Building Impact Startups

Naomi Nwokolo on Advancing Startup Impact

Naomi Nwokolo on Advancing Startup Impact

Many phrases — social developer, lawyer, human and gender rights activist, director — come to mind when you hear the name Naomi Nwokolo. She is, in fact, a potpourri of business and sustainability, and more.

As Executive Director at the United Nations Global Compact Network Nigeria,

I am big on social development and sustainability. Lately, a massive shift has occurred in how businesses now conduct their operations. Unlike previous decades, for-profit organizations are now deep into Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance impact and sustainable development. They no longer leave the responsibility to not-for-profit organizations, as businesses are finding their place in the responsibility.

Also, sustainability has grown beyond the walls of environmental issues.

It is now a way of saving the future, our future.

I focus on the “S” (of the ESG), which represents Social Norms. This choice is influenced by my passion for the respect of human rights and just institutions. I founded the Women Rights Protection and Rehabilitation Center and co-founded AOP Legal Practitioners.

The UN Global Compact is the Netflix of sustainability. We help businesses align their vision with the ten universal principles in human rights, labor, environmental, and anti-corruption.

Furthermore, we encourage business owners to take responsibility by taking action to promote the Sustainable Development Goals, in line with the twenty-one years old vision of Kofi Annan.

It will be impossible for the government to achieve the 2030 goals independently. Private businesses have contributions to make.

Organizations often want to get involved but must learn how to do so. But through the academy — Action Platforms and Global Impact Initiatives — we help businesses embed sustainability in their core operations and educate them on making the global goals their local business.


Her Spark

I consider myself a humanitarian. I don’t like to see people suffer or be bullied.

Over the years, I have learned to build capacity for whatever I am praying or hoping to get.

And that preparation is key to social development. So, when advocating for gender equality, we put plans for capacity building and mentoring.

So that when these women get roles, they can deliver a hundred percent.

It is also vital to learn from others and be confident.


On Women Empowerment

The best way to help women is to contribute to their growth of women. Supporting women contributes to the development of business and the economy.

Women bring a different spice to an organization; we bring empathy and knowledge.

The UN Global Compact is at the forefront of driving gender equality in the Nigerian corporate sector. We use our Target Gender Equality Programme to help businesses implement women empowerment principles and increase female board participation. We encourage companies to support women by removing biases that clip women’s wings.



It didn’t all start today. It started as far back as when I was practicing law as a human rights and criminal defense lawyer.

I saw to the release of over twenty innocent inmates and litigated various civil and criminal cases.

And even now as an under-30 individual, I am one of the youngest Executive

Directors of The UN Global Compact‘s 71 Local Networks (country offices) worldwide. I look forward to making more impact.



To find your spark, think about what drives you. What are the issues that will give you satisfaction in a positive light?

You will understand “The Spark” in you when you identify these. Think of yourself as a problem solver at all times.

May your spark impact the world.