What went down at Face Africa’s Annual WASH Gala – March 19′

Rewriting The Story of Africa through water. – Adebola Williams

The narrative of Africa is changing, and (we) the offspring are joining hands in numbers, working towards a better tomorrow for generations to come.

Africa has and always will be one of the richest places in the world with resources that can build many nations, nurture and develop talent in various sectors of life and most importantly provide clean water systems in every home and community.

Having clean water may seem like the most accessible thing that everyone should have in 2019, but unfortunately, it is a struggle that millions of people are still facing.

Like any math problem, the goal is to find the answer by solving an equation. Saran Kaba Jones’s answer to contaminated water in Africa is creating access to clean water systems for everyday people through FACE Africa.

Saturdays are usually for Aso-Ebi, headwraps tied in perfect origami style coupled with highlights, contour, and lashes that completes the ultimate glam.

Well, this Saturday was different. The African culture graced Guastavino’s with couture dresses, hand-stitched suits and ties made from fine textiles for the most prestigious event of the year, FACE Africa annual WASH GALA.

The WASH GALA was an evening that captured and honored voices that want to and are changing the narrative of what home really looks like and their trials and tribulations in home improvement.

FACE Africa’s keen eye to detail and prestige was felt from the moment people walked up to the stairs and through the doors of Guastavino’s.

Africa is home when you invest your mind and soul the journey is built brick by brick with our hands and not by the colonizers. FACE Africa’s journey to supply clean water started 10 years ago and of course, it was no easy task raising hundreds of dollars in the beginning to now raising millions in its 10th year.

There is power when we join forces to enhance our resources.

Aqua blue, forest green, these colors illuminated the entire venue creating the vibe of taking in the fresh air that trees provide and drinking crisp water through clean water.

What a feeling. This year’s WASH GALA honorees are Didier Drogba, Nomzamo Mbatha, Mr. Eazi, and Bozoma Saint John.

Nomzamo Mbatha

Rising Star Honoree Nomzamo Mbatha acceptance speech was filled with cries, laughter and the room responded with a standing ovation.

“The credit and the bragging is so different nowadays. It is not about what designers you have, or the different houses you may have across the world.

It is how many people that are on your payroll, and how many organizations we have started to make sure that the blood of our ancestors that were used as fertilization to grow the natural resource, and that the natural resource that we have as the African continent is not just the resources as gold or diamonds, it is us. Those that are scattered across the world”.

Nomzamo told her story in a room that felt like home because home is where her heart lives.

We all come from different sectors of the continent, some experiences different from others but we share a common fight, developing Africa.

Adebola Williams

Adebola Williams CEO of RED Media and WASH Gala Co-Chair touched on many successes on the continent such as three major banks in Nigeria having women as chairman and President Sirleaf paving the way for women in politics.

But still, many women face challenges and are slowed down by fetching water when this energy can be put to good use by doing other things in society.

Williams continued by shedding light on new millennial problems in the world. Back-aches and hands aching him from long texting, but Africa is still dealing with about two million water-related diseases.

Bozoma Saint John

A room full of advocacy, people who want to do better for our continent. We were reminded about the importance of voice by Bozoma Saint John CMO at Endeavor and WASH Gala Voice of Change Recipient.

“Once you have been silent, you have been forgotten, it is important to use our voices to change the narrative”.

Bozoma demonstrated what it meant to lead by example and using her voice for change and impact by sharing the stage and honorable moment with her daughter Lael Saint John.

Didier Drogba

Like the good old saying “If not us then who” exuded the room by Didier Drogba who was WASH Gala Humanitarian recipient. Drogba was unable to attend the gala in person due to an emergency in Côte d’Ivoire but left us with a beautiful video message.

“It is our responsibility to bring awareness and change in Africa. Water is life, so invest in clean water for the community,” he said

Caroline Wanga

Caroline Wanga, Vice President of Human Resources at Target Corporation and WASH Gala 2019 keynote speaker commended all attendees in the room and noted that “Guastavino’s ain’t neva have these many Africans in here before”.

