Owning and tailoring your career journey

Think about a career as a personal journey. How person ‘A’ makes it work, is never the same as how person ‘B’ makes it work. In an industry with hundreds of skilled talent coupled with the rapidly evolving times, how can one still remain relevant?

Now more than ever, is the time to be intentional about what you bring to the table; what makes you unforgettable? Point in case the career journey of popular Nigerian Media Personality; Toke Makinwa, talk about a career-journey centered around a person. From making the big move from Banking to Media, to the ‘wow’ factor she maintains on various media platforms from TV, to vlogging, to appearances. The key to her progress has been owning her unique career journey.

How do you create a career journey tailored just for you? The three P’s for writing your script are: Purpose, Place, and Plan!

 

A lack of Purpose means lack of perspective

The secret to a knock-out career is a personal vision. What is your ‘why’ and how can the world benefit from this? Quickly identifying this helps you to know right where you fit in. Think about it this way: without ‘you’ there is no career. So, authenticity is required to create or find the right opportunities for you.

This is what will enable you to be successful irrespective of the dynamism of your sector. So, what if machines took over your sector, how would you evolve to stand the test of times? The answer is ‘you’.

I have always envisioned a world of more women of substance, who are relevant and living their authentic lives. This is my personal vision and it translates in the kind of career choices I have made. Through my various roles as writer, administrator and civil leadership, my purpose has not changed.

Knowing your place means there is a vacuum just for you

What are you able to bring to the table? Remember it is all about you, and how you can make everything work in your favor.

What has kept Ms. Tyra Banks relevant until now, is mapping out a career journey that only she can execute. What is your place in the industry you are in? Where can you work or not work? The journey becomes even narrower.

It takes consistency to find a niche or establish a track record, but when you are able to say; what exactly you bring to the table? where you can function in terms of delivering your personal vision? Then you are on to a great start.

In my case, after identifying how I can add value to their female audience, I developed my niche as a columnist on a lifestyle blog for women. I created a column for aspirational women; for daily motivation and personal development. This was how I started out, which in turn enabled me to learn a lot about myself, and evolve. I have built my career on this foundation.

 

Draw up a plan for you or go home when their plan changes

I mentioned Tyra Banks earlier. Actually, Tyra was forced to make sustainable career plans when her industry rejected her. If she took the list of designers who said they couldn’t book her anymore, and admitted that she was done, she wouldn’t be who she is today. Instead, she rewrote her narrative by creating opportunities for herself, and owning her journey.

Having found a purpose and a place, then there has to be a great plan to keep you relevant. Like a custom-made strategy just for you.

In formulating a plan, ask yourself the following questions: What is the right network for me? Where is the right environment? How can I gain more confidence and gain experience? What is crucial to remaining relevant? In answering these questions, you will be able to formulate a career strategy for yourself.

 

In closing

I have been able to identify opportunities that re-enforce my competencies, which in turn enable me evolve in my career. This consistency has helped me to learn more about myself, and envision where I would like to be in years to come.

I first started out as a content creator for women, but I have evolved to channel my passion of empowering women, into development work and not just media. As a key-employee in a women organization, I have first-hand experience in creating impact for women-relevance. The key  is identifying my core-competencies, and making every opportunity a stepping-stone.

If you are hoping for a ‘Toke Makinwa evolution’ or ‘Tyra Banks emergence’ then the way to go is to put yourself at the center of your career. Not the money, or being on fleek, or the goons you are rolling with. Think hard to make the right decisions. Long-standing personal brands are birthed from consistency.


How have you tailored your career journey?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

Passion: The key to thriving in your career

serena-passion

There is no career without challenges, regardless of who you are.  The only difference between a career that glows; radiating success at all ends and a career that blows; experiencing failures back- to- back, is the intensity of ‘fuel’ used for both the latter and the former.  Here, the ‘fuel’ needed is the passion, the zeal and the will to either glow or blow.

slay-passionIt takes more!

It’s not enough to only have dreams and visions for your career, it’s pertinent to also have a driving force which will lead you to those goals in the long run. In other words, It’s not enough to know what you want to do, you’ve got to know what makes you do what you do because this is what will keep you going when the heat gets hotter.

According to Chika Akinwale, founder of Cambridge Leadership Academy, “A vision is fueled by a deep desire or conviction within”. This is where passion comes in.

 

Passion keeps you going…

The fact is, challenges will come at every stage of one’s career, but, the truth is that, you have the power to either be burned by the heat or go through that heat and come out refined.

Going through the heat is definitely not an easy task in any career; this is why you need to be constantly fueled by passion. The awesome truth about it is that it is not static. It drives you to thrive, even in stagnant times.

Passion is like a stronghold, when the heat burns at whatever stage in your career, you will gradually rise above the ashes of your fears.

 

…the language of go-getters

Look through the tunnel of time past, you’ll see stories of great men and women who failed countless times in their various careers, yet, in the long run; they became world champions.

These achievers were definitely not of the same age, race or gender; they only spoke a common language; the language of passion. The fact is, they failed at one point or the other. But, the beautiful truth is that, they went through the heat from the kiln and came out stronger, with well baked triumphs!

