Welcome to February!
Our Young Person of the month is Halima Ibrahim Abba from Nigeria! Halima is the Founder and chair of an NGO, Skills Outside School Foundation which provides education, enterprise and employability services to disadvantaged youth in Nigeria at secondary, tertiary and post-tertiary levels. She is an investment analyst at an Infrastructure Focused Development Finance Institution where they finance power and industrial transactions.
Halima Ibrahim Abba holds a first class Law degree from King’s College London, United Kingdom; and a Masters in Development from Cambridge University, UK. She has volunteered with a number of organizations such as OXFAM GB in the UK where she also served as a member of advisory youth board.
As a member of the 25 man-children and Youth Board for the UK Department for education, Halima engages in youth policy reforms through interactions with senior level ministers and members of parliament. She has served as a mentor with numerous organizations such as Sponsors for Education Opportunity (SEO) in UK, The Oxford Cambridge Africa Mentorship Program and in Opportunity Desk.
Read Halima’s amazing story below and be inspired!
HALIMA IBRAHIM ABBA
Halima’s journey has always been deliberate. It is not an accident she ended up in finance. Growing up, Halima was very inquisitive and her interests were diverse. This made it difficult for her to decide on a single path she wanted to take. She embraced her versatility and made up her mind to make the most out of it. As a science student, she eventually studied law but began a career in finance.
Matters involving development were close to Halima’s heart. She volunteered with a number of development focused organizations. Since she had participated in various charitable activities at the secondary and tertiary level, it made sense for her to join development focused financial institution. She could apply ‘wall street’ finance into achieving tangible life-changing outcomes for Africans through infrastructure.
Halima was always actively involved in education as her beloved mother has been in the education sector for over thirty years now. Her father was her biggest champion. He always supported and raised Halima and her siblings to be the absolute best they can be. This made Halima feel invincible. It made her believe she could take over the world and be part of every child’s story who regardless of socio-economic circumstances could achieve whatever they wanted to.
Halima Ibrahim hails from Borno state, a place that has been ravaged by the Boko Haram crisis. Before the crisis, Borno had its fair share of problems. Not less in education where the quality was and still remains severely diminished. Girls do not have equal access to education and linkages between education and industry remaining almost non-existent. Education, she says, needs to be inclusive and all students, regardless of their gender and socio-economic circumstances, should have access to quality education. This, was enough reason to make her desire to make a change in this place.
Having grown up in a system where education and employability are at the highest standards, and which provides a great support system to youth through training, access to information, knowledge sharing and mentoring and overall personal development, she knew this was something which needed to be provided in Nigeria. At a young age of 22, Halima piloted Skills Outside School Foundation during her service year in Nigeria. She fell in love with the students, got lots of encouragement from pioneer school principals and VPs, Mrs. Helen and Mr. Ibrahim; knew there was so much that could be done with the ideas and so, they decided to incorporate a not-for-profit with a team of seasoned trustees, and expand until the services offered reached all the thirty-six states in Nigeria.
Her organization, Skills Outside School Foundation strives to build human capital in Nigeria at secondary, tertiary and post-tertiary levels through skills training, mentorships and scholarships which targets disadvantaged youth. Up to date, Skills Outside School has reached over six hundred students and offered more than one and a half million naira in scholarship.
On awards, honours, conferences, and fellowships
Halima Ibrahim has received numerous awards in the recognition of the work she does. In 2012, UK King’s College London recognized her exemplary leadership and community service in King’s College and awarded her the prestigious Leadership Award.
Halima is a 2014 recipient of the Make a Difference Education Awards given by the GAME Conference and Abiola Champ Limited. The award recognized her work with the disadvantaged youth through the Skills Outside School Foundation. She also received the UKV10 Award for community service work in 2010 and UK V50 award for OXFAM GB in 2012. Halima Ibrahim was awarded the National University of Students UK Skills Award (Gold) in the same year.
She acknowledges conferences to be a great networking platform although it is her professional experiences, passion, volunteer experience and overall exposure which played a great deal in thrusting her forward to where she is.
Halima’s advice to young people
Halima has a collection of principles which she lives her life by.
“Whatever you do, be the best at it. Always do the right thing. Ask what you can do for the society and not what the society can do for you. Be focused, dogged in your approach, always exhibit a good attitude and the uttermost level of integrity.
Innovation and problem solving should be at the heart of what every single human pursues otherwise our societies would remain static. Success is relative. Always define what you want out of life. Follow your passions, yes there could be may. Life is bigger than all the tangible things you think you want or can bring you happiness. You must have a calling and that should solely guide you. “
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. O! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!