Every year, on the 12th of August, the global community comes together to celebrate youths. It is a day to honour the vibrant energy, imaginative creativity, and untapped potential that young people bring to the table. This celebration transcends national and cultural borders as we all unite to recognise the pivotal role that young people play in creating the future that we all want.
This celebration is more than just a date on the calendar. It is a powerful reminder that we are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but also the change-makers of today. From spearheading climate activism, championing social justice, and fueling innovations in entrepreneurship and technology to now making waves in the entertainment industry and on social media, youths are driving movements that are reshaping diverse domains.
Youths are driving movements that are reshaping diverse domains.
In honour of this International Youth Day, Growdiance proudly celebrates these young individuals who have emerged as beacons of inspiration in their respective fields. They have forged exceptional paths, and their growth, resilience and impact cannot go unnoticed.
Meet the outstanding 2023 Growdiance Youth Icons:
1. Adewale Adetona - Product Marketing and Communications Leader & Convener, Lagos Digital Summit
Adewale is a Nigerian UK-based Product Marketing and Communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in Product Marketing, Communications, Branding, and Media Management. He is a Tech and Career content creator who is also passionate about building brands and helping them attain their Marketing objectives.
He is the convener of the Lagos Digital Summit, a platform to facilitate the convergence of great minds and the coalescence of groundbreaking ideas that will shape the nation’s digital landscape through engaging discourse and empowerment that push the frontiers of innovation across various spheres of life in Nigeria, and also to empower businesses and individuals to scale their ‘hustle’. The summit, now in its 7th year running, was established in 2017 to harness the constant innovations in a fast-paced digital world for the advancement of society and the enrichment of its burgeoning population, especially the millennials.
With the use of diverse Digital Marketing Strategies, Branding and Social media promotions, he empowers brands to spread the Unique Value Proposition of their Brands on digital media to increase visibility, top-of-mind awareness, and ultimately have a desired ROI.
He holds a Computer Science degree from the prestigious Lagos State University, Nigeria, and an MBA from Business School Netherlands (BSN), Buren, Netherlands.
In recognition of his tremendous work and contributions to the Digital Technology sector, Adewale is a recipient of the British Government's Tech Nation Global Talent Tier One Visa.
2. Adora Nwodo - Software Engineer, Author, Digital Creator & Founder of NexaScale
Adora Nwodo is a multi-award-winning Software Engineer at Microsoft, currently building Mixed Reality on the Cloud. Adora serves as the Vice President of the Nigerian chapter of the VRAR Association, promoting awareness of Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Beyond her work in mixed reality, Adora is a Digital Creator and Founder of NexaScale, a social enterprise helping people start and scale their tech careers. She offers online courses, publishes articles on Software Engineering and Career Growth on her blog, and shares tech content on her YouTube channel, AdoraHack.
Adora is the author of "Cloud Engineering for Beginners" and "Beginning Azure DevOps." She is an alumnus of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business LEAD program. Adora actively shares her experiences as a woman in tech online, drives inclusion for women in technology, co-organizes community events, and speaks at tech conferences globally. Her impactful contributions empower others in the tech industry.
3. Confidence Staveley - Global Speaker, Inclusion Advocate & Founder, CyberSafe Foundation
Confidence Staveley is Africa’s most celebrated female Cybersecurity Leader, Talent Developer, Global Speaker, and Inclusion advocate. She has achieved numerous professional certifications and industry recognitions.
Confidence is an official member of the Forbes Technology Council, an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and technology executives. She has been recognized as Cybersecurity Woman of the Year Award in 2021 and 2022, International Security Journal 2023 Influencer, Top Cyber News 40 under 40 in Cybersecurity, LinkedIn Top Voice for Gender Inclusion, Top 50 Women in Cybersecurity Africa, etc.
She is an alumnus of some of the most prestigious fellowships across the world, such as the 2021 Obama Foundation African Leaders, International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), etc. Confidence has spoken at over 120 conferences, a testament to her global thought leadership and influence. She is the Founder and Executive Director of CyberSafe Foundation, a leading non-governmental organization dedicated to improving inclusive and safe digital access in Africa.
