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 Members of the growing and influential movement of social entrepreneurs and innovators, Catalyst 2030, will gather with world leaders during Catalysing Change Week 2022 in answer to the universal call to find bold new strategies to make the world a more sustainable and fairer place for everyone.

Launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2020, Catalyst 2030 comprises more than 1,500 people and organisations who are active in over 180 countries and who directly reach an estimated two billion people

For five days from 9-13 May 2022, you will have the opportunity to join millions of people across the world at Catalyst 2030’s Catalysing Change Week (CCW). CCW2022 offers the unique opportunity to engage with the world’s most innovative changemakers as they collaborate, co-create and share best practices.

The week-long event is open to everyone who is interested in learning about the growing Catalyst 2030 movement, its work and successes in tackling the root of some of the world’s most difficult challenges, as it seeks to accelerate attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Journalist and Founder of Rubies Ink Initiative, Esther Ijewere, will be hosting the virtual zoom session on Media and Public Policy session on the 11th of May. The session kicks off by 9.30am WAT, and 10.30 CEST.

The speakers​ for the session​ are; Gusi Tobby Lordwilliams of Girl Hub Africa, Senior Software Analyst, and Mental Health Advocate; Larmmy O​g​idan-Odeseye, Journalist and Co-founder; The Gender Initiative ; Ruth Atim, and Communications expert; Rafiat Atanda.

“With over 250 sessions and activities between 9th to 13th of May​​ globally, it is a privilege to be hosting one and bringing such a crucial conversation to the front burner, as it relates to SDGs 3, 5, and 8”, Esther Ijewere said.

Jeroo Billimoria, Catalyst 2030 spokesperson and one of the movement’s co-founders said the event provided a crucial platform for the social innovation community and world leaders to brainstorm and collaborate to explore solutions to these challenges.

“Time is simply not on our side and people are suffering unnecessarily as the UN’s 2030 deadline to meet the SDGs looms. We need to make the most of every opportunity to work together towards making our collective dream of a better world for all people a reality,” Bilimoria said.

“We are excited that Catalysing Change Week 2022 will again bring together a diverse group of experts, social innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders from the private sector and government.  In a spirit of true collaboration we will listen deeply to understand the challenges and collaborate as never before to change the world for the better. Some of the problems that will be tackled include poverty, disease, food security and the pervasive global lack of access to basic services like health and education. Participants will tap into the collective wisdom around systems change while forging partnerships across countries, regions and sectors,” Billimoria said.

We invite the media and general public to join this panel session aimed at highlighting the role of the press and policy makers.

Please register to attend​ the Media and Public Policy  session​ with this link;  https://t.co/rmMhp3ECB1

Register for other Catalyst session​s​ here; https://catalysingchangeweek.catalyst2030.net/events/

​Read more about Cataylst 2030 here; ​https://catalysingchangeweek.catalyst2030.net/about/

Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode is a criminal justice psychologist and prominent child rights, activist. She is the Executive Director of Media Concern for Women and Children Initiative (MEDIACON), a non-profit organisation listed by the UNDP, which works with child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.  

Dr. Princess is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape, who has transformed to become a conqueror and fountain of succour for not only child victims but adult survivors as well. Started the first rape crisis centre in Nigeria in 2005 and reached hundreds of thousands of child victims, their families, and adult survivors of sexual violence. She shares her inspiring story and the inspiration behind her upcoming boot camp with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

OK about my childhood, looking back I will say yes but if I was asked this question maybe like 20 years ago, I would have said NO.  Looking back from where I am now in my life, I would say my experiences as a child prepared me for today. My parents were expecting a boy, and I arrived a girl.  I started in life proving that I am good enough to fill the boy space, and this put an extra push on me. That’s the same way I’ve committed myself to whatever it is I get into, I put myself into…

When I sit back and put on the 3D glasses, looking back, my life and the different experiences I had, yeah, I will say yes. My fighting spirit and ability to focus at one thing at a time were qualities I acquired. Looking through attending a private school, leaving at Primary to join a public school. So, you can see my experiences vary across class.  I experienced all this child I can understand someone from that background, I could really blend into various class sets. This is making made me smile… I was arrogantly stubborn and heady. Imagine me at 15 telling my father that he should focus on his other children, I will sort myself. You are self-made man; I will be a self-made woman. I’ve always been a fighter and that’s what I’m still doing. I stood up for the hurting, wounded, cheated even to my detriment as a child. I never liked injustice.

Inspiration behind  Media Concern Initiative

Starting Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon) has nothing to do with my being a survivor.  I was working with The Punch Newspaper and managing two pages focusing on woman. I avoided doing the regular focus of most women’s section – make-u, fashion, parenting for mothers (lol), cooking, you know home front issues and about how women should do better.  I did differently – having two full pages per week. I began to raise social issues and one of them was on Child Sexual Abuse – no one was talking about abuse. This invisible Tsunami was totally ignored as a nation. The response across the nation was huge. Adults from all six Geo=political zones in Nigeria responded. Over 1000 responses received through the newspapers Private Mail Bag and email. we had bold the private meal bags and middle course my first email was opened for me because My first email address was opened for me in The Punch. The column was ‘Princess’ was my name, so I had to use my second name Modupe Kayode. The response from adult survivors, I think more than 65% were men, women were about 35%. It was scary to see the pain, wounded and still suffering at what they had no control over what happened to you as a child, and the experience (s) still has gigantic impact and influence on adult survivors lives for worse. MediaCon was birthed as a name based of my publishing the issues around Child Sexual Abuse. I left the Punch, joined Journalist against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria, and worked in media advocacy and activism for two years. MediaCon continued its work on low key, educating teens in my living room for those years.

In 2002, I felt really bored at work. I had attained the height of my work and had no more challenges. I strive on challenges. I just needed something else excites me it was no longer exciting, and I didn’t just want to resign, without having something definite. I started feeling like it was time to move on. So, I sought God’s face on What Next? I waited for my church’s end of year event – Shiloh 2002, and I got my answer – Sexuality Minister, between God and I. The answer was the last thing I wanted in my life. Though this affirmed I couldn’t have come up with it myself… I never really imagined that I would have anything to do with the three-letter word – SEX. My personal experience with the word was not encouraging at all. It is like having to live through all my worst experiences again.

Finally, I succumbed and accepted my faith gladly. Then I decided if this the way to go, how best am I going to do it? Then plunged into research. What has been happening in Nigeria? What are they doing? Who was doing what around sexuality? What did they focus on and how? After visiting some organisations, apart from online searches, articles, abstract, reports, etc. I   concluded to settle the organisation’s focus on the Child Sexual Abuse

During the preparation stage, we were working at the back-end strategizing, when I received a call. Till this day, I have no idea who gave the parent of an eight-year-old, who had been sexually abused girl my mobile number. We had to step out much earlier than anticipated.

Very few people knew I was doing this. There was no official announcement yet. The parents of the little girl were both police officers.  This little girl could barely walk properly. She had an infection; part of the presentation was the migration of pin worms into vaginal area.  A doctor joined us in research. I found a Professor, back then he was a doctor – Sunday Idemudia of the University of Ibadan. He was invited to participate in the very first Media Roundtable organised by MediaCon to hold on this topic. That was with the beginning of media roundtables. She (the little girl) ignited my action button, boosted my passion, and heralded the fountain of inspiration. First it was God, you know and then, also the reality of seeing a little girl, who couldn’t walk properly, infected because of sexual abuse by very close family acquaintance – the son of the girl’s Godparents who at that time was a law undergraduate in a State University in 2003.

Together with an awesome take off crew, in addition was collective inspiration. I can’t even make claim to it. The appearance of that family and the timing ascertained we were the right path that and so that was it and there was no stopping us.

Being A Survivor Of Rape And Child Sexual Abuse, And My Healing Process

Hmmm… My healing is all together another phase of my life.

I never shared my sexual abuse experiences with anyone growing up. Though my parents did discover one – he was actually caught in the act- a paternal uncle. l lived with pain that , was that all my father and mother could do to protect me. Back then, my dad told my mum to “…take your daughter and go clean her.” Looking back now, I can see why he called me names most of my childhood. Interestingly enough, I have never seen the part of it, until answering these questions. My dad called me , Ashewo.” It never really bothered me. I never opened up about any experience before or after that.

I started research on Satan and Sex, this was one of the ways to deal with the issue. I enjoyed majority of the consequences of sexually abuse and this I got  to know from researched from mainly the United States. Yet I was born and live in Nigeria.

When my purpose was realigned to help save others, bring hope, healing, and justice… Working with other survivors, working with perpetrators, attending, and participating in strategic events and  self-development programmes. Connecting with therapists, and most of all my faith I God. I began to heal…It is still an ongoing process. You just get better, stronger, forgive and forget.

I fought a long battle. My work at MediaCon also helped.

I still believe that it takes God to heal from these experiences, but therapy is necessary.

Wearing Multiple Hats And Staying Grounded

Indeed, I do wear many hats … uuummm and it can be scary too, even for me…. because there are times when I want to answer what is it, I do, and it’s like bragging … you know, and this never ever my intention.

Sometimes you see me in a particular programme with a title, and then in another programme or event, and I have another title. That’s because I wear multiple hats.

My work in MediaCon is exposed me to many skills, aside the ones I had when starting the organization. My background is writing. I just loved to write, This I noticed in secondary school. Also, I wrote a lot of poems. I was known to do the best love prose… I was not business like, otherwise, all the free write ups should have earned me a fee. Maybe even make a lot … lol…

So here I am coming into this work, of course I had a little background in journalism and so here I am facing this new assignment, I don’t know anything apart from researches, studies, and my experiences as a child victim, and survivor. I didn’t really study journalism, until much later.  just you so you know, I can align with a lot of things. Being a learner and knowing how to ask questions from various angles was helpful and so we continue to work and began to fill the gaps and lapses that we had in terms of skill in terms of qualifications. So much more for me was skill actually and together with my staff, we began to build capacity. Apart from working with the Media to keep this subject in the fore.

My personal capacity grew – as I became a Certified Forensic Interviewer, Trauma Management Counsellor, with criminal justice psychology background. You know just different things, looking at the gaps that we needed to fill up, to enable us to do and give the best. I sought to be on top of the work – Got more training on Crisis Centers Structures, work, and the intervention with survivors; Victim Advocacy; STEPS Counselling Therapy & Treatment; Working with children and teenagers on inappropriate sexual behavior. I was just on a learning spree, with placed me and staff capacity was also being built…

I did a lot of training and have a lot of certifications. I am a Master Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, did Family Systems Engineering; moved to take on How To Think courses. Just empowering myself you know, a Premium Sexuality educator you know and a SGBV response expert, a Child protection and safeguarding policy and procedure strategist. I do consulting in that area I help schools and organizations develop their living and workable child protection and safeguarding policy and procedures. I do forensic interviewing and child interviewing, not interrogation trainings. I love my hats. Like you said I wear quite a lot and how do I manage.  When I was starting out, my husband was supportive. He encouraged me. There were times where, I got to work and will be informed I was traveling same day. When I want to refuse, he’ll say don’t worry. Imagine, I had a wardrobe at work. Yes. With my husband’s permission of course. He encouraged me and kept the Homefront going. Of course, my older children were part of my support system, and my faith in God. They were awesome. They allow my spread my wings.

