Extraordinary Women: Celebrating Rita Ezenwa-Okoro

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Rita is one lady whose business acumen and social enterprise never cease to astound me. She churns out remarkable projects year after year with relentless determination, dedication and disarming ease.

From her Street project that discovers upcoming fresh talent, to her ‘reflection series’ ‘smile for December project’ and ‘haven project’ that all reach out to offer support to the less privileged and provide a back bone for budding entrepreneurs.

Rita is a serial entrepreneur and humanitarian who runs several businesses and organisations at the same time.

She is the founder of the Street Project Foundation, a Founding partner and creative consultant at  Rita Omovbude consult, and a co-founder of Blacksoupproductions.

Rita is a Fellow of YALI- the Young African Leaders Initiative (The Mandela Washington Fellowship) whose Fellows have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries.

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NEKITA:      Who are you?

RITA:            Rita Ezenwa-Okoro a.k.a REO

Wife of a Farmer.

Marketing Communications Consultant and a Social Sector Developer.

 

NEKITA:   Describe yourself in two words.

RITA:         Visionary, Passionate.

 

NEKITA:   What’s your best quality?

RITA:         Always in pursuit of excellence in all I do.

 

NEKITA:   What’s your worst quality?

RITA:         Lack of patience for mediocrity.

 

NEKITA:   What do you do and what do you hope to be doing in the next 5years?

RITA:         I presently run my own Marketing Communications Consultancy Firm where I apply my over a decade’s experience in the industry to solve communication and marketing challenges of small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profit organizations. In addition, I am the Founder and Lead Visionary of Street Project Foundation, a social enterprise focused on using performing arts as a tool to facilitate opportunities for youth employment and engagement.

In the next 5 years, I hope to continue running these two ventures on an even larger scale, impacting the lives of youth, start-up and SMEs in Africa. In addition, I also hope to work with international Organizations focused on influencing public policy on a global scale.

 

NEKITA:   You appear to have a passion for supporting youngsters. What gave birth to this drive?

RITA:         I am the last of six children and I watched how one after the other my older siblings found it tough to get into higher institution and when they eventually got admitted, they studied courses they were not passionate about due to socio-economic factors and societal pressures to get a university degree. They ended up graduating from these schools with degrees in courses they never practiced for one day. For years they stayed home in search of jobs. The wait was so long that I finished my university degree and joined some of them in the search also. This story is a familiar one. About 70% of the population in Nigeria are made up of young people below age 35 of which a large percentage are without jobs or a source of livelihood.

“Setting up Street Project Foundation is my answer to this problem.”

We help young people discover their talents and develop them early in life through training and mentoring, making them prepared to create wealth doing the things they love.

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NEKITA:   Can you give us an example of any particular youth of whom your foundation trained and is now empowered and working in a thriving business?

RITA:         Josh Alfred Chibuike a.k.a Josh2funny is a Social Media sensation today. He developed a character called Mama Felicia – a woman from South East Nigeria, who sings hit Nigerian songs like hymns but with an igbo accent. His online skits have been hits on instagram and Facebook and he is enjoying a lot of publicity that is translating to paid performances across the country.

Josh was discovered by Street Project Foundation in 2011, he was one of the top three winners at our Project Raw talent hunt competition. He won a cash prize and one year mentoring with Koffi – a renowned comedian.

Josh2funny is a product of mentoring, consistency, focus and drive.

Besides Josh, we have quite a number of Street Project Ambassadors doing amazing things.

NEKITA:   What has been your major career Milestone?

RITA:         I have got several career milestones. 

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, USA (2014)

In recognition for leadership achievement in Community and Social Sector Development.

Champion of Change Award, I am a Champ Limited, Lagos, Nigeria (2013)

Received recognition for outstanding and selfless work in community development through Street Project Foundation.

Honoree in Community Action, The Future Awards, Lagos, Nigeria (2013)

Received recognition for installing treated borehole water for the vulnerable and destitute on the street resident in So-said Charity Home.

Staff of the Month, Yellow Brick Road, Lagos, Nigeria (2013) 

In recognition of outstanding performance on various projects as Senior Copywriter.

Radio Jingle Nomination, LAIF Awards, Lagos, Nigeria (2011)

Received recognition for the composition and production of Nourishing Nigeria Jingle for Nestle MILO.

Employee Recognition, SO&U Saatchi, Lagos, Nigeria (2008)
Commendation for single handedly running the Creative Department of the second-line agency effectively.
 
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NEKITA:   What motivates you to excel in every endeavour you take on?

RITA:         “I love to challenge the status quo.”

Like I mentioned before, I don’t follow existing trends, I like to set my own trends based on what I believe in and what my goals are. Mind you, I haven’t always been first in my endeavours until I discovered that you excel best when you do the things you love and that is why I am passionate about helping the youth find their purpose early in life.

 

NEKITA:   Tell us a bit about your newest business venture- blacksoupproductions.

RITA:         So one day my husband Ezenwa Okoro shared his vision about a show that explores the lives of couples in intercultural marriages likes ours. Today this vision has been born and I am so glad that I was part of the incubation phase and that I get to Co-produce this program with him. Thanks to R2TV, The Katie Wang Company, Street Project Ambassador Deborah Chibueze and the amazing couple StephRedd Kadiri and Zuberu Kadiri for making our first shoot possible.

