Travel Hacks For The Budgetnista in You

Travel has become part and parcel of a millennial’s life. We prioritize traveling a lot more than we did over a decade or so ago. Why?

Because travel life is the best life that’s why. Visiting new places, experiencing new cultures, new cuisines and making lifetime memories while you’re at it?

What could be better than that?

That being said, the jet set life isn’t something people willingly get into because of the cost. SLA has a few tips and tricks on low budget travel that can possibly help change your mind…

1. Save Smart

It goes without saying that if you want to travel, you need to save for it.

Travelling requires sacrifice and compromise and good financial management. So if it means ditching your daily coffee run and carrying your own lunch to work for three months then so be it – every little bit counts.

We spend so much on little luxuries that we can actually do without if we think about how much we can save in the long run. If you have a financial goal to meet by a certain time – you will need to cut out some unnecessary spending habits. Save and save diligently.

2. Visas

Check whether the country you are traveling to requires a visa on arrival or one to be acquired before travel or none at all.

In regards to visas on arrival, be sure to check with the country’s consulate directly and not just Google.

For example – I was travelling to Mexico last year and being a Kenyan, I immediately knew I needed to get a visa and when I checked the requirements on the consulate’s website, the list mentioned that if you have a current US visa, you can still get entry into Mexico – no need to apply for a visa.

I called the consulate to confirm this and they did confirm it. Saved myself the process and the coins and had I not checked, I’d have paid for a visa I didn’t really need.

Please do your research when it comes to visas. The UK visa, for example, gives you access to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The US, Canada, and UK visa do also offer visa-free access to plenty of other countries with an entry of up to 15 to 180 days, depending on the country.

You do have to check whether your passport is eligible for such access though.  All this helps you void visa fees and the entire process altogether if necessary.

Some consulates require confirmed flight and accommodation bookings when applying for a visa. A trick to get around this – book your accommodation through booking.com, this site lets you book a hotel room without any payment required and you can cancel the booking within a particular timeframe.

This helps you get through the visa process without losing any money in case you aren’t successful in the visa interview. You can also reserve tickets without paying immediately with some airlines or travel agencies.

3. Best Time to Travel

It is always cheaper to travel during off-peak periods.

Traveling during the holiday season such as Easter and Christmas will cost more than any other time of the year.

The Summer season is also an expensive travel period especially to countries in the west. Here in Africa, peak times depending on the country. For example in Kenya, excluding the holiday season in December, other peak seasons include April (Easter holidays) and August (when the cold season here ends). Any other time of the year is off-peak season so perfect for traveling here.

In Europe, off-peak times include January – March or September – Early November. For countries in South-East Asia like Indonesia and Malaysia, the best time to travel would be during their monsoon season, which starts around November until March.

The weather is still hot and humid, just mixed with showers of rain from time to time.

The best days to travel in terms of affordability are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Majority travel is done from Friday to Monday so those days will have more costly travel fares.

For holiday travel, it would be wise to book a flight scheduled for a week before the actual holiday, i.e. a week or two before Christmas week or if you can’t leave that early, traveling on Christmas day is another option. It’s not ideal but it will be the cheapest ticket you get.

Flying on Christmas day or Thanksgiving day will give you the best rates on the low.

4. Flight Hacks

Searching for cheap flights is really an extreme sport sometimes but if you’re keen on various airline trends, you can find a loophole.

First tip – when looking for flights, browse using an incognito/private window.

Websites track your searches and you will always see the same rate on several different sites because they have picked up that you are looking. Either use a private browsing window or clear your cache every time you search so the sites have nothing to pick up on.

The best time to search for flights is a good three months in advance, the rates go up the closer you get to your departure date.

Flights with one or two stops tend to be cheaper than direct flights. As convenient as direct flights are, they tend to cost so much just because of said convenience.

Picking a flight with connecting flights saves quite a bit of money and for some airlines like Emirates, if your layover is 10hrs or longer, they automatically give you a transit visa which allows you to get out of the airport and put you up in a hotel for that duration before your next flight.

Join ALL the miles programs. Most programs are partnered with more than one airline, for instance, Delta SkyMiles program is partnered with KLM, Air France, Kenya Airways, Korean Airlines, Alitalia, China Airlines, etc…

So you can get miles from any of these airlines and use them on any of them too. The more miles you rack up the better your chances on using them to get upgraded/free flights.

Travel light when you can. Especially during domestic travel, you can avoid all those baggage fees by just having a backpack or a carryon suitcase.

5. Accommodation Hacks

Airbnb and Booking.com are some of the best sites to find affordable accommodation.

When traveling in a group, it’s better on your wallets if you rent out an apartment or villa, which come by super cheap in places like Bali and Vietnam instead of spending so much on resorts and hotels.

If you choose to stay at a resort or hotel, pick the bed and breakfast option. This saves on the money you’d have to spend on food throughout the day, the breakfast is usually buffet style, you could eat as late as 10 am and be full throughout the day thus avoid spending money on finding breakfast and lunch elsewhere.

Couch-surfing is another cost-effective way to travel. There’s plenty of people who are willing to offer their couches for solo travellers and backpackers, it’s free, you get to have your belongings in a safe place and you get to connect with locals all at once, it’s a win-win!

6. Live like a Local

Get to know your surroundings, don’t just stick to doing the cliché tourist activities that are popular in the city you are visiting. Walk the path less traveled, talk to the locals and find out what else is good to experience and explore.

The locals will shed light on what to do and what not to do, this keeps you from spending so much on overpriced city tours.

Check out event sites for that particular city, some cheap or even free events are always advertised on these sites and on Facebook. You can tour an entire city for as little as a simple subway/bus ride thanks to lots of free events.

Use public transport often – a lot more affordable than cabs. If the city has Uber/lyft/Grab, you should take advantage of those as well and avoid local cab services as they mark up the price if they know you are a foreigner.

Walk a lot. You’ll find that most times you don’t even need to take a cab or a bus. European and Asian countries especially are very walking friendly, there are also walking tours that you can take to acquaint yourself with certain areas of the city.

Walk often and get to know the area, the people and get your 10k steps in all at once.

