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Ijeoma Scholarstica Ugochukwu stands as a guiding force of empowerment and leadership within her community. As the Founder of Immaculate Trios Cleaning Services & Ijeoma Motivates Inc. Canada, she has spearheaded a profit-making organization that transcends conventional business models. Instead, her focus lies on fostering synergy, promoting survivorship, and instilling positive motivations in everyday life.

A Trailblazer in Leadership and Service

Ijeoma’s journey towards transformative leadership began with a foundation in Economics from the University of Ado Ekiti, complemented by a diploma in Human Resources. Currently pursuing her Masters Degree at York University, her dedication to education mirrors her commitment to personal and professional growth.

Community Engagement and Volunteerism

Ijeoma’s passion for community service shines through her volunteer work with esteemed organizations such as the Salvation Army, New Circles Community, and Neighbourhood Link. Serving as a community service assistant in various capacities, she has demonstrated a profound dedication to supporting and uplifting those in need.

Excellence in Healthcare and Senior Care

In addition to her community endeavors, Ijeoma has made significant strides in the healthcare sector as a Personal Support Worker and caregiver at VHA Home Health Care Organization. Her compassionate approach and unwavering commitment to the well-being of Canadian seniors during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic earned her the esteemed title of Best Staff of the Year in 2021. Ijeoma’s dedication, support, and care serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration to all those she serves.

Motivating Change and Empowering Futures

Through Ijeoma Motivates Inc Canada, Ijeoma harnesses her passion for positive change, survivorship, and motivation to uplift individuals and communities. By fostering synergy and developing positive motivations in day-to-day life, she empowers others to navigate life’s challenges with resilience, optimism, and determination.

Ijeoma’s Inspirations: Celebrating the Impact of Mercy Itohan Osayi, Maryam Muritala, and Her Beloved Mother

Within the tapestry of Ijeoma’s life, three remarkable women stand as pillars of inspiration, guidance, and unwavering support. From mentors to family, each has left an indelible mark on her journey, shaping her into the woman she is today.

Mercy Itohan Osayi: As an extraordinary mentor, support system, and cherished big sister, Mercy embodies the essence of encouragement and empowerment. Her wisdom, guidance, and unwavering belief in Ijeoma’s potential have been instrumental in her personal and professional growth, instilling confidence and resilience every step of the way.

Maryam Muritala: A beacon of inspiration and a guiding light within the Nigerian-Canadian community and diaspora, Maryam’s impact transcends boundaries. Her dedication to community upliftment, advocacy, and leadership serves as a source of inspiration for Ijeoma and countless others, igniting a passion for positive change and social impact.

My Mom: Above all, Ijeoma’s beloved mother holds a special place in her heart as her biggest supporter and steadfast companion. Through every triumph and challenge, her mother’s unwavering love, guidance, and strength have been a source of solace and encouragement, providing the foundation for Ijeoma’s resilience and determination.

Together, these three extraordinary women represent the embodiment of love, resilience, and empowerment in Ijeoma’s life. Their influence and support have been instrumental in shaping her journey, inspiring her to reach greater heights and make a positive impact in the world.

Black Women Initiators of Canada

In their shared pursuit of fostering empowerment and uplifting marginalized communities, Ijeoma Scholarstica Ugochukwu and Esther Ijewere have joined forces to establish the Black Women Initiators of Canada. This dynamic partnership brings together their passion for social impact and their commitment to driving positive change.

Black Women Initiators of Canada
Esther Ijewere and Ijeoma Ugochukwu at the Canada Vendors Entrepreneur Awards in December 2023

Together, they are building a platform that amplifies the voices of Black women and creates opportunities for growth, empowerment, and community support. Join us as we explore their collaborative vision and the transformative impact of their work on communities across Canada.

As Ijeoma continues to make a profound impact in both business and community spheres, her legacy of empowerment and inspiration will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.

Connect with Ijeoma via her Instagram page  @Ij_motivates

Adepeju is a girl development advocate, inspirational writer and a penultimate law student at the University of Lagos. I am passionate about the development of girls and believes that if girls are properly equipped with decision making skills, they will make informed decisions regarding their sexual life, education, career and life generally.

She started her organization; Vibrant Girls Development Initiative at the age of 16, a youth led organisation committed to the development of girls. The organisation engages in mentorship sessions, sexual education, girl-child advocacy, sexual abuse awareness, educational and career development. Through VGDI, she has developed communication, public speaking, writing, team building, analytical, leadership, problem solving skills among others.

