By Eseoghene Tialobi
Sometimes, change doesn’t always have to mean starting a new venture or social project. Sometimes, it means joining forces with other people to amplify its effects using our abilities and this is what Tolulope Oyenuga exemplifies. As the main administrative officer with the non-profit, Serving With Love, SWL, she oversees activities and projects which are targeted at underprivileged women and children. SWL was founded by 3 young women in 2013 who were distraught at the level of poverty and lack amongst indigent women and children in their immediate community.
For Tolulope, contributing her professional skills to making impact in an organization that helps people find their way out of poverty and access education is the highlight of working with SWL. Initially, when she started working in the non-profit sector, she found how she got a lot of hard backs from people who felt it wasn’t a profitable sector in Nigeria. However, when she led SWL’s emergency flood relief program for people affected by Lagos flood in 2017, she got a glimpse into the situation of where and how people live and survive in some places in the city. Realizing that the flood was just a minor part of the tragedies that could happen to people in those inhabitable communities, in addition to seeing children who couldn’t even speak the lingua franca, English, who didn’t have access to education or health facilities, she decided to passionately pursue a career in the sector.
Driving impact through cumulative approach of ICT, STEM and poverty interventions via the organizations projects is one Tolulope appraises as a lifelong dividend. Despite not being the founder of SWL, but the main administrative staff who runs day to day and oversees major projects, she is excited to be actively pioneering growth and change within the organization. The organization has grown from providing monthly food supplies to the women and children of the Shelter For Abused Women and Children (SAWAC) and Massey Children Hospital, paying for tuition for 2 students, to launching literacy clubs and upskilling underprivileged primary school age children with computer literacy skills through their Digital Life After School Program.
Going further, she hints that the rise of social enterprises in Nigeria have been significant in advancing socio-economic and environmental issues in a sustainable way because of their model. In the same vein, she opines that non-profit franchises are worth gaining momentum because it allows for replicable viable model but also provides young people with technical advisory and network.
One key thing Tolulope advocates is refusing to fall for pressure, realizing that life is a journey, paths are different and the need to hone personal skills and own our paths and journey. When asked for a piece of advice to other young people, she emphasizes on self-awareness, self-analysis, and the need to know and understand strength and weaknesses as a key to unlocking what to do and the journey to follow. In her own words, she says, “As okay as it is to be a banker, so is it okay to be a social worker, a teacher or any career that you have chosen. The most important thing, which I tell myself too is to never settle for mediocrity! I am committed to lifelong learning, growth and getting exposure to things in life and so should you. Whatever your hands find to do, DO IT WELL.”