4. Damilola Hamid Balogun - Lawyer & Founder of Youth Sustainable Development Network
Damilola Hamid Balogun is a dynamic and committed individual who has made significant contributions to youth development, sustainable development, and advocacy over the past six years. As a lawyer and social entrepreneur, he has provided advisory services, conducted collaborative research, and engaged in youth-led advocacy, consistently delivering meaningful impact in communities, institutions, and beyond.
As the Founder and CEO of the Youth Sustainable Development Network (YSDN), Damilola is driven by his passion for driving positive change through deliberate social action in Nigeria and Africa, prioritizing the people and the planet. Through YSDN, he has championed the engagement and empowerment of youth in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating a conducive environment for young people to implement sustainable solutions. Under his leadership, the YSDN has made remarkable achievements, including impacting over 5000 youth, reducing 258.11 tCO2 emissions, organizing 100 webinars, forging 20 strategic partnerships, and implementing three sustainable impact projects.
Damilola's efforts have not gone unnoticed, as he has represented and participated in various high-level global governance and sustainability meetings, and has been featured on multiple television and radio stations in Nigeria and Africa. Through his speeches, he has inspired others to take bold actions towards sustainable development leadership and youth empowerment, emphasizing the importance of tangible impact.
5. Destiny Ogedegbe - Corporate Attorney, Academic Advocate & Harvard Law School Graduate
He is a corporate attorney who has achieved academic brilliance throughout his life. He holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and graduated at the top of his class in college with a First-Class degree. Similarly, he attained another First-Class degree from the Nigerian Law School. His expertise lies in Project Finance, M&A, and Energy-focused transactions.
Prior to attending Harvard, he was an active member of the Energy team at Banwo & Ighodalo, a prominent West African legal services provider. In this role, he provided advice to international oil companies, indigenous companies, sponsors, lenders, governments, and government-owned entities in relation to influential projects involving oil and gas, renewables, M&A, and various financing structures.
His passion lies in Projects, Energy and Infrastructure, as they stimulate his inherent creativity and provide an opportunity to simplify complex legal issues. He remains captivated by the intricacies of economic projects across different global regimes, the enduring solutions they offer, and their implications for the global market as a whole.
Beyond his legal career, he has a natural inclination towards teaching and possesses a professorial nature. He enjoys engaging in public speaking and has been invited numerous times to contribute to socio-political, intellectual, and educational discussions. Through his involvement with various NGOs, he strives to raise awareness about the transformative power of education and the value of social discourse. Continuing to impart knowledge as he has gained it, he shares his experiences, enlightens others, and seeks to inspire change alongside fellow advocates in safeguarding the "wise restraints that make us all free."
6. Dr Cassandra Akinde - Award Winning Public Health Practitioner & Executive Director for The Neo Child Initiative for Africa
Dr Cassandra Akinde is a global public health practitioner and an infectious disease researcher passionate about health equity with over 7 years of experience working in the non-profit and health development sectors, respectively.
She currently serves as the Executive Director for The Neo Child Initiative for Africa (TNCI), a non-profit that advocates for child health promotion and sustainable education in underserved communities. TNCI is currently partnering with Alive and Thrive/FHI360 to scale up Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition practices in Nigeria.
Her proven track record has earned her multiple humanitarian awards, including a Chevening Award Scholarship funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, The Future Africa Award Prize for Health and Wellness, the British Council Future Leaders Connect Fellowship, and most recently a Common Future Conversation Fellowship with Chatham House.
7. Emmanuel Faith - People and Talent Leader, Author & Speaker
Faith is a globally certified human resource professional, talent manager, and employability skills trainer.
He has previously held leadership positions with reputable organizations such as Cowrywise, where he was the Lead, People and Culture, piloting people processes that positioned the organization as a top ten Startup to work in Nigeria according to LinkedIn; Big Cabal Media, one of Sub-Saharan Africa's largest digital media organizations, and General Electric, where he began his HR career. He was recently named one of the Top 20 People-Leaders in Nigeria by Disruptive People.
