Our History

The idea of our organisation started in 1993, when various international women’s groups within Lagos started meeting regularly to discuss charities supported by each group.  They hoped to eliminate duplication of assistance and ensure that the many needy charities then within Lagos were adequately supported.

In 1995, several international women’s groups came together to discuss the possibility of jointly hosting an international night.  It was decided that the objective of such an evening would be not only to focus on the food, national costumes, dance and music of each respective nation but, more importantly, to raise money to support the charities which had been discussed in the previous years.

The idea of “It’s a Small World” was born.

1996  |  IT’S A SMALL WORLD – (Date: 8 March)

On International Women’s Day – March 8th – some 24 international women’s groups representing 55 different countries, hosted an evening of entertainment from all around the world at the MUSON Centre.  All food, drinks, entertainment and decorations were donated by the participants.  The event attracted about 300 guests and raised N300,000 which was evenly distributed between three charities.

1997  |  PEACE AND HARMONY – (Date: 2 May)

The second event was also held in the MUSON Centre, themed: ‘Peace and Harmony’.  This year, 28 international women’s groups and embassies, representing 58 countries from around the world, again provided a night to remember for over 1,000 guests, and we raised N700,000.  This amount was distributed among eight charities.

1998  |  COMMON THREADS – (Date: 7 March)

The International Women’s Groups formalised their organisation and were renamed “Lagos Joint Women’s Groups”.  Due to the growing success of the event, the venue was moved to the Federal Palace Hotel’s Atlantic Gardens in Victoria Island.  Thirty women’s groups, representing 70 countries took part, and N2,550,000 was raised, which was divided evenly between 15 charities.  Over 2,000 guests attended the event.  This year, we started selling advertising space in the programme to cover costs and sold 35 advert spaces.

1999  |  PATTERNS OF FRIENDSHIP – (Date: 20 March)

‘It’s a Small World’ took place once again at the same venue, the Federal Palace Hotel.  As a result of the move of many diplomatic missions to Abuja, the number of participating countries were reduced to 49.  Despite this, N3,780,000 was raised and distributed between 18 charities.  We had also 50 adverts in the programme.

2000  |  CELEBRATIONS – (Date 25 March)

We changed the name from “it’s a Small World” to just “Small World”, its increasingly popular ‘calling name’.  At the now established venue of the Federal Palace HOtel, 53 countries were represented and 5 million naira was raised and divided between 24 charities.  We still limited our tickets to 2,500 to avoid overcrowding of the venue.  We now added a slide show to the programme to familiarise our guests with the various charities we support.  We had 73 adverts.

2001  |  STARRY STARRY NIGHT – (Date: 17 February)

This was the sixth annual Small World event.  Fifty countries were represented, and 25 charities benefited from the N7,500,000 raised.  We had decided not to sell more than 2,500 tickets to avoid overcrowding.  We sold 115 advert spaces, half pages and full pages in both black-and-white and full color.

2002   |  RHYTHMS OF NATURE – (Date: 16 February)

This year, 62 countries were represented in 29 food booths.  A staggering N12,400,000 was raised and divided between 31 charities.  We also got our own permanent re-usable stage, which is stored between uses.  Our former stages were not re-usable and after each vent, the materials were donated to a needy charity.  We sold about 110 advert spaces, again mixed as in the previous year.

2003  |  TAPESTRY OF TALES – (Date: 8 February)

The eight annual event saw 28 women’s groups participating, representing 55 countries and the grand sum of 14 million naira was raised from which 30 charities benefited.  We had about 105 adverts in the program, which were now mostly full-color pages.

2004  |  KALEIDOSCOPE – (Date: 21 February)

The ninth annual SW (as we now write it) took place again at the Federal Palace HOtel, and 24 women’s groups participated.  A total of 13 million naira was raised and divided between 27 charities.  Despite the economic slump, we still had over 80 adverts in the programme.

2005   |  MOMENTS IN TIME – (Date: 12 February)

We celebrated our 10th Small World event with 25 women’s groups working together to raise 16 million naira, which was distributed between 29 charities.  We sold 85 advert spaces in the programme.  The past chairpersons and founders were flown in courtesy of two airlines to attend this august occassion, which was rounded up with a grandiose firework display from a barge on the lagoon.

2006  |  SPICE OF LIFE – (Date: 18 February)

With the second decade of our ‘existence’ taking off, we changed the venue and celebrated our yearly event at British International School, Oniru Estate, Victora Island: a lovely huge venue with loads of possibilities.  We raised a whopping N18,000,000, which was distributed between 30 charities.  This event and the stage show had to be cancelled.  This is the first time since we stared holding the event outdoors that we were literally beaten by the rain.

2007  |  THE MAGIC OF MUSIC – (Date: 11 February)

For the first time in our history, we held the event on a Sunday for logistical reasons, and we moved to the BIS football field.  Twenty-five groups participated this year.  Food coupons were traded in for armbands, which worked well, while fans were handed out instead o f playbills, which proved to be a great success.  Another new introduction this year was the Lagos Directory, a kind of ‘Small World Yellow Pages’, which we published every year.  The programme marketing committee sold a staggering N10,500,000-worth of adverts and entries in the Lagos Directory.  We distributed a record amount of N20,750,000 amongst 32 charities.

We also planted 30 royal palms on the field of BIS that we sued in 2006.  These trees were donated by our ex-Trustee Ria Mastoroudes, who had been active in our organisation since its inception.

This year, we were also in the final stages of registering our organisation as an NGO under the name of “International Women’s Organisation for Charity”.