 

The big picture

Here’s the big picture: the same heat that makes gold out of a career; can fold that same career. People go through the same challenges and come out with different results. The big question here is: what makes the difference?

Passion!The difference between those who come out with solid results and others who are left with melted goals.

It takes passion to not just keep holding on, but to keep taking positive steps inspite of the heat, until you get your desired results.

 

It’s all on you!

Despite popular belief, the main hindrance to career success is not necessarily financial setbacks or a lack of resources. The main hindrance is you. ‘The you’ with little or no passion for what you do.

The driving force to your career goals can be achieved efficaciously when your ‘fuel tank’ is filled with passion. This will only come effortlessly when you love what you do. When you love what you do, failure won’t be an option. Your passion will keep your eyes on what lies beyond the heat.

 

Your passion may not prevent challenges, but it won’t let challenges stop you either.

Even with passion, you’ll still ‘sweat’ (that’s why challenges can be synonymous with ‘heat’). It’s high time we understood that without passion, one will definitely be discouraged when the heat in any career starts to burn.

You need not be afraid of challenges, only be alarmed when you have a dwindling passion. With passion, you may fall on your face, but you will have the energy to keep rising.

At the end of it all, the choice is yours!  To either glow or blow, to either be refined or burnt; but, always remember, beyond the heat lies a stronger, more fulfilled and refined you!


How do you keep the passion burning in your career?

Let us know about you and your story here.

 

 

 

 

Monique Ntumngia: Unpack your fears and take bold steps to conquer them

Monique Ntumngia

Monique Ntumngia is a human rights advocate against violations on women and girls. She is very passionate about entrepreneurship and promoting sustainable development in Africa with the use of renewable energy.

Currently she is the President of the Green Girls NGO and CEO & Founder of Monafrik Energy. Her impressive track record includes: 3000 households supplied with biogas, 672 young girls trained, 23 communities helped and tremendous media exposure in Africa, Europe, America and Asia. 

Monique Ntumngia has been the Director of Sales and Marketing of Heta Energy in Cameroon and Program Officer in charge of Gender and Human Rights for the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education. She started her career as company Executive Legal Assistant for Human-As Cameroun. Monique fluently speaks English and French and  is a holder of an LLB Law from the University of Buea in Cameroon.

Cameroon’s Green Girls Project has trained 672 girls, provided over 3000 households with biogas and installed solar panels in over 100 homes Click To Tweet


Can you tell us more about the Cameroon’s Green Girls Project?

The Green Girls organization’s activity is to render girls financially independent through inclusive educational tech training on renewable energy, in a bid to eliminate poverty and fight climate change.

Since activities commenced in October 2016, 672 girls from 23 rural communities have been trained- from 3 out of the 10 regions of Cameroon. Over 3000 households have been provided with biogas and over 100 homes installed with solar panels.

 

How do you select the girls to train and what’s the duration of training?

Communities are chosen based on a sample resulting from a native never- seen- before SDG scoring model. Eligible communities are pre- selected with the participation of donors or grants.

In that community, the number of girls to undergo training is shortlisted, representing the demography of the locality. The flexible constraint for Green Girls is to target girls aged 14 – 18 years.

Training runs from a week plus, depending on the number of girls and the community.

Cameroon’s Green Girls Project

How are you able to support this project?

The project is mainly supported by grants from donor organizations, the cross fertilized team made up of: Cameroonians, Senegalese and French and strong partnerships.

 

What obstacles would you say that you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?

Obstacles encountered have been numerous ranging from economic, social, cultural, technological, regulatory and demographic.

Economically, the cost of training is very high and funds from donor organizations are not always easy to come by There is also the high cost of equipment and transportation to the communities.

Social obstacles include the orientation of mindsets to adopt clean green practices and language barrier.

The resistance to using renewable energy to cook because of fears that food cooked with biogas wouldn’t taste properly was a bit of a cultural obstacle.

Technologically, the training requires accurate expertise in the domain of renewable energy which is not easy to have because not many are trained in the field of renewable energy.

Regulatory authorizations have not been easy to acquire permitting the training to be carried out in communities.

Demographic obstacles include the massive trend of rural exodus in the communities.

Cameroon’s Green Girls Project

What are some of the traits every lady should adopt in order to succeed?

The traits every lady should adopt to succeed are:

a) Unpack your fears and take bold steps to conquer them

b) Find a mentor

c) Be passionate about what you do and be focused

d) Stand your ground and show your strength

e) Always think positive and keep an optimistic spirit

Do you have any other passion projects you would like to develop?

Green Girls focuses on the actual project in order to trigger organic growth.

Share with us a fun memory from your teenage years.

Having to interact and empower young Muslim girls in Kano on the advantages of education.

 


Are you in the renewable energy field?

 Share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

From MIT to Harvard to McKinsey, Carolyne Njeri Gathinji Credits Her Success to God and to Going after her Goals with Undivided Attention

“God’s fingerprints are evident in the people He put on my path” says Carolyne Njeri Gathinji.

