Bukonla Adebakin, named Career Queen by Women Inspiring Impact Network, a graduate of Science and Technology Education from the University of Lagos and Project Cycle Management from the NGO School of Management, Geneva, Switzerland, while in an interview with Republican Newspaper, speaks about how she balanced social activism with her academics and how she started having many footprints in local and international organizations.
Presently, Bukonla Adebakin is the Group Chief Operating Officer, RED|For Africa and also doubling as the lead for the development arm of the company. Premised on social impacts, she revealed her areas range from media to business, women to entrepreneurship.
When giving backgrounds of how she started her social activism, she explained she started far back before her days in University.
“My social activism began way before I entered University but I wasn’t sure about how to go about it. So, when I got into the University of Lagos, I was able to leverage on the organizations that existed.
Because I’m naturally a relentless person and I want to do some things and give back, so, I applied to join organizations. Everything that was happening, I realised that I also enjoyed media, project management and communication – I was able to see the things that could be achieved in media very very early, so, I joined activities and events that tilted me to this. I partook in a lot of activities, provided it will help meet people and learn.”
She explained that as at that time, social activisms were restricted for some people but she looked for organizations who were sort of democratizing how things should go, despite the fact that around 2007/08, many companies started demanding job experience.
“I did a lot of volunteering activities, and the first structured one I joined was JCI – which I would say, cemented everything and made me start looking towards social impacts.”
While responding to questions on how she balanced her social activism with her academics during her undergraduate, despite her zeal to create social impacts. She ensured to prioritize and balance both. She narrated how she personally managed everything, and tailored it down by youth advisory.
“…So I had to balance it. I was prepared to look in what are my interests, what are the skills I can develop that would also help me and there was this thing about job experience craze at the time, so I was determined by the time I leave school, I would have had some form of experience.
So, I did my school work but I ensure that I had to find balance; if I miss lectures, I ensure that I need to cover up the lectures I have missed; if I am not able to attend practical sessions – especially in science aspects, I ensure that I took permission, I worked with my class rep. So, I ensured to find balance.”
She said everything has even become easier, reiterating that there are so many organizations and many clubs that relate to students’ areas of study in which they can join and find the balance.
Speaking about her expansion plans, she said her social activism is mainly targeted in contributing her own quota to the SDGs concerns. She revealed that equality between men and women will surely make impact.
“I’m presently working on a project on social impacts & communication; how people can kick out their impact and this is specifically important as to tie their social impact goals to the SDG goals and if each one of us can find ways to contribute his or her own quota in achieving the SDG goal, I think we would better for it – peering impacts, telling important stories and trying to galvanize as many people as possible towards these goals and achieving these goals is really key for us, so, that’s what I will say in summary.”
At the earlier stage of this Covid-19 pandemic, Bukonla led a team in setting up technology-related – a digital platform that is opening to track palliatives and also support individuals to cooperate organizations and institutions that are relieving the effect of Coronavirus.
She revealed the name of the site as beatingcorona. Africa and explained recorded successes so far, highlighting that this is yet a little way of contributing to the success of making Africa as a whole a viable and sustainable continent.
As a business enthusiast, she advised young African entrepreneurs, particularly women to make use of social media at this time. She stated that this idea is one of the survival kits she rolled out recently for young entrepreneurs to cope with this pandemic.
She said social media ought to be a tool and not suppose to be something that would restrict anything. Albeit, she narrates that these things take a lot of work and lots of patience.
“As young women, we need to have patience and be positive that things would grow. So, that works a lot for me.”
She said determination matters amidst this Covid-19, narrating that since this is our new reality, young African entrepreneurs should keep innovating their business operations, strategy et all so as to remain standing and sustainable even after Covid-19.
“I think I should also add that it is very keen to add technology or digital platforms to whatever business you are doing now. Anyone that doesn’t do that is not really serious about running a business, because when you don’t add technology, it is not just to enhance your business: it should be part of your model now.” She advised.
By: Hammed J. Sulaiman
Writer and reporter with REPUBLICAN Online Newspaper