When others see problems, I search for solutions to fix the problems – Adebola Kupoluyi
Adebola is a seasoned professional with over nine (9) years of valuable experience garnered in diverse challenging roles. She possesses general management experience overseeing key functions of Finance Operations, Quality Assurance, Health& Safety, and Network Operations. Burdened by the number of street kids, she started Mantle of Mordecai (MOM) foundation many years ago, a registered non-profit organization with the mission to reduce the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria and by extension Africa. She also champions the Culture Preservation Initiative with the mandate of ensuring that the culture of her home country Nigeria is preserved all over the world. As part of impacting her world she is a volunteer mentor of The Tony Elumelu Foundation tasked with empowering young entrepreneurs in Africa. She was recently appointed Country Ambassador, Nigeria for Rise & Lead Netherlands; a global knowledge sharing, education and advocacy platform that connects leaders, emerging leaders, NGOs and change-makers to promote the inclusion of women in leadership in the workplace, marketplace and society to foster peace and prosperity in society. Adebola’s mandate in life is to impact all lives she encounters; she shares her Inspiring journey with me in this Interview.
I had a relatively tough childhood because I was diagnosed of chronic asthma before I turned five. I lived most of my life on admission in the hospital and sometimes I wrote my exams in the confines of my hospital bed. I was a very frail child and all I found comfort in was my books, so I guess that made me appreciate the importance of education.
However, I know that seed of what I do now was sown at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp of Yobe state in Fika town in April 2009. While in camp I had two “adopted” sons Musa and Mohammed whom I connected to immediately I met them. They were part of the group of kids that came to camp for menial jobs daily. Once they came into the camp it was always straight to my hostel; my roommates knew them already so they would call out to me that my kids were outside. Off we would go to the canteen together once it was time for any meal to eat.
During our last week, my friends and I put funds together and we bought necessities such as slippers (they were always bare footed) and clothes. Seeing the way their faces lit up because of this seemingly insignificant gesture made me realise there was so much more that could be done. Although, I did not know how to go about it then but the desire to help kids had been sown in my heart and it kept germinating.
Mantle of Mordecai Foundation and Its impact since Inception
Mantle of Mordecai foundation popularly known as MOM foundation is an inspiration from God and our mandate is simply to reduce the number of out -of -school children in Nigeria and by extension Africa. Every time I see a kid that should be in school hawking during school hours my heart breaks knowing the kind of potential that is being wasted.
MOM is a registered non-profit organisation in Nigeria and our primary aim is to seek funds to enable out- of -school children have access to quality education. MOM has children from different parts of Nigeria, but currently focuses on the children in Dustbin Estate, a slum in Lagos State, Nigeria where families literally live on refuse dump.
How my Strong Background in the Corporate World Impacted me
I will say I have been privileged to have an interesting and positively challenging career that has spanned over nine years now. Valuable experience has been garnered in diverse roles and sectors. I am currently the Senior Manager, Finance Operations at American Towers, a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) quoted company. This is a general management capacity role which sees me managing key functions and team members working within the Finance Operations, Health & Safety and Network Operations. At the early stage of my career I gained four(4) years consulting experience in KPMG with specialty in Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). I have also had the privilege of mentoring at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), coaching four promising women in their chosen field of entrepreneurship. I am also a New Leader for tomorrow at the Crans Montana forum, Monaco. Advancing in my career despite all odds shaped my thought process; made me realise that I am here for a time such as now and that beyond my success in career there is more I should be doing to impact my world.
My appointment as Country Ambassador for Nigeria rise and Leads Netherlands
The Rise and Lead is an education and social impact organization founded in the Netherlands in 2018, providing skills, knowledge and thought leadership to individuals, entrepreneurs and organizations. Our mission is to support women to achieve their personal and professional goals while leading the change towards closing the gender leadership gap.
As Country Ambassador that is leading a new Country Forum from scratch, I have the opportunity to grow my leadership and impact and develop more leaders in my circle of influence. Some of the expectations are to create, manage and lead all local events, meetups and training programs as well as planning and execution of all major summits and local meetups.
Challenges of being an Advocate
The major challenge I face as an advocate is the resistant to change on all fronts. As human beings, we seem to be quite set in our ways and find it difficult to embrace another way of doing things.
An example is changing the mindsets of the parents of our beneficiaries at the MOM Foundation. Specifically, some parents do not believe that education should be prioritised therefore they are not usually very supportive of the beneficiaries. Asides, providing funds to the beneficiaries, there is usually a need for an orientation of the other stakeholders involved in the process. This ensures that the entire programme is not frustrated and our mission is accomplished.
Our International Women’s Day Summit
Rise and Lead team decided it is the best time for us to have the inaugural African summit, after two successful summits in the Hague, Netherlands in 2018 and 2019.
The summit is called the Rising Leaders’ African Summit, taking place on 27th March 2020 at Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. Theme is: Leadership. Women. Inclusion
The Summit will host progressive panel conversations, keynote speeches and impact workshops which will focus on Digital Transformation, Entrepreneurship, and advancing more women into leadership positions”. High-level business leaders, policymakers and international keynote speakers will attend to share their experience and best practices in innovation and leadership while addressing the significant potential of Women and Youth to transform the African Societies.
As part of the summit we are also gifting 25 women with free entrepreneurial training under our Inclusive Founders program to enable them grow and expand their businesses.
The Nigerian Government and it’s impact on Women and Children
According to Edmund Burke, “the only condition necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. This is my summation of the way the Nigerian government has prioritized issues regarding women and children. I do not see any visible or targeted effort to alleviate the peculiar issues faced by women and children.
To buttress my point, according to UNICEF data in 2014 Nigeria had the highest number of out of school children in the world ( 10.5 million). Despite all the promise made by the Nigerian government to correct this anomaly, UNICEF declared that the number had gone up by 25% to 13.2 million in 2018. This shows a complete neglect for the cause of children and lack of focus on the future of the country. My question is if education is a priority for developed countries why isn’t it a priority for a country like Nigeria contributing the highest quota to the pool of uneducated kids?
Same concerns are valid for women, in a country with such diverse and talented women, it shouldn’t be out of place to have a quota system that ensures that women are able to compete on the same levelled playing field as their male counterparts.
Being a Woman of Rubies
I have decided to dedicate my lifetime to impacting my world in every sphere I find myself. When others see problems, I search for solutions to fix the problem. I will love to die empty one day, knowing that the world knew I was here because of the lives I would have touched just like the lyrics of the song “I was here”
5 women who inspire you to be better
My Mum- Mrs. Bolanle Salako, Olajumoke Adenowo, Ibukun Awosika, Debola Deji- Kurunmi and My late Grandma –
To Female Changemakers who are trying to find their Voice in the World
Be the light the world is desperately looking for. Have an audacious goal that is greater than you on your journey to changing the world; divide that goal into smaller subsets, tackle it daily, celebrate small wins and learn from your failures. Never forget to thank God for the doors that are being shut currently, because not every opportunity is a good opportunity. Be very deliberate about self-leadership and self-development, be yourself always and never doubt your ability to change the world. Although your sphere of influence may look small, you are actually a critical and crucial part of a greater battalion of army whose common goal is to make the world a better place; however, the tasks have been apportioned to us all in different dimensions .You can and you will change the world in your own sphere of influence. Keep at it!!