Faith is an SDG 5 advocate, who writes forward-thinking articles on gender equality, and steers related conversations on social media. He has also been a co-questionnaire at BBC UK on Global Conversations, hosted by Zainab Bedawi.
He is an international sports writer specializing in female football, and he presently contributes to the UK blog Impetus, where he covers African football and the Women's Super League. At leisure, Faith can be found reading a book, watching K-drama, or tweeting about female football.
8. Frances Theodore - Social Media Influencer, Youtuber and CEO, Influencer Mart
Frances Theodore is a Social media Influencer, YouTuber, and Entrepreneur who was born in Abuja, Nigeria. With an innate thirst for knowledge, she was propelled to pursue her academic passions, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.
During her time in school, she got into the modelling industry at 17 years old, henceforth paving the way for more opportunities that resulted in her active involvement in social media. She then moved to Lagos, Nigeria, to pursue her passion for content creation. Frances has worked on campaign deals for brands such as Transcorp Hilton, Fenty Beauty, YSL Beauty, Johnnie Walker, Sketchers, First Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Youtube Music, and Ciroc, to name a few, while gracing magazine covers and billboards. She is the Founder of Influencers Mart, a brand that helps foster creativity and simplify the lives of content creators across the globe.
France aims to serve as an inspiration to the younger generation, as well as encourage them so that they can independently build the career path and life they want amidst the economic situation in Nigeria.
9. Grace Ihejiamaizu-Paul, Educator - Author & Founder, iKapture Centre for Development & OpportunityDesk.org
Grace is an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, and opportunity curator with 11 years of experience facilitating access to quality education and opportunities for youth. She is the founder of the iKapture Centre for Development, a youth-led organization with a mission to educate, engage, and empower the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs through capacity-building and digital skills programs. She is also the founder of OpportunityDesk.org, the largest online platform curating relevant global opportunities for people across the world. Her experiences running Opportunity Desk since 2012 is a major inspiration for writing her best-selling book, Go Global with Opportunities.
Committed to shaping a world where young people have unlimited/equal access to quality education and opportunities, Grace volunteers her time to mentor young people, particularly women, and serves on the board of several youth-focused organizations. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada.
10. Ireen Chikatula, Feminist, Activist & Founder, EIRWA
Ireen Chikatula is a passionate Girls' and Women's Empowerment Specialist, Feminist, and Activist from Zambia. As the founder of the "Empowerment Initiative for Rural Women and Adolescents (EIRWA)," she champions social justice, gender equality, and empowerment for marginalized women and young people. With expertise in girls' and women's empowerment, Ireen brings a deep understanding of their challenges and strategies for growth. She is committed to dismantling systemic barriers, advocating for inclusive policies, and amplifying the voices of marginalized communities.
As an Obama Africa Leader-2023, One Young World Peace Ambassador-2022, and distinguished YALI alumna, Ireen leverages her leadership skills and extensive networks to collaborate with fellow leaders, organizations, and policymakers. Pursuing an MSc in Social Justice and Community Action, she combines research and critical analysis to inform evidence-based advocacy. Ireen Chikatula inspires others in the pursuit of an equitable and empowered world.
11. Itofa Ivarah, Development Consultant - Founder, Church on the Street & My9jaFoodBank Initiative
Itofa Ivarah is a Development Consultant. He founded Church On The Street Int'l and My9jaFoodBank Initiative, two nonprofits in Nigeria that use community-led intervention to build and develop underserved communities through education, food relief, and socio-economic empowerment. He has raised over $16,000 in funding to tackle food insecurity across nine states in Nigeria. Itofa Ivarah is a TEDx Speaker and the 2022 Oxfam Hunger Heroes Award recipient for his contribution to zero hunger in Nigeria. He continues to serve the nonprofit community in Nigeria through consultancy, expert advice,
12. Mariam Momodu - Dual Qualified Lawyer, Doctoral Candidate & Founder of GetIn Education Consulting
Mariam Momodu holds an LL.B. (first-class) from the University of Ibadan and a master's (Commercial Law) from Cambridge. Mariam is also pursuing a doctorate at the University of Toronto. Mariam practices at Dentons Canada LLP, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and technology, and international trade and investment. Mariam serves with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (Technical Subcommittee) and is a Black Female Lawyers Network Canada director. Furthermore, Mariam founded GetIn Education Consulting to equip underrepresented individuals to access quality education.
