Green Onyx Foundation co-Founders, Nwamaka Agbakoba and Ijeoma Popoola (Source: Nwamaka Agbakoba)
Green Onyx Foundation is dedicated to supporting the holistic well-being of individuals living with disabilities or are affected by disabilities. The foundation is on a mission to ensure; in the places where they work, that vulnerable populations living with special needs are safe, supported and adequately cared for.
About The Foundation
Green Onyx Foundation is headquartered in the United States. We work primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa with footprints in the United States and Canada. Oftentimes, individuals with disabilities are overlooked and are not celebrated for their unique abilities and allowed to bloom as they were purposed to do. In providing support(s) as an organization, we hope to bring regeneration in a sector so often overlooked.
Although their project plans are Africa-wide, the first projects kick-off in Nigeria because both Founders are Nigerian by birth. They had also previously pooled their personal efforts together on social media to benefit the inclusion space in Nigeria. Their decision to work together in Africa is simple. Both know and understand how challenging navigating disabilities and achieving the highest possible quality of life is. It is quite the challenge in places like Nigeria. In more developed nations, the journey to inclusion has not come without a fight for persons with disabilities to be afforded human rights at the very minimum.
Some of this has only been achieved through self-advocacy. Where there are such high incidences of poverty and the public sector just does not work for various reasons, how do you start to advocate for these rights? They see themselves as a support to handhold and show what is possible through education. At the same time, they are wise enough to understand the issues in the land. They want to provide practical support to families where possible, and to disability support services such as orphanages that rescue children whom their families cannot care for. These children staying with their birth families sometimes endangers them. Some of the pressure on families is societal so attention needs to be focused there as well.
Green Onyx Foundation is committed to making an impact seeking inclusion and social justice for people living with disabilities on a national and international level.
How They Work
The Foundation sponsors and creates educational, advocacy campaigns educating on various types of disabilities and healthy attitudes towards the same. They act as a resource center for parents with special needs kids, seeking out and passing on resources to enhance their children’s quality of life.
Their aim is never to duplicate efforts where they are already existent. Green Onyx Foundation (GOF) in instances where services are existent, will partner with, amplify, and provide backing through collaborations, capacity building and/or channeling funding to verified local organizations that provide critical support services to persons living with disabilities, building inclusion, creating awareness, and supporting entrepreneurial activities in the disabilities sector in Africa.
The first year has been one of putting formal structure around the Foundation, getting to know the organizations in the space, what their initiatives are and building strategies for engagement. They have executed pilot projects to understand what works and delivers the greatest impact in an ecosystem where there is so much lacking both on private levels as well as from a public sector perspective. By this they mean that you can speak all the grammar that you want on a high level until you are blue in the face, but if you are not supporting in ways that a person can have basic sustenance, then you will very soon start to find that you no longer have an audience. Their approach to tackling disabilities is therefore multipronged.
Impact Story and Aspirations
To date, they have been able to raise approximately NGN 10 million in friends and family drives. The funds they have raised have gone towards cash donations, food items, rent, holiday donations, pandemic relief, and physiotherapy for children in a special needs orphanage. What they have also done in some instances is to directly match donors in the diaspora who want to give to causes in Nigeria but might have been burned previously due to lack of integrity. Based on the relationships they have built in the sector; they are able to responsibly match make donors to causes within the disabilities sector leading to higher levels of impact and accountability recorded.
They have also provided mentorship to persons with disabilities as well as support providers in the space. Their hope is that as the team expands, they will have the bandwidth to undertake more mentoring opportunities through staff and volunteers. Research is another area of interest to them because having quality data will attract more willing and better guided donor funding as well as investments into the market. They say investments because there is a need to build universal infrastructure to accommodate everyone including people with disabilities. Accessibility is a fundamental right and we also must remember that not everyone who lives with disabilities lives in poverty.
Their hope over the next nine months of 2021, is to have formed at least three Corporate partnerships to raise funding that will enable them to begin to create content for television, radio, social media, and print in English, pidgin and at least the major Nigerian languages to formally kick off their campaign for disability rights. Their messaging as always will be to deliver education and advocacy in the simplest, most relatable means. They also hope to have made the connections needed within the public sector to help facilitate the bits of our work that the private sector cannot achieve.
About The Founders
Nwamaka Agbakoba has a business background with a BBA, Finance from Kent State University, Ohio and an MBA, Emerging Markets Finance from Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington DC. Nwamaka has spent several years working in the International Development sector including at the World Bank and on programs in Nigeria funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Outside of her formal career working in the International Development and financial sectors,she pride herself on being a serial entrepreneur. The common thread between the ventures she has been involved in is social justice.
Working on disability issues comes from a personal place for her. She identifies as a person living with disabilities. The conditions she live with are Rheumatoid Arthritis and a chronic lung impairment. She is also a Mom whose young child lives with Cerebral Palsy and a couple of co-occurrences. The awareness of these societal issues and her personal issues cemented her interest in focusing on helping other parents and persons living with disabilities navigate this difficult road by educating themselves enough to find a voice to become their own advocates.
