, for SOCIAL STABILTY, REGIONAL INTEGRATION & PEACE. To back this up, Slum Peacepreneurs Hub are launched out of our search to create urban peace dialogue amongst disadvantaged youth. Meetings and events will be held at the different cities Town Hall under the theme: Strengthening Youth Resilience to Organized Crime, Drugs, Conflicts and Election Related and Gender-Based Violence. Having grown up as an orphan is as important for Olusegun’s identity as being a Nigerian or being a British may be to someone else. It is where he spent his formative years, it is what shaped him and he want to be a good role model for the millions of orphan and vulnerable kids and teenagers in Africa. It is at his core. He was born on July 17, 1986 in Porto-Novo, Benin Republic. Education that “teaches a man and woman to fish” without leaving no one behind and nurtures economic hope is the only way to win the battle for at-risk children and youth on which terrorist groups feed. With this belief statement, Olusegun co-founded Orphans Keepers Africa Yearning (OKAY) for a Better World with his brother and sister. The millions of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, a coastal strip of some 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) between Ivory Coast and Nigeria are the one who could grow up to become the unemployed young people and make for millions of lives stunted by economic despair. It will make for legions of frustrated, idle, angry, and impressionable teen agers and twenty- and thirty- somethings. It will make for instability and chaos that spills over borders of one country into the others that make the Abidjan-Lagos corridor— Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. Today, a country of breathtakingly huge numbers of at-risk and jobless youth is a country of extremism and a country where threats to peace and prosperity spawn. Such a country is often a “failed country” or, at the very least, a “failing country,” especially from the standpoint of its increasingly hopeless and disaffected youth on the one hand, and its lack of or insufficient support (protection, medical care, education and psychosocial support, nutrition and shelter) for orphans, abandoned and street children, children from child headed homes and children of other forms of vulnerability in a conducive environment on the other hand. Joblessness, not religious, cultural, or tribal strife, is, from the strong belief of Olusegun Charles Vidjannagni, the root (though not the only) cause of the chaos that today challenges stability, regional integration and security in ECOWAS. While speaking with participants at the presidential youth membership retreat, held on 25 November 2019, at Youth Development Center of OOPL, Abeokuta, Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria has it that the 14 million out-of-school children in Nigeria might become recruits of the Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the next 10 years or 15 years from now. The hope Olusegun speaks of and into which OKAY aims to tap can come in great part—in most part, in fact— from a quintessential African yet underutilized potential that offers a tremendously potent solution: agricultural entrepreneurship. OKAY’s vision is that of an enhanced quality of life for OVC by providing them with Community Based Services to enable them to become peaceful, socially and economically productive members of the community through the maximization agricultural potential. The mission statement is to engage adult OVC into the maximization of agricultural potential, soundly manage the gains to provide Community Based Services and aid in order to meet the needs of children identified as at-risk or suffering from abandonment, abuse and/or neglect. OKAY Ecovillage Farms, OKAY Homes and OKAY Sports and Games Academy (Football, Basketball, Chess) are our projects. OKAY is also a trademark for social good and we raise funds through the sales of printed and embroidered apparel. Ultimately, our OKAY Awards is an annual event to present special recognition, on behalf of all beneficiairies, to people with great and measurable impacts in the fields of sports, health, girls and women empowerment, job creation and economic growth, poverty eradication, climate action, and political leadrship. Olusegun believes that all children have the intrinsic value and deserve to be nurtured, loved and protected. They are entitled to have caring adults who help them develop to their full potential. We believe that by bolstering agricultural entrepreneurship, we can generate truly viable economic opportunities for adult OVC and alternatives to the chaos and extremism that threatens ECOWAS today. Olsegun founded the CUP of COP, an annual mix of amateur and professional football, arts, educational, echange and exhibition fair event occuring after each COP in different ECOWAS countries with the aim of leveraging the powerful voice football carries in the local communities to educate and involve children in environment protection while raising awareness for and popularising feminist action for climate justice. Together we have an opportunity to contribute to our children’s future, be part of an enduring effort that promotes safety and the well-being of children girls and women, providing them with the necessities of life and welcoming, safe environment.