Connect with us

Afripreneur

Interview with Donors for Africa Founder, Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat

Published

on

Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat,  Founder, Donors for Africa and a Development Expert. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on how her social enterprise, Donor for Africa is passionately empowering individuals and non-profits working hard to achieve the SDGs with the right tools to access funds and the right skills to implement their programs. Excerpts.

 

 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Chidi Ezeigbo Koldsweat, has over ten years’ experience in the non-profit sector, and earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and International Affairs from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is the founder Donors for Africa where she works to strengthen the capacity of non-profits and social enterprises to access funds and achieve their vision towards the Sustainable Development Goals. We achieve our goal through grant writing, training and capacity building programs that utilizes technology. With online training platforms and resource tools; we empower individuals and non-profits working hard to achieve the SDGs with the right skills to implement their programs. Many of the social innovators we have trained have accessed funding through grants writing and we hope to partner and continue to replicate our solutions across Africa.

My experience in development spans across different sectors some of which includes HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Women in Leadership and Public Service, Empowerment for the Girl Child, Breast Cancer, Autism and  Depression.

Over the years, she has received several awards and recognition some of which includes;

Finalist – Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business & Government for Civil Society Organization (2014), Selected as a 2013 Vital Voices Inaugural Lead Fellow, Awarded a Moremi Fellowship for Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Development in Africa (Ghana.) as an emerging African leader; Nominated in the One World Blog Action among the “100 Unseen Women changing her World”(2011); led a social initiative “Impact for Change” where we provide leadership and financial assistance to young teenage girls from very impoverished backgrounds who desire to further their education.

 

 

What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it ?

Money is most times not the first thing you need to start a business. What you need is an idea strong enough for you to believe in. You have to believe in it enough to sell. My business started with an idea and that idea kept growing and created opportunities for me to provide a solution. Then I used the rewards received from the solutions created to generate income to run the business.

I strongly believe that your ability to communicate your idea, business or vision in a very convincing way can significantly increase your chances of raising funding either through sales or investment.

For businesses, it is also very important to ask what kind of funding are you looking for. Equity, debt or free capital (like grants, prize awards or informal funding)? For this kind of debt free funding which is the easiest  to secure; businesses must begin to ask themselves HOW do they secure these funds?  What do they need  to do to become grant worthy? This is where we come in- at Donors For Africa, we help social innovators ,non-profits and social enterprises with the tools they need to secure debt free capital.  We also advice and strengthen their capacity to achieve the SDG’s through grant writing trainings and capacity building programs.

Businesses must be deliberate about where they source for funds and who is funding the kind of work they do. Rather than randomly sending out proposals and business plans to anyone and everyone, they need to clarify what options are available for the kind of capital they are looking for? Do you know their requirements, criteria for investing in or financing a business like yours? Get to work by asking the right questions.

 

 

What are some of the challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome those challenges?

Running a one man show: When you start, this may be absolutely necessary as you are the sales rep, strategist, program manager etc. however, if you intend to grow, you must delegate, hire virtual assistants, volunteers or interns that are willing to take up the role.  Delegating or re-assigning some part of your work will give you an opportunity to focus on the important strategies you must implement to get to the next level of your business. It would create an opportunity to network, grow and evolve.

Prioritizing: The role of time management is very important when starting out. Focusing on what is important can play a pivotal role in the success of your business. For a while I struggled with this however I learnt the act of planning my activities and my weeks ahead of time. I also practiced a time saving technique called batching, where you segment similar activities together within a specified time frame avoiding all kinds of distractions during this time. Also looking at your business plan consistently will provide clarity as to what you need to focus on per time and this can make a lot of difference as you can easily identify if you  are focusing on your long or short term goals per time.

 

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?

In 5 years Donors for Africa will  be your go to organization when looking for social innovators or non profits to fund in Africa and around the world. We will have  a pool of trained social innovators and non-profits who have the expertise to access funding through grant writing, developing fundraising strategies and engaging with donor organizations and building a sustainability plan.

We continue to extensively engage our donors, build relationships with funding organizations, philanthropy organizations and government agencies to make these funding available to trusted institutions and individuals who are accountable.

 

 

 

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

I would say it is a fantastic idea.

