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TopNaija Stories: Chidi Koldsweat, Founder, Donors For Africa

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Chidi has over twelve years of experience in the non-profit sector and earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and International Affairs from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is the founder, Donors for Africa; a social enterprise dedicated to strengthening the capacity of social innovators, non-profits and social enterprises to access funds and achieve their vision towards the SDG.

Chidi’s experience in the development space spans across different sectors some of which includes HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Women in Leadership and Public Service, Empowerment for the Girl Child, Breast Cancer, Autism and Depression. Prior to that, she was the Communications Manager at Friends of the Global Fund Africa, where her activities focused on disseminating key messages that galvanized African governments, and other sectors to identify sustainable methods of addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria with focus on increasing donations of over $51 million to the Global Fund.

She has led several fundraising campaigns and programs and through the Donor Series is currently engaging donors to understand how they think and ways they fund Social enterprises. She also works to further equip innovators to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this revealing interview with Akintunde Oyedokun, Chidi shares insights from her inspiring journey.

 

 

 

Current role: Founder/ Executive Director Donors for Africa Foundation

 

Location: Lagos, Nigeria

 

Current computer: HP Laptop

 

Current mobile device: Infinix

 

What you want to be remembered for:

 

For making a difference, formulating the

right policies that accelerate the SDGs

 

Tell us how you started out and how you got to where you are today?

 

 

 

I started off as an intern in one of the leading women development organizations in Nigeria. I  worked for 5 years and rose from my role as an intern to become the hub manager.

 

 

I got here through immense coaching, mentoring, and support. First from interacting constantly with the board of WIMBIZ, learning from them what it takes to stand out, watching and observing their mannerisms, the quality of their decisions, how they networked and how they led to change in their respective organizations.

 

 

Then I had a boss Ini Abimbola who groomed and polished my technical expertise, largely from working on detailed assignments, projects, and documents. This literally set the tone for my work life.

 

 

 

 

What time do wake up, and what time do you like to be at your desk?

 

This depends on when I go to bed. Mostly 5 am, then 9 am I have to be on my desk

 

 

 

A brief rundown of your daily routine?

 

Pray as often as I can in the morning. Prep the kids for school. Drop off. Get to work. Work till 5 or 6. Family time. Catch up on some more work, lectures, courses. Then read a book, drink tea, prayer, bedtime then repeat. The only thing that changes in my routine is attending events intermittently

 

 

 

How do you keep track of what you have to do, on a daily?

 

A to-do list helps immensely. My google calendar is bae.

 

I schedule every meeting short or long, it has to be on the schedule. The reminders are helpful and get me ticking off items on the list so I minimize overwhelm

 

 

 

Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in business?

 

When I engaged a client as a business and they assumed they were hiring a staff. The lack of clarity as to how we were engaging greatly impacted the success of the role.

 

 

 

 

What is the best business or career advice you’ve ever received?

 

See every opportunity as ”the opportunity” you have waited for all your life. There are no big or small opportunities, only what you make of them. Invest in yourself. You are your greatest price. If you do not invest in yourself, why should anyone invest in you or your company or what you stand for?

 

Listen to your customers or beneficiaries, as long as they complain, they still want to do business with you. So do not take it as strife, simply see it as an opportunity to improve the quality of your services. Seek learning opportunities. Learn! Learn! Learn! There are tons of free resources and free courses- so learn as much as you can. Build a strong network. Skills are great but a powerful network can accelerate your journey . Give as much as you would love to receive. Give your time, resources, loyalty, commitment. Give as much as you can, it will always come back in a million folds

 

 

 

 

What conventional life or business advice do you disagree with?

 

That there is a work-life balance to aspire towards. It’s a lie as every major success that will cost you will unbalance your life.

 

Instead of struggling to attain work-life balance, aspire for work-life integration. Strive to attain harmony and be aligned with your purpose. Be present each time and with each experience.

 

 

 

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?

 

Nothing!

 

 

 

Tell us about your current role and key traits required to succeed in this role.

 

I currently lead activities at Donors for Africa Foundation where we break cycles of poverty by strengthening the capacity of social innovators to address the global challenges we face in Africa. We help them access funds, achieve the SDG’s and most importantly build sustainable organizations. So far, we have raised thousands of dollars in funds, trained 315 social innovators and continue to reach over 12,000 people weekly.

 

Through our work; we create empowered Institutions with the right internal structures and processes armed with a clear road map.  We raise transformational nonprofit leaders who are skilled and competent and support them through a blend of virtual, onsite training and funding opportunities.

 

To survive in this role, one must be consistent, clear, unwavering in their commitment. You must be passionate about the change you desire to implement. One must develop grit and staying power and the passion and skills required to follow through.

 

 

 

 

 

Tell us about a task do you dislike but still do and a problem you’re still trying to solve?

 

A task I dislike is attending meetings but I have to. I believe the commute can be time-wasting especially in a city like Lagos. Asides from networking meetings, first-time clients amongst others. Most meetings should hold online.  We can embrace technology and use it to our advantage so we can continue to solve world problems and provide technical expertise where possible.

 

 

 

Who has had the greatest impact on your career, and why?

 

Hajara Pitan, because she reminded me that everyone has excellence, beauty and should be appreciated for their contribution. She showed me the sides to me that I forgot about and didn’t even in some cases realize that I still had. She is strong, eloquent, very intelligent, not afraid to speak her truth and these are some of the qualities I admire about her.

 

 

 

What business achievement are you most proud of?

 

Training 315 nonprofits, raising major funds and achieving our 3-year plan in one year.

 

 

 

Tell us about your greatest weakness as an individual.

 

I am incredibly self-motivated, and I sometimes find it difficult to delegate responsibility when I feel I can finish the task well myself. However, when leading a strong team it becomes critical to delegate tasks. To maintain a sense of control when delegating tasks, I simply developed a management system that allows team members to take ownership of the success or failures of their assigned responsibility. This system simply allowed me to improve my ability to delegate efficiently and in turn allow other team leaders to lead confidently

 

 

 

 

 

Name two untapped lucrative business opportunities in the world, right now.

 

Well, this answer is tricky. It all depends on perspective, skills, and tenacity to see a venture true. Every business has the potential to become extremely lucrative- it depends on how much you apply yourself.

 

 

 

Aside from God, what do you consider your greatest success secret?

 

Always be prepared. Speak your mind. Learn to manage stress, challenge yourself. Don’t lose your integrity, harness mental toughness, be disciplined.

 

You can do everything else earlier mentioned but if you lack discipline, failure is inevitable.

 

 

 

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

 

I am reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr and The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor  Hansen and Les Hewitt ( I read chapters that I find relevant in each book so not necessarily in sequence)

 

 

 

 

 

 

What tools, gadgets, or apps can’t you do without?

 

My Phone! Canva, Google Calendar. They are quite a lot

 

 

 

What’s your favorite social media platform, handle, and why?

 

LinkedIn  – It has over 6 million users with the right demography of leading professionals aged 30 – 45.

 

I have accessed a lot of local and international opportunities as its users fall right within the category of leading thought leaders, especially within my sector. Find a platform that works for you and use it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do you unwind?

 

Read a book, cook, chores-(this is really relaxing for me.  Mind and body) oh  eat and sleep

 

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