She is a woman with a heart of gold whose upbringing says a lot about who she is and her focus to make the best out of today’s teenagers. She totally believes that today’s teenagers have a lot to give back to the society if properly nurtured. Antonia Ally is the CEO of How Foundation, whose focus is malaria treatment, prostate cancer management, youth leadership and mentoring and with over five years of sales and marketing experience. Full of life and energy, she passionately talked about her programme which held yesterday in Lagos.
Why are you so passionate about teenagers?
First of all, I will take you on a journey of my foundation. How Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by Dr Herbert Wigwe, the MD/CEO of Access Bank in January 2016. Wigwe is passionate about helping others especially children and the youth and especially on the need to raise awareness about malaria eradication and management of prostate cancer.
The foundation has partnered with national and global organisations who share the same passion and drive around malaria, prostate cancer and youth empowerment. The focus on malaria is motivated by the need to educate the general public on the possibilities of malaria eradication in Nigeria and assist in providing tools/resources to fight and prevent malaria.
The focus on prostate cancer is motivated by the need to raise awareness and aid in the provision of tools which can enable professionals to erase the stigma around the disease in Nigeria. The foundation also empowers the youth with leadership and mentorship through various seminars and schemes aimed at providing them support to push them closer to achieving greatness.
There are lots of foundations in the country. What distinguishes yours ?
The foundation empowers the youth with leadership and mentorship programs through seminars and schemes aimed at providing the youth with support to push them closer to achieving greatness.
We have collaborated with Dr Save a Life Foundation and also organized a visit to Isiokpon (the home of the founder) earlier this year in May to distribute one million free mosquito nets to the community, held malaria rapid tests, distributed one million doses of malaria prevention and treatment drugs to women and children and educated them on how to use these kits and lots more.
Can you tell us a bit about be the best?
The foundation is still young and we need to let people know that it exists especially because we are going to be needing volunteers.
We want to get Nigerians involved in lot of things, so it’s good to know that this organization exists. Yesterday, we hosted a mentorship program we labeled ‘Be the best’ and our objective is to encourage young Nigerians to be the best in whatever they are passionate about. The future of the economy is totally towards diversification of job descriptions.
We are no longer focusing on being doctors and lawyers. Now with new innovations like social media, there are so many job descriptions that are lacking expertise.
We are letting young people know that whatever they are passionate about, we’ll encourage them to back it up with education.
Even if you are good and you are passionate about chemistry or electrical or mechanical engineering, let it be what you want to study in the university. Be passionate about it, come back home and let’s move this country forward if you are fortunate to study abroad.
Could you tell us more about yourself?
I am a seasoned professional and custodian of a BSc in Business Management and Marketing which I obtained from Brunel University, United Kingdom. My passion for charitable affairs started early in my life as a result of my grandmother’s influence.
She’s a Danish citizen who raised me to be involved in various charities and causes like International Women’s Society.
I run a charity called HOW Foundation whose focus is malaria eradication, prostrate cancer management, leadership and mentorship.
I have been doing this since January but I do have background in other charitable things I’m doing since I was a kid.
Why are you so passionate about the teenagers?
The priority of the young ones today is being on the internet checking who is dating who and the latest fads in fashion and electronics. This is ridiculous.
The platform we are creating is just to encourage young people to take that chance, to believe in their passion, take a risk if need be and they will definitely not regret it, because of the way the world is moving. I read psychology in college.
I have spoken with a lot of people who have psychology background and one thing we noticed is that certain age groups naturally can absorb information. We all know that as human beings, the older we are, the higher our tendency to change certain things about ourselves.
Also, because the youth are leaders of tomorrow, we thought we should start with the younger ones and now is the time to talk to them that this is their world. That age group is the perfect age group.
What was your childhood like?
I was born in Denmark and my family moved back to Nigeria. I remember vividly that I used to play on the streets with my neighbors and that was all fun for me.
What is fashionable to you?
Anything simple and comfortable. I move around a lot, and if I have a special event or meeting I make extra effort with heels but generally because of the nature of my work, I have to be very comfortable, because I do a lot of movement and I go to places that are quite rugged.
What about your beauty routine?
Believe me, I use black soap, because I have very sensitive skin. People ask why my skin glows and they think probably it’s because I use a N500 soap or cream. I use natural products. I use bio oil as well. I have a very simple beauty routine.
How do you start your day?
I wake up in the morning, pray, check my emails, see what is happening and plan my day. Sometimes, I try to shut down by six and sometimes eight or even 11pm. Sometimes I am on the internet and work myself to sleep.
Where is your preferred holiday destination?
When I’m with my family, I can be myself. It’s more relaxing. I like places where I know someone that’s close.
I’ll probably say Denmark, England or Atlanta where I have friends and family.