“Worry less about who you want to be and think more about what you want to do, because this town is full of people who want to be congressmen, or senators or presidents, and if that’s your focus, if that’s your moral compass, then you are consistently going to be making decisions solely on the basis of how do I get, for me, what I want. If you think in terms of what do I want to do, I want to solve climate change, or I want to employ disadvantaged youth. Or I want to fix a broken healthcare system, then even if you don’t get to the place you want to be or the office you wanted, during that entire time you are going to be working on stuff that’s real, and getting stuff done, and you will be able to wake up in the morning and say “well ok” I didn’t end up being a congressman, but I ended up running this not-for-profit, and I’m still responsible for getting this done because I pressured the congressman to do it, right?” -Barack Obama-
Bleck Yoro is a typical young African man that had the same vision and has been able to achieve them in his own way to bring his contribution to his society.
LadyGracious: Who is Bleck Yoro?
Bleck Yoro: I am a Young Beninese Entrepreneur, a degree holder in agronomy, preparing a Masters in Project Management. The Founder of the National Association of Students for Sexual Health (ANELS), present in Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana.
Founder of Alliage Consulting Group which offers services in the creation of enterprises and building youth capacity through training.
I am the General Secretary of the Youth Council of the US Ambassador in Benin, composed of 25 members; our role is to guide the Ambassador on actions to be taken for the youth.
LadyGracious: How has life been growing up?
Bleck Yoro: I am from a classic family, dad was a professor at the university, and mum was an agent of Benin Cement. My father was a polygamous man with 17 children of which I am the youngest, I lost my father when I was preparing for my Baccalaureate exams, it really shocked me, but I had hope because I still had my mother who encouraged me.
After secondary school, I got admission into the University, I realized that the world around me had problems, and we had to find ways to fix them, since my childhood I have always assigned myself two roles, create wealth and serve my community.When I was at the University in the first year, I founded ANELS, because of this passion one day I went to see my mother, I told her, “mom I have two major goals in life, serve my community and create wealth, I found out that it can not be learnt in school, I want to make my own experiences, and go to the school life to learn what I must know to achieve my goals. She was surprised because I was a brilliant student in school, I promised her that I would finish my studies, but I will pay my studies with the profits of the companies that I will create and the success that I have in life, and she gave me her blessings.
So I became more active in social life and entrepreneurship since 2011, and I assure you that I do not regret the path I took. This experience helped develop my skills and abilities that allow me to bring more to my community.
LadyGracious: Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur?
Bleck Yoro: Under the hat of an entrepreneur I created Alliage Consulting Group, which specializes in multiple poles, food, clothing, training, coaching and counseling, we have a unit of production of food products specifically fruit juices, jam, syrup and the likes for 3 years now, we also have the clothing line Ewou clothes, T- shirts and shirts mixed with African fabrics with the aim of clothing children in the villages with the profits made from sales, and finally we initiate trainings; Leadership Management Governance (LMG) to strengthen young students capacities to be more engaged in their societies.
LadyGracious: What social actions precisely do you engage in?
Bleck Yoro: For 7 years now we have held workshops, campaigns and more and we educated over fifty two million young people on the issue of good behavior in relation to sexual health. For me, HIV/Aids and other similar type of diseases are linked to our behaviors, and I believe that young people need to seriously consider their future. We are based in many Universities, with 19 wellness-clubs , I also participate in several forums on youth and the law, so we represent the youth in many ways and we are working to help the youths especially in remote areas.
LadyGracious: Can we say everything has been smooth and sailing?
Bleck Yoro: I categorize the difficulties i have in two categories, institutional and sociological, the environment in which we are in Benin does not favor the emergence of young leaders and entrepreneurs who want to contribute to the development of the country, I was faced with difficulties like material, financial and moral support.
When you have a dream and you tell someone who does not have the same abilities as you to achieve that dream, they tend to discourage you, I was discouraged, at first I wanted to give up, but with time I understood that as a leader ‘we must always associate a spiritual aspect to our life’, and with this faith I am able to overcome situations.
LadyGracious: So what helps you to keep on moving?
Bleck Yoro: These are the 5 attitudes that keep me going:
A) Attitude toward myself: I believe in myself, I’m exceptional, equipped with strength and extraordinary abilities to succeed.
B) Attitude toward God: My Faith and Belief in God.
C) Attitude towards others: to share love and respect.
D) Attitude towards the past: Being able to forgive the pains and hurt I felt and fix my eyes on the future.
E) Attitude towards the future: I have for hope for the future, I believe that I have a bright future.
LadyGracious: Can you tell us the difference between someone who is able to accomplish a dream and some who does not?
Bleck Yoro: He who has an idea and successfully achieves it, has a plan. This person masters the resources available to him/her and knows the level at which he is, so he defines small actions that can help him to achieve his goals.
We have great challenges, but they must be put into small pieces, it facilitates the achievement of a goal in a progressive way, when you keep that dream in one piece, sometimes you can be afraid when you see the size of the challenge.
Without a plan a dream is just a wish.Those who fail is because they lack a plan, it is a matter of vision and motivation for action.
You need to combine the vision to a motivation that will inspire you to action.
LadyGracious: What achievements of yours motivates you in life?
Bleck Yoro: My pride is in;
-The Youths that I could inspire, who had dreams without the means of accomplishment, and that I have coached and are actually achieving something
-2013 Trophy TOYP (Ten Outstanding Young People), Outstanding Young Leadership by the Junior Chamber International (JCI)
-2015 SEF Trophy(Social Entrepreneurship Fair) Best Social Enterprises / organization by Young Leaders Corporation
-2016 Fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI)
LadyGracious: What is your dream for Africa?
Bleck Yoro: To see a continent, where the son of a peasant can dream of becoming President if he is hardworking , to see that youths in remote place have access to basic resources. To see youths inspired to live a better life. And finally see youth in town or villages have the same opportunities.
All we can wish is for young men and women like Bleck Yoro to go out and make their dreams come true with the aim of making Africa a better place 🙂