Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, a computer programmer who lost her mom at the age of 4 and learned to fend for herself by the age of 10 has been named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2018

CNN Heroes is a television special created by CNN to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a difference in their communities. The program was started in 2007. Nominees are introduced during the fall of each year and the audience is encouraged to vote online for the CNN Hero of the Year. During the broadcast celebrating their achievements, the honorees are introduced by celebrities who actively support their charity work.

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Who is Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin?

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is a Nigerian women’s rights activist and the founder of Pearls Africa Foundation under which she champions “Girls Coding”, a free program that seeks to educate and excite young girls in under-served areas about computer programming.

She was born in Akure, the capital city of Ondo State in Nigeria. She attended the Nigerian Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) and later attended the University of Lagos where she received a BSc in Business Administration.

It’s the vision of Ajayi-Akinfolarin, who left a successful career to dedicate herself to this work. She’d noticed how few women worked in this growing field — a 2013 government survey found that less than 8% of Nigerian women were employed in professional, managerial or technology jobs. She wanted to fix the gender gap.

Since 2012, Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s program has helped over 400 disadvantaged girls ages 10 – 17 to gain the technician skills and confidence to transform their lives.

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Ajayi-Akinfolarin is indeed an inspiration. She exemplifies the fact that fulfillment mostly comes from putting the needs of others ahead of one’s needs and also that “service comes before appreciation

On Sunday, December 9, 2018, each of CNN hero will receive a $10,000 cash prize during a live TV event that will be beamed around the world. One of the 10 will be named “CNN Hero of the Year,” and will receive an additional $100,000 for his or her cause. Here’s a link to vote for this remarkable woman who is truly making a difference.

Onpoint Success wishes her much success in all her endeavors.

Thank you for reading. Have a word for Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin? Kindly leave a comment and remember to share this post with a friend.

 

What does volunteering mean to you? Do you think you can volunteer? What would you do if you have an idea so grand but you have no funds? Do you throw in the towel or do you look inwards? Meet Uma Alexandra Beepat, the founder of Lotus Wellness Center, in Northern Virginia, USA. Read her story of faith, determination and hard work. It will not only encourage you to dive deeper, but it will also let you understand that there is always a provision behind every vision. Keep reading and enjoy your read!

 

On how it all started, she had this to say:

Just before my 30th birthday, I awoke to a voice outside of me saying, “The time for playing is over, it is now time to work.” I have always heard voices, seen and felt things but rarely did I feel it as strongly. I agreed and waited to see what would happen.

See the voice wasn’t wrong. I had become a mom to two boys fourteen months apart and despite my thriving career in Health Care management, my goals and vision changed when I had kids. I wanted to stay home with them more. So, I prayed on it and asked God to direct me in the direction I needed to go.

[Read: Meet the Nigerian Lawyer and Mental Wellness Advocate Who’s on a Mission to Helping People Birth Purpose from Pain]

One day I had the thought to look through my documents in the study. It was January 2008 days away from my 30th birthday and this thought came clearly through. I went through it and found a scholarship for $10,000 from Americorps- the sister program to Peace Corps. I was a volunteer with them for one year and in lieu of payment, I took the scholarship. Well, guess what? That volunteer stint was in 2001 and I had seven years to use it, so I needed to use it in 2008 or it was useless!

After that discovery of the scholarship, I had three other “messages” about attending a massage school in the area. I got a flyer in the mail, saw a TV ad for them and also spoke to a friend who told me she saw me doing massage. I called the school and went in on a Wednesday for a tour and by Friday I was enrolled in the class that was starting for the year. It was January 19th, 2008, the day of my 30th birthday!

I went to massage school and became a licensed massage therapist, so I could work hours around my kids’ schedule. It worked! I was able to get a job at a chain spa and chose my own hours. I worked there for a year and also worked another spa chain. As much as I loved giving massages and seeing my clients, I didn’t like the rushed atmosphere of getting clients in and out of the door, so I started working from home by taking private clients. As my clientele list grew, it gave me the nerve to quit my other jobs.

[Read: How to Choose a Target Audience]

I worked from first a small room in my house to the entire basement of my home for five years. Finally, in 2014, as my business expanded and grew, I took out a one-year lease in a small room in a commercial building. It wasn’t my top choice, but it was in my budget range and I figured I could take the time to build my client lists. I have to be honest, I did not like my first rental place! It was filled with consultants and their private jobs, it felt very business-like and even though it was a beautiful building, it didn’t have the right feeling to it. My work is in healing and natural wellness, so I needed a place that felt more like home.

