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A mentoring program in Nigeria to help young people dream bigger


To encourage the local youth to see the future in a positive light, Total Nigeria Plc has developed a vibrant mentoring program that aims to help secondary school students access career paths all too often deemed out of reach. Launched in 2014, the initiative is structured around a day during which students from partner schools and the subsidiary’s staff meet to talk, share ideas and discuss career options. It is ‘a day spent at work’.

A line-up of invaluable, inspiring talks

dayo_abuja_airport_crop.jpgDayo Oluwole met the Total Nigeria teams for the first time upon organizing an anti-malaria project. The former international development student now heads up Kasher Consulting, a consultancy that specializes in implementing initiatives aimed at supporting local development. The idea of building together a new project to support young people through their career options quickly took shape. “Many state schools are lacking in resources, and their students generally come from very poor backgrounds. Their parents are mainly cleaners, nannies, or drivers. The corporate world is a complete unknown to them. When we launched the Total Job Shadow program in 2014, we wanted to show these young people that even though their futures may seem preordained, education and determination can be the keys to their success,” explains Dayo.

The program takes the shape of a day of talks and discussions between students from partner schools and Total Nigeria employees. Minibuses set off at dawn to pick-up the students. Once notebooks, pens, and bags have been handed out, it’s time to share a breakfast together. “The students exude so much energy, dressed for the occasion in flocked T-shirts emblazoned with the word ‘employable’, while the Total staff’s T-shirts say ‘employee’.” Each young person is paired with an employee, chosen based on their role. Thanks to the site tours that are organized, some set off to visit blending plants, others embark on industrial customer sites while another group learns how service stations work. “It’s a very intense and inspiring day and many of the employees keep in touch with the students even after the day is over!”, adds Dayo. The satisfaction survey conducted at the end of 2019’s session supports her feelings on the matter: 75% of the participants “agree that the program helped them reflect on their career choices”.

Education and determination can be the keys to their success. 

Dayo Oluwole

A strong partnership with schools

To roll out the scheme, Dayo and the Total team are supported by the Ministry of Education and the project’s partner schools. “We were warmly welcomed by the Ministry and were able to work very closely with them,” smiles Dayo. The schools are responsible for selecting their student participants based on academic results and motivation. They also play an active role in organizing the essay-writing competition that closes the program. “The participants have two weeks to write up a summary of what they learnt over the course of the program. Total is in charge of selecting and rewarding the best essays. Prizes are handed out to individual students during school assemblies,” explains Dayo. The winners receive as prize an educational tablet kitted out with a SIM card that gives them access to Internet and learning resources. “Each year, the program is a great success thanks to this huge joint effort! I was particularly surprised to see how actively involved the Managing Director of Total Nigeria Plc, Mr. Imrane Barry, was, attending the entire day during the 2019 edition!” notes Dayo.

We want to give the participants the keys to making informed career choices. 

Chinwe Ifechigha


A digital edition for 2020

With each new year come surprises, and 2020 was full of them! The program was modified as the “L.E.A.D Career Project”; for Learn, Experience, Articulate and Decide, to better reflect its objectives. “We want to give the participants the keys to making informed career choices”, says Chinwe Ifechigha, Head of CSR at Total Nigeria Plc. On November 12, 2020, a 100% digital edition was rolled out, through which the new class of students met with the subsidiary’s staff and external professionals. “Because of the pandemic, we took on the challenge of organizing a digital version of the program. It allowed us to award places to a larger number of participants, with over 500 students being given access to our teams’ advice and tips in a number of different fields including digital communication, science, technology, engineering and maths. It was highly interactive,” says Chinwe.

A major campaign was shared across Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, spreading awareness of the event and onboarding new partner schools.  

“With the virtual session, we were more active, involved and were able to reach more students.  In 2021, we hope to hold a session as a MOOC1 as we plan to impact thousands of Nigerian youths with the I-CAN mentality while supporting them in their career choices,” says Olubunmi Poppola Mordi (Executive GM Total Country Services in Nigeria)

The CSR team is now busy brainstorming for the 2021 edition which, if conditions permit, will be a hybrid edition, held for one part on site and another part, online. One thing is certain, expect a higher level of energy, inspiration, and enriching exchanges! 


  • - Over 500 students took part in the 2020 edition
  • - Students aged 13 to 19
  • - 30% of the 2019 cohort were girls
  • - 5 million Nairas2 = the budget for the 2019 and 2020 editions combined

1: MOOC: a course of study made available over the internet without charge to a very large number of people.

2: Appoximately 11k