By: Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, SE Entrepreneur – SE Outreach 2016
Travelling to Sweden was a dream come through for me because I believe that it will forever change my way of thinking about charity and Social Entrepreneurship. I was skeptical about the decision, but it was consciously made by me. I was afraid that it would change my belief about my choice as a charity person, as a transformation preacher and as a woman who has experienced poverty.
As a poor woman, I wanted to be a philanthropist, giving to the poor, training the poor free of charge and selling the products with the same mindset of everybody is poor. Therefore, the more we work, the more our efforts amounts to nothing and we become incapacitated in birthing our plan and spreading our wings to other parts of Nigeria. The majority of our products were given freely to the poor women and children while very few is bought by friends online.
That is why I decided to attend SE Forum’s Accelerator, to fully understand business ideals and ideas and strictly apply it to our Treasure business. Therefore, I was ready for a mindset change from the onset, working on achieving our goals at all legal cost.
So I set out to meet the mind changers. Stockholm is beautiful, we were ushered in into the hands of Svitlana, the ever smiling lady, who took us to our guest house. The journey began with travelling to Sigtuna with pleasant Annabel and lovely Fiona. What kind souls! And the shift in mindset began, how do we follow the numbers? How can we follow the money when there are so many poor abused women?
Sigtuna gave the fertile ground for the operation to begin. Stockholm provided the theatre and equipment needed for the ooperation. Doctor Lena was charged, ready to dissect.
As we were seated in class, Lena Ramfelt, our facilitator threw a stone at me. It hit my head and went straight into my brain. It was like the stone thrown into the head of Goliath by David, it went through my skull.“Tosin, how can you claim that you empower abused women, when what you realise from the sales of your products and pay the women is also an abuse? How can you talk about abused when you cannot even pay yourself any salary after working so hard?” I was thrown off balance by the stone thrown at me, but when I regained my balance, I agreed to enter the theatre for an emergency operation.
Lena, our facilitator, led the operation. On the table were the operating knives for dismembering my brain, while the suture equipment was held by Fiona and Nick. The whole class was not watching, they were busy holding my hands and learning alongside.
Within few days, the operation to rewire my brain was successfully done. I washed off all the blood from my hands and body and agreed that in order to be able to reach more women, more villages to rescue and empower more abused women, I must be able to stand on my feet without begging. How can a beggar beg to feed thousands of beggars?
At the end of the first phase in Sweden, I was ready to storm my world, my head on my neck and my brain calculating and following the money. I am ready to show the numbers when it begins to trickle into our purse.
To be candid, it may not be easy but I am resolute. The first batch of city women, they were fifteen women who came for a free training this week, turned back again when I told them that the training is now $100 per month. They will be much surprised that, very soon, $100 will become per week charges. These city women will actually understand that nothing is free anymore.
My brain has been rewired, to place a value on everything around me, a value upon myself. I can no longer train freely again. I have added value on to the wages of the women working, a value based pricing on every product and I see every product as treasure. No trash here again. This is a journey, and it is my journey too. Every decision I make affects me deeply, but I know that in order to sustain the organization, many critical decisions and steps will be taken – and I am rewired.