For those that know the upper east side of New York City, the upper class and diplomats fill the area where the average rent is $2500 –  $3000 a month, just imagine how much hosting an event on that side of town would be.

Wanga key points were the importance buying and labor market, “ Africa Immigrants are the answer to developing our nation, rent to pay, Louboutin’s to wear, outfits to make, either way, someone somewhere does not have clean water”. Wanga also implored everyone in the room to “Get this Shmoney” and invest in Africa.

Every day is another opportunity to be better and do better, technology has increased the number of collaborations between people and spreading awareness to causes at a fast pace.

I can just imagine the impact and change that will occur between now and five years with FACE Africa clean water initiative. We are definitely on our way to a clean and thirst quenching society.


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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.


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3 ways to network in the diaspora

With the current online social media landscape, there is no excuse for not having a social network of people that you interact with and get inspiration from.

It is becoming increasingly important to have a social network of people who you can get feedback from, especially if you are an entrepreneur or are running a business in the African diaspora. Understand that it is important to keep the contacts in your network up to date because people often move from place to place.

There is a myriad of social media networks that can be used to build your network of potential business partners or mentors that you may need to get to the next level of success.

On the other hand, there is always the old school method of going to workshops or conferences to build that network of support as well.

Attend Local Conferences & Networking Events

One of the ways for creating a networking relationship in the diaspora is by attending conferences or workshops where people who are interested in similar things as you are meeting.

For example, there are Black Hair Expos that meet annually for people who are interested in all things concerning black hair.

These expos and conventions make it easier to start networking with people who have similar interests and helps in keep that connection going by attending those conventions annually.

Having a business card that you can exchange with people at these gatherings can be useful and a quick way to exchange contacts. Although it may be more difficult for people who live in the diaspora to attend such workshops and conventions, there are other ways of creating and building your network for potential future partnerships.

Esther Manuela- Shem at the Women’s Day Event

Use the Social Media Toolbox

Social media is now one of the most utilized tools for building a network. It is a crucial tool for keeping your network organized and up to date.

One of the more popular networks, Facebook, offers the convenience of having both a personal profile and a business page. With this feature, you can separate your more casual social media network from your business and professional network.

Other social media networks such as LinkedIn are tailored for business networking.

This makes it easier to navigate your network of people who are connected to you in a more business relationship or partnership. For people like me in the diaspora, social media is vital in helping us to connect with people who far from us in distance.

The opportunity to have a webinar or a “Google Hangout” to share ideas and discuss issues makes social media a handy tool.

Keep Up with your Network

In the diaspora, people in your network are prone to change location frequently. This can often make it hard to keep up with people and plan meetups.

The challenge in keeping up with people in the diaspora is that people are not always online at the same time due to time zone differences and other factors.

This becomes a challenge especially when you need to communicate or discuss a potential future partnership or need confirmation on a business deal in an instant. A good way to combat this challenge is by having a set time or schedule of contacting your network online and being consistent with it.

Most people check their messages after work or early in the mornings. By sending messages or jumping on a call with your network of people at a certain time every week. This makes it easier to keep up with the network.

Overall it is important to have an active social network while living in the diaspora. It can be helpful for building a business and having a network of mentors to communicate with


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Live the Life You Want: Become a Successful Remote Worker with these tips

Do you like having a flexible schedule? Want to be able to attend a yoga class in the middle of the day? Do you like wearing your PJs until 4 p.m.? Do you want to be able to travel and two weeks paid leave is simply not going to cut it?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider working for a remote company or on a remote team.

Personally, I have chosen this lifestyle, and I am building a remote company called Baobab Consulting. My team spans four countries (USA, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa) and even people based in the same country do not see each other very often.

.@lizgrossman87 shares some tips on how she's living her best life as a successful remote worker. Learn more... Click To Tweet

This structure has allowed the company to grow sustainably, cutting costs like office rental and transportation, which can allow for more exciting company retreats and meetings surrounding our projects.

While there are clearly many benefits to working remotely, there are certainly challenges too. Here’s how to set yourself up for success, produce results and make your mark in a remote position.

