Babban Gona Partners with Harvard University’s Aspire Institute to Develop Nigerian Students Leadership Skills

Africa’s largest producer of maize, Babban Gona, has partnered with Aspire Institute, a non-profit organization founded at Harvard University, to give Nigerians access to a fully-funded leadership development program with access to prestigious educators.

The partnership aims to provide selected Nigerian students with access to fully-funded HarvardX courses, a global community of peers, live seminars with world-class faculty, and mentorships from seasoned professionals.

“The Aspire Leaders Program gets the best talent that has not been noticed from everywhere in the world. The mission of the Aspire Institute is to reach marginalized youth around the world at scale, meaning we want to reach as many youth from low-income backgrounds as possible.” said Tarun Khanna, co-founder and Harvard Business School Professor.

The Aspire Leaders Program is open to Nigerian undergraduate students and recent graduates (within the last 3 years) between the ages of 18-26. This program provides resources for students all over the globe that come from backgrounds of social and financial adversity, specifically students who are first-generation in their family to go to college. 

Interested students can apply for the program by visiting aspireleaders.org/apply. Applications for the 2022 Cycle 2 are open from April 18 to June 15, 2022. Early Action Deadline: May 18, 2022.

According to the Deputy Managing Director of Babban Gona, Lola Masha, she said “Babban Gona is pleased to partner with Aspire Institute to open up this leadership program opportunity to Nigerians from low-income backgrounds. It is in line with our belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to prosper. This partnership will be a great addition to the impact we have had on over 220,000 smallholder farmers. We believe the program will equip Nigerians with the leadership skills to develop the country.”

On why Aspire Institute decided to partner with Babban Gona to reach more Nigerians, Meena Sonea, Executive Director of Aspire Institute said “Nigeria has such a large population of youth, and we are partnering with Babban Gona to give these youth personal, professional, and leadership development skills so that they can become self confident and become young leaders, young change-makers in their communities and contribute to the economy in their country of residence (in Nigeria). We both believe in the power of youth making a change in society and want to provide them with the resources, training, and opportunities to do so.”

Iyke Odagwe, one of the few Nigerians who participated in the 2021 Aspire Leaders Program, stated, “I have been able to meet people from other countries. I have learned a lot from different cultures, I’ve learned a lot about leadership, and I’ve learned a lot about self development.”

Since 2017, the Aspire Leaders Program has grown from a few hundred applications from nine countries to several thousands from more than 100 countries across five continents in each cycle.

The program, which was founded at Harvard University, was previously called Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program. Now, the Aspire Institute  runs the Aspire Leaders program as an independent non-profit organization, allowing them to reach students from any country in the world and welcoming Nigerian students.

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