This woman-led startup bets it can help African businesses grow faster

As Sub-saharan Africa lags behind in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business report, one woman-led startup thinks it can help entrepreneurs grow their companies in this tough environment.

After years of mentoring startups and running businesses in Ghana and Nigeria, Munachim Chukwuma started IB Consulting in February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.

Munachim and her team believe they’ve found the recipe to help African business grow quickly with their innovative and affordable service model.


"Never have a business with NO business structure" #RedFlag – @consultingibobo Click To Tweet

Why Nigerian startups are struggling to grow.

According to experts from Harvard University, startups that want to stand the test of time must learn new ways of operating and behaving. This is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because these new ways tend to be completely different from their start-up roots.

Most startups struggle to grow and scale either because they do not know how or lack the proper structure and strategy. This is where we come in.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

IB Consulting believes that African entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses must realize they are in a different phase of their business life cycle, and therefore must change.

IB Consulting’s growth recipe for startups.

To help entrepreneurs struggling to scale, Munachim and her partners created a service model that combines strategy consultation, negotiation, and content creation.

IB Consulting bets its 3 service tentpoles are what entrepreneurs need to grow faster despite the difficulty of doing business in Africa.

We decided to focus on strategy consultation, negotiations and content creation as a company because we realized most of the challenges most businesses face in today’s society are tied to those three areas in one way or another.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

In addition to its unique service model, IB Consulting promises clients efficiency, personalization, and great service.

Why you should watch out for IB Consulting.

In less than a year, IB Consulting is proving it is not just all talk. The company reports that since February, it has helped over 10 business owners rebuild their structures and execute action growth plans.

It’s also not just about the money for this company this woman-led company. They have done some pro bono work for new entrepreneurs who could not afford to pay for some of our services.

In 2020, the company plans to expand aggressively to reach, help and educate help businesses across Africa.

We intend to grow over the next year of business and reach more people across the continent, as we also reinvent our business and launch more products that can meet the needs of our prospective clients.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

Visit https://iboboconsulting.com/ for more information on how IB Consulting can help your business.


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Want to Join an Investors Club With a Low Budget? Here’s what you need to know

Ever heard of the term Plutophobia?

Plutophobia is derived from Pluto (wealth) and Phobia (fear) is the fear of wealth.

Yes, it is actually a thing that there are people who are afraid of being rich. It sounds funny, I even feel like laughing out loud as I type this, but looking at it deeply makes it not so funny.

Like, how can someone be afraid of being wealthy when we all know that money answereth all things? (We are well aware of immaterial wealth but for the sake of this article, all mention of wealth refer to money and all the riches that come with it).

There is also something called Chrometophobia. Chermato (money) and Phobia (fear) which is the fear of money.

The key triggers of phobias are external events which might be heredity or life experiences.

You might have heard time and time again that investment is not for the rich only. But then, you don’t know how exactly to invest with a low budget.

What if I told you that you do not need huge amounts of money to invest in portfolios that can give you beautiful rewards.

All you need is to have the right information and go where the opportunities abound.

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Before you invest, first decide if you are willing to invest either for a short term or a long term.

This will enable you to look in the right places, thereby saving time and being decisive from the onset.

Pay attention to the following before your first investment:

  • Beware of “too good to be true” offers. Examples are investments that offer high returns just after two days.
  • Understand the risks that come with the investment you are taking up.
  • Do your own proper research.
  • Always get the second opinion from friend, family or an investments expert.
  • Ensure that there is physical paperwork stating all the terms of investment.

Now that you have the information on what to do before you invest. Here are some investment opportunities you can start investing with as low as N5,000 monthly:

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  • Mutual funds
  • Money market funds
  • Real estates
  • Treasury bills via i-invest app
  • Agriculture
  • Invest in a friend or family’s business with properly drafted contracts
  • There are also private investment opportunities where you get up to 10% monthly on commitments from as low as N50,000

Remember that you won’t get rich by hoarding money in your savings account or leaving them in a piggy bank. It is by investing.

A change in mindset would help you navigate away from societal misconceptions about being wealthy as a woman.

It would also help you overcome the fear of charging your worth for services you render or the good you sell. And as time goes on, you will see yourself making the money that you were long due to make, but afraid to ask for.

Like I mentioned earlier, decide on the type of investment you want and why you want it then go for a suitable opportunity.

Now that you are well informed about investments and how it can help you become wealthy, do you still hold any reservations about it?


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Manage Your Money Effectively with these tips from Ifeoma Okoli

Managing money effectively is crucial for every professional woman. The ability to manage finances is what gives you leeway to have the lifestyle you want.

Not every woman would tell you that they are comfortable with managing their money.

