Osayi is one woman I personally draw a lot of inspiration from, her ability to motivate and encourage young people has made her a mentor to many. Osayi is the founder of Act Foundation, a Fellow of the African Leadership Network and an alumna of the Harvard Business School, IMD and Yale Executive Education Programs, Ms. Alile holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of Lagos and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA Pi Alpha Alpha. Ms. Alile is the CEO ACT Foundation and consultant for Access Bank Plc on its CSR projects. She was the Executive Director of FATE Foundation, a leading private sector led not-for-profit organisation in Nigeria for 8 years A facilitator/management trainer, she is also a consultant on non-profit management and strategy. A Sustainability Expert and Speaker Osayi is the founding curator, Global Shapers Forum Nigeria. Owing to her experiences, Osayi sits on the board of several organisations that includes Immediate past Chairperson Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), House of Tara, Chairperson Zapphire Events, Culinary Academy and Global Dignity, an affiliation of the World Economic Forum in Norway. Lets learn more about this amazing mother of one.
Tell us about your growing up years and what impact your upbringing had on you today
My upbringing has shaped me into being the determined and dedicated woman I am today. It paved the way for me into philanthropy and the social sector which is where I have past the last 18 years of my career. I grew up in a close knit family of 10 with parents who had love for mankind and were determined to raise us up the right way. Our parents believed in training well rounded children so we spent most of our holidays learning various handworks and I think that is where love for entrepreneurship began.
It must have been beautiful growing up in a large and close knit family. How about you education? You are mix of home grown and American education. With the declining standards many complain about these days what can you say about the impact of your education on you.
I am thoroughly Nigerian trained if I say so myself. I attended Federal Government College, Warri and Corona Lagos. The University Lagos was one of the very best decisions I made because not only was it a solid educational institution, it also impacted me with the right virtues and human network which still proves useful till date. Attending Rutgers University was an opportunity to gain foreign education. And to be honest my earlier training from Nigeria prepared me for the world ahead.
Getting both Nigerian and foreign education provided a world of exposure but nonetheless, the most important thing is the willpower to succeed irrespective of whatever country you may obtain your educational qualifications from. I will be wrong if I completely fault the Nigerian education system because I am one of its products but we can do better.
Osayi you are such an inspiration and encourager to a lot of young women. What role has mentorship played in your life? Did you and do you still have mentors?
Mentorship is very important because we live in an interconnected world. Not just because of the knowledge and skills mentorship affords, they also propel you to succeed and improve on yourself. They serve as trusted advisors and could help improve one’s network. I have mentors in both my personal life and professional life and it has proved very rewarding. Some of my mentors are: Pastor Tony Rapu because he exudes humanity at its peak; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika; Mosun Belo-Olusoga and many more.
Your time at Wimbiz was amazing? Your focus on mentorship was evident and it has continued why this huge emphasis?
If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together. We all need a helping hand, guidance, direction, mentors as we go through life in order to achieve our full potential. At WIMBIZ we believe in empowering and inspiring women and the effective way to do that is by providing guidance for those coming behind us.
I believe in women helping women, I believe in empowering women and opening the door for other women to pass through. And I urge to realize the change and impact we can all make when we come together.
You have considerable experience in the third sector and founded ACT Foundation. What exactly do you do and how can young people benefit from this?
Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation was established to create positive social impact in our world. This dream was borne out of one of Africa’s most prominent financial institutions, Access Bank and I glad to serve the foundation as both a member of its board and as the CEO.
ACT Foundation is a grant-making non-profit established to support local, national and regional non-profits working to address challenges and associated vulnerabilities in the African continent. Our key focus areas are health, entrepreneurship, environment and leadership. We began full operations in 2017 and as at today we have partnered with 22 non-profits who are doing tremendous work in our society.
Young people are already benefitting from this impactful organization as 70% of our staff are millennials. We also offer internship opportunities to under-graduates and graduates alike and fund projects that focus on improving and empowering youths.
Amazing! apart from ACT what else do you do ?
Asides ACT Foundation, I am involved in works relating to youths, women and entrepreneurship. I believe that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow and proper mentorship, platforms and support will be instrumental in creating a Nigeria of our dreams.
I engage in various trainings and empowerment opportunities especially for youths across Nigeria. I also serve on the board of various organisations including; house of Tara International; Zapphaire Events, IDEA Hub, Rise Networks amongst others.
Now, with all you do how are you able to manage as a Mum?
My first responsibility is to my family and I love and enjoy every aspect of being a mother. My son is a teenager and very understanding of the various responsibilities I have. On some occasions he actually accompanies me to various functions and events which are very beneficial to him.
I am also very good in managing my time and so I ensure that I spend adequate time with my family especially during school breaks and holidays. Knowing that life is made up of different parts, I am able to manage all the various components that make me who I am.
What advice do you have for mums especially when the children are still young and they are trying to build a career. What was the best advice you received as a young woman and how did cope then?
I will advise young mothers to plan and schedule their time properly and know what’s most important for them at various stages of their life. Plan your day and week ahead so you can manage it all successfully.
Make good use of your leave and holiday and spend them with family because these are things that serve as reminders and builds a child’s memory of growing up.
Also understand the importance of delegation and team work while understanding the times and seasons of your life. You must also have a strong support system.
Be extremely good at what you do so that when circumstances arise for you to require extra time to take care of family needs your various organisations will be understanding of that due to the value you add. These are some of the tested and trusted advice I received as a young mother.
What do you do to stay to fit and healthy?
As we grow older we need to understand the importance of taking care of our bodies. It is not enough to look good outside, it is also very important to feel good inside. So I exercise and I ensure I eat right. My diet entails lots of fruits, vegetables and proteins. I try to reduce my carbohydrate intake especially rice which is a staple in our country Nigeria.
How do you unwind and de-stress?
I love traveling, seeing the world and discovering new places. I also love reading a lot because it transports you to another world. I come from a close knit family so unwinding always involves family for me.
Awesome, thanks so much for speaking to us Osayi, this interview has been very educative and I am sure a lot of young women would have learnt a lot. Wish you all the best with ACT and all your endeavours.