Ijeoma Popoola is a very strong advocate and resource for persons living with disabilities. She has experience as a Special Needs Educator with a Severe/Profound Special Education certification. Ijeoma has three master’s degrees in Special Education Administration, International Relations and Human Relations. She is currently a Doctoral candidate pursuing an Ed.D in Educational Administration and Leadership. Her Doctoral research is focused on special education in Nigeria. Ijeoma is also Founder for Mrs. IJS Kids which is a knowledge house that disseminates information on building an inclusive educational system both from the public sector and educator perspectives.
Ijeoma’s journey to working on disability issues started as a burden on her heart to be of more assistance to her neighbors. As a Mom of three daughters, she strongly believes there is a Proverbs 31 woman inside each one of them that will drive change in the world to include persons with disabilities in every career field. Ijeoma’s passion continued to grow after she took on a job teaching in the public-school system in Oklahoma. The rapport she was able to build and the ensuing impact on kids who have severe disabilities, and their parents was an affirmation on what can be achieved with the right tools, systems, and nurture. It prompted her to keep enhancing her knowledge on inclusion in the educational system.
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Crtve DEVELOPMENT launches WE!ARE to promote climate change awareness in Africa
Crtve DEVELOPMENT CEO, Dr. Okito Wedi (Photo: Supplied).
In addition to making profits, it has become a necessity for businesses and organisations to embrace a consistent, policy-driven culture of giving back to the community where they do business. The reason is that a policy-driven socially responsible endeavour is a sustainable and socially responsible endeavour. Businesses that have this corporate mindset are the ones that eventually provide solutions that truly meet the needs of the community they serve, even when they are profit-driven.
As a platform that showcases African businesses, innovations, and entrepreneurs, Business Africa Online (BAO) is excited to witness yet another novel and beneficial platform where businesses, NGOs, funders, and organisations are standing side by side with talents and creatives in the arts and entertainment to ensure they find expression and use those expressions to deliver the needed solution to pressing issues that affect communities in Africa, and in this case, climate change.
The Crtve Development (CD) WE!ARE climate justice campaign is an initiative that is long overdue because the solutions that have been proposed for climate change have mainly taken into account people living in places like Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and we need local solutions to local climate change problems.
Dr. Okito Wedi, Founder and CEO of Crtve DEVELOPMENT, stated: “Through the WE!ARE campaign, we want to harness the power of art and creativity to change the narrative on climate change and development in Africa and bridge the gap between communities who will most be affected and policymakers who will determine our climate future.”
CD, together with other trusted partners, has rolled out the WE!ARE campaign to socialise the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable communities on the African continent. Using creativity, the campaign will discover and amplify young people’s unique experiences and demands to surmount the challenges of climate change through climate justice.
Climate justice emphasizes the fact that Africa contributes the least to global warming, yet Africans are the most affected by climate change. As a result, those with the least capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change face the biggest threat. Climate justice aims to redress this inequality by fairly sharing the problem of climate change as well as the responsibility of dealing with it equitably, with all countries around the world. As a result, the launch of the WE!ARE campaign allows for a conversation about structure, system, and policy to take centre stage between African creatives and the corporate world about how they approach the challenge of climate change.
Collaboration between African creatives and the business community is no longer born from just mere excitement or the need to latch on to trends, but a deliberate and long-term agenda of every business and organization in Africa. This is a major win that BAO is excited about and we celebrate CD for leading the ingenious path that will benefit all because climate change affects everyone in the ecosystem.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, BAO looks forward to more businesses, organizations, and funders partnering with CD on this project to amplify the great work that is being done. It is a fact that one of the most effective ways of driving sustainable change through creativity is for the corporate world to provide the frameworks, systems, policies, assets, and seed funding needed to sustain the process.
Another big win for the WE!ARE movement is that it will help to improve the proper valuation in corporate policies for the growing social and economic value of creativity and innovation in Africa. Creatives will truly be regarded as using their talents to campaign for real solutions to challenges in Africa, and not just for leisurely endeavours.
From our vantage point, we wholeheartedly celebrate the immense work and achievements of Crtve Development (CD) and its strategic partners, including the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group, Danish Government, Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on this worthy cause they have embarked on. We hope that as a result of this work, the subject of climate change will no longer be treated as secondary or alien, but as an issue that all hands must be on deck to address with the collaboration of the corporate world, NGOs, funders, and the creative communities in Africa.
Johns Hopkins Faith Adole is Giving Back to Africa
Johns Hopkins University trained Faith Adole is a healthcare executive and entrepreneur paasionate about healthcare advocacy, public health and inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. In this exclusive with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online(BAO), Faith talks about her foundation, interventions in Africa and passion for improving healthcare access to underserved communities around the globe. Excerpts.
