As an NGO professional for eight years, Nnanna Kalu has been working to reach youths and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa to create sustainable impacts with projects to support community development.
In this interview, Nnanna Kalu, an NGO Manager and Consultant, tells us how it all started.
Please tell us more about yourself.
My name is Nnanna Kalu, an NGO Manager and consultant. I am from Abia State, Nigeria. I have worked on over twelve (12) NGO projects with foundations like the Ovie Brume Foundation, Chude and Ego Foundation, and ISOH Foundation, which have helped create a sustainable impact in communities, targeting youths and women. Currently, I am working with Linus Idahosa Foundation For Empowerment (LIFE) Africa as a chief operations officer.
What inspired you to take the NGO route?
I can identify with some of their problems, having faced them. Organizations and the Ovie Brume Foundation came to my rescue. It sparked a conversation in me about how I could give back. I wake every morning and say “Let’s go for change”. Someone has to do the work.
Aside from seeing the problem, I have an innate passion to effect change. I am very passionate about community development, and it makes me happy to see the smiles on the faces of the women and children we have impacted. We try to tell the right story of this impactful work. I hope that people can see the problem and we will get as many stakeholders to join the train of change.
What sectors are you focused on in the NGO world, and do you have any sector you would like to explore?
The sectors I have focused on these past years in the NGO world are the educational and welfare sectors, and both have kept me engaged. However, exploring other sectors to bring change is always the goal. I would love to explore the health sector and create sustainable impacts with projects to support community development.
What are some of the NGO projects you have managed that made a sustainable impact on community development?
I helped a lot of young people at the Ovie Brume Foundation. They gave out scholarships, though I left early this May. I was their head of programs, and we did amazing work, and they still do. They partnered with the United States Government, the Lagos State Government, Access Bank, Bank of Industry, Pshan, and others. The Foundation set out with Project No-Excuse to identify people with no means to attend school.
There were other programs like the Ovie Brume Art and Drama Program, OBF Music Program, and OBF ICT Program. The ISOH Policewomen Health Program for over 100 policewomen, the CEF International Day for Girl Child Program, and the LIFE Africa Widows Program.
Who are the primary target audiences that have benefited from these NGO projects you have worked on?
Nigeria has well over 15 million widows out of 250 million widows in the world. Organizations need to think of sustainable inclusive empowerment programs. We did a program for about 80 widows at Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria. The first point of intervention was welfare. These widows are disenfranchised because they have been neglected, and most of their husbands were soldiers.
We carried out a survey and found out that they needed welfare needs as basic as clothing and food. The first point of intervention was giving money, toiletries, and food products. We partnered with Lontor, and they provided touchlights and radios.
The second point of intervention was training small business owners. Most of these women have small businesses but lack the training to make them successful. This intervention should kick off before December.
Lastly, the third intervention, though still in process and waiting for partnerships. This intervention would ensure their children would go to school sustainably and the provision of school equipment for their children.
Are there any upcoming developments or future projects that we can expect from the Foundation you’re currently managing?
The goal of the LIFE Africa Foundation is simple. We want to increase rapidly vocational education in Sub-Saharan Africa and work with marginalized groups, persons with disabilities, women, and orphans. The continual emphasis on wearing a tie and suit or working for one of the Big 4 or one of the industry leads has stagnated the development of young people. We live in an African space that is very ingrained in white-collar jobs, and that has limited their ability to create their impact because they are limiting themselves to that industry.
However, if we analyze the vocational space in Africa and take a look at Switzerland, youths are creating value for themselves by looking at what they can make and are engaging in vocational education that is currently developing their country. It is important to have these conversations about how we can transition from white-collar jobs to blue-collar jobs.
I have been speaking to top vocational institutes across twelve Sub-Saharan countries. We are launching a program by February or March 2024 to empower youths with real robust vocational training that will help them to become actual professional in the vocational space and support them to start their own business.
We are often tasked with maintaining a continuity framework that will ensure that when they start their businesses, they will also impact their community.
Are you open to any available opportunities for partnerships from private partners?
Yes, we are open to private partnerships. We need to start having conversations about how companies can effectively build an impactful CSR model that will address problems and challenges faced in their communities.
Every major multinational has a CSR budget but sometimes doesn’t utilize it properly. I have had meetings with some private companies to build them a framework, use their CSR budget properly, and create an impact. Some companies lack information about what they can do for their communities.
NGOs cannot do without private partnerships as well as international grants. NGOs need to position themselves for private partnerships and get top brands to support our initiative and identify our unique vision as we try to implement it. Currently, we are applying for OPEC funds and a few other brands to have the capital repository to execute projects faster.
For partnerships, interested parties can reach out directly to Nnanna Kalu via email to discuss the best next steps.
Find out more about Nnanna Kalu on LinkedIn.