Nearly 20 years plus in this work, I don’t play with self-care now. Back in the days, even when I do understand self-care, it was something that I made sure my staff and I do. When I noticed they are fatigue, we could shut down the office and just go to the beach and go to the cinema. I couldn’t bear them drained, particularly when they will refuse to take time off. That bunch… lol Watching them and seeing them drained. So much to do, being the foremost organization on prevention and providing crisis response back in the days – opening the first rape crisis center in the country and attending to not just Lagos, but the nation was a lot. Also, I am privileged to have a lot of good people around me um who took me in, some as my mentors and some mentees and lot of sisters from this work.

Lastly, if you know me, I know how to play.  I play a lot and I dance.  I watch movies and play my Candy Crush.  I love dancing and playing with my grandsons. I have three now.

I used to carry work home but that changed a long time back now. I arrive home from work, fling my shoes, start pulling off work clothing and right back on my laptop or attending to the 24hr helpline. That had to stop. Work time, family time. there must be boundaries.

Presently, it is like I’m detached, that’s because I’m no longer emotional about issues. I do empathize. I’m just not into sentiments. The Nigerian factor… I listen but I’m not going to jump straight out… you know when somebody has a case of domestic violence or something like this you see everybody come but that wasn’t me before. I’m calm now, objective about what exactly needs to be done about this issue. It’s not only jumping up and down

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

It will be bureaucracy.  Emergency was not a word that received attention as it should. This put a lot of burden, as child protection and safeguarding issues required on the go. You must submit a letter, which will go through many desks before action can be taken. Sometimes, more danger or even loss of life or family, sometimes, key witness has been taken out of state.

This is no longer the picture, but a lot still needs to be done.  The lack of understanding of the dynamics of child sexual abuse, our laws, multisectoral sector and implementation was a challenge. Because I have been researching on this topic a long time, I understood the law, the legal aspects and law enforcement. It was very frustrating that we had to be filling the gaps at different crossroad. Filling gaps with capacity building of staff both locally and internationally.  Oh my God, one of the greatest things MediaCon enjoyed was that we had awesome funding partners, they wanted to see us grow.

Another challenge was crisis management. It is great to note that there was no funding for crisis management. Crisis management took the magnitude of money. When a case is reported, the organisation bears the cost of logistics for the case – provide transportation for the family involved, food for the family involved, medical, etc. MediaCon relocated five families completely for their safety and most of all for the wellbeing of the children in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. The families got rented self-contained apartments, secured to avoid access to the children. I mean gate and basic furnishing to comfortable living standard. Mothers were set up in businesses and school fees are paid for the children. Organisations like ours must be the ones who bear the financial brunt to enable us assist child victims, their families, and survivors with very lean resources. The criminal justice system was not encouraging back in the days, we had a case of a girl who was four when she was defiled, at nearly 12 or 13 years old, we got conviction, after incessant adjournments…

Then investigation, there were lots of bottle necks, there’s so many things we did, such as actually undertake brief investigation, before writing a petition – this happened around 2003-2005. Back in the days, police didn’t work so well with state social workers, this affected children, who needed protection, MediaCon was able to bridge this gap.  Pornography was easily accessible to children, sold on the streets for as cheap as a hundred Naira, child sexual abuse reports were increasing daily. MediaCon and our Children Advisory Board members together with the Ministry of Women Affairs and State Children Parliament acquired over 1000 children appended their signatures to a Save Our Soul (SOS) document delivered to the Stae House of Assembly Speaker and top representatives in 2007.

I brought cases home, working with the Ministries, girls were taken into my home. My family was targeted, to the point we had to relocate within Lagos leaving our property behind. Our lives, that of my staff were in danger many times over. Who would keep us safe? International community supported our relocation. Our office was burgled, only the crisis management laptop was stolen. The attacks were clearly case related… Keeping us safe became a challenging.

Family and so ictal intrusions based on myths, and the devil was a were also a challenge. Knowing the subject of our work – children were mostly abused. More than once, men of God came to my office to plead for an adult sexual molester – telling me how this person has changed their ways and the devil was responsible. Of course, they were arrested right in my office by plain cloth Police Officers – Area G Commander worked so well with us in that regard. The understanding of the society was a huge challenge – lots of interference in the cases. We kept putting up educational, sensitization and Enlightment programmes and materials across 5 languages – Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, English and Pidgin English.

My Upcoming Boot Camp On How To Start Sex Education With Children

About, the boot camp programme- It is about how to start and keep the sex with your children going. This course was first introduced in 2016, on Teachable.com platform and over 250 parents trained. I was just testing the market and it was free. Over the years, more parents and care givers have taken the course and paid for. However, for the first time in this training programme, other experts are joining us.

 We shall be looking at emotional intelligence for the sexuality education talks and looking at how to keep your mental health in check – you know the culture of the generation we are in is quite different from that of parents and adults. We are delving also, on how to think – critical thinking and on the spot thinking when it comes to issues of your children and of course of sexuality and different things that are around us.

In addition, family life as we know it, is not the same. You know deep down that as parents you are not really prepared to even face or acknowledge them. Family cultures, values and beliefs need to be revisited; we have an expert to help us in this terrain.

We shall also looking at inappropriate sexual behavior. One thing of parents shies away from – not wanting to accept your child is misbehaving and for some unconscious labeling and dumping the responsibility as that of the devil, the woman in the village, village people, the mother or siter in law who doesn’t like you, etc.… So, cover them.

 I know that most parents want what is good, even best for their children and must be able to make sure there is balance. Unconsciously too sometimes, parents are the ones, even creating the damage. When you do not know when to draw the line.  The Bootcamp will take incognizance the recent happenings and putting a searchlight at real of things happening around us as regards the sexuality culture of today, and how as parents you can position yourself to do good, better, and even great.

I remember back in the early days of media con talking about 2004 and 2005, there came the era of recording gang rape, recording on mobile phone and sharing – some went viral… It was like teens started creating their own porn. They rape, gang-rape, sexually assault a girl, record the girl and themselves, but without the faces of the boys – show everything that occurred and share it, sheer wickedness. So, we have seen quite a lot and It was horrible. These are our sons living double lives. So many girls were tortured and humiliated. Some will never know how far the video recordings reached.

MediaCon was able to trace some of these girls, got the girls and arrest were made, but they were too much…

 As a person who is very involved in the sector, I’m talking about the child sexual abuse prevention and crisis provision sector, we saw as children to children begin to escalate. Most people assume that sexual abuse can only be committed by an adult. That is what we are used to in the news, but we are finding quite a lot of inappropriate sexual behavior and activities between children. Also, we began to see that children were being convicted on rape cases as adults this happened in United States of America. Quite a lot because we’re monitoring global happenings. Child to Child has been around for a while and has been escalating since then as far back as 2001, escalated about 2012. An example of sexually assaulting rape and video taking was the famous case of the Steubenville High School back in 2012.

Attending this Bootcamp is a parent’s game up…  yes, you’ve just got to game up… no more excuses… The church is not responsible to teach your child, the Islamic educators are not, even to an extent, it’s not the schools responsibility.

Yes, there are some arguments about what the content of school-based sexuality education must consist off… I am in support – what is it appropriate and what is not…

You must understand how you to develop your family safety plan and a lot more that you will get introduced to other things that will be very helpful for your children. So, it’s a course you must not miss, and like I said many experts are going to be a part of it. It takes place from May 1st – 8th

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

 A chance to see there’s a woman and child safe. There’s a home to keep safe.  Living… really for me is saving life – one life at a time.  I love my work. I must say to you, I live by giving hope. I live by providing healing. You know so that’s just what yeah in I breathe every day of my life. I just want to give hope to people and bring healing. I live my work because it gets me to play that role, I love children … This comes naturally to me… Everywhere I go, children are drawn to me everywhere I go in the world … At the airport, you see children drawn to me… It’s interesting that some parents try to keep them back. I’ll plead them that it is okay, leave them. I’m not surprise that I end up working for them and with them. I love it because my experiences tend to give deeper insight into some things. Growing in the work also has given me working experience, which has been quite helpful.

 I love my work I could just wake me up from my sleep anytime, and I’ll jump into effortlessly. I found what I could do for free and get paid for. It is like playing just myself enjoying myself enjoying my time you know giving into a life really meaning.  it’s just so beautiful to be able to do that and when I work with a team, I mean that’s family for me. I have that family culture everybody comes in with one so we can work together. I see you I can talk to you and I’m just grateful for my life, I am grateful to have work and still working with awesome individuals.  Yeah, we have differences, but I love what I do and I’m in it.  if I’m doing anything I mean to it I mean I give it my whole …my ALL

Government And Support For Stakeholders In The Gender-Based Violence Sector

As someone who works in the SGBV sector, the government plays the major role to keep her citizens safe. Provide succour to the wounded, afflicted, and abused, etc.  what can I say…hmmm from when we started back, it’s a bit better NOW… it is better though some of the battles are still the same.  but look at the long journey back and over 20 years, we need to come up as a country with a very comprehensive crisis provision. Crisis provision includes prevention.

We need to set aside and add to country and state budgets – support for stakeholders at the different levels.

Empowering of Criminal justice sector officials and maintain continuous training and retraining by updating and reviewing and working together to discover what would work for us as much as we look at ours and others best practices.

We are far better than where we are coming from… Yet, the hurdles on the pathway to giving optimal care and services still exist. It is no joke really. Crisis response is about life and death sometimes. With a population of over 200 million, we have less than 20 functional shelters. Medicals, Therapy, Relocation, if need be. It is private organisation bearing the cost – that should be government provision. And people should stop believing that NGOs is all about collecting foreign funds. There are people and organisations working tirelessly, even some government MDAs (Ministry, Departments and Agencies). We make laws, and implementation and education of the society to the laws is still a struggle.  The VAPP Act is still crawling – more than 20 states have enacted at State level. Certain laws need to be reviewed and amended.

Shelters are overburdened and there is no financial support, we’ve got to come to accept the reality – you want women to leave abusive homes for where? Yes, shelters are temporary! A woman has finally taken the bold step to walk out of her situation, is a person ready to walk on water. They need more than just shelter, their psychological and mental state requires to access therapy. Most do not get that at all

As a country, and as a government, what are we doing to help to make sure that it’s not just going to a shelter but that you’re going through all the comprehensive care needed before reintegrating into society.

