Tony Elumelu Foundation

Ife Durosimi-Etti

Ife Durosinmi-Etti is an author, entrepreneur and a sales and marketing expert with over a decade experience across fashion, marketing and manufacturing industries.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Covenant University, Nigeria, and an MBA in Global Business from Coventry University.

Ife started her career as an operations analyst in a bank in Nigeria during her mandatory one-year National Youth Service.

She volunteered with the British Red Cross at the time she was completing her MBA and joined a British multinational retailing company headquartered in London.

She moved back to Nigeria in 2012 and joined Nigerian Breweries (Heineken Operating Company in Nigeria) as a Young African Talent (YAT) and transitioned to their Corporate Communications Department as Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Support Manager.

In 2015, Ife decided to bridge a gap in the furniture market for newborns and together with Olamide Olatunbosun, founded Parliamo Bambini, a baby and child furniture company with products manufactured locally.

In 2016, Parliamo Bambini was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation for its Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program as one of the companies whose idea can transform Africa.

Parliamo Bambini is also the winner of the Jumia Super Startup Competition in 2017 In the same year, Ife was also selected as a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.

She has been selected as a mentor on one of Young African Leaderships Initiative (YALI)’s programmes and has been a panelist at Harvard University’s African Development Conference discussing the role of women in democracy and how it impacts on business in Africa.

Ife is the author of “Accessing Grants for Startups,” a book that shows the opportunities available locally and internationally for entrepreneurs in Africa that can help take their businesses to the next level.

Ife is also an associate member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).

Ife is also one of the Leading Ladies Africa’s 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria for 2019.

Ife, alongside her AGS tribe also raised N22M for Late Olamide Alli Kid’s.

We celebrate her for giving women a voice and helping them win at life.

Adebola Kupoluyi is a seasoned professional with over nine (9) years of valuable experience garnered in diverse challenging roles. She possesses general management experience overseeing key functions of Finance Operations, Quality Assurance, Health& Safety, and Network Operations.

Burdened by the number of street kids, she started Mantle of Mordecai (MOM) foundation many years ago, a registered non-profit organization with the mission to reduce the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria and by extension Africa. Adebola Kupoluyi also champions the Culture Preservation Initiative with the mandate of ensuring that the culture of her home country Nigeria is preserved all over the world. As part of impacting her world she is a volunteer mentor of The Tony Elumelu Foundation tasked with empowering young entrepreneurs in Africa.

Adebola Kupoluyi was recently appointed Country Ambassador, Nigeria for Rise &  Lead Netherlands; a global knowledge sharing, education and advocacy platform that connects leaders, emerging leaders, NGOs and change-makers to promote the inclusion of women in leadership in the workplace, marketplace and society to foster peace and prosperity in society.  Adebola’s mandate in life is to impact all lives she encounters; she shares her Inspiring journey with me in this Interview.

Growing Up

I had a relatively tough childhood because I was diagnosed of chronic asthma before I turned five. I lived most of my life on admission in the hospital and sometimes I wrote my exams in the confines of my hospital bed. I was a very frail child and all I found comfort in was my books, so I guess that made me appreciate the importance of education.

However, I know that seed of what I do now was sown at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp of Yobe state in Fika town in April 2009. While in camp I had  two “adopted” sons Musa and Mohammed whom I connected to immediately I met them. They were part of the group of kids that came to camp for menial jobs daily. Once they came into the camp it was always straight to my hostel; my roommates knew them already so they would call out to me that my kids were outside.  Off we would go to the canteen together once it was time for any meal to eat.

During our last week, my friends and I put funds together and we bought necessities such as slippers (they were always bare footed) and clothes.  Seeing the way their faces lit up because of this seemingly insignificant gesture made me realize there was so much more that could be done. Although, I did not know how to go about it then but the desire to help kids had been sown in my heart and it kept germinating.

Mantle of Mordecai Foundation and Its impact since Inception

Mantle of Mordecai foundation popularly known as MOM foundation is an inspiration from God and our mandate is simply to reduce the number of out -of -school children in Nigeria and by extension Africa . Every time I see a kid that should be in school hawking during school hours my heart breaks knowing the kind of potential that is being wasted.

MOM is a registered non-profit organisation in Nigeria and our primary aim is to seek funds to enable out- of -school children have access to quality education. MOM has children from different parts of Nigeria, but currently focuses on the children in Dustbin Estate, a slum in Lagos State, Nigeria where families literally live on refuse dump.