Be a self-starter

If you are someone who needs constant reminders or supervision to complete your tasks, you should find an office job. Remote work means you will not have coworkers eyeing your screen, and you will not have office chat or visible competition that will push you to get your work done.

You have to be able to motivate yourself to get up out of bed on time without an official 9 a.m. clock-in. (Although you can always check in from your bed when you work remotely!)

Be able to work random hours

Especially if you work on a global team, you will need to be prepared to take calls at strange hours. When everyone is home, our team time difference spans nine hours, and it gets even more tricky when we are traveling.

In order to make meetings happen, someone usually has to get up extra early or stay up very late. It is not uncommon to receive work calls/texts at midnight. Just make sure to balance your personal/work time and set yourself limits that make you and your family feel comfortable.

Have exceptional digital communications skills

 My team is constantly connected via WhatsApp, Google Suite, email, you name it. We are building systems that will allow us to all remain on the same page and keep our productivity.

If you are someone who prefers oral communication or hates texting, you will need to flex the digital muscles to be successful on a remote team.

Be disciplined and force yourself to have a routine

When you make your own schedule, it can be easy to have weekends flow into weekdays, to take long breaks in the middle of the day and work late hours in the night.

This is one of the major perks of remote work, but it can often be a trap that decreases productivity. Even though some remote companies may maintain a standard 9-6 workday, they do not build in a routine.

Decide on one that you can stick to that makes you feel professional and productive, but will allow you to live your flexible life.

Build a community at home

Most of our friends and family in more traditional office jobs are around other people for a minimum of 40 hours a week. It can become easy to rely heavily on them for normal socialization or to discuss work-related issues.

We are not trying to put too much pressure on our loved ones, so it is critical to find another social or professional outlet.  Go to a local coffee shop and meet other remote workers, join a co-working space, or even join social clubs to build relationships with like-minded people.

Build a community with your remote coworkers

At Baobab, we predominantly use WhatsApp for this. We send birthday shoutouts, selfies, articles and news that relates to our company values and team.

Also, the team uses social media to encourage one another and to share news about our team and teammates. We also plan biannual team retreats, where we bring as many people together as we can for work and recreation

Remote work is the future, and I encourage everyone to consider the benefits, but also the potential pitfalls.

If you are interested in joining a remote team, Baobab Consulting is always looking for talent, so please check out our website for more!


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Chiedza Museredza: Making the move from Zimbabwe to Canada

Moving to a whole new country, a whole new continent may seem like the scariest choice you could ever make. Will you like your job, will the move be worth it, or what if you never manage to settle in?

These are just a few questions you may ask yourself. On the upside, what if it becomes the best decision you will ever make, what if you find a great group of friends and your job is the best career choice you could have made?

Chiedza has previously detailed her experience on immigrating to Canada to be a lawyer. Starting as a Masters student, she got an internship at one of the biggest law firms in the country and currently is completing her articles at McMillan LLP. She details below her experiences moving countries to kickstart her career

There are various ways you could immigrate to a new country – as a student or as a professional. The choice may lie with your experience and qualifications.

Professionals who qualify have the option of applying for an Express Entry Visa into Canada whilst students have the opportunity to qualify for a post-graduate work permit. Consider what your best option could be.

Making the move…

Going in blind when making such a seismic change to your life requires preparation. Moving to a new country takes a lot of research, time and money.

Plan what you need to do to, how you’ll do it, then take the huge leap and DO IT! Sometimes it means finding new ways to create opportunities for yourself and opening doors through your own initiative.

Chiedza describes the experience of moving to another country as challenging. In particular, moving to a country where she did not know anyone. It felt like starting all over again.

“To prepare for my move I connected with people on LinkedIn who had made the same move as I wanted to make. They, in turn, connected me to other people. I was very lucky to connect with helpful people.”

The power of networking…

Qualification and experience from back home may not always be recognized by potential employers. Some may prefer someone with Canadian experience and those with prestigious work experience or attended Ivy League or Oxbridge universities may fare better on the job market but not everyone has this experience.

Networking has a major impact on the impression you could make to your future employer. Before approaching someone to discuss opportunities it is definitely worth it to research the company and anything else you can find out about the person off LinkedIn (i.e. Google them).