According to The World Bank Group; business growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have rebounded to 2.4 percent in 2017 so some key factors to consider before starting a business or investing in Africa are;

Provide tailor made solutions. The African continent is home to 54 countries. Each country has its unique business and market trends. The typical African in these different countries havedifferent needs and wants.  If you want to run a sustainable business, identify their unique needs and provide the solutions. Don’t assume that the different countries are plagued with the same issues.

Millions of entrepreneurs have solved diverse problems simply by providing solutions in technology, health, education etc. The easiest way to build a sustainable brand is to find a problem on the continent, solve them,achieve impressive profit margins and hopefully receive lots of grants. However, as you are excited about the problem, also think about the challenges you may face such as electricity, manpower, in-depth knowledge of the law and applicable policies; that way, it would be easier to understand the reality of the challenges awaiting you and hopefully come up with a solution.

Do your research , don’t believe that some of the solutions outside the continent are applicable to  Africans  for example while we love to own new technology, most Africans are not really driven by them; we would still find ways to extend the live span of our technology products so rather than purchase  new laptops with every new release, we are thinking how do we repair and continue using the existing material so we can extend its use?.  Find out all you need to about the intended business.  Do not be excited about an idea and start implementing, identify what problem you are solving, who your beneficiaries are , what solutions you need and how you intend to solve the problem. Identify trusted local partners; you need a strong eye  who understand the market terrain.

 

 

How is your business participating to the development of Africa?

Donors for Africa works to strengthen the capacity of social innovators, non-profits and social enterprises to access funds and achieve their vision towards the Sustainable Development Goals. We work closely with every development partner in every sector. We operate under 3 pillars; Strategic Planning, Institutional Strengthening and Grant Writing Training and Fundraising Strategy  where we conduct  grant writing , fundraising strategies and sometimes highly discounted online and in person trainings for  non-profits, social enterprises and businesses who are working towards the achievement of the SDGs

Our support to development in Africa is technical as our vision is to build a strong network of non-profits and social enterprises that donor organizations can TRUST to fund and be assured of their capacity to deliver.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Afripreneur

Opeyemi Adeyemi: Addressing menstruation stigma with her invention, The Flow Game

Published

on

Opeyemi Adeyemi fondly called dryemz is a Public Health Physician and owner of the sexual health clinic which runs under O and A Medical Center Ogun State, Nigeria. She had her medical training in Sumy State University, Ukraine and MscPH from the University of South Wales. Opeyemi invented The Flow Game in an effort to address menstruation stigma and has written two books on sexual and reproductive health. Her foundation runs the Brave Boys and Girls club which travels around the South western part of Nigeria to provide sex education to children and teenagers in the effort to fight against public health issues like teenage pregnancy, STIs, HIV/AIDS and Sexual assault. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on her social entrepreneurship journey, The Flow Game and why she is addressing sexual and reproductive health issues. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and your social entrepreneurship journey?

Opeyemi: I am a public health physician who is passionate about sexual and reproductive health. I am also the creator of the FLOW GAME which is West Africa’s first board game that teaches menstrual health. My journey started in 2017 during my NYSC program where I met with the impact of misinformation and lack of access to youth friendly sexual clinics had on teenagers and young people. This led me to the start of The Brave Boys and Girls Club tour around secondary schools where students are given age specific sexuality education free of discrimination and judgment. From touring, it gave birth to menstruation workshops, consent workshops and now creation of board games that are afrocentric and youth friendly.

 

Alaba: What inspired you to launch O & A Medical Center and The Menstrual Flow Game?

Opeyemi: The Sexual Health Clinic is under O and A Medical Center in Asero, Abeokuta where anybody regardless of your background, gender, sexual orientation or any other status can get care for sexual and reproductive health issues. We offer a wide range of services that are cost friendly for the average Nigerian. The Flow game was created because during the tour, I realized the power of menstruation stigma, so decided to involve the team of expertise and the girls from the club in the creation.

 

Alaba: What is the core issue you are addressing with the Flow Game?

Opeyemi: Menstruation is a subject that still has a great level of shame attached to it. Some cultures still see menstrual blood as dirty blood. Some girls use harmful products to collect their menstrual blood. The Flow Game is a fun way to teach menstrual health and hygiene. The game covers four main areas: the female reproductive system, menstruation and menstrual related health issues, menstrual products, pregnancy and contraception. Other issues touched on include sexual assault, consent and sexually transmitted infections.

 

Alaba: How have you attracted users and grown the platform from the start?

