Empowering widows goes beyond giving them cash –Dr Akaenyi


Dr. Vivian Ebelechukwu Akaenyi is a medical aesthetics non-surgical doctor. She is the CEO of Skin Salva Med Spa. She graduated in 2021 from the University of Turkey, Nisantasi, Istanbul, where she studied medical education.

She has two factories, a blocking moulding factory in Lekki and a factory in Bariga where she makes doors and kitchen cabinets.

Dr Akaenyi founded Katalog Charity Foundation in 2016 to rescue and empower impoverished widows. The foundation advocates for children in schools by raising awareness about child abuse. She registered her first company in her second year in the university and made her first one million Naira at the age of 18. Katalog Foundation started as a passion she did out of the abundance of her heart.

Currently, Katalog Charity Foundation is working on Project Rescue Widows. The goal of 100 stories representing 100 lives is to empower 100 widows in Lagos’ suburbs.

In this interview, with Dr Akaenyi talks about medical aesthetics, the side effects of using Botox and fillers, growth in the industry that inspired Katalog Charity Foundation, and her Project Rescue Widows.

As a doctor of medical aesthetics what services do you provide? I’m a doctor in medical aesthetics, I am a non-surgical doctor. In my field, we work with hyaluronic acid. Rather than taking you under the knife to achieve the desired outcome, we work with fillers. We give you solutions. Instead of cutting you open and getting this fixed here and getting that fixed here, we give you solutions. We have products that we work with to give you the same result you are looking for without surgery.

If you want a fuller breast or standing breast, we have a procedure for that without surgery. For a flat tummy, we have procedures without surgery I provide Botox services, using injections on the face to fill up all the wrinkles.

We provide services that help clients to get rid of wrinkles, and also to fill up the face. If you want to lose some weight on your face right now, I would slim down your face in about 40 minutes and you see the result.

Do you see its growth in the medical aesthetics industry?

Medical aesthetics is a multi-million dollar business right now. It’s fast-growing. It keeps growing as the day goes by. So let me be honest with you, in this business, I have 70% male clients. They take care of their skin. They come to fill up their skin as well, to do fillers on their skin, clean up their skin. Women use cream, men don’t have the patience for cream, so they come outrightly. Women would find the cheaper one, which is cream. I also have an aesthetic academy where people come, pay and learn.

What about, let’s talk about the side effects? No side effects. When you get side effects in anything in life is when you abuse it. Anything you abuse comes with a side effect. So as long as you don’t abuse it, as long as you stay safe, you know, that’s 100% okay.

For Botox do you take it once a year or once every two weeks and at what age should an individual start?
Is it once a year, if you must take Botox, it’s a 12-month to 18-month interval. Well, some people age fast. So it’s quite dicey. I have gotten patients as young as 25. I have gotten patients as old as 70 to come to do their filling.

Tell us about Project Rescue Widows.

We are touring all of Nigeria’s states, attempting to select 100 widows per state with the primary goal of alleviating poverty.

We plan to be able to reach 1,000 widows every year. So if we’re looking at reaching 1,000 widows every year, we’re looking at combining 10 states in Nigeria.

We want to lift them out of poverty, structure their lives, and restore what they have lost. These widows, who are mostly homeless, are the primary caregivers for their small children.

Our main goals are to identify the skills these widows possess, the things they were doing before losing their balance, and the things they can start doing right away. They can start doing something else if they decide they no longer want to carry on with what they are doing. Therefore, we find a way to equip them with whatever it is.

We have profiled the 100 widows who were chosen from among the 20 local governments in Lagos State, Nigeria; however, the main event, which will provide them with startup capital, and equipment is scheduled for September 8.

What were the criteria for selecting these widows?

It was difficult to choose these widows; during the profile process, five or seven women who were not widows came forward to identify as widows.

