Adedolapo Osuntuyi: I have had moments when I felt like giving up but tenacity gave me the strength to move forward

Adedolapo Osuntuyi is the founder and president of Dolly Children Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on improving the plight of indigent children in Nigeria through Education; emphasis on quality education for all.

She is a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), West Africa Regional Centre, a US Government Initiative. The desire to start a foundation like this came in secondary school after reading her classmate’s story featured in a newspaper; during the anniversary of the NGO that took care of her from childhood.

This story, as well as other close experiences, motivated Adedolapo to start Dolly Children Foundation (DCF) on April 13, 2006, during her undergraduate years at the University.

Adedolapo graduated from the prestigious University of Central Lancashire, Preston UK, with a masters degree in Child Health & Social Care. She obtained an Africa – America Institute Scholarship to study Social Sector Management Course at the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan – Atlantic University.  

She has gained experience in child protection, early childhood and community development programs and over 5000 children in 22 communities have benefitted through various interventions of the organization.

Tell us about Dolly Children Foundation

Dolly Children Foundation (DCF) is an organization with the mission of improving the plight of indigent children in Nigeria through Education.

Our main interventions are targeted towards eliminating child illiteracy in rural communities, reducing child labor, and abuse as well as absenteeism in public primary schools.

We do this by providing a conducive environment for learning, empowering educators, empowering less privileged children.

What has been achieved so far?

The foundation has reached out to over 6000 children through the following interventions:

  • Reading Clubs

Our weekly reading club meetings which hold in the public primary schools and the communities we serve. Children are encouraged to read at least a book per term. Also, they are expected to learn new words, act drama, compose and develop their own thoughts from every book read.

The reading materials and educational activities carried out in the clubs are initiatives that inspire excellence, leadership and increase their literacy abilities.

This initiative has resulted in a marked improvement in the interest of children towards reading and has improved their ability to express themselves.

  • Sponsorship Programmes

The Sponsor A Child program has assisted children whose parents lack the financial backbone to support their schooling. I must say here that most of the children we sponsor have either lost a parent or both or are caregivers to their parents. Before our intervention, these children were unable to access desired and quality education which hindered their learning processes. Over the past year, DCF has provided sponsorship inform of educational aid and welfare to these children.

  • Back To School Initiative

Basic educational tools, school uniforms, shoes, bags etc have been provided to children with financial needs by the Foundation.

The initiative has also helped in bringing out – of – school children back to school by covering tuition fees, and needs.

This has helped to motivate over 5000 children to go back to school, as well as boost their confidence, and participation in school activities.

  • Training and Workshops for Public Primary School Teachers

In the past year, over 70 teachers and still counting have been trained in DCF workshops. Workshops and training sessions are organized for teachers to bring them up to date on 21st-century teaching methods.

These workshops have focused on topics like Numeracy made easy, 21st-century teaching methods, phonics, understanding your learner, managing diversity in your classroom e.t.c

  • After School And Summer School Tutoring Programmes 

Our extra tutoring programmes which are available after school and during the summer break is targeted to help children from low – income backgrounds that are lagging behind academically.

Our motive behind these interventions is to engage the children in academic exercises that would effectively improve their academic performance, reduce child labor, and child abuse. Child laborers, street children, and dropouts have especially benefitted from this program since inception.

  • School Building Projects

School rebuilding is a project we took on from 2015 where we refurbish public primary schools with dilapidated structures.

We move into these outdated facilities to upgrade and equip them with the necessary educational materials and infrastructures. Thus far, a block of four classes, a staff office, library, and store have been built from scratch.

The project estimates to provide a healthy learning environment for over 1000 children by the end of 2018.

The bottom line here is that no child should be left behind. Our approach to these interventions is a holistic one whereby children lagging behind in school would catch in our reading clubs, if they are not catching up in the reading clubs, they would catch up in our after-school and summer programs, if they still need support, they would get it through our back to school initiatives.

What do you enjoy the most about running the foundation?


I enjoy seeing smiles on the faces of children who never thought their dreams of being supported through school would be a reality. These are one of the cores that motivate me to do more.