This helps you determine how to approach them- what do you have in common and more importantly what do you specifically need help with.

“I found the best way was to network with someone in the company/firm/organization and they would recommend me.

Most companies trust recommendations from their employees. I have noticed that broadly worded networking emails are not very helpful.

Being specific with emails always shows that you know what you want So in essence what makes one the best candidate as a foreigner is effective networking that will result in getting recommended for the job you want.”

Be mentally prepared…

The job hunt is one of the hardest processes you could go through, but remember, perseverance is key.

“You have to have a thick skin and be resilient. You will be told “no” more than “yes”. Don’t take it personally – just keep going until you achieve your goal.”

Nobody deals with rejection well, but one small setback does not necessarily mean you should give up.

“I believe that what is meant for me will be for me and that rejection is not a denial of my dreams. So, I keep it moving. In terms of managing my expectations, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.”

Managing the corporate world has been extremely busy. “I struggled with impostor syndrome the first days. I had to remind myself that I worked very hard to get where I am so I deserved to be at the firm just like everyone else.”

Chiedza shares the key lessons she has learned from her immigration to Canada:

  • Failure is the best form of feedback because it forces you to change and grow – so failure works for you and not against you;
  • Don’t let your achievements set you back. It is very easy to relax after getting successful at something; and
  • Be grateful. Each time you want to complain (even when the complaint is valid) – just think of what you’re thankful for. This is one of the best ways to deal with stress.

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Adelaide Odhiambo: The experience I gained as an employee has helped me run my own business

If sitting at your desk, working on the same thing month after month year after year, chips at your soul, it can feel like Lingchi, the Chinese form of murder where 1000 small cuts are made all over someone’s body over a period of time, a very slow painful demise.

Or perhaps, your job is constantly threatened and you are not sure if you will survive the next decimation. In the face of all this, it is tempting to dump it, take a leap and start a business.

As you contemplate becoming self-employed, read how Adelaide Odhiambo, left a prominent position to start Bluewave Insurance.

In just two years, this firm, in partnership with Kenya’s biggest insurance company, has launched Imarisha Jamii a micro insurance product targeting low-income earners.  


On taking the leap…

Taking the leap is not easy it means coming out of your comfort zone and forging into the unknown. What ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs do is, they toy with the idea and talk about it endlessly to everybody and anybody.

They never move to conceptualization mainly out of fear. Jim Carrey in his commencement speech of 2014 said, “we choose fear disguised as practicality. We think what we want is impossible to reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never ask.”

That is the tragedy of ‘would-be’ entrepreneurs, they see the leap as one move which increases their fear, understandably, because of the risk. Instead of thinking of the leap as one massive move to launch the business, it could be several baby-steps made over a period of time that finally realizes the dream.

As Adelaide was studying actuarial science at Nairobi University, and even after getting her first job, she dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur.

“Jubilee insurance asked us to come up with ideas that could improve the insurance space, I immediately started thinking and begun to notice problems in the insurance industry. We were using an archaic system that still relied on people working the back office to manually key information into the computer.

Then driving to and from work I noticed how poor people were the most vulnerable yet could not afford insurance.”

Then the idea hit her, to use technology, to provide cost-effective insurance for the poor. “I decided, instead of submitting the idea, to develop it.” It would take 15 years for the business to take off.

On gaining experience

“The experience I gained as an employee has helped me run the business. At Jubilee Insurance, I was shadowing two CEO’s so every time they went for a strategic meeting I would be with them.

It demystified running an organization, for instance, I realized that simple decisions were sometimes sufficient to move forward the largest insurance company in the country.”

After a while, Adelaide went to Apollo worked as head of products then landed a prestigious position with Microensure as country manager.

“Microensure was an eye opener because they do insurance in the most unconventional way. While working there I would give my spouse, who was a software developer, concepts to develop,” she said

But her employment history was not without its challenges…

“When I was put in a hostile environment, I just saw the good side. So I absorbed everything and learned as fast as possible,” she continued

Then when she realized she was not growing and the environment became untenable. so she left to start Blue Wave insurance.

