This is the last part of “Inside Global Citizen”, a limited series. We pull back the curtain and highlight members of Global Citizen staff who are key parts of the organization’s advocacy, impact, and more. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining today.
Didi Morake had a lucrative career in the corporate banking industry. After completing her Masters in Strategic Marketing from the Wits Business School, Didi landed a position working as the Customer Value Proposition Designer for Youth at ABSA Bank.
Didi’s position at ABSA allowed her to pursue her passion for helping the youth. However, when she heard about Global Citizen, she saw a whole new world of possibilities for making a difference.
Resonating deeply with the organization’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, Didi took the leap and left the corporate world. Didi Morake now works as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships where she spearheads the Global Citizen Fellowship Program powered by BeyGOOD.
Morake believes that she is now doing the work she was always meant to do.
“Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a doctor. I was always that one friend that was there for others – to pick them up when they fell. I thought being a pediatrician was befitting to me and my personality. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it wasn’t about the title, it was about the purpose – which I had at heart – helping young people.” — Didi Morake
On Creating Sustainable Programs to Tackle Unemployment
Unemployment in South Africa is staggeringly high, especially among young people. According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 from 29.1% in the previous period. It was the highest jobless rate on record since quarterly data became available in 2008.
Whilst this might seem like a crippling challenge to some, Didi and her team are doing something about it. “Young people are the future, and with the right access to skills and training opportunities, everyone can achieve their full potential. This is exactly why the Global Citizen Fellowship powered by BeyGOOD exists,” says Morake.
By working together through the fellowship program, the partnership offers young people an opportunity of a lifetime. Designed to empower young people with work experience, the program is not only supporting the vision of a South Africa that nurtures its youth.
The Global Citizen Fellowship is also equipping young people with the skills they need to play a role in social justice, helping their communities achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and amplifying causes that they believe in.
Take how the program is structured for example. It has multiple phases designed to offer each of the 10 fellows a fully immersive experience. The program covers subjects such as leadership, advocacy, international development, and global citizenship.
“Fellows will also have the opportunity to take part in a series of masterclasses given by industry leaders. The program also features educational field trips designed to help fellows develop into value-centred, community-driven leaders,” Didi added.
Didi added,“The past cohort were learning about using digital technology to drive social change; how storytelling can help spark cultural shifts; and the role of innovation in an ever-changing world.”
“ I think our youth are really passionate, and they’re very hungry to be heard, especially the females. What I pray for is that they keep that consistency to ensure that when they get to the top, they are bringing in other sisters into the workforce.” — Didi Morake
Cathy From Limpopo: A Rewarding Success Story
“I remember Cathy from Limpopo, who has her blog called Millennial Mirror, a platform born out of the need to create a space for young people to share their experiences. She came in with a very analytical brain since she had a background in Mathematics and Information Systems. It was so beautiful to see her discover her creative side by the end of the fellowship and become more in touch with it.”
“Now Cathy hopes to one day be able to use technology to find solutions for society’s pressing issues and tackle injustices,” Morake added. This is Didi’s why — helping young people reach their full potential. This success story is one example in which Didi finds her work rewarding and helping her fulfil her purpose.
Thrive: Didi’s Call to Women in 2020
2020 has been an especially tough year in youth development and employment for women. While the situation is not all grim, Didi comments that in her work, she continues to find herself asking one major question — ‘where are the women?’
According to Didi, there are a lot of spaces women still need to occupy.This is why Didi’s mandate to all women this year is — thrive.
“Thrive in what it is that keeps you up at night. Thrive in your personal and spiritual relationships. Awaken to who you are and unleash your potential.” — Didi Morake
If there’s one thing Chidiebere Nnorom wants us to know, it is that she’s a typical Igbo girl with a never die attitude, never ever wanting to give up! Even after going through a rough patch, she refused to succumb and found her way back up.
Chidiebere Nnorom is the Co-founder of Paperbag by Ebees. She has a strong passion for the environment, social impact and business.
