The inspirational words uttered by Neil Armstrong, the first
man to step onto the moon’s surface, are a reminder of a feat once seen as
impossible to accomplish. When you hear the heart-wrenching stories of the
lives changed at So-Said Charity Home (“So-Said”), you might also consider them
an impossible feat. But Concern Felicia Matins, CEO of So-Said will remind you
that not only does she know from experience that it is possible and there is
still so much work to be done.
So-Said was founded in 2000 to rescue women and their children who are estranged from their families and living on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria. As the number of homeless steadily increase despite the city's progress, So-Said provides refuge in the form of shelter, food, and supplies to improve the health of those removed from the street, and support until they are able to find employment and get back on their feet.The difference in creating significant rippling impact is often made through one step, one decision, or one move forward into the unknown. Concern Felicia’s move forward was to attend the Transformational Leadership Program at the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) of Pan-African University. The Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), funded by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, is administered by the Africa-America Institute, which provides an effective platform for delivering capacity building projects on the African continent, and celebrating its 60th year as a leader in this space. TLP is currently offered in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and has served 319 NGO leaders from 15 countries whose collective activities have positively affected thousands of lives.
As a participant in the first “Social Sector Management” program, Concern Felicia received six months of intense technical and leadership training to strengthen her ability as a non-profit CEO. Felicia notes that her participation in TLP gave her credibility. Concern Felicia learned how to enforce division of labor to get results from her team instead of doing the work for them herself. Impressively, she cites 9 instrumental funding and partnership opportunities, from organizations like Dangote, Nigerian Breweries, Talent Hunt, and Heroes of Charity, that result from her participation in TLP. Some of the new funders, whom she had written but hadn’t responded prior to her participation in the program, now recognized the value of the program. She attributes this shift to the visioning process she underwent of So-Said’s identity and purpose, her strengthened ability to articulate this vision to her team, stakeholders and the public, and the relationships and network developed through the program.
Although she completed the program 3 ½ years ago, So-Said’s ability to serve the homeless population continues to grow. She echoed these sentiments at the Visible Footprints of Transformational Leaders’ Gala Dinner, held in mid-May, to honor all TLP participants and where her organization was voted as the first Impact Award recipient by her peers, EDC faculty, and the supporting community.
Having lived on the streets herself for 8 months, Concern Felicia knows all too well the opportunities So-Said provides are life-changing, and believes it can serve many more lives once members of her executive team also receive TLP training. Thanks to Coca-Cola’s support of the Transformational Leadership Program, So-Said’s leap forward is making an incredible difference for Lagos’ most vulnerable individuals.To learn more about Concern Felicia and So-Said, visit http://sosaidfoundation.org/ or contact So-Said at email@example.com.
Melissa Howell is a Consultant and TLP Program Manager, AAI