Mariam has earned more than 25 academic awards, including the Vanier, Commonwealth Shared, and Cambridge Trust Scholarships and the New College Doctoral Fellowship. Mariam's law, development, and education contributions have garnered accolades, including a CIBWE honor (100 Black Women to Watch in Canada), acknowledgement by McKinsey and Co. (40 Next Generation Women Leaders, Nigeria), recognition as an Emerging African Scholar (University of Toronto African Alumni Association), and Social Impact (Study UK Alumni Awards).
13. Oluwaseyi Moejoh - Young Leader, Enviromentalist & Founder, U-recycle Initiative Africa
Oluwaseyi Moejoh is a Nigerian Environmentalist educating the next generation of young leaders about climate action and helping them build the knowledge and skills they need to proffer innovative solutions to environmental issues. Through her NGO, U-recycle Initiative Africa, Oluwaseyi has engaged over 10,000 young people across over 14 states in Nigeria and 11 African countries. In 2022, U-recycle Initiative won a grant from The Government of Canada for their PlasticWize Fellowship, a leadership development program for young female undergraduates aimed at tackling marine plastic pollution in universities through a transformative behavioural change campaign.
Oluwaseyi is also a Contributing Editor at the OH-Wake Magazine, a renowned global environmental youth magazine that highlights climate stories from the youth perspective. Also, She is a Youth Representative of the Captain Planet Foundation to the United Nations Department of Global Communications. As a member of The Civil Society Youth Representatives Steering Committee, she collaborates with fellow youth leaders to advise the Department of Global Communications on how to better engage with young people on issues on the UN agenda.
Over the last five years Oluwaseyi has received awards and accolades for her contributions to protecting nature and advancing youth development, including The 2022 Diana Award, being named a National Geographic Young Explorer and being recognized as one of the Top 40 Teen Leaders in the World by the We Are Family Foundation in 2021. She has been featured on various media outlets, including CNN, Channels TV, TVC News and more.
Oluwaseyi is certified in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the prestigious Lagos Business School. Finally, she is an undergraduate studying law at the University of Lagos, Nigeria.
14. Peace Itimi - Growth Marketing Leader & Host of Founders Connect
Meet Peace Itimi, a seasoned Growth professional with more than seven years of experience in product-led growth, marketing, and analytics. She has a decade of experience in teaching digital marketing and growing tech businesses. Peace is also creative. She has a YouTube channel where she shares videos on marketing, entrepreneurship, and motivation. She also hosts Founders Connect, a show where she interviews African tech-enabled business founders and operators to uncover their stories, lessons, and journeys. Peace has interviewed over 70+ founders and operators across 4 countries, and her videos have been watched over a million times by people on the continent and abroad.
15. Sabrina Awuni - Software Engineer, Founder of TechFemme & "For Her"
Sabrina Awuni is a remarkable individual with a diverse cultural background and a passion for technology and empowering others. Born and raised in Ghana, Sabrina's unique heritage includes a Ukrainian mother and Ghanaian father, giving her a rich cultural perspective.
Sabrina pursued her education at the University of Ghana, where she earned a first-class degree in computer engineering. With a strong foundation in technology, she embarked on a fulfilling career as a software engineer at Bank of America in London.
Sabrina is a true advocate for change. Recognizing the gender disparity in STEM fields, she co-founded TechFemme, a non-governmental organization committed to empowering girls in STEM. Through mentorship, career counselling, and soft skill training, TechFemme aims to bridge the gender gap and inspire young women to pursue careers in technology.