“In 2014 when I started Vibrant Girls Development Initiative, I lost my dad earlier in the year. I could have remained in that state and play the victim’s game. But no, I told myself that I needed to make a change and help girls become vibrant women. I had no father to connect me, says Adepeju as she shares her story with me in this interview

Growing up

I had an interesting and challenging childhood. Being the first child of four children, my dad always ensured that I make decisions which affected myself and my siblings. I think now that I am managing a non for profit, empathy which he taught me comes to play. I now care a lot about girls, my team and people around me generally.Aside having empathy, I had since childhood learnt some Do’s and Don’ts of Leadership. As a leader, I now listen and care a lot about everyone. My parents made me unlearn imposition of wills, uprightness, and rigidity. My childhood prepared me for the path I’m towing now. I learnt not only to look out for myself but to always consider others too. I didn’t grow up like other children. I grew up thinking about myself and others.

Meet Me!.

Qaozara Adepeju is a girl development advocate, a writer, speaker and a budding lawyer. At 16, I pioneered Vibrant Girls Development Initiative, a youth-led non for profit organisation that is committed to the development of young girls especially those below age 20. I am currently the Executive Director of the Initiative.I had my primary and secondary education in Ibadan and Lagos and I am currently a penultimate law student at the University of Lagos, Akoka. As a law student, my interest span across corporate and commercial law, intellectual property law, finance and tech. I look forward to businesses thriving by using my knowledge of the law to improve the status quo of business persons and companies.I enjoy mentoring girls and inspiring them with my stories and inspiring stories of other girls and women. In my spare time, I enjoy planning events or volunteering for noble causes.

Starting Vibrant Girls Development Initiative at age 16

Having spent 12 years living in Isale Eko, Lagos Island, I discovered that it was a thing of pride and joy for teenage girls to be pregnant. Many see it as an achievement or an event that earns them respect among their peers. I used to be very angry anytime I see a young girl with big belly. I can remember a day I complained to my brother, “These mothers don’t have the financial resources to cater for their babies and they make us suffer more in the country by adding more pressure to the economy.” Then, I had a close friend who got pregnant while in secondary school. Also, the training and guidance I received from my parents helped me in making decisions. Knowing that a lot of girls do not have such parents, I dreamt of having an initiative which will provide such guidance to the girls. At 12, I emerged the Lagos State Champion of the BRF Quiz Competition where I met with a lot of state dignitaries.At 13, I was sponsored alongside some others by the Lagos State Government on a trip to the United Kingdom for two weeks. All these I believed groomed me to be better, and not all girls had this kind of experience. Thus, I felt a need to start an initiative to give girls adequate sexual education and also guide them to become vibrant women in the society.

Impact of attending training and leadership skills workshop while in secondary school

In my first year in senior secondary school, I had my first leadership training with LEAP Africa. The training aside from teaching me qualities a leader should possess, gave me practical steps on how to drive change. The training manual helped me in goal setting, carving a niche for myself, planning, budgeting, crafting vision and mission statement among others. A year after attending the training, I read the manual again. It was this time, I started forming an intention to drive a change. I was unsure of what to do. At a time, I thought about advocating for recycling. Later, I thought of raising awareness around bleaching of the skin. However, I was testing my skills. During these times, I started setting personal goals and crafted personal mission and vision statements. So, when I founded Vibrant Girls Development Initiative, it was easy to set goals, create vision and mission for the organisation. The LEARN Summer School Programme also helped build my creativity and communication skills

Reception and Sponsorship are my biggest challenges

The first challenge which I think is common is financial challenge. We face difficulties getting funds and sponsorships from organisations. For example, our annual Project, the Empower Her Project is the only Project yet which requires a lot of funds. Corporate bodies don’t really support much in the end, we fall on individual sponsorship as well as people within our network. Another challenge is the reception from some schools and organisations. Due to the fact that we are young, some schools and organisations don’t attend to us well. Sometimes, I insist that we be treated same way older people are treated. This is very disheartening.

Reward

My greatest reward is in hearing stories from the participants of any of our programmes recounting how it has changed their lives. Recently, one of the teachers from one of our beneficiary schools told me how she looked forward to this year’s conference. Another thing I get joy from is when any of my girls uses the words I always say to them to soothe me anytime I am facing challenges. This has happened to me countless times. All these and more are my rewards.

My organisation in 5 years

In the next 5 years, I want us to have reached out to more girls not just in Lagos but in Nigeria. I see a VGDI where our impact will be felt nationwide our name will be a household name among girls. Also, I want us to be internationally recognised as an organisation working towards reshaping and grooming young girls into vibrant women. Similarly, I see you directly investing in the lives of girls through scholarships, training or fellowships.

Felt like giving up in the beginning

The first time I felt like giving up was when we started in 2014 and all of the girls that used to attend the mentoring sessions stopped coming. My motivation waned and I had to give it time to re-strategise and rethink. Also, in our first two years, I felt like giving up when because of my age, I was belittled by some people. We had issues getting venue for our programme, we had issues with funds and among others. But my team members have been ever supportive. They have taught me that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

Who and what inspires me to be better

The first person that inspires me is my mum. She lost her husband in 2014 and didn’t allow this to affect her. She is an epitome of courage, strength, diligence and excellence. Her life is just full of inspiration to me. Many times when I need someone to lean on, she is always there for me. Sometimes, all I need from her is a hug. Also, Mrs Bisi Akindele inspires me to be the best. She has been very supportive from the inception of Vibrant Girls Development Initiative. I am inspired by the story of a widow who struggles and educates all her children. Or by the story of a challenged student who excels. Or by stories of professionals and how they climbed the ladder.What inspires me is the fact that there is no room for average. If you want to succeed, do so gallantly and vibrantly. Don’t be average.

Reception

Well, at first it wasn’t a smooth entry. But with time, I have learnt to collaborate, leverage and reach out for help.In the first year, I was still trying to understand the environment. I didn’t know how social media could be used effectively. I didn’t know much about grants. I didn’t know many people with like minds. But, from the second year, I started to reach out to people, network with others in the same sector, look out for grants, attend events and seminars and lots more. Now, I can say that I have quite a number of young people in my network who have passion for development and are doing well. Also, I have learnt the art of storytelling and use it effectively to tell my story and what I do.

Being a woman of rubies

Ruby has represented nobility, purity, and passion through the ages. It is a stone of sentinel. I am a woman of rubies because I have stories of struggles, stories of failures, as well as stories of my successes. In 2014 when I started Vibrant Girls Development Initiative, I lost my dad earlier in the year. I could have remained in that state and play the victim’s game. But no, I told myself that I needed to make a change and help girls become vibrant women. I had no father to connect me. I had no money. I had no clue of the challenges ahead but I had passion and a good team and 4 years down the line, I am still here making impact. I am a woman of rubies because I do not allow my age to be a barrier to me At first, the age was a barrier because people do doubt what I was doing but now, I leverage on the age to get what I want . I am a woman of rubies because I am not perfect. I do not have it all.

Advice to young girls like me

Make yourself valuable by acquiring skills. Do not play the pity game. The path will not be smooth. The road may seem long. The darkness may seem to last forever. Nevertheless, you have to keep at it against all odds. The world is changing; new skills are needed to meet up with the changing world. Get prepared and brace up.

26-year-old Hauwa Ojeifo has won in the first edition of MTV Europe Music Awards’ ‘Generation Change’ category.

The award ceremony is currently going on at the Bilbao Exhibition Center, in Bilbao, Spain.

Miss Ojeifo who was selected among four others was however missed on the red carpet, as she could not secure a Schengen Visa from the Spanish embassy in Nigeria to embark on the trip.

Her award category was presented during the MTV EMA red carpet pre-show.

The award aims to elevate and empower the fearless, original young people who are changing the world.

Ojeifo was selected alongside a 21-year old Afghanistan, Sonita Alizadeh; 17 year old Lebanese, Mohamad Aljounde; 20 year old Briton, Ellen Jones and an 18 year old Xiuhtezcatl “X” Martinez.

 

 

Credit: thenationonline

 

Nadia Murad is a German based Iraqi human right activist who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize awards at the age of 25. She is also the first Iraqi woman to win that award.

She was awarded alongside a Congolese doctor, Denis Mukwege for their efforts in ending the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Murad and about 3,000 other Yazidi women were kidnapped and sold into sex slavery by ISIS in 2014, as part of the terrorist group’s genocidal campaign to wipe out the religious minority.

Here are 9 things you should know about Nadia Murad:

1.Her full name is Nadia Murad Basee Taha

2.Murad was born in the village of Kojo in Sinjar District, Iraq.

3.Nadia Murad was taken into slavery  by ISIS on 15 September, 2014.

