Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_Caroline.jpgFinalist: Caroline Odogwu

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Caroline Odogwu is a young Nigerian, budding social entrepreneur who is empowering young women under the age of 25, by building their confidence through workshops, events and a uniquely tailored mentoring program.

Caroline began her career while an undergraduate at John Moores University, Liverpool as the news and weather anchor for her local radio station Youth FM before moving into television. In 2009, she acquired experience as a researcher at ITV Granada in Manchester and then at the BBC in London before arriving at OH TV at the end of 2009.  Whilst at OH TV she produced a vibrant series called ‘Young Achievers – The Next Gen,’ documenting the achievements of young adults from all walks of life and cultures. After leaving OH TV in 2011, Caroline has undertaken various media related positions at Sky News, Dublin South FM and Samaritans.

Through her work with young people at Mencap, with college leavers and her dance pupils, Caroline was impressed by the huge positive potential within young people, which is so often not reflected either in the media nor in the opportunities presented to them.

Determined to do something about this, she launched a social enterprise called ‘She Is You’ in 2012, when she was 23 along with Yinka Oyebade, a close friend of hers. Together, they empower young women to reach their full potential by carrying out workshops, mentoring and events, with a heavy focus on raising their self-esteem & self-confidence. Since the launch they have positively impacted and engaged with over 100 young women between the ages of 14 – 25. Their work started in Croydon and now they carry out workshops across Lambeth and Wandsworth.

Her role within the community and short term battle through unemployment has seen her invited to speak at a number of events with key leaders, such as RBS, Business Launchpad, Herbert Smiths LLP Law Firm, Sage UK, Tata Consultancies, Bronze Woman monument & vInspired. She has touched on issues such as diversity, gender equality, youth entrepreneurship and sisterhood. In her own unique way, she is becoming a trailblazer, simply because of her decision to step out & create positive social change.

Now, at the age of 25 she is clearly becoming a role model to young women within her community. This was recognised in her & her co-founders recent win of a Precious Award 2013. Showing that sheer determination to achieve ones goals is possible. Caroline now manages the Marketing Department at a leading Charity, called Business Launchpad, whose core work is to help young people start up their own businesses. She manages ‘She Is You’ alongside her full time job.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_KanikaFinalist: Kanika Wotherspoon

Country of Origin: Ghana

Kanika Wotherspoon (nee Mayi) is on a graduate scheme in local government where she is Project Manager for the local elections in Waltham Forest. She is a recent graduate from the School of Oriental and African Studies where she studied Politics and African studies. She is currently studying towards a postgraduate qualification in Strategic Leadership and Political Leadership with the Institute of Learning and Management (ILM). She plans to go back to OAS or Oxford University to complete her Master’s degree in global diplomacy or public/social policy.

In 2011 Kanika was selected to feature in the Future Leaders publication in which celebrates the top 100 black graduates across the UK. She was also a RARE Rising Stars nominee which celebrated the UK’s top 10 black graduates.  At university she served as co-president of the African-Caribbean Society, anti-racism officer for the school executive board and liaison officer/UK ambassador for a U.S- based global development initiative called the Harambe Endeavour Alliance. The Alliance linked outstanding students from universities such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge to global banks, health organisations etc. to aid development across Africa.

Kanika was recently elected as the only female trustee to the 2013 board of the British Youth Council – the largest youth-led council in the UK responsible for approx. 7 million young people, youth parliament, the young mayor network and 250 member organisations. She is now London’s regional manager for the charity and is also the faith representative on the board. She has been one of the faces of many national campaigns including the Change Things Now campaign started by the Cabinet Office and the Campaign for Youth Social Action started by the Prince’s Trust. Whilst working, she created the schools initiative ‘Building Bridges’ in Leytonstone, East London. The scheme aimed to raise the educational aspiration and attainment of the most disadvantaged BAME pupils in Buxton school by linking them to high-achieving BAME graduates across various sectors. Of the 30 pupils Kanika worked with, 70% jumped a grade or two higher in their English, Maths and/or Science grades. She has since been asked to roll the scheme out nationally, and her findings were included in policy reports written by the Centre for Social Justice.

Kanika has been invited to the House of Lords / Commons on numerous occasions, the Ghanaian Parliament, Harvard University and was recently invited to Buckingham Palace by HRH Prince of Wales to represent young people to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Prime Minister. She was invited to No.10 Downing Street to advise on youth, female and race issues. She has appeared on numerous youth debate panels across the country and acts as a mentor. Her own mentors include: the former chair of the Local Government Association Baroness Eaton, MP Julie Hilling, the Director of HR and Transformation at Waltham Forest Althea Loderick, the lead councillor for children and young people in Waltham Forest Cllr Clare Coghill and E.U diplomat Tomas Sandell.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_Marian.jpgFinalist: Marian Adejokun

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Marian Adejokun is the 22 year old university student who at 19 survived a life changing experience with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Marian made headline news for suffering an adverse reaction to eye drops. Marian believes that her life is a testimony. She was born at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just 1lb. She stayed in the hospital for over a year with all kinds of complications with her eyes, ears, a hole in the heart and spinal Spondylolisthesis. She successfully recovered from surgery for all of these complications. Little did she know that trying to relieve an itchy eye will send her right back to hospital where she would be in intensive care for a while.

A firm believer in God and His divine purpose for our lives, her mission is to be a vessel of inspiration to young people like herself by encouraging, blessing and embracing them with the word of God and her story of recovery and redemption. She uses various social media platforms to empower youths through daily inspirational messages which are rooted in God’s word. She also has two charitable organisations which aim to encourage, empower, impact and inspire youths by showcasing God’s work.

The Marian Adejokun Foundation was created mission to spread awareness of the deadly Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), which most people are unaware of. It provides the public and medical communities with information on adverse reactions, so that a quick diagnosis may be made and the offending drug stopped as soon as possible. Marian believes that the public needs to know what to look for when taking any drug and seek medical attention immediately. The foundation also seeks to encourage people who are sick by visiting them in their homes or in hospitals and praying with them, letting them know that there is hope and that God never fails.

Reach Out to All was inspired by her vision, passion and mission in life is to reach out to the youths about Christ and encourage them to never give up on their dreams. Marian believes that her life testifies that all things are possible through God and she wants to use her life story to inspire those who feel downtrodden, forsaken or lacking in purpose.

Find out more about Marian Adejokun HERE.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_MoremiFinalist: Moremi Obadara

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Moremi Obadara graduated with a 2:1 from the University of of Hull at the tender age of 19. The following year she pursued a Masters Degree from Loughborough University. It was a major achievement for her age but on completions she found herself in the job market young and without the professional experience to secure meaningful employment tat was deserving of her qualifications. It was at this point that she decided to follow her passion.
Moremi is the founder of Imperial Beauty, a high street beauty salon brand which eventually opened in Stratford Shopping Mall in November 2012.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_Nana.jpgFinalist: Nana Afua Antwi

Country of Origin: Ghana

Nana Afua Antwi is a British fashion model originated from Kumasi Ashanti in Ghana. She is the winner for Britain’s Top Model of Colour Cycle 5 and BEFFTA Awards Winner Female Model of the Year in 2011 and BEFFTA Young Achiever of the year in 2013. She was a Cover Girl for Feb/March 2013 Issue of best selling International Magazine New Africa Woman, Cover Girl for Black Hair Magazine August/ September Issue which was voted one of the best black magazine cover in America in October 2011.

Nana Afua is the current face and Ambassador for the Stephen Lawrence National Charity Campaign promoting anti hate anti-violence among youth in the UK. She graduated from Thurrock and Basildon College studying Art & Design and a furthered at the London College of Fashion studying fashion illustration.

Winning the Top Model of Colour competition in 2009 gave her a platform to work on a charity project campaign named after her late mother. Akosua Odei Foundation was launched on May 26th 2012 in Hotel Russel West London in aid of Single Mothers/Women living harsh lives in the rural Ghana and Africa. Nana has also had the chance to walk with Matthew Williamson and got featured in his A/W 2011 Catwalk Show in London.

Nana Afua is currently working on her clothing line collection ‘Adopted Culture’ which was featured in Africa Fashion Week 2013. The clothing line has already set the bar after great critical acclaim from the press.

Nana Afua Antwi, has currently landed a TV role as a Presenter and her first ever foray into production, a Fashion Talk Show ‘Closet247’ will be airing in March 2014 on Vox Africa TV in the UK. She is also the New face for Swedish Skincare brand now launching in Africa FOREA.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_SephoraFinalist: Sephora Ochou

Country of Origin: Cote D’Ivoire

Sephora Ochou is an ambitious bilingual student who studies BSc (Hons) International Business at Brunel University. She is currently interning at International Trade and Development firm, Crown Agents as a Business Development Assistant.

Prior to Crown Agents, she completed two summer internships at Swiss bank, UBS. She is passionate about youth empowerment hence her role as head of mentoring in a social enterprise called Project BISCEY, that aims to raise career aspirations of young people in Southwark aged 11-18.

Moreover, she is a City brokerage & LSE Pathways to Law alumnae, who aims to work as a development consultant in the near future.

Women4Africa 2014 Finalists_Young Acheiver of the Year_TaraFinalist: Tara Adeagbo

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Tara Adeagbo is currently a student at Brunel University studying Law with Professional Placement. She is currently in her placement year at a prestigious city law firm – Mishcon de Reya.

From a tender age Tara has been focused on developing herself professionally and completed stints in CMS Cameron Mckenna and volunteered in Lewisham Law Centre before she has even started University. Tara has since secured internships in Simmons & Simmons, Goldman Sachs, Norton Rose Fulbright and Bloomberg. After an internship with Goldman Sachs, Tara suggested to her line manager that the firm recruit directly from African countries in line with the growth in developing markets. Her view was much appreciated and the firm now recruits a handful of African students for internships with the possibility of a full time job. All of these internships were achieved whilst running her own profitable small enterprise – Societywear – providing branded garments to companies and individuals.

Tara, driven by her passion for youth development as a toll for elevation is always involved in projects that allow her to give back to the young people in her community. In 2012 she was an integral part of the Mayor of London’s Near Peer scheme and trained as a mentor for children in care. Following this, Tara became heavily involved with the SEO Scholar’s Mentoring Programme, providing in and out of school training and mentoring students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in employment and higher education. Also, she is the o=youngest member of the management committee for Meridian Money Advice, a service providing free confidential debt and welfare advice for those in the borough of Greenwich; this often consists of immigrants and single parent mothers. In appreciation for her achievements, in 2013 Tara received Barclays’ Future Leaders award, highlighting her as one of the UK’s top 100 outstanding black students.

Alongside of her second year studies, Tara was the Sponsorship Officer for her University’s African-Caribbean Society. This involved liaising with big companies and suggesting sponsorship opportunities for the society. She was also heavily involved in the ACLT (Bone Marrow and Blood Donation charity for black people). As part of a team she organised and led the blood drive and at her University where 250 students were tested for the charity. She also took part in the drama that was performed for students and raised £750.

Tara uses her opportunities in the UK to bring success to her country of origin. Her plans have not haltered there. Tara is currently networking with a few professionals to create a reliable, safe and transparent mail system in Nigeria which will provide jobs, boost the economy and provide better business communications.

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