Tolulope Babajide, the Lead strategist of Ink & Ideas Consulting is a passionate and creative Communications specialist. A 2006 graduate of English and Literary Studies, Tolulope started her career in Advertising as a copywriter and swiftly moved into core journalism at the defunct 234Next as a copy editor, Arts and Culture reporter and a columnist.

Since then she has worked in the Non profit sector as a Communications and Programmes strategist and also consulted with organizations on grants writing, rapporteuring, social enterprise strategy. She is highly committed to using communication in changing human narratives and excited in helping organizations get their writings done more creatively

“Growing up in family where intellectual conversations are held around the dining table helped me to be in constant search for knowledge/”, Tolu says as she shares her story with me in this interview.

Early life
I grew up in Ilesa, Osun State and as a young girl, all I was surrounded with was books and thought-provoking conversations. My dad had this huge library (at least to my eight-year-old mind) and he compelled us to read as many books as we could. He encouraged us to read across all genres, so one minute am reading medical textbooks, the next minute am buried in Wole Soyinka’s books. This has particularly helped me in having a rich imagination which has in turn strengthened my writing skills. My parents made it their priority to consciously train children whose minds are not controlled by their environment and backgrounds. Through the books I read, I went and experienced so many cultures even when I haven’t been there physically.

Meet Me!
My name is Tolulope Babajide. I am a graduate of English and Literary Studies. I am a Communication specialist with the belief that any narrative can be changed with the right approach of communication. I started my career as a copywriter, then as a journalist at the defunct 234Next newspaper and moved into Development Communications (Nonprofits).
I love learning new things, this is what drew me to online learning. I don’t miss out on any opportunity to stimulate my brain. I am an unrepentant optimist and a firm believer that our dreams are worth fighting for unless they remain just dreams.

Inspiration behind my initiative Ink & Ideas Consulting
The inspiration behind Ink & Ideas Consulting is the need to do more and be more, a bespoke content creation agency with services including speech writing, grant writing, rapporteuring and social enterprise strategy. It has always been my side hustle, from helping people to write compelling grant applications to crafting human centered and creative speeches to offering my scribing services to organizations and strategizing with social enterprises. I finally got to the point that I wasn’t comfortable again having it as just a side gig. I believe that there are millions of grants for nonprofits and startups in Nigeria, all they need is a passionate grant writing agency who will go all in. There is also an urgent need for creativity to be infused into speeches; most of the speeches I hear today lacks the passion and not memorable at all.
Rapporteuring/report writing also has become one service that is undervalued in Nigeria. There is a need for every organization to have an objective, accurate record of their retreats and business meetings.

Impact of working in the print media and advertising sector for a while
I am particularly grateful that I started my career in Advertising as a copywriter. It gave expression to my creativity and helped me to receptive to endless possibilities in life. On a lighter note, it helped me discover my very playful side.  In the print media, I learnt a lot from the industry’s best, the likes of Molara Wood, Kadaria Ahmed, Dele Olojede, Victor Ehikhamelor etc. My time at 234Next newspaper is still one of my most exciting experiences in life; there I learnt that the world is not just black and white. That I can question status-quos and not be put in a box of conformity.

Helping organisations in the non-profit sector write grant proposals
It was my move to Abuja that exposed me to the Nonprofits industry. There I learnt that living for oneself is selfish and smallminded, there are tons of great causes to advocate for. Having worked on projects including Female Genital Mutilation, Immunization, Adolescents Access to Family Planning Services, Maternal and Newborn Health, I discovered that I enjoyed helping these causes to raise funds through grant writing. There are many great nonprofits who really need a funder so that they can scale up their activities.
There was this Cancer Outreach nonprofit that I worked with on grant writing. They go into very rural areas to screen women for breast and cervical cancers; we can all attest that it is not cheap to get test kits for the screening. Nonprofits like this need donors’ money to be able to continue with their good work.

I just moved from Abuja to Lagos. I guess that that is a challenge in terms of building networks and making them see reasons why they need my services. But the prospect of meeting new people, businesses is exciting and am all in for the ride.

What next?
I am presently working on projects that advocate for Adolescents to have a safe, no-judgement access to Sexual Reproductive services in Nigeria. I am also passionate in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation, I believe that no female should be cut. I am blessed to have this bubbling energy that enables me to collaborate with people on projects that are dear to my heart. It is an ongoing journey and am excited about it.

Getting into the Cherie Blair Foundation Fellowship for Women in Business is one reward that I am so grateful for. I just became a Mentee in the Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business and it runs for a year. Being peered with my International mentor will redefine my game and belonging to this awesome community will strengthen my networking and business skills.

My view on the advocacy and development sector in Nigeria and access to funding
The advocacy and development sector are doing a lot and they should be commended. I cannot imagine a Nigeria without the tireless input of this sector. Nationwide Immunization success will not have been possible without organizations like Gates Foundation, GAVI, John Hopkins etc.
Still on the immunization angle, I believe that there is an inadequate funding. There are new vaccines that are unaffordable for the common man; vaccines like Rotavirus, Chicken Pox, Typhoid, Meningitis etc. It will be great if these vaccines can be subsidized, there shouldn’t be anything like ‘Special Vaccines’. All vaccines are important.

Women in advocacy not celebrated
They are appreciated majorly in the terms of salary and emoluments but not celebrated.

My Inspiration…
My kids inspire me to be more in life. That might sound so cliché, but it is so true. They are my greatest motivation.  Also, the need to touch everyone I meet positively. People need to know they are needed, respected and their opinions are valid even if it disagrees with mine.

Being a woman of Rubies
My refusal to be broken by life’s pitfalls. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall, I keep on standing up. I don’t have the luxury of giving excuses.  I am also not shy in blowing the horn of another woman. Rising together as women is the sweetest. What is the essence of living in a castle if you are going to be there alone.

Advice for young women who want to go into the communication sector
Read, Read and Read. It stretches your mind and gives you insights into a variety of subjects. Don’t be that woman that knows only one thing, be all compassing. This will help in dealing with different clients from different sectors.  Be flexible, learn how to be a people’s person.