I remember in the early days with we worked with The Real Woman Foundation, they started working with sex workers. They had a home (Still have) supporting rehabilitation and reintegration for those who wanted out. We happen to have a teenage call retrieved from sex work. They offered a comprehensive program – taking each person through group and individual therapy, spiritual program, medical and physical health, and skill acquisition or back to school program. They built capacity before they are reintegrated into society. What I am saying, is for the government to go back to the drawing board and put a budget heading to support SGBV related programmes.

Resources need to spread across board, our legislators, presidency, vice, house of rep’s members, state house of assemblies, councilors- we need to reduce the pay. We need to go too far on where to find resources. How important sis the lives of the women and children of this nation? That is the question they need to answer truthfully.  Enough of collection of heavy salaries and benefits – our people are dying. Nigeria has got to commit money into supporting and providing support for civil society. The few individual homes need to be supported. There needs to be a sit down on the way forward

We are too dependent on international aids. We need to be less dependent on international funding. Where are our philanthropists. Let them arise to put their money where their mouth is. This is not saying Nigerians are not supporting, but it’s like trickle of water in a vast ocean of chaos.

Not all NGOs are syphoning funds, there are organisations tirelessly working hard. It’s time to wake up and put our money where our mouth is.

Governments need to evaluate what they are doing, bring in the academia to work with the civil society and government MDAs to do researches. Let’s create programme that are based on evidence.

 Three women who inspire me  and why

Number one on my list is Lisa Nicholas. The breakthrough specialist. Who lost everything … really had nothing except $12 to her name, a toddler son, homeless and hit Ground Zero. She found her voice, She found her feet, is a blessing globally, changing lives and finally found love too… It’s like a fairy tale too.  I see me scaling… as my life experiences have taken me on similar path. I see the glory… Bearer of Hope and Healing…

Number two, Oprah Winfrey. Born into poverty, experienced multiple child sexual abuse molestations. She rose above al odds. Got into media and rose to become a top talk show hostess, left to start of her own company. She doesn’t only know the onions of talk show, she explored acting and has starred in multiple movies. She runs her own charity that she funds. She is a global influencer. She does a lot to move women forward. She is an inspiration.

Lastly, Diana Ross… This lady still gets me having goose pimples on my skin, when I think of the iconic lady. I love her tenacity, ability to always look sleek. and remaining a legend. Also, how she kept her family private in her kind of world.

What We Can Do Better As A Society To Educate Parents On The Importance Of Having Sex Talks With Their Children From An Early Age

Religious organizations have got to be take a front burner, as they carry a have influence. If a call to home-based sexuality education hits pulpits and they are sharing the importance of sexuality education – it will pay off.

I can never forget way back one time in 2005 or 2006 thereabouts, I was invited to speak at the girls’ camp of one of the Pentecostal churches. In that meeting, I had access to about 2000 girls from ages 5 – 17. I just came to teach them basic child sexual abuse prevention. This meeting became a major milestone in my journey in this work because I was contemplating stopping about that time. What I experienced was too much pain. Asking the Holy Spirit about what He had to share … before the meeting and on my way… was, “My Heart Bleeds.” Nearly 80% of those in attendance had experienced a form of child sexual molestation. On that day, there was wailing! As I am responding to you, I can still vividly see the scenario all over again. I knew I could not STOP working…

There is serious need for the religious leaders to take the topic of sexuality education and other related matters serious. Parents need to join the conversation to understand that they need to take it up as part of their teachings, not just the holy books.  Not just spiritual.

Already, Nigeria has sexuality education incorporated into the secondary school system. Interestingly, Sexuality Education came under comprehensive life skill training. ARFH in Ibadan and Action Health Incorporated worked relentlessly for it to be introduced to schools in Lagos State.

As a nation, we need to create more programmes for parents to know what’s really going on in the world today. Keeping them abreast of related happenings. They need to access more education through trainings and participation. There’s no shame in acknowledging I don’t know about a thing if I don’t. All I should be thinking about is who has it, and that I can learn from.

What is of utmost value is the children and what’s best for them.

I recall my sister and I sharing our experience of when as little girls we used to make our hair – the traditional ‘Didi’ a service provided by elderly women in the Neighborhood. How we use to suffer inhaling, after holding our breath and can’t any longer… terrible odour. Why? In making the hair, they sit on wooden stools, and put one’s head bent low between their open thighs. The offensive odour coming from between their legs was killing. Yeta s children, you don’t dare to say a word. We always cried to have a haircut. My mum overhead us sharing and asked us why didn’t you tell me? How would one frame the words back in the days… You wan die.

Parenting has become intentional above emotional and sentiments. What kind of child are you raising? Parents can also seek, find, and knock and it shall be open to them, as they seek, they find, as they knock, the door is open to them. In other words, you must make the effort – you don’t want to repeat patterns by your parents… Take the great, good and learn from the bad, worse, and impractical.

One Thing I Wish To Change In The GBV Sector, Especially In Nigeria

If there was anything I could do to be changed in the GBV sector, what would that be? This is huge. As a nation, so many things oh!  I’ll just pick one thing. I’m thinking o… this question is killing me … my mind is just blank.

OK one thing … I can do … I’ll say mass awareness and education. This is not sensitization of a community type, but entire nation. Not just in the hand of one agency – but all – Government MDAs, Private Sector, Professional bodies, Non-Profit, Religious Organisations and entities, traditional, Influencers, etc. The police should have a public enlightenment department that is enlightening the public and not just about armed robbery, but every crime including sexual abuse prevention. Educating on what to do, as it involves them and criminal justice sector…

I know some may argue that this has already been done. Yes, I concur, but what are the results… With our massive population. We need to have a With our massive population. We need to have a strategic vision on what we want to achieve as a country as regards SGBV. This is to guide all parties. Knowing how to position and work towards a COLLECTIVE GOAL.

Corporate organisations can sponsor or collaborative. We see how they support BBN, Now, my recommendation is for them to join in the mass education.  We need to get their attention. If it must be musical jamboree, then we find how to link to the message. They can also be a part of supporting sponsoring billboards and enlightenment education in the different languages – like Hausa, Kanuri, Efik, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Fulani, Pidgin English, Ijaw, Ibibio, etc. This sis to mention a few. We have over 500 native languages in Nigeria.

It is so critical that we save many lives through education. Education will help us reduce number of abuses, for prevention is better than cure.  Advertising and PR agencies can contribute to developing copies that assist with behavioural changes. This is not a quick fix. It continues intermittently.  We need to come down our high horses and really focus on this for the benefit of our people and for the good of this nation.

It’s so, so important – that this is not a one-off show. It does not need a launching or opening declaration event, etc.  Nigeria needs a vision for SGBV as a nation, so everybody can tap into that vision. Everybody has that vision and work to achieving the set goal. The criminal justice sector, education, local government, influencers, private sector, and other sectors work with the vision.

My question to the government, Oh my God what’s the thing you plan for in Nigeria prevention crisis provision rehabilitation. not just for survivals but also for even the perpetrators it’s so important thank you so much for that question.

Tehila 5

The Tehila 5.0 Initiative

Yes, we are having Tehila 5.0. Four organisations coming together to put this together. Wevvo, Rubies Ink Initiative, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation, Media Concern Initiative (MediaCon), and Safe Space Initiative. The event holds on May 7th

The formation of this union is very interesting. Ideas do not belong to any, they float in the atmosphere, It is the implementers that now own the idea… We were all having ideas, finding that our ideas align in purpose and goal.  Thinking alike. I want to give single mums a day out. Wevvo and Rubies Ink work with them. Safe Space has been holding Tehila foe some years now, and this is the fifth series…

I believe so I began this year with this crazy thing about giving you know doing something special for single moms it’s just my birthday but of course my children recommended mommy just postpone it for now. I was just sharing with the leadership of Safe Space Initiative, Osasu and informed, Ill reach out to Wevvo and Rubies Ink Initiative. It aligned with what Tehila 5.0 is sent out to do. The planning was already in the works. Wevvo and Rubies Ink, Fatimah Balaraba Foundation saw they fitted in and how this can start on the template of Tehila.

Brining in the dynamics of our strengths and joint goal to support women, single mums, Domestic Violence survivors, divorced, widows, etc.  In this program, together we want to make life beautiful for other women. you know particularly those who are affected in anyway and need a break, group therapy, etc. The event offers group therapy, fun, games, dance, lots more.

This edition of Tehila 5.0 is including the children.  The event allows a mother attend with maximum of 2 children. Anyone with more than 2 should watch virtually. Registration is compulsory.

Being  a Woman of Rubies

 What makes me a woman of Ruby …wow I would say my life journey…my wounds… my scars and what I’ve been able to do with them.

 I know it’s so interesting that there are fresh wounds in the journey of life, and then accepting them as part of the journey, healing, bearing those scars and learning from them.

Wearing them like ornaments, then using them for something purposeful like impacting other lives, using it to make sure somebody else doesn’t go through that, and doing that for over 20 years. I have been involved in over 20,000 cases of abuse. I count it a rare privilege. I am still alive to do more.

I wear my stuff – ornaments well. I acknowledge that it doesn’t make me emotionless. I can still cry. If I fall, I dust myself and start that all over. There is a destination, and after that my destination modest nation I’m a woman of Ruby

What I Would Say To A Woman Who Is Scared Of Walking Out Of An Abusive Marriage

what would I say to woman feared working out of course there’s nothing to say to a woman who is enjoying her marriage.

 if you’re going through any form of abuse that demeans you emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually – it makes you feel like you’re less of you. Start asking yourself some serious questions.  Knowing your life is in danger and pretending not to see what’s lies ahead of you?

You can only the LIVING can settle and that makes me just want to share a bit in my life’s journey.   I’ve not shared this publicly, so here’s a scoop for Woman of Ruby.  I think I’ve done so in some meetings, but they’re in closed meetings. Now, I’m in that place where I can talk about it.

I stepped out of my marriage for 3years. There was no planning, but it ended up in a separation, and for three years I was by myself. I had to step aside. I stepped out.  I fled for my life. I fled for my life because my life was endangered, and it would have been dumbed to stay behind and become a corpse.

I didn’t want to put my children through that, so for whatever he was going through I needed to leave, and I did. Interestingly, we are back after three years apart. What would have happened if I was dead?

He could also have killed himself or be in jail. There’s so much wisdom in LIFE FIRST! Yes, what I just shared is shocking and this is just rounding it up in brief …  it’s a long story, but I am alive!

 I was scared, I did not know what was going to happen when I left. I was used to being married and it was 23 years in the marriage journey.  I had put in so much and worked every day.

I cried nearly every day for the first 3 months… but I’m here today.  It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’m not saying that the journey ahead of you is going to be smooth, so don’t think because you need to step out it is going to be smooth sailing. There’s no readymade smooth journey ahead.  No! It’s like stepping on water, but you’ve got to take that step of faith for your life and for your children sake. Leave and be alive! Be bold, have faith- no life is tied to the other.

 In a world where female breadwinners are constantly judged and misunderstood for walking out of abusive relationships, there are women who are bent on changing the narrative, and making sure lone parents are supported, appreciated, empowered and economically stable; Weyinmi Eribo is one of them.

She is the founder and chief community builder of Wevvo Nigeria, a community based platform that supports female breadwinners with capacity development, access to finance, and mentoring across Nigeria.

Weyinmi is a trained geologist cum development expert with a focus on enterprise development, gender and financial inclusion. She has over 10 years of experience across oil and gas, extractives, impact investing, gender lens investing, and entrepreneurship.  She is passionate about the economic development of women and has worked on several international and local projects that support the advancement of (female) entrepreneurship and financial inclusion

She is an Acumen West Africa ’22 fellow, a StartingBloc ’19 social innovation fellow and Regional Chair, West Africa Alumni, a World Bank Scholar, Orange Knowledge Program Scholar, a Cherie Blair Foundation Alumni and an Alumni of EDC.

She is a contributor for a National Newspaper in Nigeria, and was drafted as a member of the ministerial focal group for the design of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund. Her organisation recently signed a partnership with LAPO microfinance bank to financially empower female breadwinners.

Weyinmi shares her inspiring journey and the inspiration behind her passion to support female breadwinners in this interview with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

I am the last of 6 children, 4 of which are boys. Growing up we all did the same chores, ate the same meals, and mostly attended the same schools. My father was a very liberal man and in no way made me feel less than my brothers and so I grew up in a home with no gender biases. My father was intentional about his family.  His philosophy about life was on humanity, as such men and women play different roles, he believed that we are all blessed and contribute to the value of life. This has played a major role in my work and career path, I don’t cower in the face of challenges and my decisions are not influenced by gender. I am able to take risks and dare to advocate for the causes I believe in.

Inspiration behind Wevvo Nigeria

I was at the airport one day traveling with my daughter, juggling several bags and trying to answer nerve wracking questions about the maternity of my daughter from immigration officials, while also trying to chase down a toddler who was running around. Suddenly a lady came up behind me and offered to help me with some of my bags, and after about a minute asked if I was a single mum. I responded in the affirmative and we both burst out crying, laughing and hugging each other, so many unspoken words were said in less than 2 minutes.

I realized how much pressure female breadwinners carry by themselves, in addition to the stereotyping and stigmatization that the community places on us without any support of any kind whatsoever. I looked out for a group of women like us who could share our struggles together and still find a way to support each other in our work and businesses but did not really find one and so Wevvo was born. A community created to support female breadwinners through capacity development, access to relevant financial products and services and a safe space to heal, grow and thrive.

I have seen first-hand how women who were once strangers have built friendships and sisterhood and supported themselves through the journey of motherhood and self-discovery and we are all getting better for it. It is truly amazing to see and meet women who through shared struggles and values are creating a better life for themselves and their children.

 Why I am focusing on female breadwinners

Wevvo Nigeria is intentional about the women we serve. Although gender issues are cross-cutting, we realized that we needed to speak specifically about female breadwinners because there is an upward surge in the number of female-headed households. The national Bureau of statistics puts that number at about 19%. There are women who are catering for more than 4 children alone, without any form of support, financial or non-financial. These were mere statistical numbers to me till I connected with women in the Wevvo Community who this is their reality. There is no structured support for female breadwinners in Nigeria and that is what Wevvo Nigeria is trying to provide.

Wevvo’s partnership with LAPO Microfinance Bank to support female breadwinners

Firstly, LAPO Microfinance Bank is such an inspiration and the leadership of the organization within the financial sector is a real case study of what it means to patriotic.The project with LAPO MFB started about a year ago where we had an initial partnership to support women who run businesses with loans. The partnership at the time was simply an access to loans for the women in the Wevvo Community. As we progressed however, we saw the need to design a special product that catered to female breadwinners across the country, through the Wevvo Community. This led to the relaunch of these special accounts that have been created now. I must mention that this would not have been possible without the exemplary leadership of the Managing Director, Mrs Cynthia Ikponwosa, the head of communications, Mr Remi Akande and the head of Corporate Planning, Mrs Dorcas Thorpe of LAPO MFB.

These special products include a loan facility where female breadwinners can access loans up to 3Million naira without collateral at 2.5% reducing balance and a savings account with target savings of 15,000 to access free medical health insurance policy for one year and 60,000 for 6 months with the chance to access scholarship for a child. Through these products, single mothers across the country will have access to credit facilities across all the 500 branches that LAPO MFB has, so regardless of their location and economic strata, they have the opportunity to grow their businesses regardless of the kind of business they are involved in.

How my 10 years of experience in  the oil and gas, and impact investment sector influenced my work ethics

Having had years of experience across several sectors, this has helped me in broadening my knowledge and interaction with women and men who are also in these sectors. It has also helped me to understand a cross section of women and what challenges they face at different stages of their careers and life and how this affects their mindsets and sometimes their response to life, as well as the opportunities that exist in supporting women. This understanding has further helped in spurring the right kind of conversations that can create a shift in the way society responds to the issues of female breadwinners and inspires the kind of solutions and empowerment programs we design and create for them.

Challenges

The most challenging issue I face is the mindset of some female breadwinners. Unfortunately, because of society’s narrative of single mums, a lot of women have bought into the victim mentally and this ripples into most other areas of their lives. They assume a defeatist position in the way they react and respond to life. A woman who may have undergone a divorce or broken relationship thinks she is synonymous with failure; a widow assumes she is plagued with bad luck and this keeps them shut mentally and they are not motivated enough to chase their dreams or take advantage of the opportunities we provide.

As an organization, we also face the issue of funding as there are quite a bit of empowerment projects we want to undertake for the women in the community that we cannot run presently. Wevvo has been self funded since its inception over two years ago but I’m hopeful that as we continue to grow, we would find ways to become self-sufficient.

Other projects and activities

Most of my work is built around the support and economic empowerment of women. I am co-founder of an agric-financing company, SEEDS Services limited, which is a social impact organization that provides women with the opportunity to Learn, Earn and Grow. At SEEDS, we support the work of female smallholder farmers and women in agribusiness by enhancing their capacity, creating market access opportunities, and giving them the opportunity to grow and scale their businesses through relevant financing opportunities.

I am also a certified business development service provider and so I support local and international projects focused on building a better entrepreneurship ecosystem and creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs to succeed.

 What I enjoy most about my job

Funmi is a hairstylist who had a little shop at the corner of her neighborhood. She accessed a loan from Wevvo and was able to purchase hair extensions in bulk and acquired a few pieces of equipment to improve the services she offered. In one year, Funmi was able to pay her loan back in full, increased her store capacity and employed an extra hand to help with customers. Funmi is just one of the many success stories that have come out of our community. It gives me great joy to see women blossom because this also means an improved access to healthcare, education, and better livelihood for her family. This possibility of improved and happier lives for not only the women we work with but their children and communities, makes it all worthwhile.

Beyond that however, is the privilege of seeing people. This is the hardest thing for everyone.  We don’t see ourselves or others. My job helps me to see people, their challenges, their triggers and trauma which has made me a kinder person.

3 women who inspire me and why

My mother, Mrs Kate Eribo, remains the most tenacious, hardworking and loving person I know.

Mrs Imaobong Amaechi, who is the current CEO of Gobeth Reliance investment company. She is a silent force and does so much with a big smile on her face and so much grace.

Oprah Winfrey, who teaches me every day that you can define life on your own terms.

How we can educate the society on the stigmatization of female breadwinners

We need to call it out. This stigmatization that female breadwinners face has gone on for too long because we have remained silent. The movies that continue to portray single mothers as loose or desperate women looking for any opportunity to “dig gold”, the conversations that make women who leave abusive marriages or relationships as victims rather than survivors, the narratives that female breadwinners are “secondhand goods”, they all need to stop, and this starts with those of us who know better calling it out when people peddle these stories. We all have friends who were raised by single mothers, or were ourselves raised by single mothers ourselves, or a sister, cousin, friend, colleague who is one and if we truly admit, some of these women are the most hard-working women you can come across. We must intentionally begin to create opportunities that support them rather than box them into walls that we as society has created.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I believe that a woman of rubies is one who uses the bricks thrown at her to build stairways for herself and other women to climb up. The average woman is faced with systemic disadvantages and this is mostly as a result of financial constraints and lack of education. I am deeply passionate about the economic advancement of women and will continue to find ways to advocate and support policies and interventions that provide solutions and opportunities for women.

How female breadwinners can #Breakthebias

It starts with the mind. The narratives we believe about ourselves have a lot to do with the way our lives play out regardless of whether one is a female breadwinner or not.  Raising children on your own is not a plague and it doesn’t make you any less than the next person, no one is isolated from challenges, single or not. We must continue to strive for better opportunities and dare to dream for better lives for ourselves and families. We can change these norms by collectively challenging the status quo through education and advocacy.

 

From the humblest of beginnings, Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka began her journey into social entrepreneurship at 19 when she founded her first non-profit organization​ ​(AYECI Africa) focused on providing educational intervention and access to work opportunities for young people and women in low-income communities.

Ifeoma is also the Founder and CEO of The Omaness Skinfood Company, an indigenous skinfood production company which began its operation in 2018.​ ​She broke the ​mould​ to become West Africa’s first homegrown skinfood products company “with an all-women direct distribution and merchant force”, as she likes to say.

Social Impact, Economic Empowerment and African Development- These three​ ​words best describe Ifeoma’s focus as an Entrepreneur. In 2019, Omaness launched the Business of Skinfood Program, a unique distribution model that allows Omaness to retail its products directly to consumers everyday through an all-women merchant force! The Business of Skinfood program is a deliberate approach to unlock a generation of new sustainable income source for women and exemplify the ideal of creating African-based solutions to African problems.

With over 40 products in the market, Ifeoma is breaking boundaries through Omaness Ski​n​food. She shares her inspiring journey exclusively with Esther Ijewere in this Interview.

Childhood Influence

One of my childhood dreams was to become a beauty queen. I recall being fascinated by the world of beauty pageantry. I was not only drawn by the glamour and I was deeply inspired by the way beauty queens used their voice and their platform to advocate, raise public awareness and support for worthy social causes. I remember I had a diary where I wrote down the names of several beauty queens and a portfolio of the social causes they were involved in.

