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Don’t Be Corporate Slaves, Explore The Hero In You –Founder AnneGift, Ronke Adelowo

Aderonke Adelowo, Founder AnneGift Foundation

What an ironical world we live today. Giving the tormenting experience they have gone through one time or the other, many Nigerians and Africans who live abroad, presently advocate that for real, staying abroad is no more a saving grace and a place for spectacular experience. They, in effect encourage fellow blacks to rather stay back, struggle and survive at home, instead of reckless strive to travel out. But despite this, many Africans up till the moment, still share the thought that overseas are only the habitats to succeed in life. No wonder, the latest reports have it that the number of illegal immigrants stranded at the borders as at July this year, was estimated at over 100,000. Similarly, over 2,000 immigrants have died as at early August this year, not to mention thousands that have passed away, in the ongoing year, while crossing the Mediterranean sea. Consequently, the EU Leaders have not found the trend pleasant, as they dread the socio-economic effects of asylum seekers on their countries, hence, the various measures by them to check the influx.

Aderonke Adelowo, Founder AnneGift Foundation

Aderonke Adelowo, Founder AnneGift Foundation

Charming and diligent Aderonke Adelowo, a native of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, South West Nigeria, is a United Kingdom (UK) based. Her UK story, no doubt is a successful one. Within 16 years of her stay in England, Adelowo had worked for others; partnered; established and run businesses of her own. But in what looks like affirming the proverbial saying: ‘All that glitters is Not Gold’, Adelowo for now, will be the last person, to encourage anyone to travel abroad to settle down. As for her, it is a lot better and makes a lot of sense to stay back, struggle and make it Nigeria, instead of reckless strives for journey abroad, but painfully end up in becoming “Corporate Slave” in foreign land. In an hour interview with The African Examiner, Adelowo shared with Tajudeen Balogun, The Head, Nigeria Bureau, on number of issues, including her nasty 2002 experience with the British officials; how the encounter spurred her into NGO project, AnneGift Foundation – for caring and skill acquisition; her businesses and projections. Read the excerpt.

Areas Of Training

This includes tie and dye, hair dressing and make up. The Foundation is starting its training with agriculture. It intends to train youths in farming; assists in the areas of training and setting them up after.

Source Of Funding

I have looked into banks and some private organizations with respect to approach and information on how to encourage and boost SMEs in Nigeria. The Foundation is very keen on this, because training alone is “like opening a wound without treating it”, the wound will

get deteriorated. The Foundation has also got information on availability of funds in certain banks where loans can be sourced for skill acquisition programme. My focus is to ensure that, when such money is available, it is used for the purpose it was collected. My experience in UK is that, such money is not released directly to the beneficiaries. The approach there is that the equipment and assets needed to set up are purchased and made available to the beneficiaries. Money is never given to those starting up good businesses, but without financial strength. This is to avoid expending the money on something else. My determination is to replicate similar standard and approach in Nigeria, especially on supporting SMEs and offering vocational training.      

Existence Of The Foundation

The Foundation is in the process of being registered in UK. It is presently being run under under MotherCare Services, a personal limited company with focus on looking after the old people and people with disability. The Company has been in existence since 2012. Ahead of the MoreCare Services, I have served as the Managing Director of another firm – JR Child since 2007. It was a partnership business. It was after leaving JR Child, MoreCare Services came into being.

The Foundation Prompt Factors   

While still with the JR Child, I attended many seminars and trainings in UK on how to empower people as well as how to get youths busy. AnneGift Foundation’s focus in UK includes: helping Nigerians in England, especially those who are living without right papers. The Foundation visits the victims at detention centres. Sometimes, the victims visit the Foundation’s office in UK and explain their ordeals. I have a solicitor; if discovered they lack right papers to stay, we advise them to leave and return to Nigeria, instead of wasting their time, hiding and hoping to get non existing jobs. For now in UK, any company that employs illegal immigrants will earn fine of 10,000 pounds, minimum. Therefore, it is difficult getting jobs now in England. The Foundation counsels Nigerians to return home and make themselves available for vocational training, which is being initiated by AnneGift back in Nigeria. We have got a land space that will accommodate 100 trainees at a time in Ilaro, Ogun State, South West Nigeria. The Foundation will accommodate them and ask about their area of interest – which trade they wish to learn. If it is farming, the Foundation will offer the training and support them. We always convince the illegal immigrants to come home and acquire skills. However, the Foundation will support immigrants with right papers. My Solicitor looks into their cases and takes the matter up. People with right papers have case to pursue, because there is freedom of human right in UK. I had an experience in 2002. Then, I was arrested. I had always thought I had nothing to fear about, since I have businesses and properties in England. I was told they could not find my file. The matter dragged for 12 years before it was finally laid to rest. In the end, my papers were returned to me. People with similar experience have case, therefore, are encouraged to pursue their cases. As for those without correct papers to stay, the best for them to do is to return home, because the situation in detention which I experienced was terrible. I spent six months at detention centre.