7. Be Flexible

To travel on a low budget you have to be prepared to be flexible. Anticipate flight delays or cancellations, you may not get to travel on the days you have planned so being flexible with travel dates is also important.

Allow some flexibility in your itinerary; being in a new country not everything will work the way you are used to. Do not be tied to your plans, travel requires breathing room.

8. Use Your Network, Grow Your Network

If you’re planning to go to India and you happen to have had a college roommate from Mumbai or you may want to visit Southern Africa and you worked with someone from Namibia… hit them up!

Keep your contacts well especially if you have any international contacts, they really come in handy. They could help you with accommodation, give you some insider knowledge of their city/country, all of which can help save you money.

Having friends or family who work in hospitality i.e. big hotels can help you save money by letting you use their employee discount, it cuts the price by a good percentage – you could end up staying somewhere like the Marriot for much cheaper than what is advertised thanks to the plug from your friend.

Talk to other travelers, join various travel groups on social media, learn from other solo travelers and travel groups. 

Get to know your Airbnb hosts, they could be very useful (read free) tour guides because they know the area they live in better. Using your already existing network and growing it will benefit your travel life immensely.

Erika Atienza: From solo backpacking through Africa to becoming a Digital Entrepreneur

This is not a success story of a freelance solo backpacker who became a digital entrepreneur. Not a story of someone who went from nobody to become somebody.

This is a story of someone who used to live life passively, without a purpose other than to make it through the day okay, until finally realizing a dream, then realizing she can fulfill that dream, and eventually going after it.

This is a story of how I finally came to understand a lesson I’ve heard many times over – That there is nothing in this world we cannot accomplish if we really put our heart’s desire into it.

And it all started in Africa.

Erika shares how she became a digital entrepreneur and founded @whileinafrica by moving from the Philippines to backpack and volunteer through Africa. Read more... Click To Tweet

First, the Travel Bug…

I had a typical life with an 8-5 job and everything about my life was “okay”. It’s not bad at all. I was fortunate but I was definitely not living life on the edge.

But after being able to travel to a foreign country alone for the first time,  I had an epiphany that I wanted to see the world. Since that trip, it was just never the same for me. That night, I finally understood what passion meant. And mine was to see the world.

And so after 2 yrs of over-planning and some modest savings that were definitely not enough, off I went. I left despite the doubts because if I waited for the “right time”, I was afraid it wouldn’t come.

Buying my 1st and only backpack

Why Africa?…

I was choosing between South America and Africa and somewhere along my research, I found cheaper flights to Tanzania. And that was really the main reason why Africa ended up becoming my first solo backpacking destination.

Also, I thought it was exotic and I wanted to prove to myself that I can pull it off. Indeed, I was able to visit other African countries as well for the next few months.

Budget Problem. No Problem…

A few months before my flight, I looked for volunteering opportunities and ways to travel cheaply. I searched workaway for hosts but there’s really nothing in there that I found interesting.

Couch surfing community in the cities I wanted to visit seemed dodgy and everywhere else, there was only voluntourism.  A little deeper into my research and I had an “AHA” moment. I learned that safari tourism is big in Tanzania. In fact, all over East and Southern Africa.

I did marketing in my previous job so I’m familiar with the whole concept of “Ex-Deal”. Hence, I emailed every one of them in a personalized manner, introduced myself like a pro, and offered to help in their marketing in exchange for food and accommodation.

A few days later, I received another milestone in my backpacking career, someone actually replied and took me in.

And so, with my heart full, I went to Tanzania and for the next few weeks, I was staying at their office helping them out with marketing while combining it with tours here and there.

It was the perfect way to get to know the culture and experience the local life, just my kind of travel! I worked with Gosheni Safaris in Tanzania and experienced the local life

From Freelancer to a business owner…

After I left, my “boss” kept emailing and texting me about the things I have started while working for him. I carried on to politely help them and after some time of consistent demands, I had another “AHA” moment.

I presented the best opportunity they can ever imagine… that I work for them remotely.

They were thrilled with the idea and we came up with a fair price that later on increased to a modest amount that funded most of my travels. This idea fired me up and I basically traveled for the next 2 months in Africa, either looking for volunteering opportunities or trading off my skills.  

I continued to travel for a couple of years more doing the same thing until I finally decided to slow down a bit. As I had a lot of free time now that I wasn’t all over everywhere, I decided to take it up a notch and find a few more clients by emailing them and advertising myself.

Eventually, in 2018, I took another major step and built my own website, made everything official, and registered my humble digital marketing service.  

It’s worth mentioning that until this time, the same company in Africa where I first volunteered is still a client and they have passed on a lot of referrals to me ever since.

Looking back, I think the thing that made all the difference is that I always did my best while serving my volunteering time.

Even though I was not getting paid, even though I know I wasn’t going to work-volunteer for that company for long, I gave it my best shot and I always try to have fun. And it paid off in better ways I can imagine.

So always, always do your best. This is how you make impressions and build connections. A lot of opportunities can open by simply putting your best foot forward at all times.

Good times and shots with friends in Nairobi, Kenya.

Here are some lessons you can learn from my experience…

1. There’s no one right way to do things

You don’t need to have a big capital to start your own business. Especially in this day and age, even a kid can become an entrepreneur, all you need is creativity and courage.

In my case, the right dose of luck and creativity allowed me to build a modest lifestyle of being able to work from anywhere in the world and where I was able to combine my skills and passion.

But there is no one way right way to do things.

The first things to ask yourself are:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What am I good at?
  • What are my potentials?

Then try to think if there is a way where you can combine the two. The possibilities are endless!

If like me, you’re a born traveler but stuck at a job you semi-hate, set aside some time to find clients through Upwork or another online network, and save up until such time that you can quit your job and plan a life of travel around it.

If you travel first and then just find anything to earn money from, not capitalizing on your skills… It will be really difficult for you to sustain it.

Doing what you love will allow you to meet new friends and make your life even more colorful.

There’s no such thing as bad luck, only excuses - @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

2. Don’t be greedy, but know your Value

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally. When I volunteered, it didn’t matter that I was not getting paid at all.

Had I been greedy and negotiated for compensation on top of the free meal and accommodation, the turn out of things may have been different.

