Name: Rita Robert Otu
Business: Peas Foundation
Location: Ikot Ekpene Akwa Ibom, Nigeria
Industry: Environment & Natural Resources
Reason for starting? Emancipating women farmers from abject poverty and giving them confidence and dignity has always been my passion. In 2013, I decided to set up a non-governmental foundation to transform the lives of hundreds and thousands of rural poor, helping them access life-long food security and significantly boosting their income. The organization has empowered up to 1,500 women farmers in Nigeria through empowerment programs like Her Farm Project. We distributed free cassava stems and hybrid seedlings to girls and women agropreneurs. Furthermore, the foundation has reached out to 5,000 school students, especially young girls in secondary school.
How do you define success? Success is when I inspire others. I also define success when I am happy with what I am doing and it is fulfilling.
Biggest success: My biggest success to date was when my organization empowered up to 1,500 women farmers in Nigeria. It was tough but fulfilling at the end. The success rate of women who increased their income tripled from 20 percent to 50 percent. More women opened an account and were able to send their children to school. I have received international awards: Outstanding Alumnus Awards from Manchester University, United Kingdom (2015); a global champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment by UN Women (2015); and Best Local Initiative project from WIL Awards, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2015).
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? My top challenge was addressed through personal study. I had to enroll for Cheri Blair Foundation for women mentorship program for one year. This program opened my eyes and horizons on how to overcome challenges of life as an entrepreneur. With this my strategy on how to work with people was excellent and well managed.
Who is your most important role model? My role model is my mother. As a young girl, I watched how my mum catered to so many women in the community though her farming business. This got me inspired. I enrolled in the university and graduated as an agricultural economist. I own 3 hectares of farm in my community where I supply veggies to schools and the entire community.
Edited by The Story Exchange