Catching up with him during his stay at the GIMPA Executive Lodge in Ghana, we spoke on a lot of issues ranging from real estate to Music and Politics. He might be young but he is very experienced and knowledgeable in issues related to his field. Though a surveyor, he went on to release a gospel single track titled ‘Beauty’ which was produced by Vic Victor and Dj Chet of Nigeria. On ‘Game Changers’ today, we profile one of Africa’s young CEOs and change makers.
Ikechukwu Chukwure is from Owerri, Imo State Nigeria. He graduated from the Imo State University Nigeria where he studied Surveying & Geoinformatics. He is a Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), Accra Regional Leadership Centre Fellow. He recently got married to his wife, Olivia. Iyke is also a Musician as stated before.
Iyke had always wanted to be in the building construction sector. His father was a carpenter so that’s where he got his inspiration from. He gained admission to study Electrical electronics and Architecture in the University but he abandoned the course because according to him, he was not “satisfied” until he got the chance to study Surveying.
“It was easy for me to excel because Surveying connected with my deeper understanding of construction in form of data. So I settled, studied and finally graduated as a Surveyor in 2011”, he revealed.
Iyke is the founder of Urbanize Africa. (www.urbanizeafricahub.org)
Urbanize Africa is an online community-based platform that promotes development policies that support safe and sustainable cities in Africa.
The platform offers space for entrepreneurs, innovators, techies, and startups, civic leaders to share ideas, connect and collaborate with each other especially on how to make African cities more inclusive and resilient.
They also make environmental development policies and resources visible and accessible to researchers, policy makers, city developers, human settlement experts, and entrepreneurs, thus, providing a launching pad for innovative and creative ideas.
The idea of Urbanize Africa came during his time as a participant at the Young African Leadership Initiative training at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry.
“We were all asked to look for a specific problem we could solve in Africa, and I thought of the fact that by 2030, most of the people in Africa will be living in urban areas than in rural regions and projecting this further, by 2050 an estimated 1.23 billion people, or 60% of all Africans will become city dwellers”, he recalls.
“Sadly, many of the people that will be born will live in urban centers and this will stretch the cities capacities. Like in Nigeria where I am from, the population of Lagos alone was 6.5 million in 1995 and was hitting 10 million by 2002 and by 2015 was already having 16 million people living in the city”, he said.
“So as the number of people living in cities in Africa continues to rise, the propensity for instability rises too. As part of my contribution to avoid this disaster, I started this social enterprise called “Urbanize Africa”, he added.
Urbanize Africa promotes development policies that support safe and sustainable cities in Africa. They also create a space for social entrepreneurs, innovators, techies, and civic leaders to meet, brainstorm and share ideas on how to sustain developments that comes with rapid urbanization.
Urbanize Africa partnered with ONE to organise an event marking the 2017 International Day of the Girl in Abia State, Nigeria. Through this event, girls and young women were inspired to start playing important roles in the sustainable development of Africa.
They also partnered with Forward Africa and YALILearns to organize an event sensitizing young leaders on developing tools for accessing and scaling up business opportunities in Africa. The event enhanced the capacities of the participants on innovative and creative thinking especially in identifying and solving problems in their environment as change agents in their communities.
Urbanize Africa Hub has also supported many international events that were held across Nigeria like the Leverage Conference 2017 in Lagos, Nigeria, The Manifest Series 2017 in Umuahia, Nigeria, the Spelling Bee 2017 in Bayelsa, Nigeria.
“Finances and getting volunteers to work with us without pay is the greatest challenge”, he said.
“Most young people today want to make fast money so when you mention volunteering, they run away. So another challenge has been finance to fund our community development projects. But that notwithstanding, we are making visible progress!” He added.
Speaking on what the future holds for him, these were his words:
“I see myself running a full digital business within the next 10 years; scaling up what I am already doing and developing a full digital strategy that can be integrated with my business strategy. I see myself being immersed in the online world because that would be the only move I can keep pace”, he said.
Also at the bigger level, Iyke sees himself being a part of the process that will leave behind for the generation after his an Africa that is strong, vibrant and prosperous.
Low points in life
Iyke lost his parents at a tender age and that had great effect on him but since the other younger siblings were looking up to him, he mastered courage and led the family up.
His advice for everyone is this:
Work hard, give it your best and believe in yourself. Be ready at all time so that if an opportunity presents itself, you can grab it!