FACES OF CCEDNet – RAÏMI B. OSSENI
This month, Faces of CCEDNet presents Raïmi B. Osseni. Raïmi has been a member of Emerging Leaders since he joined CCEDNet. He recently came back from Ecuador where he was doing CED work through the International Youth Internship Program of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), getting some experience on local economic development in an international context.
I discovered CED and joined CCEDNet in 2005. I had been looking for an opportunity to put my academic background in commerce as well as my inner sense of social justice to the service of communities. I started learning more about CED and social economy and my interest for what is done in the sector increased. I saw it as a very satisfying alternative to employment in other sectors.
In 2006, I was selected by CreateAction, a CCEDNet-led program, to work for the Manitoba CED network. This program provided paid learning opportunities for young people to do community economic development in their own communities. My experience with CCEDNet was a great career gateway into CED. It allowed me to learn more about CED at the local and national levels, assist researchers and program managers, meet practitioners and gain knowledge of CED organizations.
After my internship, I joined one of CCEDNet’s
members, the Economic Development Council for Bilingual Municipalities of Manitoba (CDEM) where I acted as a CED agent. My activities included business services for entrepreneurs, youth leadership development and advocacy for co-operative development, as well as community consultations in the bilingual municipalities of Manitoba. I also represented the CDEM on the planning committee for the Fourth Annual CD/CED Gathering in Manitoba, “Passion in Action” in the fall of 2006. Manitoba
Going International: CED in
The most exciting part of my CED work is definitely my work experience in Ecuador. Through a Quebec-based organization, the Centre de solidarité Internationale du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (CSI SLSJ), I provided technical assistance services to a local NGO. The Centro de Desarrollo, Difusión e Investigación (CEDIS) strives to promote social justice towards indigenous women. They consolidate women’s organizations and advocate human and social rights, financial autonomy, food security and self-esteem. I provided support in the strategic and operational aspects of the creation of a social entrepreneurship school for the local indigenous women on the base of what I had learned about social entrepreneurship in Canada. With the staff of CEDIS, I developed and presented training sessions in a gender sensitive environment on different management issues and provided “train the trainer” sessions.
During my time in Ecuador, I also volunteered with youth-led social enterprises and businesses in their development and strategic planning. The challenges faced by these organizations are a set of systemic barriers such as access to credit for the less wealthy segments of the populations, indigenous, women or youth. Banks often require entrepreneurs to offer as a guarantee a capital they are actually trying to build. There is also a lack of understanding of business procedures such as business planning, market research or marketing, which could be used to enhance the performance of start-ups. However, the perseverance and the capacity of resilience of Ecuadorians, as well as their aptitude to work hard and to stay positive, make them a very enjoyable population to work with.
Back in Winnipeg, I have become more involved in the Emerging Leaders committee. I realized the impact of the work done by the youth I worked with in Ecuador. I also realize that development, even international, is first and foremost a local activity with more chances to succeed when it is initiated at the grassroots and when it comes from within the populations. Therefore, I chose to continue to be active in local economic development and to use that experience as a tool for international development.
I encourage anyone interested in youth engagement and CED, regardless of your age, and anyone interested in International CED to check out Emerging Leader's website and to visit CCEDNet international Committee at: