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Afam Onyema – Jeopardy, Building Relationships, and The Organization Saving Nigeria

Afam was born on the south-side of Chicago. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in psychology and played on the 1997 Ivy league championship-winning football team. Afam is also a Stanford Law graduate where he served as VP of the Black Law Students’ association, he was a two time public interest fellow, and a mentor in the school’s public interest mentor program.

In addition to his school accolades, He was named to the New Leader Council’s (NLC) “40 under 40” national list of emerging leaders in addition to being named to NBC News’ “100 People Making History Today”. Afam has been profiled or interviewed by NPR, US News & World Report, Forbes,com, Newsweek, Harvard Magazine, Stanford Magazine, and many others. He has given a TEDx talk and has presented at some of the most prestigious universities throughout the nation.

Afam forwent the prestigious, lucrative life of an attorney to run the GEANCO Foundation, a philanthropic health & education organization he co-founded with his father. GEANCO has been serving impoverished communities’ medical and educational needs in Nigeria since 2005. Donors include: Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Ronnie Lott, Warren Moon, Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs, and Wall Street Investors.

GEANCO’s mission is to save and transform lives in Nigeria. Afam is one of the most intelligent, empathetic, incredibly gifted individuals I have had the honor of knowing for the past 25 years. This episode will make you realize just how much one person can make the world a better place. I hope everyone enjoys this conversation as much as I did.

Without further adieu, please enjoy Episode 2 with my good friend Afam Onyema.

Links from the episode:

Show Notes:

  • The experience of Jeopardy [3:40]
  • Personal background [12:45]
  • Growing up in Nigeria [16:15]
  • The dream of Geanco and modern day medicine [17:00]
  • Making an impact & the aids crisis [20:05]
  • Making the decision to lead Geanco [22:20]
  • The fork in the road [23:45]
  • Funding the first year of Geanco [26:40]
  • Geanco’s Mission [27:50]
  • Anemia Screening [31:15]
  • Terrorism in Nigeria and the girls affected [34:43]
  • Cases of serious medical conditions [36:40]
  • What Geanco is doing to help the children of Nigeria [42:10]
  • The ongoing violence in Nigeria [47:15]
  • How do you get in front of big name donors? [51:30]
  • Most memorable moment of one of first donors [1:01:05]
  • Are the bigger donors a lightning rod for other donors? [1:08:21]
  • Advice and roadblocks to someone looking to start a charity. [1:15:20]
  • What is Geanco capable of? [1:23:08]
  • Would you change anything? [1:25:35]
  • Quotes you live by? [1:26:03]