Carolyne is an MIT and Harvard graduate who currently works at McKinsey & Company. Njeri has excelled through life, whether it was at the Alliance High School in Kenya, a prestigious all-women boarding school, or at UBS after MIT. She is a consultant who loves traveling the world. Her best self-care tips? Same as Kerry Washington’s: getting her nails did. No wonder she is such a gladiator!


 

Who is Carolyne Njeri Gathinji and what gets you out of bed every day? Give us a brief tour of your life.

She is a simple, light hearted lady who is living a life she had never envisioned for herself. An optimist with a disproportionate share of joy, seeking positivity and positive energy. She is an extroverted introvert who enjoys bringing people together and forging connections. She is a Kenyan (from Nakuru) living in Boston and working as a management consultant.

Many people have been part of my journey. I could not get to where I am by walking alone. I am motivated by their belief in my strengths, their support along the way and the ability to inspire others. Secondly, my job gives me the opportunity to work with brilliant, ambitious and interesting people to solve clients’ problems. Getting to the solution becomes fun when surrounded by great teammates and clients.

I spend most of my time in Boston with one or two trips to Kenya every year to visit my family. I love traveling so I’ve also established a tradition for a week-long summer vacation trip. During the rest of the year when I am at work, Monday – Thursday are spent at the client site, working with them to solve the problem. Given most of my clients are not in Boston, I find myself away from home most of the week. I get back to Boston most weekends and spend the weekend relaxing and catching up with friends. I am also currently helping a local Boston business think about its growth strategy.

 

You are incredibly achieved – Alliance, MIT, UBS, Harvard, McKinsey- what’s your secret?

Is there really a secret? If someone has discovered one please share…

As I said earlier, it really has taken a village! I wish I could say all this was part of a master plan that I worked on, crossing one thing off the list after another. The only one of these institutions I really thought of for years was probably Alliance. I had that dream growing up, probably from the age of seven; given the caliber of strong women I knew who had attended the school.

MIT only became an option in 12th grade when my physics teacher prompted me to apply to American colleges, and about a year later, I was packing my bags and leaving my family at 18 and taking my first flight of the country to Cambridge.

 

Having said that, when I decided to go for any of the opportunities, I worked with undivided attention on the goals I had set and tried to leave no stone unturned.

In the moment, it was a lot of hard work and a matter of sacrifice, but if your eyes are on the prize, you barely feel it. In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho talks about the fact that when you want something so bad, the universe conspires to make it happen. I believe this, but for me, it misses one crucial piece – the work you and the universe have to put in.

What I have found is that if you decide you will pursue something and put in the work, and make sure the relevant people in the universe are aware, they will work with you to make it come true. Of course, this presupposes that these relevant people are bought into your success and want to be helpful.

Although, I didn’t have the master plan, I believe someone did, and if I reflect on my entire journey, God’s fingerprints are evident in the people he put on my path, the strength and resources He provided and the favor upon my life. Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots looking backwards, and even in my short life so far, I have had to trust that the dots will connect in the future and given my all to what is happening in the moment.

 

You travel a lot. What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?

Each place is different and I find that there are always unique experiences to enjoy and cultures to learn from. If forced to pick, I would say Thailand is at the top, because of the breadth of experiences it offers.

You studied Mathematics and Management Science in undergrad, do you apply what you learned in Math in consulting? Any advice for younger women looking to study in the field?

Even though I do not use most of the complex Math that I learned, logical and critical thinking skills gained are very applicable in consulting. Inherently, we are solving a client’s problem, which is what a Math major does daily. You need to break the problem into structured bit-sized pieces that lead to the final answer. You need to apply certain known theorems and assumptions along the way. That is what consulting is about. Additionally, we do a lot of quantitative analyses for which a love for manipulation of numbers fits well.

Advice: First, let no one tell you that you cannot pursue or do math…refer them to Hidden Figures! Secondly, think of how you want to use your Math degree. There are many ways you could directly use it; as a professor, statistician, actuary etc. However, there are many other professions that would value a math degree and you have to figure out if you need to pair the degree with another to pursue a career in that field.

I combined my Math degree with Management Science since I wanted to go into Finance. Once you decide to study Math, realize that some classes will be easier than others, seek professors’ help as needed and do not despair along the way.

I loved math, and it came naturally to me, until I went to MIT where everyone was a math whizz and things were moving too fast. I failed my first math exam at MIT and had to take a makeup test to at least get a C on that exam. I ended up getting an A- in that class but again, lots of hard work involved.

 

How do you thrive in a foreign land? What hurdles have you had to overcome?

It’s not easy, especially if you’re from most African countries with a strong sense of community. I have had to create my little pockets of community as I’ve gone through the different phases. Whether it was the African students clubs, advisers, co-workers, friends and families in the area, I had groups of people I could rely on.

I also got reconnected with my distant cousins in Virginia who I would visit for the main US holidays like Thanksgiving Day. As part of the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, my fellow Zawadi sisters became my family away from home given we shared similar experiences.

Talking to family often was, and still is, my way of keeping in touch with what is happening back home. Technology has definitely made it better over the years.

