Ibekwe: How GivingNg is Impacting Lives, Communities

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In this interview, the head of the initiative, Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe sheds light on why Giving.ng was created, the focus areas, and monthly grants to non-profits in the areas of education, health, food sufficiency and much more. Oluchi Chibuzor brings the excerpts.

Can you tell us the problem that Giving.ng was designed to solve?

Giving.ng is a crowdfunding platform that bridges the gap between donors and fundraisers. It is a fund-raising platform that enables donors in Nigeria and from anywhere around the world to give to causes they care about while making it easier for fund raisers to access the funds. Often, donors do not have the time or resources to take on humanitarian projects alone. Giving.ng eliminates this challenge and every other obstacle that can prevent potential donors from supporting causes they are passionate about. Giving.ng makes it convenient to give and get help. It provides a transparent platform for individuals, non-profits, alumni associations, and social enterprises to raise funds for social causes transparently.

What are the areas of focus of Giving.ng?

The solution was designed for any organisation interested in making a positive impact and reducing poverty as we all journey towards the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. We know that the first goal is: No Poverty but poverty is in different areas: health, education, sanitation, food sufficiency. We are partnering with individuals, corporate organisations, not-for-profit, alumni associations or even a group of family and friends interested in executing a project in line with this goal. Public sector institutions that want to raise funds, for example, to provide health care or insurance for the people can partner with Giving.ng to achieve this objective.

Implying that the Giving.ng crowdfunding platform is for everyone?

Yes. It is for everybody. We hope that everybody can come to Giving.ng either as a donor, a fund raiser or as a beneficiary. A beneficiary today can be a donor tomorrow. Like the proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise child’. The child today can be part of the village tomorrow.

How is Giving.ng different from every other crowdfunding platform out there?

Most crowdfunding platforms charge a fee. Two per cent of the funds raised is the lowest charge by crowdfunding platforms in the country. This is where Giving.ng is different, fundraising is free. All donations go to the fundraiser. We are the only crowdfunding platform in Nigeria that is currently doing this. Deductions, if any, would probably be bank transfer charges. I would like to emphasize that we are the only crowdfunding platform in Nigeria currently doing this. Secondly, Giving.ng will be launching a grant programme in the first quarter of 2021, which empowers at least five projects on our platform every month. We call this grant the Finishing Grant or Completion grant. Fundraisers focused on health, education, renewable energy, or food sufficiency sectors can benefit from these grants. These sectors require significant investment and are critical to the achievement of the reduction of poverty in the country.

If Giving.ng is not charging commissions like other platforms to funds its operations, where is the funding coming from? Is it a Foundation?

Giving.ng gets its funding from the Sterling One Foundation. Sterling One Foundation has the vision to be a significant driver of social impact in Nigeria. It is doing this by creating sustainable solutions for youth empowerment and job creation in critical sectors of the economy. Giving.ng is one of the solutions designed to tackle the root causes of poverty in Nigeria. The Foundation’s sectors of interest are health, education, youth empowerment, food sufficiency, gender development, and renewable energy.

Are there communities, individuals, professional associations, or groups that have benefitted from Giving.ng?

I will speak to a very recent experience, the Health Workers’ Fund. It was established in early 2020 just before the lockdown. The fund was established to raise hazard allowances for frontline health workers battling the pandemic. The fund paid 2,000 percent of the statutory hazard allowance of N5,000 due to health workers. Over 150 frontline health workers battling the pandemic across the six geopolitical zones have been beneficiaries of the fund. A beneficiary, Dr. Femi Akinpeloye, whom I had the privilege of meeting works at the Infectious Diseases Unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi araba. He was glad, and emotional and expressed his surprise that people that do not know him personally contributed to a fund, he benefited from. He broke down in tears because people displayed humanity and appreciation for the work being done by health workers to save lives at a most challenging time. It was not the money that made him break down, it was the care shown to them by Nigerians that contributed to the Fund. The experience renewed my faith in the work we are doing at Giving.ng. We are making impact and touching lives in ways that we would never ever know or understand. Also, earlier in the year, we went to the Kutara Tataradna Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Karu, Nasarawa State and it was all joy for the beneficiaries and volunteers. People are the Camp received us with delight. They were elated, dancing and making music. They were happy with the gifts we brought. Everywhere we meet beneficiaries, it is always an outburst of joy expressed differently.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing Giving.ng as we speak?

Well, I would say that it appears some people still need to build trust. Like we experienced for the Health Workers’ Fund, some of the beneficiaries were in doubt when they were called, congratulated, and told they will get hazard allowances. They did not believe it. One of them did not release her account number initially. She probably thought it was a prank or scam. But she was shocked after her account was credited with the hazard allowance eventually. If beneficiaries could react in such a way, you can imagine a potential donor’s state of mind. And this is because there are several fraudulent platforms and people around. We are building trust through our transparent process and have success stories to show for it.

Has working for Giving.ng changed your worldview or outlook in any way?

Problems and challenges I never knew existed have been coming to my attention. It has enlarged my scope and helped me appreciate the different challenges people face in their lives. I think everybody should get on board to effect positive change. Even if they do not want to come on Giving.ng, some people need help on their streets in their communities. We all need each other and can lend a helping hand to others wherever we are. Giving.ng makes this easier and more convenient as this can be done from the comfort of their homes just from their phones as Giving.ng is digital.

What excites you about the future of Giving.ng?

I am excited about the possibilities of joy, happiness, and hope to many families and communities across the country. Looking at the past year, I am thankful for the opportunity to work with excellent partners like the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Sterling Bank, Hygeia HMO and Trace TV. I am very optimistic about the future. I am also excited about the impact we will continue to make through life-changing projects working with our existing partners and other partners that will join us as we continue this journey of positive impact. I look forward with optimism and confidence that we will make progress in transforming various lives and communities with both corporate and individual partners across the country including Nigerians in the diaspora. We believe collaborations and partnerships are critical to transform our country sustainably.