Andrew Igbineweka is changing the Narrative for University students in Nigeria.

Can you tell me about the work you do, Andrew?

I am always elated to talk about the work I do. I found out that there is an inherent problem with the education system in Nigeria and how students learn. I have also seen, from having conversations with graduates and undergraduates alike, that we spend four, five, six years learning stuff in school but are either incompetent or lack the confidence to use what we have learned to create real applicable solutions to solving problems in the workplace and society. A first-class student once complained to me of not knowing what to do after graduating. She was confused. One would think that a first-class degree was all one needed to succeed. But a young girl’s commitment to attaining the highest possible success in school was not matched by society’s opportunities. This discovery drove me to craft a learning experience for university students, that advocates for and teaches relevant skills that positions these students for success in the ever-evolving workplace. At GoABitFurther Africa, we connect university students to affordable mentorship that prepares them for life after school. 

How long have you been building people and communities?

I would say I have been doing it long before I knew what it was. I volunteered at my local church. I still do. But I became very much conscious of this five years ago. I began my journey four years ago when I discovered that it came easy for me to discover what people lacked in skill and competence. I began to see potential in people. I saw things people could not see in themselves. It is my superpower. I began to create opportunities for young people to take up responsibilities, the kind that exposes their inherent skills and potential. I remember writing a book and a lady had read it and she was so passionate about reviewing and editing the work. She was an optometry student at the time and had claimed to want to focus on her studies when I suggested that she honed her editing skills. When I saw that she was really passionate about editing, I exposed her to more of that task, and today she runs her blog and writes beautifully. There are many stories to share on this.

‘An ex-confused multitalented lad’ tell me more about your many talents and skills

I am sure you know a bit of this story, Ayamba. I had been confused a lot about what I was created to do. And my journey in building people and communities has exposed me to the dilemma young people face. I use to think that skill was my purpose. So because it was easy for me to learn new things, I picked up a whole lot of skills and dropped them as fast as I picked them. I started writing songs, hoping I would be a musician. I even did two tracks with two of my friends. I started blogging and never did make money from it. Although the blog was very much known in Abuja, then…. I picked up photography and dropped it really fast… I picked up writing and thought I was going to pursue writing as a purpose…. While all these happened I remained confused as to what I was created to do. And a lot of young people think their skill is their purpose and so there isn’t any satisfaction in the work they do. So they start and are never consistent because a skill is just a tool. What we really need is the message that a tool is supposed to facilitate. I made the same mistake too. We are often focused on acquiring skills that we forget to ask what problems the skills are supposed to help us solve. Did I tell you that I once thought I was going to pursue dancing and football as a career? I played football professionally and danced so much that a whole town knew I was the life of the party because when I show up, I bring the moves. I had joined a couple of dance groups at the time. I played football to the point that even little children on the street knew my name. Writing about this now, makes me laugh. 

How do your talents influence your current ventures?

Great question. Now, I know that God is intentional about our experiences. He always knows how to turn things in our favor. I bring to the table all of me when I do my work. Because I have had such rich learning experiences, it helps in relating to my audience, because my audience is young people. They can relate with my past confusions and through my stories, they get to find themselves and untangle the threads. Writing helps me communicate. Because I learned a lot about blogging and social media years ago, I have been able to project the work we do at GoABitFurther Africa to an international audience. My understanding of digital tools (which I learned years ago) helps me create rich learning experiences for students across Nigerian universities and even other African countries. I am an outgoing person. I find it very easy to connect with people. I make a lot of meaningful friendships and it has helped me to build better relationships with people (experts and professionals alike). Singing helped me overcome stage fright. I use to be very shy…. this story is for another day. I deliberately joined a music group to overcome that fear. Because I am a multitalented young lad, I can leverage my skills to volunteer for other organizations and in turn, get access to resources. 

Do you think you have found your purpose?

Yes! I have that kind of satisfaction that those that have found purpose, have. But here is my take on this: There are deeper levels to expressing this purpose, and as I journey through life, I will shift form and shapes and find better ways to do what I do. But the underlying content will be consistent. I am keen on building people for social impact and building communities to ensure that people are connected, in order to foster change across Nigeria and Africa.

As the founder of ‘GoABitFurther, Africa’ what is the greatest lesson you have learned about creating something of substance and value from just an idea?

Creating something of value changes the narrative, not just for you, but for generations. I can only imagine what the lives of these students would be like five to ten years from now. It is mind-blowing. I have seen some of these students start amazing projects and organizations. It is amazing to see people begin their impact journey. They are also going to give their children better experiences because that’s what it is about. The future gets brighter when children become better parents. It is a transgenerational experience. 

Dreaming is easy, it’s going after the dream that is the challenge. What advice would you give to people who want to do more than just dream?

Dreaming is great, but when you wake up in the morning, you have to write down that dream. That’s how you give life to it. When an architect conceives a plan for a building, it is considered to have been built. If you birth your dreams on paper, the universe will move people, resources, and all that it needs to make it a reality. This is not motivation. This is the meat of the conversation. Also, you need to ask yourself some key questions – Do I have the skills that will bring this into reality? Do I have the resources? Do I have something I can exchange for the resources I need? Do I have the frame of mind and will to handle the responsibility? Who do I need to connect with to birth this idea? What problems would this solve for others and me? These questions should get your mind to work.

‘GoABitFurther, Africa’ has done an inspiring job of reaching over 2,000 students with skills needed to thrive in today’s world. Where do you see the academy 5 years from now?

This is going to be a prophecy. We have GoABitFurther Africa Hubs established in 6 universities in Nigeria. We have stakeholders and students in 10 other African countries. We have an E-learning platform for university students to learn relevant 21st-century skills. We have reached 100,000 university students. We have access to grants and other key resources. We have hosted Fela Durotoye and other key individuals that are passionate about nation-building. The students at the academy have established brands in their fields and are creating opportunities for other budding talents. 

You do a lot to foster growth in your community, do you have the time to relax and enjoy your hard work? If so, how do you spend your downtime?

We live in an automated world. There are a lot of tools that make it easier for work to be done. Content can be scheduled. I do find the time to relax and enjoy conversations with friends and family. I still play football. Work sometimes is fun for me. I love to have a conversation with members of my community. I also read and play chess when I find a willing opponent. 

What more would you like the world to know about you?

I don’t have a favorite food. I do feel left out when people talk about favorite food. Sometimes I claim my favorite food is pounded yam and egusi soup when I cannot even ignore bread and Akara (beans cake).

Follow @andrewigbineweka on Instagram

Edited by @ayamba.theblog. Follow us on Instagram for more updates.

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