Watch this space as Chidiebere is determined to change norms and make waves as an entrepreneur, environmentalist and a young global leader. Scroll down to read more of her story.
What’s your background story?
Before my business grew to the stage it is at now, I went through a lot! I was involved in a fire accident which kept me indoors for a while. I had to stop business operations and lay off staff. It was unbelievable. Imagine being at a point in life where you are clueless about what to do next. Well, that was me then.
It took me almost a year to heal. I couldn’t work or do anything. My savings had been zapped and I kept wondering how I’d scale through. There was a personal instinct to do something, I knew it wasn’t the time to give up but to breakthrough! I needed to turn the light on in my heart and that I did.
To cut the long story short, the accident was a validation to move on. Months later, I picked up my business and started building up gradually. Next thing I knew, business calls were coming in! People said they saw the paper bag and wanted to order. Some of the paper bags they saw were made way before the accident. The referral rate was massive! I was so elated and grateful I didn’t give up back then.
What ignited the spark to start Paperbag by Ebees?
In 2016, we started off as a food delivery business but one of the problems we faced was the packaging, we just couldn’t find the right packaging. With a background in geography and my love for the environment, we decided to start creating eco-friendly packages.
There were a lot of “buts!” That was the year the foreign exchange was high, fuel scarcity and other things kept creeping in. We had to take a step back to think of how we could make it. My team and I carried out some research, tried out different products, monitored what was moving and what wasn’t. Everything was coming up gradually.
Before I knew it, we made it official!
What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?
At the early stages, our major challenge was accessing raw materials in Nigeria. It meant having to buy in large quantities and also importing from China. We had other expenses to run the business and couldn’t afford it.
This caused a setback. We had to think of how to make it ourselves. We carried out some research and found alternative ways to come up with the resources. That was when we started the business for real!
Business development was our second challenge, it took us a while to see that the market was ready. We had to try out different products to see if the market will accept us. It was quite hard, to be honest. After a series of experiments and market research, we were able to count a milestone. Finally! We achieved growth.
These experiences really shaped our mindset as a company. To every business owner out there, celebrate your little wins! We count every little effort we make as a win and an opportunity to do better. I’m learning to take joy in the little things, every small success is a validation. I say to myself, “Chidiebere well done!” It tells me that every step I took at the time was worth it.
How do you come up with the designs on your paper bags?
I won’t take all the credit, I have a really good team. My own inspiration came from purpose. The point is, if we chase our real purpose there are things we won’t struggle to do. I found my passion, and everything fell into place.
Finding the right people who know what they are doing is key. I also took some time to learn product design. It’s a combination of all these things.
What have you learned so far from running this business?
Take your time and plan! If you’re transitioning from paid employment to business, have enough money to cover up for your expenses. Make sure that the business can take care of your bills. There is no need to go through stress because you’re an entrepreneur, life can be easy!
Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad range, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.
Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.
Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections.
About Yasmin Belo-Osagie
Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a co-founder of She Leads Africa and is one of the board of directors at FSDH Asset Management.
She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University with a bachelors degree in History and with a minor in Finance. Thereafter, she completed a culinary course at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Paris, before getting her Masters in Business Administration from Stanford and JD from Harvard Law.
Her career started as a business analyst at the prestigious Mckinsey & company, where she worked for two years on finance and consumer goods, in Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Switzerland and Kenya. She then founded She Leads Africa in 2015 with Afua Osei and serves as the chief operating officer (coo). In 2018, she joined FSDH Asset Management as a director.
To me, friendship is really about support and what I would call co-upliftment. It’s having a group of people who are there for each other and think about ways to make themselves better. I also love to laugh, so I especially like being around people who are funny and make me laugh.
When I talk about co-upliftment, I am not saying we have to text each other every single day. However, I find myself inspired and uplifted by my friends, just by observing the way they live their lives, and handle their careers, it drives me to want to succeed as well.
Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?
So this happens to me all the time. I find that my friends are constantly helping me out when I find myself in tight situations. I have an example from when I was doing some work for a client and I had made a mistake and was now running out of time. One of my friends came through and connected me with her husband who worked with us and helped me save the situation.
Last year, I was trying to contact the singer Kandi Burruss for an event I was planning and a friend of mine connected me with her manager.
Even beyond work, it’s the other million little things my friends do for me. With all that’s going on with me at work, I also needed to shop for my wedding dress. A friend of mine, knowing that I won’t be able to make the appointments, went and made them for me. Not only that, she took the time out of her workday and went with me to all my dress appointments.
Is there a time when your friend(s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?
My time at graduate school was particularly difficult, because between lectures all day, working with my team at She Leads Africa and the time zone differences, I just had so much to do. There were definitely days when I was overwhelmed and just stayed in my room crying and questioning myself.
During this time, my friends were a big source of encouragement to me regardless of the time I called them. They were particularly helpful, always checking in with me, reassuring me and allowing me just to complain whenever I wanted to.
How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?
I would say I have a small circle of like 3 or 4 women including my sister and my cousin, and a slightly larger one of like 5 or 7 other people I have connected with, due to my relationship with my core circle.
In choosing my friends, I really look for people with whom I share similar values. So one such instance is that I take my career very seriously, and so I look for people who take their careers very seriously as well. The women in my circle, have gone to some of the best schools, are at the top of their careers and work in the best companies. So when we are together, there are always conversations about our careers and what our next professional and financial moves are.
Another thing I look out for is people who make me laugh. I love to laugh and I don’t take myself too seriously, so that’s something I really look for in my friends as well. I like to spend time with people who also love to laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously.
I also like people who have some amazing character traits. So in choosing my friends, I like people who are kind, honest, have integrity and are thoughtful as well.
Lastly, look I love having fun so most of my friends are people who love having fun as well. I believe that life is to be enjoyed, and when we go out, it should be lit. So I definitely like people who also like to enjoy life and have a good time. Basically, we work hard and play hard too.
There’s a saying about how you’re the average of 5 people you interact with, and it’s so true in my case because if you look at my friends, you’ll better understand the kind of person I am.
How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?
For networking, I believe in networking based on shared interests. So a book lover for example, might join a book club because when you have similar interests with a person, then it’s easier to build a relationship.
Another thing that works well is using recommendations or referrals to build a network. You can ask people who already know you, to introduce you to people whom they think you will be able to connect with.
As an example, when I am travelling or going somewhere, I will ask my friends to connect me with someone cool in the city I’m visiting. The great thing about this is that since your friends know you very well, they will know the kind of people to connect you with. You can also talk about what you’re interested in learning, or what questions you want to ask and request to be connected to people who could help you out.
Also, I keep an eye out for people whom those I respect talk about. One instance of this was with my then boyfriend, now fiance. He used to speak about this particular woman and how intelligent she is, so I asked him to connect us and introduce me to her. We were able to build a relationship and now she’s on the board at She Leads Africa.
Is it okay to just DM or email people and ask them to mentor you?
In the case of just randomly texting people and asking them to mentor you, I think it’s okay provided you do it in a thoughtful manner. So I recently addressed this in our Motherland Mogul Insider program, when I spoke about how to build relationships with mentors.
One tip I would give is, instead of overwhelming people by asking them to mentor you, you can just send a message to say that you love what they do and then ask them if they have time to chat with you about 2 or 3 questions, which you can list out.
Then over time, you can just keep in touch and build an organic relationship by updating them about what you’ve done and finding ways to even be helpful to them.
Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?
My major tip is to understand that relationships are give and take, and so even if this is a senior person you’re connecting with, just find ways to help them. It could be sending them an article to help them with what they’re working on or recommending someone for a job with them. Definitely find ways to offer them something, as they give you advice.
