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‘Each time I feel like giving up, I remember the many lives depending on my succeeding’

By Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye   |   07 January 2017   |   1:01 am

ebereGrowing up
My childhood did in a way. Throughout my primary and secondary education, I was not necessarily the best student in my class, in fact I was always in the bottom pile in class. I thought I was dull and would never amount to anything good in life, since the notion we always had was that your life is doomed if you don’t do well in school. Things changed when I moved to the UK to further my education. As usual I struggled in the first two years of my A-levels, but I guessed I was still trying to adapt to the system. As soon as I entered the university, everything changed, I became among the top five in my class, I excelled so well and regained my confidence back. I felt I was now where I ought to be in life. Looking back, I realised what happened to me. The standard of education I received was nothing to write home about. My teachers should have done more to identify the subjects I was excelling in and help me build up in that line, but then you can’t blame them because they had more than a 100 pupils to cater to and naturally won’t have time and ability to cater to each person. This is one of the reasons my focus is on education, I believe the standard of education in Nigeria can be better.

Meet Me
I am the Founder and Executive Director of a vibrant NGO, Egunec Education Support Foundation (EESF), a foundation dedicated to creating a better Nigeria through Education and Community Development. I am a self-motivated writer and entrepreneur who enjoys the challenges of creativity. Increasing an individual’s capacity and potential has always been of interest for me, sparking my research to deepen my understanding and knowledge in this area. In doing so I have participated in capability trainings in the United Kingdom, focusing on Customer Service, increasing Job Interview skills, and writing the excellent Resume.

I am currently the CEO of 618Consulting; providing training for fresh graduates and equipping job seekers with the right skills for interviews and structuring CVs for their desired jobs. I authored the book Get your dream job without struggles which is aimed at providing solutions to the challenges job seekers face during interviews.

I am also an event coordinator. I am also the country representative for MasterPeace Nigeria chapter, an award-winning global grassroots non-profit and non-governmental peace movement, currently existing in more than 40 countries across the world. I studied economics from the University of East London and also hold an MSc. in International Money Finance and Investment from Brunel University, both in the United Kingdom..

Inspiration behind Egunec Education Support Foundation?
The inspiration behind EESF is the dream I have that one day, the quality of our educational system can stand side by side that of our counterparts in other countries; affecting lives in very large magnitude.

Being a writer, entrepreneur and a trained economist
I believe that God installed in us so many skills and abilities, focusing on just one aspect of your skills will just be a waste of time. Just like a mobile phone can be used to make calls, browse, chat and do many other things, we also can do same. This philosophy has helped me a lot because so many opportunities present themselves in life. If you don’t take advantage of the different skills that you have, you will lose out much. But to crown it all, it’s just the grace of God at work in my life.

Projects
Our projects are structured to deal with critical issues such as poverty, gender imbalance, child labour, trauma, youth neglect and underdevelopment. We are firm that people can be empowered through education and that could mean freedom!

The young people involved in the project usually learn different entrepreneurial skills such as tailoring, bakery, fish farming, soap making, bead making, carpentry, event management, etcetera and eventually start up their own businesses, earning incomes for themselves as well as supporting their families. This goes a long way to reduce unemployment and crime in the society.

Achievement so far…
We have empowered over 40 youths in Nyanya Zaimi, Nyanya village Hausa Gwandara, Gbagalape, Kugbo (1 & 2, Pyape (1&2), and Guduwa. They acquired skills in baking, fish farming, soap making, bead making, weaving, driving and in ICT, in which we partnered with New Horizon, an ICT firm in Nyanya-Maraba axis. The participants also received mentoring for three months, to ensure they perfect the skills and since then they have been able to train others. No doubt, this project significantly reduced the rate of unemployment in the aforementioned vicinities and can contribute to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

My Reward…
Seeing that lives have been improved and changed through EESF. Another is knowing that I am living my dream and in the area of my calling.

My keen interest in economic empowerment and poverty alleviation
Personally I believe quality education should be the bedrock. Women should be taught the importance of education so that they can encourage their kids to go to school. Many of the problems we face as a country could have been avoided if only the government concentrated on ensuring the educational sector is well funded and administered. I believe if this foundational level is good, it will go a long way in empowering children and the girl child especially.

Challenges
Lack of funds is the major challenge. Unfortunately, Nigerians have not really embraced charity as such, everyone seems to want from you but finds it hard to give. Also, there is wide misconception in these climes that once you are into charity, then you have more than enough. But that is not always the case with people who do charity work.

Managing the home front and work
God blessed me with a supportive husband who makes my job easy. The help I get from him makes joggling the two possible.


Advice for young women in the development and advocacy sector?
Never ever give up no matter what life might throw at you. What is needful is finding out the social entrepreneurship angle of what you do. This will help the sustainability of your organisation.

I am a Woman of Rubies
Women of Rubies are those who impact lives in one way or the other, I believe the work that I do has impacted various lives that qualify me to be a woman of Rubies.

Final words
You can become what you want in life, you don’t need anybody’s approval to launch out there. God has installed so much in you, don’t waste it. The world is waiting for you.




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