Social enterprise shines light on Nigeria’s street kids in dark days of pandemic

Social enterprise shines light on Nigeria’s street kids in dark days of pandemic

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

How one social enterprise is working to protect and support street children in Africa as stigma, a broken system and a global pandemic puts them at risk

LAGOS, Nigeria, June 15, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- As the sun rises over deserted streets, a group of volunteers prepares for their day. For a few hours – from late morning until curfews are enforced in the late afternoon – the volunteers will work to support one of the most vulnerable and often-forgotten communities in Africa’s most populous country. 

“Being on the street is already traumatic,” says James Okina, founder at Street Priests, a social enterprise born from Okina’s own experience as an at-risk youth living on the dangerous streets of Nigeria’s urban landscapes. “Now, with COVID-19, there is also the added fear and pressure of a health emergency and a strict lockdown enforced by police and military forces, which is putting severe pressure on this vulnerable group.”

Street Priests was founded in 2014 by then-15 year-old Okina in the southern city of Calabar, near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. The organisation operates on the belief that “If each one reaches one, together we would reach all”, relying on a highly-motivated group of more than 150 on-the-ground volunteers and local and international backers.

“We felt it was important that everyday people take up the responsibility of solving the pressing social issues in our country, in this case the plight of street children, who remain persecuted and neglected by state and other institutions,” says Okina. “Our work has taken on even greater significance during this time when countries are on lockdown and the most vulnerable – including street children – are at even higher risk due to COVID-19.”

Support, hope for those left behind

Nigeria has an estimated 8.6 million children living on its streets, with more than 10 million not attending school – the highest rate worldwide. Widely rejected and vilified by Nigerian society and state authorities, many street kids turn to a life of crime to survive.

One of the major interventions that Street Priests aim to achieve is to break the cycle of violence that often traps street children in a life of crime. “We do this by meeting kids half-way, engaging with them on their terms, and giving them opportunities to explore what it would be like to reintegrate into society,” explains Florence Louis, Director of Administration at Street Priests. “The approach has proven effective: nearly 10% of the kids we engage have returned home or gone back to school, and one recently completed their entry exam and will be attending university in the new year.”

Before the coronavirus made its way to Nigeria’s cities, Street Priests were able to centralise outreach via a community centre owned and operated by Street Priests. “Our Excellence Centre offered a safe place for street children to gather, learn, play and interact with our volunteers and mentors,” says Louis. “We were serving nearly 500 kids a month and providing social and emotional learning support. Unfortunately, when our government enacted a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, we had to close the centre, cutting off vital support to street kids when they arguably need it most.”

This sudden closing has had a distinct impact on Street Priests’ ability to continue its work. According to Hanson Hanson, Programs Director at Street Priests, volunteers currently have to travel to where street kids gather to hand out essential supplies – such as food and personal protective equipment – that may help keep them safe from the worst of the pandemic.

“With lockdown measures in place, this unfortunately means we have to pass some police and military checkpoints, which adds another layer of danger and uncertainty to an already-tense situation,” explains Hanson. “However, our volunteers have continued their outreach for more than 11 weeks, working across Calabar to directly reach out, engage with and support kids living on the streets. Ultimately, we want to instil confidence in these kids and inspire them to become beneficial to the societies in which they live.”

Scaling up for greater social impact

With an approach that works, Street Priests’ next challenge is to expand the organisation’s work to more kids in Nigeria – and other parts of the world. To do so, the organisation requires corporate support.

In 2019, SAP Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Alex van der Ploeg and the We Are Family Foundation invited Okina to the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa as one of ten young African leaders. Since then, SAP has connected Okina and his team to experts, mentors and financial relief, both before Covid-19 and as part of SAP’s global relief fund which was launched in response to the pandemic.

Okina says this type of support from the private sector is essential to Street Priests’ efforts to scale outreach to more kids in Nigeria as well as other countries with large populations of street children. “The process of building direct relationships with street kids and inspiring them to pursue lives of purpose has proven to work. We now need the financial and human resources to allow us to apply the model in other markets, for example Latin America, where millions of children live on the streets.”

Although the sheer number of street children living in Africa and elsewhere may seem overwhelming, Okina believes it’s only by acknowledging the scale of the problem and pulling in as many likeminded partners as possible that any meaningful progress can be made. “Simply put, if you really care about this you are bound to feel overwhelmed. However, if each of us takes on the role of a ‘street priest’ and makes a necessary contribution where we are, the problem is far more likely to be addressed, to the benefit of both the street children and the communities in which they live.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

For more information about Street Priests, please visit

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @SAPNews.