Additionally, I had to deal with the reality of America, which Chimamanda Ngozi -Adichie so aptly describes in Americanah. The fact that race, a construct I had not thought much about growing up in Kenya, was one I needed to be conscious about. The fact that my hair would be difficult to take care of and be the subject of so many conversations.

 

Who is your role model and why? What books, or blogs keep you inspired?

I don’t have one single one. Generally, I find myself inspired by women who are pioneers, legends in their own right, who formed their own unique identities, having to withstand a lot of challenges to succeed. Wangari Maathai is one example.

I recently read a book on Sonia Sotomayor’s life (My Beloved World) and I am now reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s My Own Words, and I would include them in that list. In their own ways, these women are a big source of inspiration to young women and girls around the world. that they can go

Apart from biographies and autobiographies, I love good storytelling, and will get lost in anything that Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie and  Bikozulu (Kenyan blogger) write.

 

To go back home or stay in the U.S.? How do you keep engaged with Kenya/the continent?

I have thought about this a lot, especially recently, because on my maiden trip to the US, I had it in mind that I was going to stay for a maximum of ten years, which would be this August. At this point in my career, I think the breadth of experiences in the US offer the best learning opportunities for me.

However, I do believe the level of impact to be had on the continent outweighs what could do here, so I see myself making the jump at some point. How many years really? I’m not sure.

I visit Kenya at least once a year. When not in the country, I read a lot from local Kenyan newspapers and follow prominent Kenyans to understand the pulse of the country, I also ask about what’s happening on the ground whenever I talk to family and friends. Here in Boston, I also have a group of African friends who get together every so often and we discuss what is going on in the continent.

 

What’s your best self-care secret?

Physically, I would say mani-pedis do it for me. Sometimes you can even tell how I feel by looking at my nails.

But more importantly, I think it is what we feed our mind that really matters, especially today where most of what we are exposed to is negative.

Feed your mind and soul with what you want to grow. I personally watch comedy and have started a habit of writing at least two good things that happen every day. It could be different for every person, but still important to figure out what keeps your spirits up!


Do you aspire to become a management consultant?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

5 tips to starting a side hustle whilst working at your 9-5

When people consider launching a new business, most imagine quitting their jobs and risking it all. However, aspiring entrepreneurs should stick with traditional jobs, rather than take a complete leap of faith by quitting their jobs. This is to ensure they can take the necessary time to grow their brands whilst earning multiple streams of income.

A side hustle is a business you run in your free time, which allows you to pursue what you are most interested in. It is a chance to delve into different areas such as  fashion, food, hair ,the not- for- profit world  or whatever you are passionate about- whilst keeping your day job.

Yes we love working our 9-5’s! But, extra cash from something we really love is also necessary. The good thing about having a side hustle is that you can make extra money and use talents that are dormant in your 9-5 day job.

Starting a business whilst employed gives you the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the world, doing work that you love on your own terms. It is not easy as you’ll have to share and balance your time between your day job and business. But, it is possible.

 

Here are some tips for starting a side hustle:

 

Pinpoint your passion – choose something you are really good at, which people need and you can be paid for it. E.g. Event planning, logo illustrator etc.

 

Use your network – don’t be afraid to let your contacts know that you are open for business. Post it on social media, send emails, make phone calls get the word out!

 

Schedule and stick to the routine – make a routine or time for your business, like an appointment. Have a set time during the day to work on your side hustle. It is important.

 

Collaborate/Network – the bigger your community, the more potential opportunities you have. Also, always make time to meet with new people.

 

Hire an assistant – remember, you have a day job, and most of the time you won’t be able to have meetings with clients or customers. Hire someone who can help with the work while you’re at your job.

 

Starting a side hustle is not easy and you’ll probably  won’t get it right the first time. Just be patient, make sure you have planned and are organised and it will happen!


Do you have side hustle? How do you balance your side hustle and 9-5?

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi: I am motivated when I see people growing

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi
Skill empowerment has become the best way to thrive as an individual Click To Tweet

Oluwaseyitan Awojobi is the founder of Developing Afrika. Developing Afrika is an initiative set up to empower young people with skills needed to become an entrepreneur at little or no fee, thrive as entrepreneurs and establish a sustainable business.

Using social media she has raised an army of goal-oriented youth a and has succeeded in helping so many others reach their goal through free training.


What was your motivation in creating Developing Afrika?

In an environment where there are lots of unemployed yet talented youths, the crime rate has surged. There is also a decrease in proper jobs. Skill empowerment has become the best way to thrive as an individual whether male or female.

I came up with this idea in 2013 as a fresh graduate with the aim to target young secondary school students. However, due to limited resources and knowledge, I decided to put it on hold.

What has helped you to carry on so far?

Starting the journey now has been the most fulfilling thing I believe I have done. I am motivated seeing people grow, seeing people achieve their dreams. It hurts to hear that people who want to achieve certain things are unable to due to financial restraints or finding the right mentors. Being able to create that solution makes the difference to me.