Opeyemi: The platform is currently being reviewed as the plan is to take it digital; decided to start with a board game as it is easier with the tours, besides an average Nigerian teenager might not have the resources to play the game online and did not want to miss out on these sets of people. The buzz around the game is increasing, the game was recognized on Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021 by the African Coalition for Menstrual Health Hygiene and the Indian Commissioner of Women Affairs during a conference held in Bangladesh.

 

Alaba: Data protection is a concern for users of health platforms. Could you explain your data protection policy?

Opeyemi: Right now we are are currently working on our policy but I can assure users that they would be protected besides the data page in design would require nickname, age, sex and email address.

 

Alaba: Would you expand in the direction of male health (fertility, contraception, etc)?

Opeyemi: Yes, in June, 2021. In a bid of getting a project with an international organization, the Play It Safe board game was created and it is currently being tested in the school tours. The game is for both genders and covers safe sex practices.

 

Alaba: As a social entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge up until now?

Opeyemi: The field I chose is still faced with a lot of stigma, so a lot of sensitization is involved, changing mindsets and cultures associated with it. The second I would say is finances, balancing the cost of production and the ability of the target community to afford the services rendered.

 

Alaba: The term Femtech is still quite new. What is your opinion of the state of Femtech industry and its growth? 

Opeyemi: Femtech has had a massive impact on female health, so many innovative ideas that are gender specific. A good example are period tracking apps which have allowed women to track the menstrual cycle, have a better understanding of their cycle and make informed decision about fertility. I am happy to be in the industry and I know there is still so much more to be done especially in Nigeria.

 

Alaba: Where do you see the Flow Game and sexual wellness in the next 5 years?

Opeyemi: This is one question I keep asking myself every day, I desire to go beyond the Flow Game. Very few innovations on sexual and reproductive health tailored to the African woman. I would like to be one of the women creating sexual health innovations that are Afrocentric in the next five years.

 

Alaba: As an inspiring social entrepreneur, what piece of advice would you give to fellow female entrepreneurs?

Opeyemi: Invest in knowledge; learn from those who have done things in your desired field. Also understand that gender is nothing more than a social construct it does not define YOU, whatever you want to achieve is not tied to gender. Dream big and take steps to turn the dreams into realities. 

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

Continue Reading

Afripreneur

Interview with Insure Africa Founder, Judith Pila On Driving Insurance Inclusion

Published

on

Judith Pila, Founder Insure Africa (Image: Supplied)

Judith Pila is the Founder of Insure Africa, a company whose main goal is to drive insurance inclusion in Africa through literacy, education, and awareness. Aside being an insurance professional, Judith is a contributing writer to Insuranceopedia, an online insurance information platform focused on Canada and US markets. She is the Content Director for Ladies Corner Canada Magazine, a Board Director for LCC Media Foundation. She volunteers with various organizations like, Insurance Institute of Canada, Career Education Council, SoGal Foundation. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on her entrepreneurship journey into the insurance ecosystem and why she is driving insurance inclusion with Insure Africa. Excerpts.

 

Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and how you end up building in the insurance space?

Judith: My name is Judith Pila, born and raised in Nigeria, I now live in Canada. My journey to the insurance industry was purposive and one inspired by the need to do something different in an environment where it seemed everyone else wanted regular careers. Shortly after I moved to Canada, I already knew the industry was where I needed to be. In 2015, I began my career in insurance.

Alaba: For those who don’t know, what does Insure Africa do?

Judith: Insure Africa is a company that is, focused on driving insurance inclusion in Africa through literacy, education and awareness. We also provide consulting services to individuals and small businesses, we help them make smart and informed insurance decisions to help meet their personal and business goals.

Alaba: What makes Insure Africa special from other startups driving insurance inclusion?

Judith: While other startups are driving insurance inclusion through Artificial Intelligence and Technology, Insure Africa is doing same through literacy, awareness, making sure that Africans are well informed about insurance, so that when they decide to take on any insurance products, they are equipped with the knowledge they need.

Alaba: What have been the biggest challenges and successes in building Insure Africa till date?

Judith: I think I would have less to say in this regard, considering that Insure Africa has been actively operating as a company for only about  four months. I think the biggest challenge has been trying to convince people that we are not insurance salespeople. I think the moment you mention insurance to someone in Africa, they feel like you are trying to sell them a product. People that we have been able to reach, see value in the services we offer and have given us positive feedbacks, I would consider that a success.

