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Bowing out in grand style

Nonny Ugboma and the legacy of success at MTN Foundation

On Thursday, April 1, while many people around the world were busy pulling hilarious pranks on their family and friends, one of Nigeria’s finest directors, an exemplary business leader and CSR expert, announced that she was moving on from the MTN Foundation after almost two decades of impactful service. Her name? Nonny Patricia Ugboma. And it was not a prank.

Reading through the hundreds of well wishes and goodwill messages that followed her post, it was clear that the erstwhile executive secretary of the MTN Foundation created and sustained an enviable pattern of leadership that is rare and commendable. Little wonder she was named among BusinessDay’s top 50 most inspiring women in 2019.

To adequately appreciate Nonny’s role in helping to position the MTN Foundation and indeed the MTN Nigeria brand as leaders in the CSR space, it is imperative to consider the giant strides of the Foundation during her time.

MTN Foundation: Leading social investment initiatives in Nigeria

Riding on its status as the first foundation to be established by a Nigerian telecommunication company, MTN Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of leading telecommunications company MTN Nigeria, has in the last 16 years touched lives through its very impactful social investments in education, health and economic empowerment. From its establishment on May 11, 2005, till now, the Foundation has committed over N22 billion ($66 million) to diverse social development initiatives across 850 MTNF project sites, becoming the leading driver of social investments across the 36 states in the country including the FCT.

The giant strides made by the Foundation and the remarkable transformation of lives seen through its many impactful initiatives are clear indications that the well-being of citizens through thriving communities sit at the top of the Foundation’s commitment all the time.

Led by an independent Board that provides direction and financial oversight, the MTN Foundation has maintained a culture of always making lives better for many within the operating environment. Through special initiatives such as the rural telephony project in partnership with the Growing Businesses Foundation, the MTN Foundation provided sustainable means of livelihood for rural women through the provision of telecommunications services, serving as the flagship project under its economic empowerment portfolio.

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Under the education portfolio, over 60 secondary schools were beneficiaries of ICT laboratories, 24 secondary schools received science laboratories and five universities benefitted from virtual ICT libraries. Noteworthy also is the fact that scholarships were awarded to over 3,800 students in STEM and over 800 blind students in public tertiary institutions across the country.

Through its health portfolio, the MTN Foundation renovated 24 maternity wards, 12 haemodialysis centres and six mammography centres in public hospitals across the country, under a financially sustainable PPP model. To adequately focus the initiatives of the Foundation, five years ago it streamlined its activities into three major causes that include Mother & Child Health, Youth Development and Arts & Culture. The development saw the successful launch of active interventions to reduce maternal and infant mortality in 2017 and anti-substance abuse amongst the youth population in 2018. Also, the Foundation’s support of arts and culture has been hailed as a powerful driver for a cultural renaissance in Nigeria.

Perhaps the most visible intervention of the Foundation is the ‘What Can We Do Together’ (WCWDT) initiative, which commenced in the year of the Foundation’s 10th anniversary, 2015. The WCWDT initiative is a community-centred “give-back” initiative where community dwellers nominate communities to receive projects by MTNF. Across 510 communities and in 454 LGAs in Nigeria, community members have benefitted from interventions ranging from solar boreholes, 500kva transformers, supply of required medical equipment & consumables to Primary Healthcare Centres, school furniture and learning materials to public primary and secondary schools as well as household items to orphanage homes.

Nonny Ugboma and her legacy of success

Nonny, as her LinkedIn post declared, had spent 17 years, 11 months and 24 days at MTN starting in the marketing department on April 7, 2003. According to her, the time spent was filled with success, drama, challenges and impact. Her giant strides in the corporate social investment sector led the MTNF to achieve many laudable feats, earning her a position as one of BusinessDay’s Top 50 most inspiring women in Nigeria in 2019 as well as Board memberships.

Nonny’s dynamic and impactful career spans over two decades cutting across financial services, telecommunications, technology and social enterprise. Apart from her work with MTN Foundation, she was a non-executive director, Asharami Energy (a Sahara Group company), from Dec 2014 to November 2019, member and chairman, Board Audit & Risk Committee, and member, Remuneration and Governance Committee on the board of R.A.K Unity PLC, a subsidiary of the Sahara Energy Group.

Many who worked with Nonny over the years have testified to the perfect manner with which she aligns CSR objectives with business strategic objectives to implement interventions that hugely benefit individuals and host communities alike. Her exceptional and diverse skill set includes managing stakeholders at different levels of businesses and society, speaking at public engagements and conferences, writing articles relating to developmental and societal issues on multiple platforms and facilitating human-centred design forums for the creation of viable solutions.

In 2020 she added to her credentials by obtaining a Master of Public Administration in Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value (Distinction) from the University College, London. Her other qualifications include Master of Science in International Management, King’s College, London, and Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Accounting and Financial Analysis, University of Warwick.

For all that Nonny stood for at MTN Foundation, she will be greatly missed. However, because she has successfully and consistently proven herself as a shared value enabler and a mission-oriented innovation enthusiast, we can be sure that she will continue to contribute to the developmental agenda globally.

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