At just 25 years, Aisha Ali is the founder of I Profile Foundation, an organisation that looks to empower children in financial literacy, leadership and entrepreneurship. Aisha had her first bank account at the age of eight and her father helped save until she was fifteen years old. Despite that, she appreciates the fact that the saving culture in Africa is generally poor, especially among children and the youth.
“When you are young, all you think of is YOLO, You Only Live Once,” Aisha says, “and so you only care about that moment right now, gratifying your desires immediately without thinking about the future.”
It is from this background that she decided to teach and empower children with saving skills. So in 2016 she started this journey in just four schools with the aim of addressing the financial literacy problem and instilling or nurturing the saving culture in primary school children, she wanted them to know that each coin multiplies over time. She also knew that if not started early, as the children grew older it would become harder to break the non-saving YOLO habits.
Aisha has always loved children but did not know the best way to share knowledge and skills with them but through I Profile she is living her dream. She remembers encountering a Primary Two child who was saving his coins in a hairspray tin he kept with the headteacher and he faithfully saved 100UShs daily because he wanted to buy land.
She calls it “ a priceless feeling” to have contributed to this positive change and takes pride in seeing children and parents grow in this journey. However, as it is there is no success without challenges. Aisha admits that starting out was exciting but at the same time scary. She recalls the time when she had no partners and was having sleepless nights, had to do a lot of research and invest in a lot of hard work to get results. She has had to knock on many doors and even though she got a no that did not stop her. Often times the budget was not sufficient and yet the programs had to run as planned.
She has also had to deal with procrastination as a perfectionist and get things done. She says, “I had to learn how to curb procrastination. Because I wanted perfection I kept pushing things off but now I know that each step only gets you closer to your vision”
She has also learnt patience and tolerance and is grateful for the strong team she works with that share her vision. She is also grateful to her mentors that have and continue to shape her, have nominated and introduced her to different people and platforms. Her inspiration comes from her parents, siblings and friends that have always been there for her in every way.
Aisha advises young dreamers to have passion but also keep pushing because sometimes the journey to living your dream is like a rollercoaster, exciting and yet you sometimes feel like throwing up. She urges young people to invest in themselves, do whatever it takes to accumulate knowledge, have self discipline and use their time well. Most important of all to be intentional, if you sent out to do something, do it.