Posts Tagged ‘Students Circle Network’

It’s been a while since we had an interview with an entrepreneur and so it is with great pride and excitement that I introduce ‘Kayode Ajayi-Smith! He is a Social Entrepreneur with over 7 years cognitive experience in the third sector; and  currently leads a youth-led Non-Governmental Organization called Joint Initiative for Development (JID), famous for its Internship Connect Programme. So far, they’ve placed over 100 graduates on internships in Lagos and Abuja and in organizations like Dafinone Consulting, SHI, NOI Polls, CSR-In-Action, Goge Africa, and a host of other reputable organizations.

FGS: Hi Kayode! Very simply, the 3, 2, 1 series talks to entrepreneurs to capture the real life situations/experience of starting/building a business. The aim is not only to showcase their work but also to see that the next young person is spared the errors these entrepreneurs made because they now know how to get around them.

Kayode:  okay, let’s do it!

FGS:  Awesome… First off, what are three things you are most afraid of?

Kayode:  Number 1 would be not fulfilling my purpose according to God’s plan, 2 would be being a bad influence to the younger generation, and third would be marrying a wrong wife and partner but I am sure that has been taken care of.

FGS:  Ok, just to jump on your third point, are you already married or you’ve popped the question somewhere?

Kayode:  Yes I have popped the question; we’ll send invitations soon.

FGS:  Whoop! Congratulations!

Kayode:  Thanks

FGS:  Now, tell us about yourself, what gets you out of bed every morning?

Kayode:  I would say, it’s the need to make our communities a better place

I know I am engaged in other activities that all lead to that same goal of making our communities a better place. I guess that was why I chose to follow a career in the Third Sector (Non-Profits).

FGS:  And are you happy here in the Third Sector?

Kayode:  I am but it can be better.

FGS:  How?

Kayode:  Well, I think the sector needs a lot of accountability and legitimization; accounting and making the credibility of what we say we do visible. We also need to think sustainability especially in terms of ensuring that funding does not only come from donor sources but also from sustainable initiatives driven by collaborations with the organized private sector.

FGS:  What led you to grooming interns? Tell us about Joint Initiative for Development…

Kayode:  Okay, Joint Initiative for Development is a Youth-led Non-Profit Organization whose key goal is to increase citizens’ participation in the development of their communities. We are also keen on ensuring that more young people are involved in the development of their communities thus the reason the organization is led by young people between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. We have reached over 3,000 young people through our programmes, supported over 300 MSMEs and mobilized over 10 million Naira worth of donations to public schools.

 Kayode Ajayi-Smith

FGS:  How old is this business?

Kayode:  4years

FGS:  Wow! That’s a while… How many interns have passed through your organization?

Kayode:  The Internship Connect programme started a little over 2years ago. We commenced with a Pilot called Volunteer Training Scheme where we placed 27 interns in Abuja and scaled up into a full social business in August 2013. Today we have almost 150 interns placed in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

FGS:  What are two things that would make you change careers in a heartbeat?

Kayode:  God and the sustenance of my family.

FGS:  Ok. Back to the internship connect. What challenges have you faced with it?

Kayode:  Hmm, the recipients, and funding. By recipients I meant unemployed graduates. You see, our motive for starting the Internship Connect programme came from the rising unemployment figure in the country with youths being the worst hit. Private organizations’ constant lamentation of the poor quality of graduates from our tertiary institutions led us to find out what they really want and that helped us to develop our 2-day Employability and Competency skill training which helps unemployed graduates understand what the 21st century workplace requires.

I however think there’s a huge need to change the orientation of our youths and that of their parents.

FGS:  Hmmm. Explain please?

Kayode:  Okay, a lot of our graduates have a funny get-rich-quick or small work-huge-pay mind-set. This mentality has played out in all our interactions. We also observed that a lot of our young graduates are very lazy

FGS:  Tell me about that!

Kayode:  I will actually tell you. We started with collecting CVs from interns to submit to organizations; we observed that a lot of our graduates do not know how to prepare CVs. 8 out of 10 CV’s were rejected on average so we decided to organize the competency training.

After soliciting funds from individuals to cover the cost of the training so that lots of young people can benefit from it, they were surprisingly lackadaisical towards it! Some of them arrived 2 hours into the training

Sometimes, the facilitators (who work for other organizations and are around because we pleaded with them to give hours of their time) would have to wait for them to arrive.

We decided to charge a fee for the training sessions, and to our surprise (again) they started showing up, and on time too.

FGS:  Ahh! So you’ve learned something!

Kayode:  I must say that we have had quite a number of very good interns but we have had a lot of very terrible ones too. We once had an intern who we called a day to the interview (because the host organizations determine when and where interviews take place) and she said she couldn’t attend simply because we can’t give her just a day’s notice. Even when we informed her that it was at the employers’ request, she declined in an impolite manner and ended the conversation.

FGS:  Oh wow. Since you’re actively engaged with young people seeking employment, what is one thing you believe they should know/do/be?

Kayode:  I think for young unemployed graduates, the one thing they should know is, Service comes first if you must penetrate any system. I am and I still am, a product of service.

FGS:  That’s very nice

Kayode:  when I graduated I went to work for free and I walked my way into full-time employment. I have stories of several young people around the world and it ended the same way and even sometimes better. When you don’t have a job, I think it is best to be prepared to go work for free. It not only helps you to sharpen your skills but also helps you acquire new ones. It also helps you build a huge professional network, one that you will not get seating at home.

FGS:  Thank you very much Kayode for taking the time to chat with me today, for all the insights you’ve shared. Most grateful!

Kayode:  I was glad I could share. Thank you.



