#Rendezvous: A Leap of Faith in the Dark

Things began to sink in the planning of #Rendezvous from the last week of June. A panelist pulled out. We tried to find a replacement but none worked – everyone seemed to be engaged. Then, sponsors whom we had opened conversations with went incommunicado. I began to send late proposals to persons, organizations, companies. Everyone said they’d get back to us. Time was counting down and all we heard was silence.

The Pass-Fee for Rendezvous was N2,500 and about 15days to the event, we still had just 6 paid participants! We had booked an executive space that would cost about 100k to seat 100-120 people. I spoke with an egbon, Mike Adegun of Mike & Mary’s Catering. He suggested we slashed the price and we did from N2,500 to N1,000.

Yet, 12 days to the event, we had less than 10 people paid.

Then I went back to Mike Adegun. He decided to pay for 10 people but as a giveaway. The beneficiaries would have to do something to earn the slots. We put up the post and in the end only 3 people signed up.

About 10 days to the event we still had less than 20 people. I began to call some friends and everyone was super-booked for that Saturday. Everything that should have worked in favour of us seemed to be against us.

Every night, I spoke with the amazing Omobolanle Savage to brief her on outcome of meetings of the day. I always came up with a not-so-positive new and when she would give me the status report – reminding me that no one was paying. Every time, I felt discouraged but I’d say to her “we’re gonna make it.”

I spoke with my brother, Bhadmus Habdulakeem who is an influencer and expert at PR for events and his candid advice was that we should postpone the event. I could have considered it but then I remembered how much I had been through and that I had put into the organizing; I couldn’t carry on that burden on with me beyond August 10 so I decided we were not going to push the event to a later date. I told myself if I could just get 20 people, it will save face and we would have a swell time.

I cancelled the reservation for the venue since it was evident that we would never be able to raise the N100,000.

Now, we were back to square-one: no venue!

About 5 days to the event, everything changed, the numbers began to rise. People began to pay to sponsor people. They made those sponsorships anonymously. I had made a last minute call to Wennovation Hub, explained the dire situation of things and they came in to partner with us (and I am so super grateful for this). I had made an arrangement for 20 chairs to be set in the space; then as more people registered, we increased to 30.

I remember calling the facility manager and telling him we needed 40 chairs in the morning of the eve. I went there in the evening and we were requesting 50 chairs. By Friday night, I had to call again to order 10 extra chairs. Yet the phones kept buzzing, people asking if they could still pay to attend. It was like a dream.

In the end, we had a surplus. It was not a huge a sum but it was something to be grateful for. We are deploying a small part of it to promote the visibility of the project and also for running costs. However, we are putting a great percentage of the sum into an #outreach.

We plan to visit a home for physically challenged children that usually doesn’t get donations or visitations like the popular ones. With a huge chunk of what we realized from #Rendezvous funds, we will be buying things to be donated to the home. A ‘forgotten’ home has been recommended and we’re currently doing our findings too on what the home needs and all.

I will keep you all updated on our progress. We may need to make a call for donations to add to what we have if necessary.

My name is Olorunfemi Owoyemi and I just want to say “THANK YOU” for the love you good people showed towards the Awa Ti Ibadan.

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