Mrs Oluyinka Adewoye, though studied Industrial Chemistry at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, has spent several years in the banking world and has carved a niche for herself in her chosen career. A few years back, the elegant fashionista launched a foundation designed to positively touch on the lives of women, especially widows, children and the needy in the society. She has empowered over 1,000 widows in surburbs around Lagos and Ogun states. Adewoye, in this interview, speaks on her passions, objectives and future plans.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and journey so far.
I am the convener of Lawrence Grace foundation. I’m a banker and joined the banking industry 14 years ago. I studied Industrial Chemistry from Olabisi Onabanjo University. I also developed interest in Human Resources (ACIPM), with certifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria (CIPM). I also have certifications from HRCI institute from the United States of America.
I developed a deep passion for the less privileged, especially widows and started Lawrence Grace foundation about three years ago.
You studied Industrial Chemistry in OOU, how did you find yourself in the banking world?
I finished in 2006 from Olabisi Onabanjo University. Shortly after my service year, I got a job in a bank in 2007. I have been in the industry since then with experience from customer service, treasury, relationship management, business development and that has become a part of me in the last 14 years. I also practice human resources because of my certifications in HR. I am also into event planning and management which is a natural flair and passion.
How do you reconcile your banking work with your foundation?
The truth is that working in a bank alone is a lot of work, but the truth about life is that you have to create time for whatever is considered your treasure. It is very challenging combining my hectic schedule in the bank with the foundation and other things that I do but I am able to juggle all together because I have a great team. We have a very good team in the foundation and all hands are always on deck anytime we have events or outreaches for widows and indigent school children. I have passion for it so I am delighted juggling everything together. I’m also an event planner so it makes planning for the several events of the foundation easier.
The focus of the foundation is on women, widows and the underprivileged including indigent school children, what informed your choice of this class of people?
A lot of people have asked me this question over the years. I believe it’s a calling as far as I am concerned. I have passion to see liberation in the land, to see that people smile because there’s poverty in the country.
Widows are close to God’s heart as he wants them to be cared for. So, making a difference and giving back to the underprivileged through free medical consultation, free drugs, empowerment programmes that the women can utilise to fend for themselves eventually, gifts and household items brought Lawrence Grace foundation to life.
It started like a joke and along the line, it became a fully functional foundation reaching and touching lives positively. Many widows do not have any major source of livelihood and with children to cater for, most of them are left with nothing so they are more or less hopeless and that’s why my foundation is here to give hope to the hopeless by the grace of God.
What challenges have you faced and what has kept your spirit going?
I must tell you, it’s really challenging especially when we started. I remember the very first outreach at Makoko which was in the early days.
We wanted to start off the free medical consulting and drugs to the widows. I was going from hospital to hospital soliciting for support from doctors, nurses and drugs for the event. All the hospitals turned us down, they weren’t interested in charity. They wanted money. I was almost discouraged as we didn’t have enough funds to pay doctors and nurses and other items we needed to buy.
Another major challenge that we have is finance but thanks to the support from friends and great supporters, we are still in operation. So, what keeps us going is the joy that lives are being blessed and touched positively daily.
What are your thoughts on women struggling to make a difference in their lives?
The truth is, there’s a whole lot going on in the present world, a lot of women are taking the helm of affairs in organisations and businesses, trying to make a difference and we still have a lot of constraints in acceptance of this fact.
A lot of women are still being sidelined but it’s getting better because more women are taking up the challenge of self discovery and determination to succeed.
It starts from understanding who one is and knowing that even as a woman, you can make a change in the world. So, there’s a lot of improvement right now even though it’s still very tough.
You had an event few days back where you celebrated top Nigerians. Can we have an insight into the event?
We had a dinner and award ceremony on Friday, 19th November at the Wheatbaker hotel in Ikoyi. What informed it is still about giving back to the society. We gave awards to highly prominent individuals and corporate bodies that have been involved in the philanthropy space, making lives better for humanity.
It was a way to recognize the great works they are doing and also to raise funds for the foundation as we have a lot of outreaches ahead of us next year.
We have empowered 1,000 widows in the last two years and plan to double this number next year. So, we need a lot of funds to achieve that.
We had eight highly esteemed awardees, Her Excellency, wife of Ogun State governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, who is the managing partner of SIAO and the pastor -in-charge of Trinity House; Mr Abiodun Olatunji (SAN), who is a partner, Abdullahi Ibrahim & Co and chairman of Jus Partners cosmopolitan limited; Mr Frank Okosun, CEO of Knight Frank; Mr Adedoyin Adesina, CEO of Technotrend platforms Nigeria limited; Rotary club of Eko Atlantic; Canary point corporate services and Philips pharmaceutical Nigeria limited. We are so proud to be associated with them .
Where do you see this foundation in the nearest future?
Right now, we have been to two states, had outreaches in six locations in Lagos and we had one in Ogun State.
Next year, we want to reach out and empower over 2,000 widows. We want to start with the south western states and from there we go to all the states of the federation. There’s a lot to be done. People are suffering, a little help makes a lot of difference to lives out there.
The needy ,women, widows children that needs help , whats your message of hope to them?
Hope isn’t lost, when there’s life, there’s hope, we would continue to do our own part to reach out to as many as we can.
God will make a way where there seems to be no way through human beings like us and several others in the philanthropy space.