Grace Ofure is the Chief Executive Officer of LifeCard International Investment Limited. She is also the Founder of Grace Ofure Foundation, an NGO saddled with the responsibility of empowering communities especially women and youths.
In this interview, she revealed that being raised from poor background to the level she is today made her understand what it means to be in lack. Following that she developed passion to help the less privileged ones in the society. Excerpts:
You came up with an initiative to empower the community especially women and youths on your birthday celebration, what prompted this?
We are trying to empower the less privileged because I came from that background, from low background. As you can see the title of the programme, ‘Grace Awakening’ which means the expression of the goodness of God in your life; what God has impacted in your spirit and it begins to show outside. The only way people can know there is grace, is the expression of grace. So ‘Grace Awakening’ is an initiative from the Grace Foundation where we reach out to the less privileged in the society.
However, one of the things I have noticed in life is the importance of empowerment in human lives. These days we are talking about crime, but the truth remains that any child you don’t take away from the street, might end up being the child that would rub you tomorrow. So we are very interested in training the children and letting them know that it is possible to live right in a country like Nigeria. How can you do that, is for you to be able to give them basic things. Like today, we are giving free medication, free eye check and glasses. When you look around this community, they have issue with mosquito bite and so many of them can’t afford malaria drugs which costs up to N2,000. With that little amount many still couldn’t afford it. So, we brought many malaria drugs and we give out to people so that in case you are diagnosed with malaria you should be able to get treatment, that is for medical. And most importantly, we are also doing women empowerment where we are going for a six week mentorship programme and thereafter, we are going to empower them with cash to start businesses or continue with their existing one, and then we will monitor them because business is not how much you have. Myself, I didn’t start business with capital even though I know that not everybody has the capacity to do that, but because I know what I know this capital will help. I will be teaching them the importance of capital and putting in structures and processes. Also making friends with people is important because for you to enjoy your business you need people. So you must love the people, that is why we must do a lot of mentorship. We are not just giving them money to start business, but we will help them grow the money, because one day they may become ‘Grace Awakening’ ambassadors and begin to donate to the foundation.
We will also teach them the word of God which is one of the key notes of this event. We also teach them business tips because we have a lot of people that are here who want to grow their business.
So what is the next level of doing that, and how do they access fund?
It’s going to be a total package of ensuring that everybody that attended will benefit. This is going to be yearly.
In the foundation, we normally do it three times every year. Today we will be feeding over a thousand people, reason being that food is becoming too expensive and so we have food for the less privileged or anyone that walks in will have a good meal. We are also providing food support during the mentorship programme for the next six weeks. It means that those that will be participating in the mentorship programme will have food support every week as they come, so that after the six weeks programme, they will have food support and money to take care of themselves.
What category of people are you targeting?
The programme is mainly for women and youths. The youths are so important and what they need is mindset shift. Every youth has a gift but who is their mentor? Who is their role model, who are they listening to? That is important. A lot of people who are genuinely successful from hardwork need to take up the responsibility and show youths the right direction, so that their role mindset will begin to change. One of the reasons we have so many crime in the society today is because the youths have wrong role models. So the more people come out with their story on how they made it and that is my story that is everywhere, then youths will be courageous. What a man needs is hope. If Grace Ofure could move from selling Okirika in the street of Lagos as a graduate and now been able to help people, it means I have hope, even the graduate. Not everybody needs to be employed. Some people need to create jobs. One of my mentors, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome said, ‘if nobody gives you a job, create one’. And how do you create a job, look out for that need around your environment, meet the need, then you have created a job.
That is how I created a job for myself. There are so many young girls who like to do make-up but they might not like to bend down and pick Okirika. So I would go to market, pick those Okirika, iron it and take it to them and they were excited, not knowing it is Okirika. By so doing I was creating a solution for them. That is how Okirika business helped me to make some money that I later invested into real estate. What I’m saying is that life needs direction and it is very important before anybody become anything in life. That is why I’m very passionate about this.
Are there specific areas you want to base your mentorship training, or areas of their choice?
Whatever they are excited to do we are there to guide them, and we have partners in various fields that are going to be working with us. First, we are thinking of the women because they are very vulnerable. Again, this is not our first outreach, last year we empowered women for thirty days with meal because it was Christmas period. We also went to children schools, donated school bags, shoes, furnished their school, provided writing boards for them etc. So, we are concentrating on the women and youths for now.
What is the specific number of women you are sponsoring for this mentorship?
We want to sponsor more than 100 people. Last year we did 50, so as we get better, we do more.
How much do you intend to give each participant?
It can’t be anything less than $100.