About SAP

As the Experience Company powered by the Intelligent Enterprise, SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAPÂź system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. We simplify technology for companies so they can consume our software the way they want – without disruption. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables more than 440,000 business and public customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit

About Elephants, Rhinos & People

Elephants, Rhinos & People (ERP) was founded to preserve and protect Southern Africa’s wild elephants and rhinos through a strategy based on rural poverty alleviation. In order to accomplish its mission, ERP carefully selects projects based on their potential to create economic engines for impoverished rural communities in areas adjacent to threatened elephant and rhino populations. Armed with an Ashoka-accredited poverty alleviation model, and by having a multifaceted team positioned to tackle poverty, ERP is able to address the welfare of elephants and rhinos in an unusual but effective manner. ERP brings over 20 years of experience in community relations, poverty alleviation, and impact investment in infrastructure, so as to achieve sustainable, non-lethal wildlife conservation. ERP’s parent company,, donates 1% of its revenues to cover all of ERP’s operational expenses, and to fund projects. Drawing on the resources in, we have expertise in building partnerships, executing projects and growing economic wealth, and we apply these skills to the achieve ERP’s objectives.

                                                       # # #

Any statements contained in this document that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “should” and “will” and similar expressions as they relate to SAP are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. SAP undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations. The factors that could affect SAP’s future financial results are discussed more fully in SAP’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including SAP’s most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of their dates.

© 2019 SAP SE. All rights reserved.

SAP and other SAP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE in Germany and other countries. Please see for additional trademark information and notices.

Note to editors:
To preview and download broadcast-standard stock footage and press photos digitally, please visit On this platform, you can find high resolution material for your media channels. To view video stories on diverse topics, visit From this site, you can embed videos into your own Web pages, share video via email links, and subscribe to RSS feeds from SAP TV.

For customers interested in learning more about SAP products: 
Global Customer Center: +49 180 534-34-24
United States Only: 1 (800) 872-1SAP (1-800-872-1727)

For more information, press only:
Delia Sieff, SAP Africa, +27 (11) 235 6000, 
Adam Hunter, SAP Africa, +27 (711) 787 035,

You might also enjoy

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Conférence de Presse en Ligne

Les frontiĂšres terrestres ne doivent pas constituer des obstacles Ă  la dissĂ©mination de votre message. GrĂące Ă  notre service de confĂ©rence de presse en ligne, nous vous offrons l’opportunitĂ© de vous rapprocher des mĂ©dias africains, chaque fois que vous en aurez besoin.​

Nos services comprennent:​



Digital Communications

Today, social networks constitute an organization’s first point of contact with a user and a potential customer. At first glance, you need to convince of the relevance and quality of your content to stimulate and motivate the user to go further. We create consistently inspiring online strategy to meet business objectives, engage stakeholders and enhance our client brand’s reputation internally and externally.​


Communication​ digitale

Les rĂ©seaux sociaux reprĂ©sentent aujourd’hui le premier point de contact d’une organisation avec un utilisateur et un client potentiel. Au premier coup d’Ɠil, vous devez le convaincre de la pertinence et de la qualitĂ© de votre contenu pour l’inciter Ă  aller plus loin. Nous crĂ©ons pour vous une stratĂ©gie de communication prĂ©cise et adaptĂ©e sur les rĂ©seaux sociaux pour atteindre les objectifs commerciaux, impliquer les parties prenantes et amĂ©liorer la rĂ©putation de votre marque en interne et en externe.​

Promotion​ d’Ă©vĂ©nements

Le succĂšs d’un Ă©vĂ©nement rĂ©side en moitiĂ© dans sa promotion. Peu importe la beautĂ© de l’évĂ©nement, la qualitĂ© des orateurs et de l’ordre du jour, si personne ne rapporte ou ne parle de votre Ă©vĂ©nement, vos efforts seront vains. Nous vous aidons Ă  façonner votre rĂ©cit et Ă  crĂ©er un engouement autour de votre Ă©vĂ©nement. De l’annonce de l’Ă©vĂ©nement Ă  la tenue de celui-ci, nous accompagnons votre effort de planification et le reflĂ©tons sur toutes les plateformes mĂ©diatiques.​