Before the lease was up, I started looking at other buildings and found my dream spot in the location we are at now. It is a small two-level building where I have two suites; one for the wellness center and the other for the school. At the time of signing, I could only afford the one suite, so I started with that. Over the years, I kept building my client list and student population so much so that in 2017, I opened a second business- Lotus Signature Massage School for students who wanted to become state licensed massage therapists. I hired two teachers and between myself and them, we run a pretty amazing school where the students are happy and the information shared is top notch. Education goals at the highest!

[Read: How to Start and Launch an Online Business]

Now in 2018, I have an amazing board of directors that help me run Lotus Wellness Center and I have staff that runs Lotus Signature Massage school as well. This has freed up my time to write books, offer speeches to small and large groups and travel to other states to teach classes and provide services. We are now looking to franchise the brand of Lotus Wellness Center to bring the joy, happiness and consciousness of what we do to everyone!

I once heard someone say that a business is not considered a business until it reaches ten years. I can truly say I feel that. 2019 makes ten years Lotus Wellness Center has been in business and I feel like it has taken me this long to find my stride.

I had a lot of challenges as most businesses do such as wondering where to get the money to pay rent and bills, the sudden client/student swell of interest and just as sudden departure, the months of extreme abundance and the months of slow business. What it took for me to make it through was a strong determination to keep going. Failure was never an option.

My biggest challenge is the repeated issue of mimickers. I have had the unfortunate issue of people attending my classes and working with me at the center, then copying my work or my objectives and repeating them in the community.

[Read: How to Retain Customers in 5 Easy Steps]

At first, I would feel defeated until someone close to me reminded me that the copiers are not ME. So, they can copy my classes and my way of teaching as much as they wanted to, it will never replicate what I do in my own way.

Once I made that realization with the help of my friend, I sat back and watched each of those copiers fail in their businesses. See, it wasn’t meant for them to teach or do. And that is what I can say truthfully sums up YOUR business. It is an expression of YOU. So even though the temptation might be there to copy someone else who is more established in their business, please don’t. Their success came to them from their work. Your success will come to you from your work. Learn, grow, expand and then do it your way.

 

On her current projects, she said this:

I am currently working on writing my second book, “Stories of a Psychic Medium”, releasing an online chakra course and converting my 8-month intuitive mentorship program at Lotus Wellness Center into an online course!

 

On how to support Uma, she had this to say:

 Whether you are located in Northern VA or worldwide, come and join us! Join our social media and Facebook groups, attend classes, book me for sessions or join us in our annual retreats. June 2019, our retreat is to the fabulous Mount Shasta in California!

[Read: Practical Ways of Reducing Your Overhead Costs and Increasing Your Profit Margin]

 

On advising those who would like to start their business, here’s what she said:

Don’t give up. Ever. It is a long, busy road and you can’t take a break, walk away or ignore the demands of your business. You also will not have a normal life! Allow yourself to move with the energy of your business. If you want to work until 4 a.m., do it! If you want to go to bed at 7 p.m., do it! As you build your business, your energy will become in alignment with it and as crazy as that sounds, it works to follow the energy.

Starting a new business can seem daunting and it is! But remember your WHY, your vision and your mission and it will keep you going in those dark days when the calendar is light with clients. Never doubt yourself, trust your intuition and follow through! It will be the best adventure of your life so jump in!

Enjoyed Uma’s story, connect with her on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook

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When you hear the name Omoyele Sowore, what comes to your mind? The former student union president of the University of Lagos, Nigeria? The publisher of Sahara Reporters? The Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress of Nigeria in the upcoming 2019 general elections?

Sowore is all these and so much more and if this is the first time you are coming across his name, here are some facts about him that might interest you.

Sowore was born and raised in the Niger-Delta region of South-Westen Ondo State, Nigeria. He is the first child out of 16 children who learned how to ride a motorcycle and fish at the age of 11. He was a beneficiary of the free education system introduced by the late Obafemi Awolowo. Through this education, he proceeded to the University of Lagos in 1989 with the view of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Regional Planning.

That same year, he took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of $120 million to be used for a Nigerian oil pipeline — the IMF loan conditions were to reduce the number of universities in the country from 28 to just 5.