For the widows, we ensure that their husbands are truly dead. The project does not include baby mamas or single mothers. Our focus is on widows—those who have lost hope, become unbalanced, whose in-laws have amassed everything they own, and those who do not even know where their next meal is coming from.

The least that well-meaning Nigerians can do is rise and assist those who are living in extreme poverty in their nation, Nigeria. I urge Nigerians to step outside of their comfort zone and do what is necessary. If you do not see it as a show of love, consider it a show of self-improvement.

What’s the budget for this upcoming widow’s empowerment?

We’re looking at buying not just machines for these women. We already did profiling, as I mentioned.

A few of them already said they want a tailoring machine. A few of them said they wanted a grinding machine. A few of them are too old for us to even start a business for them.

A few of them live on the streets of Lagos. They don’t have a home. So they need shelter, not machines. In our previous outreach, we rented houses for some widows who lived on the streets. We paid two years’ rent for them. Every six months, we give them food, money, and cash gifts. We have given them 200,000 Naira each to start up the little small-scale business that they intended to do. So it goes beyond buying machines for these.

You are a skin care specialist, who is into beauty and fashion, what inspired this outreach to widows?
It came from a place of generosity, love, care, and compassion. I reached out to others with what little I had.

As a child, I never ate alone, and I always shared what little I had with others. I prefer to eat with others, so my mother would usually invite the neighbourhood kids over. Because she knows for certain that I would not eat that food alone.

I was fortunate to grow up around people who truly understood the meaning of love. I felt loved from the start, despite not knowing what that meant from my father or my siblings.

When did you start this journey, and how has it been so far?

I started in 2016 two years after moving to Lagos, but we were incorporated in 2022. However, it started when I was in school. I started empowering women financially. It has consistently been a way of life moving forward. I therefore would not say that I began on this day or that day.

Seeing so many beggars on the streets of Lagos brought me to tears and broke my heart. When I got back home, I decided to start an empowerment scheme. Initially, I would distribute cooked food, water, Ribena, and packets of indomie to beggars on the street in Lagos.

How many people have you empowered in terms of this kind of project that you’re taking on now?
It has not been a wonderful experience, I must say. It is satisfactory. It gives me satisfaction to do these things. But it’s very depressing because there are people you meet on the street, you find out you cannot help them, you are depressed automatically meeting them. Because these ones are going through hell. Because 99.9% of the time, you might not know what to do. It goes beyond just giving money. If you choose to listen to these people you will find out that you feel their pain.

Is this the first time you’re having a focus project, like, that’s directed at widows?

No, 2018 was the first outreach we had for 100 widows. We ended up empowering 104 widows. It was held in Abagana in Anambra State. What we did with them then was share food items and cash gifts as well. In 2022, we empowered 124.

I have single-handedly sponsored the projects till last year, 2023, when we decided to launch of Katalog Foundation. That was the first time we got sponsors. Before then, everything, 100%, I did on my own.

Are you by any chance wanting to collaborate with the government and just want to do this on your own?

Currently, we are doing this on our own. If we have collaborations from the government, fantastic.

It will be easier for us to move and get into other states as well. If we have collaborations from the government, Lagos, for example, it will be fantastic. It will make it easier for us to deliver.

It will make it easier for us to adopt more widows within the process. In the meantime, we are looking at 100 widows according to our capacity. But with the collaboration from governments across other states, it could be the decisive factor in the next state we would get into.

So being a woman, what does it mean to you?

I am the wrong person to ask that because I do not know what it means to be a woman. I am a lady. I don’t understand what it is to be a woman anymore. I don’t do this type of tush-tush, all I know is just dress decently, dress well, and be happy with myself. I mould blocks. I am in a site, currently moulding blocks for them. After this interview, I’m going straight to the site where we are moulding for the client that is building.

To be honest with you, it has been five years since I last put lotion on my skin. Given my degree of knowledge, I take care to prevent my skin from shrinking, as you are aware that dehydration is the cause of shrinking skin.

Leave a reply