In an exclusive interview wih BIiss Ojeruse, granted Bayo Speaks as a face of the week. She revealed her background, spirituality, lifestyle, career and achievements.
BIiss Ojeruse was born into a humble family of three children, being the first child. Her family background is one that defined her, because she grew up with one of the best families with best values.
Even though she was not born with a golden or silver spoon, she was given quality education, introduced to skills and entrepreneurship early in life. Above all, she found Christ in early as a child and learnt godly and moral values from her parents, not just by what they told her but by how they lived their lives.
Bliss studied BSc. in Computer Science at Bowen University, Osun State.
She is the Executive Director of Saving Hand Development Initiative (SHADE-IN) and endowed in areas such as training coordination and facilitation, public speaking, monitoring, evaluation, research, strategic planning and others.
Bliss is passionate about strategically solving problems in organizations and systems, educating and providing access to opportunities for young people, the girl child and women, empowering them with the right values and skills that will equip them to become self-reliant and purpose-driven.
May we get to meet you; who really is Bliss Ojeruse?
I am a Development Consultant with over 12 years of experience and expertise in social development work in the areas of management and coordination, strategic and programme planning, research, monitoring and evaluation, communication, documentation, report writing, resource mobilization, advocacy, budgeting, institutional strengthening, gender advocacy and community development.
Can you please tell us about your background?
My family background is one that defined me because I grew up in what I can tag as one of the best families with best values. Even though I was not born with a golden or silver spoon, I was given quality education, introduced to skills and entrepreneurship early. Above all, I found Christ early and learnt godly and moral values from my parents, not just by what they taught me, but by how they lived their lives. It will require a whole book to document my experience with my family, with great positive lessons to learn. My parents were simply the best.
Briefly tell us about your educational background?
I attended University Demonstration Primary School (UDPS), UNIPORT, Port Harcourt, where I got my first leaving certificate, The Light High School, Ahoada, Rivers State for my Junior School Certificate Examination (JSCE), St. Paul’s Comprehensive College, Bonny, Rivers State for my Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and Bowen University, Osun State, where I earned my BSc. in Computer Science.
What do you do for a living?
I am the Executive Director of Saving Hand Development Initiative (SHADE-IN). I consult in areas such as training coordination and facilitation, speaking engagements, monitoring, evaluation, research, strategic planning and others. I am also involved in affiliate marketing and for now I sell digital products such as courses, books, trainings and the likes. I also work remotely with Crystal Edge Professional Services, a branding and training consultancy company in Nigeria.
When did you know you wanted this job?
In 2010, I started a community outreach project and I did not realize that what I was doing was related to a profession in social development until something happened. A friend acknowledged my voluntary services and he recommended me to his friend who worked for an NGO. I was recruited after the process of my application. That was when I knew my passion was a career.
What career mistake has given you the biggest lesson?
I cannot say I made a career mistake, although I wanted to be a medical doctor as my childhood dream and that of my parents. As a child, I saw myself wearing the Doctor’s outfit and attending to patients. But that changed while searching for universities to study medicine. My parents and I had chosen the University of Port Harcourt as my first choice to study medicine. Then we looked for the second choice and we saw Bowen University. But sadly, they didn’t offer medicine and I didn’t want to settle for microbiology or biochemistry.
However, by divine leading, I chose Computer Science. Choosing Computer Science was not a mistake because after then, God unveiled the purpose of the course to me which I got to understand better when I started my career in social development. Significantly, I understood God who made us is the custodian of our purpose. It is important to consult Him for direction even when making career choices.
What dream did you have while growing up?
I had series of dreams as a child such as empowering beggars with skills and resources that can take them off the streets, make them self-reliant and be financially empowered. Another was to have a city known as ‘Jesus’ city’ where everything will be available such as hospitals, markets, schools, churches, gardens and lots more. I also had dreams of ministering in songs in large congregations and seeing the sick receive their healing as I minister.
How do you get to prepare a content before publication?
I think of what I would like to write or speak about – what problem I want to solve, what message I want to pass. Then I make my research and brainstorm on the method to use, such as information, entertainment, storytelling, etc. I create a draft of my script, proofread, edit, prepare the photo, video or graphics content I intend to use. I also decide on which platforms to use before publication.
What was your first win that made you confident that you were doing the right thing?
In 2010, by the leading of God, I set out to reach out to a community Settlement in Ekiti State after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) without a job or source of income. My first win in the area of my career was when I had a conviction from God to reach out to that community and I met with Dr. Kole Akinboboye who advised me to write a proposal of what I intend to do. Prior to that time, God had revealed to me the need to write one through a dream.
That proposal gave me access to a team, partners and funding for my project with the community. I had two versions, one from the secular angle and the other from the spiritual angle. The results I got gave me confidence that I was doing the right thing.
