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Dangote Foundation: When philanthropy becomes a hobby

Even before Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Industries Limited, established his noble foundation called Aliko Dangote Foundation, he was known to be a man that gave without any inhibition.
He loathes poverty, and empathizes through willingly giving his hard-earned money to the needy in the society.
His unrestrained act of giving made former President Goodluck Jonathan appoint him to chair the Presidential committee on flood in the country. At the launch occasion, he gave out a whopping N2.5 billion, the same amount the federal government donated for the purpose of ameliorating the sufferings of the flood victims.
That appointment was based on his track record of always taking the lead in providing relief wherever it was needed. Prior to the appointment, Dangote, through his Foundation, had travelled to all the states ravaged by flood and provided relief materials and funds running into billions of naira.
The Dangote Foundation has become an oasis of succour to the vulnerable and less- privileged in the society. It would be recalled that the Foundation recently came to the aid of victims of the communal clash between Yoruba and Hausa traders and residents in Ile-Ife, Osun State, with a donation of N50 million.
The donation was to bring help to the traders who lost their wares and means of livelihood in the clash. The Dangote Foundation also donated N500 million as assistance to victims of the fire outbreak that occurred early this year in five major markets in Kano.
Dangote explained that the gesture was to ameliorate the suffering of those affected by the disaster. “Times are hard and if not for the recession by which we are also affected, I would have donated more than this amount,” he said.
Dangote has always expressed concerns over the living conditions of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), urging both the government and well-meaning Nigerians to be part of efforts to ameliorate their sufferings.
The Foundation has been at the forefront of alleviating the conditions of people in the IDPs. Aside numerous cash donations running into billions of naira to the IDPs, Dangote pledged to invest N2b to create jobs and end hunger for Borno State residents living in IDP camps. The gesture, no doubt, will ameliorate the pains of Boko Haram victims, as well as provide them a means of livelihood.
Dangote has promised that apart from the funds and food items that he donated, he would explore avenues to drive investments and production in the crisis-torn states in order to promote entrepreneurship and create opportunities for the people to work and earn a decent living in the course of time.
“The first major challenge is the physiological needs of these people, and food, nutrition rank right on top of that ladder. So we will first make serious efforts to ensure that hunger is eliminated from the IDP camps and, thereafter, we will begin to make efforts to create jobs and boost entrepreneurship.
“The effort to create jobs and boost enterprise in this case will not be about making money or returning investment.
Rather, it will be primarily to create opportunities for the people,” he said.
Dangote, who is concerned over widespread poverty among the people, especially the youths and the women at the grassroots, has, through his Foundation, instituted a scheme that would help in addressing the menace.
Consequently, the Dangote Foundation came up with its Micro Grant scheme aimed at empowering the grassroots dwellers with funds to help them undertake petty trading so as to lift their economy.
Already, 256,500 women in states such Kano, Jigawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe have benefited from the scheme that is expected to move round all the 774 local government areas across the nation.
Speaking at the launch of the Lagos end of the scheme, he said, “I started my Dangote Foundation back in 1993, based on the simple premise that to whom much is given, much is required……that has meant for me looking at the poor that suffer among us and being compelled to bring some relief.
“I believe that supporting social and economic change through investments and interventions that improve the lives of the less fortunate is what will make a positive difference in the growth of my nation,” he added. He said the Foundation was focused on health and nutrition as to reduce the number of lives lost to malnutrition and disease through access to quality healthcare and nutrition with a particular emphasis on children. The Foundation drives activities in this area via building primary health care centers, drilling boreholes for WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) programmes, partnerships with the Gates Foundation and various states to eradicate polio and increase routine immunization coverage, building a diagnostic centre and operating theatres in the Murtala Mohammed Hospital in Kano and malnutrition eradication programmes across 13 states in the north.
The Foundation’s education goal is to reduce the number of out-of-school children, support talented under-privileged young people to achieve their potential, and educate girls and women on health-related issues.
The Economic Empowerment programme is geared towards supporting the poor in sustainably increasing their income. The Micro-Grant Programme is one component of the economic empowerment programmes of the Dangote Foundation.
The programme, according to Dangote, is to cover at least 1000 women in each of
the 774 local governments in a bid to assist the federal government in the onerous task of poverty reduction by equipping the vulnerable women with some money to help them start a trade to improve family life. However, the number of beneficiaries in Lagos has been doubled in each local government in other to reach out to a larger population of women.
“We have chosen to partner with state governments to support women because in Nigeria, as in other developing countries, they bear the burden of poverty. And it is through their economic activities from the home, the market place or the farmlands that they keep the family, the community going meeting basic needs.
“Our research at Dangote Foundation shows that just a little push can help establish, sustain or grow several types of economic activities by our women. We believe these small grants will improve the women’s businesses and the well-being of their families and communities.
“This is one of the goals of Dangote Foundation’s Community Development Services”, he stated. The Dangote Foundation, he said, sends its good wishes to the women who will benefit from the grant and, indeed, from other government initiatives. “It is their efforts and business success that will strengthen family and community bonds that are needed to transform this great state and this great country,” he said.

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