Engaging Hollywood to transform lives in Nigeria
Afam Onyema joins Purposely to share his founder story starting the GEANCO Foundation.
Afam is a high achiever on a mission, a graduate of both Harvard and Stanford Universities, he is also the co founder and CEO of a charitable foundation helping to transform lives in Africa. Headquartered in Los Angeles it receives support from Hollywood stars including Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and David Oyelowo to name just a few.
Formed in 2005, the GEANCO Foundation’s mission is to save and transform lives in Nigeria. The charity's team perform complex surgical missions and deliver innovative programmes. To date the organisation has led an initiative to fight anemia and built modern maternity clinics to help vulnerable pregnant women deliver healthy babies.
We dive into the charity's founding story and how Afam, inspired by his father, Dr. Godwin Onyema, set up the American Foundation to raise vital funds with the hope of having more of an impact as well a legacy.
Afam was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1979. He graduated from Harvard University and worked for Hill & Knowlton, a global public relations firm. Afam entered Stanford Law School in September 2004. During his time there, he served as Vice President of the Black Law Students’ Association and a two-time Public Interest Fellow. In January 2006, Afam traveled to Ghana as part of the law school’s International Community Law Clinic.
On graduating from Stanford Law School, Afam had a number of lucrative job offers, however he turned them down in order to help co-found the Foundation.
GEANCO’s supporters include, among many others, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daisy Ridley, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Rock, Forest Whitaker, Djimon Hounsou, Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, David Oyelowo, Bryan Cranston, Steven Soderberg, Whoopi Goldberg, civil rights legend Rev. Jesse Jackson, United Airlines, Google, Disney, The Oscars, Showtime Networks and Netflix.
In 2020, Afam was named one of the Top Ten Most Influential Africans in the Diaspora.