Chief Loretta Aniagolu boldly advertises her intelligence and passion for business but masks a secret passion she has for philanthropy.
Culled from Daily Trust
Chief Loretta Ngozichukwu Aniagolu is CEO of the F.I.T Consult Group of companies. But she has a less publicized secret – helping people.
A Real Estate Developer and the first daughter of the late Supreme Court judge, Anthony Aniagolu, she started her philanthropic activities back in 1993 after her return from the U.S.
The F.I.T Care Foundation is the philanthropic component of the F.I.T Group, set up to help the underprivileged in the society focusing mainly on health and education of the needy in such places as Afor Oghe, Akama Oghe, Iwollo, in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State and Ogui Agu as well as Eke communities in Udi Local Government Area.
Recently the activities of the foundation were expanded to cover poor people in Aguobowo, Olo, Ebe, Egede, Okpatu, Abor, Akpakume, Afa – all in Udi LGA.
So far, using her F.I.T Care Foundation, she has touched positively the lives of over 3,100 people. According to Ms. Joe Joe Aniekwe, the coordinator of the foundation, they have given soft loans ranging from N50,000 to N300,000; without collateral or interest to enable the beneficiaries to start up a small business.
This is in addition to the Mass Literacy Programme Aniagolu founded to help indigent women become literate.
Beyond all these, she sponsors annual sports competitions comprising football, volleyball, table tennis, draft, etc where winners go home with as much as N500,000 as prizes.
“The idea is to keep the youths busy and ensure they stay off crime,” Aniekwe said.
Aniogolu said her motivation was premised on the need for people to always be generous to others. “Generosity is not about how much you have but how much compassion you have for the less privileged in the society.
“If people around you are comfortable and happy, then you’re secure and things will go well; the country functions well.
“When you are an oasis, the only one comfortable, then you run the risk of insecurity. Then you have to build high walls around your house; you worry to go out because you can be attacked,” she told Daily Trust in an interview.
She added: “Not that there won’t be crimes; there has always been crime in any society but the level of crime would have been highly reduced. And the level of banditry, kidnapping that we have today won’t exist; because young people will have jobs and be engaged.”
Aniagolu said her main targets always are women. “I try to focus on education for women because I think they have far-reaching implications and the boomerang effect; the multiplier effect when you help women is a lot more than when you assist men.
“Therefore, if you support them, nine times out of ten, you are equally supporting the family, extended family and the husband as well because the woman would make sure that she uses the funds properly.
“So that’s the reason why I focus more on women. And then on education for young people because I think 90 per cent of our problems in Nigeria stems from poor education for young people.”
She said although she had been engaged in philanthropy for more 25 years, she found it difficult to publicise her activities.
“So, it’s been a long time. Indeed, at one point, when I had about 50 kids that I was paying their school fees I never really got to know them well and even when the education was completed, none of them ever came to see me. They went to secondary school, and I paid for their secondary school, but I never really know them.
“There was only one who came to say I’ve finished my education; I just want to come and see you in person and thank you because of your assistance.
“In fact, that was one of the ones that started from Junior Secondary school, and I was quite amazed. I had forgotten and didn’t remember who she was because she was a little girl when she started schooling and she was a grown woman now, having done SS3.”
“And so, she explained who she was, and I was quite impressed. And she ended up getting employed and working for us.’’
On the future of the Foundation Aniagolu said: “I am hoping that sometime, the foundation will start raising money not just from us but from other private sector individuals who are thinking the same way, so that we can broaden the base of our assistance.”
One of the beneficiaries, an orphan, Miss Cynthia Izueke from Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State said she was trained by the FIT Care Foundation at Institute of Management Technology (IMT) and later the National Open University (NOUN) where she graduated with Second Class Upper Degree in Business Management.
“I remain eternally grateful to my mentor, our CEO, Chief Loretta Aniagolu. Without her philanthropic spirit, I wouldn’t have acquired education today which has developed my ability to express myself and contribute positively to growth of our society,” Cynthia said.
Another beneficiary is 45-year-old Mohammed from Adamawa State. He is married with five children. Mohammed said he joined the company as a security man but after undergoing a series of technical skill acquisition training both in Nigeria and in China on the scholarship of the foundation, he is now a foreman sites working with FIT Consult Group of Companies.
“I was sent to China for training. I am grateful to Chief Aniagolu, our CEO. She has even given me accommodation where I am living with my family,” Mohammed said.
Yet, Mrs. Ofor Uzoamaka, 41, a divorcee with four children, two of whom are in secondary school while the others are in primary school, is another beneficiary. She is a trader in food stuff, who said she makes a profit of N7,000 monthly.
Seventy-year old widow, Mrs. Udeh Margret is another beneficiary, who is being taken care of by the Foundation.
“At my age, I can’t be trading. I am receiving feeding money from the Foundation, and I am grateful to them. My prayer is that God will continue to bless Chief Aniagolu with good health and long life,” Mrs. Udeh said.
Aniagolu also threw light on what she believes is her own divine reward from those she had assisted.
She said: “When those you help pray for you, it amounts to a whole lot of divine protection.”