Birthed in Tragedy

Girl’s education has “proven to be one of the most cost-effective strategies to promote development and economic growth. Studies have shown that educated mothers tend to have healthier, better nourished babies, and that their own children are more likely to attend school; thus helping break the vicious cycle of poverty.
— UNICEF

On April 14th, 2014 276 School girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram Terrorists. Known in name to oppose western-style modern education, the terrorist group Boko Haram wants to institute and Islamic caliphate in Nigeria. Following the kidnapping, the very fabric of society was torn apart.  The Chibok community suffered massive destruction due to more attacks by the terrorist group; infrastructures in ruins - roads, buildings, health clinics, communications networks, schools, farms and factories torched. The story sparked outrage nationally and worldwide.  The global response to this heinous act started a viral movement; prominent figures posted to social media accounts pictured with signs that read, ‘Bring Back Our Girls.’

Outraged and saddened by the events in her native country, founder, Idara Otu could not help but think, if the nation was in a better position economically, how much of the despair could be avoided. As of 3Q 2016 Nigeria's unemployment rate rose for the 7th straight quarter to 13.9%; worse for women. Youth unemployment rate increased to 25%. As a child of Nigerian immigrant parents to the United States, Otu witnessed firsthand the power of education in creating opportunity. Raised in a household that valued education above all things, it serves as foundation to the organization and development of an adolescent girl. Educated girls will share that education with their brothers and sisters, impacting their communities and breaking the cycle of poverty. Removing barriers such as early marriage, gender-based violence, domestic slavery, and sex trafficking means not only a better life for girls, but a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all.

 
 

Charity Begins at Home

There are some things about life only the track could have ever taught me
— Idara Otu

In May 2017, Idara Otu launched Let Girls Read, Run, Grow (LGRRG), which brings together education, athletics and entrepreneurship through agriculture to address the range of challenges that hinder girls from reaching their full potential. While fully acknowledging a commitment to education from a very young age is a contributing factor to her personal success, participation in athletics provided skills necessary for survival in environments foreign to Otu’s upbringing. A 2012 Olympian for the Nigerian Track & Field team, Otu often states her time as a competitive athlete was life’s greatest teacher. 

 
 

Looking to the past to build her future

 

Before the discovery of oil in the 1960s, agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. It is still a fundamental part of the economy that accounts for 30% of the Nigerian workforce.  However, the sector faces many challenges, notably low level of irrigation development, adoption of technology, high cost of farm inputs, and inadequate storage.  It is estimated that Nigeria has lost USD 10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone due to continuous decline in the production of those commodities. Food crop production increases have not kept pace with population growth, resulting in rising food imports and declining levels of national food self-sufficiency.  

There is a growing interest in the role that entrepreneurship can play as a catalyst to achieve economic and social development objectives, including growth, innovation, employment and equity for vulnerable populations.

Through farmland owned and operated by LGRRG, we hope to give adolescent girls the skills to manage profitable, sustainable farm and non-farm enterprises. Our programs will develop youth leaders capable of creating sustainable businesses that are more resilient to environmental degradation and market transformation. By removing the normal barriers to entering agriculture such as insufficient access to knowledge, information and education and limited access to land the girls will be able to understand both the harvest, processing and the eventual sale of their crop. Through these micro farms, girls will have a solid base to sustain the funding of their education while creating opportunities for their individual economic advancement. Learn More.