“The most valuable experience I ever got as an employee was to cultivate confidence. Because when running your own outfit, at some point you may feel like you are bullshitting but I have learned to be bold despite this feeling.

The most valuable experience I ever got as an employee was to cultivate confidence - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

When I was employed, I remember I went for a meeting with executives of a leading telecom company. I sat in the room listening as everyone was speaking jargon, like whole sentences in abbreviations.

Truth is that I had no clue what they were saying. Then, they turned to me, as the insurance expert, because no one in the room had any idea. I spoke confidently and it was okay.

So that’s how I approach business meetings with boldness because whatever I know is of value to someone in that room, there is that one thing you know and they do not.”

On getting the business up and running in a short timeline

It is said fortune favors the prepared mind which is true for Adelaide. Because she had been working on the business, little by little, days after leaving Microensure, she was already working on a website and reaching out to past clients, relationships she had formed as an employee.

“I left paid employment with a lot of drive, and hunger to make it. I was scheduling meetings and even got a contract from one of the old customers that paid me fifty thousand.”

Building a successful business takes time and multi-billion deals don’t happen overnight, so Adelaide celebrates the small victories.

“I celebrated surviving a whole month without a salary. Celebrated the website going up. I celebrated sending 10 emails and receiving 2 responses, out of my sheer hard work.

Infact, I even celebrated that I was doing what I wanted, that was a success to me. I did not set high expectations. When people do not meet their high expectations, they get upset”. 

I did not have that ‘fear of failure’ because failure would have been not following my dream - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

Lean startup

Although Adelaide had an insurance background, she needed a developer to set up the enterprise.

“My husband who is a programmer, and entrepreneur, encouraged me to design the user experience, which is the initial part of programming. I learned through Google but I am still learning because every solution is different.”

The first time she put the lessons to work, fired by the drive to succeed, she did it overnight…

“I remember my husband telling me all the different elements he needed to begin programming and it sounded like Greek. So I put the kids to bed at 10 pm and I started conceptualizing the program, I slept at 3 am, it was the best night of my life.!”

On developing products on a shoestring budget…

Short of money Adelaide did what all entrepreneurs do, develop cost-saving techniques, “I had to do programming at night and business development during the day.

I was trying to do as much as possible to save. I only hired an administrative assistant who only helped out occasionally. So one needs to gauge the amount of work they can do alone but still remain sane.”

She applied the same system when testing the product, “I looked for 10 university graduates and gave them a small stipend to go out with their phone and ask people to test the product.

I would give them money for lunch, transport and paid them if they hit specific targets.  

On staying learning

All entrepreneurs have an insatiable quest for knowledge. They are consistently trying to acquire information that will grow their business,

“I love criticism. I listen, reflect and if I realize there is a problem, I change. Also, I have been part of some very interesting programs that have helped me along my entrepreneurial journey like the destruction camp at IHub incubation center where I got a mentor in the telecom field who helped me think through some ideas.

Then I have been part of GrowthAfrica hub acceleration program that taught me how to, literally, ran a business, they helped me voice out the things I had in my head.

I also got an angel investor who has been in the Telecom space for 17 years, who can be difficult to manage, but I know when I am done with him my business will be at a very different place.”

On dealing with copy cats…

Tech entrepreneurs became popular after the Global Entrepreneurs Summit was hosted in Nairobi in 2015. Many innovative solutions were created, scaled up and consequently improved lives because of an influx of funds that came as a result of the summit.

But as many innovative solutions as were created an equal number of copy cats begun flooding the market hoping to make a killing.  

“Do not let copy cats physically and mentally consume you because it can stifle your progress. But do not ignore them either. Know what is going on and strategically change. The copy cats are there to make you better because you realize that you are not in a safe space and need to work harder and move faster.”

On finding a balance

One of the hardest things for any startup entrepreneur is to take time out, since there is always something that needs to be sorted, yet it is necessary because if one collapses so does the business.

When faced with an overwhelming problem Adelaide has discovered one thing that never fails, “there is a night I slept with so much pressure because something had happened in the business that was making it very shaky.

