At a time when most young people spend their entire time trolling on various social media, it is a positive wonder to find a young lady who is not just taking important steps at making a difference, but in a rare field as Sustainability development. In this exclusive interview with Young Naija Entrepreneurs, the beautiful and brilliant Jennifer Uchendu talks about her work at SustyVibes and her involvement in the realization of the SDGs.
Q. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Jennifer Uchendu, I am a sustainability communicator and analyst. I have a background in biochemistry but these days you would find me working around women development and environmental protection. I like to sleep in the daytime and I always wear my hair in burgundy.
Q. You are the founder of Sustyvibes; what do you do?
I manage the SustyVibes website as editor-in-chief as well as work with the team to develop projects that directly promote sustainable development in Nigeria. The question you would want to ask is what does SustyVibes do? As an evolving brand, we have a primary aim to increase sustainability discussions and participation among young people in Nigeria, simply put – we make the concept of sustainability trendy and hip for young people.
Q. Can you tell us about SDG and your involvement towards its achievement?
The Sustainable Development Goals replaced the Millennium Development Goals as the new blueprint for the world to run with for the next 14 years. They are ambitious and all point towards the importance of sustainability in achieving a better world.
For me, the SDGs present a perfect opportunity for me to preach sustainability, as it has now become critical for the world to think about sustainable development national development needed to prosper and thrive in an ever increasing and climate changing world. The SDGs are for the planet and for people, they are for the peace, prosperity and protection of our world and what is so interesting about them is how unique but yet interconnected they all are, they present some of the world’s biggest problems especially for a developing nation like ours and remind us of how we can all work together with the private sector and government to achieve true sustainable development.
Q. You are a young lady who is passionate about sustainability; that is pretty unusual in our time where most youths are wasting time on social media; what inspired this passion?
The truth is that I have always wanted to be one of those people saving the world, so my ambition to become a gynecologist at age 9 was mainly informed by the need to make the world a better place especially for women, so when I ended up studying biochemistry and having no zeal to further into medicine, I stumbled on the concept of Renewable Energy and Biofuels in 2010 and never looked back. My passion for sustainability evolved really, I later found that I could directly apply my desire to help African Women with environmental protection and that was my “aha moment”, I never stop learning about the ways I could do this, it’s beautiful really.
Q. How do you manage to sponsor all your Susty events, tours and shows?
Haha, I get this question a lot, trying not to sound too spiritual, but my life and the whole existence of SustyVibes has been founded on grace, we are just six months old but provision to push projects have always found ways to get to us by people and brands who believe in what we do. We also reach out to sustainable brands to support events if need be, I should also say that we have not had so many events/shows, we just have a good way of making impact and amplifying the ones we have done so far and so people cannot stop leaving impressions.
Q. So far, how have you fared towards the achievement of your goals?
I’m just scratching the surface to be very honest. I have a long way to go, but I understand that I will get better in time.
Q. You mentioned in an interview that you are trying to get a lot of Government backing and endorsement so that they know what we’re doing; how successful have you been in that regard?
Well, I got the minister of environment to take the popular SustyVibes picture some months back and we have done a good job to keep the ministry abreast in our engagements and projects.
Q. Any final words for young people who may be reading this interview?
Young people should find their happiness and create an action plan on how to reach and sustain it. If working in a bank to become a top management staff that could ultimately reform some of our banking principles and policies is a big dream for you then please work at it. I have been reading a lot of mixed messages on this whole passion thing and it gets me worried that we might be undermining or reducing white collar jobs when it might something a couple of people really want.
The issue of environmental sustainability is one that we as young people must advocate because the planet is for us and our children to live in, a simple but seemingly difficult one for us in Nigeria would be littering and that is why we started our #StareDownOnPollution campaign to increase awareness on the impacts of Pollution and also bring in solutions for effecting waste management like recycling, reusing etc. So please stop littering, it is never a cool thing to do.
Finally, we should do our best to step up the way we talk down and disrespect women in our society, in the world we live in, some of these sexist moves and action happen and it could be understandable but not permissible. We can all decide to work towards gender equality and equity in our daily interactions with other people.
Thank you for reaching and appreciating our work, I am truly honored.