Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bosschique(ism): An African Female Humanitarian Lilian O. Ajayi

Our Bosschique(ism) series this quarter features Ms. Lilian O. Ajayi the Founder and Executive Director of Global Connections for Women foundation (GC4W).  Lilian sits on the board of Harvard Crimson Impact, NAAEP Ltd., Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, the HOPE Program and International Women in Business (IWIB). She spent a portion of her career working at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, representing the Mission of Nigeria to the UN, and served on the Social Economic Committee as the Economic Development Policy Negotiator. She has led Web Marketing campaigns along with SEO & Analytics efforts for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. Lilian was appointed as the Ambassador of Goodwill and Honorary Citizen of the State of Arkansas by Governor Mike Bebe.  She was awarded with the Special U.S. Congressional Award for Outstanding Community Service from Congresswoman Barbara Lee and recognized by Applause Africa Magazine as “Top 40 under 40” Most Inspiring African in the Diaspora. Lilian Ajayi was recently selected by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the “Power Women of the Diaspora.” Lilian continues to inspire, connect and empower women to follow and live out their passions through the GC4W foundation.
Lilian O. Ajayi 


Q: If you were to describe your personality in one word what would it be?

A: My personality varies depending on the situation, but a few consistent personality traits include Enthusiastic, Welcoming, Adventurous and Kind.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, your cultural heritage and what brings you to this work?

A: I was raised in Nigeria and I am the daughter of Chief Temitope Ajayi (Mama Diaspora). What truly inspired me to launch GC4W was my desire to participate in uplifting women in underserved communities around world and to support the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I also watched my mother growing up support her community and saw how much joy it brought her ... "There's goodness in helping people" is a quote from her that resonated with me all throughout my childhood and now in my adult years.

Q: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning to do what you do?

A: my biggest motivation is knowing that we have a new opportunity to try something new in meeting my organization goals. I am also motivated by my passion to make a difference in the world.

Q: As busy as you are, how do you unwind and what do you enjoy doing to take time for yourself outside of work?

A: My world is ever evolving and at times quite difficult to unplug, but when I get a chance... I love to read, travel, cook, exercise and spend time with my family and loved ones. I am also a foodie who likes to participant in New York City’s Restaurant Week, NYC Wine and Food Festival or just sampling new food at various restaurants.


Q: So you have this wonderful foundation called GC4W foundation, tell us more about your work and the purpose for forming the foundation

A: GC4W foundation was created in direct response to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) and established to support women and youth in underserved communities across the globe. We have established a few programs and continue to expand... Because we believe that there are more than one way to empower women and youth. GC4W has a partnership with Women in Need Inc. (an organization that provides New York City’s homeless mothers and their children with the housing, programs and services they need to transform their lives
) to set up a 3-part empowerment workshop series. We also have a new classroom project, where we plan on building new classrooms for disable students in the City of Karamajiji, Abuja.

Q:  You recently launched your event on March 7th Connecting for Excellence in New York City which had some very high powered women such as our very own Bosschique on WCA Ms. Adiat disu, Leymah Gbowee, Ngozi Iweala what do you hope this event can solve for?

A: The Global Connections for Women foundation held its inaugural International Women's Day Awards Gala to celebrate the accomplishments of women today, by not only bringing attention to the key contributions these women are making in communities around the world, but also unearth that there exists ample opportunity for better advancements and equality for women. The accomplishments and aspirations of those honored served as a reminder to the world of what is possible when a talented woman is given the opportunity to succeed or if necessary seizes the opportunity for herself.

Q: I read that you were working on your first fiction book tell us more about it, why not a memoir why fiction?

A: great question... I am asked why not a memoir by so many of my friends. But I'm too young for a memoir and I still have to wait until I am able to meet a few of my personal goals. However, without giving too much away.. I am writing a book that I hope will appeal to women of all cultures and professional backgrounds. It's a book every women wants to read and it is yet to be published - this was a feedback from my Harvard Club writers group. Some in the group advice that I should submit what I have written so far to Elle, Marie Claire or Essence Magazine as a series of short stories... Though all great and exciting feedback, I am committed to writing a novel, because I believe that the essence of the story is better portrayed in a novel.

Q: Tell us about a challenge you have faced in developing your brand and how you overcame it?

A: The biggest challenge we face in increasing the reach of GC4W is resources, we need funding to successful run our programs in order to meet our goal of enriching the lives of 100,000 women and youth by end of 2015. GC4W is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization and we try to overcome this challenge by forming partnerships and fundraising as much as we can. But we need additional funding from private individuals and co-operations who are looking to invest in our programs.


Q: As a woman living in the African diaspora what do you think the key important way women in the diaspora can contribute to the development of Africa both here and on the continent?

A: One very important way is to join the conversation and promote the ideals that will help to advance the development of Africa. The other is to try and refrain from those who are critical of the rate of development in Africa and instead help Africa grow by advocating the ideals that will ensure the future we would all like to see in Africa.

Q: Do you have any advice to offer to other young women looking to start up their own ventures?

A: My advice would be perseverance is key…maintain a positive attitude and outlook, do your research, Get a mentor, pray about your plans, and always remain passionate about your business venture.

Q: Finish the sentence “Women Change Africa because…..?”

A: The sentence is more like “Women will change Africa because Africa needs women.” With the emergence and increasing campaign for "full-participation" for women - also a key initiative spearheaded by the Chelsea Clinton, Melinda Gates and Hillary Clinton - through the Clinton Global Initiative. Women are increasingly being asked to participate in policies and the economic development of their society and nation. African women are rising and increasing their participation in not only their homes, but in their communities and ultimately throughout their nation.

 Q: 10 years from now where do you see the GC4W Foundation brand?

A. Great question... 10 years from now, I hope that GC4W is able to enrich the lives of 500,000 women and youth -- and we can start to hear more testimonies of their transformation.

Lilian O. Ajayi

1 comment:

  1. this wassuch an impressive interview and I profound respect for Lilian, much success to her


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