2008  | CULTURAL TREASURES – (Date: 9 February)

This was the 13th year of celebrating Small World, and we held the event again at BIS on the ‘South Fork’ field.  We had 26 food booths, reprinting over 60 countries.  We still handed out playbills in the form of hand fans.  We also had our second edition of the Lagos Directory.  We were able to distribute over 30 million naira amongst 37 charities.  In 2008, we also had all the soft drinks and water donated by sponsors.  The registration of our organisation was completed and we are now known as “International Women’s Organisation for Charity”, or IWOC for short.

2009  |  SMALL WORLD, BIG PARTY – (Date: 21 February)

This was the 14th celebration of Small World, and the event was held again at BIS.  There were 27 food booths, representing over 50 countries.  And a big party it was!  The programme marketing committee raked in the sum of N13 million from over 80 adverts.  Our Lagos Directory is still being issued as in the two previous years, and we sold over 3,000 tickets.  Our sponsors were gracious enough to donate a soft drinks and water again for the event.  We distributed well over 30 million naira among 30 charities.

2010  |  SPARKLING FUTURE – (Date: 20 February)

This is another celebration – our 15th Small World celebration!  Yes, a celebration it was, as we continued to try and bring some sparkle of hope to the future of the less privileged in Nigeria.  We held the event at BIS, our ‘usual’ site and sold the tickets at N7,500 per ticket.  Over 50 countries were represented by our 27 participating women’s groups.  Despite the economic crisis, our programme marketing committee sold over 70 adverts.  Our sponsors were generous as usual and gave cash and in-kind donations.  We distributed 29 million naira among 35 charities.

2011  |  GO GREEN – (Date: 19 February)

This theme was designed to get people thinking about the environment and what can be done to improve it.  We held it at BIS, Victoria Island, as usual.  Tickets were sold at N8,000 each, but as usual, they were sold out in no time.  This year, 28 women’s groups, representing well over 50 different countries, took part and decorations were made from recycled materials and we had recycling bins. As well as rating awareness in people, we also raised 32 million naira for 32 charities.  We sold about 75 adverts this year.  We also launched our new Small World Website: www.smallworldng.org.

2012  |  CIRCUS SPECTACULAR – (Date: 18 February)

The theme was self-explanatory and created a night full of colour, excitemnt, fun and joy.  This was our 17th event and 31 women’s groups, representing many more countries, participated this year, with 16 countries entertaining us on stage.  Over the years, we have supported more than 150 charities, and this year we raised 37 million naira to benefit 34 Nigerian charities.  Again, we sold well over 80 adverts in our programme.

2013  |  SUPERSTARZ – (Date: 23 February)

This year, we had a super year with a super theme and two super chairladies: Marjoleine, who started the position, had to leave in December due to transfer, and Willemijn ably took over and continued where Marjoleine left off.  Apart from those, our own two superstars, we also had all the other superstars that made this event possible (our ladies).

We had 30 participating women’s groups, representing well over 50 countries.  And the challenges were great this year, as we had to change venue in the middle of the planning process and preparations.  The event was eventually held at the Federal Palace Hotel, and it turned out great!  Despite the increase in the ticket price to N9,500, all 3,200 tickets were sold before the event, as usual.  Again, we raised over 37 million naira for our charities.  and again, we sold well over 80 adverts in our programme.  We had 19 fantastic performances on stage by participating groups and some other special performances by Blue (from outer space), Pavarotti, Shakira and Madonna.  It really was a Superstarz night.

2014  |  JUNGLE FEVER – (Date: 15 February)

Mrs. Batool Accad was the chairperson, and we celebrated the jungles and urban jungles of the world, with 31 groups participating.  We had an amazing team of executives and coordinators, who made sure that it was another successful year.  We sold over 100 adverts and had to expand the programme by 16 pages to accommodate them all.   Our 3,300 tickets were sold out two weeks prior to the event, the allowing us to raise an amazing 37.5 million naira, which was distributed amongst 33 charities.  It was an amazing night full of happiness and love.

2015  |  CARNIVAL – (Date: 14 March)

This year 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Small World.  We celebrated with a special gift for our guests: a cotton tote bag and a music CD with the past six years of original Small World songs.  In addition, we were honoured to host 12 of our 18 past Chairladies and founders, along with Mutari Wada, the widowed husband of past Chairlady Annelie Wada.

The event was not without its challenges.  An Ebola outbreak threatened Nigeria, and the federal state elections originally schedule dot take place in February were later rescheduled to March and April.  In spite of this, the event was a great success.  We had 28 countries participating with 16 countries performing on stage, and more than 3,100 guests in attendance.  Our total charitable contribution is 37.1 million Naira, a 5% increase over the previous year.  What a wonderful salute to our 20th Small World event that we are able to give more to charity than ever before.

2016  |  WORLD OF COLOURS – (Date: 13 February)

Giving back to our host country Nigeria is important.  In 2016 we once again achieved this purpose together.  In spite of the challenges posed by a fuel shortage and an economic downturn, World of Colours drew a record crowd of 3,400 guests.  Our theme was beautifully presented both in the food stalls and through the performances on stage.  We raised N1 million for 30 charities and blessed two extra charities with another N1.6 million.  Our total charitable contribution in 2016 was N34.6 million.




The women who make Small World happen are volunteers who want to give back to their host country, Nigeria.

With close ties to Nigeria, the board of Trustees oversees an annually voted Executive. Coming from all walks of life and from all across the world, these women are drawn from the expatriate and local communities in Lagos with the common purpose of raising money for deserving Nigerian charities.

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