Our success stories have been what has kept us going. As at December 2019, we had our first university graduate Olatunji Benedict from Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. He studied B.Tech Applied Geophysics . I met Latunji Korede about 5 years ago petty trading on Lagos streets, because his father lost his only source of income and became bed ridden, hence Korede had to step up to cater for the family. Another beneficiary Solomon Aare, who is currently in his final year at the university,  after graduating from the polytechnic with a distinction, has also become a serial entrepreneur even while still in school. He runs Point of Sales (POS) agency shops in three different locations in Lagos. This is a boy that lived in dustbin estate prior to MOM sponsorship.

How my Strong Background in the Corporate World Impacted me  

I will say I have been privileged to have an interesting and positively challenging career that has spanned over nine years now. Valuable experience has been garnered in diverse roles and sectors. I am currently the Senior Manager, Finance Operations at American Towers, a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) quoted company. This is a general management capacity role which sees me managing key functions and team members working within the Finance Operations, Health & Safety and Network Operations. At the early stage of my career I gained four(4) years consulting experience in KPMG with specialty in Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). I have also had the privilege of mentoring at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), coaching four promising women in their chosen field of entrepreneurship.  I am also a New Leader for tomorrow at the Crans Montana forum, Monaco.  Advancing in my career despite all odds shaped my thought process; made me realise that I am here for a time such as now and that beyond my success in career there is more I should be doing to impact my world.

My appointment as Country Ambassador for Nigeria rise and Leads Netherlands

The Rise and Lead is an education and social impact organization founded in the Netherlands in 2018, providing skills, knowledge and thought leadership to individuals, entrepreneurs and

organizations. Our mission is to support women to achieve their personal and professional goals while leading the change towards closing the gender leadership gap.

As Country Ambassador that is leading a new Country Forum from scratch, I have the  opportunity to grow my leadership and impact and develop more leaders in my circle of influence.  Some of the expectations are to create, manage and lead all local events, meetups and training programs  as well as planning and execution of all major summits and local meetups.

Challenges of being an Advocate

The major challenge I face as an advocate is the resistant to change on all fronts. As human beings, we seem to be quite set in our ways and find it difficult to embrace another way of doing things.

An example is changing the mindsets of the parents of our beneficiaries at the MOM Foundation. Specifically, some parents do not believe that education should be prioritised therefore they are not usually very supportive of the beneficiaries. Asides, providing funds to the beneficiaries, there is usually a need for an orientation of the other stakeholders involved in the process. This ensures that the entire programme is not frustrated and our mission is accomplished.

Adebola Kupoluyi

Our International Women’s Day Summit

Rise and Lead team decided it is the best time for us to have the inaugural African summit, after two successful summits in the Hague, Netherlands in 2018 and 2019.

The summit is called the Rising Leaders’ African Summit, taking place on 27th March 2020 at Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

Theme is: Leadership. Women. Inclusion

The Summit will host progressive panel conversations, keynote speeches and impact workshops which will focus on Digital Transformation, Entrepreneurship, and advancing more women into leadership positions”. High-level business leaders, policymakers and international keynote speakers will attend to share their experience and best practices in innovation and leadership while addressing the significant potential of Women and Youth to transform the African Societies.

As part of the summit we are also gifting 25 women with free entrepreneurial training under our Inclusive Founders program to enable them grow and expand their businesses.

Registration is currently ongoing at https://riseandleadsummit.com/summit-african/ and we have discounts for corporate bodies and group registrations. Attendance of the summit is a perfect gift organizations can give their women in celebration of the International Women’s month.

The Nigerian Government and it’s impact on Women and Children

According to Edmund Burke, “the only condition necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. This is my summation of the way the Nigerian government has prioritized issues regarding women and children.  I do not see any visible or targeted effort to alleviate the peculiar issues faced by women and children.

To buttress my point, according to UNICEF data in 2014 Nigeria had the highest number of out of school children in the world ( 10.5 million). Despite all the promise made by the Nigerian government to correct this anomaly, UNICEF declared that the number had gone up by 25% to 13.2 million in 2018. This shows a complete neglect for the cause of children and lack of focus on the future of the country. My question is if education is a priority for developed countries why isn’t it a priority for a country like Nigeria contributing the highest quota to the pool of uneducated kids?

Same concerns are valid for women, in a country with such diverse and talented women, it shouldn’t be out of place to have a quota system that ensures that women are able to compete on the same levelled playing field as their male counterparts.

