ABOUT

JAMES OKINA

Leader | Innovator | Storyteller

The first few years of James’s life was very smooth and was characterized by the decorum and tranquility of the average Nigerian family, his mother, a primary school teacher with a fairly decent salary, and his father a businessman combined together, earned enough to keep the family going on a moderate economic path.

In 2006, Sweet descended on the path to bitter when his father got involved in local politics and things began to spiral out of control at home.

Things grew worse and in 2007 and James’s parents eventually separated, The next three years that engulfed the divorce season of his life was turbulent as he was without control or guide from his parents. he skipped school, shoplifted and did a lot of terrible things; each of which is a story unto itself. The transition from home to street was as fast as taking in air for survival. 

After this horrific experience as an adolescent when his parents separated. He was inspired by an unprecedented turnaround, and at age 15, James founded Street Priests Incorporated. This social enterprise is transforming street children’s lives through a youth-led movement.

 

Street Priests currently operates the only community center in Nigeria that provides all-round developmental support to children on the streets daily. Over 6000 children and counting have benefited from this program. He currently serves as Strategic Advisor to the SAP/UNICEF partnership to bring digital skills to 1.5 million students in India, Turkey, and Vietnam and a Young People’s action Team Member for Generation Unlimited. James is also the founder of Erupt Art, a social change art platform that engages creatives to create change. In 2020, artists from 89 countries participated in Audio, Visual, Literature, and Performance categories creating entries with the theme – “What about me?” to bring attention to the most marginalized children in the world amidst the pandemic.

James is recognized for his work with children and youth, as a Global Teen Leader, Future African Leader Award Recipient, a 2018 Global changemaker by Global Changemakers, named one of 20 young Nigerians, a Davelar Entrepreneur, Ashoka Africa Youth Champion, and featured by the BBC, NPR, Forbes, Stanford Social Innovation amongst others.

In addition to completing his degree in Social Entrepreneurship as a Watson Scholar, James is currently working on a research project from his field studies on the problem of Street Children in the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and The United States. An astute believer that children deserve better, James would stop at nothing to create a fairer world.