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• YES Winner/Sponsor: 2006 (NOKIA)
• Name/First Name: SESAN Gbenga
• Age: 31
• Country of Origin: Nigeria
• Country of Study: USA
• Present Country: Nigeria
• Highest degree obtained: Executive Program in Science,
Technology & Innovation Policy (Harvard); Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship (Stanford)

I read about YES on the Young Leaders in ICTs (YLinICTs) website, following my participation in the Africa 2001 International Telecommunications Union Youth Fellowship program.

Unlike most other YES winners, I had the rare privilege of completing two different academic/career programs, thanks to the fellowship management team that gave special consideration to my academic/career circumstances. As a YES winner, I was able to participate in two Executive Education programs that have redefined the efficiency of my career and increased the impact of my career in my area of influence.

The two programs, in Science, Technology & Innovation Policy (Harvard) and Social Entrepreneurship (Stanford) were led by teams of globally respected faculties in schools that I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to enjoy academic input. While attending the programs, I met individuals who have gone on to influence my personal and professional life!

My participation in the first program at Harvard enriched my understanding of the ICT for Development space better and was very useful during my interviews towards becoming an Ashoka Fellow. Immediately after the interviews, I went off to Stanford for the course on social entrepreneurship and this has had a huge impact on my work at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria – enabling me to build income channels that now allow us to depend less on grants, and more on innovative income- generating opportunities!

I am presently the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (, a social enterprise that connects underserved people-groups with improved livelihoods by taking advantage of the opportunities that ICTs provide.

As an Ashoka Fellow, I will spend the next three years developing ICT-enabled social models – such as the model – that can be replicated across various underserved communities. Over the next five (5) years, I will build on my present research involvement in the use of ICTs for development to promote innovative use of technology platforms (especially mobile telephony) towards socio-economic transformation for developing economies. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, as an institution, will provide cutting-edge consulting services, deliver social innovation projects and connect Nigeria’s underserved youth with global opportunities (such as outsourcing, distributed services, etc).

My story – transformed from a shy young man from rural Nigeria to a global contributor in the ICT for Development space – was made possible by the ITU Youth Fellowship I won in 2001. The YES program built on this by allowing me learn more about the two fields (ICTs and Social Entrepreneurship) that will serve as my fulcrum for global social change. The two programs (ITU Youth Fellowship and YES) were mentioned in my forthcoming book, “In My Own Words,” and I remain grateful to the ITU for both opportunities!



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Updated : 2009-06-25