Abdulazeez Musa is a development practitioner passionate about empowering women and youth through skills development, access to opportunities and youth mobilisation. That was not what he had in mind when he gained admission to study Mass Communication at the Bayero University, Kano, now a Program Manager at Bridge Connect Africa Initiative, he designs and manages life-impactful programs focused on women and young people.
In 2019, Abdulazeez Musa and his course mate visited Dididi, a remote community near their campus at Ungogo Local Government in Kano State, to learn about their daily lives.
An encounter with a young nursing mother suffering from malnutrition and unable to breastfeed her baby properly left a painful pang which they sought to remedy but going round the community, they discovered that malnutrition was a common problem in the community due to poverty, lack of opportunities, and poor health care.
Together they decided to take action and teach the women some vocational skills to help them earn a living.
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The desire to reach more people led to the beginning of WeCan Africa Initiative, a vision created in 2019 to empower women, girls, and youth economically to live with dignity.
This experience birthed his transition into a social development worker with a passion to empower women and youth through skills development, education, access to opportunities and youth mobilisation.
“That experience and the accomplishment made me realize the potential of young people as agents of positive change in society. It also reinforced my belief that the best way to improve people’s lives, especially women and young people, is to provide them with the right skills, education, and access to opportunities.”
Thereafter, in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, he launched a COVID-19 recovery project, Skill Up to Stay Safe and Live Good, in Kano state to reduce the vulnerability of women and youth to the impact of the pandemic.
The project supported by the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and MacArthur Foundation led to the sensitization of over 400 women and youth on COVID-19 safety protocols and safeguarding against gender-based violence, and also empowered 30 of them with essential business skills and prepared them for the Bank of Industry’s mini start-up grant of 30,000 Naira each.
On his current works, Abdulazeez said “I currently work as a Program Manager at Bridge Connect Africa, where I lead the design and management of impactful projects focused on women and young people. In 2022, I led one of my most challenging projects for the organization where I coordinated and supported direct mobilization, training, and upskilling of over 39,000 young people with employability skills in partnership with Jobberman Nigeria under the Young Africa Works Project by Mastercard Foundation.”
Drawing from his journey and the experiences so far, Abdulazeez said it is challenging, fulfilling and transformational, noting that it has not all been rosy as the work also comes with its own challenges and setbacks.
“Dealing with different communities and women, and young people with diverse backgrounds and cultural perspectives is a challenge on its own. However, I always try to foster an environment of understanding by putting the needs and perspectives of the people first just to build support for the work. I have also missed great opportunities that would have been significant to my career. For example, I was selected alongside 60 young leaders to participate in leadership training at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership (HICSL) in the US through the United People Global Sustainability Leadership program (UPGSL) but I missed it due to Visa denial.”
On his advice for other young people, he said, “my advice for other young people is to be humble, to continuously learn, and to always be grateful. These are the three principles that I live by and they have helped me a lot in my journey.”