A few months ago, being seen wearing a mask in public would have elicited curious stares and jeers from people around you, but they have sadly become the visual metaphors of the novel coronavirus pandemic – an unfortunate reminder of our current reality. The reason for this is obvious: wearing a medical mask, according to the WHO, can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. And wearing a face mask could reduce community transmission especially when it is used in ‘public transport and crowded areas,’ according to Ben Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong.

Hence, when the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced last month that wearing of face masks in public was now compulsory as the state prepared to implement the gradual easing of the cessation of movement order, Olusola Babatunde, a fashion designer and the MD of Onestop Celebration Limited also known as OSC College of Fashion was already prepared to fill in the obvious gap that saw a scramble for protective gears by hospitals, health and non-health officials.

Prior to the spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria and the movement ban that followed, OSC had received a grant from the United States African Development Foundation and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (USADF/LSETF) Employability Program – facilitated by DDI, a partnership that aims to provide globally competitive, industry, and trade relevant skills to 15,000 youth in Lagos State over the next five years (3,000 each year) – equipping them to take advantage of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. However, for obvious reasons, OSC has yet to implement its training cohort of the program. First, she decided to make her contribution to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state and Nigeria at large. To achieve this, OSC commenced the production of masks with materials that are 100 per cent locally sourced and within a few weeks, had produced over 300,000 colourful face masks from her Adebola House, Opebi-Ikeja factory.