Another tip is respecting people’s boundaries. For example, if someone says I don’t have time right now to mentor you, then you shouldn’t get offended. Instead, you can back off and check back with them in a couple of months and see if they have the time then.
It’s important to understand that people have a lot going on and may be unable to give what you’re asking, so recognising that boundary is very important.
Lastly, just be authentic. Don’t always try to be friends with the rich and famous people. Find people you respect and vibe with.
#MyGrowthSquad series is powered by Molped (@MolpedNigeria). Connect with them on Instagram.
How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?
Apply some Emotional Intelligence!
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.
Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:
1. Be self-aware
The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.
Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?
2. Listen Intelligently
Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.
Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.
3. Understand your clients’ personalities
Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.
Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.
Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.
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 Consultingin February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.
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.
Mariam is a writer and the founder of TheBookDealer.
Her prose has appeared in the Guardian Ng, Brittle Paper, Arts and Africa, ITCH Creative Journal and Litro Magazine UK.
She writes monthly articles for ArtxJuJu, a brand committed to challenging the demonization of African culture, which Mariam also co-founded
In 2016, Mariam had a major depressive episode that caused her to fold inward and spend a lot of time alone, and avoid people. Books were her only companion.
In each book, there was a new story with new characters whose lives were different from hers. She had the liberty to travel far and wide within a book. For Mariam, reading a book was a form of therapy.
In a bid to share that warmth with people, Mariam realized that the average Nigerian is faced with inaccessibility to books.
TheBookDealerNG is an online bookstore that provides access to African Literature. African literature because the only thing better than the warmth of a good book is a book that sees and validates your existence.
Dr. Rebecca Achokpe Andeshi
Business: Awe Farms and Consult
Dr. Andeshi is the founder of Awe Farms and Consult. A cloud-based digital platform that provides farmers in rural areas in Nigeria with instant financing solutions and veterinary services with the use of a drone for efficient disease diagnosis and delivery of veterinary supplies in remote livestock farming communities.
She was motivated to start her business because of the inability of smallholder farmers to afford high-quality input.
This has always been a pain point for her as a third-generation farmer. Thus discovering that farmers live on less than $1.25 a day was a rude awakening for her.
Dr. Rebecca now provides digital input financing to smallholder farmers in Nigeria from recycled agricultural waste increasing productivity by 33%.
Cynthia is a multi-award-winning textile designer passionate about eradicating extreme poverty using capacity development and entrepreneurship, by infusing old cultural practices and technology.
She learned the trade from her mother who used her Tie & Dye making skills to get her family through school.
Cynthia has been recognized as the top textile artist by World Bank & International Finance Corp as one of the Next African 100 startups for building a sustainable textile industry in Africa.
Cynthia’s desire to sustain and promote Nigeria’s cultural heritage and indigenous method of hand-dyed fabrics, uses this method to empower women and the empowerment is reflecting in these communities by creating a sustainable industry.
She wanted to help others like her mother get more out of life, curb unemployment and preserve the Nigeria cultural textile heritage.
Omoh is the founder of the Street Waste Company – a social enterprise in the environmental and waste management sector.
Their core focus is on waste recycling collection and waste upcycling training.
The company’s business goal is to encourage people to embrace a culture of waste reduction, reuse and recycle to attain a sustainable environment.
Her company also gives advisory services to corporate clients, collect recyclable waste and partner with organizations through their corporate sustainability programs.
Omoh’s motivation for starting the Street Waste Company was borne out of a passion for making an impact and creating a solution to the endemic waste problem around us.
Having studied environmental management at the masters level, she realized the basic solution to this menace is attitudinal. So she Co-founded SWCL where they encourage people to imbibe the culture of waste recycling through our incentive-based scheme.
INTERG brings to children the Fun and Learn Tablet.
This tablet comprises smart games with several stages of learning and engagement, providing an exciting new way to change the learning content as children grow.
In 2018, Tola volunteered to teach with an NGO to give back to her community. She realized how difficult and boring learning can be for the average Nigerian Child.