When I tell people what I do, the first reaction I get is, “What’s in it for you, what’s your financial gain?” When I say nothing they go, “There has to be something you are gaining. What kind of business model is that.” I have learned to look beyond the snide comments and focus on the goal which is to reduce unemployment and help people achieve their dreams. I believe we can make Africa a continent to be reckoned with in the world.

It hurts to hear that people who want to achieve certain things are unable to due to financial restraints Click To Tweet

How did your growing up shape who you are today?

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, neither was I born poor. I didn’t have all I wanted, I still do not. However, I learnt to see opportunities in every situation.

I have had disappointments just like everyone else but I have also learned to rise above them and see the beauty in life. Life is beautiful to everyone who chooses to see it so.

What are your thoughts on women-owned enterprises?

I believe very much in women in enterprise. I support women working for themselves, being independent, and supporting people around them.

Also, I believe that irrespective of the girl power, all women must respect their husbands or partners as it has been commanded by God. Women can only learn this by learning to support themselves in their actions first not just by words.

What does your average day look like?

On an average day, when I’m not on the move, I’m in my shorts and top, exchanging emails and closing deals.

I also spend time running my business and praising God. I try to watch interesting movies too when time permits.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Giving it 110%: How to be a fitness entrepreneur and slay in your tech job at Google

bami bam bam boogie fitness entrepreneur
Bami, founder of Bam Bam Boogie has created a global operation from a ‘side hustle’ Click To Tweet

Imagine working at Google and trailblazing your very own dance fitness sensation. That’s what founder of Bam Bam Boogie, Bami is doing.

In less than a year, this Google marketing specialist and fitness entrepreneur has run fitness classes in Brazil, London, Vegas, Texas, Toronto, and Dublin. Talk about major multi-tasking and creating a global operation from a ‘side hustle’.

SLA contributor Abiola caught up with Bami to find out just how the heck she has achieved all of this in such a short space of time, and how this is only just the beginning.


Tell us about Bam Bam Boogie (BBB) and how you got started

Bam Bam Boogie is an Afro-Caribbean-inspired dance workout that pairs traditional fitness movements with authentic Afro-Caribbean dance styles to the beat of contemporary afrobeats, dancehall, reggaeton, soca, and hip-hop. We foster an environment of diversity and inclusivity: anyone and everyone is welcome at Bam Bam Boogie.

It all started following a rough time I was going through at the end of 2015. I’d just returned to the UK after my first ever trip back to my ‘homeland’ Nigeria, and although it was an amazing experience, I had a strong sense of emptiness. While ‘going back’ helped me see where I came from, there was still something missing and I couldn’t work out what. Something felt like it just didn’t fit. So after some soul-searching, and that took the form of working out. But being at the gym was so mundane, and it felt like you needed to look a certain way to fit in.

And that’s how BBB was born. I wanted to create a space where people who may not feel 100% confident in the gym, can workout, be free and have fun while doing it. So that’s what I did, and very quickly, it became the most popular Googler-led class at my work gym. (Googler is Google-speak for someone who works at the firm!).

Afro-Caribbean dance at Google? Find out how this woman makes it all work #TeamBoogie Click To Tweet

How did you get your firm to support the BBB movement, and keep supporting it even a year later?

We started as a diversity initiative to generate awareness, celebrate cultures and break down stereotypes in the workplace. That was our USP and it helped me to get buy-in and continued support from my firm. I only had to convince a handful of important people and from there the news spread like wildfire. There’s nothing like word of mouth. Very soon other teams and managers were asking for Bam Bam Boogie conferences and team events!

It’s a fun and easily accessible way to start an important conversation and I think that’s why the firm is so supportive. It strongly reflects their “bring your whole self to work” perspective.

What have been the highlights in taking BBB from some classes in Ireland to around the world?

It’s always amazing when I take BBB to other countries and people find out that I live in Ireland. They look puzzled, first they think, ‘where is that?’ and second, ‘there are African people there?’ It makes me proud to be able to represent the diaspora through BBB.

I loved taking the class to Toronto because that’s where I grew up and become heavily involved in Afro-Carribean culture. Everyone back home was super proud and supporting, and #TeamBoogie Toronto wish they could do classes weekly! I also loved doing it in Vegas because – it’s Vegas right? Everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas so I guess that’s all I can say about that workshop!

Finally, Sao Paulo was a major highlight because it was my first time in Brazil. The energy was amazing Brazilians can really move – they even taught me a move or two! I loved explaining the concept to Afro-Brazilians because they were so impressed to see someone who looked like them bringing their passions to the corporate world and thriving in both aspects. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

How do you get so many diverse collaborations and how have they helped your brand?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of different growing brands around the world such as blktckt concept online magazine (USA), u-wantit.com (Nigeria), Organo (USA), Kemetic Knowledge (USA) and Put Power (Canada).

I’ve been able to do this mainly through my network and very open personality. Yes, BBB is a brand, but it is an extension of my personality. I have made this very clear from the start, so within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, I have already told them about BBB. This helps a lot with word of mouth because it means I’ll always be top of mind. I also I seek out opportunities for myself using social media. I’ll search up relevant hashtags for example “#ukurbanwear” and I will slide into their DMs to see how we can add value to each other’s brands. I like to support brands I believe in especially if they have an ethos that supports Afro-Caribbean Culture.