As a teenager, this experience helped influence my ambition, and nurtured my interest to become a social change agent.

Today, I am a social entrepreneur who advocates strongly for women empowerment, education and local enterprise development. I may not be your regular beauty queen but I’m living out the childhood dream I once had to use my voice, skill and platform for social good!

 Inspiration behind Omaness Skinfood

 Before starting Omaness Skinfood, I had spent over a decade working and creating charity interventions for young people and women in low-income communities. During that period one of the things that became a pressing concern for me as I worked in those communities, was how I could help women who struggled with financial inadequacies and lack of opportunity to earn a decent income.

In 2016, while I was pregnant with my first child, I got a gift of shea butter from one of the women who was a beneficiary of my organization’s community learning program and I had my first real skin-enriching experience with that shea butter! The shea butter was so good and I wondered why this woman wasn’t making more money from her produce? It was this question that sparked the idea for Omaness Skinfood!

I thought to myself “How can I use my platform to get more people to know about this woman’s amazing local produce and get them to buy?”​ ​This was when I realized that if I can do this, I would have created a solution that can enable local artisan women earn more and have a sustainable income source.

This is what inspired me to start Omaness Skinfood, knowing I could create a social business that would enable me to enrich the lives of women in a sustainable and profitable manner!

The journey so far

Initially, when we launched Omaness Skinfood products the reception was slow because the majority of our target consumers were only used to foreign cosmetic products, while others were interested in skin whitening products. But over the last 4years since we launched Omaness Skinfood, we have stayed true to the mission behind the brand that is “to use naturally-active homegrown ingredients to create functional skinfood products best suited for the African skin” and I must say that our consistent brand positioning is gradually paying off as the consumer reception for our products has improved compared to when we first started!

What motivated me to start my entrepreneurship journey at age 19

 I founded my first non-profit organization (AYECI Africa) at 19 while I was a student at Lagos State Polytechnic. My campus was located in a low-income community and I witnessed first-hand the lack of learning opportunities and exposure that affected many low-income students.  This became my motivation for venturing into social entrepreneurship and founding AYECI Africa. With funding from corporate sponsorship and volunteer support the organization provides access to learning, employability skills and dignified livelihood opportunities for under-served young people and women.

 How I Impact​ed​ the lives of over 30,000 youths and raised over N250m funding support

 First, there’s a sense of fulfilment that comes with this kind of achievement, knowing that what I do is making a real difference in the lives of people who would not have otherwise benefitted without my intervention.

Secondly, I feel a sense of responsibility to do more! Knowing that there are millions of other young people and women in need of social intervention.

 Challenges of running my business

 First, one of the challenges we encounter at Omaness Skinfood is (impact) sourcing of our raw materials. Our business model at Omaness Skinfood is deliberate in its approach at ensuring women are key players and direct beneficiaries in supplying our raw materials. However, because the majority of these women are rural dwellers with limited access to mechanized processing equipment, we usually face the challenge of sourcing bulk materials within a shorter time frame. There is also the challenge we face with cumbersome government policies and rising cost of production that are unfavourable to growing businesses like mine.

Omaness products, our skinfood programme and accessibility of our products

Our skinfood products at Omaness are formulated to be functional to address common African skin concerns. We use naturally-active homegrown ingredients like shea butter, dogonyaro, tamarind, baobab etc. to create products that provide nourishment, healing and help our people put their best skin forward! Our skinfood products are sold directly to the final consumers through our authorized skinfood merchants. We created the business of skinfood distribution program onboard women to become independent retailers of our skinfood products, The program provides training, business support and empowers women to earn and build their own skinfood retail business.

How Omaness has impacted the women’s community

Since our official launch in 2018, Omaness has continued to enrich the lives of women. As a women-driven and impact-focused skinfood company, we have been deliberate in our approach at ensuring women are active players and profit fairly in every stage of our value chain. Omaness has continued to enrich the lives of women who are part of our supply chain in Badagry, Maiduguri, Nsukka, Tede,and Akure. We are also providing employment for the women who work in our production facility and creating an opportunity for hundreds of women to earn profitably by retailing our products as Skinfood Merchants.

What I enjoy most about my job

One of the things I enjoy most about my job as a social entrepreneur is the sense of purpose and fulfillment it gives me, seeing that my work is solving a social problem and making a real difference in the lives of people, communities and the African continent!

 3 women who inspire me and why

First, would be Sara Blakely, an American female inventor, entrepreneur and founder of Spanx, a global leading shapewear and undergarment brand. I admire how she built her company from scratch into a global prominent brand now worth over $1billion. Next would be Tara Fela Durotoye, a Nigerian beauty entrepreneur and founder of House of Tara International. I admire how she pioneered the bridal makeup profession in Nigeria and a prestigious Nigerian-owned makeup line. Finally, would be Madam C.J Walker, I got to discover her story through a Netflix true life inspired series. It was so inspiring watching her story about how she created a homemade line of hair care products for Black women and her rise from poverty to becoming one of the wealthiest African American women of her time! One thing that stood out for me about her was how she built her haircare empire and financially empowered over 20,000 black women who sold her products.

 Message for young women who are trying to go into skinfood business

 There is room for more! We are yet to scratch the surface of Africa’s skinfood sector potential!

 Work-life balance

 First, I am able to manage it all because I have an amazing support system. I am blessed to have a husband who understands, supports me fully and is constantly encouraging me to succeed! As a mom of 2 daughters one of the things that have kept me grounded is the aspiration to become the woman they can look up to and I hope my career and impact as an entrepreneur play a role to help them see that they were born to make a difference!

Being a Woman of Rubies

 I am a woman who continues to use her work as an entrepreneur to serve and enrich the lives of others!​ ​This is what makes me a WOMAN OF RUBIES!

Adefunke ​Oluremi ​Adewumi is a goal getter and a force to reckon with. She is committed to supporting indigent communities, providing shelter for homeless victims of domestic violence , and empowering widows and single mums across the nation, through her non-governmental organisation, Black Diamonds Support Foundation (BDSF).

Adefunke’s popularity increased with her annual outreach tagged ‘PROJECT 5000’ – An event which comes up every year, on the 26th of December, and brings together a minimum of 5000 indigent children from various slums across the state, and they are given free medical attention, free back-to-school packs, food, clothing, and a Christmas party.​ ​Her passion for seeing both children and adults live to their full capabilities and for women to thrive, birthed her creating the ‘ UNMASKED – Her Truth’ event, which allows women to be free, and be themselves, without the fear of being judged or condemned.

The Alumni of the University of Ado-Ekiti and Master of Arts in International relations and strategic studies​ from Benue state University​ is also the CEO of The Food Sense Shop- A business that boasts of selling a variety of African items across the world.

 

​Defunke is a passionate ​Gender-based Violence advocate​ ​who has continuously used her platforms to advocate and support victims of domestic violence, rape , child abuse and molestation​. and lend her voice to voiceless single mums in the society​​. She is committed to adding value to humanity and living intentionally.

She ​shares her inspiring ​journey ​with ​Esther Ijewere​ in this interview.

Childhood Influence

I was born into a family filled with love and independence, my was my first role model , she was a skillful entrepreneur and counsel head  . My mother was a perfectionist, and she could multitask diligently. She was a major mentor in what I’ve grown to become today. My house was always occupied by total strangers, homeless and orphaned children, widows and impoverished women and men because my mother was a philanthropist to the core. She embraces everyone and would even prefer to give her last drop of water to a thirsty stranger than for her to drink it.

I would say the life she lived molded me into what I do now , going over the edge to get things done and being able to spearhead multiple things at a time from my childhood .

Inspiration behind Black Diamonds​ ​​Support ​ Foundation​ (BDSF)​

My mother’s legacy is the inspiration behind Black Diamonds Support Foundation, she was a lover of children , women , widows , orphans and the homeless. After she passed on to glory there were lots of people who depended on her for survival and I could not sit by and watch her legacy die.

Why I bring 5000 indigent children together for my annual project

Yes I do that to put smiles on the faces of these underserved children in mostly neglected communities. We have been running it for years. Unfortunately, ​It couldn’t ​​hold in  2021 due to the covid 19 safety guides , instead we did project 5000 food boxes , we supplied 5000 families with raw food items that is enough to last for the festive period ( rice , noodles , spaghetti, semo, oil, garri, yam flour , pepper and tomato pastes) we also supported children with back to school items like bags and books.

Motivation behind​ my foo​d items brand​; ​ “Food sense​ shop​”

The Food Sense Shop was born out of my love for healthy foods, I appreciate nature alot and it had always been my dream to own my own raw food brand where I can change the common use of additives and chemical preservatives in our food items. Majority of the sickness out there is as a result of unhealthy foods and drinks we take in. To cause a change in getting local foods without preservation, led me to start the food sense shop.

My passion and drive for issues that affect women and children, such as rape, domestic violence and molestation, and we can get the society involved

I have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assaults, child discrimination and abuse. This has been a drive for me to rescue as many as I can and my late mum for women and children when she was alive had been a force to do more than she had done. The helplessness of vulnerable women and children are heartbreaking, they can be traumatizing. I can’t just keep quiet when I know there is something I can do in my little way to help people. I can identify with them, I’ve been in their shoes, their hurts and abuse and hunger is like mine. We have gone to slums across the country to do our bits and we hope they pass it on too.

Challenges as an entrepreneur and stakeholder in the GBV sector

The economic meltdown is a major challenge for an entrepreneur like me, the prices of raw materials have skyrocketed by over a 100% and this kills business by paralyzing the demand curve. Despite being in the business of locally harvested crops. As a GBV Survivor and advocate, the laid-back attitude, insensitivity of our people, the cultural patriarchal communal living system, impunity, lack of funds and emotional trauma we face is extreme these days. Forget all the paperwork and policies. We are still far behind in getting it right as a country in the area of prompt sensitivity to GBV.

other projects and activities

Unmasked hertruth: A women group we created to intentionally be Deliberate to be better as women in all ramifications. A healing, learning and networking hub for women 16+.

We are also  trying to raise funds for our humanitarian projects this year and extend our Humanitarian Services to more zones in Nigeria, and expand food sense shop in a global model as the number one choice for African (Nigeria) locally foods suppliers.

3 women who inspire ​me​ and why

My late Mum: She was a phenomenal legend. A giver per excellence. Philanthropist to the core who goes all out of her way to ensure women and children in her community do well. She is a lover of Humanity, she works for others to be happy

Tobore​ Anne Emorhokpor​: She is ​the ​drive for the majority of our projects and goes all out to ensure our humanitarian projects do not go unaccomplished. Our coming together had helped us to achieve so many feats because she is selfless and committed to ensure women and children are not helpless in her own way.