She spent a lot of time trying to find teaching aids online and eventually decided to create an app for mathematics, which was well-received by all her students.
Even though she was unable to create an app for all subjects, she had found a solution that she was determined to monetize. In many ways, INTERG is simply building a product that speaks to a historical problem with learning.
It is an innovative online platform that connects students with verified local teachers who deliver one-on-one lessons in any subject, skill or exam, to help students or learners meet their learning expectations and also enable passionate tutors to earn extra income.
As a little girl in primary school, Lillian struggled with learning and understanding in a class of over 40 students. Her aunt decided to take her to a personalized class.
This involved a peer to peer learning and within the shortest period of time, she emerged the best in class and since then has been an advocate of peer to peer learning.
This overwhelming class population density coupled with differences in student’s learning pace has resulted in a significant decline in learning outcomes of students in Nigeria over the past 10 years, reducing exams success rates from 40% to less than 20% in major exams.
Globally, conventional methods of education are transitioning from centralized to distributed, and from standardized to personalized.
This is why she created EduPoint, which serves as a solution that bridges the gaps between helping learners meet their learning expectations while improving the livelihood by providing employment for these professionals.
So far, they have delivered over 30,000+ hours of learning to over 100 learners directly and over 1000+ learners indirectly in Nigeria which includes K-12 children, youths and adults and has generated over $30,000 in revenue.
She was motivated to start after she realized there was a lack of convenient, healthy, and affordable food for the busy African.
Balance Bowl is a tech-enabled health and wellness company that offers busy Africans access to delivered meals, licensed dieticians, fitness coaching, as well as other healthy living content from the convenience of the mobile app.
Welima Tea is about transforming rich African medicinal recipes into teas that would combat different levels of pain ( menstrual cramps), promote well-being, and actualize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)Goal 3.
Nyemachi got the opportunity to do her pre-clinical rotations in The Gambia. 10-15 days every month, pains were the order of the day because of the menstrual cramps she suffered.
For a while, she thought something else was wrong because the pains were unresponsive to any medication prescribed.
This continued till her doctor suggested she research on alternative medicine and analyze it with her knowledge in medicine and that was how Welima Tea began.
Oyindamola is the founder of Simbi Interactives – an edTech startup that is solving the problem of poor education in Africa by using Simbibot.
Simbibot is an artificial intelligence-powered product- that can give every child access to quality education and equal learning opportunities.
Oyindamola Adesina’s childhood ambition was to study medicine, because as an individual living with sickle-cell, she felt she needed the medical knowledge to help herself and others living with the disease live better lives, and, if possible, eradicate it.
She ended up studying Water Resources, Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology in the university motivated Oyindamola to help every pupil get access to quality education and equal learning opportunities regardless of the conditions that might hinder them.
Oyindamola is using Simbibot to ensure that quality education available, accessible and affordable to all kids.
Safehaus-UKNigeria is a concierge service which provides working mums with young children thoroughly vetted staff to look after their home.
Cynthia was motivated to start Safehaus-UKNigeria as a result of the inability of her older siblings, their children, expatriates/investors to visit because of the insecurity in the country.
Safehaus-UKNigeria also helps expatriates and Africans living in Diaspora, with a trustworthy and security-conscious logistics service, so they can focus more on their business and less worry about their personal safety and security.
Oncopadi is Africa’s 1st digital clinic improving access to “medically verified” information and survivorship services via integrated social features.
Oncopadi is a health-centered initiative that leverages data, research, digital technology and impact of scale to reduce the cancer burden in Nigeria.
In Adaorah’s 4th year of medical school, she lost a friend to hepatocellular carcinoma, 6months following diagnosis.
She remembered feeling helpless, as she watched him become socially withdrawn and its effects on his family.
During her LUTH clinical rotation, even higher numbers of cancer mortality were recorded. It was in this pain Adaorah found the strength and purpose to pursue a career in Oncology.
