Segun David Fatudimu has always wanted to change the world
January 16, 2023
Segun David Fatudimu
International doctoral fellow
Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies
Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Master of Arts, International Development and Policy, University of Chicago
Bachelor of Dental Surgery, University of Ibadan
“As I grow, I lift others. As I’m learning, I’m thinking about how I can maximize this knowledge, both by disseminating it to people who would never have the opportunity or by determining how I can do something more practical than theory."
SEGUN DAVID FATUDIMU SAYS THAT EVEN AS A YOUNG CHILD in Nigeria who had no idea where to begin, all he wanted to do was help change people’s lives.
Now an international doctoral fellow pursuing Global Studies in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies program at UBC Okanagan, Fatudimu is building off an impressive career dedicated to helping others.
Fatudimu started his career as a dentist but soon found the work had limited scope for change. To make dental practice more affordable and accessible, he and a friend began their own mobile dental clinic, which has since grown to two clinics. Building off this success and his resulting speaking work, Fatudimu organized the Securing Africa’s Future through Education conference, empowering teenagers to become leaders before they turn 18.
It was when this work grew and garnered interest from foreign organizations that Fatudimu started questioning the power dynamics in international aid. He noticed foreign donors were often interested in altering organizations’ mission or programming for their own needs, as opposed to listening to and supporting local approaches and community development organizations on the ground.
Fatudimu has probed this issue of power dynamics ever since. A Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders gave him the opportunity for additional training and networking in Washington, DC, where he was first introduced to the larger world of international development. When Fatudimu returned to Nigeria, he taught other non-profit organizations the same skills he’d acquired.
“As I grow, I lift others,” says Fatudimu. “As I’m learning, I’m thinking about how I can maximize this knowledge, both by disseminating it to people who would never have the opportunity or by determining how I can do something more practical than theory.”
In 2019, Fatudimu was selected as a prestigious Obama Foundation Scholar to study international development and public policy at the University of Chicago.
There he founded Impact Toolbox, a digital incubation platform that gives young leaders the education, connections and resources to transform their ideas for social change into viable projects. One of the ventures they nurtured was U-recycle Initiative Africa, an award-winning non-profit organization founded by then 17-year-old Oluwaseyi Moejoh that now has projects across 11 countries in Africa.
Fatudimu was ultimately inspired to pursue doctoral studies by his current advisor at UBCO, Dr. Helen Yanacopulos and her work on the intersection of theoretical and practical, on-the-ground perspectives on international development. In the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies program, he has the flexibility he craved in his master’s degree to tailor the coursework to his interests and needs. Fatudimu also appreciates the diverse perspectives within class discussions, since student backgrounds range from politics to nursing to global development.
“It’s bringing fresh air into the academic space where people who have real-life experiences and professional experiences can participate in academic discourse based on that practical perspective.”
While Fatudimu spends his weekends listening to social change pitches from young people in countries from Uganda to the Philippines, he’s also looking to give back to his new community. Recently, Impact Toolbox taught Kelowna Secondary School the digital skills needed to make a website for their non-profit thrift store, benefitting local charities.
“Kelowna is emerging,” says Fatudimu. “There are a lot of opportunities for people who are entrepreneurial-minded like me. I’m always curious about where I can help, what I can do and how can I plug in. Kelowna provides immense opportunity to be able to do that.”
In Fatudimu’s doctoral research, he draws on his practical experience in social development. Often, organizations are celebrated for their input and output, or how much money they donate and how many people that money affects. Fatudimu’s research seeks to develop better impact measurements that include the outcomes for those affected people and the impact on the larger community.
“I’m for chasing an ideal world where we don’t celebrate success based on mere input or output but based on concrete, proven socioeconomic results that actually change the lives of local people.”