Bright Jaja, the Nigerian Social Entrepreneur, Remarkable for his Quest to Elevate Vocational Skills and Break Stereotypes
BY EMMANUEL CHIDERA AMOKE
The concept of “dignity in labor” finds its truest embodiment in the works and principles championed by Bright Jaja. Ideally all work, no matter how humble, should be respected and valued. All jobs are important and people who do them should be able to earn a living wage and have opportunities for advancement.
Bright Jaja, a multifaceted Nigerian figure, blends the roles of a social entrepreneur, branding expert, filmmaker, motivational speaker, and youth leader to transform the perception of essential skills such as welding, bricklaying, carpentry, and plumbing. His mission is to dispel the stereotypes that often associate these skills with the uneducated.
Through innovative approaches, Bright Jaja is tackling significant challenges across the African continent, challenging the existing norms and inspiring countless youth to harness their innate talents. His initiatives provide financial support, mentorship, and opportunities, helping these young individuals evolve into their best selves.
In 2017, he laid the foundation for iCreate Africa, a social enterprise dedicated to addressing the pressing issue of youth unemployment by promoting skill development. One of the hallmarks of his work is the iCreate Skill Fest, a skills competition held in various Nigerian cities, including Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu, and Lagos, often in collaboration with companies like Bosch and Sterling Bank. Competitors showcase their abilities in diverse categories, from welding and fabrication to video production and drone piloting. The winners, referred to as Skills Champions, not only receive cash prizes but also essential tools, equipment, and, most importantly, comprehensive training. Bright Jaja’s vision is to empower these Skills Champions to become entrepreneurs capable of hiring and mentoring at least five other individuals.
In 2020, Jaja introduced the world’s first technical and vocational skills league, the iCreate Skills League (ISL). This competition brought together 37 teams from technical schools across Nigerian states, underlining his commitment to skills development.
Furthermore, Bright Jaja responded to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by launching Skillers.ng, a digital platform designed to facilitate the smooth operation of skilled professionals and service providers. This platform seamlessly connects skilled individuals and service businesses with clients, offering scheduling options and an interactive payment system to streamline their interactions.
Bright Jaja’s impactful works have garnered recognitions and accolades from various sources. First, for his role during the Bring Back Our Girls Movement following the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2013, he won the Abuja Young Entrepreneurship Award and also the Abuja Advancement Awards for the most effective concept in the FCT. Jaja had drawn the world’s attention to the abduction, by mobilising over 6,000 children across 50 schools in Abuja to dance for peace at the National Stadium.
Jaja’s influence reached international heights when he became the youngest speaker at the inaugural TEDx event in Abuja, sharing the platform with prominent figures such as His Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and His Royal Highness The Emir Of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. His remarkable achievements include being named one of the youngest national winners of Naija Diamonds, a project by Diamond Bank and Ebony Life TV celebrating heroes in Nigeria. More recently, Bright Jaja received recognition on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list and the 2019 Soundcity MVP Festival Award for Innovation and Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Digital Influence.
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