Source Of Start Up Capital To The Foundation      

 I have properties in England. I have sold one, another one is presently in the market. I can still access some funds internationally and in Nigeria, through some institutions. However, I want to prove and present what I have achieved, before applying for any fund. I have the requirements of some of the institutions, which can provide the funds and I have discovered that it is important the Foundation proves what it has been able to do before applying.

Corporate Slavery In Nigeria And UK

It is in the UK. No matter what you have or possess in England, you (Africans) are still a second class citizen. When a white man applies for a job, he gets it, even without qualification, still if an African applies for the same job, even if he possesses the qualification, he is denied. Listening to the accent alone, the foreigner is disqualified, hence, the response that the vacancy is already filled. What most blacks do in UK are dirty jobs, such as cleaners, careers – looking after old people. In UK, the blacks are “second class citizens”.

Corporate Slavery As A Prompt Factor For The Foundation    

 I traveled to England in 1999 with all my papers. I don’t like working under people. Therefore, I started property business; I have builders working with me. I was also into caring business – looking after the old people. I got a big contract from the local authority. Due to the fear of being pre-occupied with the contract, I decided to come home and see my people in 2002. But on return to UK, I ran into problem. I was told that my papers file was missing! The officials said my statements of account and properties in UK were fake! I was maltreated and attempt was made to deport me back to Nigeria. I argued and insisted, that is not possible as I have spent all my life in the land – have worked, started businesses and have properties there. I told them if I must go, I must sell all my assets and collect my money! While at the detention centre, my four year old daughter (Anne) fell ill; I was not allowed to see her. Eventually, she died! At the same time, I lost my Mum, husband and my business! I looked around – the way I was treated; sincerely, I never knew such situation existed – a foreigner with right papers, yet subjected to such treatment. It was then I was inspired that I got a special assignment to execute in Nigeria. It was like my late daughter (Anne) was an angel sent to me. It was as if my detention was to make me experience what people are going through, therefore I would be inspired to consider helping out.

 Any Unique Dimension To The Foundation’s Agricultural Training?  

 I don’t have experience in farming, but my son is an Economics graduate. We have consultants on the areas of farming we are focusing. The Foundation intends to introduce and exposes its trainees to the modern technology of agricultural activities.

 The Foundation Base And Its Training Centre     

 We have an office in Dalemo, Alakuko, a Lagos suburb. However, we are relocating the office to more nearest location in town. Also, in Ilaro, we have some lands – five acres. Works have started there. We have in addition, set up a block making industry. Poultry has also commenced. Our training centre is also going to be sited within the farmland.

Other Training And Beneficiaries    

Fashion training is yet to start. Our training is open to applicants from age 18 and above. Duration of our training is six weeks, minimum. The training is starting with 20 trainees, just as construction and other works are still ongoing at the centre in Ilaro. Training is open to applicants across the States of the Federation.

Means Of Communication Between The Foundation And Applicants

Since it is not possible for every applicant to reach our office, we encourage all applicants to have an e-mail address, through which they can communicate with us via our E-mail: admin@annegiftfoundation.org – to express interest and apply for training and to send their credentials. We shall give priority to graduates, not necessarily with qualifications in Agriculture; then, the secondary and primary school leavers. On completion of training, our plan is to set the trainees up and monitor how they are performing. The Foundation is again working on getting additional lands in Ogun State to realize its objective of engaging as many as possible members after the training. However, the trainees who wish to, will be allowed to leave. Those who stay will become members of the Foundation; funds will be made available to them and pay without interest.

Feasibility studies On The Nigerian Environment; Orientation; the Youths in Relation To success of the Project  

I have met with some Consultants since arriving Nigeria, regarding Modus-operandi of our programmes. In UK, when you apply, cash is not made available. Support is made available in terms of tools and equipment and once you are able to provide invoices and other evidences of your spending, and it is confirmed that you are empowering people and reducing the unemployment rate, if applied, you get more support. The Foundation can get international fund aids, once it can convince that it is empowering people. This is the more reason why I call on Nigerians abroad to support the Foundation. I urge whoever that has anything to offer, in terms of support, not to hesitate. In UK, government does not do everything, people also support. Besides the international funding, there are people in Nigeria who can support the Foundation. If we do this, there will be peace in the land.

