Rita Ezenwa Okoro is the C.E.O and Principal Communications Consultant of ‘Rita Omovbude Consult (ROC)’ and Founder/Lead Visionary of Street Project Foundation.
She is a performance activist that uses creative arts as a tool to facilitate youth employment, social mobilization, and cross-cultural dialogue.
Among her remarkable achievement is training over 1500 women in business.
Born on September 16 into the family of Barrister David Omovbude and Mrs. Elizabeth Omovbude as the last child in the family of six.
She is from Edo State and married to Ezenwa Okoro from Abia State.
I attended St Jude’s private school, in Festac Town, Lagos, during my early years and graduated in 1991.
I gained my Senior Secondary School Certificate in 1997 at the Nigerian Navy Secondary school.
In 2001, I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Artsfromthe University of Lagos.
After ten years of work experience, I decided to get a Master of Science degree in Media and Communications at the School of Media and Communications, Pan Atlantic University, which I received in 2013.
I started Street Project Foundation in 2008 and as much as I wanted it to run as a not-for-profit, I desired a self-sustaining and diversified organisation led by young people for their development.
As a result, I started with what I had, which at the time was a career in Advertising where I learned about branding and merchandizing.
My first venture for building a sustainable organisation was selling branded T-shirts to raise funds for youth development projects.
We started out by working first with young people in orphanages and young people from impoverished and disadvantaged communities.
What continues to drive us at Street Project Foundation is our belief that young people can make a sustainable living doing what they love, and our numerous projects reflect this school of thought.
In 2002, I was a tutor, speech therapist, and trainer for children living with autism and cerebral palsy – an experience that fuels my desire for a more inclusive society.
I also served at Women’s Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF) as Program Officer in charge of the Youth Desk. Following this, I became a Consultant for an NGO called Human Support Services (HSS) in the year2004.
In a bid to explore my passion for singing, I worked at Ayobankole’s Studio, as a trainee sound engineer, it was in this process that I stumbled intoAdvertising because of my constant contact with executives from agencies who wanted to produce radio commercials.
With this exposure, I started my career in Advertising at Explicit Communications as a Copywriter in September 2004.
I worked in several other agencies after that; Prima Garnet Ogilvy, 141 Worldwide, SO&U Saatchi and Saatchi, Quest Publicis and Yellow Brick Road.
Then in 2014, I was awarded the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) a program of the U.S department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Upon my return from the United States, I began my consultancy firm ‘Rita Omovbude Consult’ and started running ‘Street Project Foundation’ full-time.
Part of your career focus is on helping start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses. What successful business secret can you give to those trying to start up their business today?
Start by putting the right structures in place, even if you don’t have the human resource.
I started my first office on Facebook.
Even if you do not have a capital, register a company, or even a business name.
Ensure you are a legal business entity.
It took me longer to get to where I am today because I did not put certain structures in place when I ought to.
Build your capacity in line with your business and ensure you are competent at what you do.
If it means being an apprentice, do not hesitate.
Ensure you have a strategy, a digital presence, and a brand identity of what you represent.
What is your typical day like?
When I wake up, I take time to pray and have an hour and a half walk with my husband.
I take a bath, do a couple of house chores and get to work.
What gift do you cherish to date and who was it from?
I have two most cherished gifts, although not physical.
First, the gift of education from my mother and father, they provided an enabling environment for learning despite all odds.
The second is from my husband and it is the gift of an enabling environment to pursue my dreams without hesitation.
Three fashion accessories you would always have on you.
Wedding ring, earrings, and a wristwatch.
Best travel destination
Your best mode of relaxation
Last good book read and how it influenced you
The Overweight Brain by Lois Holzman.
What is your best food?
You can’t go wrong with chicken, chips, and lots of ketchup with a smoothie to go with it.
How would you define style and what type of style are you comfortable in?
Style for me is an extension and expression of one’s personality.
I like a fusion of traditional and contemporary fashion.
If I am wearing a top, there would always be a touch of Ankara mixed with a plain fabric.
I would top it up with jewelry made out of upcycled plastics.
Favorite fashion designer
Lapizuli designs! She is into recycled and upcycled art, she understands my fashion aesthetics.
When she does it, it looks premium but it’s affordable.
I also have her artworks on my walls.
Favorite perfume, designer bag and, shoes
For my perfumes, as long as it smells good, I am good.
I use ‘Into The Night’, I also have Victoria’s secret fragrance called ‘It’s So Sexy’; that I use it now doesn’t mean I use it all the time. For the designers, I would say Michael Kors.
One advice of mum that has stuck with you
To be circumspect when I speak and to understand whom I am talking to.
Really, there’s a way you speak to people and you might be sending the wrong message across.
My mum was the first person who always made me think before I speak.
What advice do you have for women who aspire to be like you?
Nurture your talent, follow your passion and find ways to express them.
You can achieve this through consistent practice in your field of endeavour.
So that whenever opportunities comeyour way, either spontaneously or planned, you are prepared, and that will be your time to shine.
However, I do not think I am created to inspire one gender.
I believe whatever I do inspires both genders.
What is your favourite, colour, weather and why?
I’ve got two colours I really like, purple and orange.
I love it when the weather is just right, not too cold or too hot.
Your favorite day of the week and why?
I work from home every day, so my favourite day of the week is the day I choose to rest.
Beauty routine, if you have any?
I’ll always cleanse my face and moisturize my skin.
There’s always shea butter somewhere in the house, so you know what that means.
Moisturize from my hair to the sole of my feet.
What are your achievements?
‘Digital Amazons’ – a program designed by Street Project Foundation, aimed at getting young female creatives to build competencies in male dominated digital creative skills.
Our goal was to build their capacities in graphics design, content writing, digital marketing, photography, video editing and animation, and facilitate employment opportunities for them.
In collaboration with the committee of Women in Advertising (WIA) of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) we were able to place 80% of female creatives trained into paid internships and 25% of them havesecured full-time jobs earning an average of over N100,000 monthly as entry-level salaries.
‘Creative Youth Boot Camp’ – Also a program by Street Project Foundation designed to build the capacities of young people and secure internship and mentorship placements for them.
Till date over 300 young people have gone through the program with 50% securing jobs and starting out own business and those in school having a clear direction of what they want to do in life.
I have trained over 1,500 women in business and as a business coach to some of them who have secured millions of naira for their tech startups.
I can go on and on, but I consider myself a work-in-progress. What thought makes you feel most fulfilled?
Reflecting on how my work has developed me as a person and how youths who have passed through our programs are becoming the best versions of themselves by being economically empowered and socially conscious about their existence in the ecosystem.
The ripple effect of social impact work is amazing.
How has your work developed you?
Working with young people has built my capacity for more.
I am a serial entrepreneur;so, I am constantly thinking up strategies and solutions that can help the development of young people in Nigeria.
Economic, mental, social, and physical empowerment of young people to become the best versions of themselves.
Mandela Washington Fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a program of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Global fellow of the prestigious International Society of the Performing Arts (ISPA) New York.
Lagos State award of excellence in youth and social development
Extraordinary Women Award in France
Next Generation Leaders Award
Honoree of the Future Awards
Recipient of the Champion of Change Award
Role models in life
Nelson Mandela for his vision, selflessness, and resilience.
For Oprah Winfrey, when I see a woman with my same skin colour at world level accomplishing much, I am inspired as onein the communications field as well.
What would you tell a younger you?
Dear Rita, you do not know what tomorrow holds, make the most of today.
What is guaranteed is now, make the best of it.
One fashion accessory you cherish to date and why?
My wedding ring because I love my husband so much.