By Yusuf Mohammed
Nigerians from all walks of life are celebrating Aisha Babangida as she clocked 50 yesterday.
This beautiful lady who is aging gracefully is the first child of a former Nigerian Head of State, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and First Lady, Maryam Babangida.
While Aisha has done enough over the years to carve a niche for herself, the surname (Babangida) is not one anyone can ignore. As long as she lives, at the mention of her name, attention will be drawn to the Babangidas. I don’t think she has a problem with that as she seems to wear it proudly on her dress.
While she has emulated her mother in terms of fashion sense, it is in another area that most Nigerians are pleased with her.
Aisha who was born four months after the end of the civil war in 1970 is a philanthropist whose humanitarian services cut across all ethnic groups.
Just like her mother, she is committed to seeing women especially in the northern part of the country, be able to have equal opportunities in education, the labour market and business ownership.
Over the years, she has helped underserved communities throughout Nigeria. Her mother, Maryam was the founder of the Better Life Program for the African Rural Woman when she was the first lady. Today, Aisha is the chairman of BLP, taking over after her mother.
In addition to the Better Life Program, Aisha has also started and worked with numerous non-profit organisations, only fuelling her passion to do more for the people of her country. Aisha loves being able to provide women and girls with educational opportunities and life skills in order to better prepare them for the future.
Aside from her philanthropic activities, she is passionate about in finance and business. In 2016, she founded the Egwafin Microfinance Bank, which helps those in Africa get the access they need to funding and financing that they may not have had access to otherwise.
According to her, Microfinance acts as a means to target wealth inequality and work towards bridging the gap. Because the poor or impoverished don’t have access to resources, their skills go underutilized, because they themselves are underutilized.
“Microfinance, commonly referred to as microcredit which is actually a subset within microfinance, acts as an opportunity for people who may not otherwise receive approval for a loan or credit to still obtain financial services. The concept was built around the idea of inclusion and access for all. In order to participate in growing economies, people need access to funding no matter their income bracket.” She says.
In 2018, the entrepreneur founded Women Enterprise Alliance, which helps entrepreneurs through investing in profitable early stage companies, small & medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and across Africa. She founded the organisation as a way to help improve the resources that entrepreneurs need to thrive when first starting their own company. Overall, Aisha Babangida has become known for her leadership in the community, as well as her skills in non-profit organisations, negotiation, corporate social responsibility, business planning, and analytical skills.
Aisha is passionate about financial inclusion for women and how it can change their lives and communities.
“Women represent between 60 and 79 percent of Nigeria’s rural labour force but are five times less likely to own their own land than men. Women are also less likely to have had a decent education. Microcredit and financial inclusion organisations create some of the best opportunities for these women to gain valuable capital that can pay off long-term upon obtaining the necessary resources.
While these programs are geared towards those with an entrepreneurial spirit or business opportunity, they also have programs intended to support those who don’t conform to this mold yet still have more basic necessities in order to sustain or improve their standing.” Says Aisha.
Early this year, she organized a workshop drawing former fist ladies and current fisrt lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari in honour of her mother, Maryam.
The event was also attended by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo. There was a video conference of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) welcoming guests to the event and thanking the former First Ladies (FLs) and other guests for attending the occasion.
Aisha said the event was to honour the contributions of the FLs who, she said, were often underestimated and disregarded by society as mere accessories to their husbands. She said, “In reality, FLs uphold a sense of national dignity and project warmth across all levels of society. Culturally and politically, wives of presidents must assume their role without a rule book. We will revisit key historical developments and see the growth of the nation through their eyes.”
Aisha is proving to people that one does not need political office to make a difference in the society.