Mitsubishi Nigeria, The Future Awards Africa and the need for sustainable impact through youth participation

There are three times as many Nigerian youth migrants in Europe and America than migrants from every other West African country. According to the new report published by the United Nations in April 2019, which researched in depth youth migration patterns, it was calculated at 32 percent in 1999, as compared to less than 15 percent for the non-youth population.

According to Afrobarometer, a Pan-African research network, about 35 percent of Nigerians want to leave the country, while 11 percent say they think seriously about it. In addition, 75 percent of those Nigerians who want to emigrate do so for economic reasons: unemployment, escape from poverty and the search for better opportunities. So while the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian youth is irrefutable, the current need for change, youth engagement and community investment has emphasized the importance of re-accelerated economic growth in the country’s economy across multiple sectors.

Three years ago, Nigeria had a population of 186 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent, and 44 percent of the country’s population was under age 15. This segment joined the youth population in 2019, and given Nigeria’s alarming population size and population growth rate, even assuming a decline in fertility to 3.7 children per woman does little to allay fears. Nigeria’s population is expected to grow to over 440 million people by 2050. This suggests that the youth is the future, and if transformation and national development is to be achieved, investment in youth population and participation has to be a priority.

More importantly, while the country tries to staunch the continued loss of its skilled talent and human resources to brain drain, policies that attract investors to Nigeria should be encouraged. These policies must unite public and private organisations in service of this mutual cause, and private organizations should be involved in promoting the ambitions of young Nigerians who can be entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, educators, and many others who can actively contribute in developing the country.

Even though there is a significant percentage of young Nigerians chasing greener pastures, many others, even those between the ages of 18-35 years, have taken the future of the community into their own hands by making practical investments and measurable impact in people, platforms and consistently overcoming obstacles, irrespective of their tribe, religion and social position.

There are few organisations in Nigeria who recognise these struggles and understand the need to counter the disadvantages in youth migration and unemployment, and have displayed a strong and consistent willingness to contribute and participate in a sustainable economic growth, especially by supporting the drive and ambition of young citizens.

For the past 13 years, The Future Awards Africa (TFAA), an initiative of The Future Project – a not-for-profit organisation focused on building a network of empowered citizens who can transform system and societies through leadership and enterprise – has celebrated young enterprising Nigerians who have made great strides in their fields within the year. The awards have become as a platform for change-makers and nation builders across different sectors, and are connected through business, creativity and innovation.

This year, The Future Awards Africa is partnering with the global automobile giant, Mitsubishi Motors, taking a big step in its quest to empower African youths through the brand tagline ‘Drive Your Ambition’. The powerful message, which also emphasized its on-going commitment to the values and aspirations to its customers, has driven its philanthropic initiatives across the world. Mitsubishi has consistently invested in youth empowerment across several communities, and this year’s awards represent an exciting period for youth engagement and participation.

On Friday the 8th of November 2019, Mitsubishi will host about a hundred young nominees to an exclusive reception, an event that celebrates their achievements and also allows them to network. Through this ground-breaking collaboration, Mitsubishi plugs into an extended and globally-recognised platform with over 2,000 winners and trailblazers globally, and thousands of nominees leading the conversation, determining the culture and represent the future of the continent.

With the intent to inspire and encourage customers, Mitsubishi’s tagline ‘Drive Your Ambition’ is aptly captured by the ‘Under 40’s CEO’, an interactive television show with notable African entrepreneurs not older than fourty years, where they share their experiences and journey to their current societal status. So far, the show has featured a number of prominent guests which includes Audu Maikori, CEO, Chocolate City Group; Noble Igwe, Founder, 360 Group; Oluyomi Ojo, CEO, Printivo and Adebola Williams, CEO, RED | For Africa. Hosted by Familusi Akin Babajide, it currently airs on Silverbird Television, and has about over a hundred episodes already.

Upon the launch of the show, the Head of Marketing, Massilia Motors, the sole distributors of Mitsubishi Motors in Nigeria, Funmi Abiola said, “Drive Your Ambition is Mitsubishi Motors’ new tagline developed after the centenary celebration of our brand. At Massilia Motors, we are committed to celebrating the success of Nigerians breaking grounds in a bid to motivate others to accomplish even more. We are proud to partner with Under 40 CEOs whose work in inspiring and informing the next generation of African business leaders has not gone unnoticed.

Another notable initiative under ‘Drive your Ambition’ is the ‘Women Leading Corporate’ event, which was held last March to commemorate the International Women’s Day. Similar to The Future Awards Africa nominees’ reception, the event was aimed at connecting top female executives in different economic sectors.

With these initiatives, Mitsubishi is creating and supporting platforms for young innovative Nigerians to reach their full potential. By placing the brand at the forefront of youth empowerment, the brand reflects the current understanding that private institutions cannot only drive socio-economic growth through business operations, but can also invest in community development by encouraging youth participation and boosting youth-focused platforms such as The Future Awards Africa in order to promote innovation and sustainable impact in Nigeria.

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