After seeing how I worked, they understood my worth and that gave me more than enough leverage to negotiate for what I thought I deserved.

At the same time, they trusted me even more, which added to their confidence in trusting my business not only in terms of skills but attitude as well.

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally - Erika @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

3. Just go for it and the universe will conspire to help you

I first came across this statement in Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”, years ago, and it stuck with me since. It sounds so cheesy but even after evolving as a person and having a change of perspective many times. I have always believed this because IT IS SO TRUE.

If you put your energy and focus into something you are passionate about, you can indeed move mountains.

4. There will always be doubts. Welcome them with open arms

No one is born a master of anything. Sometimes we doubt ourselves and fail so we can stand up and learn new things every day. That is simply the nature of life.

Without those, there is no life to live.  I still get insecure if I’m fit to deliver the service I’m selling and then I talk to potential clients who have no clue what to do with their marketing and I realize that I actually have a lot of things to share and they find it very helpful.

We were born in a society where success is defined in comparison to others, an unfortunate recipe of society. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Don’t let it be that way. We are successful if we achieve peace, content, and happiness in the things we love to do. Even more successful if we can feel the same joy for others too, regardless of gender, race, or religion.

Me and my husband, Martin, on a weekend trip while living in our previous home in Cyprus, with our friends from Russia, and our favorite all-purpose cloth (shuka) from Kenya

 I’m Asian and I’m married to a European, yet we put up a business for African tourism and blog about our travels because we fell in love with this continent and now consider it as our 3rd home.

Who knows how long I can carry on being a digital entrepreneur, maybe in a few years time I’ll decide to become a musician, perhaps a painter, or maybe I’d prefer to settle down as a housewife, and that is okay.

But for now, I’m still a backpacker, I still travel cheap, and definitely not rich (financially). But I found my purpose and I’m living my dream. And that’s more than I can ever ask for.

So ladies, do yourself a favor and get out of the box and let the world see what you’re capable of.

Find and live your passion and tell us your story.


Got a story you’d like to share with the world? Click here to share with us.

WAMBUI GICHOBI: On a quest to travel the world with her project – #Adventure197. (49 countries down)

Wambui Gichobi is a visual media producer based in Nairobi, Kenya with Survival Media Agency. Over the last 8 years, she has produced short films on issues regarding adaptation and mitigation for environmental degradation and social justice issues.
While working with SMA, she is currently trying to travel to all the countries of the world with her project Adventure 197. She is currently on country number 49 and hopes to cover continental Africa by road.
 
Wambui is an Environmental Science graduate from Kenyatta University, Keny, and a keen environmentalist with a specific interest in climate change and media for climate change. For the entire time of her career, she has followed the yearly international climate negotiations creating media with SMA yearly for environmental awareness.
 
She has been at the forefront of environmental activities in Kenya, initially heading Sustainable Africa Youth Foundation (SAYF) in university, which promoted environmental awareness and tree planting, especially in schools. 
She has also worked for the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Wines Agencies Limited (KWAL) in the Quality, Safety, Health, and Environment sector.

Tell us about #Adventure197. What was your biggest motivation to start this journey to travel the 197 countries?

Prior to my decision to start Adventure197, I had traveled previously on work assignments.

In 2017, I read an article about Cassie De Pecol, who was the first documented woman to have traveled all the countries in the world.

Further research showed that they had been no black or brown person who had traveled all the nations in the world. Adventure 197 was born of the need to travel the world as a black person and show the world that it is possible for a black person to accomplish the same.

The visa processes are much more challenging while traveling with a Kenyan passport as compared to other travelers i.e. with American or European passports.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world.

How do you believe travel impacts you as an individual and a professional?

Travel has impacted me in very many ways.

As an individual, I have been able to build my confidence through meeting and interacting with new people and sharing our stories. Traveling solo teaches you to have fun by yourself and to bond with others.

It has also taught me time management. Prior to the start of Adventure197, I was always late to meetings and appointments. Being responsible for my own flight schedules, train rides among other details has taught me to be time conscious and manage my time effectively.

I have also learned to measure growth by the clarity of progress. Traveling to different countries is very quantitative and there is no grey area in the number of countries you have traveled.

This is a measure I have adopted in other areas of my life whether emotionally, financially, etc. It is important to be clear on the position you are at any particular point in life in order to measure your progress.

Having to fund my own travels have also taught me how to manage my own finances. I have to learn how to get the money I need and plan for all my expenditures and be financially stable while at it.

People and cultures differ from one place to the next and it is important to learn and take note of the important cultures of the place you are visiting. Additionally, I have also learned financial management in terms of what jobs to pick up as there is always a need to get more income for my travel.

Travel has impacted me in very many ways - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

How do you manage work and travel at the same time?

When I traveled my first 14 countries, I held two jobs where I worked an 8-5 and also worked with Survival Media. I would schedule my travel to coincide with weekends and or public holidays.

In other instances, if my job with Survival Media required me to travel, I would apply for leave days at my 8-5. Most of my travel at this period was work-related.

When I made a decision to start Adventure197, I had to quit my 8-5 job. I currently work with Survival Media. The job is purely on an online basis and I will, therefore, go where the job takes me.

This has created flexibility in my schedule as I can work and travel at the same time.

In the first leg of my journey, I worked while I was in the United States at St. James, Louisiana, and also covered the caravan moving from Honduras through Guatemala in Mexico to the United States border.

Some of the benefits of my job are that I can pick up jobs from clients whenever duty calls or when the need arises. Once the job is done, I can then pick up from my current location and continue with my travels.  

As an environmentalist, you have purposed to offset your carbon footprint as you travel around the world, how do you intend to undertake this?

I am an environmentalist by profession and have been passionate about the environment from a very young age.

Through research, I discovered that most of my travels via air or trains would be very carbon intensive and I would have to offset as much of my carbon footprint as I possibly could.

I try to travel green as much as possible and in cases where this is not possible, I will try as much as possible to offset my carbon footprint. Cycling is one of the most effective ways of traveling green and this was very easy in the Eastern European countries where cycling is a huge part of their culture.