What relationships/partnerships have been instrumental in growing the foundation and what other partnerships do you hope to develop for more impact?


Relationships with friends, mentors, colleagues, and acquaintances have helped the foundation in growing thus far.

This has also linked the foundation with interesting and wonderful partnerships. I will always be grateful for platforms such as Enterprise Development Center (of the Pan – Atlantic University), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) RLC West Africa for every value-added knowledge gained so far.

I aim to explore new funding, training and partnership opportunities in the social space that would enable the foundation to produce more impacting success stories. Connecting with other NGOs through mentorship is something that is dear to my heart.

What challenges do you face running the foundation?


A major challenge I face in running the foundation is the belief system of some community members. You can imagine how tasking it can be to convince a guardian to allow award continue schooling in respective of the challenges being faced on the home front.

So far, the foundation has handled a good number of cases like these with incredible success stories. A challenge I also face is the bureaucracy on the part of agencies and regulatory bodies. It’s not a walk in the park to get approval for the kind of work we do.

I have had moments when I felt like giving up but tenacity gave me the strength to move forward.

What’s next for Dolly Children foundation?


Dolly Children Foundation aims to scale up her educative support interventions to 20 new communities in the next 5 years. We intend to get more support from volunteers and partners to achieve this milestone.

Know of any Motherland Moguls breaking boundaries and touching lives in your community? Share their story with us here.

Lebogang Mashigo: Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting

At first it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact Click To Tweet

Lebogang Mashigo is a 27-year-old social entrepreneur from the former KwaNdebele region, currently Thembisile Hani, of South Africa. She is the founder and director of Nubreed Company and Music Institute.

She is a YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative Alumni in Business and Entrepreneurship, a Monash South Africa Lead (MSA Lead) fellow and was named the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Young South Africans 2016. Lebogang is very passionate, brave and believes in her strength and that of others.

She has been nominated twice for the Women Real Architects of Society Awards. Lebogang has also been profiled on Mzansi Insider, On the Spotlight with Ashraf Garda as well as on Kicking Doors with DJ Sbu on CNBC Africa. She Leads Africa contributor, Kutlwano Mokgojwa catches up with her on all things Art, Music and youth empowerment.

What role does Nubreed have in the community and how does it fulfil that role?

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting. We started a just a music project that gave music lessons.

Today we have become more than just a music project. We educate, discover, empower and partner with young people and communities for change.

What effect does empowering the youth with music have? How has that inspired you to venture into the Visual Arts and Life skills?

Coming from a rural area where little is happening to stimulate young people growing up in the region of former KwaNdebele, I didn’t want to change the world, but I understood that young people are gifted and they can express themselves through music, it made sense to start NuBreed the music institute.

We are not changing people but we have inspired young people to be confident, to go after their dreams, to discover opportunities within the music/arts industry. Through workshops and many events, we host, young people, connect from those in the industry and learn from them. Working with young people helped us to discover other talents and needs which propelled us to create other platforms for visual arts, life skill workshops and business workshops.

It is all part of our mission to educate, empower and develop. We now host the biggest annual talent show in June called KwaNdebele Got Talent where we call for auditions and in June young come from all over the region to showcase their talents and compete for a big cash prize and other development opportunities.

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment & connecting @NubreedMI Click To Tweet

How has Nubreed been welcomed into the community, what relationships have you formed and how do these relationships help the organisation?

NuBreed is a recognised brand that is associated with youth, Change and Empowerment. We have been welcomed with open arms in the community.

We work with other community structures, we’ve worked with schools, churches and other NGOs. However, we still see room for more networks.

How old is your target market and what socio-economic challenges do they face?

As the music institute, we’ve worked with many young. At first, it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact. So I will say we are growing our impact.

We're not changing people but have inspired young people to go after their dreams Click To Tweet

What kind of syllabus does your organisation follow and how has that helped with your partnership with the University of South Africa?

NuBreed uses the UNISA music syllabus to teach our students, we have UNISA accredited teachers and we do UNISA Music exams twice a year. This enables our students to receive UNISA music certificates and earn university credits.