Ellen DeGeneres: Her heart of giving is second to none and she is non judgemental and love everyone no matter who they are and help as many as she can help, without thinking of who or what they are

My perception of marriage as it relates to the  Nigerian society

To me marriage is a union of togetherness and when I say ‘togetherness’ , it is in the entirety of its sense , in all aspects of the union .  I am not a believer of the average Nigerian mentality that most couples practice, you’re married and you can both do what you like in the way that pleases either of you, a union should be about support, communication, motivation, growth , loyalty, commitment and a foundation built on God.

Stigmatization of single mums 

​There is so much stigmatization, Cultural setbacks and society victimizing single mums. There is so much to be done, but if single mums can give support to each other,dignifying their option of taking the bold steps of living for their kids despite societal judgmental insensitive patriarchal approach to them, they will rise above all the odds that is a daily factor to limit them from their goals in life. I will also want single mums to stop the pity party victimization of themselves. Being a single mum is not a disability. Be dignified

Being a  Woman of Rubies, mom, entrepreneur, women’s advocate, and support system to many, and managing it all

I take each day as it come​,​ as I know that each of these roles must not fail. So I do well in planning, delegating duties to others.

Nurses are unique, they have the insatiable need to care for others, and that is their strength. Caring is the essence of nursing and midwives . These words describe Emannuella Inah , a registered Nurse and Midwife who is touching lives, and changing narratives through her work. ​

She is passionate about seeing that women of African descent go through  pregnancy effortlessly and are armed with information relevant for maternal and child health. Through​ her initiative;​ Safe Pregnancy Africa, a community of black women which she founded​. ​Emmanuella dedicates her time to teaching and mentoring women through the trimesters of pregnancy, contributing to curbing maternal and child mortality rates in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

She is also the founder of the  Preggy pidgin podcast, a platform that gained global recognition after emerging as one of the 35 best pregnancy podcasts in the world in 2021. She uses the platform  to reach the inner cities of Africa, educating people on successfully transitioning from pregnancy to delivery without complications using the  Nigerian pidgin, a language as old as Nigeria and spoken in several countries of the Africa continent.

In 2020, Emmanuella was listed as one of the 100 outstanding women Nurse and Midwife leaders in the world. A list which was compiled by the World Health Organization, International Council of Midwives, Nursing Now, Women in global health and UNPFA.

She has three books to her name, one of which  is titled “The PREGGY workbook “ . It is  a simplified guide to going through pregnancy and labour with concrete  information and a space for the pregnant woman to journal her experiences using prompts and questions from the book. The book is written with captivating content laced in stories that catches the human’s heart and attention.

Emmanuella is a force to reckon with and a visionary.​ She shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this interview.

Growing up

The thought of being a Nurse or midwife never crossed my mind until a school Nurse said I acted like a real Nurse. This was in primary school, many years before I became an adult but her words never left my mind. I would later ask my mother if I truly behaved like a Nurse. It was all exciting, I took her words as a compliment, dear compliments. What nobody realised was that She planted a desire in my heart. I read books because my mother said Nurses read big books and solved hard mathematical equations because papa says it’s what Nurses do. My uniforms were neat and ironed because I didn’t want Nurse Joy to take back her kind words. The foundation for the Nurse I am today was laid years before I realised I would someday be a Nurse.

I grew into loving the profession, I had access to beautiful videos and pictures of Nurses , my mother made them available, she told me lovely stories too. Those stories infiltrated my subconsciousness and made me long for the day I would wear the Nurse’ white gown and the Nightingale’s cap. So, it wasn’t difficult to choose Nursing when I got two admission letters to either study Nursing and Chemical Science.

Inspiration behind my initiatives; Safe Pregnancy Africa and Preggy pidgin podcast

In 2018, I and three other midwives were posted to a community in Nigeria to serve for a month. In those few weeks, my eyes were opened to the large knowledge gap amongst pregnant women. The things I considered simple and expected everybody would know were things many of the women didn’t know. In that community I saw that women got pregnant by chance, there was never preparation for the health of the woman, the finances of the family, education on recognising danger signs in pregnancy and generally poor knowledge on how to successfully transition from pregnancy to puerperium.

​​My colleagues and I did a good job in educating the villagers, we took health education to the village squares and markets, and held meetings with the Chiefs on how to get funding for the Primary Health care centre.

When I got back home, there was unrest in my spirit. I knew there were other women in several other places with zero knowledge about their health, body and pregnancy. So, I went online and created Safe Pregnancy Africa, a community for women of African descent where I would educate on everything that bothers maternal and child health. A platform where I could answer questions and give guidance to as many women as I could reach.

In 2019, I realised my message was better understood when I taught in Pidgin English. I got many women asking questions for more clarification and many others speaking out. It bridged the language barrier I never knew existed. I was able to break down compound topics like Preeclampsia/eclampsia into understandable bits teaching in pidgin. This gave birth to the Preggy Pidgin Podcast. The listenership has grown from Nigeria to 38 other African countries with positive feedback every week.

Preggy pidgin podcast nominated as one of the 5 best pregnancy podcasts in the world

Consistency​ made that happen. ​ It is one thing to take a step, it is another thing to remain consistent​. ​I understood that for my message to penetrate the busy online space and get to my core audience, I have to remain consistent.

The journey so far

So far, so good. It may sound cliche but that is how it’s been.The feedback has been great, the love and positivity are some of the motivation that fuels my conviction and consistency.

Why I pitched ​my​ tent in the nursing and midwifery sector

Becoming a Nurse was easy because I believe life prepared me for the profession, but specializing in midwifery came as a result of an event that happened in 2012. It happened on a Sunday when many people had gone to church. A young lady from the village had come to stay with her husband in the neighbourhood. It was just her third week in town but she was almost due to deliver. That morning, her scream stormed the yard. The lady was in labour and not just that, the baby’s head was already in the vulva. I still don’t know if she attempted to deliver the child herself but the child’s head was trapped between her thighs and it was already turning blue. I was the first to rush into her room before other women joined in. That sight has never left my head. At that moment I wished I could do something, something to help the woman and her baby whose eyeballs were already swollen. She lost the child. Later on, I would come to learn about precipitate labour but I still wonder  what happened to the dear lady. That was the first time I wished I were a midwife. Also, the growing rate of maternal mortality inspired my decision to become a midwife. I wanted to contribute my quota to the noble course of ensuring that women especially of the African descent go through pregnancy ready, healthy, and knowledgeable.

Challenges of my work

Trust! I am a petite midwife and often, women in labour would like midwives who look physically competent. Funny right? But I have had a few challenges proving myself.

Other projects and activities

I am working on funding and distributing birth packs to 3 communities in Nigeria under Safe Pregnancy Africa. Also, I am looking to partnering with international organisations to carry out health centre renovations and sponsor training for health workers.

What I enjoy most about ​my​ job

It is the satisfaction. Nothing compares to the peace of welcoming a child into the world. Midwifery is a ministry. My hands have touched and handled purity. From the first time a newborn takes their first breath and lets out that loud cry, I am there. I think it’s right to say, I stand by the gate of life. Hahaha.

3 women who inspire me and why

One of the women that inspire me is my mother. She is very resilient and confident. Once she sets her mind to do a thing, wink an eyelid and you see the results displayed. She is focused, determined and loving.

Remi Owadokun is another woman that inspires me, she is smart. Remi utilizes resources within her environment and her reach to achieve goals one would think are farfetched.  She is smart.

Ugochi Obidiegwu is a focused woman. She inspires me. I have seen her take up projects that seemed complex and  accomplish them in a moment of time.

These women play huge roles in my life and I am blessed to have them.

Women’s awareness on maternal and child mortality rates

Not many women realize that the mortality rates are high. If we share these details with more women, they will be more interested in knowing details about their health before even falling pregnant. That is why The Preggy Pidgin podcast pushes this information through pidgin English, trying hard to ensure that more women understand the process of transitioning from no pregnancy to pregnancy and everything in between.

What can we do better as a society to educate women on mortality rate and safe pregnancy

It starts from the grass roots. If we could dedicate more time to teaching during Antenatal clinics in health centres. Answering questions without the terminologies and creating a warm setting for women to be free to express themselves. Also, training or educating the Traditional Birth Attendants ( TBA). Most women in our communities trust the TBA, if we could arm more TBAs with correct information, then they would know what to say to the women who trust them and such information would correspond to global standards.

One thing I wish to change in the midwifery sector, especially in Nigeria

Remuneration of staff!

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am teachable, smart and loving.

When a Pharmacist  has a burning passion for women and children,  committed to giving hope to the hopeless, and lending her voice to the voiceless, she deserves to be celebrated. Tobore reflects what humanity should look like.

Tobore Anne Emorhokpor is the founder of Nigerian Child Protection Trust and the convener of the End Child Sexual Group. She is a leading voice in the women and child development sector.

The Cardiff University Alumni also did a virtual leadership principles course at Harvard Business school. Tobore is driven by personal development and self-improvement, and she  has emerged as a credible voice armed with a passion for getting justice for the oppressed. She loves to go beyond people’s expectations and delight them.

She is renowned for her unique style of blended mentoring, empathy and speaking up for the oppressed through her various social media channels. Her inspirational leadership, empathy and benevolence makes it easy for women and children to have a connection with her. She wants a Nigeria where women are empowered to look after themselves and their children.

She detests children being used and abused for child labour and wants a great reduction in sexual abuse and rape of women and minors. The testament to her impact is the media mentions she has gotten for her humanitarian work and her Right Livelihood Award for outstanding role in reducing hunger, inequality and improving sustainability.  Tobore is happily married with kids. She shares her inspiring story in this interview exclusively with Esther Ijewere.

Childhood Influence

Growing up, I witnessed the effects of abuse and cheating around me. Domestic abuse has a negative impact on children. That is why I get really upset when women say they stay for the sake of their children. This is a myth not reality. They stay for themselves because the children suffer more in such situations. Your children cannot be happy if you are not happy. I love children dearly. I am passionate about children. I love carrying babies and playing with children. They make me so happy. I remember one time our driver beat up his 3-year-old son badly. I was so enraged. I asked my Father to deal with him. I knew I had to fight for these children that could not fight for themselves.

Inspiration behind my organisation; Nigerian child protection trust and End child sexual group

 I was coming across a lot of sad posts on Facebook about children being defiled and nothing being done about it. I eventually decided to do something. I wasn’t sure how or what I was going to do as I currently live in the UK, but I wanted to start with what I had, so I started a group on Facebook. I asked friends if they would like to join, and they did. That is how we started ‘End child sexual abuse in Nigeria’. I would post stories of cases, some educational posts on how to protect your child and other requests for help. I also used my personal wall to ask for help. I then decided that I could act as a signpost for people. Wherever there is a problem in Nigeria, I will find the closest Human rights officer, NGO, or Government Organisation to help. I was not going to change the world and make as much change as I could. I wanted to become the voice for these children.

