Cheers to New Beginnings!
I have an announcement.
I share this with different emotions:
· With Joy, from thinking about all that we have achieved together
· Humble Pride, that comes from reading your constant stream of testimonials and stories of triumph
· Apprehension about the changes that must come
· With Excitement as new opportunities unfold!
Would anyone have believed it 5 years ago if we had told him or her that EdoJobs would become a model in Sub-Saharan Africa for Youth Employment, Short term vocational skills development, MSME development, job matching and career services?
Did you believe it 6 years ago when His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, declared that Edo state will become a national hub for jobs in technology, agriculture, film making and the creative sector? Or that Edo State would no more be the number 1 source for irregular migration and human trafficking?
One might have said, our expectations were too high.
That would have been understandable, but here we are today, all of us, beating the odds and living every day in that reality.
The time I have spent with you so far has kept me inspired, and kept me moving and learning non-stop. For these 5 years, the wonderful team at Edojobs and I have thrown our minds, bodies and souls into building the great vision for youth employment and youth engagement that was set out in 2016 by our Wake and See Governor.
There is so much that I am grateful for:
First, I am grateful for doggedness:
I remember when we decided to setup Edo Innovates in 2018. We were determined to setup the biggest innovation cluster in southern Nigeria, not just in the size of the building, but in terms of impact on the ecosystem. Some loud voices said ‘Why would anyone want to hire techies from Edo State?’, ‘This project makes no sense’ and so on. I am grateful for the doggedness that kept us going and to all of you who believed.
Today, EdoInnovates has partnered with the largest tech companies in the world. Amazon, Microsoft corp, Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook), Udacity, Decagon, Uber, Work Your Data, EdoBits, American Towers Company, The Office of the Vice President (Npower), GIZ SEDEC Cluster and over 35 other partners have worked with us to connect young people to skills and jobs in tech. So far, EdoInnovates has introduced over 33,880 people to skills, remote jobs and international opportunities using technology and its just getting started.
Members of the Edojobs Supertechies Community are conquering stereotypes, winning awards and ‘repping’ Edo State across the world. We are proud of you.
Our new partnerships with higher institutions, Edo Tech Park and the World Bank-Supported EdoBESST program will ensure that we achieve our goal for Edo State to have the highest saturation of tech talent in West Africa by 2030.
Secondly, I am grateful for the opportunity to build and learn new things:
It is said, that creativity is not the ability to make something out of nothing. It is the ability to make something new out of things that exist. Thanks to the clear direction of His Excellency, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and to all our partners, we built so many first-of-its kind projects in the state and in the country:
- Edo Production Centre provides a cluster where artisans, small-scale manufacturers and students can work together with access to reliable power supply and shared work spaces. The center hosts furniture makers, polythene producers, fashion designers, machine fabricators and so on. Also, the nation’s Bank of Industry operates from right inside the cluster.
This is one project that stretched and pushed my team and I. We learned a lot.
- We also setup Edo Food and Agric Cluster, which started in one location before we pivoted to a model that’s spread across farming communities. We have worked with 2,644 Farmers and young people across these communities to improve output and income across the Agric value chain. In short, if you want to buy farm produce from any corner of Edo State, the EDO-FAC team knows the farmers and has trained young people in communities who can serve as aggregators.
Additionally, The Edo Farmers Market is about to commence operations with the collaboration of farmers in Ovia South West and Ovia North East.
- Being a creative, it has been a real treat to deliver jobs while learning about the entertainment and arts industry. We started with Our Pitch-Win-Shoot Project in 2018. Edojobs partnered with MADE II to co-fund 10 Edo-centric movies made by Edo-based film makers. Since then, we have midwifed collaborations with Tatafo HQ, ROK studios and many others that brought big-budget productions to the State. These partnerships are promoting many Edo-based stars on national and global platforms. Thank you ROK Studios, Africa Magic, Benin Film Academy and all who put their money where our hearts are to make this happen. Setting up the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and Sound stage was such a challenge and a pleasure.
- 5 years ago, if someone had told me that I would be the convener of a MEGA concert and an International Film Festival, I would have laughed it off, but creating jobs for you has given me that honour, the privilege and the experience of doing both. Thank you.
- I have also learnt so much from supervising the rehabilitating dilapidated buildings for the setup of up, 3 hubs, 7 job centres, 3 business clusters, 1 Tech park and many skills centers across different Local Government Areas.