These collaborations have helped add credibility to my brand as when people see these interviews, blogs, and videos they get to see the entrepreneurial side of BBB. The fact that it’s not just a dance fitness movement but a community used for empowerment and support.

How do you balance a high-powered corporate career with entrepreneurship?

Calculate how many hours you have in a day and break it up according to daily/weekly priorities. #productivity Click To Tweet

Balancing the two is never easy, and some weeks it feels like a 50/50 split in dedication, other times it feels like 110/110 and I’m burning out at both ends. But if you’re passionate you just have to keep pushing. My top 3 tips would be:

  1. Calculate how many hours you have in a day and break it up according to daily/weekly priorities. For example, I know that from the second I wake up I have 16 hours in my day (8 for work hours, 2 for travel time, 3 for eating). That leaves me with 3 hours so then I assign myself a 3 hour task of 3 x 1 hour blocks throughout my day to get it done.
  2. Use your “spare time” to listen to relevant audiobooks. During my lunch and daily commutes I try my best to listen to an audiobook or podcast related to personal-development, whether it be the latest of #AskGaryVee Podcast or an Inspirational Audiobook. This gives you the drive and knowledge you need to get through the toughest of times.
  3. Share your passion with your peers but don’t overshare. Let your colleagues know what you’re up to so they can support you in your endeavours. Bear in mind that they are a key part of your network and will be understand when you can’t make team events because you’re working on something. But be careful not to overshare, though, because not everyone has the same entrepreneurial passion and they could find it overbearing.

What’s most challenging about being an entrepreneur?

The most challenging thing and what most people won’t tell you about is the loneliness. Because social media is so carefully curated to only show the glamorous parts of our lives, it’s easy to forget the grit and elbow grease that it takes to make things a success.

There are periods of time where you need to isolate yourself from friends and family to get work done. I’ve missed out on countless social events and vacations in order to save money or work on a particular project that needed to be completed by the deadline. A wise woman once told me that “there is a price to pay for everything in life” and as an entrepreneur, you pay that price many times to make your vision a reality.

The most challenging thing and what most people won’t tell you about is the loneliness. Click To Tweet

What would you say to someone who has an idea but isn’t sure where to start?

Do a bit of market research (but not too much that it demotivates you), the easiest way is to do this is to use your network to find someone who is in the industry you want to get into. Ask them relevant questions about their journey and any advice they would give their former self.

Listen attentively, take notes, set yourself one actionable goal from this meeting and achieve it within the next 7 days. It sounds cliche but “just do it”. Let go of what people may think of you, 9/10 times they are just projecting their own fears onto you. You’ve got this!


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Follow Bam Bam Boogie on Instagram and look out for an event in your city.

#LiftAsYouClimb-Takeaways from SheHive DC

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There's a seat at the table for you and me. Lift as you climb Click To Tweet

In my junior year of college, I sat in the White House. I sat at the edge of my seat as I listened to women of color ranging from Chief of Staff members to representatives from economic policy and public engagement. These powerful women talked about experiences and lessons that they had learnt as White House Staffers, and as I took in everything, I appreciated the opportunity to sit, listen and learn.

I experienced a similar feeling of respect and gratitude as I sat surrounded by amazing black women at the SheHive DC conference this past weekend. There is something powerful about hearing from people who wield successful and influential positions, people who see themselves in you and who you can see yourself in. That being said, here are three key takeaways from the conference centered on your value proposition and how you can learn from others. The takeaways are: track your data, don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews and lift as you climb. I hope you learn something concrete that you can apply to your career, business, and life just as I did!

There is something powerful about hearing from people who wield successful & influential positions Click To Tweet

How you can provide value

In the “Building Partnerships” workshop with Afua Osei (co-founder of SheLeadsAfrica), Afua talked about one of the ways that her organization proved their value proposition effectively. In their proposals and potential partnerships, they were able to collect and measure relevant data. They could pinpoint exactly how much value they added to potential partners and sponsors based on data that they tracked including statistics like how many more followers they could bring to an organization’s social media presence.

Our world is increasingly becoming a more data-driven one, and the ability to measure data and showcase it in digestible ways will open doors to building partnerships and attracting sponsors in your business. A cool resource I want to share from a YouTube channel that I follow(shout out to TechChange!) that looks at everyday datasets and visualizes it is Piktochart. Piktochart is an easy way to visually represent data that you collect and it can help you start thinking more about collecting and representing your data!

The ability to measure data and showcase it will open doors to attracting sponsors in your business Click To Tweet

Learning from the people around you

Another valuable tool, that should come in handy is the informational interview. I first learnt the concept of informational interviews through one of my mentors (shout out to Davia!) Informational interviews are essentially interviews where you seek out and ask for an opportunity to meet people you admire and want to learn from.

At SheHive, Denise Horn, who is currently head of corporate communications at Turner Broadcasting, also emphasized the importance of connecting with people through informational interviews. A tip was to also ask these people for two other people within their circle that you can connect with!

