Osayi Alile is a quintessential leader with over 20 years in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and the third sector with a wide array of experience covering international develop ment, business and philanthropic management, fundraising and sustainability.
Her degrees in Sociology and Public Administration from Rutgers University, New Jersey prepared her to be a catalyst for change as she has revolutionised the non- profit sector in Nigeria and beyond. She possesses Executive Certifications from LBS (Nigeria), IMD, Cranfield, Harvard University and YALE. She is also a member of the Institute of Directors, Nigeria, CIBN (Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria) Mentoring Advisory Committee, Lagos Business School Nigeria Non-profit Senior Management Fellow, ANDE Executive Committee, Council Member, LCCI (Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry) , Member TheBoardroom Africa, Executive Member of the Access Women Network and Trustee, Alaghodaro (Edo State) Economic Summit.
Osayi Alile is currently the Chief Executive Officer at ACT Foundation, a grant- making non-profit organisation that provides funding to social sector organisations focused in the areas of Health, Entrepreneurship, Environment and Leadership. Through her hard work, dedication and resilience, ACT Foundation has been adjudged the “Not-For-Profit of the Year” at the 2018, 2019 & 2020 SERAS CSR Awards.
As you reflect on turning 50, what would you say life has taught you thus far?
First, I am simply grateful and in awe of how far God has brought me and how much I have been able to accomplish. However, I would say one of the many things I have learnt from life especially as I clock 50 in an interesting season where the world is faced with a myriad of challenges, is that in life, there will always be ups and downs, good and bad and one must prepare for it.
Experiencing the different sides of life doesn’t mean you are a bad person or God doesn’t love you, these are simply experiences that must come our way. This is the same way I approach work too. I know there are seasons in my job that will be great and there will be lean seasons too. I prepare for both seasons.
Yes, I have had difficult seasons when I have gone home and cried and asked myself many questions because things were not going according to plan, however, this preparation has in many cases helped me cushion the effects of these seasons. What is important in these seasons are understanding who we are and expressing goodness to others regardless.
Do you feel fulfilled with what you have done so far? Are there plans to do more?
As I reflect on 50, I feel a lot of fulfillment from my journey, successes, family, friends, colleagues and loved ones. However, as I reflect more deeply, I am asking God what next? I ask because I believe I have stepped into another chapter of my life and this chapter must be loaded with what God has planned for my life and what needs to be done. I have had different seasons where God has led me to do various things and I am certain that this season has its unique plot and as the days unfold, I will walk in it.
As a thought leader in the non-profit space, what would you say birthed your passion for the non-profit work?
Well, I wouldn’t say I always knew I would work in the non-profit sector, however, after university, I volunteered in a non-profit project and discovered a passion for it, I decided to pursue after this passionately. I did not understand much about my life or where I was headed, but I listened to my inner self and decided to change my Masters course to a non-profit related course. I remember my father had wondered what was going on with me and why I had made such a drastic move towards the non-profit sector, and he feared for my future. However, I was determined to succeed and leave behind my footprints in the sector. It became my dream, and I chase after it till today.
What changes would you suggest that the non-profit sector adopt going forward to improve its impact?
Well, I believe the non-profit sector needs to leverage more on technology for more innovative impact. Technology will play a major role not only programmatically, in how funders and implementing organisations engage, but also operationally, how individual organisations operate internally.
It is important that NGOs and social enterprises adopt more the use of technology for a much more innovative impact. Through innovation, we can reach and impact a lot more people in a short time and with lesser resources in most cases. Also, with the introduction of artificial intelligence, and other tech innovations, the development ecosystem will have to adjust drastically, or get left behind.
The sector also needs to embrace and engage in more innovative collaborations with the private and public sector.
Non-profits must learn to be creative in designing campaigns and projects relevant to donors and partners. This encourages more collaborations to solve the ever-evolving social challenges that Africa faces.
Furthermore, I believe the non-profit sector needs to embrace more indigenous philanthropy and impact storytelling. The truth remains that no one is better positioned to tell our stories and solve our problems than we are.
As a thought-leader with many professionals looking up to you, what are your plans for mentorship?