Additionally, Sabrina's passion for philanthropy led her to co-found "For Her" alongside her friend, Gabriella Nokoe. This annual charity event serves as a platform to support and uplift young girls in underprivileged areas. Through "For Her," Sabrina and Gabriella provide resources, educational opportunities, and a nurturing environment for these girls to thrive.
Sabrina Awuni's journey exemplifies a commitment to both personal and societal growth. With her remarkable achievements in the field of technology and her relentless efforts to empower girls through TechFemme and "For Her," she has become an inspiring figure in her community. Sabrina continues to make a significant impact, creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
16. Seun Olagunju - International Development Practitioner & Founder of The Development School Africa
Seun Olagunju-Lana is an International Development Practitioner in Nigeria. She is the founder of The Development School, Africa, where she works with governments, educational bodies, and development practitioners to equip young people in Africa with the education, skills, and resources needed to promote sustainable development. She commits her influence and investments to coaching young people in Africa, teaching them to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and to create innovative solutions that address problems that are specific to their immediate African community.
With 5+ years of experience in the development space, Seun has consulted for governmental organizations like the Office of the Vice President in Nigeria, and international organizations like the UNDP, UN Youth Envoy, and Facebook to build programs and products that serve young people. In 2019, She was recognized by Leading Ladies Africa, a regional editorial, as a young woman transforming Africa through impact at the community level. In 2021, She was recognized by the United People Global as a Sustainability Leader in Nigeria. In March 2021, She was listed by the Young African Leaders Initiative as one of the 30 Most Influential Women in Youth Leadership.
Seun Olagunju-Lana is a 2023 World Economic Forum Global Shaper and a 2023 TheirWorld Global Youth Ambassador. She is also a Subomi Plumptre Fellow and a member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.
17. Titilope Adedokun - Lawyer, Content Creator & CEO, Sisterly HQ
Titilope Adedokun is a formidable force for change as a lawyer, social entrepreneur, and content creator. Her unwavering commitment to the representation and empowerment of women has fueled her remarkable journey. With a vision to amplify the voices of Nigerian women, she founded Sisterly HQ, a transformative digital community that emboldens women to share their stories authentically while connecting them with essential opportunities and resources for success. Her impactful work has gained recognition globally, including representing Nigeria at the Fora Network for Change Global Summit in Toronto, Canada, and winning the Union Bank of Nigeria International Women’s Day prize in 2022. Titilope’s achievements have been celebrated with the 25 Under 25 Global Legacy Award 2023 from Common Purpose and being named a 30 Under 30 social impact leader by the Global Governance Initiative in 2023. Titilope is also a LinkedIn Top Voice, using her platform to inspire and share valuable insights.
18. Tunde Onakoya - Founder, Chess in Slums Africa & Nigerian National Chess Master
Tunde Onakoya is a Nigerian National Chess Master and coach who founded Chess in Slums Africa in 2018. He is driven by the conviction that chess can serve as a powerful educational tool to improve young lives and foster a new generation of intellectuals, even among underprivileged communities.
His non-profit organization, Chess in Slums Africa, leverages the game of chess as a means of social intervention, bridging the gap between disadvantaged children and their aspirations. By providing tuition-free education, learning resources, and mentorship opportunities, Chess in Slums Africa is creating an inclusive future for every African child.
The initiative has garnered international attention, with success stories of children from slums in Ikorodu, Makoko, and Oshodi Under Bridge in Lagos published by prominent media outlets such as BBC, Al-Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, AFP, and MSN. To date, Chess in Slums Africa has impacted over 10,000 children's lives and secured fully-funded educational scholarships for over 500 children to local and international institutions.
As an eloquent speaker and advocate for harnessing potential from humble beginnings, Tunde Onakoya has shared his passion and vision on various platforms, including three TEDx talks. His efforts earned him numerous accolades, including The Future Awards Africa Prize for Community Action in 2021, the Business Insider Award for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022, the JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of Nigeria Award for Contribution to Children, World Peace, and/or Human Rights in 2022, the Trendupp Award for Force of Social Good in 2022, Leadership newspaper Humanitarian of the year and the Royal African Award in 2022.
Happy International Youth Day!