Who is your mentor and why?
My mentors are populated. For this purpose, I’ll mention a few.
My mother, Pastor (Mrs.) Erela Jim-Odoi. She teaches me how to balance career with godliness and commitment to my family. She was my first mentor and I still learn a lot from her till date.
Bishop David Oyedepo, the President and Founder of Living Faith Church, worldwide. He gives me a picture of the kind of life I want to live, super God loving, super wealthy with super impact and influence. He is also an inspiration in the education sector which is one of the areas my nonprofit, Saving Hand Development Initiative (SHADE-IN) focuses on. In fact, while working on our first strategic plan in the year 2015, he was one of our major references. It is important to note that it was through his book that God spoke to me to reach out to the community which later birthed our NGO.
Dr. Myles Munroe, I draw a lot of inspiration from him regarding leadership and management. He was also one of our reference points when working on our strategic plan. He’s a true definition of success.
Pastor Sam Adeyemi, He teaches me how to live a life of maximum impact with the spirit of excellence in the marketplace as a child of God. I learn leadership and business principles from him.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala inspires me to know that I can be excellent in my career, serve in public office with integrity and influence policies, be a global leader, yet humble, remain a devoted Christian, having a happy marriage and home.
Professor Femi Ajibola wasmy former employer and Managing Director of New Nigeria Foundation (NNF). I aspire to build a standard and excellent nonprofit organisation like his and even better. He is one Nigerian that has built a successful Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). I admire him for his intelligence, excellence, good interpersonal skills and humility. He is so successful yet very approachable and humble. He has set up an excellent HR system that empowers and rewards staff accordingly. When it comes to NGO structure, he is someone to learn from. I really do admire him.
Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is another female that inspires me. Her organisation, LEAP Africa has similar focus as my organisation, Saving Hand Development Initiative (SHADE-IN). Hence, she’s a mentor for my nonprofit. I also like the fact that she’s big on social development, social entrepreneurship and business. That’s how I see myself in the future.
Sabina Idowu-Osehobo, the former Executive Director of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) NGO. She gave me a reason to run my NGO when I relocated to Edo State. She provided mentorship to me and my team and introduced us to the LAPO mentoring program which we’ve been gaining from. She opened up her arms to us and she’s part of our success story.
Omobabinrin Adeola Osideko, a woman I discovered few years ago and has had so much influence on my personal brand. She’s my coach and currently my Boss. She’s a woman I admire so much and feel committed to. I have a personal relationship with her even though I’ve not met with her physically. She’s a Queen of Branding and an influencer, yet she’s kind and humble. She made me realize that I can be a global influencer while building my career and personal brand. I got clarity about certain areas of my life through her. She challenges me in so many areas of my life. I have learnt a lot from her.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I hardly have a spare time. My mum used to say to me that 24 hours is never enough for me. But when I do, I like checking up on my emails, social media, watch a movie, study, fellowship with God and brainstorm. Singing is almost part of my daily routine. I can sing and compose songs while doing any chores as the inspiration comes.
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
Why is Leah Sharibu not released up till this moment?
What can be done to secure her release?
Why couldn’t the Chibok girls be rescued up till now?
Why did I lose my Father the way and time he died?
Can you please tell us about the people you admire?
In addition to my mentors, I admire Nkechi Coker. She isa young Data Scientist who inspires me in the area of using data and technology to solve social problems. After I met her for the first time in 2017, I started crushing over her and I used to see her in my dreams, always in professional settings. I admire her a lot. She’s result-oriented just like me.
I also admire Ukinebo Dare. She is the Managing Director of Edo State Skills Development Agency. She’s astute at what she does. I like the way she leverages partnerships to get her work done.
Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, Founder of LAPO Microfinance Bank is one successful Nigerian that has built a successful organisation. I got to learn about LAPO through their NGO which is making good impact. I like him for his simplicity and humility as well.
Above all, my Husband. He’s a friend I admired before I even thought of marriage. I saw a picture of the man I wanted to marry in him, although I didn’t want to marry him for my personal reasons. He has been one of my greatest inspirations. I usually tease him sometimes saying that he seems to know me even better than myself. My husband pushed me into the professional life because he believes so much in me and encourages me to take great strides and career opportunities. There are certain opportunities he has turned down because he felt they did not befit my status or rather my purpose. Whenever I’m in certain dilemma, apart from seeking direction from God, I seek his counsel and they have been useful. I love him and I feel committed to him for life.
Are you in a relationship; if yes, what advice would you give to young couples out there?
Yes, I am married to a man God gifted me and my best friend, Roland Ojeruse.