Formation​ MĂ©diatique

Nous fournissons Ă  vos porte-paroles les outils nĂ©cessaires pour prĂ©senter vos principaux messages et rĂ©pondre avec confiance et cohĂ©rence aux questions. Notre formation est organisĂ©e soit Ă  distance ou en prĂ©sentiel, avec des Ă©tudes de cas rĂ©els et des rĂ©pĂ©titions. Nos clients repartent avec le sentiment d’ĂȘtre Ă  l’aise devant les journalistes et d’agir en tant qu’ambassadeurs de la marque.​

Veille​ MĂ©diatique

Nous mesurons votre portĂ©e en relations publiques et rendons compte des informations de votre industrie et des activitĂ©s de vos  concurrents en surveillant la majoritĂ© des canaux de diffusion dans toute l’Afrique. Une veille mĂ©diatique complĂšte et opportune est essentielle pour s’assurer que vous ne manquez aucune rĂ©fĂ©rence Ă  votre marque, que vous ĂȘtes constamment informĂ© de ce qui se passe dans votre industrie et que vous ĂȘtes prĂȘt Ă  saisir les opportunitĂ©s et Ă  rĂ©duire les risques en temps opportun.​

Relations​ MĂ©dia

Peu importe le lieu oĂč ils se trouvent, nous sommes une source d‘informations fiables pour les journalistes qui Ă©crivent sur l’Afrique. Nous nous connaissons mutuellement et ils nous font confiance, car nous leur fournissons un contenu crĂ©dible qui les aide dans leurs tĂąches. Nous nous entretenons quotidiennement avec des journalistes aux quatre coins du continent, ce qui fait de nous l’un des organismes les plus efficaces pour mener des campagnes de relations avec les mĂ©dias.

Stratégie et développement de contenu

Nous crĂ©ons des stratĂ©gies de communication intelligentes, bien documentĂ©es et spĂ©cialisĂ©es destinĂ©es Ă  vous aider Ă  construire un rĂ©cit fort qui engagera votre audience. Nous travaillons en synergie avec vous afin de rĂ©diger des communiquĂ©s de presse et des articles d’opinions qui alimentent le rĂ©cit de votre entreprise. Notre Ă©quipe a une expĂ©rience approfondie dans la crĂ©ation de rĂ©cits et le dĂ©veloppement de contenu multimĂ©dia.


C’est le service phare d’AMA. Nous avons mis en place des canaux de diffusion des communiquĂ©s de presse auprĂšs des journalistes des 54 États africains ainsi qu’auprĂšs des journalistes amĂ©ricains et europĂ©ens couvrant les sujets relatifs aux marchĂ©s Ă©mergents.​

​Nos services comprennent:​



Event Promotion

Half of the success of an event lays in its promotion. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the event is, how wonderful the speakers and the agenda are, if no one reports or talks about your event, your efforts are gone. We help you shape the narrative and create a drumbeat around your event. From the announce all the way to the outcome of the event, we accompany your planning effort and echo it through all media platforms

Media Training

We provide your spokespeople with the tools to present your key messages and answer questions with confidence and coherence. Our training is organised either remotely or face-to- face, with real case studies and rehearsals. Our clients leave feeling comfortable being in front of reporters and acting as brand ambassadors.

Media Monitoring

We measure and report on
your PR reach, industry news, and competitive activity by monitoring most channels in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Comprehensive and timely media monitoring is critical to ensuring that you don’t miss any reporting of your brand,
you’re constantly informed on what’s going on around your business, and you’re ready to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate
risks in a timely fashion..

Media Relations

We have become an authoritative source of news for reporters writing about Africa, wherever they are. We know them, they know us, and they trust us for providing them with timely and accurate content that helps them do their job. We speak to reporters on a daily basis in all corners of the continent and this makes us one of the most effective agencies in running media relations campaigns.

Strategy & Content Development

We create smart and localised communications strategies to help build a strong narrative that will engage your audiences. We partner with you to create press releases and thought leadership pieces that sustain a drumbeat for your company’s narrative. Our team have deep experience in shaping narratives and developing media content.


This is AMA’s flagship service. We have set up channels of distribution towards the journalists of the 54 African states, as well as to American journalists and European journalists covering emerging markets issues.
Our service includes:

Editorial advice

Localised editorial piece when needed

Distribution to the major print, broadcast and online publications along with industry-specific publications

Follow-up calls to secure interview request

Guaranteed distribution to

Distribution to Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters

Social Media Reach: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

Full online monitoring and print monitoring when available. Includesreadership stats and Advertising Value Equivalent

Translation in French, Arabic and Portuguese available