*Her story of philanthropy
By Nnamdi Ojiego
“I was trained from the beginning to work, to save, and to give”. These words of John Rockefeller Jr could not be truer in the life of a former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who has dedicated most of her life to helping the less fortunate people in the society.
When the news of the launch of Adeosun’s new charity organization frittered in, many saw it as the same kind of foundations politicians float whenever they want to contest for any elective position, insinuating that the former minister could be nursing a political ambition for 2023.
But Adeosun is different. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attested to this when he described the charity organisation as “first of its kind.”
Again, because the financial expert was born and raised in the United Kingdom, not many Nigerians knew the humanity part of her life.
Not minding her privileged status as a UK citizen and her accomplishments and pedigree in the society, Adeosun, a former commissioner for finance in Ogun state, has always displayed humility and a burning desire to give a hand.
Little wonder her new foundation has committed itself to raise US $10 million in funds and resources for local charities within the first year of its existence.
This is good news and reprieve for local non-governmental organisations, NGOs, who are finding it difficult to raise funds to execute their humanitarian causes.
NGOs caring for orphans, vulnerable children, disadvantaged youth, and victims of domestic abuse, etc., can now apply for grants from Adeosun’s foundation.
Adeosun has a long history of working to support orphanages, in her private capacity. This could account why as a minister, she prioritized the Social Investment Programmes, SIP, of the Federal Government, when for the first time, the country voted almost N500 billion of her annual budget to welfare programmes.
The SIP engaged 500,000 young men and women; gave micro-credit to about two million traders and provided a home-grown school feeding programme for about 9.5 million children daily in public schools across the country.
The UK trained economist may have realised that there’s little she could do as an individual.
This realisation and desire for greater reach and impact, no doubt, necessitated the need to establish DashMe Foundation. DashMe simply means charity, giving freely without expecting any rewards in return.
The foundation which was recently unveiled in Lagos witnessed the crème la crème in the country and beyond including Prof. Osinbajo.
After resigning as Minister of Finance on the 14th of September, 2018, Adeosun has maintained a low profile.
Having stayed away for some time, the former minister returned home with DashMe to put smiles on the face of those that need it most.
DashMe is a fully indigenous, youth-driven, social enterprise that seeks to creatively raise funds and awareness for indigenous charities that provide direct care to orphans, vulnerable children, disadvantaged youth, and victims of domestic abuse.
The foundation is aimed to change lives by creatively raising funds and awareness for grassroots charities in Nigeria and across the globe.
DashMe Store, an offshoot of DashMe foundation, is an online thrift-for-charity initiative. The store was established to mobilise resources for distribution to vulnerable people in society via grassroots charities.
It has become increasingly popular among bargain hunters looking for high quality items at affordable prices.
Speaking during the inauguration, the former minister who described herself as the ‘Chief Volunteer’ said the organisation would work closely with charitable organisations in the grassroots to ensure that funds and other materials donated via the DashMe Store get to the actual beneficiaries.
While sharing the long-term vision for the social enterprise, she explained that donations would be sourced from within Nigeria and from the diaspora community.
According to her, the store would sell donated goods to raise funds which would be channelled to various partner-charity organisations.
She disclosed that the store was the first of many projects that the foundation would undertake to raise cash including through other conventional and unconventional fund-raising avenues to accomplish its vision.
The financial expert added that DashMe’s Donor Assurance policy was its commitment to ensuring that all funds raised get to the right people, noting that the organisation has hired a director of Donor Assurance who would be responsible for validating and reporting on the activities and statuses of Impact Partners.
“We use a range of creative ideas to raise funds, including our thrift stores, consignment services, raffle draws, and strategic partnerships. We measure the impact of the money deployed under a program we call Donor Assurance.
“It is about following the funds we raise. Donor Assurance is designed to give those who support us financially, full assurance that their funds have been well utilized and have indeed changed lives.
“We report back regularly and transparently, celebrating what succeeded and learning from what did not.
“We recognise that throwing money at a problem is not always a solution and so once we are satisfied with the ‘who’ aspect of our Impact Partners, we must also ensure that funds are deployed efficiently.
“We will measure impact, benchmark, costs and ensure maximum value. We hope that DashMe can play a part in the relief mission and truly support changing lives.
“We carefully screen charities working with orphaned and vulnerable children, disadvantaged youth, and victims of domestic violence and delivering high-impact services. Those who meet our standards become our Impact Partners and can apply for funding from the money we raise, to support the work they are doing”, Adeosun emphasized.
It was tributes galore for the DashMe founder from guests at the unveiling ceremony including Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who commended the initiative and described it as “first of its kind” in the country.
“I am excited to be here for several reasons, but most of all, because of Mrs Adeosun’s commitment to the notion that all service to man is actually service to God, and she took that very seriously.
“I am therefore really not surprised that she has decided to use some of her enormous talent and influence to establish an organization that raises funds and provides resources for indigenous grassroots charities.
“What I think is happening here is that philanthropy is not like it used to be when all you needed was a good and kind heart and you didn’t need to plan or organize as you would a business for-profit.
“Philanthropy run with the discipline, attention to detail, and financial prudence of a successful business, and she can do all of that, and I am sure her team is imbibing that, given her background in finance in both private and public sector.
“The idea of this thrift-for-charity store is brilliant and the first of its kind in Nigeria. It is a unique model which does not just give to the needy in the conventional way of merely handing out donations.
“It is an innovative and structured way of aggregating donations to earn income to transform the lives of the vulnerable and needy while creating jobs in the process”, Osinbajo stated.
Within few months the organization has been in operation, it is already making impacts and has expended over N10 million on numerous life-changing projects through local charities.
Some of the NGOs that have benefited from the magnanimity of DashMe include Olive Bloom Orphanage, Sarah Adetutu Children Foundation, Wheel Chairs for Nigeria (The Beautiful Gate Foundation), Lifesource Orphanage, and the Women’s Helping Hand Initiative, amongst others.
DashMe is currently, contributing to the education of four students and a ‘Home school project’ designed to provide educational support to children.
It has provided wheelchairs to over 60 children living with disabilities. These young people who were previously housebound and destined for a life of begging, are now able to attend a school or develop vocational skills and have a chance of a sustainable means of livelihood.
The foundation has also provided support in form of grants to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse and trafficking, which has brought about tremendous relief to many women and young girls by providing a safe house and support services.
“Through this, we have been able to secure and protect 20 women and girls by giving them a home away from home.
“We have also given funds for the rebuilding of the security perimeter fencing to reinforce security and safety and increased the wellbeing of about 20 residents in their Harbour shelter at Eleko, Lagos. Our organization has also purchased household items such as gas cookers, television sets, etc to orphanage homes”, the ex-minister revealed.
Obviously, Adeosun cannot do it alone. She needs the support and encouragement of well-meaning individuals in this onerous task of changing the face of humanity.
Therefore, DashMe relies on both corporate and individual sponsors to raise funds and other resources for this humanitarian enterprise.
The foundation also relies on the support of volunteers who perform a range of key tasks and would appreciate those who have spare time on their hands to be part of this movement.