By CHARLES KUMOLU
A LEADING wealth creator and CEO of Aspire Coronation Trust, ACT Foundation, Osayi Alile offers insight into her life and career, leaving nuggets that could serve as models to many. In Alile’s story, the fruits of embracing the attitude of giving come to bear. The alumnus of Harvard Business School and Yale Executive Education Programme among others was the Executive Director of FATE Foundation, a leading private sector-led non-profit organisation for eight years. She also served as Chairperson of Women in Management and Business ,WIMBIZ.
As a result of her rich profile in the social sector, Alile sits on the board of some leading organisations.In the beginning
Growing up in a large family of 10 exposed me to the realities of life. First, it offered me an opportunity to understand people and their differences. Second, it introduced me to a new phase of life, one that involves a lot of giving and humanitarian jobs.
My father is a Pastor. Because of that our Sundays were spent giving back to people as we embarked on a series of food-sharing outings and donations to underprivileged individuals. It was our Sunday routine.
My parents also trained us to be self-sufficient by ensuring that we learnt different skills and we were dedicated to them. As a result of this experience, I was driven to pursue a purpose that will enable me empower people who have no means of achieving what they want out of life. That is in addition to the enhancement of entrepreneurship in the society.
I am a mother, sister, friend and ardent believer in positive change. I am very passionate about the social sector as I believe strongly that impact must be made rapidly and consistently in a bid to foster development. Currently, I am the CEO of ACT Foundation, a grant-making and capacity building non-profit organisation committed to delivering social impact changes in the areas of health, environment, entrepreneurship, and leadership. I am a Nigerian and I believe in Nigeria.
I remember vividly one Sunday morning when my parents took the family out for our routine charity exercise. As a young and adventurous girl, I strolled to see how I could help in my own little way. While I attended to a much younger woman who I thought was less privileged as a result of her shabby clothes and poor appearance, an elderly woman approached me and asked the kind of heart I had. She suddenly started chanting some phrases of blessing.
Although I couldn’t really understand what it implied at that time, there was a feeling of peacefulness in my heart. I ultimately believed that I was never going to turn my back on helping others when I can.
Through the course of my journey in life, I have been privileged to have the guidance of inspirational people. I always advise young people to have mentors especially in this age of interconnectivity. Mentorship helps not only in improving one’s networks, but helps to develop personal and professional skills to a great extent. My mentors have been an inspiration to me and also a guide. They have guided me through difficult choices and have constantly brought out the best in me. Some of my mentors through life have been my parents, Ibukun Awosika, Pastor Tony Rapu, Mr. Fola Adeola and lots more.
People see you as a source of inspiration, at what point in life did you develop interest in social issues?
From a young age, I had always intended to do good wherever I found myself. However, furthering my education opened my mind to a new level of resourcefulness. Hence, I discovered that the non-profit sector could serve as a significant platform for rewriting the story of a continent and its people while positively impacting lives. Ever since I have been interested in fostering development in every area I have been priviledged to be especially as regard to growth and empowerment.
Hard work has always been foremost. Find a man diligent in his work, he shall stand before kings. And that has been my guiding phrase and my story.
Credibility, accountability, consistency, and resilience have been my watchwords. These principles have shaped my career and work within and outside the social sector. However, none of these can’ function effectively for anyone without faith in God, and a firm belief in oneself.
On ACT Foundation
From the onset, I have always believed in maintaining a culture of excellence. I also endeavour to encourage this everywhere I find myself including the workplace. The key to building a brand is focus, hard work and consistency, and ACT Foundation is an embodiment of these characteristics.
My experience in the social sector for the last 19 years has also presented me with a platform to create an enabling room for continuous growth. At ACT Foundation, we promote values that instill in us the desire to make a change in our world.
I believe that the journey into my life’s purpose is still miles away. But I can say that facilitating the advent of Junior Achievement ,JA, in Nigeria was an accomplishing moment for me and made me aware of my own strength. Fate Foundation made me understand that I had a role in building and nurturing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs, in Nigeria for the growth of our economy.
Vigour and strenght
I am glad I carried that role with vigour and strength. My time at Women in Management and Business ,WIMBIZ as the Chairperson, enabled me to truly understand what it means to lead and I am proud of the feat accomplished. Access Bank gave me the platform to do more for the sustainability of our people and the environment. And all these experiences have been exhilarating and inspiring at the same time.
Accomplishments in first year
ACT Foundation and our accomplishments in the first year of operation remain phenomenal to me.
Being able to positively impact the lives of over 65,000 Nigerians is definitely a great achievement for me and my team at ACT Foundation.