Being a Pharmacist by profession, and the impact on my advocacy for women and children

I started off as a pharmacist and practised in the UK and Nigeria, then I decided to branch into Human Resources. I currently work as a Workforce Planning Lead. I enjoy planning and putting in processes. This helps me in how I deal with the cases that I work on. I speak with each person to find out what they currently do, how they got into the situation they are in, and how they can get out. It’s not a pity party but a way to plan their way out of their problems. I feel very proud when women I have helped turn around and help others up. I am very proud of the women I have helped.

The journey since I started my Organisation

The journey has been tough but very rewarding. When women come to me for help, I would ask what they can do and try to start up small businesses for them so they can be self-sufficient. Some people just want someone to talk to. I spend time chatting with them to understand the situation and give the best advice I can. I am so happy with what we have achieved together in such a short time. I didn’t know what I would really be doing but my social media pages have brought succour to many and I thank God for that.

The spike in cases of domestic violence and rape since the beginning of the pandemic

In the past, abusers would go to work or to school and leave the home environment and return at the end of the day. Due to the lockdown, there was no room for escape. Emotions were heightened. People lost jobs and hardship increased. This added stress to an already burning pot and resulted in a huge increase in the number of cases of violence. Poverty breeds ignorance.

Challenges of being a women’s advocate 

The people I am trying to help sometimes lie and try to scam me. One of these women showed me a prescription and lied that she needed to buy the medications on it for 3 weeks for her baby. Unfortunately for her, I know how to read a prescription and I told her no Doctor would tell her to do that. She started stuttering and saying it’s the hospital. I was scammed by another lady who got people to act and do videos requesting help as a trick to get money from me and other unsuspecting kind-hearted people.

We also have the Police who sometimes take bribes and let culprits go. We then have to use social media to call them out to get them to do the right thing. Victims and their families are sometimes scared about reporting crimes and refuse for us to help them seek justice when they have been harmed or wronged. I have had a few cases where people tell me about situations of abuse then grow cold feet and refuse to go further. No matter how I try to encourage them to tell the truth and speak out, fear of being known as the whistle blower does not allow them to help victims. There is a man who lures boys with gifts and passes them about in a paedophile ring. The sister of one of the boys approached me for help then later recanted because her parents told her to ‘leave it to God’. Another person contacted me about a school in Lagos where the Principal rapes young girls in his care but then refused to give me proof when they realised the school might be involved in the case.

Other projects and activities

When covid first struck, there were a lot of families that were left without any food and money. The first post I made was to ask ‘who has 5k to spare for a family in need’. People responded and I paired givers with recipients. Others saw what I was doing, and the finances poured in. We bought bags of rice and shared them out to people in Warri, Port Harcourt and Ilorin. I used my Facebook wall to raise money to pay rent, start up small businesses for the women so they can renew the next year’s rent. We paid for surgeries, medicines, school fees and everything else in between. I have posted job adverts so people can get jobs and a few kind people have offered free sewing courses and other types of training for people on my wall for free or for a little sum. We paid for a few caesarean sections and have helped pay the bills for women who have ended up as hostages in hospitals as they were unable to pay their huge medical bills. I remember when I was called about a woman whose baby had died inside her and was rotting and there was no money to pay a deposit to do the emergency c-section. I put it on my wall and within half an hour we had raised the deposit to start the surgery. We ended up raising over 500,000 Naira for her medical treatment which lasted a while.

 What I enjoy about my job

I enjoy helping people. That is what makes me happy. I like seeing everyone around me happy and smiling. In every job I have done, that is what has kept me satisfied and motivated.

3 women who inspire me and why

First, my Mum; She has worked hard and tirelessly to give us a good life. She is the most hard working and innovative woman I know. She is dogged and never gives up.

Defunke Adewumi – She has a heart for women and children. I saw the love, care and humility in her post and knew I must be her friend. She has supported me in many ways and continues to be a beacon for women and children in Nigeria.

Michelle Obama – A Queen!

The Nigerian Government and it’s support for the Gender Based Violence sector

So far, I have seen that Lagos state has taken the fight against rape seriously. I believe all other states need to follow suit. There should be special Police Officers trained on how to handle such cases and special courts to fast track such cases through. There needs to be adequate shelters to house victims and survivors. There should also be programmes put together to help them recover psychologically and help them start up business or get jobs and reintegrate into society. All states need to adopt the Child Rights Act and make sure children are protected from exploitation either sexually or via labour. Every child has a right to good education and a good life free from abuse.

Work life balance

It is quite difficult, and I have to keep reminding myself I cannot do it all. The requests for help are more than I can handle, and each one rips through the heart chords. It is especially sad for me each time I turn some people away, but I have to do so. I try to get some time to myself, and I also work on spending lots of time with my children. They are quite young and need a lot of my time right now. I try to maintain a good balance.

One thing I wish I could change in the Gender Based Violence Sector  

There needs to be a budget to support women and children who are victims of all forms of abuse. Shelters should be built to house them while working on helping them to integrate back into society. Children who are found to be child labourers in homes, can be taken away and given better lives rather than waiting for them to be abused and degraded by their mean bosses. Their only crime is being born into poverty.

Receiving the right livelihood award in 2021 for reducing hunger

I was excited and grateful for being recognised. The work is done out of love, but it is nice to know my peers see it as something commendable.

Being  a woman of Rubies

I am a woman using my abilities to help make a change and impact the world around me.

Many singles  are seeking true love, love that is pure, safe and whole. Love that allows them to connect to their highest self, because they know that true love doesn’t need to be perfect, It just has to be true. Dating apps are fast becoming the “one stop centre” and go-to places to find companionship these days.

However, there is a more direct way to connect with your life partner, one that avails you the opportunity to have first hand information on your love interest, with zero stress. Chiddie Anyasodo and her husband Ben, are making this possible through their matchmaking platform “Chotayah”.

Chiddie’s career path evolved from engineering into full entrepreneurship over the years. She has worked in different phases of the Upstream Oil and Gas industry – initially as an International Mobile Field Engineer with Schlumberger, working in different countries. She also worked as Business Development Manager, she then joined another company as the Global Vice President for Commercial, before moving on to build her own businesses. The Electrical / Electronic Engineering graduate has been described as an eclectic love for developing ideas.

She is the other half of Chotayah, a high-end executive Matchmaking service for professional Africans all over the world. Chiddie and Ben have helped many African singles discover and route out the obstacles preventing them from being in a healthy relationship. Through Chotayah , they are transforming how the most elite African entrepreneurs and high networth individuals on the planet connect with their dream partners.

The amazing mom of 2,, Relationship Coah, and Professional Matchmaker shares her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this exclusive interview.

 Childhood Influence

 Well, thinking about this, I saw my mom find wives for my uncles and I found it fascinating. I also set up friends and family for fun. I grew up in Owerri, a beautiful city in Eastern Nigeria. I am the first child and only daughter of my parents. I have 3 younger brothers. I have always been very independent, ambitious and strong-willed since I was a child. I was also a voracious reader. I was called a tomboy. I grew up shielded by my parents. I studied Electrical Engineering in the University. However, what really prepared me for this was my early 20’s when I started dating, I had so many bad experiences and I had no one really to guide me. Such topics were a taboo in my house. My mom was very prim and proper and you do not discuss boys and love. If a man admires you, he is expected to come and meet my parents and ask for my hand in my marriage. The times I tried to tell her I was in a relationship, she got very upset, told me it was disgraceful and sinful. It was also ironic that the same mom who didn’t think I should be in the same room with a man was also going to church and prayer houses, sowing seeds and praying for me to get married. lol

Inspiration behind Chotayah

Both hubby and I had challenges in finding the right person. There were so many myths about love and relationships which we practised then separately but were all wrong.  On my side, my dating experience was quite sad and filled with heartbreaks after heartbreaks.  My genotype was an issue. And for some people the fact that my mom died of cancer scared them away.

I got rejected many times with excuses like – you earn too much – a woman shouldn’t earn more than a man. You are too boyish, too ambitious. Your job exposes you and makes you travel too much and you won’t make a good wife. A successful woman will never respect a man. At one point, I was told by some pastors and relatives that I had a spiritual problem. You can imagine. After praying so much and the cycle kept repeating, I decided to try alternative methods. First, I tried to use some Western dating sites like E-harmony and Match.com but they always rejected my application as I was Nigerian. I also tried to hire a matchmaker in the USA then, but she didn’t work with people outside the USA. So, I decided to go on my own. That experience made me start reading and exploring what makes relationships work. I also got a relationship coach, started studying serial men and women who always seemed to have lots of attention from their love interest. I took everything I learnt and crafted my own strategy to find my man. It took me about 8/9 months to find my man and no more heart breaks. My friends who knew about all my negative experiences started using the same formula and it worked for them. And everyday, I see so many people like me going through the same challenges that I went through. Successful high-flying people who have succeeded everywhere but seem they are not able to succeed in the love department. I then decided to go study Matchmaking in the UK and Relationship Coaching in New York. My husband is a Behavioral Change Expert & Therapist. We decided to join our passion and expertise to give birth to Chotayah.

Leaving engineering for Entrepreneurship

I think it’s genetic LOL. My grandfather was a successful businessman – he sold palm oil to the Portuguese and imported – canons, tea sets, and textiles. My grandma was a textile wholesaler in Onitsha. She also came from a family of businessmen and women.  My Dad is a doctor who owns his own hospital. I grew up seeing all these and hearing their stories, I guess that influenced me. I started my first business in SS1 (at 14yr) selling earrings to my classmates in the boarding house. I just did it for fun to see my money multiply.

How the matchmaking process on Chotayah works

We use a scientific process; psychology and tech, we always put into consideration their traditional African culture which is unique to everyone that comes to us as you know African culture is rich and diverse. Finally we use our intuition. When a client contacts us that he is seeking a spouse. We then have a 1- 2 hours session to know his relationship history and background to understand him properly and come up with the best Strategy that will give him results. It’s also in this session that we can figure out if he is a good fit for us, we are not able to help everyone unfortunately. We do a bit of background checks and if everything comes out fine, we then take him on as a client. Our matchmaking always goes with Relationship Coaching and Behavioural Therapy. We first work on him/her as a person to find out what is stopping this person from finding love – is it just that he is too busy, not positioned properly or is it something from the inside? We remove those blockers  and help him develop a unique  personal plan for him/her… And we go searching . As we search, we do a lot of  data analysis using proven scientist methods combined with emotional intelligence to see if they are a match. We then go through every match with our client till we both agree on The ONE. We coach them, guide and provide emotional support while dating and sometimes till they get married.  Some still come back after marriage and we keep helping them navigate early married life.

