Diane Kalu

Building A Business From Tragedy - A Widow’s Story


June 1, 2022, 11:54 a.m.

In challenging times, we can turn our adversity into meaningful endeavors, and that’s exactly what Diane Kalu, the founder of WiCare Lekota Foundation from Nigeria, did. She lost her husband in 2015 after giving birth to her third child just 8 weeks later. The devastation and utter loss of all things known became a real challenge as she struggled to find her place in society.

‘Widowhood is devastating even for the strongest of women; therefore, widows are considered one of the most vulnerable individuals, subjected to neglect by their families,’ says Diane.

In Nigeria, certain rituals are practiced by women who have suffered the loss of their husbands. However, these practices stigmatize women and create a shadow over their existence which often sees them retracting from society. As Diane mentions passionately, “Mental health for women at the time of bereavement is of the utmost importance as it determines how she will proceed with the rest of her life.”

So she started a movement called WiCare - a non-profit organization designed to empower young widows by helping them navigate their lives via specific support programs that get them back on their feet and thriving. The organization plays an integral part in a widow’s journey, from the start of the grieving process to providing social, legal, financial, and psychological support.

WiCare, also affiliated with ‘Modern Widow Club’ - an international widow organization based in the United States, provides a suitable environment for healthy growth and emotional support, specifically in skills development. Empowering and equipping young widows to become self-reliant through capacity building while maximizing their potential will help them enhance their productivity and contribute effectively to society. To date, over 5000 women and 2000 children have benefited through WiCare Lekota Foundation.

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Equipped with a degree in BSc and a certification as a counselor, Diane Kalu is an award-winning humanitarian and convenor of several empowerment events in Nigeria. She also concurrently runs a grief support group with other widows. The WiCare brand has expanded beyond Nigeria, and communities have been set up in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, and even Georgia, with a growing interest from other countries.

Being a female founder, however, comes with its challenges. Struggling with confidence and the pressures of ‘doing it all, Diane sought help in the form of advisors and mentors, specifically now, being selected as a mentee in the African Tech Vision 10-week virtual mentorship program. Her foray into entrepreneurship has not been easy, as it is mostly considered a man’s domain in Nigeria.

She says, ‘Even with a great business plan and all requirements needed to run a business, male startups are sometimes more favored.’ But this will not deter her beliefs in breaking down biases and consistently striving for gender equality.

Her objectives and goals for WiCare are to upscale the business and place a core focus on building and marketing the brand to create more visibility among donors and educational institutions. Obtaining funding to expand the business and create a more robust internal structure to support the widowed community is also a big part of her plans.


tag: Entrepreneurship, Business, Startup, women in tech, women in business, Women In Leadership,

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