In recent time, against the backdrop of poverty challenge that has affected about 3 billion people worldwide, various households are having difficulty meeting their responsibilities and needs. While it is the view in some quarters that the wealthy and influential among the people assist the poor and vulnerable, there are those that are not waiting until they are “super rich” to contribute their quota.
One of these is Nigerian business woman and philanthropist, Ms. Okikiayo Ishola, who has refused to be daunted by the above narrative and is doing her bit to assist the underprivileged and vulnerable people in the society.
Ishola Okikiayo, who is based in Lagos and CEO of Gonowtravelsandtours, and Gocrest Global Dualcitizenship and Properties, believes every person should be his/her brother’s keeper, especially those that have been blessed with means. Doing charitable works brings true happiness and comes with various other rewards, she claims.
Through her non-governmental organisation, GO Foundation, despite her relatively young age, 28, Okikiayo has been empowering indigent people particularly with scholarships and entrepreneurship skills.
In just three years of official existence, the foundation, Okikiayo says, “has touched so many lives; uplifted the less privileged, paid school fees and also sponsored children abroad to further their studies.”
She adds: “Every month, I visit villages to supply food, render alms and also pay school fees for indigent students.
This month I will be visiting my village and have made up my mind, together with my team, to sponsor 100 children to school.
I also have a GO Foundation Abroad plan where the best three students are sponsored abroad for educational purposes, all expenses paid.”
The serial entrepreneur, who is the first of three siblings fathered by a pastor and trader as mother, admits her journey to success today has not been an easy one, having gone through a lot including “driving Uber to put food on my table amid other life experiences.” But is grateful to her parents for a strict regime of hard work and education that has served her so well in life.
“My training from my parents has helped me a lot. My mother, for instance, is such a kind and hardworking woman and a business mogul where I got my smartness and hardworking skills from. Some of my experience growing up was sad, but I see them as part of what has made me stronger today.”
On what drives her, the Lagos indigene said inspite of passion to assist the poor, sometimes the fear of future menace by those abandoned on the streets who may also take to drugs and other criminal activities is a constant minder.
“My dream in the next five years is to take a thousands of children off the streets and gift them a better life. The children we fail to train could end up being a menace to us in the future,” she explained.
According to Ishola Okikiayo, she set up the foundation “because of my passion for giving to the needy and I’ve always wanted to be a source of happiness and blessing to people, and I know what it feels like to be in need. Also my past struggles in life are part of what motivate me. Hence I decided to have my own foundation so I can fulfill part of my dreams and purpose through charity.”
She recalls a particular incident in secondary school, where some friends dropped out due to lack of financial and educational resources. “We were asked to contribute money for some practicals and I was in this tye-and-dye group, where Tomi whose parents were late and stayed with her grandma who struggled to feed and take care of her, couldn’t pay hers.
Unfortunately, despite teary appeals Tomi was axed from the group.
“There are a lot of people like Tomi who have dropped out of school or even given up on education altogether in our society today. This explains my burden to assist more people get into school, as we all know that education is part of the key to success.”