“As I pursue the SI Scholarship, I recognise the necessity of working with others.”

SI scholarship holder, Damilola Hamid Balogun, shares his passion for creating change in his home country Nigeria and his experience in a leadership role as an entrepreneur.

Damilola is the co-founder of ‘youth sustainable development network’, a network aimed to promote youth leadership within sustainable development in Nigeria. The network focuses on sustainable and renewable energy. We interviewed him about his position as a leader, his passion for sustainable development and his experience in Sweden.  

Conducting this interview in his car shows the busy life that Damilola lives. We asked him about his business and the purpose of it: 

– The organisation I lead is the ‘Youth for Sustainable Energy fellowship’. What we try to do is to help young Africans achieve their future. This is because 60% of Africa’s population consist of young people. It is these young people that are currently leading that will help us achieve sustainable development by 2030 and Net-zero by 2050 or 2060 in Nigeria. We strongly believe as young people leading the youth and sustainable development program, one thing that is important for us to do is to translate all those solutions at the grassroot. So, our ambition is to speak with stakeholders and ask how we can reshape what that agenda really means at the local community. 

Damilola decided to move to Sweden and apply for the Scholarship for Global Professionals to increase his impact in making a change in Nigeria.  

– Initially, I was driven by a desire to understand the Swedish approach to sustainable development. With six years of leading sustainable energy initiatives in Nigeria, I saw Sweden as the perfect destination. Known for prioritising sustainable and infrastructural development, Sweden provided an ideal setting to enhance my practical experiences with a deeper theoretical understanding. So, going further with a masters’ programme would enhance more of my productivity and take my impact to another level.   

One important aspect of the scholarship is promoting leadership and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Damilola found an opportunity to combine those two. 

– My leadership experience includes capacity building, policy recommendation, and high-level participation in international conferences. A significant project under my leadership is aiding farmers in Lagos with sustainable cooling solutions, showcasing a commitment to practical solutions in sustainable development. This would help with increasing their productivity, their income, and also reduce over one hundred thousand tons of carbon emissions in the first year of operation. So, this is what we stand for, to lead innovation and make sure that no one is left behind. Particularly in the area of sustainable energy, SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy and SDG 13 – Climate action.

The opportunity to build a network is something that Damilola values in his entrepreneurial journey. 

– I definitely want one thing after my experience, that is to build a network of professionals, which is what the SI Scholarship stands for. I want to be able to make more impact and to help make change in my home country. I am always open to meet new friends and really welcome value exchange. I want to be someone people can come in contact with to make an impact in their lives, and also be able to contact other people for them to make an impact in my life. Also, I want to interact with more people in Sweden and work together. Lastly, to have a lot of fun doing this, meet new friends and travel more!