The ability to manage your finances is what gives you independence and financial freedom. Click To Tweet

Ifeoma Okoli is an Audit Analyst with a degree in Economics and Statistics. She has a Diploma with the Association of Charted Accountants.

Ifeoma is also known to be a driven and enthusiastic Financial Analyst. In this article, she provides her tips on how women can effectively manage their money.

The finance world is typically a male-dominated industry. What led you on to the path?

I think the notion of the finance industry is typically a male-dominated industry was all in retrospect. Nowadays, especially in Nigeria, more women have begun to demand a seat at the table in this industry.

On what led me to this path, I think one of my first inspiration career-wise was my dad. He too worked in this industry and I loved number crunching.

However, one of the things that helped me was that my father insisted I do a lot of unpaid internships during my secondary school holidays. That gave me an early start to understanding the nitty-gritty of the industry.

How would you describe your day-to-day responsibilities as an Audit Analyst for your company?

I look at my role as more of control and compliance (Risk Mitigation), working constructively with finance and other departments to improve internal control across the organization.

How would you advise more women to become more financially literate?

First of all, to be financially literate does not mean you have to study finance in school.

In fact, studies have shown that most people whose job is to manage other peoples finance are actually very bad at managing their own personal finances.

With that being said, some of my advice to women is below:

  1. You don’t need a glucose guardian to be rich. Get a job and work towards increasing your net worth.
  2. There is dignity in labour and financial independence is one of the best gifts you as a woman can give yourself.
  3. This may sound very cliche but create a budget tracker. This would help you to know how much you should spend, how much you have spent in a month, variances and mechanical ways to save up from bargains.
  4. Whenever you are free, listen to financial podcasts. It will help improve your financial knowledge, plus if you have a side hustle, the podcast will teach you how to scale your business faster while learning from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs.

To check out some of my favorite podcasts, click this link .

How can the modern young working women budget and save effectively to cater to all her needs?

Most career women who are salary earners oftentimes earn way less than their male counterparts at the same level. Yet most times are the ones doing more of the smart work.

So as a young lady, be diligent and find out if you are long overdue for a salary increase. Arm yourself with facts and go forward to renegotiate your salary.

To be able to cater to all your needs means you have to increase your income and to increase income means you have to increase the money coming from your revenue-generating unit(s)

  • Like I said before, use a budget tracker it would save you a lot of headaches.
  • Have at least three bank accounts. One should be your expense account, one your revenue accounts and the last should be your savings account.
  • Do not spend directly from your revenue account. Separating your account would also help you track your inflow and outflows.
  • Try as much as possible to save up 40% of your monthly income especially if you are still single and have fewer responsibilities. Saving for rainy days cannot be overemphasized.
  • 20% of your six months income should be able to take you on a holiday trip. If not, it simply means the trip is a way too much above your budget and you are balling above your budget. Find a cheaper option. Trust me, you can have an amazing holiday on a budget.
  • Apps like Piggy vest are there to help you cater to your personal savings and investment.
  • Finally, one which most of us ignore. Always negotiate for your pension and health insurance in all your places of employment. Your pension may seem minuscule right now but it compounds and would eventually help to reduce the financial burden when you are old and frail.

Are there useful tools or apps that can support women in dealing with their finances?

Yes, there are. Apps like Expensify, Fudget even Google sheet can help you with planning and managing your finance

What is one thing that you want more women to be aware of when it comes to managing money?

Know that no matter how little you earn, you still can set aside a portion of your income as savings and the key to saving up is contentment. Click To Tweet

If you are contented, you would not go broke trying to prove to broke people that you are not broke. 


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Why your business may not have access to the funds it needs to scale

Being a financial analyst gave me the opportunity to relate with several entrepreneurs – some of whom I met during my undergraduate days at OAU (of the Greatest Ife!).

They all have one common problem – lack of funds to expand their respective businesses.

Please note that this article is not about me giving you money. However, one of my future goals is to set up a Private Equity firm alongside other partners and invest pooled funds in SMEs across Africa.

Until then, let us just focus on why small businesses are unable to access available funds.

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To make this article as captivating as possible, I will assign three consecutive tasks to you and implore you to carry them out. If possible as you complete these tasks and take notes, new ideas may drop on your mind.

Wondering why you haven't gotten the funds you need to boost your business? Read this article… Click To Tweet

Task One – Imagination 

If you are a business owner, or you hope to start a business someday, I want you to picture this, as broad as you can.

[Insert the name of your business or business idea] as something you are proud of, a brand that transcends one country, something your unborn generation will bless you for, a trailblazer in its industry, and all the other good stuff you can possibly picture it to be.

Task Two – Reflection

Assume you are one hundred percent sure that task one will become a reality.