In 1992, Sowore contested for, won and became the student union president of the University of Lagos until 1994. During his tenure as the president of the SUG, he was passionately involved in anti-cultism and anti-military government protests and activism which led to his expulsion and reinstatement twice. He led 2,000 students in protest against Nigeria’s notorious kleptocracy. Police opened fire, killing seven. Sowore was arrested, interrogated and beaten, but he refused to back down in his struggle for decent education in his country.

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In 1999, he attended a peace conference at American University in Washington. Fellow activists recommended he seek help in the United States for the psychological aftereffects of torture, and one colleague put him in touch with the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, an initiative that helps victims rebuild their physical and mental health. He had planned to go back to Nigeria, but doctors advised, for his mental health, against an immediate return. Instead, he sought political asylum in the United States and enrolled as a graduate student in public administration at Columbia University. Frustrated by his distance from his homeland, he soon realized that his re-entry into Nigerian political activism could come online.

In 2006, out of his desire to disrupt the media industry and promote free speech, he started Sahara Reporters, from his computer in a small room in Manhattan, NY. Sahara Reporters is an online news agency based that focuses on promoting citizen journalism by encouraging everyday people to report stories about corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in Nigeria. A frontier news source for advocacy journalism Sahara Reporters has been referred to as the “WikiLeaks of Africa” by The Daily Beast. This platform has also been the recipient of grants from the Ford, Global Information Network and the Omidyar Foundation.

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On February 25, 2018, Sowore declared his intention to run for the president of Nigeria and on August 15, 2018, he became the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, a registered political party in Nigeria. Up until his declaration to run for the highest office in Nigeria, Sowore was an instructor of Modern African History at the City University of New York and Post-Colonial African History at the School of Art, New York.

Now that you know some details about him, it’s time to discuss the 16 qualities that make him a rare breed and an exceptional Nigerian presidential candidate:

1. Passionate: Sowore scores extremely high when it comes to being passionate about the Nigerian project. When Sowore is in the room, you can’t help but feel the burning passion in him for a better Nigeria. In Sowore’s lens, the Nigerian project is a project of possibility. He has a rare yet unique way of lighting up a fire within you rather than lighting up a fire beneath you. His words carry power beyond the ordinary. It’s an indescribable feeling that should be experienced more than imagined.

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2. Vision: If you ever take your time to listen to Sowore’s vision about Nigeria and the world in general, you’ll observe how he takes you on a special journey to see the glorious end from the beginning. He has a special ability to envision the future, bring it to your conscious and map out a pathway of achievement. Through his vision and leadership, he was the first to establish a thriving online news publishing platform, currently valued at $10 million, in Nigeria. Other initiatives include launching a media laboratory in Nigeria to promote investigative journalism and free speech

3. Selfless: Each time you hear the name Sowore, selflessness is a word that will always stand out. His selflessness is evident in the way he attends to the needs of others, fighting for them and helping to restore hope, faith and dignity.

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4. Disruptor: Sowore has redefined the way political campaigns are done in Nigeria. He’s the first presidential candidate in Nigeria’s history who has taken it upon himself to meet with, deliberate and listen to every Nigerian no matter where they are located in the world. In addition to this, he is also the one of the few, if not the first presidential candidate who honors ALL Nigerians no matter that socio-economic, educational, religious or ethnic status.

5. Innovative: When you talk about being innovative, it’s impossible to ignore him. He is the first presidential candidate to have raised almost $100,000 transparently through the crowdfunding online platform, GoFundMe and counting.

He has also completely changed the way retail politics is being done in Nigeria with his use of social media and running a lean campaign to get the message of hope, liberation and freedom to the people.

He’s one of the few presidential candidates, if not the first, to give a clear proposal on how to increase power generation from 7000 megawatts to 24,000 megawatts within four years, the use of technology to fight corruption, the exportation of cannabis to generate revenue and so much more.

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6. Orator: Sowore is truly a great orator at heart. He has a rare way of engaging his audience from the heart, often times holding them spellbound. His speeches are mostly unscripted, articulate, and not only great in depth but also well thought out in breath.

7. Compassionate: He’s one of the few Nigerian presidential candidates that have demonstrated clear compassion to the plight of the Nigerian people. In June 2018, Nigeria overtook India to become the poverty capital of the world, with about 87 million Nigerian citizens living in extreme poverty.

