Partner spotlight: the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

For 20 years, our partner the Murtala Muhammed Foundation has been transforming lives. Here's how we collaborate to support incredible women entrepreneurs across Nigeria.

Our Mentoring Women in Business programme supports women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries to grow and strengthen their businesses and build their skills, confidence and knowledge. In order to reach these women and engage them as mentees, we work in partnership with a global network of over 50 organisations working directly with women entrepreneurs across Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

These mentee referral partners are vital to the success of our Mentoring programme, but they’re also incredible organisations undertaking impactful work in their own right.

In this Q and A, Jetske van Dijk, our Mentoring team’s outgoing Programme Manager, chats with Adaobi Onyedum, Partnerships and Business Development Manager at the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, one of our partners connecting women entrepreneurs in Nigeria with us as mentees…

Jetske van Dijk: The Murtala Muhammed Foundation does really important work supporting women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Please give us a quick overview of what you are all about and what you do?

Adaobi Onyedum: The Murtala Muhammed Foundation was founded on the legacy of General Murtala Muhammed, former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are a non-profit organization that serves as an advocate and catalyst for empowerment programmes through high-impact interventions on social issues, technology leadership, and governance. In 20 years of existence, we have made significant strides in empowering young women and men across Africa to assume better control of their lives and achieve their full potential by facilitating access to educational support, skills, and socio-economic development opportunities as well as promoting better governance and advocating for gender equality.

African women are gifted with enormous potential to achieve anything ... mentorship will accelerate that growth and ensure its sustainability.

Empowering women is one of your organizational pillars. What was it that first interested you in working with us?

As an organization that’s founded on partnership and relationship building, we are always looking for like-minded organizations to work with. We observed that the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women was keen on the genuine development of women, especially in developing countries. Our CEO, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed Oyebode, believes that African women are gifted with enormous potential to achieve anything and she is convinced that mentorship will accelerate that growth and ensure its sustainability.

Our partnership is built on a shared understanding of the transformative power mentoring holds for mentees. Why do you find mentoring to be so important in a woman entrepreneur’s professional journey?

It is our strong belief that passion alone will not bring success and growth. A business-minded person needs a chaperone. Someone that’s been in the field and has passed through some challenging experiences and is strong enough to want to hold the hands of another person to achieve growth. We at the Murtala Muhammed Foundation believe mentoring is capable of catalyzing growth and ensuring that women in business stay true to their goals of making an impact and making profits.

We’re looking forward to supporting many more women entrepreneurs together. Tell us a bit more about the women you’ve connected with us as mentees – how did you know that the Mentoring Women in Business programme would be the right fit for them?

At the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, we have arrays of women looking for opportunities to enhance their productivity, make an impact in their communities, and scale their businesses. Those we have nominated as mentees have come back to say they have experienced improved growth in their personal as well as business lives. It is our joy to be able to help them achieve their desired impact. Through careful selection from a pool of applicants, we always advance the best businesses in structure, digital presence, accountability, and transparency. The truth is that we can only put these nominees forward, what they do and how they interact with the program is all up to them. On our part, we always ensure to have a check-in with the mentees to understand their growth and needs.

The Mentoring Women in Business programme should be embraced by all well-meaning organizations. We believe that together we can achieve so much.

As well as the development and growth of their businesses, the success that comes from being a mentee also has a huge, positive ripple effect. We see women entrepreneurs regularly create jobs and opportunities in their communities, and become pioneering leaders, change-makers, and role models. What are some of the biggest impacts you have seen the Mentoring programme have on mentees you have nominated?

We have seen remarkable growth. Some of the mentees have reported increased growth in their self-esteem. They have gone ahead to make meaningful friends and lasting bonds with their mentors. They have come out of the programme with a renewed mindset and can-do spirit. Most of them have been able to restructure their businesses and pivot to the level they’ve always aspired to be. It is our sincere hope that this opportunity will be opened to more women in business.

Do you have any advice for other non-profits or social enterprises looking to join our network of mentee referral partners?

We need to work together to achieve greater impact. It is time we break the silo and embrace each other to achieve rapid growth. The Mentoring Women in Business programme should be embraced by all well-meaning organizations. We believe that together we can achieve so much.

Thank you, Adaobi. We’re really looking forward to continuing our work with the Murtala Muhammed Foundation and welcoming your nominees into our programme later this month!