Opeyemi is using design as a springboard
By grasping one great opportunity, Opeyemi is now on the road to doing what she really wants, and is showing the way to other young people in Nigeria.
It is never too early to start. At 18 years old, Opeyemi Agbaje proves the truth of this statement. She is already a successful graphic designer and media trainer, and is keen to share her experiences so others can see their way to achieving their goals.
Diving straight into training
Opeyemi, from Lagos state, Nigeria, completed the Ekobit ICT training with the Work in Progress program in 2018. She learned graphic design, UX and UI (User Experience and User Interface design), and Cinematography. “The training really helped me,” she says, “as I did not have any computer knowledge prior to this time; I only used computers for watching movies!” The experience changed her outlook, giving her a new direction, and allowing her to visualize her future.
The training also gave Opeyemi experience of designing at Poise Nigeria (a large image consultancy company), which helped to refine her skills and give her the connections she needed for her first job with Oxfam, in 2018, where she worked on their annual report. Now, she is one of the media trainers at Ekobit ICT academy but doesn’t see graphic design as her main career.
Confidence to change direction
Design work gave Opeyemi opportunities and confidence to decide exactly what she wants to do; she is about to begin a BSc in Psychology at university. “The training has given me a certificate that would allow me to return to graphic design and photography upon completion of my study if I want to,” she explains. “The training particularly improved my communication skills and confidence level,” she continues. She wouldn’t have believed that she could go to Benin to talk to young people on Youth Day, but she did, alongside keynote speakers such as Waje (a Nigerian singer) and investors looking for good causes.
Opeyemi has been lucky, she did not have any major challenges along the way, but her willingness to seize opportunities has enabled her to achieve what she wants. Her parents were also very supportive, looking after the majority of her needs during the course of the training. “I now know the way forward and know what I need to achieve in order to get to the future I envisage,” she says.
Creating an opportunity for all
Opeyemi is well connected through social media and uses this to broadcast the activities at Ekobits so that others may realize their dreams. She is also working to get more people sponsored for the program, through the Ekobits alumni week.
How would she advise those who have not yet found their career path? “My advice would be that they take a time-out to know what really draws them, before moving on. Also, to create opportunities; such persons should not keep their dreams to themselves but share them so that the right people can help them in achieving such dreams.”
Opeyemi‘s story is part of the multiyear campaign, kicked off on International Youth Day 2019 by the Empower Youth for Work program and the Work in Progress! alliance. The campaign aims to support the national influencing work of the respective programs by joining forces with local role models. The ripples of #Iwasthere are spreading out around the world and these stories are proof that change can happen anywhere – we hope they will inspire you, too, to become an active citizen.
Why these stories?
There are more young people today than ever before in the history of the world; 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 worldwide, and 90% of them live in low-income countries. . Harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change.
With their energy, skills and creativity, young people have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies.
Oxfam is working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from
Enjoying their rights
Participating fully in society
Being an effective voice in decision-making processes
How youthful dreams become reality.
These stories are proof that change can happen anywhere -
to inspire you to become an active citizen.
- The Netherlands
“Development is more than just economy or infrastructure, it’s all about humans.”
“As activists, we have to be patient. Without patience we can’t do anything, we just struggle.”
Jesse van Schaik
“I hope other people think ‘if she can do it, then I can do it, and then it won’t be that hard.’”
“Youths must work every day to be the change they want to see.”
“The only thing that I cannot do, is child bearing and breast feeding. This is not naturally gifted to men!”
“My goal was to capture the essence of the vital advocacy work that goes on within powerful institutions. But in a light and approachable way.”
“We are young, we are prepared. We have many things to do.”
“The biggest challenge wasn’t informing them about modern farming techniques but persuading them to abandon outdated methods”
“Work is never defined for men and women, it is us who creates this differentiation. There are lots of people in rural areas who are not getting enough medical support, I want to do something more for their advancement by engaging the youth of our community.”
“Fear is not part of my life. I conquer the fear itself.”
“I did not have any computer knowledge prior to this time; I only used computers for watching movies!”
“We should create an environment where people can support one another and raise local funds together to buy clothes and food for poor children and mothers.”
“Work ethics and character are equally important as you cannot earn a living out of talent alone.”
“I believe young women have the capacity to change their lives if they are provided with a safe environment and support from their family, community, and government.”
“Once we overcame our initial hurdles, we felt confident about managing more events, and soon established a good reputation in the city.”
“Even if a person supports you and teaches you how to do a thing, without passion on your part, it’s a ‘NO’!”
“Without a book on my lap every day, I don’t know where I would have reached today. One day I will realize my dream of bringing all Sahil people into the library.”
Habiba believes that other women and girls will be inspired by seeing her at work.
“Seeing my success, many people are now convinced it’s OK to assist women.”
“We aim, one day, to scale up our start-up to a national level”
He started working from home to save money, providing computer support to the community, especially women.
“The beauty parlour industry is exploitative, and because women workers lack awareness about their rights, they pose little to no resistance to unfair work policies.”
“Poetry is art and expression, and has been in my blood since my childhood. If you want people to develop their country, young people are the starting point – they have the drive and stamina to pioneer changes”
To ensure the continued success of her business, she keeps up with the latest fashion trends online, adjusting them for the cultural and religious tastes of her clients.