Preparations are in top gear for the breast cancer awareness and fund-raising initiative, Genevieve Pink Ball 2014, slated for Saturday, October 18. Publisher of Genevieve magazine, Mrs. Betty Irabor revealed what inspired the event and Genevieve Pink Ball Foundation.
She also enumerated some challenges and progress they have made so far in creating the much needed awareness for breast cancer.
On the prospect of Genevieve magazine after ten years, Mrs. Irabor said the publication is moving in the right pace and direction. She spoke on sundry issues bordering on family and business.
Why establish a foundation to take care of cancer patients?
We decided to set up a foundation in order to increase awareness of breast cancer and emphasise the importance of early detection and reduce death by breast cancer by providing screening, diagnostics and access to treatment for all women regardless of their ability to pay.
A lot of money is needed to carry out treatment and sensitisation, how does your organisation raise such huge funds and what is the progress made so far this year?
In the past, we relied on donations from good-willed individuals and corporate bodies to give to this cause. We have also been engaged in a number of fundraising drives. It is always a momentous task but I have never been accused of dreaming small and this year, our dream is one of those beautifully formed, monumental one.
Our aim is to provide FREE treatment to 100 cancer patients. We believe it can be done.
And what’s more, we already know how. We are asking everyone to Adopt a Patient just by being a partner of the Pink Ball. The response is encouraging so far and we already have great support but we continue to appeal for more individuals and companies to please, adopt a patient.
How does an indigent patient access this benefit?
We are working with local cancer NGO’s and health centers to provide names of patients in serious need of treatment. We also encourage indigent patients to apply through our office, or through a cancer organization.
What has been the impact of the last two editions on the purpose the foundation was set up?
With the funds raised, we were able to buy a mammogram machine in 2005 and to empower other cancer charities in 2009. The Mammogram Machine was donated to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and was a timely donation for cancer patients who were previously unable to afford proper diagnosis.
Genevieve pioneered the mass Cancer Awareness Campaign in Nigeria through the Pink Ball. Many cancer NGOs have sprung up since then, and we continue to work with some of them to reduce death from breast cancer by providing early detection/screening, diagnostics and access to treatment.
What is the shape of this year’s event?
The Genevieve Pink Ball 2014 aims at continuing the movement it started with the two previous editions by creating more awareness and providing treatment. The ball is scheduled to hold on October 18, 2014, and will surpass the previous editions.
We expect a capacity crowd of 1,200 including cancer survivors. The purpose of the ball will be highlighted through a well-researched documentary. The Pink Ball is the original party for a purpose! We are sending a message to cancer that it cannot beat us down and remove our femininity or humanity. The beauty of it is that every ticket and donation contributes to our fight against cancer.
What are the structures on ground to continue with the foundation?
The Genevieve Pink ball Foundation (GPF) has its own devoted work force running the affairs. It has an office within the Genevieve space until the foundation can stand alone. Funding for the GPF comes from donations and sponsorships .The GPF is not dependent on me as the founder. It’s a legacy I hope will outlive me.
Also this year, Genevieve magazine clocked 10. How does it feel to have run a publication for that period in a system that doesn’t support entrepreneurship?
The past decade has been one of trials and tribulations on the business front but entrepreneurism is all about taking risks and overcoming obstacles. The business environment is very competitive, and it gets more so every year.
So, if you ask me how I feel, I will say fulfilled, knowing that we have been satisfying the same readership niche for years and outlasting most of our competitors while doing so. It’s a sense of pride and relief knowing that you have a brand that makes a difference in people’s lives. That alone makes it worth the while, despite the system’s limitations.
What would you say is the sustaining power of the publication?
There are many factors that have sustained this publication over the years, first of which is a solid team. One that bends over backwards to make sure they satisfy their readers. The other factor will be a clear vision, mission or a goal, something that we are working towards, never looking back.
Many times the going has been tough, but keeping your eye on the ball, makes it that much easier. Most publications don’t last because the vision isn’t clear, therefore the passion fizzles out at the first sign of trouble.
Another factor that is as important as the rest is the demand for the content within those glossy pages. Our readers are the reason we do this, so if we have sustained it over the years, it is because there is someone who depends on us to deliver, and we are not in the habit of disappointing our readers.