In addition, I have to be a mindful traveler which means traveling to countries close to each other thus reducing the distances covered by air or train and also avoiding plastic straws and Styrofoam packages.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

This is quite challenging especially in countries that package their food in Styrofoam which means that I have to research and try to find restaurants that will serve their food in plates rather than Styrofoam.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint. I have set to offset my carbon footprint through the planting of trees which I started before I started Adventure197.

I have partnered with schools and individuals on tree planting projects. In my former primary school, I partnered with the school to plant mango and avocado trees on their land. I have also planted about 200 trees on our family land and over 1400 trees in a parcel of land that belongs to a friend.

I also plan to plant at least 1000 trees in Kirinyaga before I set out on the African leg of Adventure197.

What has been your biggest challenge meeting this target?

My biggest challenge has been getting land to plant trees. Most of my tree planting initiatives are centered on working with schools to plant fruit giving trees which are beneficial to the environment and to the school in terms of food provision.

I have come to realize that schools are very receptive to my goal of offsetting my carbon footprint and they will be willing to assist by holding tree planting initiatives.

49 countries down! What lessons have you learned and will carry forward to the next leg of your journey?

My biggest lesson so far has been “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and to always do my research. When I started Adventure197, I would worry about what to do and where to stay when I arrived at a new place. I have since learned to let go and enjoy my journey wherever I am at.

The second leg of my journey is to travel the African countries. I have traveled 10 so my goal is to travel the remaining forty-four.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

What advice would you give to women looking to travel in terms of saving and planning for their travel?

It is important for people to travel solo. Solo travels will help you learn about yourself quicker, faster and much deeper due to lots of quiet time. You will get to learn about yourself and your character.

Additionally, it is important to save for your own dreams. Nothing in this world is given for free, you have to fund for what your dreams look like.

Here are my top tips for achieving this:

  • Be financially savvy.
  • Learn to manage your money and save whatever income you get whether you are earning at ten or fifty.
  • Have different accounts for different items and if you have plans for travel, have a specific account for this expenditure.
  • Invest and keep money aside. Whether for emergencies for your own dreams.

Any last words that you would like to share with our audience?

Of all the lessons that I want you to take home with you from my journey, the biggest one is to have a sense of confidence. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

As an African traveler, there will be a judgment at every turn i.e. at the visa applications, airports but have the confidence to go after your own goals and dreams. I hope to inspire people whether male or female to travel.

In the words of Lupita Nyong’o “Your dreams are valid”


What do you love the most about your country? Click here to share.

Holly Irasubiza: The young Rwandan mentoring the next generation of Young African Leaders

Holly Irasubiza is an activist, researcher, and mentor committed to building a stronger, more equitable Rwanda. She served as a 2017-2018 Global Health Corps fellow at Partners in Health.

Born and raised in Kigali, she blossomed into a vocal leader during her time as a student at Bugema University, where she headed multiple student organizations and worked as a teaching assistant and instructor.

After graduating, Holly mentored other female students to encourage them to dream big and work towards a brighter future. Passionate about the power of leadership to transform societies, Holly authored a piece titled “Why Care and Compassion Are Core Leadership Competencies.”

In this article, Holly talks about the powerful impact of mentorship, both for mentees and mentors.


As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally - Holly Irasubiza Click To Tweet

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I have a passion for people development, and being a mentor is a way to share my knowledge and experiences to impact another’s success. It is fulfilling and keeps my motivation high, knowing that I am touching a life by giving back.

My life has been shaped by the mentors I have met throughout my journey, and I hope to support the younger generation to go beyond their limits and change the world.

Why should mentorship be important to young African leaders?

The African continent has struggled under bad leadership, and some of the consequences are still faced by the African population.

But it has also experienced some of the most brilliant and visionary leaders, which have shed the light, banished the darkness, and brought hope for today and the future of Africa. To maintain and develop great future leaders of Africa, we need to be proactive, starting with the empowerment of our youth.

By some estimates, up to 60% of the African population is the youth, and they need to be empowered and encouraged to explore their potential and use available resources to their advantage. This will not only provide us with great leaders in the future but will also speed up the continent’s development now.

With mentorship, young leaders can learn from past experiences and success stories, and stand on the shoulders of giants to go further.

What makes a good mentor/mentee relationship?

I sum this up as the 4 C’s:

Commitment: The mentee must identify the right person for mentorship, including past experiences and areas of expertise, to ensure that the mentor is in a position to help them to achieve their goals.

Communication: The mentee should have clear goals and communicate the agenda they want to be mentored on, how often they would like to check-in, and a preferred communication line (email, Skype calls, or face-to-face meetings). This will help both mentor and mentee to schedule their regular meetings and track their progress.

Compassion: It is the responsibility of the mentor to create a positive and friendly environment for the mentee to share openly their opinions and challenges. They should check if they are meeting the set goals, and maintain objectivity throughout the course.

Care: The mentor should take ownership of the program, make sure that they listen clearly to the mentee’s needs, and use their best abilities to support their growth. The mentee should respect the mentor’s willingness to share their time, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to support and guide them towards achieving their life goals.

Read how this @ghcorps fellow - Holly Irasubiza is mentoring the next generation of African leaders Click To Tweet

What do you hope for the next generation of African leaders? How can mentorship help achieve that future?

I am very optimistic about the next generation of African leaders. Having worked in multicultural settings, I have had the opportunity to interact with amazing, bright young women and men across the continent.

My peers are very ambitious and innovative, with brilliant ideas. Their aspirations for African development are incredible, and they have already made a remarkable impact in their respective communities.

I have no doubt about the great future leaders they are.

The youth are eager to learn from leaders’ experience and take up their wisdom. Mentorship will guide them and show them how to apply this knowledge to make them better future leaders.

How has your career in global health impacted your mentorship skills – and vice versa?

Global Health Corps provided me with great opportunities to interact with leaders and experts in different areas. So many willingly shared their experiences and wisdom, and they are still great resources for my success as an alumna of the program.

I am provided with guidance, encouragement, and support to achieve my goals. This experience has strengthened my passion to give back.

How have you benefited from mentorship—both as a mentor and a mentee?

Being a mentor has improved my leadership skills; my mentee looks up to me, so I have to set a good example and be the type of leader I want to see.