During my job search, my mentor connected me to so many people doing amazing work in various sectors in her circle. These interviews gave me clarity on what I wanted to pursue career wise and the things that I was passionate about. It was amazing how people I didn’t know were eager to help me learn from them. I hope that you too will also seek out people that you want to learn from. Don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions and asking for informational interviews!

And finally one of my favorite takeaways from the conference: “There is a seat at the table for you and me. Lift as you climb.” My friend, Adoley, and I coined this quote as our takeaway from the conference. (And won a bottle of wine for it too ayee)

I am a product of the people who invested in me. The people who made time and shared their knowledge and experiences with me. Recently, I have been reflecting about the kind of footprint I want my life to leave as I transition from my undergraduate experience. And it’s one that embodies the theme of #liftasyouclimb.

The idea of trying to be a woman who actively encourages women around you. Someone who willingly shares tips, advice, and experiences, and connects people to others within your network when necessary. A lot of times, in our attempt to achieve success, we forget about other people that we can carve out time for and support to reach similar successes that we have had. We all have experiences that others can learn from and it’s important that, when we are able to, we share our experiences with others in a way that is constructive and beneficial.

We all have experiences that others can learn from & it's important to we share them with others Click To Tweet

Thanks to SheHive DC for that reminder. Track your data, don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews and lift as you climb.

Emefa Quashie: From beauty queen to farmer and social entrepreneur

emefa quashie
Mamagah Farms is an agricultural social project run by beauty queen Emefa Quashie Click To Tweet

It’s not every day that you hear the story of a beauty queen owning a farm. But the story gets bewildering when you notice that instead of just employing people to work on the farm (like some “modern” farmers do) she goes hands in and knee deep -getting her well-manicured nails in groveling dirt as she furiously uproots and plants, as she waters and nurtures and as she satisfyingly harvests and reaps.

Meet Emefa Quashie. A present farmer, social entrepreneur and an erstwhile beauty pageant winner. When she’s not furiously uprooting and planting on her farm (Mamagah Farms), she is lost in her studies for her MBA in Marketing or running Universal ChildCare Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports needy children.

SLA contributor Emma Kwenu Smith caught up with Emefa to get some insights on how to dominate in an unpopular agriculture career for modern young women and simultaneously use it to make a social impact.


Tell us about Mamagah Farms.

Mamagah Farms is a social project that mobilizes and empowers rural women farmers to adopt modern technologies in farming. We want to commercialize agriculture in rural communities in southern Ghana. Mamagah farms was established in 2015 with the main aim of empowering women economically through commercial farming and creating support schemes. These schemes create opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihood.

Currently, we work with female smallholder farmers in rural communities within the Southern part of Ghana. Simply put: We farm, we train and we support.

There are so many avenues for social entrepreneurship -why agriculture and what was the innovative idea behind Mamagah Farms?

I was born into a farming community, and my mother was a small holder farmer so I spent a lot of my days on the farm assisting her. Unfortunately, along the line I grew up with a warped misconception about agriculture. Growing up in a rural community, I always thought farming was for the poor and uneducated -after all, many folks there turn to farming to be able to feed their families and also make an economic living.

However, over time I came to appreciate the relevance of agriculture and numerous opportunities it presents to the youth. Mamagah Farms was born out of this realization. This is why I decided to take up farming –to send a message to the young women.

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Do you plan to diversify what you produce and expand to include other parts of the country? How are you preparing for this?

With over 200 acres of land in the Volta Region of Ghana, we specialize in growing and harvesting in maize and pepper. Unfortunately, and as is the same with any start-up, not having enough funds can slow down plans of scaling up. We are pitching for investors and hopefully, we would be able to work at optimum capacity, making full use of the land.

This way, we will be able to diversify our produce and grow a variety of crops to suit both local and international demands. Funding is everything especially for an entrepreneur who wants to leverage on technology to make farming simple and easier. There are plans to expand to other parts of the country and even West Africa.

Funding is everything especially for an entrepreneur who wants to leverage on technology Click To Tweet

How does your business as a social venture empower local women farmers?

Mamagah Farms is just like social entrepreneurship project. We apply business principles to solve societal problems. What we noticed is that there is potential for rural women farmers to cultivate on a bigger scale and learn the best farming methods which would ultimately impact their economic livelihood. Realizing this, we use the profit from Mamagah Farms for investments.

Apart from financially supporting these farmers to purchase inputs and commercialize their farms, we also partner with local organizations to provide training and extension sessions for these women. Most of the women who work with us are single mothers and while we want to fight poverty and promote empowerment, we want these women to have enough to afford to educate their children. An empowered woman means an empowered family and ultimately, an empowered nation.

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What challenges have you faced with Mamagah Farms and its related social projects?

My biggest challenge has been reorienting the minds of the local folks. As hardworking as they are, the tradition has created a certain mindset towards change. A typical example is technology. When you suggest the use of tractors, some believe that using tractors may disturb the peace of their ancestors. With such a mindset, how can we grow?