As a grassroots cancer physician, she has learned that patients have sensitive topics surrounding their diagnosis & care which they preferred discussing with survivors, as many were misinformed and some just needed a less bureaucratic means to access their doctors.
Business: EduLead Concept
Ifeanyichukwu saw the need for children to learn more effectively and express their innate creativity and that is her driving force.
Her business is solving the problem of unavailability of animation training platforms, with which children could learn more effectively and creatively.
EduLead Concept is a company that provides Educational Technology Services to children in the nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Their core service is Animation Kids Club, an after-school training activity for primary school children where they are equipped with animation skills with which their creativity can find expression and also improve in learning.
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 skincare 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.
Meet Lynda Odoh
Lynda Odoh-Anikwe is the CEO and founder of Healthify Africa.
She is a Medical Doctor from the University of Nigeria and started Healthify Africa. Healthify Africa is an enterprise that strives to tackle the dietary risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
In the course of her daily interactions with patients, she realized that people were most driven by convenience and availability when making healthy lifestyle choices.
Lynda decided to start a fruit delivery service. She hopes this will create an enabling system for busy urban dwellers, to conveniently meet the World Health Organization’s daily fruit recommendation for a healthy life.
Her vision is to see an African continent where adopting a healthy lifestyle is easy, practical and sustainable.
When I began to practice as a medical doctor, I saw that there were so many instances of non-communicable diseases that could have been avoided by a simple dietary change.
I started Healthify Africa because I wanted to create a solution to the problem of non-communicable diseases. My goal with Healthify Africa is to address dietary risk factors.
I do this by providing a service that helps busy people adopt healthy eating habits. This is done through a simplified system and healthy lifestyle advocacy.
At Healthify Africa our focus is on increasing the consumption of fruits for busy urban dwellers through a delivery platform. By providing affordable fruit boxes, fruit cups, fruit and dip platter to school children, homes and offices, we’re building a healthier Africa one person at a time.
What was your motivation for finally starting your business?
For me, it was because I had been in similar situations and I understood the challenges people face in trying to adopt and sustain healthy dietary habits.
I grew up in a health-conscious family and I grew accustomed to having a very healthy diet. However, when I became a young adult and my schedule became tighter especially during my internship, it became extremely difficult to eat the right things.
It was a situation of knowing the right thing to do, but being unable to do it. I knew then that there must be other busy young people like me, men, women and even mothers who wanted their children eating fruits but were pressed for time as I was.
That for me was a huge community need that I passionately wanted to see addressed. So I made the decision to become the change I desired by creating an enabling platform. A platform that supports healthy food choices so as to help myself and others with the same challenge.
What makes your brand stand out?
Healthify Africa is not just another food company, that caters to only satisfying hunger. Instead, my brand is particularly focused on ensuring that everyone has access to the daily consumption of 400g of fruits, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The vision is to create a world where healthy eating is most practical and the dietary risks of non-communicable diseases reduced to the barest minimum.
That, as well as our commitment to healthy lifestyle advocacy, has been a huge attraction for our clients because they can see it.
What are three things you struggled with when your business kicked off and how did you overcome them?
When I first started my business, a lot of people did not understand what we were trying to do and that equated to zero orders. We had to create a lot of awareness about the health benefits of patronizing our convenience-based service.
Also, through our follow-up and feedback system, we tried to encourage our clients to make referrals and this has continued to help our brand.
Secondly, being a fruit delivery service, food hygiene, presentation and safety during transit were some of my topmost priorities. It was a challenge finding the ideal packaging that met all the criteria and would still fit into our production cost.
I did my online research and eventually was able to find a reliable supplier that we now work with.
Finally, it was important that our fruit packs get delivered in a cold temperature range for a great client experience. This was a challenge when we had to deliver long-distance orders. This was an issue because there is currently no thermostat equipped delivery services operating in Abuja where we operate from.