Then reflect on the possible factors (financial or non-financial – for example, regulatory, social, environmental, etc.) that could hinder your reality or drop the level of certainty to a much lower percentage.

That is enough!

Task Three – Reality Check

Ask yourself these few questions, especially if the factor from task two is a financial factor.

However, let me quickly inform you that there are several financial aids or grants, which are exclusively available to SMEs.

You just need to look in the right places and meet the requirements (if any).

Back to the questions…Ask yourself

  • Why am I unable to access the funds required to give my business (or business idea) the boost it deserves?
  • Why do financial institutions, investors (or even friends and family) turn me down when I approach them for funds?

You don’t have to sweat if you have no answers.

A few weeks ago, I carried out research on these questions, with potential investors, business owners, finance practitioners and other informed persons as my respondents. If you are one of them and you are reading this, THANK YOU.

Most of their answers centered on the following:

  1. Lack of integrity: I know this is probably an underrated reason, but 80% of my respondents referenced this. Your lack of integrity could cover these areas:
  • If you divert the money you get to personal matters other than your business.
  • Do you over-promise the potential investors an unrealistic return on investment (ROI)?
  • Do you keep two sets of financial records – one for tax purpose (to evade taxes) and the other for the true picture of the business, and so on? The list is endless.

Most investors have been in the business of financing for long. They would have done their due diligence.

If you give potential investors any reason to doubt your integrity, you can as well wave their financial aid goodbye!

Just so you know, even a devious investor does not want to invest in a dubious person or business.

2. Inability to sell yourself and your business appropriately: This may sound cliché, but it is also a major reason.

If you are unable to convince me to invest in your business, how on Earth do you think I will give you my money on my own volition?

Is your business plan compelling? Or is it over-optimistic? Please note that over-optimism is not a bad trait.

However, this is business, and money is involved, so, you need to prove to the potential investor that you have done your homework or research.

Your business plan should reflect economic realities. Wait a sec! Do you even have a business plan? Read more… Click To Tweet

3. Lack of business management skill or experience: Most of us want to be our own boss – fair enough.

However, if you do not know how to manage a business, if you have not worked under someone before, if you have not undergone any training or if you come off as an incompetent person when it comes to that business and how you talk about it, then you limit your chances of getting funds or capital from potential investors.

A final take-home

You claim you need capital for your business. Fine!

If a potential investor asks how much you need to expand your business to “xyz” level; will you be able to respond with an amount (or a range) on the spot?

As an entrepreneur, you should have an elevator pitch about your business and a summary of what you would do with the money assuming you had immediate access to it.

Do you know why some businesses are not getting the funding they need? Please share with us.


How To Launch & Get Paid for Your Freelance Writing Career

Anyone can be a freelance writer. You don’t need any experience or degree.

So, you want to dive into freelance writing?

I get a lot of emails and DMs (on Instagram) from people asking me how to successfully start a career in freelance writing.

With the fact that there are tons of wrong advice out there ranging from excuses like the need for formal training to owning a website or blog, I thought to share my experience and sales strategies on this platform!

Here’s one thing though! If you think that you can’t begin a career in freelance writing as a result of no experience; well, it’s about damn time someone told you that: IT IS POSSIBLE! 


My Story

It’s been almost four years since I became a freelance writer.

When I first learned how to become a freelance writer, I made the mistake of thinking that I needed a blog or website. I also thought that the only way to get gigs was to sign up on freelancing sites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Guru, etc. 

Content mills provide cheap content jobs and they usually batch orders. Their goal is to get a lot of content for cheap. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to sign up on these platforms, I gave up.

Then, I switched to scouting for gigs on Nairaland. Most of them paid peanuts. Three years down the line earning little to nothing, I realized that this wasn’t for me!

I was worth more than that! I felt like giving up!

But, I didn’t. I re-grouped and started afresh. I signed up for training, pitched for freelance writing jobs; and gradually began to land high-paying clients. The rest, they say, is history!

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If you want that for yourself, here are the steps on how to become a freelance writer you need to get started.

1. Research About Freelance Writing

When I first started, I did a lot of research. I found other freelance writers, read their blogs and learning as much as I could about this business.

While I had some clues about how to write blog posts, I didn’t know the kinds of jobs for freelance writers.

2. Become Familiar With the Writing Skills and Tools Required

While I’ve mentioned that you can start a career in freelance writing with absolutely no experience, you can increase the odds of success by learning a few skills and tools.

Some skills you should definitely have for freelance writing include:

> Organizational Skills

Having a system in place for your projects is key to growing your business. You don’t want to make a mistake or forget to do something.