What are the challenges posed by the presence of online publication?
These challenges are a natural cycle, therefore, if one is prepared, those challenges become opportunities. The truth is the print version of our magazine is threatened by an evolving reading culture and changing reader habits, due to the ease and convenience of getting the same information on smartphones and other devices.
This advancing technology also makes it harder to convince our advertisers of the need for print, as they believe the target audience is gravitating towards online. This threatens part of our revenue stream.
However, online publication is still a while away from fully replacing print. The presence of online publication also gives an opportunity for other publications to come into existence, without fear of a huge start up, consequently heating up the business climate. That competition is actually good for the publishing landscape, as it guarantees a high standard in quality of the publications.
So, as mentioned, these challenges are a natural cycle, one we intend to evolve, which is why we have introduced the online version of our magazine, the Genevieve magazine app. What would have been a challenge in the coming years, has become an opportunity to reach a new readership, while still maintaining our core readers interests via print and at the same time, maintaining our advertisers patronage.
Can you still recollect the highest selling edition of the magazine?
The highest selling edition is the post Pink Ball edition in 2005 (I think it was published in June of that year).
Which was the lowest selling edition?
That would be our first issue.
Which is the best story ever written by the magazine?
I believe Mrs. Sola Adeoti’s testimonial on surviving breast cancer shocked many readers. It was a no-holds barred interview, especially as only a few had opened up on their cancer travails as she did. She didn’t sugar coat it at all. Of course, most of our stories are empowering. Our stories speak to you.
What are the lessons learnt publishing for 10 years?
Genevieve magazine turned 11 this year; our 10th anniversary was in 2013. Publishing is not for the faint of heart; there are many obstacles to surmount at each stage. There is no comfort zone in publishing; you can’t rest on your oars. No publisher has quite mastered the act of effective distribution. 11 years later, we are not anywhere near finding a lasting solution to distribution.
It also doesn’t help that we have to source dollars to print abroad because we want the very best for our readers. At the end of the day, the profit margin on sales is so slim. The short fall comes from advertising only if you have built advertising confidence in your brand.
How does one succeed publishing a journal in the mode of Genevieve?
It’s always very difficult to build a sustainable business because of several factors, and most especially the Nigerian factor but we have managed to stay relevant. It’s very important to remain relevant, especially with publishing. You have to have an edge.
You have to innovate; you can’t afford to remain stagnant in a constantly changing world. You have to continue to evolve. Readers have a certain expectation that you are obliged to meet from edition to edition.
Would you say you are on course with the dream that propelled the setting up of the magazine?
We are definitely on course with the dream. We are oftentimes discouraged but never enough to throw in the towel. The future belongs to those who believe in the power (and beauty) of their dreams. Dreams die for lack of nurture, so we must continue to nurture our dreams and continue to set new goals and targets.
This year also you and your husband celebrated 31 years of marriage. What has helped you in running your business and the home front?
We talk a lot about work-home balance but it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially as more and more women are literally married to their jobs and spending less time with the family. It is a woman who makes a marriage work even though it invariably takes two to make it a success.
One of the things that worked in my favour is the fact that I became an entrepreneur later in life, when my children didn’t need me as much as they would have if they were babies. I am also grateful that I am blessed with an amazing husband who encourages me to be a winner.
Being in the same profession ensures that he understands what I am going through at every stage of the business. My children also played their part in my success. I would say to every woman out there, “Do not sacrifice your marriage-family on the altar of success. It will come back and haunt you.” And at the end of the day, it’s all about giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Some women place work over family with far- reaching consequences.
What are the lessons learnt in marriage for those 31 years?
I have learnt that it takes grace; of course, each person must bring something into the marriage. I would recommend that couples refresh their minds with 1st Corinthians 13 verse 1 to 13. It’s the ideal marriage manual.
Over these years, marriage couldn’t have been a bed of roses. When you have issues, how do you resolve them?
There’s nothing like a bed of roses in any relationship, least of all marriage, you just find a way to make it work. As long as you’re both committed to each other you can make it work. Each marriage has its own peculiarities. My husband and I have come this far by learning from our mistakes and determined to make our marriage work. When we have issues we deal with them before they get out of hand. I think every couple has an approach to settling issues without necessarily having to slug it out.