Building Partnerships

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By: Ifeyinwa Egwaoje Madu, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by Ifeyinwa Egwaoje Madu, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

Building valuable partnerships with businesses that want to create social value can help you achieve your goal as a social entrepreneur. Although funds are not directly linked to the mission of a non-profit organization, they contribute a great deal to its achievement. Based on this premise, the Birthing Project USA partnered with Corner Muse coffee shop to produce and sell organic coffee. This business venture is a means of promoting the consumption of organic coffee in New Orleans as well as generating funds for the organization. This is an eye opener for me, that I can partner with local businesses in Nigeria, to create awareness about my project and generate funds as well.

Right after we launched the Birthing Project organic coffee partnership in December, we received a visitor, Claire Bangser, coordinator of the Young Champions Program in Ashoka. Her visit was perfectly timed as it gave me the opportunity to discuss with her in a relaxed environment, my hopes, ideas, and concerns for the future as an Ashoka Young Champion.

Claires’s departure saw me going down to Tupelo Mississippi to help organize our community baby shower. The essence of this free baby shower was to help our ‘Little Sisters’ develop their parenting skills and get free baby items for their babies to reduce the financial burdens that they bear. The baby shower was a huge success and helping these girls achieve healthier behaviors as parents is really fulfilling for me.

Christmas holiday was a good time for me to unwind and take my mind off business as a social entrepreneur. I seized the opportunity to visit family in Chicago and spend time with them. Even though I was celebrating Christmas several miles away from my home and my children, being around my husband’s relatives was comforting.