Blessing Abeng is the Director of Communications at Ingressive for Good (I4G), a nonprofit organization with the mission to create and increase the earning power of African youth through tech training and resources for the growth of the African startup ecosystems.
Blessing has been an active part of the tech ecosystem, through Startup Grind and have been invited to speak at Silicon Valley on two occasions. Being an expert in the Branding and Communications Industry, Blessing have been able to build sustainable communities across different industries.
She has worked with brands across industries, nationally and globally, including Startup Grind, Afropreneur Network, Seedstars, UNICEF, Taiello, Diageo, Facebook, Heritage Bank, African Alliance, Dark and Lovely (Nigeria and Africa), Alomo Bitters, GSK, Lights Camera Africa, Lemi Ghariokwu, Victor Ehikhamenor, Angels and Muse, QuickCheck and so many others.
Blessing’s skills and clear vision make her a valuable tech ecosystem leader all about empowering brands to present their best selves forward and she has consistently done this for the tech and startup ecosystem.
She has been passionate about African youths for the longest time and that is why her work at I4G is super seamless. This is a cause that she is very passionate about.
Blessing told TechEconomy.ng that she has personally trained over 1000 youths in branding and communications and prides myself in being a catalyst on their journey to success – a stepping stone that young passionate youths can climb on; on their journey to success.
“I am super proud of the work that Ingressive For Good is doing in Africa and I am glad to be a part of it”.
Find out more in TechEconomy.ng’s chat with Blessing. Excerpt:
Q: Ingressive For Good has aggressively pursued this quest to equip young Nigerians with digital skills and tools. Tell us about this vision.
Blessing: I remember the day the Co-founder of Ingressive For Good, I4G as we like to call it, Maya Famodu and I sat in a coffee shop in Lagos, discussing the challenges in the tech space and how much different things would be if we had a better pipeline – if youths were armed with the resources, tools, and training they needed to be the best they could be. It resonated so much because Africans were already doing amazing things around the world. Those who had the opportunity to leave the country and access these tools and training often performed exceptionally in the tech space as well as other industries. This conversation helped us visualize how much different Africa would be, especially economically if a large percentage of our youths had access especially tech, as tech has a track record of magnifying the impact of anything by 10x.
I could see how the lives of many of my peers could be different and it all made sense. At that moment, I committed to being part of this mission to not just increase the earning power of African youth but eradicate poverty in Africa.
For too long, suffering and Africa have been in the same sentence and it’s high time to change that narrative and I am glad that we at I4G, can be part of the solution. It is no longer an imagination or conversation. It is a reality, a work in progress. The vision is to equip young Africans in need with tech skills to help them impact and contribute to the development of Africa, socially and economically. Ingressive For Good (I4G) was created to address the glaring inequities that exist within African tech ecosystems.
Q: So, when was Ingressive For Good formed and who are the people behind it?
Blessing: In 2015, Ingressive LLC launched a community called Ingressive Campus Ambassadors in a bid to give back to the African tech ecosystem by focusing on Students with a passion for tech. The bootstrapped program built a community of over 20,000 members led by 200+ ambassadors and funded 300+ training events and hackathons activated over 250 tertiary institutions and created 100+ jobs in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Kenya.
These events were done in partnership with Facebook, Google, GitHub, Figma, and many other global tech companies. But in 2019, the cofounders, Maya Horgan-Famodu and Sean Burrowes realized this was so much bigger than a CSR and there was an opportunity to do so much more. The massive impact of ICA in four years of existence led to the decision to transition into a full-blown non-profit and make the ICA community an arm of the non-profit called I4G Circles.
The non-profit is taking a more holistic approach to supporting youths in need by providing tools, educational/tech resources that they need, training, mentorship, support, opportunities, and funding to enable great communities to make an even greater positive impact in the world and birth youth who are prepared for the tech workforce. So in July 2020, we launched Ingressive For Good with a renewed mission to create and increase the earning power of tech talents in Africa by training 1,000,000 youths and connecting 5,000 to jobs
Q: Can someone/young Nigerian just walk up to Ingressive 4 Good and request for assistance or what is the channel through which one can benefit?
Blessing: Any young African who is passionate about tech can join the I4G Network and access resources, opportunities, job opportunities, exclusive events, training opportunities, laptops, tech tools, micro-scholarships, mentorship, and most importantly, community. To join, just apply HERE depending on how active you are
Q: The platform recently supported the HNG Internship program. Can you tell us about this? What are the feedbacks you have received from beneficiaries?
