Aisha Babangida is a passionate leader in humanitarian work. Dedicated to empowering the African woman in each initiative she takes on, Aisha is responsible for the revival of the Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman. Originally founded by Aisha’s late mother, this non-governmental organization has experienced major growth and innovation since Aisha took the reins in 2010.
The Better Life Program is built on the goal of uplifting lives with adult literacy programs, skills acquisition, and financial literacy. Education is the key to empowerment, but many people especially women and children in rural villages, don’t have access to many of these opportunities and outlets.
The Program’s people-centered community development strategy fosters an economic environment that will serve as a “springboard” for rural women of Africa who want to develop not only themselves, but their countries. There is a wealth of potential in creating a more financial inclusive country and culture. Empowered women, empower children, communities, countries, and the world as a whole.
One of Aisha’s personal work highlights is the establishment of Egwafin Microfinance Bank to take care of trained “unbankable” women seeking funding and support. The unbanked pose a huge challenge to developing economies and progress. In order to overcome these problems, we need to develop a more financially inclusive society. Microfinance empowers women to take charge of their lives and their livelihoods. This funding can stimulate small businesses, support families and create a new life for these women and their communities. Business is hard, providing for a family is hard, and everyone deserves a bit of support or just knowing that someone else believes in them and their ability to achieve. In failing to include men and women in the formal economy, it sends a message of disbelief or presumed failure. In providing micro loans Aisha effectively says I believe in you and I believe you will achieve.
Aisha Babangida also cherishes the opportunity to watch hundreds of mothers and grandmothers graduate from the Better Life “Adult Learner Program.” Many of these women have gone on to gain full employment at government agencies. Babangida knows that many of these women would have never had an opportunity to learn and develop their personal skill set.
Another highlight is the partnership Aisha facilitated with the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility, to enhance and safeguard the health and future of the rural woman through the Clean Cook Stove Initiative. Not only does this create healthy options for families, but it also curbs the spread of disease. Through the program, Aisha also sees the women gain confidence. They love being able to offer their children and loved ones healthy food without the risk of spreading illness. It also creates an avenue to generate revenue by selling their goods (made on a clean, safe cook stove!).
Aisha Babangida is personally driven by the many important causes addressed by the Program, but she is also savvy enough to handle the business and financial framework. When it comes to managing nonprofit organizations, it’s important to maintain a solid internal structure, invest in strong monitoring and evaluating systems to measure progress, and stay informed on relevant governmental policies. Part of operating an NGO needs to be business-minded direction. To keep a non-profit running, there needs to be revenue streams that can be funneled back into the amazing efforts that money helps accomplish.
It also needs to be a team effort. Like minded institutions have the same end goal; educate, engage, empower. As a result, it’s essential that these organizations come together and work together. This motivates Babangida to align the Better Life Program with local and international initiatives, because she knows it doesn’t diminish the Better Life Program’s work. It enhances it. Aisha Babangida has partnered with various local and international agencies to help carry out the Program’s goals.
Additionally, to make a nonprofit organization sustainable, one must be innovative in various ways. Sometimes this means holding fundraisers to create internally generated revenue. Other times, it’s important to seek grants for specific programs. As Chairman of Better Life, Aisha handles these aspects while also drawing inspiration from other social enterprises that have found success. You need a strategy and to implement these steps strategically.
As the Better Life Program grows, the scope of the work grows as well. Urban women need the same nurturing and support as their rural counterparts, yet they also frequently have little access to funding or mentorship. Through the Program, Aisha Babangida is setting up initiatives to cater to small and medium enterprises in the urban segment as well, offering bank products specifically tailored to the requirements of a woman. Over time, the Program will expand into other African countries to take care of women there. There is no limit on the number of deserving woman and children in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Aisha hopes that one day she will be able to help all of them and cater specifically to their varied needs.
Aisha is highly involved in her community and aims to make a difference in some of the most pressing issues women face today. In addition to the Better Life Program, she is a member of the White Ribbon Alliance, a nonprofit with the new goal of reducing maternal and newborn deaths, especially in rural communities.
As someone who has worked in the public sector all her life, Aisha is determined to help the poor and underprivileged. In addition to the Better Life Program, she has also been involved in setting up various non-governmental organizations such as the Zamfara Well Woman Program/Special Education, the Global Volunteers Initiatives and El Amin International School, Minna, Niger State.
This blog was created so that Aisha Babangida could share her insights and inspiration in the humanitarian field. From her work with the Better Life Program to her participation in international conferences and business alliances, she is proud to do her part in empowering girls and women entrepreneurs.