Your organisation is a non-profit entity, how does that affect your operations in terms of funding and how do you manage the financial pressure?

Funding has been a big challenge. We are not formally funded. We have received donations from individuals now and then. But this has encouraged us to develop our own fundraising programme in-house.

We enter competitions for funds and we are always looking for partnerships. Now we are looking for opportunities to expand. All this is inspired by our need to sustain NuBreed.

What personal lessons have you learnt through your leadership of Nubreed?

Personal lessons: It is important to say no to some ideas.

It is important to say no to some ideas @leewaMashigo Click To Tweet

If you can spend a day in the life of anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would really like to be Oprah for a day. I would build art schools in rural areas.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Mweshi Ng’andu: I was looking for a way to be more and do more

With every little bit that you try, you gain more wisdom - Mweshi Ng’andu Click To Tweet

If passion had an alternative spelling, it would be spelt Mweshi. As a Global Shaper (a World Economic Forum initiative) and alumna of the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center for Southern Africa and the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), Mweshi Ng’andu has done a lot of work focused on engaging youth to uplift underprivileged and at risk children within her community. She has used her skills to mentor, give leadership talks, and mobilize resources to assist various shelters for children, orphanages, and schools.

Recently, she started Bloom, her own company working in the space of events management and marketing consultancy. Bloom focuses primarily on corporate and educational events and digital marketing. In this interview, this passion driven #MotherlandMogul takes us on a walk through her amazing journey so far.

Take us on a tour of what Bloom Events Management stands for.

Bloom is a young and innovative events management and marketing consultancy company.  Our focus areas are corporate events management (everything from providing ushers, to catering, to sourcing speakers/industry experts, to venue scouting, to sponsorship engagement) and educational events. We create events for young professionals and students to learn how to advance their careers and to link them to the right people to help them create opportunities. We also develop innovative marketing techniques for companies through social media management and product promotions to name a few.

The events and festival industry has grown significantly and Bloom recognises this. What we offer is fresh and exciting as we aim to create distinctive and memorable events. Bloom is an expression of growth, a way to look back at where you’ve come from with a sincere admiration for the person that you have become today.  Bloom will be an example of what you can expect to happen when young people come together to showcase their talents and ability.


What were the greatest challenges in building your business?

We are still in the first year of our business and as such, we are working on finding our ‘groove’.  However, immediate challenges that come to mind are gaining the confidence of corporates. When two unknown young women walk into an office to pitch their services to a well-established bank or firm, you can always sense that the person you are pitching to has a little bit of doubt in your ability to actually deliver. Then there’s the competition. Bidding for tenders is tough!

Finding our unique selling point was extremely difficult, particularly in an industry where there is only so much you can offer.  We realized that it is not so much about the services, but more about the way you deliver. And there’s finances; the first event we had, boy were we broke! So even completing it was a HUGE victory for us. Although it’s great to invest money into your business, you need to set boundaries as to how much of your personal resources you are putting in.


You are very passionate about young people, what are you doing to be better and get more young people involved.

Bloom offers opportunities for university students to learn a thing or two about what it means to manage tasks and to work with corporates. We specifically target enthusiastic young people who are looking to gain work experience and ask them to join our team on specific projects; this worked very well when we organized a TED event. One of the best things you can do for young people is to support their businesses!

Whenever we are working with a client and there is need to outsource, we try as much as possible to look for companies that are run by young people to offer services like photography or sound equipment. For educational events, whether it is a breakfast meet up or a seminar, we try as much as possible to cover topics that are relevant to the reality of being a young, Zambian professional. We make our events interactive and encourage lots of networking.

It is not so much about the services, but more about the way you deliver - Mweshi Ng'andu Click To Tweet


As an avid traveller, global shaper, and emerging young leader, how has your experience reflected on your business style?

I joined the Global Shapers Community at a time in my life when I was looking for a way to do more and be more.  The Community changed my life in ways I cannot even express. I became connected to a group of ambitious, hardworking and innovative young people. What I noticed about myself almost immediately is that my mindset dramatically changed. It was because of this community I quickly realize how as a proudly Zambian woman, I can have dreams to take on the world but still be so deeply rooted in where I am coming from and what I can do to add value.

