Chief (Dr) Uche Iro, a Germany-based entrepreneur, established The Strivad Foundation (TSF), a global non-governmental, non-political and non-profit charitable organisation, to channel his efforts towards the development of his home country, Nigeria.
A successful businessman, Dr Iro’s companies include PhysioCenter-Stuttgart GbR (Germany), FitGym Healthcare Services GmbH (Germany), Strivad Ventures Limited (Germany/Nigeria), Iro Investment Group International Inc. (Nigeria/ Europe/ USA/United Arab Emirates).
Dr Iro, who holds a doctorate degree in economics, had for many years been very active in homeland development through his investments in the real estate sector as well as his philanthropic activities.
The realisation that his efforts would yield greater dividends for his people if they are structured and formalised led Dr Iro to establish the privately-endowed Foundation, which focuses on human capacity building and community development in Africa with special emphasis on Nigeria.
Established in December 2003 as the Corporate Social Responsibility subsidiary of Iro Investment Group International, TSF, which is duly registered as a charitable organisation both in Nigeria and Germany, has made immense contributions to the development of Dr Iro’s hometown of Eziudo, Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State in eastern Nigeria.
Promoting employment generation
Dr Iro is convinced that fundamental to fighting poverty and improving the quality of life in rural Africa is the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for the youth. This will enable them to stay in their communities and contribute to its development.
Rural poverty drives migration to the urban areas where job opportunities are also not plentiful. The results are the high-density slums that characterise cities across the continent and masses of frustrated jobless or underemployed young people, some of whom unfortunately veer into crime.
In one of its interventions in 2019, TSF empowered 30 youths who were evenly selected from among all the 6 villages that make up Umuore-Eziudo Autonomous Community (Umuekwerede/Umuezelechi, Umuzu, Ezeakam, Umuagu, Umuakam, Umuhu-Otimpku).
The selected youths were awarded a micro-finance grant of 10,000 naira each to support them financially in their studies (for students) or enhance the capital base of their respective business ventures (for those who are engaged in meaningful micro business enterprises).
During the selection process, special considerations were given to orphans, the abjectly deprived and the physically challenged. Special efforts were equally made to ensure even distribution of the grants among male and female candidates as well between those in school and those in skills training or running businesses.
Supporting indigent students
Early this year, the Foundation awarded Markgeo Njoku a 350,000 naira-scholarship grant to enable him to attend the Nigerian Law School. The man had completed his law studies at a university two years ago but could not attend the mandatory 1-year course at the Law School, which will qualify him to be called to the bar, because he had no money to do so. When Dr Iro heard about his case, the philanthropist immediately instructed the Nigerian office of TSF to support the indigent student.
At the ceremony at which Njoku was presented with a cheque for the grant, the law graduate narrated how he had already been twice called to attend the Nigerian Law School but could not afford to do so due to lack of financial means. He pledged to utilise the opportunity that had finally come his way, courtesy of TSF, and promised to put in his best at the Law School so as to come out in flying colours.
Njoku further reassured those present at the ceremony that he looked forward to being in the position to equally give back to society in the future the way Dr Iro was doing.
“The establishment of the Foundation was principally motivated by the dire need to avail the youth of opportunities in life,” Dr Iro said. “Every individual or community deserves the right of access to good quality life and development irrespective of their location,” the development activist said. “The dignity of man is not negotiable but a natural right.”
Dr Iro’s lofty conviction is promoted by TSF, whose motto is “Committed to enhancing Human Capacity & Community Development”, through activities including the award of scholarships to indigent but brilliant students and sponsoring the skills acquisition training of young people through apprenticeship schemes as well as providing seed capital to small and micro entrepreneurs.
Educating the girl child
In recognition of the importance of educating the girl child to nation building, TSF gives particular attention to promoting female education. “Every effort has to be made to insist that every African girl child understands the need for education and equally be given the possibility to have unhindered access to it. TSF is committed to contributing towards making that not just a mere wish for many girls in Africa but a reality,” Dr Iro said.
In addition to these activities from which many youth have benefited, TSF also makes other humanitarian interventions, such as donating to or directly funding the provision of much needed infrastructure such as water supply and rural electrification as well as empowering the less-privileged members of society to gain greater access to adequate healthcare.
Promoting quality rural life
In line with the Dr Iro’s vision of seeing as many African rural communities as possible get access to quality life and development, the TSF donated 750,000 naira to the Egberemiri-Eziudo Community in support of its on-going Community Health Centre project. When completed, the facility, one of the beneficiaries of TSF Rural Community Development Programme in Imo State, will provide primary healthcare to the inhabitants of the community.
Another important activity of TSF is rendering support to women, widows and orphans through the provision of micro-financial grants to enable them to become self-reliant. “Bringing joy and adding value to lives of rural dwellers in Africa gives me a lot of joy,” Dr Iro said.
Furthermore, the Foundation partners trusted rural community leaders, organisations, schools, and other NGOs in delivering on its mandate through the joint implementation of projects.
As there can be no development without peace and security, TSF also gives financial support to the Nigerian Police too as a way of contributing towards the fight against insecurity.
Towards a lasting impact
The Foundation welcomes partnerships with communities, local and international NGOs, and international development agencies for the implementation of projects.
All third-party sponsored projects, grants, scholarships or other initiatives are implemented by TSF in the respective sponsor’s names and in accordance with their respective directives. The Foundation names every scheme it implements after the sponsor unless the sponsor instructs TSF otherwise.
Dr Iro believes that, collectively, “a more lasting impact can be made towards enhancing human capacity and community development in our society”.
“You don’t have to be Aliko Dangote [Africa’s richest man] to do something in your community,” he said, advising that Africans in the diaspora could start initiatives however small in scope to positively impact the lives of their people.
Dr Iro, a founding member of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) who served as the pioneer Project Officer of the German chapter of the group, is of the firm conviction that the diaspora has an important role to play in Africa’s development.
Dr Iro is an acclaimed prominent member of the African diaspora in Europe and has been featured as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans in Germany by reputable international magazines on different occasions.
While The Strivad Foundation is funded mainly by its founder, Dr Uche Iro, it also welcomes support from friends, associates, volunteers and other well-meaning people in Nigeria and internationally as well as national and international NGOs and development agencies for the pursuit of its aims, which is to make life better and more meaningful for the less-privileged and contribute to the sustainable development of the African continent.
Honour to whom is due
In recognition of his immense contributions to the development of his hometown of Eziudo, Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, Dr Uche Iro was honoured with the very prestigious traditional chieftaincy title of Chinemeze 1 of Eziudo Mbaise Ancient Kingdom. Two years ago, Dr Iro also received an award from the world-renowned Rotary Club International for ‘Excellent Community Development Service in Nigeria’.
For more information about The Strivad Foundation and how you can partner with it, sponsor any of its charitable projects and programmes or how to join its team of associates, visit its website at www.thestrivadfoundation.org or on Facebook