To overcome this, we currently partner with a reliable express delivery service and improvise with ice packs in the chillers for long-distance deliveries. Hopefully, in the near future, we can have our very own thermostat equipped delivery bikes.
How do you stay above the noise in your industry?
We made sure to implement a system of receiving and acting on feedback, from early on in the business so that we know what exactly our clients want and tweak our approach to offer them that.
This has been really helpful in building a business that our clients love and customer retention as well.
Did you have any personal experience that taught you a business lesson?
Before I started my business, I had a few unpleasant experiences with logistics. On one occasion, I was to make a trip and I had made an earlier arrangement with a cab driver. However, on the morning of the trip, he was a no show, which made me have to find another one. To cut the long story short, I ended missing the bus I was to get on.
When I began my business, I took that experience with me and created a better delivery structure. I ensure that all delivery arrangements are made on time to avoid communication-related challenges. As a second step, I also make backup plans to ensure that I don’t disappoint my clients.
Can you tell us of any impact have you made in your community since you started your business?
As a medical doctor, I am really passionate about helping people live healthier lives and I made sure to infuse this into my business.
Through my brand, I have been able to raise awareness about the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Also, we have encouraged people to sustain a healthy lifestyle by organizing health and fitness challenges.
Most recently, we actively participated in the 2019 global week for action against Non-Communicable diseases. We engaged in a social media awareness campaign (#enoughNCDs #healthifyafrica) and an educational video series with a team of Doctors.
Can you share your 2019 goals with us and what you’ve done so far to achieve them?
Since we had already introduced our business, our 2019 goal was to broaden our client base. Our method was to strictly implement feedback from clients. Also, we started building partnerships that will ensure quality product delivery and unforgettable customer experience.
After doing this for some time this year, we have recorded an increase in the number of clients that have requested for our service. This is something we are going to keep doing since it’s bringing positive results.
We believe it has laid a great foundation for more successes with so many growth possibilities ahead and we are optimistic about that.
What are three interesting things about you?
The first is that I love DIY’s. I have actually painted my room from start to finish on two different occasions just for the fun of it. The last is that I love the power bikes but I’m too scared to get one yet.
What’s your favorite self-care routine?
I like to get soaked in a warm bath after a stressful day. I simply light my candles and toss in some petals. After that, I take a mental trip to wherever the CALM Meditation App takes me to, preferably the waterside.
How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA, sponsored by SheaMoisture?
I feel absolutely ecstatic! When I first saw the email from SLA and SheaMoisture, I was so excited. I had to read it over and over again to make sure it was really for me. Thank you so much She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for this opportunity.
What is one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/ services?
You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.
Entrepreneurs are known to possess specific skills that fuel their desires to start, manage, and succeed in a business venture. These traits, however, are also being seen as contributing negatively to their mental health at a given time in their lifetime.
Recent investigations indicate that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer mental illness. According to Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist, psychologist, and former CEO, entrepreneurs are 50 percent more probable to report having a mental health breakdown, with some particular conditions being more prevalent among founders.
In a recent study, Dr. Freeman observed that up to 72 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health issues.
The findings from the research indicate that entrepreneurs are:
Twice as likely to suffer from depression
Six times more likely to suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
10 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
Twice as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization
Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts
Let’s talk about Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is not merely the absence of mental health challenges.
It is the “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.
Also known as mental well-being (MWB), mental health, which is traditionally studied in medicine, psychology, and public health, is increasingly gaining attention in other disciplines as well.
Scientists, psychologists, economists, management experts among many other experts are taking an interest in the mental health issues of entrepreneurs.
The experts have concluded that mental disorders are not only common but may, in fact, fuel the entrepreneurial spirit.
According to Michael Freeman – executive coach to entrepreneurs and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine…
“Mental health conditions are accompanied by positive traits that enable entrepreneurs to excel.”
Take ADHD, a condition that research suggests is more prominent among entrepreneurial types.
