Ms. Oluwadoyinsola Ogunye, 27, is a lawyer and the Managing Director, Kids Clean Club. She speaks about the role of children in building a sustainable environment and the challenges of running multiple businesses in this interview with IFE ADEDAPO
Tell us about your educational background
My primary education was at Rhodes Nursery in Ikoyi and Aunty Ayo International School which is also situated in Ikoyi, Lagos. My secondary education was at the Federal Government College, Lagos. I obtained a degree in Law from the University of Lagos, Akoka. I later completed my law degree at the Nigerian Law School Lagos.
What is Kids Clean Club all about?
Kids Clean Club is an expression of the Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children –MEDIC, a non‐governmental and pro-human organisation, that aims at a total positive transformation and development of the child.The club was established to raise a generation of physically, mentally and environmentally clean children across Nigeria and the world by creating awareness among children, about the effects of pollution and global warming, and how they can make a change in their environment by focusing on recycling and tree planting. We also go a step further to teach them about patriotism, etiquette, motivation, dignity, integrity, savings, and at the same time harness their God-given talents.
The vision is to ensure a cleaner, more habitable, more united world, where children are the purifiers and the spear-head of the revolution.
How did you start?
I started talking to the younger children. I felt more comfortable with this group because they were willing to learn more and it was easier for them to adapt to the change.
So, I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I tell a lot of children these things in their formative years so that when they grow it will be innate in them and they won’t drop litter subconsciously anymore. That was how it started.
I actually wrote down my goals on November 21, 2007. I went out with some children to clean once in December 2008. It became full-fledged in July 2009 when the tree planting initiative was launched by former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola. After that the vision grew bigger and now we focus on physical, mental and environmental cleanliness.
How do you source funds?
My family and friends have always been my pillar. They are always there to support me in cash and in kind. I would say that without them I won’t be where I am today. We also source funds from the government and government parastatals; and national and international organisations. Corporate institutions also support as well as well-meaning individuals.
Apart from the Kids Clean Club, what other things do you do?
I run Petals and Pebbles, which deals primarily with recycling, landscaping and cleaning. I also run Tyre Playground, which uses tyres and other upcycled materials to create fun spaces for children. I have an education-based toy company, which focuses on educational materials for children and I focus on my Law practice.
How do you manage all of the businesses?
That’s a tough question to answer. I would say that all the businesses leverage or feed off the other. For example, when I garden, I teach the children how to plant flowers and all the scientific names I know. Another example is recycling I always have recyclables around me all the time so they learn from this practice.
How profitable is waste recycling?
It is very profitable in fact it’s one of the most profitable businesses in the world. You don’t need to manufacture anything. All you need is basically dedicated manpower, landed property and a proper logistics system. To establish a waste recycling business you need a landed property, means of transportation and dedicated staff.
If you could go back to when you started; what will you do differently?
I will dedicate more time to building the structure and system. I was very young when I started and I wanted to do so many things at the same time. The foundation of everything is very important. I would build the structure and system to run without me being there. That is the only way one can grow several organisations.
What are your present challenges and how do you tackle them?
Funding is a big challenge. We have started merchandising and looking for creative ways to encourage people to support us.
Another challenge is the lack of interest among certain groups but we continuously sensitise them and show them all the benefits.
What keeps you going despite the challenges?
My passion for change.
Who are your mentors?
The owner of LUFASI Park, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, is one of my mentors. He is an environmentalist and a strong believer in protecting the environment. He has partnered with the Lagos State Government to protect the environment.
The Head Pastor of Guiding Light Assembly, Pastor Wale Adefarasin, is another. He is a patriotic man with a heart of a father.
In addition, the owner of La Campagne Tropicanna, Corporate Guards, Dr. Wanle Akinboboye, is one of them. He believes in growing the new Nigeria through children. He is an advocate for African tourism.
The co-founder of Daimonds and Pearls Travel limited, Mrs. Omowonuola Lamidi, is also my mentor. I have learnt so much from her. She believes in integrity and diligence.
What expansion plan do you have?
In the next five years we plan to be in seven cities round the world. We are currently in Lagos and New York .We plan to be in Akure, Ibadan , Oshogbo, Port Harcourt and Abuja.
Would you leave your business and work in paid employment if the situation permits?
Not in this lifetime. I have turned down countless offers to work in paid employment but I would choose freedom over security any day! I love my freedom and the fact that I have started building a legacy. I don’t want to get old and grey and wish I had started earlier. Also, I grow at my own pace when I want to go fast I do when I want to go slow I go as well. Being free and independent has also taught me to think long-term. It has taught me to think and plan for tomorrow and I totally love this feeling!