Mentorship is not new to me; I live a life of deliberate mentoring. I am a product of great mentorships, so, I have made deliberate moves in the last decade to mentor a number of young women. Like I said, it is a lifestyle for me. So, aside from my direct mentees, I am deliberate to impact everyone I encounter, especially young persons including my staff and colleagues. I will keep mentoring till I am done here on earth because Jesus mirrored this lifestyle and personally, I believe this is how we can impact the world to become a better place.
You have successfully steered the ACT Foundation ship in the last 5 years, what unique lessons have you learnt from this experience? Did you envision this level of success in 5 years?
Some of the lessons I have learnt include: hire the right persons who are passionate about what they do and invest in them. Also, like I always say, no one can grow bigger than the sector, therefore, it is important to keep improving oneself so that you can continue to impact and improve the sector. In addition, I believe in investing in people and relationships. Do not leave people the way you met them, invest good as much as you can.
When ACT Foundation took off in 2016, we had big dreams and goals to impact thousands of persons through our four focus areas: health, entrepreneurship, environment and leadership. However, after 5 years, we have surpassed our goals with a very wide margin.
Through a combination of grant making, enterprise interventions, innovation challenges, support programmes, guided conversations and philanthropy, ACT Foundation has ramped up social impact in an accelerated fashion.
We recently unveiled 26 organisations’ recipients of the 2023 grant scheme, which is in its 7th cycle. In the last 5 years, we have funded over 80 grantee organisations with over 2 million direct beneficiaries across 8 countries in Africa.
Did I envision this? Definitely not. I am grateful for such growth, impact and more to come.
ACCOLADES FOR OSAYI ALILE AT 50
Osayi is able to pull together people and keep friendships going.
Osayi is consistent, loyal, honest and she is true. In Osayi, I have learnt a lot about love, the reality and sacrificial nature of love. I have understood better that love is actually a decision. As we go through life, it is very easy, with the things that happen, to step aside from each other or grow away from each other, but Osayi is intentional about life and friendship. She is the only person that I know who is consistent in picking up the phone, calling to find out how you are, stopping by and buying soaps and shea butter for you. She prays for you, laughs with you, celebrate with you, lives life with you. She is a friend of all seasons and through seasons. Two weeks ago, I had some challenges, and I was stressed out and before I knew it, Osayi had set up a WhatsApp group insisting we pray and fast. She would call that it is time to pray. The same way she does this for me, is the same way she does it for others that she holds dear to heart. Osayi is a phenomenal person. Osayi has kept winning because she has been true to herself. I have not met one person that is not jealous of anyone else. She rejoices with you and your success. She cries with you and when done, she asks that we move on and find solution to what next we need to do. Osayi is consistent and dependable. I love, appreciate and celebrate you.
MD/CEO Transcorp Hotels Plc.
As you turn 50 mama, I can’t help but marvel at what an amazing journey you have had! All in all, God shows up!!! He has been extremely faithful and kind to us and I do not take it for granted!! Just amazing!
Your commitment to God and His people is evident in everything you do, and you truly are a shining example of LOVE in action. You have touched so many people’s lives – You give of your time and goodies (I’m constantly borrowing your stuff…lol) Thank you. She is a connector and always willing to introduce and help everyone. She reminds me so much of our papa!!
Mama, You are a simply amazing and a beautiful human!! I am so honoured to be able to call you my sister. Out #3. I love you!!! Happy 50th Birthday!
Principal Partner/Creative Director at CC Interiors Studio
People continue to use the phrase, “I have the best mother in the world” but there is no way you will say you have the best mother in the world when I have the best mother in the world. I have a kind mother who taught me humanity, what it means to have love for other people. She taught me how to love and give with generosity and selflessness. To think about yourself but put other people first, to continue to love and adore other people. My mother loves so wholeheartedly. She continues to revolutionise the face of social sector both in Africa and around the world. She is sacrificial, she will always be there for you, she is always the most intelligent woman in the room. She will raise the bar, raise it and then raise it again. She will draw the line, erase it, and raise it again. My mum will have you laughing so hard and crack you up. People are often congratulating me for what she said or did, sometimes on things I do not know about. If you sit by my mum, you will hear 6 alarms throughout the day, praying for me and my younger brother. I cannot be more grateful for this. Did you ever know mum that you are my hero? You are the wind beneath my wings. I and my younger brother love you, and it is an honour to be your sons. May these next 50 years bring you joy, blessing, peace, wealth, prosperity only a woman like you deserves. If you think you have seen my mother on TV, magazines or anywhere, that isn’t all, there is more…watch this space!
