Odihi is a Vancouver-based charity that aims to educate, equip, and empower BIPOC women by providing free educational access and creating a safe space for learning and expanding knowledge. Odihi seeks to change the narrative of Black and Indigenous Women of Colour (BIWOC) by helping them receive the tools and support they need to succeed in life, career, and business. We spoke with Efe Fruci, the Founder and Executive Director of Odihi, to gain insight into the organization’s mission and efforts to create more access to educational resources and opportunities for BIPOC women.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Odihi (meaning “The Essence of Greatness” in the Nigerian dialect Edo) is a Vancouver-based and global serving charity founded by Efe Fruci. Birthed from the hardships of Black women striving to be seen, valued, and heard in their education and careers, our mission is to educate, equip, and empower BIPOC women.
Our goal is to provide free educational access to BIPOC girls and women. To create a safe space where they can feel seen, heard, and able to learn and expand their knowledge no matter their socio-economic background.
Although our core focus is connecting BIPOC women to resources, we’ve begun bridging the gap for accessibility through our diverse and representative community events and social impact. Where women’s talents, skills, and creativity can be nurtured, gain visibility, be supported and invested in.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Creating more access to educational resources, learning and mentorship, and also changing the narrative of Black and Indigenous Women of Colour (BIWOC) and helping them receive the tools and support they need to succeed in life, career and business.
When did you start/join it?
Odihi was founded in 2020, and we officially began running workshops Jan 2021 till the present.
What made you want to get involved?
As a young girl growing up and having a passion for STEM, I didn’t see a lot of women who looked like me in those spaces and in leadership roles, I also didn’t have a lot of mentors outside of my mum. But at an early age, I could see a lot of Black and women of colour struggling to find mentors in the field of their interest who looked like them or spaces where they can gain access to learning with peers who looked like them that were safe and welcoming and for many women like me there were the constant financial struggles to have access to educational resources, attended conferences/event or even to secure paid internship during college. I started this organization because I wanted to give our members the chance to thrive, to be seen, to have access to education and to be able to learn and take up space in rooms often not welcoming to BIPOC women.
I got involved because it is my responsibility to pay it forward and help other girls and women to pave the way for them in the same way my mum, my closest friends and since growing community did for me.
What was the situation like when you started?
We noticed there was a need for mentorship, further learning and for our community to not just be serving but be thriving in their
lives, careers and business because they deserve it. We connected with women who aspired to work in board and leadership roles but were been overlooked for opportunities they were good at, overlooked for promotions and even access to learning, mentorship in their workplace and studies and we wanted to ensure that we ease that struggle but curating spaces for leaders, educators and experts to come to us and share their knowledge with our community so that it is easily accessible for them, giving them the opportunity to also expand and diversify their networks through these interactions.
How has it changed since?
We have seen a shift from our community members to other women of color we speak with that change is happening slowly, we are not there yet with education and financial equality but many leaders are starting to create inclusive spaces and have been a part of the change, from sharing their knowledge with us and various other organization paving the way for the innovators, changemakers of the world to be part of the conversation and supporting us with our mission to see no woman of colour left behind anymore.
What more needs to be done?
We hope to see more youth in boardroom and leadership roles, learning and feeling empowered by other leaders who have walked the path before them to know her to lead into the future, spreading knowledge and wisdom one conversation, one mentoring from one woman at a time.
How can our readers help?
There are various ways to get involved:
– Financial support (either as a monthly donor or supporting one of our programs) and help us continue our mission
– Recruit from our directory of young talented women when you have openings for summer jobs, paid internships, and full-time roles where they can learn and build their way up.
– Volunteers as a facilitator, speaker or lead a workshop with and for us
– Add us to your company giving program and support us with spreading the word about our organization and the work we are doing
– Sponsor a woman to go through our mentoring and boardroom program
– Share resources your organization may have that involve further learning that we can give access to our members to keep advancing
their learning skills
– Support our wellness programs and run a workshop that enhances mental and overall wellness in our community
– Be our sponsor, partner or reach us to us to see what our immediate needs are
– Give us access to their office space for us to use for team meetings, workshops and our events
Do you have any events coming up?
Yes! We have a few big events coming up in July and September.
On September 16th at the Massey Theatre (New Westminster), we’re having our “Bigger Ideas” Conference – an amazing start for women wanting to “learn practical tools to succeed in life, career, and business. To feel seen and get the opportunity to lean in, learn and feel supported.”
Kwomais- Boardroom & Leadership Training. Educating and equipping BIWOC youths under 35 with board governance and leadership training who aspires to work in high-level business positions to be better equipped and prepared for future opportunities.
Where can we follow you?