Developing new things means that you have to face previously unsolved problems, that means that you will not always get it right the first time, so I am exceedingly grateful for resilience.
Trust me, you need resilience in order to stay true to your values and vision while working in the public sector. Thank you to everyone who questions, criticizes, attacks and even tries to pull us down. You may never know just how much your actions help us to continuously strive to be better versions of ourselves.
Before I tell you what my special announcement is, I would love to answer the top 2 questions I have been asked in the last 5 years:
The first question is “Mama Uki, Mama Edojobs, Mrs. Dare, Ukinebo, (you guys have given me so many names), How do you do it? How in 5 years did Edojobs go from being just an idea to a full-fledged agency that has executed projects with over 200 partners and reached over 200,000 people?
The answer is quite simple. I didn’t do it alone. It started with a God-given vision from Governor Obaseki and his leadership. Also, everything you see in Edojobs today was achieved thanks to a team that held on to these ideals and values:
A. Hard work, integrity and transparency: Team Edojobs works hard. Whether its 8am, 10pm, or even a weekend, they will always respond when duty calls.
B. Positive engagement: We never shy away from listening and engaging with citizens who have genuine questions or queries. Shout out to members of the Edojobs team spread across LGAS and those constantly travelling between communities. A special shout out to our Edojobbers Association. Thank you for championing our work in your communities.
C. We are committed to the saying, “May the best man win irrespective of tribe, gender, socio-economic status, religion, physical abilities or political affiliations”. We keep our screening processes as transparent and competitive as possible while being inclusive.
D. Partnership: This is where we thrive, this is how we soar. Thank you to all our partners for the work we have done together so far, there is much more to do.
The second question I get asked more and more these days is: What will happen when you leave Edojobs? Will all this work continue?
Here is my answer:
Before leading Edojobs as the MD, I had spent almost a decade working on job creation projects in Africa, it has been an honour to work in my home, building a solid team of over 100 people in Edojobs. Edojobs will keep working until Edo State is a top global destination for talent in Tech, Agriculture, Entertainment, Tourism, Manufacturing and Construction. We must forever thank God for the life of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, he is the catalyst and the visionary.
However, just as every child must one day outgrow being carried on its mothers back, Edojobs is destined to outgrow being led by me on a day-to-day basis.
The time has come for me to let the cat out of the bag.
Edojobbers, I have been given the opportunity to tackle the menace of unemployment from an Africa-wide perspective. In order to do that I have had to make the tough decision to pass on my role as the Managing Director of Edojobs. There will be a new MD who you will meet soon and a board to oversee the activities.
I am grateful, honored and humbled to have spent the last 5 years working with amazing minds and partners to build a first of its kind job creation Agency in Nigeria. We have broken countless records together and will do more.
Edojobbers, your career goals did not only keep me up at night, they served as my fuel during the day. Keep striving, keep learning and keep winning.
To the amazing humans on the Edojobs team, remember what I always say:
1. Everything that stretches you, builds you and helps you to unleash your best self on the world.
2. Don’t envy the people who seem to prosper by doing the wrong things. Wait on God. He is a rewarder.
3. Don’t waste time deciding what to do based on what people will say about you or you may never break barriers.
4. Don't be discouraged by the false stories of those who have nothing better to do.
5. Sometimes, the right thing to do is the toughest, most misunderstood and least appreciated thing. ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING.
I cannot end this without once again saying thank you to the one and only Wake and See Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, thank you for your passion for Edo youth and your commitment to fairness and equality. Thank you for believing in me. Her Excellency Mrs. Betsy Obaseki thank you for everything ma, you are an inspiration to me. A special thank you to the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esquire. Thank you for your leadership, guidance and your guidance and coaching.
I thank my husband, children, parents, family and everyone in my support system (especially Emmanuel, Freda, James and Smart) that allows and helps me work 24/7. There’s no Mama Edojobs without you.
Thank you everyone for celebrating and supporting me, thank you for the numerous accolades and awards, the Whatsapp and LinkedIn messages. They mean a lot, but to be perfectly honest, what means the most is that you never stop growing in your career and that you lift others up as you grow.
Keep in touch. Remember that I am NEVER too far away.
PS: Keep an eye on my LinkedIn page for more details on what comes next.
All my love