To couples in inter-tribal or intercultural marriages reading this post, my husband and I would love to host you on our show called BLISS. To honour our invitation, just send your names and phone numbers to blacksoupproductions@gmail.com #visioninmotion

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NEKITA:   How did you meet your husband and how does it feel to be recently wed?
RITA:         My husband Ezenwa Okoro is a great man. We met in 2014 during our two-day pre-departure meeting at the United States Consulate after we were both awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. My husband at the time was based in Enugu and I was based in Lagos. So our paths crossing was obviously divine. From the moment he set eyes on me, he pursued me with his words, gestures, phone calls and most of all his vision. The pursuit was so hard that he proposed to me openly on day two of our meeting. Yes, on day two, ridiculous right? That’s the man I married o. If he wants something, he goes for it. At first I thought it was a joke but one year later we got married.

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NEKITA:   What advice do you have for women when they are seeking love?

RITA:         My advice to women seeking love would be to enjoy the season they are in. Before I got married, I was a fulfilled single woman in all ramifications, I traveled, took risks with my vision, sang in the choir in church, pursued a career in Marketing Communications relentlessly and pursued a Masters Degree. Dear Sister seeking love, hold fast to your faith, learn to love yourself regardless of your size, color, flaws, strengths and weaknesses.

“Pursue your dreams, be amiable, deal with issues as they come, don’t let a heart break create the cankerworm called bitterness as it blurs your vision and inhibits you from recognizing true love when it comes.”

Above all, wait for GOD’s time. Don’t help GOD, let GOD help you.

 

NEKITA:   Which Female inspires you the most?

RITA:        MY MOTHER. My earliest memories of my mum was in her shop in Yaba Market opening bails of second hand clothing. I watched her grow her business such that she started selling laces, Georges, luxury shoes and bags. As if that was not enough, I watched her buy her own property where she established a supermarket and a salon. She also ventured into the Pure Water and transportation business.

“I am the product of a serial entrepreneur,  a strong woman, a leader in her own right, the matriarch of the Omovbude family.”

 

NEKITA:   What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt in life?

RITA:         Some relationships are for a season, some relationships are for a moment, some relationships are for fighting common battles and some relationships are for a life time. Discerning relationships ensure that I manage my expectations and emotions effectively.

NEKITA:   What has been the most trying obstacle that you’ve overcome in life, and how did you overcome it?

RITA:         The death of my father. The death of a loved one can either make you stop, cause a regression or keep you moving forward. It’s a choice. I did stop because of the pain of his loss but I found strength to keep moving forward with the dreams and aspirations he wanted me to achieve.

NEKITA:   What has been your biggest accomplishment in life?

RITA:         I haven’t attained it yet. I am still on the journey towards achieving what I can confidently define as my biggest accomplishment. For now, I am committed to the creative development of young people from low-income backgrounds, together with the Street Project Foundation team, we are currently running a project called Creative Youth Boot Camp, an initiative focused on training 100 young people for three weeks, empowering participants with skills that will help them turn their talent to enterprise. The most outstanding of them are placed on internships and given mentors. This year we have attracted the support of the United States Consulate, The Lagos State Government, R2TV, Audio Hive and Visual.ng

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NEKITA:   What is unique about you?

RITA:         My Ingenuity 

 

NEKITA:   Everyone has a sense of fashion and personal style. What’s yours?

RITA:         Comfort Chic lol. Is there anything like that? I don’t go with trends, I go with what suits my body type and what makes me look different. I don’t mess with my hair. I could get anything wrong but not my hairstyle.

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NEKITA:   Tell us a secret about yourself that no other person knows about you.

RITA:         I was slapped by a Bus Conductor because I was advocating for a standard fare for passengers moving from CMS to Festac Town, Lagos.

 

NEKITA:   Tell us in two sentences what you think of Sex, Love and Marriage.

RITA:         Love and Sex are indispensible ingredients for the institution called marriage.

I believe Sex within the context of marriage is healthier for the mind, soul and body and love within or outside the context of marriage is a beautiful thing.

 

NEKITA:   Which movie has inspired you the most?
RITA:         This is a tough question for me because I am a movie buff and can’t say for sure that one movie has inspired me the most. Movies generally inspire me to create or critique. Most recently however,the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ starring Octavia,Monney and Taraji has inspired me to keep on following my dreams regardless of obstacles set up by a system or people.

“We must learn to rise above circumstances and not let circumstances dictate our outcome in life.”

NEKITA:   Which popular personalities inspire you the most?

RITA:         It has always been Nelson Mandela and Oprah

 

NEKITA:   What’s your life slogan?

RITA:         “Be all that you can be. Do what you love.”

 

NEKITA:   If you had the power to change the world in one way, what would you do?

RITA:         What I am doing today. Discovering the talents of young people from poor communities and helping them find purpose so they can become all they want to be in life regardless of their background, race, gender or disabilities.

 

NEKITA:   Thanks so much for the genuine responses Rita. I must admit I am inspired.

RITA:         Your questions were deep. Your questions were unlike questions I have answered in the past. It forced me to dig deep and I am glad you are inspired and I look forward to seeing the published work.

Thank you.

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To see more of what Rita does visit:

http://www.streetproject.org.ng/

or

http://streetproject.org.ng/blog/

or

http://www.Ritaomovbudeconsult.com

And you can add her on Twitter as @RitaOmovbude, or on Instagram as blacksouppro or streetprojectfoundation

 

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66 thoughts on “Extraordinary Women: Celebrating Rita Ezenwa-Okoro

  1. From the first day I set my eyes on you at the Ikeja entrance exams Centre for PAU masters program – you stuck like a glue. Cannot be ignored, passionate, transparent, honest, smart, engaging and to the feeble, intimidating. Many years after, you just never cease to keep me awed. I take this hat off again. I vote for you a billion times over cos you deserve it

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  2. A mother at heart, a sister, mentor, leader Rita Ezenwa Okoro. I am a product of her mentorship and words conversation have had with her which always stir up something in me to want to see d future in a better way. I vote Rita Ezenwa-Okoro as extraordinary woman

    Like

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