“If you have ADHD, two of the positive traits are a need for speed and an interest in exploration and recognizing opportunities,” he says. “[you have] an ability to act without getting stuck with analysis paralysis.”
Entrepreneurs are recognized as contributing to economic growth, innovation, and job creation across the world. They do so by identifying and addressing the needs in a particular market.
The late Steve Jobs referring to entrepreneurs said, “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
In the midst of stiff competition and many challenges, entrepreneurs have to employ strict and strategic measures to remain in business. By so doing, these business-oriented individuals often neglect their wellbeing in a bid to grow their ventures.
Although in the past, entrepreneurs’ mental health has not received much attention, recently, leaders across the world have begun discussing mental health issues to create awareness on the matter.
Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. World leaders including the UK’s Prince William, CEO of HSBC, among others, shed light on mental health problems in a therapeutic and non-stigmatic way.
The mental health crisis in start-ups
With such alarming and scary statistics, the question is: why are entrepreneurs more likely to experience mental health issues?
Speaking from his Nairobi office, director of Consulting and Training at People Centric Management Company, Ken Munyua shared with us insights on the following seven areas that make entrepreneurs more susceptible to mental problems.
1. Fear of failure/uncertainty
“Fear of failure has crippled many people even before trying,” observes Munyua.
Uncertainty and anxiety contribute negatively to our mental well-being. With so much competition, uncertainty is ever a looming phenomenon among entrepreneurs.
Remaining positive and pressing on in the time of our powerlessness should be the ultimate goal for any businessman/woman.
“Get out there and try; if it does not work, use the experience to improve on your next venture, Munyua advises.”
2. Social isolation
Incognizant of how they contribute to mental problems, those close to the entrepreneurs can create a social gap through alienation.
While entrepreneurs are excited about the new venture, often, the society including friends and family fail to offer the needed support.
Choosing to the non-traditional path can bring about social isolation as one focuses all energy and time into succeeding in the business.
Munyua notes that in the formative stage, in particular, entrepreneurs require more time to start and ensure the business survives.
During this time, many people in business are pressed hard in managing both business and social life.
Over time, the stress leads to sleepless nights, overworking, and lack of appetite or skipping meals due to work and the problems keep spilling over, which can lead to depression if the stress is not addressed well on time.
4. Impression management
One thing that entrepreneurs do well is acting like everything is working even at the edge of failure.
By creating this facade, entrepreneurs do not seek help even when they need it as they do not want to appear weak.
This disconnect between personal experiences, and what they share with the public creates insecurity, and a sense of confusion, further leading to stress, and consequently depression.
5. Inadequate resources to address mental health
Mental health resources in entrepreneurship, as is the case in other fields, receive little or no support.
As organizations and firms come together to fund and support budding as well as existing entrepreneurs, factors such as mental wellbeing of the businessmen and women should be factored into the budget.
6. Too many expectations
Munyua observes that Carl Rodgers, a renowned psychologist, warns that human beings are disturbed when expectations are not met. “Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Munyua adds.
Our mantra should be “expect nothing, and be prepared for anything,” as the saying by the Samurai of ancient Japan goes. We should be open-minded about the eventualities that might come; both positive and negative.
Munyua calls on entrepreneurs to have a go-to person (s) who is ready to support and invest in your well-being.
Moreover, establish a routine that allows you time off business or any other work-related duties. Use this time to rest and rejuvenate physically, spiritually, and mentally.
This month of October, our theme is Girl Talk. We’re touching all topics relating to your personal life, mental health and so much more. Got something to discuss with us? Send us a DM to ASK SLA here.
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.
Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.
Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.
She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.
When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.
After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.
I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…
I will talk about myself and my own experience here.
When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’
Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.
So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.
With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.
But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.
Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?
I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.
I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.
There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.
We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.
How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…
In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.
Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.
At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.
It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.
We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.
Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…
We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.
BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate.
We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.
We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.
It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.
There is something very powerful about collaboration.
We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.
What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year.
The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…
Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.
After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.
So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…
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.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.