It has also boosted my communication skills and keeps me engaged by offering me fulfillment, seeing the impact it makes. Mentorship has broadened my network and offered me opportunities to learn from my mentees as well.

As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally. Learning from the best offered me different opportunities and extended my professional network. The leader that I am today is the result of these relationships.


What are you doing to gain a global perspective? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

4 ways to cop Your Goals vs your Glow (Number 3 is our favorite)

The average working-class woman gets caught up in an entangling web where she is trying (so hard sometimes) to achieve her goals, reach her maximum potential, score-in on every success story and look effortless while at it.

It is like she wanting to be wonder woman; hair blowing in the wind (or no hair at all), athletic legs standing firmly in the ground, and beauty unhinged as she saves the world, in this case, hers.

Most people say you can almost never have it all. You can almost never be extremely successful, which comes with a lot of to-do list, running around, and still look glamorous while at it.

Or to be specific, keep to your health/beauty goals as you slay in both financial figures and that figure 8.

But at the end of the day, it all boils down to having a balance, realizing that in this thug life of achieving your goals and your glow, you can manage it all, because it is your life and you are in charge, always.

Here are a few pointers to help you

Set up realistic and achievable plans

 Sometimes, when you set up a far-reaching list of what you want to achieve, that is all they are going to be – far-reaching. Where you stretch yourself beyond every elastic limit until you crack and the pressure becomes visible.

Create a list of practical success plans, or health/ beauty regimen you want to achieve for the next one month (it is always good to do it in bits. When you flood yourself, you overwhelm yourself) and stick to it!

Have a scale of priorities

In this case, I would say your health first, but, different strokes for different folks. So make a decision of what takes the front seat and have the other at the passenger seat, with the seat belt on.

That way, they are both on the same level, but one thing has the wheels and navigates the other, which happens to be secured and safe regardless of a crash.

Passion makes everything look stress-free because you exude a different kind of joy while ticking off the goals that reflect on your skin and glows you up. Click To Tweet

Strive for contentment, NOT perfection 

This is when you know that there is no perfect balance and sometimes wonder woman gets a hit or two. The ultimate goal should not be perfection but rather contentment. 

This way, you’re able to find the core of things, that you hold them firmly yet delicately together.

We all have it. Look for yours.

Make sure you are passionate about what you do

Passion makes everything look stress-free because you exude a different kind of joy while ticking off the goals that reflect on your skin and glows you up.

“Find what you love and let it kill you”. According to Bukowski, this is a great tip for being happy and fulfilled enough to run that errand, set up that meeting and not dreading it all every step of the way.

And because you are away from that toxic and draining environment it is most likely to reflect positively on your glow.

Give yourself love, backed up by smart thinking, that way you will not put yourself or your business in jeopardy. 


 How are you growing and glowing this month? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

Here’s how you can jumpstart your career and business in 2019!

New year, new you right?

2019 is all about turning ideas into goals and turning concrete goals into actual results whether it’s in your career or business. Here are 5 ways you can jumpstart your 2019 and keep winning all year long!

Set goals!

I love setting goals at the beginning of the year because it’s a wonderful opportunity to take a break, think about what you’ve accomplished so far and where you want to go in the future. This SLA article gives you a step by step guide to setting goals in 2019.

Look the part

I remember in one of my first jobs after school, there was a colleague who never wore makeup and people definitely clowned her.

They would say she didn’t look professional or always looked tired. Hate it or love it, in the professional world, how you present yourself can be the difference between you getting that opportunity to shine and people overlooking you for not looking the part.

Makeup is not compulsory to look the part but looking neat, clean and pleasant will. This Forbes article explains how savvy business women should dress for success.

Jumpstart your career and business this year with 5 tips from She Leads Africa's co-founder @helloafua! More in this article. Click To Tweet

Fail forward

Failures and setbacks in life are inevitable! Even the most successful people have failed at something. To fail forward means to become better because of your mistakes, you can only do this by acknowledging your mistakes, and learning from them.

Here’s a great article by a Google employee, Tanuja Ramchal on how to fail fast and fail forward.

Be accountable!

The key to achieving your goals is ACCOUNTABILITY. This can be in the form of a Vision Board that you check every week or in a club where you share your goals out loud.

However you choose to do it, accountability can make or break whether you see real progress in your goals this year.

The SLA team has pulled together resources to help you set and achieve your goals in 2018. Visit sheleadsafrica.org/2019 to find out more and jumpstart your 2019.

Don’t forget to take out some time for yourself

Don’t forget to take out some time for yourself! When it comes to self-care; the main lesson I’ve learned is that you have to control your life so that you don’t wake up one day and not recognize the person you’ve become.

Be mindful. Be thoughtful. Be present so that you enjoy every single experience on your journey to becoming a better you. As Nigerians say, I can’t come and kill myself!

In this article, Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post makes the argument that you should sleep your way to the top! She means sleep, catch actual zzzz’s.

Here’s wishing you an amazing 2019! See you at the top.

Visit SheLeadsAfrica.org/NewYearGoals or OkadaBooks.com to learn how to jumpstart your 2019.


She Leads Africa is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young African women and their journey towards professional success. The organization has been featured on CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Fox Business and has more than 600,000 community members across Africa and the diaspora.

 

5 things you need to start doing to grow your business online in 2019!

When Yasmin Belo-Osagie and I decided to start She Leads Africa in 2012, we had no office, no team, just a shared vision. We didn’t have fixed plans, but we both had a strong passion to help young women do better in their careers and businesses.

Since then we’ve built an amazing team, grown a community to more than 500,000 women across 135 countries, been featured in international media like Forbes, CNN and CNBC, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars through partnerships with global brands like Facebook, Samsung and Google, and was even invited to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange!

Afua Osei: Co-Founder, She Leads Africa (Photo Credit: NYSE}

Here are 5 lessons I have learned along the way:

Set goals

At She Leads Africa, our goal has always been to create a platform to help millennial women create their own version of success so it’s exciting to be able to design experiences and opportunities to help them get closer to it.

This goal is broken down into many smaller goals and tasks that help us achieve this overarching goal.

