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Chisom 'Sweeny' Onyenze reaches out to women, youth and children through her NGO ICCOWMET: Interview

I was at the US Embassy in Abuja for a YALI Network meeting when I met this wonderful young woman who is a CEO of note. She is a core humanitarian and has very large projects that benefit women's health and children too. Sit back and read our chat, let's catch up with another inspiring Nigerian brand.
Trust me, I took time to drill her...Enjoy!

Tell Us about Yourself?

My name is Swenny. I am a young promising entrepreneur, founder, and CEO and by profession, a medical Laboratory Scientist. I am a graduate of Imo State University Owerri where I bagged a Second Class Upper division. I am the Founder and President of an International organisation called International Compassion Centre for Women and Children Empowerment (ICCOWMET). I am also the Executive director of International Integrated ventures Nig. Ltd and also Sommy International Integrated Ventures.

Are you single?
No. I am married to his Worship Barrister Augustine Chibuike Onyenze and the marriage is currently blessed with 3 children.

I like the way you said, 'currently' (Laughs) and yea good to know you are an Imo Star! I am too!

How can you say your study of Medical Laboratory Science influenced your starting your organisation?

Actually, my profession has little or nothing to do with me founding the Organisation. Instead, i will say, my founding this organisation is purely driven by my passion to impact other people's lives and to help develop my Country and Africa.

Wow! Great! What kind of services does your organisation provide for women and children? Is it an NGO?
Our organisation is purely not-for-profit organisation. It's an NGO. Our work revolves around health, education for with particular focus on the girl child, women empowerment and capacity building, and human rights with the major aim of promoting sustainable community development. Education for all.

Okay. When did you start your organisation and what has the experience been like? 
ICCOWMET started in 2011. It has been a big time experience for me working with women and men of different classes, educational backgrounds and exposures. My experience working with youths is the most challenging with a lot of energy, emotional swings, desire to do everything and above all be among the happening youths with little or no interest to work hard. The older citizens seem to have lost it all. What they want is food on their tables and money for business without commensurate skills to manage the business and the money which has a potential to land them into bankruptcy within a short time. These experiences with rural dwellers and city dwellers has one striking thing in common ; everyone wants money from the easiest possible way, wants to live big without putting much effort and without building much capacity. Most of them lack the patience to develop themselves. They care very little about their health and the health of their families.

What have been your high points in this organisation since you started? 

Since we started, we have not stayed for 3 months without any project. We are project driven. Not just any project. We carry out high impact projects.

What have been your greatest challenge as a CEO? 

My greatest challenge as a CEO has been human resource management.

What are your other interests aside your NGO? 

Aside the NGO work which is not-for-profit, I have interest in industrialization. This I have already started working on. I also have interest in writing and am already a published Author of a Prose Fiction "The gathered Wind-up", it was first published in 2008. I have a lot of articles published in some local daily newspapers. I also have a consulting firm that is focused on mentorship, human resource development and capacity building, project development and implementation.

Great! What do you do for Leisure?
I read a lot, yeah and spend time with my family and occasionally I watch movies as well as inspirational talk shows.

How do you get funding for your projects in Nigeria and abroad?

Through partnership with corporate organisations, well meaning individuals, government agencies, and we get International donor support too.

Which organisations do you hope to work with in future?

USaid, EUaid, UNDP, IVIRGL, Action aid, CDC, Embassies and so on.

What is your advice to upcoming CEOs in the non-profit sector?
To upcoming CEOs, you should be focused on a specific area of interest, build your capacity, do not see it as a business and know that you need to have a reliable source of income generation aside the NGO or as part of the NGO.

What are your concluding thoughts? 

Okay, my last words would be to challenge young people to think big and pursue their dreams with hard work, commitment and prayers. You must surely get there, even if it takes some time be rest assured that you will surely get there. Truly, a purposeless life is hell on earth. Nobody remains the same as the day passes on and time waits for nobody. Great things are best achieved at one's youthful years. You can never be too young for any success you worked hard to earn, but you can be too old to earn success with less energy to work.
Wow! What a great thought there. Thank you.

Swenny can be reached on 08038029885 07018986663, she also blogs at


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