I did not sleep pondering the situation, then I woke up feeling burdened. So I decided to pray then I felt so happy and eventually found a solution.”

Like any girl, Adelaide has that one girlfriend who supports her through thick and thin…

“I just walk to her house, anytime, for a chat. She spoils me. I am always trying to solve other people’s problems: clients, kids, husband’s, but when I go to her house she makes me feel like a child, which is nice.”

Instead of grumbling to your friends about how bad your job is, start mapping out your exit strategy - @AdelaideOdhiamb Click To Tweet

Like Hillel, first-century Jewish scholar, said, “If not now, when?”


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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.

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.


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Nobuntu Webster: I let go of the parts of my business that were not aligned with my purpose and values

Nobuntu Webster is Director of African Pursuit, a social enterprise using media and story for economic and social development and Avad Media, a content production, content distribution, and content marketing company.

She has extensive leadership experience in development organizations such as the International Women’s Forum, Businesswomen’s Association of SA and KZN Youth Chamber of Commerce.

She holds a BPhil Honours degree and postgraduate qualifications in Strategic Leadership and International Trade Management.

Nobuntu Webster expresses her joy of living out her purpose through her business and career and contributing to meaningful work on the continent.

In this interview, we asked her how other aspiring Motherland Moguls can use their businesses and careers to do work that fulfills them and impacts lives.


 What is your purpose and how are you using your career and business to fulfill it?

I’m a storyteller and I am moved by injustice. I want to see economic justice, economic equality, and social justice.

You’ll find me using stories to create narratives for justice and to bring in new thinking and ideas. I develop Media strategies and content for social justice and economic inclusion through African Pursuit.

I am also perturbed by distorted narratives. With Avad Media, we create content that challenges people to question the narratives that we have been taught.

My heart is for Africa, so we create platforms and content to engage, grow and build Africa.

We are building towards an Africa that has enough for its people - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

What steps did you take to turn your career and business to fulfill a purpose?

My faith drove me to pursue purpose. The first step was looking to God and growing my faith.

The second step was to sacrifice. I had to let go of the parts of my business that were not aligned with my purpose and values.

The next step was going for it! I discovered that where my purpose would be fulfilled is in Media. I had to make the bold, courageous steps towards Media.

Go boldly into what and where your purpose is. Be humble and willing to learn from others if you’re getting into a new craft.

Learn the technicalities of the craft, and know what your specialty is. Also, know what the business model looks like in that craft and then think about how you turn that craft into a profitable business.

Using business for a purpose is a long journey, you have to be willing to be in it for the long-haul. It is going to unravel layer by layer, you just have to keep taking the steps as you discover them.

Learn the technicalities of your craft, and know what your specialty is - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

What meaningful work on the continent have you been able to contribute to and which have you found most fulfilling? 

One of the projects I am working on currently is Abundant Africa. We are building a narrative for a restorative economy in Africa; saying, ‘how do we create an economy that is influenced by our own unique African values?

How do we go back to Ubuntu and create an economy that is good for people; to making sure that the poor are given opportunities to pull out of poverty?’

I am part of building teams that create content that moves from policy ideas to stories that people can relate to. We are building towards an Africa that has enough for its people and that protects its environment.

How does one discover their purpose and identify meaningful work they can contribute to, as a business?

The clues to knowing your purpose are in the things that you do without trying hard; things that you would be willing to do for free.

To identify meaningful work you can contribute to, you have to know your calling. Ask yourself, ‘what moves me?’ What can you not ignore? What do you want to change?

There is so much need on the continent and that need is an opportunity - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

How do we grow from a survival and profit mindset to a service and purpose mindset?

There is so much need on the continent and that need is an opportunity, and you can still have a profitable business. Every entrepreneur should have a service and purpose mindset.

As Africans, we are people of ‘Ubuntu’. If we go back to who we are and we go back to the need around us, we easily move to a service and purpose mindset and build sustainable businesses that contribute to the continent.

How do you turn your business to fulfill purpose without losing profitability and your current clients?

