– Breathing Life into Communities, One Business at a Time –
Marshall Bailly II & Antoine F. Eloi, co-founders,Leadership Initiatives, Nigeria
Our time interacting with young people in Southern Africa in the early 2000’s, motivated us to turn our conversations about ways to put more power in the hands of youth and young leaders into action. The dearth of young leaders shaping the world of business and politics in Africa, at that time, highlighted a glaring need, and we wanted our efforts to be part of the solution. The focus of our mission would be to provide a platform and resources for young people to feel greater ownership over their short-, medium- and long-term socio-economic circumstances. Where people had taken the risk to bet on themselves and start a small business, we wanted to provide them the support to see their investment of effort and time thrive and begin to generate opportunities for others. From these thoughts, and this passion, Leadership Initiativeswas born.
Leadership Initiatives (LI) works in Bauchi,Nigeria to address the needs of small-businesses by partnering with local government and business leaders to provide enterprising individuals with business finance and operation fundamentals training. These leaders are able to identify obstacles, develop solutions, and create new operating models to grow their business and strengthen their communities. In the short-term, we aim to cultivate business and community leaders who provide a valuable service for or good to their community. In the long term, we aim to establish a cadre of leaders that exhibit a leadership style that is based in accountability, honesty, and transparency.
LI’s successes in supporting and growing profit-generating businesses result from a progressive, three-tiered methodology of Preparation, Training, and Sustainability.
- Preparation. We work with stakeholders in the community to conduct extensive interviews to select the best potential business owners for the program.
- Training. We spend extensive time with the selected businesses to understand their operations, interact with their customers, and assess their competitive landscape.
- Sustainability. After a thorough evaluation of each business, and with support of local businesses and donors, we make strategic investments that address critical business needs, and support the business owners in managing, nurturing, and growing the investment.
This methodology, evolved over the past decade, has yielded many success stories. From tailoring to auto repair, from hair-dressing to soap making, from irrigation projects to fish farms, we have enabled businesses to stabilize, grow, and generate employment opportunities in their communities.
You may ask, “But why does this matter?” In the developing world, corruption and macro-mismanagement are endemic and, in our opinion, have created an unhealthy dependence on government, hindered entrepreneurial spirit, and rendered many ignorant of the true potential of themselves and their country. Nigeria, with a population of approximately 190 million people, has been unable to effectively capitalize on its human and natural resources, adversely affecting the economic capacity of the nation and the continent. But imagine a Nigeria operating at optimum efficiency, it would create an economic windfall that would transform the economic outlook of Africa and the world. Imagine how stability in Nigeria could deepen the engagement of its talented diaspora and unleash upon the world a wave of creativity and ingenuity it has never known. We believe LI is an accelerating agent in this vision of Nigeria and the continent of Africa. We represent and work with people who will bring this vision to fruition, and we encourage governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses to join us, and our fellow organizations represented here, in supporting this work.