Create content that stands out

There is such a significant need for interesting and creative content from diverse voices that there is no niche that has been overdone.

Those who want to be successful must move beyond creating content and discover how they can create community, experiences, and commerce to build a sustainable business. Develop a brand layout or creative guidelines so your content looks consistent over time.

5 things you need to start doing to grow your business online in 2019 from She Leads Africa's co-founder, @helloafua. Learn more. Click To Tweet

Think beyond social media

Make sure you’re creating a brand that goes beyond social media and these algorithm changes. Be able to connect directly with your customers, fans and industry decision makers without relying on someone else’s shine.

One of the ways you can do this is by growing a mailing list.

Help your team members develop through feedback

As an entrepreneur, one of the most important responsibilities to your team members is to give them feedback.

When your budget is tight, you can’t always afford to hire people with the most experience so you and your team will need to learn and grow together. Honest and consistent feedback is the way to make that happen.

Network

Find like-minded people in your community who can help you grow, and who you can help. Business relationships should always be symbiotic. Go to networking events. As an introvert, my go-to method before any networking opportunity: Breath. Research. Practice.

The digital economy provides one of the most significant opportunities for young women to generate their own independent income and monetize their skills and personality to a global audience. Previous economic transformations required significant capital or permission from gatekeepers. That is no longer the case.

The SLA team has pulled together resources to help you set and achieve your goals in 2019.

Visit SheLeadsAfrica.org/NewYearGoals or OkadaBooks.com to learn how to jumpstart your 2019.


She Leads Africa is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young African women and their journey towards professional success. The organization has been featured on CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Fox Business and has more than 600,000 community members across Africa and the diaspora.

Mamy Tall – The Young Architect putting Senegal on the Map through Art and Design

Mamy Tall is a 26-year-old Senegalese powerhouse, architect and art director. Over the past 3 years, her work has not only catapulted and heightened Senegal’s global artistic merit and tourism, but it has also created trends in Senegalese and African art direction outside of the white gaze— a sort of ode to “our art, for us and by us”.

In 2014 Tall co-founded the social media platform, Dakar Lives, that has won third place at the Linguere Digital Challenge. It has been recognized by CNN, Konbini, OkayAfrica, Hypebeast etc. It has also been classed in the top ten best digital platforms promoting African destinations, by numerous websites like Trace, Le Petit Journal and Tech in Africa.

In 2018, she worked as the artistic director on projects like; the launch campaign of Selly Raby Kane’s Pichkari collection; the Sidy collection by L’Artisane; the music video to Nix’s Highlander; and the photo-booth of the Afrodysee Festival in Geneva.

As an architect, Tall has worked on awareness campaigns about the use of local materials in African cities and the necessity of the rehabilitation of Saint-Louis (the ancient Senegalese Island recognized by Unesco World Heritage).

She has also worked with architectural teams designing public buildings in Dakar such as the Ministerial Spheres and the United Nations Headquarters, in Senegal’s newest city: Diamniadio.

She is currently finishing her first solo project, The Slim VillaRather than a “Jack of all trades, and master of none”— Tall is a clear “Jane of all trades and mistress of all”.

Mamy Tall is also a celebrated photographer whose work has been featured in Elle South Africa x Cote d’Ivoire, Elle Decoration, the  Afrourban exhibition in Montreal and Toronto, OkayAfrica, and on the accounts of Africa’s top Instagram influencers.

Mamy Tall’s aesthetic across her IG platforms @mamytall and @mamymaliste echoes the clean and futuristic feel of African millennials fusing innovative local designs and Global South inspired art for projects that represent the third culture kid who speaks their native language like they never left ‘le bled’.

SLA contributor Mariama Wurie caught up with Mamy Tall, to find out what it takes to be so young, yet a leading figure and force for culture, architecture, and innovation in one’s hometown— making waves across Africa!


What’s it like as a young Senegalese woman, fiercely pursuing a career in this field? Tell us about your journey to becoming an architect? 

It’s true that the field of architecture is perceived to be a male-dominated one in our society. What’s funny is that during my studies in Montreal, there were more women than men in my faculty.

I knew I wanted to be an architect since I was 8 years old. I know that’s an early age, and I don’t even know if I can say where it came from… maybe because I love sketching, imagining, tinkering with stuff and above all— I have a lot of energy.

My parents really pushed me in this direction, not to mention meeting Atepa Goudiably (a famous Senegalese architect) at the of 12, was a determining point in my life.

Becoming an architect allowed me to discover who I was, what I wanted, what I don’t believe in, and what I support— it’s been a rediscovery of my sense of vision (through an architectural lens)!

It’s this experience that today allows me to assert myself as a woman architect with convictions. As architects, our common mission is to constantly solve problems posed by the environment and society, we must never let misogynistic remarks hold us back.

What was your favorite project you worked on in Dakar? What was your motivation for this project and how did you accomplish the project’s goal(s)?

I have been back home in Dakar since May 2017 and I must say that I have had a lot of stimulating creative experiences.

However, to date, my favorite experience has been working on the music video for Highlander (April 2018).

The reasons that motivated me, the building featured in the video, the people I worked with— everything was in perfect symbiosis. I had already been contacted by the Nix team for the art direction/realization of the video, but it happened a month or two later— Nix called me one Tuesday saying “Mamy! We need to shoot this weekend, I’m going on tour next Monday”.

We had to mobilize and manage all the logistics in 5 days— the equipment, the mirrors, the choir, etc. And on Saturday, everything went perfectly!

I think one of the strengths of this project was the synergy that was on the set and the fact that almost all of us knew each other! The shooting was top, editing with Moshady (the director) even more top.

The day of the release, we had so much encouragement that it was really validating… and a few months later, the clip won the Best Music Video of The Year at the Galsen Hip-hop Awards— even more rewarding for us.

Becoming an architect allowed me to discover who I was, what I wanted, what I don’t believe in, and what I support - Mamy Tall Click To Tweet

Your designs are strikingly original. How do you get inspiration? 

I’m inspired by everything! Everything inspires me here (in Dakar). From— the most insignificant scenes that I see on the street, to the daily inspiration of the African creative scene on social media— which I am quite fond of and close to.

