Innocent Chukwuma Social Impact Chair and Youth Fellowship: Ford Foundation, Lagos Business School Establish $1million Endowment and Initiative.

Today Africa Youth Day, the Lagos Business School and Ford Foundation announced the establishment of the Innocent Chukwuma Social Impact Chair & Fellowship (ICSICF), an endowment designed to support youth in Nigeria. The initiative will be delivered by the LBS Sustainability Centre and is funded with a $1million grant from the Ford Foundation. This will provide perpetual funding to support the Chair and Youth Fellowship, as well as the writing and publication of a biography in honour of the late Mr Innocent Chukwuma who was particularly passionate about the need to support the next generation of leaders especially in Nigeria. “We are excited about this initiative which will advance Innocent Chukwuma’s legacy of social impact and support youth to be responsible leaders. We thank the Chukwuma Family and Ford Foundation for partnering with our institution to drive such a strategic programme” – said Professor Juan M. Elegido the Vice-Chancellor of the Pan-Atlantic University.

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Innocent Chukwuma was the immediate past Regional Director of the Ford Foundation Office for West Africa where he led the Foundation’s social justice work in the region for eight years. Throughout his career, Innocent Chukwuma was committed to the fight for human rights and this took expression in different forms, including his work to establish a law enforcement system that dignified people and included them in the policing of their communities, with a strong emphasis on criminal justice reforms. In addition to his human rights work, Innocent Chukwuma was committed to strengthening the civil society, a part of which was focused on leadership transition and succession planning. Towards the end of his term at the Ford Foundation, Innocent devoted his time to building the field of impact investing in Nigeria.

Throughout his career, Innocent was dedicated to supporting young leaders, and his work imbibed the principles of anti-colonial, racial justice and feminist principles. He was committed to supporting the next generation of young leaders and worked closely with many young leaders to enable the growth and development of their work. Having begun his career as a young activist himself, Innocent understood the struggles of young leaders and believed that they were integral to development and political stability of West Africa. As an affirmation of Innocent’s efforts, several studies have shown that in order to develop, West Africa needs to invest in its burgeoning number of youth below the age of 30 who constitute a significant proportion of the region’s population.

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Expressing her joy at the establishment of the ICSICF, Innocent’s wife, Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, a Gender & Development Specialist & Women’s Rights Advocate, stated that “the Fellowship is a unique initiative that contributes to sustaining Innocent’s legacy of supporting the next generation of leaders to create social impact. On behalf of the children and I, I would like to thank the Ford Foundation and Lagos Business School. We look forward to supporting this initiative.”

The Innocent Chukwuma Social Impact Chair & Fellowship (ICSICF) is designed to facilitate the emergence and development of the next generations of visionary, dedicated and result-driven social impact and justice leaders in Nigeria. The young leaders should, in the long run, catalyse systems and sectoral transitions in Nigeria through their social change initiatives in communities and locations of impact, social enterprises, nonprofit organisations, research and influence on policy. The ICSICF is a perpetual initiative endowed through generous funding from the Ford Foundation and will be the first of its kind in Nigeria both in size and duration.

“The Ford Foundation, like Innocent, believes that empowering youth is an investment worth undertaking for the future of society. We are glad to support his legacy through this initiative which will enhance the leadership capabilities of young Nigerians and expand opportunities for them,” said Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, Regional Director of the Ford Foundation Office for West Africa.

The Fellowship will be an interdisciplinary youth fellowship focused on Management (Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits); Public Policy and Governance (Policing, security sector reforms and criminal justice administration); Impact Investing and International Development. The Lagos Business School has made a commitment as part of our strategic alignment for the next five years (2021 – 2025) to prioritize applied learning and research to solve social and institutional problems in Africa. The Innocent Chukwuma Social Impact Chair & Fellowship is strategically aligned to the school’s mission to develop responsible leaders for Africa and we are honoured to have our Sustainability Centre host and manage the initiative in Innocent Chukwuma’s honour – said Prof Chris Ogbechie, Dean of the Lagos Business School.

The ICSICF will launch the first call for applications in January 2022 for young Nigerian innovators (18 – 30 years old) working in areas of public policy & governance, responsible management, social enterprise, impact investment and other key areas of development. For more information, please visit the LBS website at or contact the LBS Sustainability Centre Team at

This article was released by Lagos Business School and FOrd Foundation.

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