• Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Osayi Alile: Leading women to ‘Step up and stand out!’

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If there is something that excites me, it is seeing women daring to tread on uncommon grounds and scaling through all the obvious obstacles to come out greater and shine even brighter. Such attributes best describe my lunch date for this week.

She is a Not-For-Profit and fundraising professional with over 16 years experience of philanthropic management and excellent track record of managing endowments and grants in excess of USD$100M. A highly creative and results-driven individual with an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit, drive and vision for delivering and expanding national, local, non-profit and for profit organisations. She is an expert it in community, economic and social development in developed and emerging markets working closely with socially responsible corporate organisations and individuals. She is Osayi Alile, the current chairperson of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Nigeria based non-profit organisation formed in 2001 by 14 individuals, with an overriding vision to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building.
As a consultant for Access Bank, Osayi says “There are a lot of passionate organizations out there that are willing to bring about change in our environment and one has to understand what the organization needs and merge it to the needs of the environment and communities it serves. It has been an interesting time with Access Bank. The bank is very strong on its commitments and has continuously pursued its purpose to be the most respected Bank; this is just one of the ways in which they want to do that.” She says.
As the chairperson of a leading women’s non-profit organization, Osayi has her views on women’s representation in decision making processes in Nigeria.  In her words, “Nigeria has come a long way in this regard. For the first time in the history of the banking sector in Nigeria, we have 3 female board chairs. This is an example of how far we have come. Female representation on boards has increased in the past year or two, not too significantly, but there has been an improvement. This shows that we can achieve gender equity across board in Nigeria.”
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“We have come a long way, but there is work to do. With all the achievements in the banking sector in Nigeria, female representation on boards is still at an alarming 19%, at the National Assembly in the 8th republic, female participation in the Senate is only 7.3%, same as in the 7th Republic, while at the House of Representatives, female representation is only 4.2% down from6.7% in the 7th Republic. We are unable to comment yet on ministerial appointments as the final list of ministers is yet to be published, but women must be fully represented in the Federal Executive Council.” Osayi says and continues “As WIMBIZ, we will keep advocating for female inclusion at the highest levels. There is a general misconception that women are not available, but they are! WIMBIZ through our Women on Board program (WIMBOARD) has created an extensive executive database of women that can be appointed to boards or called to serve. This list is available on request. Beyond the Executive database, we have taken it upon ourselves to train women and get them ready for board positions.” She adds.
To address the challenge of the low participation of women in politics, Osayi says “WIMBIZ recently held a Town Hall Meeting for women in partnership with the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) where the key issues women face in aspiring to political offices were addressed. At this event, a call was made for women to sign up to politics and take the first step of joining political parties and many women responded to this call. As an organization committed to the development of women, we will follow up with such women and provide them with much needed support, not monetary, but institutional support to thrive in politics.” She reveals.
Osayi was able to lead operations to train over 70,000 youths in Nigeria, she shares with me how she was able to do this. Again, she speaks “The Global Dignity Day program has been a pet project of mine over the last 4 years. The project was started as World Economic Forum and Young Global Leader initiative and is held in 50 countries around the world. We believe dignity is an inherent part of the human condition. We believe most young people struggle with the question “Who am I?” and search for who they want to be. Our goal is to have an ongoing discussion with young people about values in a defining period of their life. We believe that young people empower themselves with and through dignity. Global Dignity Day will be celebrated on 21 October 2015. To help us accomplish our goals we have partnered with Junior Achievement Nigeria and THAF Foundation to reach the students. We currently operate in 10 states.” She narrates. 
If you describe WIMBIZ as a success story, you have spoken well. Who best to ask what is responsible for this feat if not the ‘Chair’ of the organisation. “WIMBIZ has enjoyed favour and the partnerships of women and men. The founding Trustees were committed to their vision and they pursued it with utmost passion. The vision of WIMBIZ which is to be the “Catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building’, has attracted women of like minds who have become members and are committed to the organization. Beyond this, several corporate organizations in Nigeria have identified with us and consistently support us. We have also enjoyed global partnerships. Most importantly, we have attracted an excellent team of highly committed staff who work tirelessly to implement our vision.” Osayi tells me.
Osayi Alile
I was a speaker at the 2014 edition of WIMBIZ’s annual conference and I must say it was a very exciting and mostly enlightening event. I certainly can’t wait for this year’s edition but I asked Osayi to let me in on what the event will be about this year and she did. “Thanks Kemi, I am glad you had fun and thanks for speaking too. The 14th WIMBIZ annual conference is themed ‘Leadership… Step Up and Stand Out!’ We believe strongly that there is no better time for women to rise to the challenge of leadership than now! The conference will address the challenge of leadership by: Exposing women to the subject of leadership; what it really is, enlighten women about the tremendous opportunities to lead around them, empower women with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools that are required for exemplary leadership, make a case for women in leadership by giving women the required push to step up to leadership and stand out as exemplary leaders among many others”
“The 2-day annual conference is scheduled to hold on Monday, November 16 and Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. The conference will feature 6 plenary sessions on topics such as the ‘Art of Leadership’, ‘Take a Political Stand’, ‘Unearthing Opportunities in Africa’ among others. In addition, there will be 6 breakout sessions, 1 debate on the topic “The Boys Club: Blend In or Breakout!”  and a Minute Mentoring Program.” She states.
Osayi further added that “The Chairperson at this year’s conference is Maiden Ibru, Publisher, the Guardian Newspaper and Wendy Luhabe, Founder and Chair, Women Private Equity Fund (WPEF), South Africa will deliver the Keynote Address. As our custom is, we would be naming our 2015 Female Achievers and this year, we will be honouring past female Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities. These women shaped tertiary education in Nigeria and rose to the height of their careers in a male dominated environment.” She concludes.
An enlightening interview you will agree and it ends with Osayi’s parting shots “I will use one of WIMBIZ quotes which I just read a few minutes ago and is so apt ‘Every positive change in your life begins with a clear, unequivocal decision that you are going to either start something or stop doing something’. Progress is impossible without change, and those that cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
For further information about the conference and to register, please visit www.wimbizannualconference.com
Kemi Ajumobi