I’m also inspired by the daily struggles that our society faces. One of my challenges is to make these problems that may seem trivial, “visual” to the as many people as possible— today’s digital generation.

I don’t limit myself in my creativity, I think that trying to go find inspiration is a very difficult/limiting thing.

Processed with RNI Films. Preset ‘Agfacolor 40’s Aged’

What advice would you give to African women in architecture and creative/design roles for finding inspiration?

The most important thing is to develop your vision of things, your capacity to rediscover banal things. In general, we look at things on a shallow level— except what is deemed societally interesting.

The challenge becomes, being interested in everything!

Got any key advice for African women working up the corporate ladder in traditionally male-dominated professions?

I would advise them not to wait for validation from others to move forward. Unfortunately, we are in a society where gender equality is still a desire, we must work twice as hard to stand out.

I would advise them not to set a barrier in their creation and imagination. Do not talk a lot, just act. To believe in themselves and to not take too harshly to the misogynistic comments they might hear.

They should pick up on the underlying concern and issue that is feeding into that narrative that makes the person a closed minded individual. I would advise them to not feel obligated to do something, but rather to do what they really want to do.

To always try to rise above. To be the only masters of their image and not to deviate from their own universe, to remain oneself in any situation.

Processed with RNI Films. Preset ‘Agfa Optima 200’

What cool and exciting projects can we expect to see from Mamy Tall in 2019?

I think one of the things that allow me to express myself so freely, is not giving in to outside pressure— to do what I want, to move at my pace.

That’s why I rarely speak about my projects while I’m working on them.


 How are you growing and glowing this month? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

Life Hacks you must Master to Help you Grow and Glow in Life

Life nowadays is more hectic, busy and can be downright overwhelming at times. A lot of us, if not all are itching for a time out or a method to handle the numerous demands life brings our way.

We need to be okay within yourselves and with those around us if we are to navigate this thing called life in a fulfilling and positive way.

A few life hacks I have come to find useful are listed below in no particular order – try to incorporate them in your own way and life as you know it may be a little easier to get through.

Network/Socialise more

I know, I know… an article like this, you’d think I’d be advocating for more alone time and silence, BUT more people time is actually not such a bad thing.

The reason I say this is because you never know who you could meet out there who could easily be the missing link you needed for a job you were looking for, a position you were looking to fill, a service you needed, a friend you never thought you needed, and possibly a life partner who would never be if you hadn’t gone to that event, that meeting or that party.

Growing your network is never going to be a bad thing and the more often you put yourself out there, you learn to network smartly.

Socialising more also helps develop your people skills, boosts your confidence and self-esteem and it helps you grow as a person.

There’s a reason the saying ‘no man is an island’ exists. Humans are co-dependent, we require interaction, connection, and engagement with others like us…

Get out more, interact more, connect more with like-minded people – it can be a literal lifesaver.

Functional Eating

We want to make 2019 our best year yet yes? So why not incorporate better eating habits to our lifestyle? It’s much easier said than done for sure but there are simple hacks that can help you achieve a perfectly balanced diet on a daily basis.

First – Control your portions

Using your hands will help you manage the number of carbs, veggies and protein and fats you ingest.

The rule is usually, a palm of proteins with each meal, a fistful of veggies, a cupped hand of carbs and one thumb length of fatty foods if you are adding fats to your meal.

It may read like a lot but if you think about it, it actually fills your plate with proper portions and you don’t miss out on the essentials.

Image by pelambung on Pixabay
Second – Drink your greens

Drinking your greens has got to be one of the easiest ways to get all the veggies you need into your system.

Celery juice is all the rage right now and for good reason – a hydrating juice with vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants that relieves bloating, helps with digestion and gives me an energy boost as well, where can I get one now??

It’s a perfect pick-me-up first thing in the morning, pushing the Apple cider vinegar phenomenon aside for a bit (not saying that it doesn’t have its benefits).

Green juices, especially those made at home with no artificial additives are great for you and fill you up, leaving no room for indulging in cravings. They give you all the nutritious elements you need and keeps your skin popping all day every day too, who doesn’t want that?

Put down the sugar-laden latte sometimes and pick up a green juice, or better yet a green smoothie that will keep you fuller for longer.

Third – Manage your eating schedule

Most of us have a 9 to 5 job which means we have to actively make time for meals – do it in a way that doesn’t add to your waistline but still fits in your schedule. Never ever miss breakfast.

Eat a healthy filling breakfast, be it at home or at work to avoid snacking badly throughout the morning hours. Carry packed lunches more often – this helps you avoid eating out and saves that coin as well as your diet. Drink more herbal teas instead of copious amounts of coffee.

Green tea, for example, is great because it keeps your metabolism going and still has a substantial amount of caffeine to keep you going for the day.

When you get home, have an early dinner, around 6 if you have a 10/11pm bedtime and a dinner devoid of starch if you can if you can’t – try to apply the hand portion control rule mentioned above.

Create Boundaries

As much as people time is necessary, protecting your space is also very key in getting through life. Creating boundaries with your friends, colleagues, family and everybody else you interact with is important as it keeps your sanity and lets others know you’re not one to be messed with.

Some people detect a weakness in someone and immediately use it to their advantage, therefore, making that person feel disrespected and defeated.

Boundaries at work help keep your working relationships strictly professional and keep your mind clear of any drama thus helping you focus on the task at hand. Boundaries with family members protect your peace, some relatives can be toxic and if you aren’t careful, it can put you in a negative space that doesn’t end well for either of person.

Create boundaries. Letting friends know the non-negotiables with you, and vice versa keeps you both accountable to the friendship. Click To Tweet

You love your family definitely but you also have a life to live and sustain, if someone is actively coming in between that in ways you cannot handle, it is okay to love them from a distance.

Friends are great and we all need that tight-knit squad we can always count on and trust. But we also need to make it clear when friends have crossed the line with us.

It’s never easy but some people can get too comfortable in your life and treat you in whatever way they like, thinking you’ll never have an issue with it.

Letting friends know the non-negotiables with you, and vice versa, keeps you both accountable to the friendship and in most cases, it helps cement the already great foundation of the relationship/friendship. It also helps you filter out the genuine people from the non-genuine ones as well.

