September 27, 2023
From Nigeria to England: Ikenna Nwafor's journey to global influence

In 2022, Ikenna Nwafor was honored as the winner of the Rise Global Challenge – a program that finds promising youth and provides them with opportunities that allow them to work to serve others in their lifetime .

Recently, Nwafor participated in the 2023 Rise Residential Summit in England – providing an opportunity to learn and network with some of the most innovative minds across diverse industries.

The summit included a series of lectures from industry leaders on interesting topics such as artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship, climate and sustainability, along with presentations, workshops, games and dinners from various winners.

Recounting his experiences for BusinessDay, Nwafor describes the insightful conversations and connections that will contribute to his ongoing work to improve Nigeria for all.

“In London and Oxford, the 2023 Rise Residential Summit greatly expanded my worldview and gave me an additional sense of purpose,” she said.

“This was not a typical networking event – ​​it was a gathering of promising young minds, a hub of innovative ideas, and a platform that brought together service-driven individuals from different industries in different parts of the world.”

Foster relationships beyond networking

The summit provided 100 Rise global winners with opportunities to build and foster connections across different industries and backgrounds.

Nwafor describes meeting his fellow winners in person for the first time as an amazing experience. “I am joined by a diverse group of young people who have worked across a range of sectors including renewable energy, health, cyber security, law, motivational speaking and much more.”

“I have been able to establish a global support network that I can rely on for advice when I encounter challenges related to my cybersecurity project, my NGO, or even my new start-up ideas “

Nwafor adds, “I had the privilege of meeting some passionate and enthusiastic leaders – John Shiels, CEO of the Manchester United Foundation, and Matt Clifford, co-founder of Entrepreneurship First, a company that collectively oversees almost a hundred start-ups . $10 billion.”

“Connecting with these influential people gave me insight into their real-life experiences, the do’s and don’ts of investing, the art of the start-up pitch, how to advance your career, and tips on becoming a leader. Found.”

Also read: Nigerian music sensation 3GAR: Entrepreneurship journey through melody
2022 RISE Global winner Ikenna Nwafor during his team’s capstone presentation on the use of virtual and extended reality to assist the elderly at Road House, University of Oxford, during the 2023 RISE Residential Summit.

informative session

Envafor described the ‘How to Become a Founder’ session led by Matthew Clifford as an incredibly enlightening session that shared insights into the realities facing founders.

“As someone who aspires to be the founder of both a nonprofit and a for-profit organization with social impact, the discussion holds special importance,” Nwafor said.

“Additionally, there were also VR (Virtual Reality) and XR (Extended Reality) sessions, where I got my first VR experience! This demonstration inspired my colleagues to brainstorm ways to integrate VR into our projects.
“We decided on a concept technology that could assist elderly and sick people who are immobile. Other potential applications include using VR to help these patrons connect digitally with people around the world without leaving their rooms.

He said issues like climate change and ocean conservation were also discussed. “A speaker from Sydney, Australia shared insights about caring for the oceans, which resonated with me because of my proximity to the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos.”

According to him, as someone who comes from a place where people don’t care much about the ocean other than fishing and relaxing, the summit helped him broaden his knowledge about the importance of ocean conservation. helped.

Also read: Dow and Leap Africa partner to promote social entrepreneurship in Africa

Igniting change through power conversations

During the summit, the young social entrepreneur presented a short presentation on the theme ‘Building the Next Generation of Global Leaders’.

He said the conversation was extremely personal, reflecting his journey shaped by community and personal experiences as well as his society, struggles and the love and care he received from his family.
“I talked about my inspiration to give back to the community, which led to the creation of ‘Boundless Horizons,’ an NGO I co-founded that works to provide quality education to underprivileged children and foster the next generation of leaders. Was focused on.”

According to him, Boundless Horizons aims to equip students with essential 21st century skills like computer literacy, public speaking, AI to break the cycle of poverty by empowering youth through education and encouraging them to pursue their aspirations. Offers workshops on programming and graphic design.

“These efforts have already reached about 300 children in Lagos,” he said. “But the goal is to expand the impact further and reach 100,000 youth in Lagos and Africa within 10 years. I’m inspired by one of my favorite sayings – if your goals don’t scare you, they’re probably not big enough. All this can be achieved through consistency and unwavering commitment.”

2022 RISE Global winner (bottom left) Ikenna Charles Nwafor from Nigeria looks out over the City of London from Westminster Station in London during the 2023 RISE Residential Summit.

Shaping the future: the rise of the African Union (RAU) and beyond
The young leader also described his experience with Rise African Union – an organization comprised of every Rise Global winner in Africa – for which he plays a leadership role.

She said she and other African Rise colleagues had the opportunity to organize and sponsor a union day, where they engaged in activities and discussions to strengthen their relationships.

“We all actively participated in educational and cultural experiences, such as museum visits and dinners with the facilitators,” she said.

“As one of the leaders of RAU, I am proud to say that participation rates have increased significantly since the first meeting. While there would normally be about five participants, the meeting brought together about 15 people.”

Also read: How Business Innovation Accelerator drives entrepreneurship, leadership skills

For incoming RAU members, she and other union leaders plan to host a webinar to guide RISE applicants, finalists and winners through the process of applying to top universities around the world.

“The goal is to provide valuable insight and advice to those who wish to gain admission to prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge,” he said.

“Apart from the webinars, we plan to organize more sessions and panel discussions that will benefit RISE winners, finalists and applicants.”

Future sessions will feature influencers and change-makers who can share experiences, insights and advice to inspire and educate RAU community members who are committed to leading the way and making global impact.

“Overall, the 2023 Rise Residential Summit provided connections, inspiration, and actionable insights for me. It strengthened my resolve to make a greater impact through the various projects I am working on.

Nwafor said, “With the guidance of my new mentors and a global network of peers, I am confident that my aspirations are supported by a community that truly invests in those rising to solve the world’s most important issues. Believes in doing.”


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