This profile was prepared when 'Gbenga Sesan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
‘Gbenga is using information and communication technology (ICT) to increase the employability of young people that want to remain in the labor market and improve the probability of success for those who chose to become entrepreneurs. He is doing this by providing training in ICT skills and entrepreneurship, mentoring, and internship opportunities with established organizations—all while relying on idle or under-utilized resources within the community. Training is conducted for a small fee in neighborhood cyber cafes that would otherwise go out of business. Trainers are volunteers that have requisite skills and that mentor the trainees for up to six months after training. And companies that provide internship opportunities meet their own needs for skilled labor. ‘Gbenga is focusing his efforts in disadvantaged communities like Ajegunle, the biggest informal settlement in West Africa, where unemployment is particularly endemic and opportunities and role models are limited. Trainees are required to train five additional young people and reinvest 10 percent of their earnings back into Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), the organization that ‘Gbenga initially set up in 2000 as a virtual platform to connect ICT training and mentoring volunteers with underserved youths. PIN uses the money to develop the sustainability of existing projects and expand its Innovation Centers to other communities. These Innovation Centers will be act as permanent incubators owned and managed by the community to encourage and disseminate the programs ideals. ‘Gbenga foresees a future where Innovation Centers contribute to making Nigeria a destination for IT outsourcing and the growth of dot.org companies.