Attending the World Economic Forum on Africa in 2015 and rubbing shoulders with some of the continent’s biggest power players made me think, how dare I not dream BIG? As a Shaper, I contributed to a book project featuring 80 incredible young Africans, offering their perspectives on entrepreneurship, leadership, culture, and ways in which we can transform the continent. It is because of experiences like this, that I am bold in my approach and I have a tendency to continuously ask myself how I can improve my business model and make it more relevant.


What has been the most difficult phase in your career and how did you scale through?

The most difficult phase was pinpointing exactly what I wanted to do and being confident in my capabilities. I could easily tell you that in ten years I wanted to be successful and financially stable. But I had a harder time telling you how.  I overcame this in two ways.

Firstly, by establishing what it is I am passionate about.  My answer is simple: it is people. In everything that I have done so far, the major thing has been connecting with people and sharing ideas in order to grow. Secondly, Wendy Lucas-Bull Chairperson of ABSA Bank once told me that with every little bit that you try, you gain more wisdom. You decipher the things that you don’t like and realize what you do. In a nutshell what I got out of this is that there will never be the right time to start your journey, you just have to summon the courage to do it and keep going

There will never be the right time to start your journey, you just have to summon the courage Click To Tweet

Where do you see Bloom in the next three years?

Bloom will consist of a bright, innovative team that have led to it quickly positioning itself as a market lead.  Hopefully, we will have a client base outside of Zambia as well. We also have dreams of building a big convention centre –so look out for that!


One advice for struggling start-up entrepreneurs in your field of business

Figure out what makes you unique, structure your business well, ask a lot of questions, and keep going!

Our tagline at Bloom is #BeAlwaysBlooming –so do just that!

Figure out what makes you unique, structure your business well, ask a lot of questions, and keep going! Click To Tweet

At this stage, can you give up your business for a hundred millions dollars?

Absolutely not!  Who doesn’t like a good story about trial and tribulations that ultimately lead to success?  That is going to be my story and I want to know that I have earned it.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Ugochi Obidiegwu: The Safety Chic

Ugochi Obidiegwu
I started reading about safety and I loved what I was discovering - Ugochi Obidiegwu Click To Tweet
It’s time for you to meet one of the people that make the SLA website run smoothly. We’re talking about our contributor family who SLAY with their writing. Ugochi Obidiegwu has a somewhat unusual passion; safety. She’s written articles on the importance of health and safety in start-ups, and has shared a bit on her experience with YALI.
The main reason Ugochi does safety is simple; she does not want people to keep getting ill, injured, die or lose property due of their source of livelihood. This is the main reason Ugochi shows people how to be safer in everyday personal and business life. Get ready to be inspired by the Safety Chic!

From the articles you’ve written for SLA, you’re clearly interested in safety. Where did this interest come about?

I worked in a Nigerian airline as a cabin crew staff. One day in 2013, my boss informed me that I was now a safety officer. In addition to my original responsibilities, I was to work with another colleague to bring safety information and solutions to the Cabin Services Unit. My colleague and I decided we would launch monthly safety forums to share knowledge on safety issues affecting crew members, on and off the job. As someone, who believes in doing whatever I do very well, I started reading about it and I loved what I was discovering. But of course for you to be termed a competent person, you need sufficient knowledge, ability, training and experience. I embarked on certifications and volunteer work during my leave and off days on my bill. It wasn’t easy to give up vacation and other stuff but it was a necessary sacrifice.

In the course of doing all these, I observed that it was mainly businesses in aviation, construction and oil and gas industries that took safety systems seriously. I decided to start a health and safety business that would provide tailored and affordable safety solutions for businesses, especially SMEs. A lot of SMEs I got in touch with thought accidents were beyond their purview. Therefore, I started a system of reorientation because I believed that gradually with more information, a safety consciousness would be awakened.

I started writing on safety issues in a simpler format that the everyday person could relate to on my blog and later on SLA. At some point, my mentor Steve Harris suggested I make videos as not everyone might want to read. So, the idea of #60SecondsWithTheSafetyChic on Instagram and The Safety Chic came alive.