I use my calendar to keep track of events, Evernote or my phone’s memo to jot down ideas and a list of things I want to do.

> Writing Skills

Writing for an online audience is different than writing in your diary or texting a friend. Know how to captivate readers with your blog topic and introduction.

You need to be able to create insightful, entertaining and educating posts.

> Confidence

Putting yourself out there and trying to land writing gigs is tough. You’ll get rejected, turned down or you may have a client walk all over you.

To become a successful freelance writer, you need to be confident and overcome your fear of pitching (I can’t begin to count how many clients I’ve landed via cold-pitching!) 

> Graphics & Design skills

There is no excuse for ugly photos, therefore this skill is very important to have. My favorite image editing app is Canva.

> Proofreading

While I offer proofreading services as well, it doesn’t hurt to use Grammarly or Hemingway app to give that document a final polish before it gets sent to your client.

3. Practice Writing

While you don’t have to be the best writer to become successful, you need to be able to write sentences and get your message across.

Improving your writing will not only help you become a better writer, but it will also help you market your freelance writing business because it makes you more credible as a professional writer.

4. Create a Portfolio of Your Work

Most job ads you’ll apply for will ask to see your work. They want to see samples of published work. If you’re new, you won’t have any published work – unless you already have a blog.

So, how do you show prospects you can actually write? Besides starting a blog, you can create samples.

Draft up a few pieces and either upload them as a Google Doc or publish them on Medium, LinkedIn or Quora.

Another alternative is to guest post. Search for blogs or websites in the niche you’d like to write about and pitch your blog idea to them.

Don’t think it’s possible? What do you think I’m doing here? Guest posting on She Leads Africa, of course!

5. Start Pitching to clients

Now it’s time to actively search for freelance writing jobs. But where do you go and how do you do it?

Go check out job sites like NG Careers, Jobberman, MyJobMag, etc for content writing positions.

When you find a job you are interested in the important thing to remember is to be one of the first few to apply and make sure your pitch stands out.

Are there other ways to find freelance writing jobs? Yes, there are tons of ways!

6. Hustle Queen!

Being a freelancer means you gotta hustle for work. But, this doesn’t mean you ALWAYS have to hustle. The goal is for clients to come to you.

However, when you’re new in the business, you have to get your name out there. 

Get on social media and network.  Guest posting not only to builds your portfolio but attracts potential clients as well.

7. Stay Learning!

The best thing you can do as a new freelance writer is to continue to learn. Whether it’s writing tips, business tips or pitching tips, hone your skills by learning from those who have done it before.

Are you interested in freelance writing? Connect with me on Instagram via my business page TheCopyWritingChick.


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Young women should benefit from the growing impact investment market: Ujunwa Ojemeni

Ujunwa Ojemeni is a financing, business development and clean energy expert with experience in the areas of opportunity maturation, project financing and impact investing.

She has been in the energy sector for over five years now. She was in project development for a while before transiting to impact investment.

While in energy project development, she coordinated several gases and power development opportunities valued at approximately $300 Million.

In energy impact investing, her work has involved working with partners to catalyze funding to the clean energy sector such as the $100Million Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (OGEF) along with the African Development Bank and others, as well as driving investments in and managing investments in various clean energy companies.

She is currently working with project developers by structuring and arranging appropriate financing for their businesses, working with partners to deploy innovative energy solutions and providing long term strategic support to key energy enterprises.


Tell us about some of your projects

Earlier this year, I was selected as one of the 60 young African Clean Energy Leaders for the Open Power Africa 2019 program by Enel Foundation in collaboration with top African and Italian academic institutions.

I was one of the 16 finalists of the program who proceeded to complete the final module of the fellowship based on the quality of our capstone projects. I also emerged as a finalist in the IFC Sustainability Exchange Ideas Contest for Youth Innovations 2019.

To promote the participation of more women in the energy sector, I recently launched “The African Women in Energy Development Initiative – AWEDI Network”.

It is the pioneer African organization focused on women across the entire energy value chain to offer mentorship, career sponsorship (acceleration), capacity building, and leadership training for women at all stages of their energy careers and for female students at the secondary and tertiary levels.

I have always been passionate about helping SMEs to be successful and founded the “SME Transformation Project” through which I provide business advisory and funding to women-owned
SMEs in low-income communities.

I help them navigate through basic business challenges such as marketing and distributing channels, product line expansion, and most importantly, funding, which they have difficulties accessing from traditional financiers.

In addition, I am a mentor at the Cherie Blaire Foundation where I provide support to women entrepreneurs to help them grow as they build their businesses in different parts of the world.

Before all of these, I worked in the management consulting unit of KPMG where I focused on startup advisory and process improvement for such enterprises.

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Share your experience with female inclusion in the energy sector?

