Written by Alex Yastrebenetsky, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Cincinnati, Ohio, and founder of InfoTrust, an award-winning digital analytics consulting and technology company that helps marketers use data to make smarter decisions. The InfoTrust Foundation undertakes charitable events quarterly, including its annual Basket Brigade, which is providing nearly 2,000 Thanksgiving baskets in 2018.
In October 2018, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) was honored by Nuway Foundation for the impact EO is making in helping the United Nations achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. EO’s FY17/18 Global Chair Brian Brault accepted the 2018 International Bridge Award on behalf of EO at Nuway’s annual Bianu Celebration in Cincinnati.
It’s an honor for EO to receive this award, and in my opinion, that honor is amplified by the story behind the foundation that presents the International Bridge Award each year.
What Is Nuway Foundation?
Nuway Foundation is the culmination of hard work and the heart of Evans Nwankwo, a native of Nigeria who runs both his primary construction business and one of the most successful private charitable foundations in Cincinnati, Ohio.
When you meet Evans, the first thing you notice is his smile. His eyes radiate strength and confidence—the confidence of a person who knows his “why” and who will find a way to win. His company, Megen Construction, is synonymous with some of Cincinnati’s most iconic landmarks, including the Fountain Square renovation and Underground Railroad Museum.
While Evans always gave back, his life changed in 2004 when his team built the National Underground Railroad Museum. For Evans, it wasn’t just another project. Being a part of it was one of his proudest moments. Before the museum’s grand opening, he took his wife and business partner, Catherine, for the final walkthrough and saw these words on the wall that changed his life forever:
“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”
Taking these words to heart, his passion became his life’s mission. He launched Nuway Foundation shortly thereafter.
Thirteen years later, Nuway continues its dedicated mission of HOPE for the people of Nigeria:
H – for health. Nuway builds hospitals in Nigeria, pays doctors and nurses and provides medical equipment including the country’s first incubators to save premature babies’ lives.
O – for opportunity. Microlending programs provide zero-interest loans that help entrepreneurs. Repaid funds go toward supporting more entrepreneurs.
P – for pure water. Nuway installs water pumps to provide access to drinking water, so people no longer need to walk miles to bring home a few gallons.
E – for education. Nuway renovates schools and pays teachers’ salaries. Evans’ dream is for the kids, especially STEM students, to come back to these schools 20 years from now and teach the next generation.
How hard would you work as an entrepreneur if you knew that your success directly translates to saving lives? Not in theory, not hypothetically speaking, but on a daily basis. One village at a time.
On that memorable October night when EO was honored, I kept hearing facts that made me feel both sad and proud:
“We survive because of Nuway.”
“Nuway provided us with our first newborn incubator machines which saved countless premature babies.”
“Nuway provided my family with access to clean drinking water.”
The EO Connection
So, how did this connection between EO and Nuway Foundation happen? For years, Evans Nwankwo and Tim Rettig, president of EO Cincinnati, played together on a local recreational soccer team. Through the years, Tim attended many fundraising events held for Nuway and served on its board, so he had an intimate understanding of the good the organization is doing in the world.
On a historic day in September 2017, EO formally committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals that are aimed at eradicating the world’s most important social issues, including wiping out poverty. EO’s delegation, led by then-Global Chair, Brian Brault, later presented EO’s vision at a UN special session in May 2018.
“We have a need, an obligation, a desire to look beyond the walls of our businesses and make a bigger impact in the world.” –Brian Brault, from his speech at a UN special session dedicated to entrepreneurs in conjunction with the International Council for Small Business.
EO’s vision of global entrepreneurs coming together to transform our world has a lot in common with how Nuway Foundation is tackling socioeconomic problems.
Tim saw the video of Brian Brault at the UN and sent it to Evans. He also asked Evans to be the chapter patron for EO Cincinnati. When Evans watched Brian’s speech he felt an immediate connection to an organization of people like him, people who share his values and most importantly, an entire organization committed to the same outcomes that drive Nuway Foundation.
“Our chapter’s theme for the year is Local Connections. Global Reach, and Evans’ story is a perfect example of how that works,” explains Tim. “All of Evans’ local connections support him in both his business efforts and his foundation’s efforts, allowing him to improve the lives of so many people in his native home of Nigeria. Now, with his involvement in EO, we are able to amplify what he is doing to make an even bigger impact. It is really exciting to see all these new connections being made.”
Every year at the annual Bianu event, Nuway Foundation gives an International Bridge award dedicated to connecting this country with countries that are less fortunate economically. EO is honored to be the recipient of the 2018 Nuway International Bridge Award. We here in Cincinnati were very excited to host Brian Brault and hear his speech. As he accepted the award on behalf of EO, Brian shared that after speaking at the UN, our organization was flooded by people expressing interest in engaging with and helping our cause.
“When we share stories, we create momentum. There are thousands of stories of how entrepreneurs are making the world a better place to live. Nuway and EO both believe we can make a more significant difference by paying attention to local issues, opportunities, education, clean water and healthcare,” Brian said in his acceptance speech.
EO supports all of these initiatives by supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we can make a greater difference. Evans is ideally suited to making an impact in the world because, like Brian and all EO members, he is an entrepreneur. He created Megen Construction company, which he has successfully led for 25 years.
Learn more about EO’s support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the #EOImpact site. EO members can even share how they’re impacting lives around the world.
Entrepreneurs Can Make a Difference Like No Others
My mentor and the founder of EO, Verne Harnish, once shared a gem of wisdom at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP), EO’s flagship executive education-style program: “The most important lesson of entrepreneurship is to commit to something really important beyond yourself because you can fail if you are doing it for yourself, but you cannot fail when you have committed to giving to others.”
Why do I say entrepreneurs are so well-suited to making an impact in the world? We enjoy finding answers to tough questions. We are problem solvers. We drive change and transform mindsets. We love being disruptors.
Most importantly, we are stubborn. We don’t take no for an answer. But sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking we can affect change from afar.
It is critical to understand the local component. That’s why Nuway is so impactful in Nigeria. The organization understands the country and the people. This is a wonderful example of why it is so critical to think globally but act locally.
Marianne Williamson said, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” We, as entrepreneurs, have an incredible opportunity. At nearly 14,000 members strong, not only can members of EO make our individual lights shine, but we can focus them to shine more brightly together.
Most of us started our businesses because we were unreasonable enough to truly believe that there is a better way. And reflecting on the wisdom of Verne Harnish, we are now joined by an incredibly powerful “why.” Our lights are shining together to support the least fortunate all over the world, and because we have this why, we are equally unstoppable in our businesses. It’s a powerful combination.
Being unstoppable for a good cause. What could be better?
If you believe in using your success to make a positive impact in the world, you’ll want to learn more about the nearly 14,000 EO members around the world. Check out what it’s like to be an EO member.