But it is not enough to recognize a challenge and leave it there. We take the women farmers through training programs, where we address these challenges. We show them concrete examples of how farming is done in first world countries and how we can get there. Culture and tradition can have a hold on people’s mindset, and it is important to give them the needed exposure in order to disabuse this mindset.

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Why should more women explore the prospects in agriculture in Ghana, and Africa?

In recent times, women are defying the odds and taking more risks in their careers. Why should agriculture and agribusinesses be any different? Can a woman not own a 10,000 acre farm and work on it herself, while managing others to work as well? Agriculture has never been and is not a reserve of men. Our natural disposition as women makes us more inclined to be the better farmers, we are nurturing and detail-oriented. This is an important quality.

There are several opportunities in agriculture we can take advantage of. From crop planting through to the distribution of produce, there are endless opportunities to explore. Food is a necessity. Africa has arable land and other resources, and there are always opportunities to meet the need for food produce.  If you get such an opportunity, why say no?

Agriculture has never been and is not a reserve of the man - Emefa Quashie founder of @MamagahFarms Click To Tweet

Aside farming, what are your other interests?

I study because I have to slay in my MBA.  Aside that, I love to visit the gym and play tennis. Having been a beauty queen myself, I enjoy beauty pageantry.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

How to deal with end of year disappointment

Many of us are nursing our failed New Years resolution from last year, let 2017 be different Click To Tweet

Happy New Year to you all. Congratulations we made it!!

It’s the first month of the year, and it seems like just yesterday that we were saying “2016 is going to my year” and I truly hope it was. I hope 2016 was the year you finally went back to school, or lost the last 10 pounds of your baby weight or quit your 9-5 and started your own business. If this person is you, “you go girl!” We are all so proud of you! Keep reaching higher in this new year.

But for many of us, we are nursing the wounds of our failed New Years resolution from last year. The gym membership you bought only got used in January, you never quite got the hang of sticking to the budget that was supposed to help you come out of debt and your business never made it to year two. This doesn’t mean that New Years resolutions are bad, in fact I hope you have started creating your list for this year.

For many of us after the countdown to the new year and getting our kiss at midnight, comes the new year blues. January can be the hangover month where we suddenly come face to face with all the things we didn’t do last year.

All the projects we started and did not finish. The relationships that was supposed to lead to the altar but failed. The friends that left us last year. It can all be very depressing. So before you get all moody for the new year or anxious to make new goals, here are some tips to help you deal with last years disappointment.

Be genuinely happy for your friends, your season is coming too

bande_des_filles dancing gifIf you are in the right girl squad, you should constantly see your friends succeeding. You should constantly be going to  store openings, weddings, baby showers, business launches and etc.

You shouldn’t be bitter at the successes of your friends, actually I would encourage you to get a new circle of friends for 2017 if your current circle isn’t full of girls constantly winning. So don’t get bitter, get better.

Remember that social media is just a highlight reel

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Okay, when did December become the “celebrate everything” month? By Christmas day, I had already counted 4 engagement announcements, 3 “Guess who is pregnant again” posts and 5 promotions and college acceptances. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for my friends. But before I sink into a depression, thinking that I am behind all my peers, I remember that people rarely post about their negative experiences on social media.

Never let social media be the measure of how badly you are doing or how much your friends are thriving. Social media can be dangerous because we have a front row seat to people’s strengths and achievements. At the same time, we are so intimately aware of our own weaknesses and failures.

I have a friend who posts things like “Grad school is kicking my butt, I gained 10 pounds and I didn’t get that job I wanted, but I will keep trying”. Now that is someone who definitely went on my gifts list for Christmas. We all need people who honestly remind us that the grass is not greener where they are.

It's okay to fail. Many of us forget that the mark of success is what we learned along the way Click To Tweet

Failure is okay —the only people who don’t fail are those who don’t try

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Nothing I say here matters. Because if you wont listen to Queen B, why would you listen to me? No but seriously, write a list of all the things you failed at last year. And then next to it, write all the things you learned even though you failed.

Many of us need to remember that the mark of success is rarely about the destination but rather the process and the lessons learned along the way. Sure you were denied that grant that you needed to run your business, but in the process you learned how to write a killer business proposal.

Not to forget, you nailed the presentation even though a year ago, public speaking terrified you. Does that sound like failure? So go on, make that list, and be pleasantly surprised at all the things you accomplished last year by “failing”.

Try again, this year tomorrow

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Seriously! Try again! Keep trying. Keeping going until you hear a “yes”. As a Motherland Mogul the only thing you should not chase is a man…Every other thing is fair game to be chased down.

If you are disappointed at the end of 2016 that is a sign that you know you are capable of more. Do you know what Africa would look like if all the girls who failed last year and those girls who succeeded this year decided to just keep trying? To keep pushing. Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep drawing. Keep building. Keep coding. Keep loving themselves.

Every single Motherland Mogul is capable of so much! Don't be scared of failure Click To Tweet

Whether you are in the failed bucket or succeeded bucket one thing is certain, there is room for so much more…and you know it! I cant wait to see all the many successes of Motherland Moguls this year. Every single one of you are capable of so much. #SquadGoals

Cheers to more winning in 2017!