In 2014, when I started my professional involvement in the energy sector, there were only 2 women on the team, and I was unclear how to navigate or how to find suitable mentors within or even outside the organization.

Although the numbers are gradually improving as more attention is being
given to the subject – more women are coming into the sector.

However, if you look at the management of most companies, it is mostly dominated by men. In fact, although female representation is improving globally, it remains considerately low.

In fortune 500 companies, only 6.6% of CEOs are female and 25.5% of board seats are held by women. This was one of my motivations to launch the African Women in Energy Development Initiative (AWEDI Network).

Being a woman in any sector let alone a male-dominated sector is generally tough and there is still significant room for improvement to make it more conducive for women to thrive.

As I always say, we are equal but different. Women are saddled with the responsibility of childbearing and a lot of times childbearing and home keeping.

Issues such as not employing pregnant women or newly married women are really sad and worrying. Organizations are typically worried about the gaps caused by maternity leave but the evidence is clear that a diverse workforce is good for the bottom line.

Furthermore, returning to work after maternity leave is not always smooth especially when you have been sidelined and not promoted along with your peers who may not even have performed as well as you.

In some other organizations, there is no provision for things such as nursing rooms for nursing mothers.

Another issue is the ‘flexible working myth’. Some organizations do not make any provisions for this, while others allow it in principle but in reality, it is difficult to utilize it as you might be considered unserious and penalized for it.

As a society and as corporate bodies we must institute
policies and implement the same to enable both men and women to perform optimally – paternity leave is still not taken seriously by many.

What were your major challenges in the industry and how can African women manage it?

One challenge is being undermined maybe because one is young. It is an interesting combination to be young as well as an African female committed to achieving big goals.

Nevertheless, I believe that being an expert in your craft is most important and clearly demonstrating this expertise by being visible. At meetings, there is always something you can contribute – most times we know more than we realize.

So I always encourage women to be bold and speak out more. In addition, we have to network sensibly; unfortunately, we usually do not have the luxury of time to attend all networking events due to other responsibilities but we should pick the most relevant events to attend.

We should also network horizontally and vertically i.e. with our peers and with those in higher cadres.

Another tricky challenge is finding the balance between being confident and people thinking you are self-promoting.

I have learned to ignore any naysayers and self-promote because if you don’t talk about what you have done and what you are doing and keep waiting for someone else to notice you, you will be waiting a long time.

So tell your managers what you have accomplished; share with your network your key accomplishments. We live in a social media age, so accept and embrace it.

Finally, it is easy for people to get threatened by your brilliance and even try to bring you down. But you must rise above that and focus on how you intend to bless the world.

Make your bosses look good but don’t dim your light because others are mediocre. Shine, shine, shine!

How can young businesswomen position themselves in order to benefit impact investment?

Simply put, impact investments are investments that are made with the intention to cause positive, measurable, economic, social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The major criteria generally agreed for an investment to qualify as impact investing is that it is intentional i.e. it has a positive impact on social or environmental impact, it is profit-oriented i.e. a clear expected return and although metrics are still being debated, that the impact is measurable.

There is a growing impact investment market globally and particularly focused on developing countries to provide capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, healthcare, education and many more.

Young women can definitely benefit from this growing market either as impact investors themselves or by adequately positioning their enterprises to benefit from those funds.

The key is ensuring that the enterprise meets the criteria mentioned above, as investors are clearly keen on supporting such innovative enterprises.

A quick way to assess how impactful an enterprise is could be assessing its impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and considering broader metrics such as how many jobs are created through the enterprise.

Therefore when wondering if your enterprise would be attractive to impact investors, ensure it has economic, social and/or environmental impact accompanied by a financial return. So, impact investments are regarded by some as “doing well by doing good”.

Are there any career opportunities in energy and financial inclusion for women you can share with us?

There are numerous career opportunities in this sector depending on one’s interests, skills, readiness to take on these opportunities amongst others.

On the AWEDI Network platform, we share numerous opportunities daily and weekly. The real decision is for women to decide that they are qualified to take on these roles, apply for them, get the skills required and soar.

The statistics are that women mostly only apply for opportunities when they meet 100% of the hiring criteria while their male peers apply when they meet 60%. So I always encourage women to look beyond their shortcomings and believe in themselves.

In the energy sector whatever your interests are, it could be in legal, governance, finance, investments, technical, etc. there are opportunities for everyone.

Finally, personal development is crucial – I am a proponent for acquiring crucial skills for my next level it could be leadership skills or a new segment of the sector I believe is the future.

Before I joined the clean energy sector, I was in the gas and power sector. This had no form of renewable energy solutions. Over the years even before I switched, I started reading extensively on the future of energy, attending seminars and training to prepare myself for my next steps.

