By Yemisi Suleiman
Antonia Ally is the Managing Director and CEO of “The How Foundation”, a non-profit organisation founded by Dr. Herbert Wigwe, the MD/CEO of Access Bank in January 2016, with special focus on Malaria, Prostate Cancer, Youth Leadership and Mentorship.
Over the years the How Foundation has carried out a number of campaigns focused at impacting on the lives of thousands of Nigerians, from distribution of 2,000 free malaria nets to the Isiokpon Community in Edo State, to carrying out Leadership and Mentorship Seminars at various secondary schools. It’s most recent project is its partnership with God’d Children Great Talent (GCGT)- Africa’s biggest gospel children and youth talent competition. An initiative of the City of David Parish of the redeemed Christian Church of God that continues to identify and celebrate talents in children and young adults from age 5 to 20 years.
Armed with over five years of Sales and Marketing experience in the profit sector, Antonia is a seasoned professional with a Bsc. degree in Business Management and Marketing from Brunel University, United Kingdom.
Antonia was recently given an award in New York by the United Nations as a Global Peace Ambassador.
We caught up with her recently, get to know about this young lady on a mission to change lives.
Tell me about your foundation. What are you do exactly?
My foundation is called The HOW Foundation, we were established on the 20th of July of 2016. We want to contribute towards the global and national fight against Malaria, so we focus on malaria Eradication. We have a passion for Prostrate Cancer Awareness and we specialize in different forms of youth Leadership and Empowerment such as seminars, scholarships and youth partnerships.
How did you come up with starting this foundation?
It was really a matter of destiny, when God has set a path for you, one thing or another would always lead you to it. As I said, I was doing marketing related projects for individuals, so I had met with the founder of the foundation, who was not the founder yet, as the organisation had not yet existed in an official sense, we were discussing my work and my recent projects. We then began to discuss his passion for helping organisations in need, which he has been doing his whole life, he had mentioned his drive to want to start his own organisation, so then and there we decided to turn it into a brand and make it official.
Tell us about the day to day activities involved in running your foundation.
Day to day activities involve lots and lots of research. Lots of emails, lots of movement and a lot of admin. So, for the research, you need to research the current status of our causes take Prostrate Cancer for example, It is very much underfunded, understated and a relatively unknown situation in Nigeria, yet it is the highest cause of Cancer-related deaths in men, it takes a lot of research, we have to research the status of Prostrate Cancer in the county, these statistics and constantly changing, we research other organisations with similar passions for potential partnerships after all, Oscar Wilde said “if you want to go fast, you go alone but if you want to go far, go together”. We are constantly looking for new innovation around our causes, like with malaria, we have discovered repellant soaps and bracelets, then also, we have to physically meet with other organisations for meetings to discuss ways we can effectively reach our goals as a society, admin work involves keeping track and keeping accounts of all forms of interactions.
How do you get funding for your projects?
The organisation is responsible for generating its own funds, just like all organizations, we do not have any special system in place.
What were the challenges you face running the organization?
We all face daily challenges, but I have to say, I think the biggest challenge has been getting volunteers. Nigeria does not really have a volunteer culture in that sense, so getting people to help out donating their time, has been a bit challenging. I usually have to call in favours whenever I am having programs, times are hard but being a part of a society such as Amnesty International and International Women’s Society, you are required to donate your time and energy, those are priceless resources. money is the main motive we can not We need more “able” people to reach out to us and donate their time and knowledge, there are so many organisations like mine that need the support.
Take us through the impact you have made so far?
We are still very young so I am going to discuss the impact I have made and a few of the projects we have under construction. Already, we have impacted over 2,000 families through our :Give Malaria No Place’ initiative, we have touched over 1,000 secondary school children with our Leadership and Mentorship programs and our competitions, which has been put in place as a form of motivation and we have found very effective. We are currently working on National Scholarship program for 10 brilliant students annually, a scheme such as this, being able to provide scholarships does not only change the lives of the child but also the family and the community.
Personally now, what is that one beauty or fashion trend you regret trying?
A beauty trend I regret trying is having a fringe. When I was younger, I insisted on having a fringe like my Grandma, everyone that went to primary school with me can never forget my fringe hairstyle faze. I thought I was cool then, now, looking back at the pictures, I can’t believe my Grandma allowed me left the house with it. What was I thinking.
Your skin is glowing. What routine do you follow for a flawless complexion?
Thank you. Well, I believe in natural products, for so long I have avoided using products with too many chemicals I can’t pronounce, now my skin is so sensitive to harsh chemicals. My routine is black soap, bio oil, I drink a lot of water and I leave all my problems to God.
What beauty products can’t you live without?
My apricot Scrub and Ultimate Beauty Oil.