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Meet Onome Ako, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Social Change — National Impact Finalist

Onome Ako is the Chief Executive Officer of Action Against Hunger Canada, an international humanitarian organization that fights hunger and its root causes worldwide. She brings her passion for community-led approaches to address one of the most basic human rights—the right to food—through fighting hunger and malnutrition. Ako has led initiatives in more than 20 countries with organizations including Amref Health Africa, World Vision Canada, AfricaRecruit (a program of the Commonwealth) and UNESCO-Regional Bureau for Education. She holds a B.A. in English from the Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria, an M.A. in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Ahmadu Bello University Nigeria, and an M.Sc. in Management of NGOs and Social Policy from the London School of Economics. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and is a member of the advisory committee for the Centennial College International Development program. She was named to the 2020 Canadian Women in Global Health list, recognized as one of 2021 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, named a Hero for Children by World Vision Canada, and was the recipient of their “Voice of the Children” Award.


The moment I knew I wanted to catalyze social change was… when I observed my parents address inequalities in my neighbourhood and community through their acts of service such as providing clean drinking water to our community or starting up savings schemes to ensure women had access to financial capital to start their businesses.

My mission aims to create a positive impact by… empowering and uplifting others.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a change leader is… when we lead with authenticity we cultivate trust, transparency, and genuine connectivity to drive lasting impact.

My proudest accomplishment is… being an example for my daughter and demonstrating to her that she can achieve anything she sets her mind to, while also inspiring her to make a positive impact in the world and treat people with empathy and kindness.

The biggest risk I took that paid off was… going to learn French in a country that was on the brink of political turmoil that became a violent conflict. That decision led to a few things: having another working language to use, beginning my career in international development, and selecting Canada as my new home.

My biggest setback has been… leaving my home country, and subsequently, the UK where I had to leave my close-knit family and friends to migrate to Canada.

I overcame it by… investing in my new environment and establishing new connections, building my career, and making peace with the winter!

One of the most important lessons I’ve gained from my experience within the sector is… the need to humanize statistics, ideologies, and perceptions.

I surprise people when I tell them… I am a soon-to-be-published children’s book author.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would use it to… spend time with my daughter and aging parents, drawing from their wisdom and celebrating the connection across three generations, especially in a world that can be so busy and life so flitting.

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… about my ambidexterity. I can do most things with my left hand, however, I write with my right hand.

The future excites me because… the bold actions that we make today can contribute to making a positive impact on tomorrow.


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