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace – @UjunwaOjemeni Click To Tweet

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace.

So, I suggest women identify where they want to go and acquire the skills needed for their next level and put themselves out there when the opportunity arises or better still seek out suitable opportunities and read widely.

One thing I learned a few years ago was about ‘pain letters’ from Liz Ryan – she is the founder of Human Workplace and is very vocal on LinkedIn. She proposes that the job seekers identify the pain they are solving for their hiring manager, and write directly to them explaining how they will solve the key challenges.

That is definitely the next level of being proactive and has yielded fruits for many.

What is next for you?

I am currently working on a broader program to better support green enterprises – super excited about this project and the impact these businesses will have in achieving the SDGs.

I will definitely share more details with your network soon.


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Catherine Lesetedi: Botswana’s Boss Woman

Botswana

Catherine Lesetedi is a graduate of Statistics from the University of Botswana. She has built a career in the insurance industry since she joined it in 1992. Currently, Catherine is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).

She has built her career from scratch, and over the years, she has been adamant that adopting a flexible style of leadership is beneficial for leading an organization and getting the best out of her team.

Her career so far…

Looking at Lesetedi’s career, nothing about her story and her leadership principles and philosophies are ‘textbook’. Her style of leadership is pliable and acrobatic. It lends itself to whatever situation she and her team are in.

She’s extremely driven, open and open-minded, preferring to lead from behind, pushing her team forward, encouraging their gifts and honoring their intellect, allowing them to innovate, to grow and give to the business what she cannot.

Catherine maximizes on their strengths and makes sure that wherever there are gaps, there are people who are passionate, willing and able to execute and fill them.

Her journey there…

There is nothing predictable about Catherine Lesetedi. Even her choice of Statistics as a field to study at the University of Botswana (UB) was a bit of a wild card, even for her.

She describes it saying, “when we were making choices about what to study at varsity, we didn’t really know much about careers, to be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about Statistics until I got to the Department of Student Placement at the Ministry of Education.”

“I was late; my father and I had run out of fuel. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath, and I had forgotten my initial course choices. My brother, who I really admired, had studied Public Administration and Political Science, and that’s what I wanted.”

“They said that that weird combination didn’t exist, and told me that I was going to do Statistics and Demography.”


“If you think something is difficult, it becomes really difficult. If you think you can do it, sometimes you even surprise yourself.”
– Catherine Lesetedi,
CEO, BIHL Group

Her life experiences…

She studied Statistics at the University of Botswana, and even though her journey into that field was incidental, once there, she made the best of her situation, excelled and gleaned many things that she took forward with her into the rest of her life.

Certain experiences and her mindset set the stage for her early career and propelled her forward.

According to her, “in terms of decision-making, logical thinking, the confidence, and aptitude to learn; the program grounded me.”

“I may not use the formulas every day, but there are skills that I gained that I apply on a daily basis, even if I don’t recognize that ‘this is Statistics.”

The mathematical element empowered her to be able to engage with budgets and numbers, and not shy away from that aspect of whichever job she did.

Her philosophies for life…

All of the disciplines in the world are interrelated, so having a good understanding of what is going on across the board is beneficial for one; especially if a young woman wants to build herself up and build her career.

This is something she practices herself because, throughout the course of her career, she has gradually improved upon her leadership skills, attending leadership courses and taking on the responsibility of self-improvement.

Doing this has encouraged her to take a deeper look at herself; what drives her and pushes her beyond her own limitations. This outlook has put her in good stead as a leader, as someone who encourages others, ensuring that they are able to get the best out of what they need to do.

As a mentor, both personally and professionally, the story that she tells, the
example that she sets, is one of “show up and do your best.”

Ms. Lesetedi is big on recognizing talent and putting it to good use within the BIHL Group. These are some of the elements that make her up as a woman, as a leader, and these are some of the things that she has imparted to her mentees.


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Can Your Business Survive Without You? Here’s How To Be Sure

If we were sitting down for coffee and I ask what you believe to be the most important factor for success in business, what would you say?

If you’re like most people, you might respond that it’s something along the lines of perseverance, determination or talent.

What if I told you that while these things are valuable, they do not determine success? There is a more telling factor.

The true key to a successful business lies in the strength of its infrastructure – @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

But, what exactly is infrastructure? The simple answer is that it’s your design and blueprint.

It is made of the basic facilities and structures of the business and includes everything from software and services, to operational procedures. It is the work you do on the business that allows you to work in your business.

The form you have selected does not exist.

Imagine taking a one-week vacation. What happens to your operations? Would your team know what to do in your absence?

