Tolu is an Operations Officer (Creating Markets Advisory) at the IFC Nigeria (World Bank Group).
The MPP programme was immensely beneficial in helping me combine the theory, politics, and tools of policymaking - key elements in making governments and policies work for development. Learning with extraordinary classmates who shared their expertise, background, and culture also helped to illustrate how our varied life experiences shape our policy choices and preferences.
I chose the MPP programme because I wanted to effectively apply my experience working in both the private and public sectors and with development partners. Before joining the MPP, I first worked as an investment professional and lead research analyst in the private sector: leveraging macroeconomic, sector and markets research to unlock opportunities in the energy sector. Then I moved to the public sector as a Special Adviser to a Minister of Finance in Nigeria, where I developed and assisted in implementing federal and state-level policies, sector-level and economy-wide reforms. Moving from the private to the public sector remains one of my most challenging yet insightful career experiences because there are nuances to policymaking that are better experienced first-hand.
My most fulfilling role has been my work with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), where I have been advocating for improvements in their well-being through research, engagements to influence policies, and humanitarian support. A year before going to LSE, I put together lessons learned from my research and projects with IDPs over the years and realised that long-term humanitarian aid without an intentional move towards self-reliance would create aid dependency. So, I implemented a self-reliance pilot project at the Area 1 camp for IDPs in Abuja: combining psychosocial support and training in marketable skills as complementary components with financial and equipment grants for business start-ups.
Using information from the project, I authored a book to tell the story of IDPs and also developed a theory of change that self-reliance can act as the bridge to close the transition gap between the early phase of displacement (humanitarian aid) and sustainable solutions to rebuild their lives and leave the camps. I further developed the “transition gap” concept in my Policy Paper at the LSE, highlighting the significance of weak ties and complementarities between resources and social ties. This paper won the Lloyd Gruber Prize for the Best Policy Paper in the SPP.
After graduating from the LSE, I shared lessons learned about closing the transition gap in a guest blog with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and created a short documentary demonstrating the challenges of living in displacement and highlighting the impact of self-reliance. This documentary has received its first Official Selection at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival in 2022.
I also published articles discussing global policy issues, including the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines, and how privilege in policymaking can deepen inequality.
Humanity remains at the heart of many policy issues that we face, and we should never lose sight of that. I want to be remembered for how my contributions have made a positive impact on humanity.
Toluwalola is happy to connect via LinkedIn.