Tamunobuomie Oruene (Son)
I first met Osayi when I came into ACT Foundation for an interview as a Finance Officer. This was after the first interview with the HR team. I had prepared myself but was a little nervous as usual.
I entered Osayi’s office, and she greeted me with a very warm welcome and engaging interaction as though she had known me all her life. I felt she was trying to make me comfortable as an interviewer. I was wrong. Osayi has remained the same till today.
If you have bad moments from home, you can be sure to leave work happy, just because of her presence. There are no dull moments with Osayi. She inspires you to be a better version of you and always wants you to leave her better than when you joined her.
Osayi is a great inspiration and I celebrate her.
– Aghogho Erakpotobor, Finance Manager, ACT Foundation
Happy 50th Birthday Ma! I celebrate and honour your extraordinary leadership, dedication and contributions to ACT Foundation. Your guidance has helped the organisation flourish to transform lives and communities and nurture the potential of countless African organisations. Your vision, passion, kindness and fun-loving nature inspire me daily. Thank you for being an exceptional leader and role model. I wish you joy, good health and many more years of success and happiness.
– Oluchi Okoroafor, M&E Executive, ACT Foundation
Over five years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Osayi, who played a crucial role in my journey into the non-profit sector as her Executive Assistant. Working closely with her, I not only experienced her leadership as a boss but also got to know her on a personal level. Throughout our time together, she identified qualities in me that I hadn’t recognised within myself—both personally and professionally—and continuously encouraged me to surpass my own limits. Today, I proudly hold the position of Head of Human Resources at ACT Foundation.
To me, Osayi Alile is more than just a boss; she has become my mentor, friend, and sister. Her unwavering support and kindness are truly remarkable, and I consider it a blessing to have her by my side. Witnessing her passion for work, family, friends, and everyone around her inspires me every single day.
As she celebrates her 50th birthday, I am filled with excitement and gratitude. Osayi, may this milestone birthday bring you immense joy and fulfillment. I wish you a year filled with new adventures, meaningful connections, and continued success in all your endeavors. May your passion for making a difference in the nonprofit sector continue to touch the lives of many, and may you find fulfillment in every step of your journey.
Afe Buoro, Senior Human Resources and Administrative Executive, ACT Foundation
Osayi!!! How many ways do I love you? You are light and love. You are the quintessential woman’s woman. You are the true example of women supporting women. Always looking out for all your friends, going above and beyond. You were the first person to visit me in hospital when I gave birth to my retirement baby!!! You were so worried with my old age belle. Thanks for being a sweet soul. Happy 50th Birthday, you deserve all the blessings coming your way. I love and celebrate you dearly.
Vice President & Trustee, Sustainability Professionals Institute of Nigeria
Very few women truly can be identified as a woman who uplifts and supports her fellow woman, she, however, personifies this saying. From the moment I met Osayi, she has been a picture of grace, kindness, love, happiness, and consistency. It’s very difficult to find somebody who has something negative to say about Osayi, which goes to tell you a lot about who she is and who she has been consistently.
I met one of the most prominent people in my life through Osayi. I had said to her, I wanted to meet women who would add value to my life in any capacity as she introduced me to Ijeoma Ubosi, who I truly count as one of my big sisters and best friends. I’m forever indebted to her for that relationship.
She is a leader, an inspiration, a guide, always available for a much needed conversation, gives herself intentionally and deliberately to those around her.
I’ve watched her with WIMBIZ, Chairperson, Zapphaire events, CEO ACT Foundation and pillar leader of ‘This Present House’ and an extremely intentional parent with her boys and loving sibling to her family.