 

What kind of person will hire a Matchmaker

Matchmaking is not for everyone. The most common being they are very busy: they are highly selective and have certain criteria they are not able to find ordinarily around them; they love their privacy – many of clients do not even have a social media account. Some are highly placed people in the society or very busy highflying professionals who want to protect their confidentiality. They come to us because they need an expert to handle their dating life. They are the sort of people who will hire a personal trainer, personal stylist and personal chef. They always want bespoke and personalised services with someone they can trust to deliver excellence while being extremely discrete. Some have tried so many times to find love, gotten disappointed several times and then decided to use us. We love the diversity of our clients. We have people from 28 to 70+ years old. While we cater to a mainly african niche, we also get requests from people of other races who want to marry africans. When it comes to the kind of thing they do, we get approached by them – The Top CEOs, Royalty, Politician, Sport Stars, Celebrities,highly Celebrated and sought after Professions – We have people in Research, Oil & Gas, Tech CEOs, Specialist Medical doctors. These people are usually the best of the best in their fields but seem to have a challenge finding love. One thing they all say is that they are busy .. Most ambitious professionals don’t have the time or resources to commit to finding the kind of person that they want but the Chotayah team  does . This I understand as I have been their shoes

Challenges of being a Matchmaker

Trying to find if a person is being honest and truthful about whom they claim to be. And depending on the client, this costs a lot of money as we work  the best hands in background checks and they don’t come cheap. In the beginning, We have met all types of people and you know human management isn’t so smooth LOL… The journey taking people from the life they are used to a new transformed life that will enhance them for success was challenging in the beginning as humans will usually reject change, but with time, I devised means to make the transformation process easier for them.

What I enjoy most about my job

My greatest joy has been helping people who felt their case was hopeless find happiness. I love seeing people transform and become better versions of themselves.

 3 women who inspire me and why

 My mum, she was a very peaceful person who loved helping people and seeing them succeed. Her influence made me develop the kind of mindset I have towards helping others. Oprah Winfrey – She is iconic . I admire her doggedness in accomplishing her dreams and also helping others do the same. I love Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsico – She is showing how a woman can be powerful, successful and balance family life.

On If people understand the meaning of true love

I think many people confuse Infatuation for Love.. Infatuation usually happens earlier on in the relationship is driven by strong emotions. That period when you have all those hormones running through your head and colouring everything you see about the other person. You have those intense feelings, the butterflies, you only want to be with them 247 neglecting every other thing in your life, and they can do no wrong.The good thing is that infatuation doesn’t last and if you are patient, the hormones will stabilize, and you can then see if you truly love this person and they love you back – which is True Love. Emotions are not enough to keep a relationship for the long term. On the other hand, True Love is more stable, more like deep friendship -where you have seen each other’s negative and positive sides and truly decide to stay together in mutual respect and deep admiration of each other. True love always has good intentions, is trusting, honest, accessible, responsive, loyal, consistent, and always growing. And you can always feel some of the passionate feelings characteristic of infatuation in a true love relation but its healthier and infatuation will always wear off. Expert psychologists say it can take 2-3 years to wear off.

My work-life balance routine and support system

My husband is my support system. He is highly organized and helps me organize my projects. Most times when I am down, he takes up the wheel 100%. When it comes to everyday work, I also delegate a lot.

If I could change one thing in the matchmaking and dating world

 I will change the process and mindset. I feel its shouldn’t be first about connecting people but about them finding real, healthy, lasting love. Focus should be more on people having the right mindset for love, understanding how to have a happy and fulfilling relationship. If all businesses put this first, then they will change their business models.

To the woman who has given up on love

 I will ask her why. Is she giving up because she has a new vision and direction for her life and she genuinely thinks that a loving relationship isn’t what she wants? If yes, that’s fine and I wish her Goodluck Or is she giving up because of endless disappointments? If yes, then she has to examine herself to know why the kind of love she wants isn’t coming. And NO, it’s not because all men are bad or that all the good men are taken. They are there. And she can definitely find and attract them, if she can change her mindset and strategy. 

Matchmaking nuggets, and red flags

Matchmaking: Always be clear on what you want in a relationship. Make sure you are willing to give your best to the person you are seeking to love. Be open-minded and positive. Red flags: Always listen to your intuition, if it says something isn’t right, investigate it.

Being a woman of Rubies

 I am a very compassionate person who loves people and loves to see them succeed. I believe in using my talent, knowledge, and time to empower people around me so that they can improve their lives.

Farming and agriculture are the backbone of our societyWithout farmers, we wouldn’t have access to food and other basic necessities. Take a moment to really appreciate this profession and all the hard work and dedication the farm life requires. Thanks to farmers, we can eat a wide range of food all year round. There is no doubt that Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.

Elizabeth Oladepo is passionate about improving the lives of individuals in Nigeria through healthy and safe food production. She founded 07 Foods to contribute to the achievement of the SDG 2 and 12 goals. With the establishment of 07 Foods, she partners with smallholder farmers to eliminate food poisoning caused by adulteration and cross- contamination of food products as well as reduce environmental degradation due to the burning of crop residue by converting them into livestock feeds.

She is Nigeria’s 25 Under 25 Award Prize Winner for Agriculture 2020 and a recipient of the Eloy Recognition Award for Enterprise. Graduating with a First Class in Business Administration and Management, Elizabeth seeks to learn, unlearn and relearn great business values and skills by connecting with individuals and organizations to achieve communal growth.

Elizabeth loves to read, travel, and create food recipes. She shares her inspiring journey in this interview with Esther Ijewere

Growing Up

My childhood was a mix of roller-coaster emotions. I lost my parents while I was in Pry.5 and lost access to everything, including building a strong relationship with my only sibling as we got separated. Luckily for me, my father had insurance to cover my education as I was in boarding school. It helped me grow my self-confidence, discipline, and independence. So yes, I think I see the traits of discipline in my business.

Pitching my tent in the agricultural sector

My daughter’s food poisoning experience led me to start my business. She consumed bad flour and was at the hospital for a few weeks at just 8 months old. So, I started making my own flour, selling to family and friends, and finally launching It into a full-fledged business.

Inspiration behind 07 foods

The unending cases of food poisoning caused by adulteration and contamination of food. Also, the ability to be able to contribute to economic growth.

The journey so far

The journey has been a lot inspiring, challenging, filled with laughter and tears, and of course many opportunities have helped me scale. I can’t believe we will be 3 years in business by February.

Products at 07 foods

Our product line includes yam flour, unripe plantain flour, Kokoro (corn sticks) and we are launching more products this year 2022.

Challenges 

One of the major problems we face in this business is instability in the market. A lot of time we must absorb certain costs so as not to keep increasing the prices of our products but every single time there is always a new price of raw produce or packaging material or even the logistics. The rate of inflation is causing so much harm. Other challenges include logistics, climate change, and hiring youths.

Other projects and activities

Personally, I help other women succeed in business through training on business structure and grant winning pitches through my Tams Cademy. I also partner with ZEEP Initiative to bring encouragement and support to women businesses in the hospitality industry.

What I enjoy most about my job

I enjoy the production and client relations part of my work. For my production, I am able to work with smallholder farmers in Oyo state by off taking their produce, it is always fun to be in the midst of the elderly ones where I get to learn so much more about life. On the other hand, we have amazing customers whose feedback help us in ensuring the best outputs. Both the back and front end are always amazing .

3 women who inspire me and why

Mrs. Edobong Akpabio -Founder of Visionage Agrotech Farms Ltd – Mrs. Edobong is an all-round

excellent person in my industry who is not just my mentor but also an amazing mother. She is selfless helpful, and goes the extra mile for entrepreneurs in the Agro sector.

Fade Ogunro Founder and CEO of Bookings Africa – Fade’s grit and resilience is outstanding. Her journey from being a radio host to becoming the founder of Bookings Africa, channeling through challenges and coming out better is one of the amazing reasons why this woman inspires me. She dares to be different.

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika – She inspires me through her work and support for girls and women. Her works make me believe that my goals are achievable. She truly is a gem

Government and it’s support for agricultural sector

I believe it is a continuous process. Over the last few years, programs dedicated to support the Agro sector have been put in place by the government which I believe can be more inclusive. By this, I mean

more processing plants for MSME food processors which will curb to a large extent food importation in the country. The issue of security should also be top-of-mind for the government as our farmers are faced with so many occurrences of crop burning which is one of the reasons for the price hikes.

The pandemic, and how it affected my business

My business was well positioned to counter 80% of the effect of the pandemic as we were already online, customer data was not a problem, we ensured to get more inventory of not just our products but other food commodities our customers need, we also ensured to map out our delivery processes. In short, all we did was structure how we could function better and of course; we had the government permit for essential commodities.

The Agricultural sector and thing I’d like to change

Access to reasonable financial plans for MSMES. Honestly, if we are to deal with food importation and depend on local production, there is a need for finance to get to the right hands. To purchase machines, fertilizers, raw materials, logistics, and so much more, we need finance. It will be of no use if we ban importation and local production is not sufficient for the economy. So yes, access to finance

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am phenomenal, I recognize the power and opportunities I have and I am ready and willing to share with other women. This makes me a Woman of Rubies.

Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children and Women of Rubies, put smiles on the faces of 100 seniors and vulnerable in Alimosho LGA and Makoko community with it’s Christmas Food Drive initiative. The project which was funded through the support of the public was a huge success.

The team went into the two communities to give food packages to the elderly in a bid to make them happy and feel loved.

Rubies Ink has been into advocacy, empowerment, and development projects since 2008, and runs multiple projects, empowerment workshops, trainings, campaigns, media advocacy, and women’s outreach programs centered around domestic violence, gender equality and women’s health.

They also organize the annual Walk against Rape campaign , celebrated over 1000 exceptional women through their womenofrubies.com platform, and raise funds online  for women and children in urgent need of medical and other support.

Speaking about the Christmas food drive for the aged, the founder of Rubies Ink, Esther Ijewere said;

“Old age is a blessing, we need to continuously make our seniors feel loved and appreciated. The pandemic has taught us to live in the moment and be intentionally kind, that’s one of the reasons we supported our seniors this festive season, In our bid to spread love and light. We appreciate our donors for their unwavering and continuous support over the years.”

The Project Coordinator, Michelle Inegbese said;

“This is what we love to do, supporting those in need, and putting smiles on faces. Our seniors deserve that and much more. We hope to do this more often”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see more of Rubies Ink work on rubiesink.org and womenofrubies.com, and follow their social media handles; Facebook- Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, Women of Rubies, Walkagainstrape. Instagram; @rubiesink, @womenofrubiesng, @walkagainstrape.Twitter; @rubiesinkng @womenofrubies and @walkagainstrape.