Adebola Kupoluyi

Being a Woman of Rubies

I have decided to dedicate my lifetime to impacting my world in every sphere I find myself. When others see problems, I search for solutions to fix the problem. I will love to die empty one day, knowing that the world knew I was here because of the lives I would have touched just like the lyrics of the song “ I was here”

I want to nurture kids, put as many of them in school, I want to mentor teenagers especially the ones that have gone through some form of molestation because I am also a sexual abuse survivor. I want to coach young women in career and also empower the currently disempowered women. I just want to give my ALL to my world, because I have realised that waking up every morning is actually a gift  that should be maximized and not taken for granted.

To Female Change-makers who are trying to find their Voice in the World

Be the light the world is desperately looking for. Have an audacious goal that is greater than you on your journey to changing the world; divide that goal into smaller subsets, tackle it daily, celebrate small wins and learn from your failures. Never forget to thank God for the doors that are being shut currently, because not every opportunity is a good opportunity. Be very deliberate about self-leadership and self-development, be yourself always and never doubt your ability to change the world. Although your sphere of influence may look small, you are actually a critical and crucial part of a greater battalion of army whose common goal is to make the world a better place; however, the tasks have been apportioned to us all in different dimensions .

You can and you will change the world in your own sphere of influence. Keep at it!!

 Mention 5 women who inspire me and why

  1. Olajumoke Adenowo – we fondly call her Mrs A. She has been of huge influence in my life since I started listening to her and eventually getting to know her. One thing she stands for which unfortunately has taken the back burner these days is excellence in the marketplace. She has shown in all her endeavors that she is on earth for a purpose and has taught us that; purpose should be fulfilled on any pillar of life we stand on.
  2. Ibukun Awosika– she epitomizes integrity as a woman in business. I have learnt from her that though taking an ethical stand may be unpopular at the time you are taking that decision, it speaks for you behind closed doors years later and takes you to places your certificate or experience couldn’t have.
  3. Debola Deji- Kurunmi – we fondly call her General DDK! Meeting her healed me of a small mindset. She is my Coach and one thing she has done for me is open my eyes to see that I can be multi-influential and productive at it. She debunked the “jack of all trade and master of none” theory. This has brought me to where I am today and all I am doing and the more that is still coming.
  4. My Mum– Mrs. Bolanle Salako- seeing her struggles and limitation as a woman who innately had it in her to be successful, who did all the hard work but just couldn’t break even. toughened me up. Unknowingly, I just wanted to be a way better version of her. I decided that apart from no one stealing my joy; I was going to be the light that is desperately needed in this world.
  5. My late Grandma -we fondly called her “Abby”. I say to myself that I am who I am because I had a praying grandmother. She was a warrior who fought wars on her knees for us. She took care of me as a sickly child and nurtured me for year(s). I am eternally grateful I got to spend time with her before she passed on 8 yeas ago.

Please reach out to the Rise and Lead team and Adebola Kupoluyi on adebola@riseandleadwomen.com or support@riseandleadwomen.com 

You can also follow our conversations on social media with the hashtags #RiseandLeadWomen #RisingLeadersSummit, #RLSummit2020 #drivethechange #leadtheconversation #togetherweriseandle

Keri Hilson, American singer, songwriter, and actress, and Angelica Nwandu, Founder of The Shade Room, #1 black-owned independent media company covering entertainment & celebrity news, will join thousands of entrepreneurs and global leaders next week in Lagos Nigeria for the TEF Forum.

Hosted by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the TEF Forum which is scheduled to hold on Thursday, October 25, 2018 in Lagos, is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem which unites over 5,000 entrepreneurs, global investors, leaders from the African public and private sectors and developmental organisations at Lagos Nigeria.

Aside from the Founder’s Dialogue, one of the major highlights of the Forum, other speakers will include Dr. Awele Elumelu, Chairperson, Avon Healthcare, TEF Trustee and Gavi Champion for Immunisation in Africa; Eleni Giokos, CNNMoney Africa Correspondent and Mayeni Jones, BBC Correspondent.

So far, international and local media – CNN, BBC, CNBC Africa, Africa24, Ebonylife TV, NTA – have partnered with the Tony Elumelu Foundation to share the inspiring story of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs with the world.

Last year, Angelica Nwandu on her panel on branding and marketing, shared insights on how she built the multimillion-dollar brand, Shade Room, from ground up.


Credit: LIB