“F.A.M.E started back when I was on campus, then it was just a blog I used in encouraging students on campus” – Raphael Stephen

“F.A.M.E started back when I was on campus, then it was just a blog I used in encouraging students on campus” - Raphael Stephen

He has elegantly paved ways for those that have taken fate in. Many have engulfed the stripes of encounters and distrust, feeling there is none to make a mentor anymore, but Raphael Stephen has taken the pain to youthfully engage the young and the old. This is what the society needs to improve in her standards. Raphael is the founder of F. A. M. E and graduate of University of Ibadan. Read more about him.

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Raphael Stephen is the founder and Director of the Fashioned and Made for Excellence Foundation for Leadership Development, an NGO that focuses on improving leadership, education in secondary schools and imprinting an authentic picture of what leadership is in the minds of youths in Africa, and achieving the SDGs 4,5,6,17 and 2 via the use of education, empowerment, and collaboration.

An exceptional leader and an advocate for great leadership, Raphael has worked tirelessly to build a foundation that is collaborative and known as a force for good.

Today, the Fashioned and Made for Excellence Foundation is fast becoming one of the most impactful foundations in Africa. Its vision is a continent where every African youth is consumed with a passion to initiate positive change, and equipped with the capacity to deliver this change. Under Raphael’s leadership, the Foundation has focused its work in Ibadan, Nigeria and invested millions to help improve leadership, education and provide access to skills for youths in various local communities in Nigeria. Its programs have impacted the lives of more than 7000 young people.

A strong believer in listening, Raphael can often be found in the field, working directly with the people whom the Foundation’s programs serve. Raphael has a massive passion and purpose to become a major contributor to the national reorientation of youths in Nigeria and youth development globally. He believes once we get our values right as African people, we will become more productive people.

Raphael’s dedication to the work of the Foundation has its roots in his NYSC experience. Serving in Kano, Nigeria, Raphael discovered a leadership identity and values crisis through conversations with the students in the Secondary School he was assigned to teach. This experience he said marked a turning point in his life and enabled him to realize how big this leadership mindset problem was in Secondary Schools, it helped develop his capacity to listen and the empathy with which he approaches the Foundation’s work.

Raphael is regularly called upon by Secondary Schools, Youth Organizations, Universities, and local stakeholders in the education space to speak, train, mentor and contribute to educational development strategies.

Raphael has over 4 years of experience as a Nation Builder and he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Ibadan.

In November 2018, Raphael was nominated as part of 15 outstanding young social innovators in Nigeria and awarded as the overall winner of the Talent of the Future Award by Ideation Hub Africa and in April 2019, Raphael was selected as part of 17 exceptional young change-makers in West Africa by Ashoka under its CXC Young ChangemakerXchange program.

What is F. A. M. E about?

F.A.M.E acronym for (FASHIONED AND MADE FOR EXCELLENCE) is a volunteer-driven social impact initiative. We are a movement of young, passionate and service-driven individuals who have accepted responsibility for community development, social change, and national transformation. F.A.M.E started back when I was on campus, then it was just a blog I used in encouraging students on campus. Its purpose became bigger after my service year in Kano State.

What vision birthed the organization?

Motivated by the transformation I saw in the lives of my students, and the sadness I felt over this leadership gap which I came to realize was not only present in the school I was posted to, but also in the Secondary education system which is a time when youths can acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be productive and effective in obtaining secure work and income opportunities, motivated me to rally about 10 of my friends and start this initiative with my savings of about $55 dollars, after the completion of my service year.

I can still remember vividly, my first Civic Education Class with the SS1 – SS3 students at my place of primary assignment, Model College, Kano State, Nigeria when my becoming more concerned with fulfillment and purpose than earning a fat paycheck after my service year began with a question I asked my students, “Who is a leader?”. It was quite saddening seeing them reply by calling the names of the Teachers at the school, the Principal and no single student in the class mentioning their own names, because none of them saw themselves as leaders.

Immediately I recognized a leadership identity and values crisis and I took it upon myself to educate and equip them with leadership skills, help them aspire to not just finish Secondary school and get married, which is a norm in the northern part of Nigeria, but also created a personal development plan for each of them for the whole school year, and dared them to aspire to become more after graduation.

Today whenever I receive thank you messages from students like Kabir who was totally clueless about what was next for him when I first met him and now furthers his education in Egypt, and Aisha who was quite scared she will be forced into marriage immediately after Secondary School, currently studying Medicine in one of the Universities in Kano State Nigeria. I feel quite fulfilled and glad I was able to look beyond my depression over my posting to a place I never wanted to be in, in the first place, and recognize my purpose for been posted to serve at that particular school which now altered the trajectory of my life positively forever and helped me discover my life assignment. Stories of many other mentees like Kabir and Aisha who kept sharing their testimonies and feedback are what inspired the next phase of my F.A.M.E journey and the birth of this organization.

How far has F. A. M. E empowered youths across establishments?

From starting with just 10 Volunteers in May 2017 and growing into a movement of over 200 Volunteers today who provide volunteer support to us as Facilitators, Mentors, Advisors and Content Contributors, our volunteers, partners and supporters have helped www.thefameinitiative.org to reach over 7000 economically disadvantaged young leaders in over 40 schools across over 20 local communities in Ibadan, Nigeria in just 23 months of our operation with leadership and life skills via our programs.

F. A. M. E can be said to be a form of informal education: how has it challenged leadership into positivity?

With the number of young people in Africa’s workforce set to increase to 375 million by 2030, there is an urgent need to improve the quality of secondary education on the continent. While Africa’s enrollment figures in secondary education have been increasing, the quality of learning remains extremely low. Millions of students graduate lacking the necessary knowledge and skills to advance to further education or the workforce. Currently, 70% of 13 -19-year-olds attend mostly underfunded public schools in Nigeria and lack access to value-driven civic and socio-emotional education. More importantly, 45% of these young leaders are capable girls who cannot be overlooked and deserve to be given the advantage to succeed in life through this intervention.

Through our efforts, we have been able to complement the efforts of the government via our highly transformational interventions and we hope to get the key stakeholders in the education space to adopt some of our modules into the existing structured curriculum in most public schools to enable us to cause real change in the Secondary education system.

Your opinion on Nigerian youths and with collar job?

Most youths tend to gravitate towards white collar jobs because of the security it brings and the fear of failing if they attempt to start doing what they love. The number of start-ups winding up every day before their gestation periods has also not been quite encouraging. I believe Nigerian youths can start, sustain and do amazing things with proper guidance, an enabling environment, and the right support.

In the future untold, where do you see F. A. M. E?

I see F.A.M.E scaling its impact on every nation in Africa and continuously known as an organization that is collaborative and a force for good in the development space.

How can people get involved in this great work F.A.M.E is doing?

Sharing this post, Volunteering, Sponsoring a disadvantaged Student to benefit from our Leadership programs in underfunded public schools, Connecting F.A.M.E with interested corporate bodies, Visiting our website now to learn more about us. You can learn more about our work via www.thefameinitiative.org or reach me on Facebook or Linkedin via Raphael Stephen. 


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