I had to let go of clients whose work did not align with my values. There is always a risk in these kinds of bold and courageous steps. The greatest rewards in life come with sacrifice. There are things that you are likely to lose.

How do you secure your team’s buy-in into the new purpose and vision of your business?

A great leader is someone who is able to bring the people that they lead with them on the journey and get them to buy into the vision and own it.

People though are also on their own journey. Give them the option to come along on the journey or not. The new direction of the business might not feed into their purpose and career.

I had to relocate anyway so I had to start new teams that are passionate and that buy into the new vision.

Go boldly into what and where your purpose is - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

“I have the blessing of living my childhood dream… It looks completely different than I thought it would but it is so much more meaningful!” – Nobuntu Webster 


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Dear employee, what’s your leadership distinction?

 Every year for the last few years I’ve called a year a particular name. 2016 was called the year of outstanding distinction. 2017 the year of creative distinction, the year 2018 was the year of cutting edge distinction and 2019 I’ve called the year of global distinction.

There’s an unprecedented political, economic, socio-cultural and technological shift which involves easy access to fake news, fear news and forward-thinking news.

But, through it all, I truly believe we are in one of the most exciting times which I’ve called the era of creative distinction.

As an employee, know that the global market is now local, and the local market has gone global. And with the emergence of artificial intelligence, now is the time to lead with your distinction.

The first question is what actually is leadership?

In 2015 from my message of Cutting Edge Distinction, I penned the following quote,

“Leadership isn't about age but rather, leadership is about influence, impact, and inspiration - @Onyianyado777 Click To Tweet

As you see from my quote, it’s not about how old you are, how young you are, how long you’ve been in your job or industry, the essence of cutting edge leadership is simply the 3 I’s, influence, impact, and inspiration.

Question number 2, before you can serve and lead with your influence, impact, and inspiration, who is the first person you have to influence, impact, and inspire? That’s right, you got it, it’s you.

In this era of creative distinction, finding, developing and leveraging your distinction as an employee is key to your development and that of your department and organization as a whole.

So how should the 21st-century employee channel their leadership skills?

Lead with excellence

We’ve already established what the essence of cutting edge leadership is and from my message of cutting edge distinction, I’ve combined excellence and branding and created the 3 V’s of branding. Your vision, your values, and your voice.

The key to employee distinction is to be fully emerged with the vision, value, and voice of your organization, why?

If you’re not seeing, believing and saying what your organization is seeing, believing and saying, no distinction can be created in regards the prosperity, progress, and purpose of your organization.

 

Be a trailblazer and pioneer

On the image below I developed the 3 C’s of employee distinction. To lead with distinction in your chosen career, the 3 C’s have to be your way of life.

You’ve heard of thinking outside the box but in this era of creative distinction, using the ‘box’ as a stepping stone to save money, improve output and increase productivity is a key to leadership distinction.

Creativity is the new currency so regularly reading articles and watching TED Talks will, in my opinion, increase your creative awareness.

Once you achieved a task in work, actively look for other tasks to complete. If you find them hard, ask team members for assistance knowing not only does teamwork make the dream work, teamwork also makes you write, work and win with your leadership skills enhanced.

Bring constant change to your organization

With your understanding of what cutting edge leadership is all about, taking the lead to be known as a solution provider in your organization is a vital key to employee distinction.  

Spending quality time to serve, showcase and speak your distinction will mean you sometimes being misunderstood but because you’ve integrated the 3 V’s of your organizations brand, any misunderstanding will mean you’ll eventually be understood as a leader who is a critical thinker and a problem solver.

For the next seven days spend time observing the challenges you face at work and how quickly you use critical thinking to gain a quicker result. It doesn’t matter if you are a junior staff or you’ve been in your organization for less than say 6 months.

Your leadership distinction will come from constantly applying the 3 M’s of time management which can be viewed on the quote below and also asking questions, looking for quicker solutions, working in the team to see and understand the future goal and understanding, applying and really celebrating your leadership distinction.

So there you have it, you’ve been given the essence of cutting edge leadership and who the 21st-century employee is. With organizations desperately looking for employees who are thought leaders in nature and results, now is the time for you as an employee to lead with your distinction.


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