Grace Ihejiamaizu has over the past one year celebrated young people across the world who are creating impact in their communities, countries, continent and globally through the Opportunity Desk Person of the month. Having already been nominated for the Future Awards Person of the year 2013, we are awarding her the Opportunity Desk person of the year.
Grace’s story is the one of influence and impact. She left the realm of mediocrity, being an ordinary student who just studies to pass examinations in 2010 when she was introduced to the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) organization, now Enactus. Although a Sociology Student, she went ahead to become the project manager of her SIFE team at the University of Calabar and piloted her team to national and international acclaim.
Being a female energetic member of the SIFE team availed her the opportunity to attend the United States Department of State training for young leaders which was hosted by the University of Connecticut and supported by Ashoka Youth Venture. Ihejiamaizu participated in the 2010 Study of the United States Institute for Student Leaders (SUSI) Program on the theme of Social Entrepreneurship. She has since applied these entrepreneurial concepts in Nigeria by founding an after-school youth program, Raising Young and Productive Entrepreneurs (RYPE) Initiative through which she has trained over 60 secondary school students over a period of three years on various life skills.
At RYPE initiative, Grace alongside her team trains and mentors secondary school leavers on entrepreneurship, personal development, leadership, sexual and reproductive health, ethics and values. The initiative has received support from Michelle Obama Young African Women Leaders Initiative, British Council and Ashoka Changemakers.
After 3 years of success, she now continues the vision through iKapture Networks, a social enterprise she started in 2013 that adopts a unique business model to provide ICT and skill acquisition programs to young people.
Grace is more popular for her super Facebook group and Blog “OpportunityDesk.org,” the one stop shop for all opportunities around the world including conferences, jobs, awards, grants, competitions, scholarships, fellowship and lots more. She took over the Facebook group from its original founder in 2011 and developed it into a blog during her National Youth Service Corps year in 2012.
Grace is inspired by her passion to make a difference. “If I’m not doing something that makes someone smile, then I’m not living.” Her vision has been shaped and motivated by her international travels and meeting with youth from different parts of the world making a change in their communities and countries.
“I am not a feminist” she declares, something usual for females of her status. However, she feels women should take their place not as second fiddle but as partners. “I hate to see women make excuses for what they can do” she frankly states.
She says she’s not opinionated but if not being opinionated is to run a website visited consistently from over 100 countries and a mailing list of close to 10,000; who doesn’t want to be?
Her words to young people is simple “Take the thing you can and leave the ones you can’t. Passion is not enough, it’s just a way to start. So, keep building, keep becoming, keep succeeding.” She has been recognized as part of the Nigeria’s top 40-Under-40 Champions, September 2013 US State Department as State Alumni Member of the Month among many more.