Four Nigerians were among the 12 Africans selected as leaders to join the Facebook Community Accelerator, a six-month programme that aims to equip communities with the training, mentorship and funding they need to grow. The Community Accelerator Programme is part of the global Facebook Community Leadership initiative which was launched in 2018, and it invests in leaders who are building communities around the world; including bringing people together, offering encouragement, and driving change.

Awarding up to $3 million, selected community leaders will receive up to $30,000 in funding. In the first three months of the programme, these leaders will learn from experts and coaches, whilst developing customized curriculums focused on growing their own communities.

The following three months will then be focused on iterating and executing their plans, with funding and continued support from their network, as well as from a dedicated programme team. The Community Accelerator will then culminate in an event with community leaders to showcase their communities and progress to external funders and partners.

Community leaders selected from across Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as part of the Facebook Community Accelerator includes Hauwa Ojeifo, of She Writes Woman in Nigeria. In 2016, Hauwa created “Safe Place Nigeria” to provide a stigma and judgment-free space for young people to talk about mental health-related issues. It has become a community for young people to learn, feel connected, get support and feel a sense of belonging. Also selected is Kenya’s Bright Shiitemii of Mental360 a platform founded in 2016 to give youth a safe platform to learn about mental health and illness and to access affordable holistic solutions. It is a non-partisan non-discriminatory space where youth can grow their emotional wellness, grow their network and get peer support

Others are South Africa’s Lauren Dallas who founded Future Females in 2017 with a mission to increase the number of female entrepreneurs and support their success. They have become the go-to destination for aspiring and early-stage female entrepreneurs to receive the inspiration, education and support needed to build profitable businesses online. Also picked is Nigeria’s Tony Onuk of the Root Hub, started in 2014 to provide a safe space for youths to build their ideas, grow their businesses, and access support while Kenya’s Esther Mwikalii who established Metta NBO in 2015 as an entrepreneurs’ network with the goal of bringing together founders, policymakers and investors to collaborate was also selected.

South Africa’s Refilwe Nkomo who founded Visual Arts Network in South Africa in 2007 as a support point and development agency for contemporary art practice in South Africa. It aspires to be a dynamic and resilient network-based organisation contributing to growth, innovation and opportunities in the arts equally made the cut. And joining them will be Nigeria’s Eyitayo Ogunmola who established Utiva as a decentralized ecosystem that helps Nigerians access technology skills and trainings regardless of their location and internet barrier.

Naadiya Moosajee of WomEng in South Africa formed the organization as a social enterprise aimed at attracting, developing and nurturing the next generation of women engineering leaders while Nigeria’s Abiodun Adereni established Helpmum in 2017 to tackle maternal and infant mortality in remote rural areas in Nigeria, and provides Clean Birth Kits for hygienic delivery to pregnant women, immunization reminders and health information to nursing mothers.

South Africa’s Dillion Phiri, the founder of Creative Nestlings , a platform to  connect young African creatives to each other, to opportunities and to resources, democratizing how young African creatives connect, get paid, learn and grow was equally tapped, same as another compatriot, Rufaro Mudimu of Enke (“enke”, meaning ‘ink’ in SeTswana), started in 2009 to bridge socioeconomic inequality by bringing young people together and equipping them with the skills and experiences to improve their lives. “enke” connects, equips and inspires young people to make their mark, authoring a positive future for themselves and their communities. The last but not the least is Tariro Bure also of South Africa, whose organisation MINDS was founded in 2010 as a platform rooted in cultural heritage and knowledge systems for youth to reclaim their African identities and transform the continent. It has become a movement of youth and crucial stakeholders which aspire to shape policy, foster economic development, and enhance the evolution of African institutions.

By Kelechi Anyanwu

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