When Glory Oguegbu graduated from university, she began volunteering with Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps, a government-run community development program launched after the country’s 1967 civil war.
As a volunteer stationed in Kwara, Glory noticed that hundreds of cassava farmers — especially female ones — were out of work and going hungry.
“It occurred to me that, if only we could process cassava, we could make money for these women,” Glory says. “It could lead to real economic growth.”
Glory set out to build a cassava factory, one that would create jobs for the women she met.
“I wanted more women to be employed,” Glory says. “I wanted them to be able to take care of their children.”
But Glory’s idea was met with a fair amount of skepticism.
“People didn’t believe in my vision,” Glory says. “They said it was too big; they asked me: ‘What makes you think you can do it?’”
In response, Glory worked to demonstrate the impact of the project.
“I explained that the factory would create jobs for hundreds of women and that partner businesses would benefit from the factory.”
In addition to enumerating the benefits, Glory met with local leaders, both political and religious, to introduce the project and raise money for the factory.
“I told local leaders that the factory would lift people out of poverty,” Glory says.
It was with the support of local leadership that Glory was able to not only raise funds for the project, but also to meet partners and gain access to resources that turned her factory idea into a reality.
Now the cassava factory, built by Glory and a team of volunteers, employs women across the country — some as washers, others as peelers — all taking home an income to support their families.
Glory advises others interested in volunteering to choose a cause that moves them.
“You need to select an important initiative because you are investing your time and training yourself in that area.”
“It has to be something you are passionate about, too, because working without pay isn’t easy; the work has to be something that sustains you, and when you have the passion, it will.”
Glory sees volunteering as training for a future career and an opportunity to learn something new.
In her current work with the GLOW Initiative, which focuses on reducing unemployment and creating a sustainable society, Glory is teaching women about the benefits of solar technology, much she did with farmers in Kwara.
“I would have never thought that my volunteer work would benefit me in my career,” Glory says. “But community service opens the door to new opportunities.”
Interested in Glory’s work? Learn how you can volunteer to serve your community on our YALIServes page.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to those interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.