In his bid to become the president of Nigeria, he’s the only one out of all the presidential candidates that has put the Nigerian workers first in his plans to alleviate the living conditions of the average Nigerian.

His proposal to pay 100,000 NGN as the minimum wage of a Nigerian Federal worker, though criticized by the current establishment, is a welcome development to all workers and their families who find it hard to feed daily let alone provide for their basic needs. Furthermore, his inclusion of the accommodation for people with disability, a bloc that has been totally ignored by other presidential candidates, in his plan, is highly commendable.

[Read: How to Go from Multiple Ideas to Gaining Clarity in 5 Easy Steps]

8. Energetic: When it comes to being energetic, Sowore is a rare breed which makes one wonder where he gets his energy from.

He’s the only presidential candidate in Nigeria’s history to have traveled extensively to almost every part of Nigeria visiting 31 out of the 36 states mostly on roads that are in deplorable conditions.

He travels almost daily, holding multiple events and never seems to get tired. He streams most of his meetings live and answers every question from every Nigerian both old and young without holding back or mincing words.

9. Ready: While many Nigerian leaders wait until they assume leadership positions to know what is needed to transform the country, Sowore is one of the extremely few who has demonstrated that he’s ready.

His rare combination of insight, depth and understanding makes him a rare breed and an exceptional leader who’s ready to hit the ground running.

[Read: How to Choose a Target Audience]

10. Clarity: He’s the only Nigerian leader I have seen in recent terms whose sense of clarity is mind-blowing. In the course of his bid to become the next president of Nigeria, he has been asked over 5000 questions and has successfully answered every question with clarity, poise and tact.

11. Resourceful: He’s the only presidential candidate thinking about using the resources Nigeria currently has to transform it into the country everyone would be proud of.

12. Motivator: There’s something extraordinary about Sowore that is not found in a typical Nigeria. He’s blessed with a unique ability to motivate others into not only believing in themselves but also motivating them into action.

Since he started his campaign and registered his political party, his story, life and platform has been a source of motivation and encouragement to many young Nigerians all over the world who believe in his message of hope, liberation and freedom.

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13. Intelligent: There’s no question about Omoyele’s intelligence. He understands Nigeria as a pastor filled with the holy spirit understands the bible and explains it to his congregation from a unique perspective.

Omoyele’s knowledge and understanding of the complexities of the issues that have held Nigeria and its people back from the path of peace, progress and prosperity can best be described as “out of this world.”

Many of his followers have coined the name IOS for him, meaning Intelligent Omoyele Sowore.

14. Courageous: If you are looking for qualifying words that sum up the totality of who Sowore is, one word that will keep recurring is courageous.

Out of all the Presidential candidates Nigeria has ever produced, Sowore is simply a rare breed when it comes to being mettlesome.

He’s not afraid to speak his mind no matter whose ax is gored. He’s one of the few, if not the first presidential candidate, to have led countless protests against oppression, high-handedness and ineptitude of the Nigerian leaders and in the process, puts his life on the line. He is a pro-democracy campaigner and human rights activist that gives voice to the voiceless, decimated, forgotten and the oppressed even if those actions will cost him his life.

15. Incorruptible: Each time you think of the word, incorruptible, all you need to do is to think of Omoyele Sowore. While he was the student union president of the University of Lagos, he stated that he was offered and rejected the gift of a brand new car from the then military President Babangida. Also, due to his works and the fight against corruption in Nigeria, people with special interests continue to try to entice him with  “thank you money.” He has stated numerous times that he consistently rejects these types of enticing offers even when they appear like the right thing to do. Not only has he made this claim, but he has also repeatedly challenged anyone who thinks otherwise to provide evidence to disprove him. Till date, there has been no concrete evidence to counter his claim of not receiving any “thank you money” from anyone.

16. Emancipator: Omoyele Sowore has special abilities to free people from any type of mental and self-imposed bondage. He speaks with power, poise and wisdom such that you can’t but be liberated from whatever is holding you back.

With these exceptional leadership qualities, Omoyele Sowore is a rare breed which separates him from among the pack of those currently vying for the office of the president of Nigeria. Here’s wishing him astounding success in his bid to become the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come February 16, 2019, which coincidentally is the day he turns 48 years old. To learn more about him and his plans for a new Nigeria, click HERE.

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