Measures To Tackle Environmental And Other Challenges  

Despite the measures to be put in place, we shall give room for shortcomings. We shall learn from our mistakes. We shall sign agreement with all our members. Any member caught stealing the Foundation’s equipment or failed to do what is expected of him, will be

sent away. Those who are given loans are going to be under supervision of the Foundation. So, any member who is not performing well will be asked to leave. Our members will be educated and sensitized to appreciate that they are the directors of their farms, but if in spite of this, they are found wanting, the affected member will be called to a meeting; in this situation, it is likely the farm is withdrawn from him and allocated to another person. As for those who chose to leave the Foundation after their training, we shall support them by introducing them to where they can access funds. Although, the Foundation will seek similar fund and make it available to its members also in form of loan, and will pay back through us.

The Ilaro Choice

When we were looking for land suitable for farming, the one that is satisfactory for the project was found in Ilaro. Fortunately, this ended up to be an opportunity for me to develop my state and give back to my people and beyond. 

Take Off Of Other Training

It depends on when the funds are available. Presently, I am planning on what I got.

The Process Of Application

This involves writing of application letter. Form for expression of interest will be available and filled. We shall ask for the applicant’s referees and there will be a meeting (interview) before admission for training. I have realized that people don’t appreciate and attach values to anything free. I had a nasty experience after having an interview with a television station in Lagos; I received thousands of calls, which so many were not for training, but request for various short term favours. In UK, application forms are obtained free. The idea of payment in Nigeria is to check and regulate the nature and level of applications. After training, our members will fill their membership form. There will be annual membership fee. This will enable them benefit from the Foundation’s Micro credit scheme.

The Foundation’s Advocacy And Sensitization

The Foundation will continuously encourage and call for support of financial empowerment and SMEs. We shall encourage the youths to embrace entrepreneurship. We will discourage youths against promiscuity; warn them on danger of HIV/AIDS. We shall also advocate the fortunes in Agriculture. The Foundation intends to organize an Agricultural show, which will serve as a meeting point for the stakeholders. There will also be sensitization on the urgent need for the young graduates to change focus, regarding insistence on getting white collar jobs; that there are jobs for youths and willing entrepreneurs to engage themselves. We shall continue to impress it on people that abroad is not a bed of roses; that there, people work diligently to get money. We shall

discourage people selling off their properties or resigning their lucrative jobs in Nigeria, just to travel abroad and stay, but in the end, what is available are menial jobs. We shall continue to encourage people to invest in their mental and physical assets in Nigeria for economic empowerment and wealth creation projects. Nigeria is blessed, so our people should moderate the passion to travel abroad.

Checking Illegal Migration; The Government’s Angle

With my experience in UK, we need government to support the Foundation. In UK, there is a job centre in each local authority. The unemployed go there to register.

Message To Youths And The Unemployed In Nigeria And Africa

In abroad, you still have to struggle to earn money. When I first got to UK, I started with the early morning jobs – 3am 5pm and 5pm 7am under extremely cold weather. It is struggle to get money in UK, just like it is the case in Nigeria. Therefore, the best thing to do is to stay back and make the money at home. For the youths still waiting to get white collar jobs, I advise that the time being wasted can be used in engaging themselves in something worthwhile – like starting viable business ventures and this is one of the reasons why Foundations like AnneGift needs the support of government for empowerment. If people are aware that there is a company for them to discover and task their skills and talents, the rate of illegal migration will reduce. “We all have dreams. We all have hero in ourselves”, but we need someone to assist the youths.

Possibility Of Partnership And Starting Farming Corporative

Yes, we are ready to partner with the willing vocational bodies. Already, we have got Adejumobi Farm. It is going to be a member of farmer Corporatives. When we start another vocational training, this same thing will be done.

Message to Nigerians

Nigerian leaders visit abroad regularly. They observe and witness how system works in the West. Nigerian leaders should replicate the good experience they encounter abroad. The leaders should not visit abroad just for the fun of it. They should introduce the productive system encounter in Nigeria as well.

Possibility Of Starting Expertise Areas Abroad In Nigeria

Once the vocational training strives, I will go into the care services in Nigeria. I have ambition to establish business of taking care of old people and those with disability in Nigeria. I once met the Oyo State Governor in UK at a seminar. He was happy to hear what I am doing and confessed it was somebody like me he has been looking for. He gave me

his card, I sent him E-mail, but he never replied. The response on the present project will determine whether to go further or not. I wish to start with skill acquisition and vocational training. The response to this will determine bringing or otherwise, of my other expertise areas.


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1 Comment for “Don’t Be Corporate Slaves, Explore The Hero In You –Founder AnneGift, Ronke Adelowo”

  1. Lola Ogunojemite

    Way to go, Madam. I’m so proud of your insights and achievements so far. Wishing you the very best for the future. The sky is the limit

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