There are many challenges in our society, and those challenges require dedicated people with the passion and expertise to make positive change happen. Help For Mankind Initiative, also known as Help Initiative, in Nigeria, is one organization making its own contribution to addressing these challenges, thanks to its founder Febisola Okonkwo.
LoA found out more about this dedicated socialpreneur this month and her efforts to make a difference to the lives of others.
"I have a passion for helping others especially women and children."
What does your company do?
Help for Mankind Initiative (also known as Help Initiative) is a non-governmental organisation based in Ibadan, Oyo state Nigeria. Established in 2005, we are committed to help Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) live better and more fulfilled lives. This we do through our daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly programmes as follows:
TABITHA HOME: this is a care and transitional home for Orphans and Vulnerable children. Tabitha Home was born out of the desire to give home support to orphans and vulnerable children. Beneficiaries of this facility are orphans, abandoned and street children, children from child headed homes and children with other forms of vulnerability. At Tabitha home, we offer the following support in a comfortable and conducive environment: nutrition, shelter, medical care, protection, education and psychosocial support for our children.
CAREGIVERS EMPOWERMENT/COOPERATIVE SOCIETY: Help Initiative encourages and supports needy women in the community through Income Generating Activities like training on skill acquisition and business education, this has enabled them provide food, clothing, shelter and education for their children. Help Initiative has helped some households with start-ups grants to start their businesses. This Intervention has received a high rate of success and has also given birth to a cooperative society which is being run by the women themselves with Help Initiative providing supervisory role. KIDS CLUB: an activity based programme in collaboration with Living Word Mission provided for children in the inner city areas of the community. Interaction with the children through fun and learning activities affords us the opportunity to discover talents and children with emotional disturbances from home and school, for such we provide counselling, follow up, mentoring, role modelling and other necessary provision. CLOTHES DRIVE: This is a yearly event for children, women and other beneficiaries from the communities. The clothes drive event is an opportunity for Help Initiative to collect valuable clothing items form family and friends for the less privileged and orphanages. NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT: Help Initiative has constantly provided nutritional support to some orphanages in Ibadan Oyo state. This we do by serving nutritious food and other provisions to supplement what the home provides. This is an ongoing exercise and Help Initiative intends to extend the service to more orphanages in the near future.
"Our services are not only useful for the target group but for the entire community. What we do not only meets immediate needs but future purposes."
What inspired you to start your company?
The many needs, yearning, frustrations and desperation of this target group is one of the reasons for my inspirations. More so, I have a passion for helping others especially women and children.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Our services are not only useful for the target group but for the entire community. What we do not only meets immediate needs but future purposes. We see witness enhanced lifestyles, added values, and improvements daily in the lives of our clients.
Tell us a little about your team
Our team comprises of professional men and women, administrators and caregivers who meet immediate needs of our clients. We run an administrative team from 8am to 5pm daily where we run our daily and periodic projects and programmes. It is a centre that comprises a two storey building with Tabitha Home (residential home for the children) and the office which houses Help Initiative Staff. The women community staff members we serve run a cooperative society and do their periodic (fortnightly) meetings at the centre. They run their affairs but our team offers supervisory roles of mentoring and trains them on Income Generating Activities by enhancing them with trainings on business education, self esteem, birth control, neatness and hygiene and other lifeskills.
While the Administrative staff work during the day, the caregivers work on shift routine for Tabitha Home precisely. This is to enable the children to have an all around access to parenting through caregiving. At the moment, we have 25 children in residence but have others in the community we mentor and support.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I have always been excited, happy and joyful when helping people to solve their problems. To me that the highest point of my achievement and this makes me feel privileged and grateful that I can be of value to others. Before Help Initiative was founded ten years ago and Tabitha Home 3 years ago, I have been involved in volunteering for orphanages, refugee camps and rehabilitation centers. I found this ultimate goal and achievement as a social entrepreneur. I come from a family where helping others in a warm, natural environment is the right and best thing to do. My Dad, a teacher, church organist and a community leader influenced my lifestyle. As a growing child, I grew up with people coming in to our house for advice on educating their children, disputes, scholarships and all other issues. At any point as a child we had many relations and family friends come over to stay with us. For my parents, living together is natural and represents the communal values they believed in. The two organizations were founded to meet the needs of vulnerable women and children in my community.
"As a social entrepreneur, my greatest satisfaction is transformation, change and positive results in our clients."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We are committed to supporting as many vulnerable women and children in our society, giving opportunities to rescue more women and children from frustrating and desperate situations.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
As a social entrepreneur, my greatest satisfaction is transformation, change and positive results in our clients. I feel good seeing the children responding to love, care and affection, and doing well in school, particularly when graduates get integrated into society. I feel good seeing the women happier and self relevant and resourceful.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Keep moving, hold on to your dream and passion, don’t stop. Influence others positively. Be determined, committed, work hard and above all trust God.
Contact or follow Help for Mankind Initiative
Why LoA loves it….
Creating a business around making a positive and significant impact in society is what drives social entrepreneurship, and in the case of socialpreneur Febisola Okonkwo, she is making a difference in the lives of her community’s vulnerable women and children. She is making her vision real when it comes to empowering women and children to live the lives they deserve and to fulfill their potential in society. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa