For our #BellaNaijaWCW feature this week, we celebrate Tony Joy, the founder of Durian Nigeria, a non-profit helping rural communities, especially women and children, turn waste to wealth and elevate their economic status.
Durian Nigeria trains women and children in a rural community – Imafon – in Akure, the Ondo state capital, to make jewellery, furniture cups, and cutlery from bamboo, as well as school bags, and packaging from waste clothes and water sachets.
Joy named her organisation after the Durian fruit, regarded as the “king of fruits” in some regions. The Durian has a very strong (odour) but tastes really good. Joy’s mission is to empower rural communities to see the beauty in what they call waste and transform it into a means of livelihood.
Durian is an offspring of Making a Difference Foundation which is a registered NGO in Nigeria that’s committed to using waste in creating solutions to social issues.
Joy started her journey in social development in 2015, by organising clean-up exercises in 8 states in Nigeria. She later decided that more could be done with wastes, and this drive led her to Imaafon community where she decided to spend time with the people and empower them.
Between 2018 and 2019, Joy has reached 337 people directly in the local community through trainings and grassroots outreaches with an operating budget of $30,000.
Over half of the participants of its training are currently earning 50% additional income every month, which translates to better livelihood for the women. More kids are now back in school because their parents now earn more to afford it and this has saved most girls from early childhood marriage, sexual abuse and drug abuse.
Durian has trained over 1,550 in vocational skills and through partnerships, has donated 100 back-to-school kits for the community. Because of the success of her work, Joy has been invited to replicate the process in 3 other communities across Nigeria’s south western states of Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo.
Joy, a rural development advocate was a nominee for the Prize for Community Action in the 2019 The Future Awards Africa (TFAA).
She is a Queen Young Leader (2015), an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a LEAP Africa SIP Fellow (2015/2016).
We celebrate Joy for indeed making a difference in the lives of rural community dwellers, and we’re rooting for her!