"My Charity Foundation Started From Ghana, I Have Never Been To Malaysia Before" - Olakunle Churchill
Dr Olakunle Churchill Oladunni is fast leaving his imprint on the sands of time with his varied businesses and act of philanthropy. His Big Church Group as well as Big church Foundation have seen him assisting various fire victims as well as the federal fire service. In this interview, he speaks on his business and charitable ventures.
Why the decision to contribute to the Federal Fire Service?
It's my passion to contribute to charity. As a vital agency that saves lives with the risk involved, my foundation decided to mirror down to Federal Fire service by donating a Life Saving Ambulance as a way of supporting the survival of humanity. We also considered the prevention of the fire disaster in every sector which informed the decision of giving 1000 fire extinguishers, 1000 fire blankets as well as smoke detectors. This is basically a standard for the foundation to give to charity from the 10% of all the company earnings.
You also visited the National Trauma Centre at the National Hospital where you donated quite a lot of materials to victims of fire accident, what informed this?
It's still in the spirit of saving lives to promote the fire awareness campaign, We considered it important to reach out to the fire victims because of their unfortunate circumstance. In their situation they needed our support and encouragement so we had to visit them, pay some of their bills and give them gifts. Donating fire equipments is one part while supporting fire accident victims is another aspect which boils down to humanitarian gesture to give back to the society.
What more plans do you have for the fire service knowing fully well that you broke the record of being the first man and head of a NGO that donated immensely to the service?
With this exercise, we look forward to giving out more fire preventive equipment like fire blankets, fire extinguishers and smoke dictators for our clients, homes, offices and even vehicles. We already have a partnership with Federal Fire Service and we intend to host Fire Awareness Seminar this year. It will be a grand event that will attract specialists in Fire Fields to educate the public and individuals on how to tackle the emergencies. My Foundation hopes to sponsor a campaign media calling for well meaning Nigerians to support the Federal Fire service as well as the fire victims in the hospitals
How do you feel seeing so much joy on the victims' faces?
Oh! I feel so touched and emotional that despite their pains from fire accident they feel excited. It truly gives me joy to put smiles on the faces of these victims whose situations are heartbreaking. I thank God that our presence at the hospital brought so much joy to them and we pray God grant them speedy recovery. Big Church Foundation will always visit them from time to time to checkup on their health.
How would you say your career has been so far?
My career has been GREAT. It’s been growth all the way and I’m thankful for every stage of it. I worked very hard, had a focus, in fact I started doing business very early in life - at age 22…but the expansion of my business is not just by my hard work; I thank God almighty for rewarding my hard work with his blessings and enlarging my territory over the years.
Your business interest occurs in five basic areas -security, real estate, charity, agriculture, training and consultancy. How did this portfolio come into being?
ANS: I would like to first state that they didn’t all come alive at the same time, they came to exist one by one, or two by two. My company is a group of companies with 6 subsidiaries; ICT Security, Real Estate, Charity, Agriculture and Mining, Training and Consultancy as well as Entertainment. The first one to come into existence was the Real Estate Company that I recently renamed after my son; King Andrea Realtors LTD, after which we started the ICT security company due to my love for technology. I’ve always been a programmer and a technical person hence the need to let my passion play out in my work. Subsequently, the rest of the companies followed and it’s been great.
Does your organization work alone or through partnerships?
At various stages we have had to work hand in hand with some other charity organization. We are mostly an independent foundation; however, where we see good partnership proposals or opportunities we sure do give it a shot.
To What extent would you say you have contributed to society and humanitarian services? And approximately how much?
Hmmm… How much? I definitely cannot place a figure on that (even approximately) this is because charity has always been my thing even before my foundation came to being. Also, what we give isn’t only in monetary terms so that’ll be difficult to place, but all I can say is God has blessed me to bless people and I won't relent until my last breath and day on earth.
There have been rumors about your charity organization being a fraud, what can you say about that?
Well, I can understand if some persons can’t believe that the work God is doing through us is even possible but it’s just the answer to my prayer. I have always prayed to God to give me that miracle that would sound like a lie, so if people find it hard to believe that we are legit and working independently then that means God is doing more enormous things through us than we even realize. However, we are REAL and LEGITIMATE and everyone should join the movement and become generous givers as much as they can.
How do you get funding for your charitable works?
Fortunately, we run a group of companies that have 6 subsidiaries so we have a fixed habit of taking 10 percent from each and every one of the subsidiaries to put into charity. Therefore, one-tenth of revenues from the Real Estate, ICT, Agriculture, Consultancy and entertainment goes into charity on a monthly basis and that is the major funding for the foundation.
Where did you start your charity organization? Malaysia?
Charity for me has been on since I was a lot younger, however we incorporated it into an organization in Ghana. I have never been to Malaysia all my life.
Wow! Never been to Malaysia? There were rumors that you once lived there with your ex?
Oh Really? That’s definitely not me because I have never been to Malaysia, not even once. I met my ex in Ghana after she relocated from Malaysia
What can you say about philanthropy?
Wow! There’s a whole lot to say about philanthropy because for me it has been a lifestyle and not a business, a job or something you do because you are told to. It is absolutely a selfless service to humanity, you get to always put others first, feel their pain and help them grow in their various fields. It has a lot to do with building others, raising them as much as you can, making them happy and overall making their lives brighter and better than you met them. I always tell people “Never let a day pass without you helping at least one person” and it doesn’t have to be through material things alone (though important) but other resources and emotional support could also go a long way because what some people get depressed for to the point of almost taking their own lives, could have felt better with just a little more love, care, smile, words of encouragement and emotional support from another person.
What has been your motivation to keep up with Charity?
God himself has been my utmost motivation. God made me understand the kingdom principles of giving at a very early stage of my life and that has kept me in check. God is the ultimate father of wealth so if you can get it from God, nothing stops you from first giving back to him the 10 percent he requires from us (and even more depending on how you are inspired). And since I believe that going the EXTRA mile brings about EXTRA results, I would say nothing also stops you from setting aside yet another 10percent to make humanity happy. From my life experiences I can boldly say that when you give bountifully, it equals insuring your life in God, and the moment your life is insured by the almighty there’s nothing that can work against your progress in life. I’ve lost count of God’s blessings over my life that I received through charity and I can neither thank him enough nor stop doing the things he has blessed me through.
What advise would you give to young people who are still contemplating whether to be givers or not?
More blessed is the hand that gives than the hand that receives. When you give, God is sure to bless you even more… I’m saying this because I’ve seen the evidence in my life so I’m urging everyone to imbibe a giving culture and watch what happens within as short as one year in their lives. Also, when you give you don’t necessarily have to announce it to the world because God himself doesn’t go about telling the world what he has done for you, I understand that sometimes we have to let people know what we do just to encourage them to do the same and in turn make the world a better place. However, there’s a whole lot that we do and keep silent about. Finally, you need to recognize the anointing of God upon your life, some are born to be givers and some are motivators while others are called to minister and so on. Ask God to show you his purpose for your life and life would be a lot easier.
Any upcoming projects from the Big Church Foundation we should be expecting?
Yes! We are actually working on empowering a thousand youths per state and the FCT, and that amounts to 36,000 youths in all states and 1,000 from the FCT, the flag off holds before the end of the year. We intend to empower them in the area of agriculture, and e-agriculture and ICT in partnership with Microsoft so everyone should anticipate.