Would your customers panic? If the answer to the last two questions is yes, then you’re currently lacking a sustainable infrastructure.

I get it: most of us do not like creating systems. They can be boring, tedious, and may appear unnecessary.

If you’re a clothing designer, you went into business to bring your designs and creativity to life.

However, if you’re a life coach, you want to help others improve their quality of life, not to work on systems.

Again, I get it but imagine not being able to do the thing you love because most of your time is spent putting out fires, experiencing burnout, or making up procedures on a whim.

Creating good business systems allows you to automate your processes, increase productivity and improve effectiveness – @andrena_sawyer Click To Tweet

For example, think about the transportation and tax systems in our country.

While we may not like it, we have to pay parking meters, tolls, and vehicle taxes to commute within our communities. The expectation is that the money is used to build and maintain our streets and neighborhoods.

Similarly in your business, developing an intricate infrastructure creates sustainability through interdependent processes.

There is a common adage that is not wise to put your cart before your horse. That has never been more relevant than in this context.

Your cart is your thriving business—in a state that allows you to do what you love to do. Your horse is your infrastructure. The more robust it is, the more likely your business can go the distance.

I have had the pleasure of consulting with hundreds of entrepreneurs. The concern I hear most often is that people feel like they are reactively going through the motions, rather than positioning themselves for proactive oversight.

My advice is always the same: build your business from within. The time and resources spent on this approach will determine the health and success of everything else.


How are you improving your spending habits this month? Click here to join the SLA #SecureTheBag challenge.

SheaMoisture Spotlight on Finance Queen: Anie Ufia – founder of Kolo Lagos

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Anie Ufia

22-year old Ufia Aniebietabasi is the CEO and founder of Kolo Lagos. She is a Mass Communication graduate from the University of Lagos.

After an experience where she was shocked to find out that she had no savings of her own in a bank or anywhere else, Anie made up her mind to create a system that will make savings fun and a priority for her. 

Seeing the immediate results it had on her finances, she was determined to help other young people like herself, take control of their finances.

You are sure to either catch Anie preaching the gospel of financial freedom or on the lookout for opportunities with which she can drive social change.

Connect with Anie and her business here Website, Instagram, Twitter


Tell us about Kolo Lagos.

Kolo Lagos is a proudly Nigerian brand that is passionate about bringing back the saving culture in a unique way.

We aim to achieve this by encouraging people to save money in a piggy bank, popularly called “Kolo” in Nigeria.

Our kolos are made from quality tested wood and specially handcrafted with love in Nigeria to help people curb overspending, grow a saving habit and stay disciplined while at it. 

How did you turn this habit into a business?

I started Kolo Lagos during my final year at the University. I suddenly realized that I had zero savings, not in the bank or even in a piggy bank.

This made me buy a piggy bank for myself and discipline myself to save money. I bought one from a carpenter that was introduced to me by a friend.

 Since it worked for me, I told my friends about it and everyone wanted a piggy bank so they could save money as well. 

That was how the journey began!

Having a niche business, how do you make your brand stand out?

At Kolo Lagos, our kolos are crafted and designed to promote the rich and beautiful culture in Nigeria and Africa. They have also added an innovative touch to an old approach of saving money which was used since the days of our forefathers.

The reusability of our Kolos has also added a modern twist to it and is the ‘WOW’ factor that attracts our customers

Can you share with us 3 things you struggled with at the start of your business, and how you overcame them?

The major challenge I struggled with at the start of my business was building brand loyalty. It was a new business and with the prevalence of online fraud, most people are scared to make a purchase from an online store.

However, as the business grew, people began to trust us enough to refer us to friends and relatives. I have now moved from selling kolos to just friends and family but to people who discover us via the internet.

Another big challenge I struggled with was finding artisans who knew their onions, could deliver neatly done jobs, and deliver them on time.

I am glad that I have overcome that challenge since I have a particular one I now work with…

Tell us about a personal experience that translated to a  business lesson for you.

My first business lesson was before I even began my business. I had given a fashion designer a fabric and style to make an outfit for me.

I decided to come to get it at the allotted time the tailor gave me, but despite the sufficient time I gave, my dress wasn’t ready.

It was quite annoying and frustrating, to say the least. So I took that lesson with me to Kolo Lagos when I started it.

Working with artisans means that I constantly have to follow up, make calls and even go there physically if need be, just to ensure that everything is done well and on time. That experience stayed with me and has been a major lesson that has helped my business.

What impact have you made in your community since starting your business?

Since starting my business, I have impacted my community by speaking at workshops and seminars to both young and old people about money, and why it’s important to maintain a healthy saving lifestyle.

What is your 2019 goal, and what have you done so far to achieve it?