4.She escaped from ISIS camp in November, 2014.

 

5.Murad started living in Germany in 2015 after leaving the refugee camp.

6.Murad  worked with United Nations in global and local advocacy initiatives to bring awareness of human trafficking and refugees in December, 2015.

7.In September, 2016, she announced her Initiative called “Murad’s Initiave”to provide advocacy and assistance to victims of genocide.

8.In 2016, she received her first award which was the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations.

9.Nadia Murad became the first Iraqi woman to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize

 

Credit: Fabwoman.ng

Actress and producer, Foluke Daramola Salako has recently bagged a political appointment. She shared the good news on via a photo she shared on her Instagram page.

The caption read:

“BOMG NEW APPOINTMENTS!
Foluke Daramola Salako, 
Head, Directorate of Contacts & Mobilization, Buhari/Osinbajo Mandate Group, Lagos…”

She has been appointed by the Buhari/Osinbajo Mandate Group. Here is the image she shared below.

 

Chief Folake Solanke (born 29 March 1932), SAN, CON, is a Nigerian Lawyer, administrator, and social critic. She is the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the first Nigerian female lawyer to wear the silk gown as Senior Counsel. She is the first Commissioner of Western State, and is a former Chairperson of the Western Nigeria Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC).

She was the 42nd and the first African International President of Zonta International, an international service organization that focus primarily on advancing the status of women. The 43rd International President was also African.

Upon her return to Nigeria in August 1962, Solanke began her law career at the chamber of late Honourable Justice Michael Adeyinka Odesanya (rtd), while teaching Latin and Mathematics at Yejide Girls Grammar School in Ibadan, Oyo State. Her father died in April 1963. In May 1963, after she was called to the Bar in absentia, she moved to the law office of Chief Frederick Rotimi Williams as junior counsel.

In 1972, Solanke was appointed the first Commissioner of Western State and chairperson of the Western Nigeria Television Broadcasting Corporation (WNTBC).

In 1981, Solanke became the first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria and the first Nigerian female lawyer to wear the silk gown.

Solanke rose through the ranks of Zonta International, first serving as the District Governor for Africa and then as International Vice-President. In 1988, 1990, and 1994, Solanke ran for election to the International Presidency of the organization (she did not run in 1992). She lost the first two times, but won the third time, being elected in Hong Kong on July 21, 1994 as the 42nd International President, the first non–caucasian, African president of the organization since its establishment in 1919.

Solanke’s autobiography, Reaching for the stars was published in 2007. The book described her as a “Lady of many firsts” and how she rose to prominence in the legal profession.

When you meet Adenike Akinsemolu, the first thing that strikes you about her isn’t just her drive but also her confidence. This youngster is a passionate environmental researcher, educator, and female child advocate. A former intern at Clinton Foundation, Adenike’s work and enthusiasm for youth and the environment has taken her across the globe. She is currently a lecturer at Adeyemi College Campus, a college of Obafemi Awolowo University, one of the youngest to take that position and also the founder of the Green Initiative. In this chat, Adenike reveals how anger and pain led her into advocacy and many more

Growing up

My childhood was filled with love and care from my parents. I remember when my dad got me my first bicycle, which was bigger than me. I would try to ride it and fall. My dad would encourage me to keep trying. And on this fateful day, I picked up my bicycle with no help and started riding. I remember yelling, “Daddy, I did it!!!” In that moment, I learnt never to give up no matter how big or impossible the task seems. However, I spent my teenage years away from my parents. This taught me independence. I worked after school hours. I remember working at Seven-Eleven, a convenient store where I sold coffee, cigarettes and other stuff as well as cleaned floors. I would work till 12am and wake up 5am in the morning to prepare for school. This taught me multi-tasking and hard work.

Passion for advocacy and development

I am a very passionate person. When I read the news or watch the TV and I see any form of injustice or feel something could be better, I always feel this anger and pain inside of me, which ignites my passion for advocacy. I have faced discrimination as an immigrant in the United States, as a female in academics, as someone working in a small town and as a young person with many leadership roles. I can relate to people in these areas. As for development, Ondo town inspired me. It is a small green town I am in love with. Ondo indigenes are doing really well nationally and internationally. Most of them are CEOs at a lot of companies abroad. However, the town is still very underdeveloped. These indigenes come home every Christmas or special occasions to show off their wealth. You will see them during Ekimogun festivals and other events donating millions of Naira to show off while their town is still stricken with poverty due to lack of jobs. It is only in Ondo town that you will see billboards used to display obituaries, birthdays and wedding ceremonies even though there are no industries. I can’t change the whole of Nigeria but I can do something no matter how little in my hometown. My dream is simple: using my head and heart to foster positive change in my own backyard. The goal is to think globally but act locally.