My advice for young couples:
Communication is everything in marriage. Communication is a two-way thing; it requires giving information and receiving feedback or receiving information and giving feedback. When a partner gives information and cares less about how it is received by their partner, communication has not taken place. This is why it is important to understand your spouse’s love language. If you do not, you may be communicating through a wrong medium/channel or using a wrong communication type. Some Communication media or channels include texting, phone calls, meetings, romantic gestures and lot more. Types of communication include verbal and non-verbal in broad terms. Communicate your joys, pains, displeasures, plans and the likes with your spouses. Communication is built during courtship. Couples should take interest in their spouses, their well-being and seek to please each other. Couples should develop friendship to the point of being besties. If you cannot say that your spouse is your best friend, then you need to work on your marriage or probably you’re in a wrong marriage and have lots of work to do. There’s no need marrying someone you cannot be yourself with and be free to make mistakes and not be afraid that it will be used against you.
It takes humility and brokenness to be able to communicate with your spouse and come to a meeting point despite your differences. It takes genuine love and care not to take each other for granted. That brings me to the next big point – Couples should not take each other for granted. This one means a lot to me because it was my mother’s golden advice before and on my wedding day, which has helped shape my marriage. This is important to couples who become friends before they got married. You should regard your spouse as not just that your friend but as your wife or husband and give them that dignity.
I have lots to say about relationships and marriage because that’s one of my key ministries but I’ll stop here.
Are you ever depressed and why?
Yes. I have been depressed. My first experience of depression was with my first relationship. We were engaged to be married but the relationship turned out to be toxic. I was being emotionally and psychologically abused but I didn’t realize it until I got married to my love and we had to handle a case of someone that was depressed. That experience I had affected my health and self-esteem. God sent my husband, who was then my friend to rescue me from that ordeal. I regained my health and my esteem when I quit, as my friend began to work on my mind through God’s word, inspirationally and motivational words.
After then, I have had one or more depression or near depression issues but not from a romantic relationship. Mostly, from people’s attitudes, disappointments and workplace bullying.
If you are to become the President of Nigeria, what would you do for the youth to deter them from immoralities?
I would spearhead research to ascertain the reasons for immoralities among youths, organise dialogue sessions with them and other stakeholders using different tools such stakeholders’ engagements and others. I would work with stakeholders to review current and existing systems, policies, laws and procedures, restructure existing ones to suit current realities while setting up new ones where necessary to tackle youth immoralities. I would work with the arms of government to ensure the laws are not just passed but enforced with citizens involvement.
I would seek to restructure the National Assembly, Senate, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Government to deliver a transparent and accountable system, leveraging technology and citizens participation. I would seek to revisit the family unit, traditional institution and the religious institutions to all work together for the social good of the youths. Work on improving security and employment, set up structures that will discourage corrupt practices among the elite and provide access to decent jobs for the youth.
What are some of your achievements?
I’m not where I want to be but I’ve made some progress. One day, my husband and I searched for my name on Google and got amazing results that I didn’t even know of. Some media featured news stories from some of my works and I was amazed to know. I have gone to some places and people say they saw me on TV, whereas I didn’t watch the program neither did I know that I was featured.
Let me mention a few of my achievements which I owe to Jesus Christ:
I have co-founded a Nonprofit organization, Saving Hand Development Initiative (SHADE-IN) and a business which are duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The nonprofit is 12 years old but the business is still in the development phase.
I have spoken in different events physically and virtually, organized and facilitated trainings both virtually and physically, provided mentorship and coaching to young persons.
I have managed and participated in projects funded by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) previously Department for International Development (DFID), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Union, multinational companies at different times.
I have provided strategic direction to a network of over 100 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for over 4 years leading to enhanced internal structure, increased visibility and funding.
I serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Oghowa, a digital transformation, social impact and incubation project of Metaspace Consult, a strategic consulting company, alongside other international partners, providing strategic mentorship.
Where do you hope to be in the next four years?
By the help of God, in the next four years, I hope to have established myself as a thought leader in the Nonprofit and private sectors.
I hope to build an enviable nonprofit organisation that will provide a hub for youth education, mentorship, leadership, family and nonprofits development. It’s a massive vision and in the coming years, it will be manifested by God’s hand.
I hope to be the founder and CEO of at least one renowned business or company making massive impact.
I hope to make it into Forbes membership, other professional bodies, acquire many professional certifications and make my mark in the nonprofit and private sectors.
I hope to have spread the practical message of Christ to millions of persons, won thousands to Christ and brought thousands of people especially the youth and women out of poverty around the globe.
I hope to have authored at least 3 books, released at least 20 of my songs and make a mark in God’s kingdom. Las Las as they say informally, meaning at last, this is where I belong and what I represent – God’s kingdom on earth.
Thank you, Bayo Speaks.