Find more information about JID and internship connect here: and


I found him on a friend’s page, was nice to finally ‘meet’ the person behind the acclaimed Student Circle, and very recently, the first fully online African university, fresh from its beta testing phase. Say hello to Gossy Ukanwoke, the 23-year-old Nigerian who is successfully channeling his passion for Africa, technology, and education into multi-pronged solutions.

ME:  Hello!

Gossy:  How are you doing? And good evening!

ME:  Good evening. I’m doing great! You?

Gossy:  I’m very well, lots of work but I’m getting by…

ME:  Welcome to the 3, 2, 1 series; a platform where the Fairy God Sister is at liberty to ask any question she wants!

Gossy: *smile* thanks and Gossy chooses which to answer!

ME:  This interview is written so I’ll reproduce as is on the blog, only editing for any errors. And err, Gossy will be compelled by my fairy powers to answer! Ready?

Let’s start with, what is it about Gossy that I won’t/can’t/haven’t read in interviews?

Gossy:  Gossy is really God fearing, he’s a strong Christian.

ME:  Wonderful! What else?

Gossy:  My computer is stuck with me.

ME:  Ha ha ha… obviously!!! Give me something Gossy

Gossy:  I do not like education as it is currently. I believe the system is not built for all types of learners; that’s why we see those who are not “bright” in class excel outside class, in business, in art or vocation. However, vocational learning is not always considered equal to the standard learning schemes in our societies today

@ play.. starting in front of a painting

ME: Student Circle Network. What’s the back story?

Gossy:  I have always believed that every student should have access to quality and affordable education; Students Circle Network was built from that drive to help students and the rest is history.

ME:  What’s your biggest success story from the network?

Gossy:  Our users come back to say thank you and for me that qualifies our success. 

ME:  Any distinct story?

Gossy:  A Masters students who was choked for a final project got on SCN 5 days before  submission deadlines. He spoke with a teacher/a group of students, was put through and he got an A in that project!

ME:  amazing! That’s the kind of story that keeps you going on a difficult day isn’t it?

Gossy:  yes exactly. There have been times in the past that the pressures were so much that I once reconsidered the network but these stories give you a sense of fulfilment

Ok, #3. Who’s your ideal woman? (And I’m a Fairy, so feel free to dream…)

Gossy:  Lol! Ok, my ideal woman….. should be understanding; because I could get stuck up on work and this PC so much!

ME:  That’s it? Understanding? That’s it? C’mon!!! There must be other things you want!

Gossy:  that’s pretty much all I can say trust me! You won’t understand how much understanding is..

ME:  Looks, culinary skills, temperament, nothing? Ok, at the risk of digressing, explain your understanding of the ‘understanding’ you’re looking for.

Gossy:  Understanding that being on my computer 72 hours doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. Get the picture?

ME:  hmmm….. I know your type! On to your latest venture, what does Beni stand for?

Gossy:  Beni is just a unique name in itself and its part of a personal experience. So yes Beni…… I think it’s a great name

ME:  Ok… if I pronounced it in Yoruba be ni could mean ‘yes’. It could also be a place, river, or part of a name. For you is it an acronym, something in a language, I’m curiooooooous Gossy!

Gossy:  more things will unfold in the future I guess, but it’s a name on its own.

@ work, the PC to 'understand'....

ME:  hmmm, I’m restraining myself from using my powers to extract the name from you right now! What’s the place of social media in the communities you’re building?

Gossy:  Social media drives sporadic communication between those who are remotely linked; this is vital in learning and the growth of knowledge and that intersects with what my focus is on.

ME:  I see that the pioneer students at Beni American have a ‘class blog’. We had one during my postgraduate studies but I’d like to know why you set that up?

Gossy:  students who are coming from diverse backgrounds come together, they need to know each other, learn from each other’s experiences, etc. I got to know a few people from that class blog myself whose knowledge I’ll be tapping into in the future.

ME:  Including me? smile

Gossy:  yes you were a student in the class blog

ME:  Past tense? Ahhhh!!!

Gossy:  the class is over, and you weren’t exactly a model student… you did not attend classes and you did not do assignments.

ME:  Awwww, I’m sorry! I feel like I’m getting a talking to from a Principal! And I am a good student! *adjusts halo*

#2 If I  gave you three days devoid of work/school and all the money you wanted, what would you do?

Gossy:  I’d head to England to see someone and have a nice holiday

ME:  See who? The person who understands you?

Gossy:  I don’t really discuss personal details but yes it may be the person who understands me, or an advisor I have been promising to visit, or a family member!

ME:  That’s good enough for us, I respect your privacy. Student Circle, BAU; what else does Gossy have his hands in at the moment?

Gossy:  school, I’m a final year student at Girne American University, studying Management Information Systems.

ME:  Final set of questions, and I must thank you for being an interesting guest…

Gossy:  Thanks plenty, any time!

ME:  Why Beni American? Why not Beni Nigerian?

Gossy:  We need to let people know what they are going into. Nigeria doesn’t currently have a benchmark for online universities; however the Americans do and we are running an American system, curriculum, structure and calendar amongst other things.

ME:  What’s the biggest take away for you now that the testing for BAU is done?

Gossy:  The people love it and that’s a great start. The students have come to realize the online system isn’t exactly an easy process when properly executed as we are doing

ME:  #1 If you had one wish that you were sure would be granted, what would it be?

Gossy:  that every Nigerian youth gets educated and upon graduation have an opportunity

ME:  Thank you Gossy!

Gossy:  You are most certainly welcome

Note: Gossy is currently fund-raising to provide free tablets for BAU students as well as subsidized internet access for them. Information about his outstanding precedents, and avenues to donate are here.

@school, looking up to a light up roof.....