So you want to learn about community building, you say? Take a lesson in the power of local connections from these two Nigerian innovators. They spun an unsuccessful grant application into a thriving partnership, destined to create impactful change thanks in part to a connection made by a invested community manager.
Last May, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, an Ashoka Fellow and the Executive Director of the Smallholders Foundation, submitted a Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Challenges Farming Now proposal for his community radio efforts in eastern Nigeria. In June, unsuccessful application in hand, Nnaemeka contacted our team at Context Partners for feedback since we had designed and run the challenge on behalf of our client. The savvy CP Community Manager that returned his call noticed his goal mirrored Farming Now Winner, Fatima Ademo’s projected results: to teach and create awareness for youth farmers and connected them.
Nnaemeka reached out to Fatima immediately. They have since met in person, and have another meeting on the calendar before summer’s end. New to the grant-scene, Fatima was thrilled to hear of Nnaemeka’s experiences, especially his challenges. He detailed the importance of having a fiscal plan: “He helped me to start thinking about how I will fund the project. If I get the Rockefeller grant that’s great, but mainly for idea development— I’ll still need funding for project implementation.”
But Nnaemeka and Fatima’s conversation yielded more than financial advice. It resulted in a partnership. Nnaemeka is going to broadcast ads for Fatima’s Youth Agro Entrepreneurs school via his radio station. Given that Farmers’ Rural Radio broadcasts programs to teach farmers in local dialects, Fatima’s idea will reach an extended community. Nnaemeka’s radio will spread Fatima’s message beyond her northern districts well into the east, further influencing the whole of Nigeria on the benefits that youth stand to gain if they grow the business of agriculture.
Now Fatima’s curiosity is peaked; she wants to meet other like-minded people, doing similarly impactful work in Nigeria, and beyond. And Nnaemeka wants to help her. Together, they will continue to uncover valuable partnerships across Nigeria with the shared goal of improving the lives of the people and the communities they serve.
Imagine what would have happened had this community manager relegated herself to merely promoting the community via social media and the interwebs. If you’re thinking “limited to no results,” you’re right. Because she invested in the people-to-people relationships and familiarized herself with the stories and interests of those within her community, she was able to spot previously undiscovered connections, otherwise lost in the shuffle, and push widespread impact.