#60SecondsWithTheSafetyChic is a weekly 60seconds or less video where content of blog articles is summarised. This way, my audience can have access to safety tips on the go. I have found that our generation, and people generally, are quite interested in an awesome quality of life, so anything that makes them able to live better is welcome.

Do you ever see Nigerians taking safety seriously?

Well, if you check, you’d find that the majority of Nigerians that are safety conscious either worked in organisations that do not joke with safety; or picked it up from friends and family members who worked there. Sometimes in an emergency, we want to help but do not know the right thing to do. It’s not really ingrained in us.

Take for example, the use of seatbelts when driving in Nigeria. Until the Federal Road Service Corps (FRSC) put a fine to it, many people did not use their seatbelts. As a matter of fact, I had to explain to someone recently the importance of seat belt usage. He felt the FRSC just wanted to have a reason to fine people.

There lies the human factor, which is the major cause of so many accidents and incidents. The machine could work well, the work procedure could be perfect but if the human being engaged in the task refuses to do the safe thing, an accident happens. So, I decided to take safety education to schools through the Train Them Young Initiative (#2TYI) because this is a problem that can only be solved from the root.

ugochi-2tyi#2TYI is a free safety training for public schools on road safety, fire safety, first aid and personal safety. I believe that safety education for students goes a long way in grooming a future workforce such that complies with safety standards. This will reduce workplace accidents and incidents as the habits we form in our formative years shape our future behaviour.

The future goal of this initiative is to get safety education into the curriculum of all schools.

@thesafetychic is taking safety education to students in schools with #2TYI Click To Tweet

Tell us about being part of the YALI project.

I was privileged to be selected for the Barack Obama Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Nigeria Cohort 1. It was an amazing experience meeting like minds doing awesome stuff in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and the Gambia.

I knew there were lots of activists, but I had no clue there were so many young people advocating for all sorts of stuff. Let’s just say the world I was coming from was totally different. Some colleagues wondered what a cabin crew was doing in their midst; considering I wasn’t advocating for human rights, gender equality, child marriage etc.

I think it was the Train Them Young Initiative that got me in. This is quite funny because when I started it, it was just my way of giving back to the society. I just wanted people to be a bit more informed and safe. Despite being slightly different from my new colleagues, we found common ground in a desire for excellence. This led to wonderful friendships and collaboration.

We now have this family bond, no matter what you need there is always someone with the expertise and know-how.

Leveraging on one another's strengths means we achieve more - Ugochi Obidiegwu Click To Tweet

Why would you say every one needs YALI?

Every young person needs YALI because it challenges you and pushes you towards utmost performance. It opens your eyes to gaps in your society and spurs you to do more. So you think you are smart, you would meet smarter folks. You think your educational accomplishments are gangster, wait till you meet someone with more. You think you are doing so much already for society, you’ll see someone doing more or more gaps in the society.

Basically, YALI challenges you to be a better version of yourself, remember it’s all about collaboration and not competition. Leveraging on one another’s strengths means we achieve more. Class group activities would teach you different perspectives to issues across individual, cultural and national lines.

And of course friendship beyond borders. I can go to any of the aforementioned countries with the certainty of a good welcome. Have I also mentioned an enriched network? Strive Masiywa said, “You peers today are tomorrow’s big “men”, treat them well”.

Imagine a world with young people like this striving to make the world a better place, it would be an awesome world.

What is your vision for the health and safety industry in Nigeria?

A Nigeria where every business has successfully integrated Health and Safety practices in their day-to-day activities. A Nigeria where safety laws are not just enacted but enforced.

Ugochi Obidiegwu wants a Nigeria where safety laws are not just enacted but enforced Click To Tweet

What will be your goals for 2017?

My goals for 2017 are to increase my client base and take #2TYI outside Lagos State. For my services, more

  1. Safety awareness trainings,
  2. Safety equipment supply and
  3. HSSE consulting

And product-wise, I’d like to introduce personal locator devices. Current trends are; shoes, wristwatches, bags, car trackers and ID cards.

We want to know your stories! Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.