My goal for 2019 is to get more local distributors within Nigeria and at least one international distributor in order to achieve the goal of selling 2,000 kolos this year.

I am currently speaking with someone who is interested in becoming an international distributor.

Share with us 3 fun facts about yourself

  1. I love food. Food loves me.
  2. Food makes me happy.
  3. I know how to play drums.

What’s your fave skin care routine?

My skin care routine is done at night when I get to nicely cleanse my skin with my organic skin products, and prep for the night before going to bed.

How do you feel about promoting your brand on She Leads Africa, courtesy of SheaMoisture?

To be totally honest, I am still in utter shock even as I type this.

I remember when I applied for it and a part of me wasn’t sure if my business would be selected, but I applied anyway.

I am deeply and sincerely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you so much, Shea Moisture. You ROCK!

Describe your business with one word…

The word is UNIQUE.

Missed our first Shea Moisture Spotlight? Click here.

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia


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That money you want is in someone’s account: Amba Eyang – Ajakaye

Not every “celebrity” is known. There are powerful women who are not just breaking glass ceilings, but also impacting the lives of people they meet.

One of such extraordinary women is Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye, a Brand Storyteller and Business Strategist.

She is the founder of iDare.NotDread Nigeria, a social engineering platform promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise through storytelling and value sharing.

She is also team lead of the Build My Business initiative born out of iDare.NotDread’s enterprise. Centered on building skills and capacities for young people in the business.

This project launched grand ideas such as the BMB Expo and BMB Training school (online) in 2017.

Amba has gone from transforming ordinary people who would have never thought of writing their own books, to making them authors.

She’s also supporting small businesses to achieve scalability and growth especially, by helping them identify and understand the importance of “target markets” and “market validation”.

In this interview with SLA contributor – Wuraola, Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye bares it all about IDare.NotDread and highlights why small business owners should “do it afraid”.


Do it Afraid. Fight your limitations – Amba Eyang-AjakaiyeI Click To Tweet

Tell us about your company – IDare.NotDread

iDare.NotDread is a social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise in Nigeria.

Our focus is primarily to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth.

What’s one business tip you wish most business owners knew and could wield to their advantage?

Network. Meet people.

That money you want is in someone’s account. That unspoken challenge can be solved by someone. Attend workshops, events, and meet people. Most people don’t bite.

How can entrepreneurs begin to understand the power of conducting market validation, and collaboration with other SMEs?

I believe in collaboration. This is why I try to build communities. We started the Abuja food community in May, and its amazing to see how much collaboration has happened in a group full of women.

Yet, we probably thought women prefer to fight. No. The moment businesses understand that collaboration first means ‘here is what I can give you’, before ‘give me what I want’, they will lead better businesses.

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With a lot of fake business coaches around, what makes your brand different?

We didn’t just arrive. We’ve been here a while. In 2013 we started with creating a platform for entrepreneurs to share their stories and inspire others.

Over time, we realized stories weren’t enough. Capacities needed to be built.

So we went all in to try to understand the real needs of the entrepreneurs we wished to serve, and since 2016, we started contributing to conversations around digital technology and creating a good impact in the digital space.

Since then, our efforts have birthed super brands.

In the past 3 years we have successfully trained 4,000 entrepreneurs on digital strategies as well as provided opportunities for business visibility.

Many thanks to the opportunity Google granted us through the Digital Skills for Africa programme and a host of other partners who have trusted us to work with them.

Why should SMEs understand their target markets before making an entrance into the market?

Because if we don’t, we would be hitting our heads on rocks. Hard rocks.

You can’t sell to everyone, and this is why research is key to identifying who your market is.

Ever tried selling a #ManchesterUnited jersey to an #Arsenal fan? It's just blind selling. Read more from Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye Click To Tweet

Tell us about your Ebook Challenge

Its amazing! I launched my first ever ebook on March 2019, titled ‘How to write your first eBook‘ and that’s where the ebook challenge began.

We are currently on our 3rd cohort and it’s been amazing!!! Every 2 months we launch a new set of authors who are super proud of their achievements. It feels great to empower people to create wealth with their knowledge.

We are looking to expand the community beyond eBooks to help more women create diverse digital products and generate more income.

How does the “Do It Afraid” catchphrase relate to entrepreneurs who don’t like taking risks?

We all have fear in us. It’s an emotion. I am still learning to tame my fears. And we all should. The best way to go about it is to go ahead and do that very thing you fear.

I have coached a number of businesses and one of the areas I tend to focus on is to help them fight those limitations – the little voices and beliefs that make them feel less of themselves and limited.

It’s important we act despite fear. Accept your fears but act.

What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Then show me one person who NEVER failed.