Being a young female lecturer

It is such a great feeling. I am able to mentor students, get involved in research with students and faculty members as well as share my passion for advocacy. My students see me as a role model and can relate to me both on a friendship and professional level. I am almost like them. I am still learning and they inspire me in various ways they can’t imagine. Sometimes it can be tough. Nigeria is a patriarchal society and we often equate age with respect. We also do not mind our business. There is also office politics that I try to avoid. However, I do not see these as limitations. I am in fact thankful for challenges in the system, they have shown me exactly who l don’t want to be and why I need to be different. “Different” is good and it is needed. There is this view that if you do not conform, it automatically equates being bad and that’s one of the reasons we are not progressing as a nation. They want you to be satisfied with the status quo. I am not. In fact, I am not “normal”, I have accepted that long time ago. Thankfully, I have supportive parents that let me follow my dreams and students who appreciate me and inspire me with their life stories. Some of them call me “mother” despite my small stature and youthfulness.

Greatest influence

Helen Akinsemolu, a woman of substance, my best friend, my mother and someone that inspires me to strive for greatness. This woman has it all: Family, Career and Happiness.

Inspiration behind Green Campus Initiative

The Green Campus Initiative was inspired by my students. In one of my lectures, I asked my students what they understood by “Going Green”. Astonishingly, in a class of over 250 students, no one could explain the idea of going green. About 98% of them simply had not heard about it before. When you ask an average Nigerian youth to participate in community service or volunteer their time in helping the underrepresented communities, they simply ask “What do I stand to gain?” or “How does that put food on my table?” You cannot totally blame them. It is the culture. I also noticed students discard their wastes in classrooms and around the school environment. Additionally, a lot of them do not have skills needed to survive upon graduation. How can we encourage students to live their life in such a way they do not harm themselves, the people around them and most importantly their environment? This question birthed the Green Campus Initiative. It was established to educate, engage and enlighten young people to live green as well as equip them with the vital tools to positively transform their communities, nation and generation. Our programs encourages students to use bicycles and other means of sustainable transportation, conserve energy and water, utilize renewable energy, dispose their wastes properly, become social entrepreneurs through the development of vocational skills and be eco-conscious citizens.

The Bill Clinton Foundation experience

Working with the Clinton Foundation was a dream come true. That is where I learned about the power of giving in the form of community service. My favourite President Clinton quote is “People who work together generally do better than people who fight. People who build, generally do better than people who wreck. People who learn, generally do better than people who insist on remaining ignorant and people who care, generally fare better than the heartless.” And that quote is something that has shaped me and inform my decision to return to my hometown (Ondo) and do something, no matter how small. Luckily, I discovered my passion for teaching and it serves as a vehicle to effect that positive change.

Projects

For eight years, I have been committed to educating young girls in gaining their voice and place in society. My Girl Prize Program emphasizes the role of girls in developing a sustainable green economy and fostering a positive impact on the environment. This is a scholarship and mentorship program for girls interested in science and specifically environmental sustainability to enable them build self-esteem, develop leadership skills and recognize the value of community service. The girls meet monthly to network, listen to experts on the latest developments in science, the green movement, and receive various trainings. As we say in Africa: “When you educate a girl, you educate a whole nation.”

Giving up

Engaging in positive things does not give you immunity from negative humans. It is part of the challenge and lesson to learn from. I always advise people that want to move back to Nigeria that if they do not have a solid backbone, a thick skin and ability to face all kinds of oppositions coupled with lack of support, by all means they should stay away. For me, giving up on my dreams is never an option. Never!

My greatest reward

Working in the education sector is a perfect fit. I love the fact that I am helping to create highly educated and responsible citizens, one student at a time.

Advice for budding entrepreneurs

Life is a journey, with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most importantly, experiences to enjoy. All you need is a burning passion, an open mind and a compassionate heart. There will never be a perfect time to start a business. Start now, start right, start proud and don’t stop.

Being a woman of rubies

I am multidimensional. I do have my values and I am not easily compromised. I embrace my individuality. I follow my passion. I choose love and above all, I do things that make me happy.