It’s a blessing to know her, access her and now celebrate her in a way she truly deserves at the legacy age of 50. She is an icon and deserving of all accolades.
Chizoba Okpala Atsu
CEO Ellesice Cocktails & Drinks
If support system were a person…
I am certain I won’t be where I am today if I didn’t come across the amazon, Osayi Alile. I met this woman just when I was coming into the fullness of knowing what it meant to be a young woman. My first encounter with her was as an undergraduate in the University of Lagos when she came to Sovereign Army fellowship to teach on prayer. I had never been in close contact with a woman that commanded so much before. I was in awe…literally.
We got introduced and I officially became her “aburo” and mentee. From teaching me life skills, holding my hand, supporting me, cheering me, praying with me, opening doors for me and taking me into rooms I otherwise won’t have access to. Just knowing I have her in my corner doesn’t only keep me going but it inspires and challenges me.
My sweet aunty Osayi as I call her, is a blessing not just to me but to her generation and everyone that comes in contact with her, breaking every myth that women don’t support women.
Actress, Producer, Host.
My darling Osayimwense – My sister and my friend. The one who encourages, looks out for and is real with me. Godmother to my children, and the one who blessed me with two precious boys to mother and love on as well.
We have been blessed to have so many years to see the manifestation of God in multiple dimensions in our lives, and it is a joy to see what God is doing and is poised to do as you step into Jubilee.
I know you don’t do mushy but here is a chance to let you know that you are much loved by me and mine.
Love you tons
Black Pelican Limited
Dear Phenomenal Osayi,
Happy Birthday my treasured golden friend. I pray God continues to be the hedge of protection around you. I pray that your children always bring you comfort and solace. I wish you a life of love, peace, joy, abundance, beauty, contentment, and satisfaction. I pray your beautiful smile never fades. I pray for you many more avenues to keep making us proud, you know you have big cheerleaders behind you. I pray that you always have good friends around you in times of celebration and through the bad times as you have been there for us. May you never lose your gift of making everyone feel like they are your total focus, I don’t know how you do it, but I love it. Your ability to carry a conversation with anyone of any age is a unique gift. Thank you for sharing your talents with us and for the incredible philanthropy you do at work and in private. Stay prayerful, kind, generous, confident, resilient, assertive, stylish, sexy, girly, womanly. Keep dancing like no one’s watching with so much energy and passion. You are blessed and are deeply loved and cherished by me and so many others.
Lecturer – Department of Sociology
University of Ghana
Every time I think of Aunty Osayi, words like strong, supporter, encourager, adviser, mentor and friend come to mind. Aunty Osayi shows up for everyone in her life. She loves hard and if she loves you, you can’t ever doubt it. Some people are plugs but aunty Osayi is a whole extension box. She knows someone that knows someone that can solve your problem and she’s not afraid to ask you to help solve other people’s problems for them.
Aunty Osayi, in this 50th year of your life, before you ask for help you receive it. I pray that as you diligently support the visions of others, you birth your own visions and are supported by nations. May God grant you a special birthday gift and may your joy be full.
Happy birthday Aunty Osayi
Outgoing Curator, Global Shapers Community Lagos Hub
‘My OA’ – Osayi Alile@ 50
A woman of diverse authentic parts , that is Osayi Alile. ‘ My OA’ as I have Fondly called her for decades, remains my kinetic energy, moving me to make bold progressive strides in life. I have been with her through her academic and professional journeys, truly inspirational every step of the way. Osayi abases and abounds, devoid of arrogance. She is a respected force within for profit and non-profit business arenas, being able to ensure collaborative work by both sides, to enable nation building.
Osayi walks the whole journey with you and would pull out every tool in the toolbox, every connection that is required, to ensure you finish strong.
Osayi shows up for everyone and she is one who lifts others as she rises. My OA is not just a thought leader but also a truly thoughtful leader, one who genuinely leads with kindness. She is indeed a leader who is committed to the development of people and the society that she finds herself in. A soulful mother at home and at work.