Faith Adole is a trained nurse practitioner, healthcare executive, and entrepreneur. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and founder of U-VOL Foundation, Inc. A servant leader, Faith is passionate about inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. She is committed to health care advocacy and bridging the gaps in existing health care and wellness needs for less privileged communities throughout the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Faith was inspired to start the U-VOL Foundation after volunteering in several international medical outreaches within Africa and seeing firsthand the poor health/hygiene practices, preventable health illnesses and even deaths in many disadvantaged and rural societies. Faith also noticed the existing inequities in Global Health delivery within Africa with a notable lack of Global Health leadership by African women as well as by those within the nursing profession.
As an African in diaspora, and as Nurse Executive with multiple years of field-based experience, Faith brings a fresh and dynamic approach to leading in the Community and Global Health sectors. Faith is currently completing her doctoral studies in Nursing as well as an MBA at Johns Hopkins University.
Inspiration behind U-Vol and what it’s set to achieve
U-VOL Foundation (United Vessels of Love Foundation) is a registered international non-profit healthcare foundation transforming lives one community at a time. Through its mission to help meet the unmet healthcare and wellness needs of vulnerable societies. This is done through medical outreach, health education, WASH and other healthcare sustainability initiatives.
The organization emphasizes love and care for all humanity through its global partnerships, its healthcare initiatives and through healthcare advocacy. U-VOL’s vision is to build dynamic relationships and partnerships with people, communities, and organizations to create global healthcare and wellness initiatives to lessen existing healthcare disparities worldwide.
Recent projects, challenges, funding and impact
Since 2015, Faith alongside U-VOL’s volunteer teams have embarked on successful international medical missions in Nigeria and in South Africa. As well as multiple domestic health and wellness domestic outreaches with the United States.
Under Faith’s leadership, her team has successfully launched a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH) in Nigeria in 2021. And recently concluded a solar powered clean water borehole project. The recent water project provided a sustainable source of clean water for 1700 people in Obi LGA of Benue State, Nigeria. Before the borehole, residents had zero access to clean water and frequented a local stream within the village called Orowu. Which dries up seasonally and gets contaminated easily during the rainy season as the same water source is used for multiple uses. This intervention will help to lessen the burden of preventable water-borne disease through harnessing a clean and long-lasting energy source.
Water Project video HERE
U-VOL’s borehole intervention swiftly follows a medical mission in the same Obi community, where a team of medical volunteers treated over 600 people. The recent medical mission and clean water project was powered by volunteers, public and private support, and a local project management team. Through skillful planning, efficient operations, strategic partnerships, thought leadership, and perseverance, Faith has been able to overcome challenges that come from influencing positive change within the African health sector despite various obstacles.
Your view on the health sector in Nigeria and Africa
“The truth is, there is so much opportunity for Africans within the diaspora and for those within the continent to collaborate for long lasting impact and change. I love the saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go further, go together’. It’s high time Africans begin to write their own narrative and leverage on the knowledge, skills, resources and influence within the continent as well as in the diaspora. Collaboration and unity will help us move forward. This is because we need both dialogue and action.
We need various stakeholders at multiple levels as well as diversity and inclusion of thoughts and hands. Community development and relief organizations are still relevant and have their place but it will take all of us to truly impact healthcare in the long term, through advocacy, healthcare policy, legislation, research, technology, education development, infrastructure, job creation and through many other avenues.”
Finally, your plans for the year
U-VOL plans to continue expanding its newly launched Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. Which is targeted at empowering and advocating for vulnerable rural communities throughout various parts of Nigeria. The organisation hopes to help aid both governmental and other NGO efforts to eradicate open defecation, provide health promotion education activities on hygiene and sanitation, and promote the construction of public toilet facilities.
Saibatu Mansaray Speaks On Breaking The Bias
Saibatu Mansaray is a former White House Senior Executive, US Army Major (Rtd) and Medical Practitioner. Saibatu Mansaray speaks with Business Africa Online (BAO) on her thoughts on this year’s international women’s day theme: #BreakingTheBias. Excerpt.
As an African and Muslim woman who moved to the United States at 20 years of age and immediately joined the United States Army. I understand the bias I carried with me into a foreign land and the military. Everyday, questioning myself given my background. But my determination to overcome my self-imposed bias and that of those around me, pushed me to over perform and prove that I am supposed to be here and will leave a mark. I got system support in the military as a woman to compete and complete military training courses that were mostly male dominated. I remember being in a few extremely challenging military courses with very high attrition rates. But upon graduation I was the only woman standing alongside the men.
In my determination to always overperform in order to break the bias and glass ceilings. I was the first woman the U.S. Army had ever assigned to the White House. To serve as White House Physician Assistant and Tactical Medical Officer to President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden. I was the first woman to be promoted early to the rank of Major as a physician assistant. I was the first medical officer and to date the only to serve as military aide to two Vice Presidents of the United States. In my own small way I created a gender equal world during my service in the military and continue to do so as CEO and Founder of The Mansaray Foundation. “Together we can all break the bias!”
Saibautu Mansaray is former White House senior executive, a physician assistant, CEO and Founder of The Mansaray Foundation. A Muslimah and retired decorated United States Army Officer. After over 20 years of humble service in the United States, she has chosen to return to Sierra Leone to make a difference.