Blessing: Oh yes… My colleague, Sean Burrowes, spoke extensively about this HERE – but in simple terms, HNG Internships combine technology with a well-proven education system of learning to mentor interns and help them grow which in turn advances the tech ecosystem. This is evident from the success stories of the finalists. They bridged the gap between learning to code, coding, and actually getting an internship to apply these coding skills. In the most recent cohort, cohort 7, the finalists were connected to the best companies in the tech ecosystem and are on their way to getting full-time jobs and contracts immediately.
We provided MacBooks and data for the finalists. And there were lots of success stories. One of the touching ones was by Adenike. She had lost her mum and her dad was a night guard. She had been unable to find a job since 2016 and had to borrow a laptop to practice what she was learning at HNG while still dealing with inconsistent power supply in her community. To deal with this, she had to stay in her uncle’s place where she slept on a mat spread on the floor. So many sacrifices to ensure she gets her dream career in technology.
The MacBook we provided for her meant the world to her and she is well on her way to getting the job of her dream.
You can watch her story on via this YouTube link.
Q: Doing this, what is Ingressive For Good’s perception about preparing Africans for digital skills for now and tomorrow?
Blessing: The young African tech talent we are focused on is passionate about using tech to solve real problems and grow, but this talent is limited by the availability of resources, finance, and network to enhance growth. They have the capacity to grow, given the right resources.
This is why we partnered with Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform, Facebook, world’s largest social media platform, and even DataCamp, the leading interactive learning platform for data science and analytics. We believe African youths, will make the most of opportunities if they are given the best resources and environment to thrive. They have proved us right because in the last 3 months, I4G has aided the training of over 20,000 African youth, built a community of over 17,000 youths, provided tech tools and resources for over 10,000, and placed over 100 in jobs.
We have also partnered with HNG, Enye, SemiColon, Tekedia, CareerBuddy, FindWorka, Live Your Dreams, Covenant University, Babcock University, StudentBuild, Bankole Williams, and so many amazing organizations to reach the Africans in need and provide training, scholarships, job placements. The goal is to train 1 million youths and we cannot do it alone.
Q: Tell us more about Ingressive Campus Ambassador programme?
Blessing: Can any student from any department join or there is/are a specific course(s) requirement? What’s is spread like: are you focused on a particular region(s) in Nigeria)
Ingressive Campus Ambassador programme has transitioned into an arm of Ingressive for Good called – I4G Circles targeted at establishing tech clubs in cities and tertiary institutions, with the goal to Help others, Add Value, Connect, & Keep growing (HACK) in tech. Any student in any school in Africa can be part of it.
Right now we are present in over 30 schools with 600 members and 40 ambassadors and there have been so many activities within existing communities. Since we announced I4G Circles, the impact has been phenomenal. At one of the community challenges, a group of students (Team Aider -built a resume generator that is now being widely used by youth in Africa).
There have been study groups, mentorship programs, webinars, and so much more. Our belief system is simple – One action can create a ripple and that ripple can go on to change the world, imagine what a hundred ripples would do. Let’s create ripples and change the world. It is mainly for people interested in or passionate about technology.
Joining the circle is super simple. Visit this LINK.
Q: What is the target for Ingressive For Good between 2021 and 2026?
Blessing: We have just 3 goals for the next 5 years: Train 1 million young Africans in tech, disburse $1,000,000 in scholarships, and place 5000 African youths in jobs. We are well on our way. We used 2020 to test the viability of these goals and we were able to surpass all our pilot goals.
We planned to train 10k people and we trained over 20k, we covered the scholarships of 2 students in tech-related courses to the Ivy-Leagues of Africa (Covenant University and Babcock), we placed over 100 in jobs and all these with little or no funding. Imagine how much we would be able to do if we had $500,000. So, if you are reading this and would like to donate, please contact I4G donor manager.
Q: Have you seen any significant change in the way education is done in Africa; let’s say in the last 5 years?
Blessing: It has evolved in some ways and stayed stagnant in other ways. But opportunities have been sprung up to learn online and improve skills. Many organizations are beginning to zero in on Africa and help close the gap. More can be done with updating our curriculum but thank God for the internet, people can now upskill themselves at their own pace and compete on the global scale.
I really hope that the government revisits the educational system and updates it to match countries like the US, China, etc. to give our continent the chance to be at par with their peers in developed countries.
Q: What do you have to say about the recent ASUU strike and general impact on your I4G Circle Ambassadors?
Blessing: Initially, it dulled their morale and even affected some of their mental health but after speaking to them and providing them with training opportunities, they were able to come out of the dark clouds. Some even described it as an opportunity.
Q: What is Ingressive For Good’s vision for education in Africa?
Blessing: We really dream of a world where youths have ACCESS and in most cases, education brings that access. We want to address the glaring inequities that exist within African tech ecosystems and if people are armed with information and knowledge, they will be able to make better decisions and increase their earning power, in essence, increase the economy of each country in the continent.