Positive Financial Habits

We all like money, we all want more money but how do we utilize the money we already have? How often do you save? What do you do with said savings?

Financial responsibility is a harsh reality of adulthood and in this world of flashy lifestyles and doing everything for the gram it’s important to practice good financial habits. Saving and saving smart is one habit to incorporate this year.

You may want to finally move out this year, or finally go on vacation to one of the destinations on your bucket list or perhaps you want to get a car. All these things need money and a good chunk of it.

A good saving hack I picked up from YouTuber Shameless Maya was to always save 10% of anything you earn.

It can be more than 10% if you would like but it should never go below that, try it and see how much you save at the end of the year.

Image by loufre on Pixabay

Another positive financial habit is to immediately put money for all your bills aside as soon as you get paid.

You can put it in a separate account than the savings account so that the account is solely for bills. Once the 10% is put aside and this other amount is stored away to cover all the bills you have throughout the month, you are left with a nice little fraction for your monthly survival.

Usually, people tend to treat themselves to something once they get paid, either by going out or buying something nice which isn’t bad, but can also be avoided if your goal is bigger than that meal or those shoes or that one night out at the club.

If you focus on the end goal of where you want your finances to go, you’ll learn to compromise on the little things you spend money on like buying a coffee every day or eating out on the weekends or going out every other Friday.

When you’re in Greece giving us all the FOMO with your vacation pics, you’ll be glad you saved that 10% and carried packed lunch instead. Save those coins!

Unplugging

Social media is our new normal. We cannot seem to escape it and it’s been developed so much to a point where we somehow cannot live without it.

The baby boomer generation before us who never even understood social media are now the ones on Facebook and showing us YouTube videos and sending constant forwards on WhatsAppp.

(Thanks, but no thanks mum).

Unplugging is reiterated a lot more now because of how addictive the internet has become.

This is another life hack to keep your peace of mind and to give yourself a break from all the noise and chaos that is social media.

I think of social media as a machine that refuses to turn off, it is constantly on and constantly going and if you’re not careful it can swallow you up and spit you out in the worst way.

Social media is not horrible, not at all, but it can consume you very easily so taking time off it from time to time will give you clarity and calmness you never thought you needed in the already busy life you lead.

A simple hack I learned from a friend was to pick one day in the week to completely be offline from everything.

I chose Sunday. Every Sunday I switch off my data, wifi and I don’t get online for anything the entire day. If anyone needs to find me, they can just call or text me directly.

There’s no WhatsApp to keep me chatting, no Twitter to engage in and no Instagram to scroll through. At first, it feels difficult because you want to know what’s going on, you want to know what people are doing, where they are etc… but after one or two weeks of doing this, you actually anticipate that one day offline because of the peace that surrounds you.

You have a lot more time on your hands, you can get into other non-internet activities such as reading, cooking, calling up a friend to talk and catch up, going for a walk, spending time with your parents or siblings… you’ll start to realize how much you don’t do just by being on your phone/computer all the time.

Unplug. It helps you cancel all the noise in your head, for a while. Click To Tweet

You can do it for a day or a couple of hours, whatever you decide – try it and see how much fuller your life becomes with a simple break once in a while.

All these plus many more life hacks I’m sure you can add on here are just little ways to make your life a little easier, more manageable and just easing the stress of everyday life, in the long term keeping you happier and fulfilled.


 How are you growing and glowing this month? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

Learn how to set and achieve your goals in 2019!

In the last 5 years, I’ve built an amazing team, grown a community to more than 500,000 women across 135 countries, been featured in international media like Forbes, CNN and CNBC, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars through partnerships with global brands like Facebook, Samsung and Google, and was even invited to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange!

Afua Osei and Yasmin Belo-Osagie: Co-Founders, She Leads Africa (Photo Credit: NYSE}

One thing that has helped me to successfully do all of this is goal-setting.  I love setting goals at the beginning of the year because it’s a wonderful opportunity to take a break, think about what you’ve accomplished so far and where you want to go in the future.

Here are 5 ways you can set goals and achieve your goals in 2019:

1. Create a vision board

Vision Boards are the bomb.com. At the beginning of the year, my friend Edibly and I sat down and thought about what we wanted to get accomplished this year. It was hard to narrow it down but it’s been great having my goals written down and staring me in the face every single day.

2. Find an accountability partner

Find for an accountability partner or a group of like-minded people. Share your major goals for the year and what you’re looking to achieve every month.

Want to achieve your 2019 goals? She Leads Africa's co-founder @helloafua shares her 5 tips on how to jumpstart 2019... Learn more Click To Tweet

3. Focus!

Last year I decided to focus only on projects that were solely aligned with my passion for travel, digital and entrepreneurship. That focus and strategic positioning helped me secure great opportunities that probably wouldn’t have been available if I hadn’t taken a more targeted approach.

I had the opportunity to serve as the Host of the first ever Airbnb Africa Travel Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.

Afua Osei: Co-Founder, She Leads Africa as the host for the first ever Airbnb Africa Travel Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. One of her goals for 2018 was to focus only on projects that were solely aligned with her passion for travel, digital and entrepreneurship.

4. Plan your finance and Investments

If I don’t have it, I don’t spend it. If I have it, I want to spend less of it. If you ask me to spend money, I won’t return your calls. See how easy it is. Seriously in 2019, you need to get serious about budgeting, investing and planning.

In her book, the Smart Money Woman, Arese Ugwu breaks down financial concepts as simple lessons to help you achieve financial freedom in 2019.

5. Find a natural mentor

I’ve always found it quite awkward to go and ask a complete stranger to fill such an important role as a mentor. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them by reading their articles, listening to their speeches or by attending a class, but a mentorship can be such a personal relationship and you want to make sure your values and personality types align. Look for people in your immediate circler who could serve as a source of inspiration to you.

The SLA team has pulled together resources to help you set and achieve your goals in 2019.

Visit SheLeadsAfrica.org/NewYearGoals or OkadaBooks.com to learn how to jumpstart your 2019.


She Leads Africa is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young African women and their journey towards professional success. The organization has been featured on CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Fox Business and has more than 600,000 community members across Africa and the diaspora.