Despite her long battle with myasthenia gravis, it has never limited Amaka Orakwue, founder of STRUGZ – Safe Haven – from reaching her potential. A woman of many parts and feats, Orakwue is shrewd and selfless, writes Funke Olaode
Her gaze, comportment and physique could be mistaken for a trained broadcaster who has spent over a decade on life camera. And on second look, her intimidating and attractive statures depict a Nollywood diva. But none of the above descriptions match the Anambra born lawyer who is quietly making her own mark in her profession.
Orakwue has a long battle with myasthenia gravis, auto immune related issue which causes weakness and rapid fatigue of muscles under voluntary control. According to expert, treatment can help, but the condition can’t be cured. But rather than resign to fate or wallowing in self pity, Orakwue like a brave solder in the battle front has been able to confront the disease and forge on winning laurels and impacting lives.
A visionary woman who always aims for best, Orakwue’s hard work has earned her various awards. The most recent was the prestigious 2018 African Entrepreneurs Merit Award that she received alongside Unity Bank, Bloomberg Properties and Constructions, Hon. Emeka Anohu, Homes & Homes/Crusteam Group and among other prominent organisations in Nigeria and beyond.
The African Entrepreneurs Merit Award is a platform that recognizes African entrepreneurs and corporate institutions that have distinguished themselves in their contributions to the growth and Development of MSMEs in Africa. The organisation has grown to earn significant recognition from the public and private sectors as the voice of African enterprise and professional excellence in Africa.
It has a reach of over three million strong African-owned enterprises cutting across 15 countries with the largest population of young entrepreneurs in Africa making African Entrepreneurs Foundation a driving force in the development of African enterprise.
As a lawyer, Orakwue wears many caps. The STRUGZ founder is also a blogger, public relations manager, business and real life issues coach, entrepreneur and a legal/business consultant. Aside from being a mentor and a public speaker, she also organizes training and seminars for start-ups and entrepreneurs across different sectors.
Orakwue parades an enviable academic pedigree. She has a bachelor in Law from Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Bachelor-at-law (BL) holder from the Nigerian Law School, a master’s degree in Oil and Gas Law and in Legislative Drafting from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.
She is however, a result driven project-management professional with project management certification Prince II obtained from People Cert -Knowledge Train Limited, London, United Kingdom. Orakwue has certification in radiation protection and safety course in oil well drilling rig operations, in conflict resolution skills for difficult solutions and is also a member of Professional Negotiators and Mediators.
She has more than seven years’ experience in legal and business consulting. She has worked with several organizations both as a Lawyer and as a business analyst. She has handled different successful projects within Nigeria.
As someone who has lived with myasthenia gravis, she established the Tener Cansado, a foundation that is focused on helping patients with myasthenia gravis and other auto immune related issues.
Orakwue said: “Knowing the struggles I have passed through as a Myasthenia Gravis patient and how expensive it is to purchase the drugs and get proper neurologist care, and the thought of people who would not be able to afford these medications nor afford a neurologist consultation influenced the foundation.
“So, I decided to start a campaign to educate people about Myasthenia Gravis, fund research to find a cure and encourage patients on living their best lives despite their challenges and weakness. Information is power and the will to win has helped me a lot, so I want to share my winning strategies.”
She added: “In all, I’m thankful to God. I am very empathetic to those going through the same experiences and that’s why I am very passionate about The TENER CANSADO Foundation which helps individuals living with Myasthenia Gravis and other auto immune related issues. I have several notable accomplishments in my career and in my business. Probably, the most notable accomplishment in my career was being part of the team that drafted and delivered on the Physical Planning and Development Law 2015 for Bayelsa State Government. This project gave me an opportunity and a platform to actually utilize my M.Phil in Legislative Drafting, and horn in on my research skills.
“While my greatest accomplishment in my business, I would say, is seeing a client’s brand that I manage, scale through the competitive market. Also, my ability to turn my brand STRUGZ into a diversified brand has been short of amazing to me. Thanks to God Almighty, especially how we keep evolving. I’m excited about the future and can’t wait to share with the world our new project that is launching very soon.”
As Orakwue continues to record successes in her calling, she is equally fulfilled in her various activities which revolves around creating opportunities for people, including the less- privileged. “Touching lives and making positive impacts in people’s lives is my own little way of changing the world from my little corner,” she enthused.
One of the exciting things about Orakwue is that she is a humble and loyal person that believes in lasting relationships. She listens to people in order to understand and know how to confront their issues. Her ability and knack to infuse positive energy and clear insights in a crisis is astounding.
Orakwue explained: “With modesty, I can call myself a solution provider for both clients and people I come in contact with. I am your go-to girl whenever you find yourself in a crisis.”
As a corporate person, she equally belongs to many reputable associations like the Nigerian Bar Association, Association of Professional and Mediators (Alternative Dispute Resolution), Federation International de Abogadas (FIDA), International Federation of Women Lawyers and the LLM Society, University of Aberdeen. But if there is anything that agitates her mind right now, is how the judiciary can be more effective particularly in criminal justice and women issues under the law.
“My priority right now is to improve the performance of the criminal justice system in Nigeria by ensuring that defendants do not have to spend too much time awaiting trial. I also intend to create and introduce a new system where women can get formal and legal education on divorce and settlement options,” she said.
As the founder of STRUGZ and The TENER CANSADO Foundation, another project tagged Beyond Beauty Pageant is also in the offing. The project will be commissioned in September. The pageant, she disclosed, is not the regular beauty show witnessed in Nigeria. According to her, the event is designed to empower women between the ages of 21 to 40 with skill-sets.
The BBP project which is owned and sponsored by Blak Beach Entertainment, is a new and emerging entertainment outfit poised at redefining acts of entertainment in Nigeria with a core focus on pageant, music and art. However, the dream of Blak Beach Entertainment is to Redefine pageantry in the world stage, given women more voice and hope through BBP project, which will also project the image of Africa through content delivery.
“I am happy to be part of another life-changing experience,” Orakwue said.