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.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Tips to a winning introduction during your next interview

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve realized that a lot of people find it difficult to introduce themselves during an interview. That ‘Tell me about yourself’ question is the ice breaker and most candidates are scared to break it because they are not too sure of themselves.

Before I go into tips to a winning introduction, I would like to address a foundational problem that hinders us from selling ourselves properly and the “Lack of CONFIDENCE”.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it.

On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi

Are you a fresh graduate or a prospective intern and not sure what to say when asked to Introduce yourself? Here are some things that would guide you:

Think through what you want to say before opening your mouth to talk

Mental preparation and a mirror exercise would do.  You don’t need to cram a speech or start reciting it verbatim, rather it should provide a guideline on what how each point should be said.

Avoid distracting words

Words like ‘urm’ ‘erm’ ‘izz like’ ‘you know’ etc could be distracting for your interviewer and may imply you’re not prepared for the interview. If those interjections are too much, it can be a huge turn-off.

Keep it concise and simple

I remember one of the interviews I sat in a few months ago, this guy legit talked about himself for a whole 30minutes.

Do you know that’s where the interview started and ended? At a point, he was just blabbing and we didn’t understand what he was saying but didn’t want to be rude and interject him.

Besides, we already knew he was a NO and allowed him to land before saying we had no questions and dismissed him.

Self-awareness is important

If you are self-aware, it is easier for you to understand other people and detect how they perceive you in return.

How well do you know yourself and the kind of direct or indirect message you are passing? Here are some things you need to build on to prepare for the next interview:

1. Your Bio

Start with your name, your school and course of study, the aspect in your course that interests you and why (this is not compulsory if it’s not related to your course of study).

2. Your Strengths

This could include something like being very organized, being able to manage your time and setting priorities, being able to communicate in a clear manner, being able to manage people regardless of their temperament, being able to work in a team.

Take note that while talking about this strengths, you should include one or two examples of how you have demonstrated them while in school as a leader in your school project, school activism, Student union or department association and finally through religious bodies you have belonged to.

3. Your Value Proposition

Talk about the value you would be adding to the team or organization. I would advise that you do extensive research about them and ensure what you are saying is relevant and relatable. If you have done your homework properly, they will fall in love with you!!!!

Finally, this is a piece of golden advice that is like the icing on the cake for people who want to give a winning introduction.

4. Humility won’t help you

I have met superb people who have great skills which companies are looking for but because they haven’t worked in a formal organization, they think those skills acquired through volunteering, internship, and personal development aren’t relevant.

Sister, if you don’t sell yourself, who will ??

Be proud of your little achievements and don’t be too humble about them. In the end, the best salesman gets the contract!

I hope you digest this information and deliberately work on your confidence. It may not happen overnight but with time, you can grow and become better.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

If you want to GLOW in your next Job Interview, avoid these Red Flags

A lot of candidates get a rejection mail and are confused about what went wrong in an interview process. Working as a recruiter both as a consultant and an in-house staff has exposed me to various interviews across all levels.

I have compiled some things that candidates should beware of when attending an interview. Here is a list of things that would most likely get you a rejection mail:

Dressing badly

This includes rumpled clothing, unkempt hair, provocative dressing. Ladies you are not here to sell boobs and fine legs! Please be moderate!

We call them DOA (dead on arrival), it means your interview has ended even before it started because you can’t fit into our company.

Bad sitting position

Slouching position shows a lazy and pessimistic personality. Sitting up straight shows a confident person. These are important non-verbal cues.

Lack of eye contact

I had a recent interview with a manager that had a superb profile and from the interview, it shows he actually did all he wrote. However, his role was to face customers and he barely looked us in the face which was a big red flag for the role.

Bad mouthing your previous employer

Even though you have justifiable reasons for leaving, say it in a good way that doesn’t make your last employer look bad! No organization is perfect so be careful what you say!

Short stay in various organizations without a reasonable reason

If you are on this table, I’m not saying it’s entirely wrong to have short stays, but they should not be flimsy reasons. Think through the explanation you want to give.

Using an Inaudible voice

Yes, using your bedroom voice during interviews is totally unacceptable. You need to be audible even if your voice is naturally low. Try to speak up and don’t wait for the interviewer to cajole you. It can already be a turn-off.

Using non-professional language

Avoid switching to pigeon English or vernacular because you feel too comfortable with the interviewer. Please don’t switch, it’s a TRAP. Keep it professional always.

Not doing your Research about the organization or the role before the interview

You would end up talking off-point. You would also turn off the hiring team because it shows a nonchallant attitude. ALWAYS do your research and think of the value you intend to add before an interview.

Being Rude to the Receptionist

This is a big NO. Even if you’re a Senior Director or whatever, you need to be polite and courteous to ALL staff. Don’t begin to feel like a ‘god’ even if you have a leg inside the company. It would backfire.