Our friendship cuts across personal as well as professional lines, and her intensity of care comes through the same. Osayi loves and serves God. She is a spirited dancer in worship as well as in celebration. I am eternally grateful to God for blessing me with this great wealth of friendship in Osayi.
I thank my OA for being in the required form of support (hard or soft) through my life’s journey. I am grateful for our trust filled friendship that is built on God’s love. I wish Osayi God’s joy and marvelous elevation this new decade.
Executive Head, Human Capital,
Old Mutual Nigeria
Sometime circa 2008, I was at a WIMBIZ event where I sat beside a very friendly lady who was very keen about helping me to get better at what I was doing then. She invited me to participate in the Fate Foundation’s Aspiring Entrepreneurs Program. She took special interest in my entrepreneurial endeavours and also helped me to participate in other training programs as well. Since I met Osayi at the WIMBIZ event, she never stopped looking out for me and my daughter. She gave my daughter an opportunity to intern with ACT Foundation at a point. Osayi is someone who tells you as it is, she is a great woman of faith who is always ready to go to great length for her family and friends.
Osayi, as you hit the golden mark, I pray that God will never leave you forsaken. Happy 50th birthday and thanks for all your seeds of love.
Corporate Affairs and Communications, Pfizer
SALUTING OSAYI @ 50!
I call her Mentor 1 because she was the very first Executive Council Chairperson of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) who was not one of the Founders of the organisation, so she set the pace for others to follow.
Isaac Newton once stated that ‘tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy’, which to me speaks to the diplomatic person Osayi is. She has a way with people and a strong ability to be a friend to so many while navigating through their dynamics, diversity, personalities, realities etc. in such a way that everyone feels comfortable as well as important in their opinion of her perception of them irrespective of their age, gender and race.
She is someone that is very passionate about social causes, the non-profit sector, as well as their collective impact on national development. This has caused her to have been instrumental in funding, growing and mentoring so many of them through her current role as the CEO of ACT Foundation.
As she celebrates her 50th birthday, I wish her so many more years of transformational leadership, measurable impact and exceptional growth in every area of her life.
Mentor 1, welcome to your 5th floor of new possibilities and significance.
On behalf of your WIMBIZ family, we wish you a Happy ‘Golden Jubilee’ Birthday!
Executive Director, WIMBIZ
My Dearest Sister Osayi,
You are one of the most powerful women I know!
You inspire and motivate me to remain fearless and take chances.
A stellar professional bringing out the best in everyone around you with your kind words and the connections and networking opportunities you offer always.
I celebrate the true leader you are as you constantly support other women and sacrifice your time on the job and with family showing up when it matters the most.
You never give up and always have a positive attitude. I am so proud of the lady you are and how you evolve through each season. To know you is to see and experience kindness in human form.
You are a phenomenal mother to your amazing sons and make parenting look super easy; thank you for grooming 2 solid men that would positively impact their generation and the world at large.
I can’t wait to see what life brings you as this next chapter unfolds. As a correct Edo babe, we no dey carry last.
I pray and hope that you have an awesome day filled with surprises!
May this birthday bring you a lot of blessings in great health and wealth! Always keep smiling, and have a great day!
I Love you, my strong, beautiful woman!
Happy 50th birthday phenomenal woman.
Founder, Farmshoppe Pantry Retail & Distribution Ventures
As Leap Africa Social Innovator in 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting Osayi, she was one of the facilitators. She played a crucial role in teaching us the art of networking, which was particularly valuable to me as an introvert who was hesitant to socialise. Her lectures and guidance encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the power of connections.
Also, as the CEO of ACT Foundation, ACT generously funded our work at the Mamamoni Empowerment Foundation. Thanks to her leadership, nearly 500 women had the opportunity to learn valuable skills at no cost. Her dedication and commitment to empowering others left a lasting impression on me.
Osayi is a personal source of inspiration, always cheering me on and motivating me to strive for greatness. Her belief in my potential uplifted me and gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. I am truly grateful for her impact on my personal and professional growth.
Happy 50th birthday Osayi Alile, wishing you more healthy years ahead filled with God’s protection and provision.