Alaba: How has the insurance industry evolved?

Judith: Unlike before, when most people thought insurance was only for the rich and large corporations, more and more people are now seeing the need for insurance. The Covid-19 pandemic has also proved the importance of insurance. And with the use of technology, insurance companies are now offering insurance products through different channels making it more accessible to consumers like never before.

Alaba: Kindly share the most difficult part of being a CEO of a startup?

Judith: I think one of the most difficult part is the unpredictability, that what you are trying to build will either fail or be a success.

Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?

Judith: I feel great and inspired by other African entrepreneurs who have made it to the top.

Alaba: What are Insure Africa’s expansion plans in terms of product, tech & markets in the next 5 years?

Judith: We are more of a service company and have plans of reaching as many people as possible that might need our services. We do have tech plans but are not ready to share those plans yet. We already have representatives in about 5 African countries and think that the opportunities are endless, and the future is looking bright.

Alaba: Finally, what piece of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Judith: Keep building, there are going to be tough days, but hold on to the vision and hope for a better end.

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

 

Continue Reading

Afripreneur

Edith Njage: My Letter to fellow Female CEOs

Published

on

Edith Njage, Co-Founder and current CEO of Arielle for Africa (Image: Supplied)

Edith Njage is a Social and Serial Entrepreneur based in Africa. She is the Co-Founder and current CEO of Arielle for Africa, which aims to create over 100,000 jobs in Africa through empowering, training, coaching and connecting and funding entrepreneurs. Edith is the Country Representative for Invicta Ventures on a mission to fund social impact ventures with up to $10 billion in developing markets. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Finance and a Bachelor in Business Management with a major in Economics. A Master of Science in International Business with a major in Disruptive Innovation and a Master of Science in Finance, both from HULT International Business School. Excerpts of her letter below;

 

There are realities that come with being a woman in leadership that in most cases remain secret.

Realities faced but not communicated.

My journey as a Young, Black and Female CEO has been nothing short of rough, tough and everything in-between. The hardest truth is that the journey has been lonely with no-one to turn to, until I decided to make changes to not only my leadership, but my circles as well. I began my journey as a serial entrepreneur at 18, relatively young in the books of most but when a problem in your continent calls, age is never a factor. I became a CEO at 24 and to date I wish someone explained the realities of being a woman in leadership. Especially a young and black woman in leadership.

I wish I knew the bias that I would face each time I walked into a room and sat on the table when most expected me to just bring the coffee,

I wish I knew that fundraising would be more about my gender and race than the value my companies brought to the table,

I wish I knew that the most powerful weapon a female CEO can wield is a network of other female CEOs,

I wish I didn’t do it all alone.

Dear Female CEOs,

You are powerful. You are graceful, You are beautiful in leadership. I know that the world has taught you to blend in, I know you have been told to use your position or title to protect your vulnerability and I know most days it feels like no-one in the world can understand what it is like to be you. I want you to know the key to our strength is each other. I want you to know that rather than face the bias alone, rather than rise to the top alone, we can band together and not only rise but build a system for the next generation of female CEOs to struggle less than we did.

Where the world has called us bossy, let’s exude grit and relentless pursuit of our dreams,

Where they have called us soft, we can preach emotional intelligence and finally,

Where they have prevented our progress, we can build paths for the progress of other women after us.

This is our time, but we cannot go at it alone. We must band together and begin talking about these realities, not in secret but for the world to see. It is for this reason that I decided about a month ago that enough was enough and that it was important for me to begin sharing the truth behind my journey as a Young, Black and Female CEO. I started a podcast!

Since beginning this journey I am in awe of how many women in leadership, in business, in politics and in corporate have reached out sharing their stories!

The Latest Episode is available below (streamed to Spotify and Apple Podcast). Adding onto that I have decided to be intentional about building a Female CEO Global Board. A space for Female CEOs to share their stories, struggles, plans for growth of their businesses and so much more!

If this is something that interests you and you would like to join us next week or maybe just find a safe space and community of women who understand, book a coffee chat with me here; https://calendly.com/edith-njage-alpha-group/one-on-one

I became intentional about building circles with fellow female CEOs and investing into those circles so that as a tribe we would all rise! Rise in business, rise in our purposes and pursuits and rise in who we are as people in the world.

As always, I hope that unashamedly sharing my truth will help you know that you are never alone.

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

Continue Reading

Ads

Most Viewed