Clownish looking Make-Up

Unless you’re going for a make-up artist interview, I would advise you to wear moderate make-up. I have sat in an interview where the lower eyeliner was bright green and she was a fair lady so you can imagine the distraction.

Rolling your eyes

Some candidates think they are talking to their boyfriends/girlfriends. Don’t forget to be a PROFESSIONAL. I realized some people do it unconsciously. I would advise you to practice in the mirror and ensure your eyes are not flying everywhere.

Feel free to ask questions, I’ll watch out in the comment section to make some clarification.

I sincerely wish you the best in your career.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Yanoh Jalloh: Fixing severe disparities and health inequities in Sierra Leone

From developing reproductive health programs for young girls in Kabala Sierra Leone, to managing high level projects funded by the center for Disease Control.

Yanoh Jalloh is well equipped to provide high quality research, programmatic and training expertise to organisations focused on health and development in African countries and the United States.

Born to Sierra Leonean parents in the United States, Yanoh’s passion to contributing to healthy sustainable societies by providing evidence based research driven programs, tools and resources has always been evident.

Over the last decade, she has garnered the necessary experience from working with local and international Non-Governmental organisations in Africa, to high level university research institutes in the United States. 

In this  interview, Yanoh Jalloh shares her career journey with young women in Sierra Leone, and her hopes to inspire and encourage them along their own journeys.


Women interested in public health - do not get into this industry for the money. It is a field that can be riveting, emotional, draining, but very fulfilling - @YKayJ Click To Tweet 

Describe yourself in one sentence?

I am a motivated, skilled and experienced international development specialist with close to a decade of’ experience of working with hard to reach populations of youth and on projects in Sierra Leone.

What motivates you to develop healthier societies in Africa?

Though I was born in the states, my family is originally from Sierra Leone and I have always felt a compelling call to respond to the severe disparities and health inequities in Sub- Saharan Africa.

Tell us about your public health background and how it relates to your Sierra Leonean heritage?

I obtained my Masters’ in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health in 2012, in 2011 during my practicum experience, I started working on the ground in Sierra Leone with the NGO Helen Keller International.

It was during this experience that I was able to hone in on my research and evaluation skills as I worked on a project which aimed to redesign the national child health card.

I also evaluated a multi-faceted nutrition intervention that was being implemented in several clinics throughout Freetown, Sierra Leone. Since then, I have been working both domestically on abroad on both short-term and long-term projects that mainly aim to improve health outcomes.

I have also worked with organisations in providing evaluation support and planning.

What are some career challenges you face?

I am in my early 30’s but I started working in this field in my mid 20’s. Age has often been a barrier and a challenge.

When you are young, you often lose opportunities to candidates who may have more years of experience, but are not necessarily as seasoned as you in a particular skill. I am also told I look a bit younger than I am, so this has also been a barrier.

Trying to balance a family and a young daughter has been so fulfilling but has also been a challenge. I have had to turn down opportunities as it conflicted with my family life, though I do not regret it, other opportunities that were more appropriate came along.

What are 3 things you have achieved in your field that you are proud of?

  1. Designing, leading, and teaching the first online Health Policy Course to MPH students at the College of Medical and Allied Health Sciences in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
  2. Developing health and sanitation courses for 300 youth in Kabala, Sierra Leone
  3. Leading alongside my amazing colleagues an adult immunisation campaign across New York City, during this campaign we partnered with 100 organisations and educated the providers about the importance of adult vaccines.

What advise can you provide to other women who want to go into health consultancy?

You will receive a lot of no’s before you receive a yes.

I would also advise to be very flexible, early on I had to take on unpaid or very low paying opportunities to build my portfolio, you must use these opportunities to advance your experience and to build contacts as well as to network.

Finally, do not get in this field for the money, it is a field that can be riveting, emotional, draining, but very fulfilling, you must get in this field because you want to see change.

For the Women|Change|Africa Bosschiques Build Program in Collaboration with WCA Creatives & Nadia Marie &Co


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Your lifestyle is what determines your fitness levels: Evonne Mudzingwa

Evonne Mudzingwa is a Group fitness coach trained and certified in the Asia Pacific.  She has been successful in completing several, marathons, ultra marathons including Two Oceans 56km and Comrades 90km medals.

She was born and bred in Chegutu, a small town in Zimbabwe and currently has two girls.

Eve decided to change her career in 2008 after she realized hiring a fitness coach for an event she was planning was expensive, she decided to equip herself with the skills in Fitness and exercise.

In 2008, Eve who was a professional at the time embarked on her career change in Malaysia and Singapore over a 10 year period.  Here she was trained by LesMills International.

