An American philanthropist Alycia Barnard has kicked off a global campaign aimed at changing how social and economic support to Africa is coordinated and administered by foreign humanitarian organisations for optimum impact.
Through her Alycia Worldwide Inc, Ms Barnard is pushing for a shift from the traditional funnelling of huge sums of money to beneficiaries’ bank accounts to direct agricultural or business inputs to improve access to food, education health and ensure accountability, besides putting a leash on pilferage of donor funding.
Alycia Barnard’s focus is on agricultural and social inputs to break the long cycle of dependency and misappropriation, where the funds disbursed to humanitarian projects in Africa are squandered or misrouted from target projects.
Responding Tell questions via WhatsApp, Alycia explained that her humanitarian programmes espouse skills transfer and development, a component that is absent in humanitarian foreign programmes for Africa and Asia. Tales of financial pilferage are common, with multiple investigations pointing an accusing at the administrators of the funds – foreign and local.
Following a series of posts on social media, Tell reached out to Alycia to shed more light on areas of focus in humanitarian work and what difference she wants to make. In response, she described herself as: “A philanthropist working to provide food to impoverished countries. I support women and children, and I’m willing to provide business and education services available for a fee. I own Alycia Worldwide Inc A 501(3) based in Saint Cloud, Florida.”
Ordinarily, such humanitarian initiatives – whether by the United Nations agencies or other corporate individuals – end at provision of food, second-hand clothing and shelter – usually temporary tents that cannot withstand adverse weather. The value addition in Alycia’s intervention is provision of business and education services that are sandwiched with skills training and transfer.
Evidently, Alycia’s humanitarian initiative is shaped by the parable: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is the essence of Alycia buying seeds to children’s homes to own their own food and have enough to eat.
The philanthropist and her husband Curtis Barnard are joint owners another business – US Doors Direct. Mr Barnard is an entrepreneur and a successful business owner in his own right and supports Alycia Worldwide Inc’s humanitarian work around the world.
She says her business acumen and humanitarian ideas were bestowed on her by her parents – both still alive – where she is the firstborn. “I’m the oldest of three children – the outspoken worker who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. The entrepreneur. The visionary. Social media personality. I enjoy being in charge and I know every aspect of my business – except installations. That’s my husband’s department. I love being an architect. I’m proud to be a social media influencer. My biggest accomplishment in life though is my family,” she explains.
It takes an effort to prise information from Alycia, who, perhaps out of experience on social media chooses deliberately to be vague. However, Tell kept barging her for information until she opened up to shed light on what programmes she is supporting in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, India and Pakistan.
“I’m starting a radio [and television] show tomorrow (Saturday 2, 2023) morning out of Nigeria with over 33,000 followers and viewers. I’m going to speak about my domestic mission to build tiny homes for [war] veterans and my Uganda counterpart is going to discuss our mission in Africa. Keep in mind we are a startup. I’m working to become knowledgeable about all these topics. How this all started was when I became a social media influencer. People all over the world started reaching out to me for help. Primarily, Africa, India and Pakistan. But mostly Africa. So I decided to help them with my foundation that I created three years ago.
To make good her promise for humanitarian support Alycia, through Worldwide Inc, disbursed cucumbers seeds in first week of September to support agriculture in Uganda. “We’re sending 50 packs of [cucumber] seeds to Uganda.” Ordinarily, one packet contains 1,000 seeds – roughly enough to cover two acres of farmland.
Cucumber – a vegetable – is intended supplement nutritional needs for orphaned children in Uganda, most of them rescued from conflicts in western Uganda, neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. However, the vegetable maybe a mismatch for the food needs of a country grows mainly banana, maize and rice as its staples. Besides the three crops, Uganda also produces tonnes of sweet potatoes, cassava, millet, sorghum, sesame and groundnuts. For vegetables, indigenous species are preferred as they are richer in iron, calcium and vitamins that cucumbers.
When the challenge of farming cucumber was point out, Alycia explained: “Right now I am depending on two business partners in Africa. Unfortunately, the kind of crops that they would plant in Africa are not the kind of seeds that I can get from here. However, I’m applying for my NGO (non-governmental organisation) and my tax free licence and I will contact some shipping companies and get some wholesale prices on rice.”
Like many other American businesses and non-governmental organisations, Africa’s geography presents a problem – non-Africans can’t differentiate between individual countries and the continent. It takes a bit of probing to understand whether the reference is Uganda, Nigeria, DRC or Kenya. To get round this challenge, Alycia says she has enlisted the services of businessman to help her understand the mystery that is Africa to non-Africans.
At personal level, she is putting in 14-18 hours per day to understand the needs the continent and how to apply her vast business knowledge to humanitarian work.
“So I found an African business man to teach me about the needs of Africa. Yes, next year I will visit my foundation in Uganda. Until then I have to depend on my business partner in Uganda. But my heart is pure with love for people. My intentions are only to do good things in Africa and other countries,” was her response to Tell.
The Good Samaritan reveals she bought the seeds for the Ugandan project with from the businesses she co-owns with her husband.
“I couldn’t do it without each one of them being supportive of my goals. US Doors is already a successful project. Now let’s see if I can simultaneously lift three companies while making my baby – US Doors Direct – my main job. I’m working with my own small budget to make Alycia Worldwide Inc a success story. My 501C3. To eradicate hunger by providing food seeds so they can grow corn (maize) or to feed the children in children’s homes. Attempt to contract with a rice company to provide rice abroad. Help churches and promote Christianity across the globe,” she says as she outlines her goals.
In addition, she wants to help “provide scholarships in foreign countries with a proper application process. Provide re-building services when and where we can. Our domestic mission is to build tiny homes for communities in rural areas for veterans and creating jobs and growth in those areas.”
Alycia says humanitarian support for victims of the war in Ukraine has equipped her with experience on how to confront the situation in Africa – itself a playground of proxy wars between industrialised countries slugging it out on her soil for unrestricted access to her vast mineral and other natural resources. This is besides religious extremism that has been casting a long shadow over the continent since the turn of the millennium.
“We did donations for Ukraine. Then this came along and I decided to make it a mission to help women and children and support them worldwide. My heart was overwhelmed when they started showing me pictures and videos. I can’t turn them down. So I found an African business man to help teach me about the needs of Africa….I’m working on this project 4-6 hours a day. Besides, I own a digital marketing firm and a roll up door business which is my flagship company. Now I’m a radio show host. I’m an influencer which provides me with the contacts worldwide to do my job effectively. I can’t handle everything alone. I’m developing a team of people right now to take on responsibilities. Especially, in Africa and Uganda,” says Alycia.
Alycia is also keen on sports development in Kenya where she says she is keen on softball and baseball, both of which are largely alien.
- A Tell report