GraceFinalist: Grace Festus-Alao

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Grace Festus-Alao’s primary mission is to make everyone she comes in contact with better than she met them. She is a Chartered Accountant turned Relationship Coach. She is known as a writer who blogs regularly on Relationship Virtues via her blog, The Embodiment of Grace which was recently nominated as one of the 5 (five) Best Relationship Blog for Nigerian Blog Awards 2013.

She is a Public Speaker that teaches that there is a giant in everyone crying for recognition. She is a strong voice for rape victims and survivors.

BhozaFinalist: Bhoza Mphela

Country of Origin: South Africa

Bhoza Mphela is a born self-starter from Limpopo in South Africa. She was a secondary school student when her parents informed her that they could no longer afford to pay her school fees. Of her own accord, she sought after bursaries that would help finance her studies because she didn’t want to give up on education. While studying Mass Communications she took a liking to radio. She became a radio presenter for the period she was at university in Durban. Since Durban was not her home she moved to Johannesburg and became involved in Community Building. She organized World Aids Day for two locations around Johannesburg.

While in Johannesburg she started organizing events and within a short space of time she was approached and asked to consider Artist Management. Never one to pass on a challenge, she took it on and has since been in the events and artist management business for over 12 years.

In 2009 Limpopo was a little known village. Bhoza started a project called Rise Limpopo, which was meant for people from Limpopo, her province where she grew up, to be proud of where they come from but also for people from outside of Limpopo to get to know Limpopo. With her own income she produced slogan t-shirts. She also organized events to try and bring people from other provinces into the province. At these events, she booked celebrities and got media to feature and shoot programmes in Limpopo. Since then, she has inspired and given hope to people from Limpopo to stand up, rise above the negatives and fight for solutions. She also through this project goes to schools, speak to the youth and communities to inspire them.

She has managed to make a name for herself in events and artist management as she continues her role as an inspirational and motivational speaker. She has recently been honoured by Mageu Smooth and Hansa Pilsener separately as a Dreamer and a Hustler and a lady who has not let odds dictate her life journey.

For years she has run multiple charity drives like, sanitary towel donations, clothes collection for the homeless, and destitute because of national disasters, collecting school shoes for kids in rural areas, but the most noted was her participation in a sponsored Jail & Bail campaign for a Caner association through which a lot of money was raised.

Finalist: Bode Jikiemi

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Bode Jikiemi lives in Nigeria where statistics show a dependency ratio of 1:5 and average daily earnings of less than $1. Yet, as is the case for many growing up in middle class Nigeria, the extent of suffering didn’t fully hit home until 2012 when she met a homeless little girl who lived in a fridge carton and didn’t know her parents.

Unable to give her money, Bode shared her lunch with her and promised her a meal each day; she brought the little girl meals and spent 10minutes talking with her while she ate, there Bode heard the strangest stories of life on the street. Five weeks later the child was gone, in a bid to find “Aisha” Bode looked everywhere for weeks, which meant by week-three of searching she knew an approximate number of the homeless people in the area. And by week-four, Bode, mourning the loss of a friend but now inspired by her memory made and distributed 80 meals of rice+chicken to homeless people in the area. Later she would tell her friends what she had done and their responses would vary between incredulity, surprise and discomfort. Always passionate about the poor, homeless, the invisible, Bode’s drive was now given new meaning: not only to feed, but also to enlighten – that others may know the open secret of extreme poverty all around us!

In August 2012 Bode started The Food Shelter an NGO that collects, cooks and distributes food through an army of volunteers, individuals who cook, drive, counsel and distribute basic necessities like soap, beverages, sponges, water, toothbrushes and clothes. So far The Food Shelter has provided 1000+ items of clothing, 13,000+ meals and hundreds of toys to the destitute. Bode has also started a programme called “TFS Externship” where skills such as tailoring, hairdressing, carpentry and barbing are to be taught to homeless youth to help them achieve financial independence.

It hasn’t been the easiest journey – among challenges encountered are difficulty recruiting volunteers for Lepers colony food programmes due to fear of contacting Leprosy (despite the promise of the provision of protective gear), and attacks by hoodlums. In August 2013, on Agege rail-lines, which is home to 200+ homeless people, Bode and her volunteers were attacked by hoodlums who insisted on being paid before allowing the sharing of care packages. Their refusal resulted in the forceful seizing of items and bodily injuries; similar incident occurred in Makoko in December 2013. These issues have led to loss of volunteers and a need to recruit more volunteers.

Still much to be done. By 2019, Bode hopes to increase consistent distribution to the needy, her target being 5000 meals a month, 48 youth trainees yearly. Bode is equally committed to educating and enabling others to participate in this work, and is proud to have inspired 2 faith based organizations in Lagos to hold feeding rallies.

Find out more about The Food Shelter HERE

ToyinFinalist: Toyin Idehen

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Toyin Idehen is the CEO and Co-Founder of United Against Poverty and Disease (UAPAD). She was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, where she attended several prestigious schools and also learnt to speak Swahili and French, in addition to her native language of Yoruba. At the age of 15, she was admitted to a Junior college in the United States to obtain a 2-year Associates Degree in Pre-Medicine, obtained from Tulsa Junior College in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her International background, travel and exposure led her to embark on a journey that landed her as a Summa Cum Laude Business Administration graduate of Howard University in Washington DC. Her career began in the Information Technology industry working for Hewlett-Packard Company, where she contributed to the company’s Worldwide IT Business Solutions.

Toyin’s direction, path and future changed in 2010 after circumstances beyond her control. She decided to return to her studies to obtain a Master’s degree in Public Health, specializing in low-income countries from University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. By deciding to turn tragedy into empowerment, UAPAD was birthed in October 2010, with the idea of making sure she used her past experiences, knowledge and faith in God to ensure people living in poverty all around the world, especially in developing countries are educated and have access to resources and tools they need to be sustainable and live healthy lifestyles. UAPAD is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and operates solely through employment of graduate and undergraduate College Interns and volunteers, who are recruited globally and have been operational in sustaining the current virtual organization model of the organization. Since inception of projects in late 2012, UAPAD has already hosted several drives for the homeless and poverty-stricken communities in California and Jabelito, Guatemala, hosting an Annual Community Health and Nutrition Fair in Long Beach, California and currently planning a Benefit Water & Sanitation Fundraiser for a partner organization in Eldoret, Kenya. UAPAD’s upcoming projects are focused on maternal health and children’s well-being in Haiti, Nigeria, Kenya and India, specifically, with leads on prospecting to work with Rotary International in Nigeria later this year.

Toyin is especially passionate about mobilizing her generation of young adults to be empowered and be the voice of many, while she focuses on building up her organization to help and empower millions of people around the world. She loves to speak publicly, has a deep passion for humanitarian work and giving back. In her spare time she enjoys swimming, tennis, listening to music, dancing, travelling and spending quality time with her family and close friends. Toyin’s tenacity and resilience is highly reflected in UAPAD, and she’s an inspiration to many.

Ariyike.jpgFinalist: Ariyike Akinbola

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Ariyike Akinbola is a Lawyer and humanitarian who has partnered with many charities. Recently she partnered with Vocal Slender’s back to school project to donate school supplies to over 500 Ajegunle kids who were going to school. The BBC covered her involvement in this project.

She also partnered with Pink Freedom Foundation, where they went to secondary schools to raise awareness for sexual abuse in teenage girls. She also has a monthly event called BOBW where she supports upcoming talents. In December 2013 she held an event for 10 organisations where she and her friends donated gift items to the charities.

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