For those underpriviliged young children and youth who live on the margins of the larger society in Nigeria, having the opportunity to be creative and enjoy being with others to express themselves artistically is a dream come true. One social enterprise is making this dream a reality - the Children’s Art Workshop in Lagos is the brainchild of social entrepreneur, Sia Alexander and is making a real difference to the lives of young people in underpriviliged communities.
January is Social Entrepreneur Month at Lionesses of Africa, so we were delighted to hear of Sia Alexander’s story and to have the opportunity to share it with our community this month.
What does your company do?
The Children’s Art Workshop provides free art-based workshops and fieldtrips to local Lagosian youth from impoverished communities. We utilise the site of the Nimbus Art Gallery as a community gathering center for children in the local area to come and eat, play, dance, create, make music, design, write, perform, etc.
"Art is a healing modality that can empower the lives of marginalized African children, helping them to build a stronger sense of self as they approach adulthood, and preparing them to successfully take on the challenges facing their communities, countries, and the continent as a whole."
What inspired you to start your company?
The lack of viable, healthy, and constructive after-school and weekend activities for marginalized Lagos youth who often have only the street to play in.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
This service is for the Lagos youth community who live on the margins of the larger society, have little access to creative artistic expression, and though talented and bright, are not being afforded with basic opportunites for self-development and holistic growth. Our aim is to replicate this workshop in other communites around Lagos, throughout Nigeria, and Africa. Art is a healing modality that can empower the lives of marginalized African children, helping them to build a stronger sense of self as they approach adulthood, and preparing them to successfully take on the challenges facing their communities, countries, and the continent as a whole.
"I was raised in an entrepreneurial family where my father ran an African diaspora book publishing company. I have always been inspired by the ways one can take a passion and turn it into a service that is uplifting and prospering for self and others."
Tell us a little about your team
We are a small group of dedicated lovers of children, and of Africa, and of art. Our director, Sia Alexander-Brume, currently studying for a PhD in liberation psychology, holds a degree in child psychology from Howard and Stanford University. She was inspired to work to empower Nigerian youth after her husband died tragically in Lagos in December of 2002. Joseph Chike Nwagbogu, an alum of Prior Park College, England, is the founder of the Nimbus Art Gallery, Lagos and provides the space for the Children's Art Workshop. Under the banner of The Africa Center, Sia and Chike have hosted over the last 4 years scores of local children, free of charge. The youth members of the workshop come and enjoy creative art pursuits, healthy food, and local excursions.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I was raised in an entrepreneurial family where my father ran an African diaspora book publishing company. I have always been inspired by the ways one can take a passion and turn it into a service that is uplifting and prospering for self and others. My love for Africa has propelled me to center my passionate creativity on tangible business ventures which support African culture, youth, and families. My prior business was a skin care company using local, raw, natural materials to make pure and effective creams, oils and soap. These products were handmade by a cooperative of African women including myself, and sold in Spain, France and the U.S.
"My love for Africa has propelled me to center my passionate creativity on tangible business ventures which support African culture, youth, and families."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I envision the Children's Art Workshop as community centers across urban cities in Nigeria and all over Africa in the spirit of the YMCA in the U.S. These centers will be organizations catering to the needs of the local youth and offering them a safe, nurturing environment where they can explore and express themselves creatively and constructively, using art as a way to liberate their communities. Art, broadly defined, relates to any creative pursuit which stirs the soul, uplifts the artist and the viewer, reconstructs and deconstructs societal and conceptual limitations, and broadens the scope of human potential. Through art we aim to develop the African youth's ability to solve global as well as personal challenges.
"Through art we aim to develop the African youth's ability to solve global as well as personal challenges."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I love being able to serve and prosper humanity whilst engaging in creative work that is deeply meaningful and beautiful.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Never take no for an answer. Always look up and see your dream realized and it will surely pour out before you in due time like abundant rain.
Contact or follow The Children’s Art Workshop
Why LoA loves it....
Africa’s future depends on the ability of its children and young people to fulfill their potential and make meaningful and lasting contributions to the communities and countries in which they live. As a result, it is critical that they are given the opportunity to enjoy their childhoods, to experience the joy of artistic and creative expression, and to be in an environment which nurtures their development in all aspects of life. The passion shown by Sia Alexander and her team to make a difference to the lives of underpriviliged children in Lagos by introducing them to the joy of art and performance in a safe and nurturing environment is hugely inspiring, and will undoubtedly in turn inspire all those young people who attend the Children’s Art Workshop. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa