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Meet Ogechi Ugwulebo of Association of Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals (ANWEP) in Lewisville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ogechi Ugwulebo.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The idea of ANWEP came to mind in 2016 after visiting my my home country Nigeria for my dad’s funeral. Prior to returning to the United States, I visited with my cousin’s family. We grew up together and I hadn’t seen them for over 15 years. Unfortunately, when I got to her house, her mom informed me that she had passed away a few years back. I asked what happened to her and she said her husband had beaten her up (domestic violence situation) and that she sustained too many injuries and never sought medical treatment. She also hid the injuries and did not reach out to her own family. She had been a stay at home mom and did not have any source of income on her own. She was totally dependent on her husband for financial support. The sad part of the story is that the husband remarried four months after her death and was never charged with her murder. It was very disheartening to know that the Nigerian government does not have any laws against domestic violence or gender-based violence against women and children.

That trip was an eye-opener particularly concerning how religious and cultural beliefs have hindered the growth and development of women and girls in Nigeria. There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse. Most women who reported issues of domestic violence to law enforcement said that they were questioned about what they did to provoke their spouses to hit them. This was very disturbing and I decided to do something about the situation. I knew this was not a problem I could tackle alone, so I decided to create a platform for all Nigerian women to come together to speak with one voice concerning issues that confront women and girls in our communities and to do something about it.

I believe that if women and young girls are empowered to become financially independent through education and entrepreneurship, then they will be less vulnerable to domestic violence at the family level and in the society at large.

Has it been a smooth road?
So far, ANWEP is off to a good start. With the support of like-minded Nigerian women professionals and entrepreneurs both in Nigeria and Texas, ANWEP has become the platform on which Nigerian women professionals and entrepreneurs “speak with one voice” concerning issues that confront women and children in our society. We have also created a few programs targeted at building self-confidence in young girls at a very early stage. In May of this year, ANWEP partnered with the Texas Women Foundation through its BestSelf Teen Empowerment program. A program very similar to ANWEP’s Confident Girl Self Esteem workshop for young girls ages 9 through 17.

ANWEP’s “Empower Girls in STEM” program gives underrepresented groups, particularly girls and women, a window into STEM careers and builds a network of support and ongoing mentorship for female students who are interested in studying and practicing STEM (a space that is currently male-dominated).

What else should our readers know?
The Association of Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals in the USA, ANWEP-USA is a 501(c)3 non-profit tax exempt organization whose mission is to empower Nigerian women to become impactful leaders by forming strategic partnerships to tackle issues that confront women, girls, and children in our society. We envision a world in which Nigerian women are role models and champions of change in their lives and society. ANWEP was founded in 2017 by Ogechi Ugwulebo, a wife, mother, community leader, software engineer and cybersecurity professional who is passionate about giving back.

Our Programs:

1. Empower Girls in STEM

Our organization is engaged with our home communities in order to leverage the talents we have to the benefit of local students and underprivileged young women. We know that role models and mentors help young women visualize themselves as STEM Professionals and future leaders which is why our mentoring efforts not only provide successful role models for future women in STEM but also showcase the range of opportunities a STEM education makes possible. Our outreach efforts target students and their families so they can learn about the many pathways and career options within STEM fields. Last year, a college-bound female student from Garland High School won the $500 scholarship lottery at our Empower Girls in STEM Inaugural Gala.

2. Free Confident Girl Self Esteem Workshop

ANWEP has also developed a teen empowerment program called “Confident Girl, Smart Choices”, a free self-esteem workshop for girls ages 9 through 17 that aims to create awareness, education, and empowerment with an emphasis on the value of intelligence, competence, and education to assist the girls in making positive decisions.

3. Adopt-a-Family for the holidays

Every year, ANWEP adopts some needy families in our immediate community of DFW for the holiday season. Our focus is typically on single-parent families with young children. The goal is to make everyone’s Christmas wishes come true. ANWEP collects the list of wants for Christmas and endeavors to provide most items on the list or issue a gift card to enable the family to purchase food and other necessities. Last Christmas, ANWEP adopted one needy family in Garland, TX and two families in our home country Nigeria. On Saturday, December 15th, 2018 ANWEP delivered a $500 gift card to a struggling single mom Ms. Patrice Gardner and her five children in Garland.

4. Fight Domestic Violence

To support our fight against domestic violence in our home country Nigeria, ANWEP embarks on fundraising activities to enable us to provide temporary shelters for young mothers who are victims of domestic violence. We have opened a channel of communication for women who are battered to reach out for help by organizing workshops and outreach programs to spread awareness on domestic violence and the abuse of women and children in our communities. Our counseling services and training are designed to help victims become socially and economically autonomous.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Join us on Saturday, August 10th, 2019 at our 2019 Annual Fundraising and Awards Banquet to celebrate and honor extraordinary and inspirational women professionals and entrepreneurs whose work embody the spirit of our organization.

Proceeds from our 2019 Annual Fundraising and Awards Banquet will benefit our Empower Girls in STEM initiative which enables us to provide ongoing mentorship and academic scholarships to high school students in Denton and Dallas counties (Identified through their local school districts in Dallas and Denton Counties) who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM and currently maintaining a GPA of 3.5 and above on the 4-point scale.

Venue is the Hyatt Place in Garland, TX.

Tickets are $75 and can be purchased on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-annual-convention-and-awards-banquet-tickets-55784714583?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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