In an audacious attempt to empower West Africa's youth, television personality and media entrepreneur Peace Hyde has unveiled a skills acquisition centre in the heart of Lagos' Silicon Valley.
The centre is powered by AIM Higher Africa, a specialist education non-profit Hyde founded in 2013. It is the second of its kind. The organization's first branch is located in Accra and aims to equip young entrepreneurs - or Youngpreneurs, as she calls them - with the skills needed to foster and transform their ideas into tangible, concrete businesses. Since its inception, the organization has created over 2000 jobs and 500 businesses.
Hyde, a former science teacher, says she was inspired by the grit and grind of Ghana's young workers, who often work for paltry wages. In 2012, she left her role as an educator in England and moved to Ghana, an eye-opening experience that prompted her to spearhead AIM Higher Africa.
"During the course of my journey, I decided that I wanted to stick to education. No matter how much I did in the entertainment space, I still had that pull for the classroom and for learning," she told The Guardian.
So she hit the streets and headed to Ghana's markets, where she discovered a group of head porters locally referred to as 'kayayo' who charge business owners and traders who engage their services. Some of these women work for as little as ¢5 a day.
She asked to shadow and spend a day in their lives. Her time with them, she describes as eye-opening.
"It was the most difficult experience I've ever had in my whole entire life," Hyde recalled. "I went home absolutely knackered from the entire experience."
She knew she needed a way to help. One year later, AIM Higher Africa was born.
Good luck to the entrepreneurs from the 'STEP Initiative' who are currently being mentored at @aimhigherafrica AHA Skills Acquisition Centre! Looking forward to the finale today where the best techpreneur would be announced. Goodluck to our brilliant
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In addition to running the organization, she is also heading Digital, Media and Partnerships for Forbes Africa, where she interviews the continent's millionaires. She says many of them typically give the same answer when she asks "how did they overcome their most challenging day in business? The Answer? The power of the mind," she wrote in a letter on the organization's website.
"We decided it was time to change the way our Youngpreneurs think. No longer would they be defined by their circumstances and become victims of environments they did not choose."
The new centre will train grassroots aspiring business owners through its Mind-set Reorientation and Design Thinking Curriculum (MRDT), a program established in conjunction with educators at leading universities and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley.
"Aim Higher Africa MRDT Curriculum responds to the problem of unemployment through youth entrepreneurship, which offers innovative solutions for economic growth among young people," Hyde told CNBC Africa.
"To address these critical issues, we are working with international organizations, the private sector and development organizations to increase and improve young people's access to financial services, financial literacy and entrepreneurship and employment skills training."