In her spare time, Eve loves to travel, Adrenaline sports like zip lining,  bungee jumping, mountain climbing and riding her motorcycle.

In this article, she speaks about her early journey and her career as a fitness professional.


A healthy, fit entrepreneur is more alert and focused - Evonne Mudzingwa Click To Tweet

On why she choose the Asia Pacific…

‘A friend recommended the LesMills Training as it was unique, there wasn’t anyone offering it in Zimbabwe and Southern. Africa back then,  so I went for it,’ says Eve.

She went on to train as a Zumba instructor and personal instructor. She has Lesmills Certification in their training modules body combat, body step, body pump and RMP (studio cycling ).

Upon qualifying in Bodycombat, Eve realized that she needed experience and to acquire a clientele base before she could open her own establishment.

“I worked for a gym in Harare(Borrowdale Brooke) for 2 months thereafter I got my experience and enough clientele.

This experience gave me a glimpse of the void in the fitness industry. This gap was a center that understood and identified with the average, conservative voluptuous Zimbabwean woman.

This is what inspired me to open what initially was a Ladies only fitness center. The traditional gym was too intimidating and male-focused, ignoring the minority female gym goers. I wanted to bring a more personal approach to the fitness world,” she continued.

Eve states she looked around for space to establish her own center, then she came across a small building in a Sports club which had not been last used for 25years as a rugby changing room and was almost dilapidating.

“I contacted the property owners and asked to refurbish it, they were shocked but it worked. I used it for free for the first 6 months.  With this, Eve’s Fitness Studios was born.

Classes commenced in April 2009 hand the studio has evolved and grown over the past 10 years with our 10th anniversary coming up this April 2019”.

Eve’s Fitness Brand established in 2009 now encompasses the Eve fitness Studios – a quaint little fitness center that offers various training programmes.  It also has Eve’s Fitness Battles, Eves Wine Dash Series  – a lifestyle series in partnership Bushman Rock.

Eves 10km Obstacle Race Series molded on the Spartan Race Series and Vainona Running Club which hosts trademark runs namely Eve’s Mazoe Hotel Run and Eve’s Pink Marathon to raise funds for Cancer.  And recently Eve’s Fitness Training – a fitness training center for aspiring Group Fitness Instructors.

Some of her achievements…

Evonne Mudzingwa has been awarded several awards including Women Excel top 100 most successful businesswomen in 2018, ZNCC Service Industry Award, Award for Women who Roar in their Industry and Shero Women Entrepreneurship Awards.

On how body maintenance helps in day to day productivity as an entrepreneur…

A healthy, fit entrepreneur is more alert and focused.  Exercise releases endorphins which leave one feeling happier and more energetic. It also boosts one’s self-esteem, an important requirement in anyone in business.

As for me, I keep fit by doing 2hours of training every day and a 5km run on a daily basis.

My diet mostly consists of organic, high fiber food which I mainly pan-fry or boil, lots of fruits and vegetables, fish & chicken with beef or pork once a week. I also love herbal teas and snack on our mutakura (mixed boiled grains).

On how a career woman can balance between the gym, work and family life…

One only requires just a minimum of thirty minutes of exercise a day out of the 24 hours. A family working woman can go to the gym early morning whilst the household sleeps or soon after work.

Every woman needs this Metime to exhale, regroup and be a better mother, wife, and employer. I believe people make time for the things they deem important in life, one just needs to decide that their health is a priority.

There is always time.

On dispelling the societal notion that the gym is for rich people or luxurious activity…

Contrary to that misconception of the gym is an elite activity. Exercise is an important aspect of total wellness.

Understandably gyms are beyond most people’s budgets but there are various cheaper ways of exercising. Running and bodyweight strength training exercises do not cost anything and can be done anywhere.

On providing special sessions for pregnant women and people recovering from injury…

Our Programmes cater to various fitness levels including pregnant and recuperating clients. We offer options relevant to the clients special condition.

It is actually encouraged for women to train throughout their pregnancies. The ambiance at our studio inspires and motivates everyone to not give up.

I also have personal relationships with my clients making it easy to encourage them from losing their mojo.

On the Myth that frequent Gym Exercise makes women look masculine…

The myth that exercise and strength training, in particular, makes females look masculine has sadly been around for the longest time and strongly believed.

There are various kinds of training programmes to achieve different results. There are those women who actually choose to build a masculine look, these are usually bodybuilders and professional figure athletes.

To look that masculine however these women have to be on specific training programmes, restricted diet and taking the relevant supplements.

A woman just exercising is incapable of looking masculine as the female body does not have sufficient protein to build that much muscle.

Women fearing to look masculine should shy away from using heavy weights but instead opt for lighter weights but doing plenty repetitions of the same exercise. At Eve’s Fitness Studios we offer a variety of training programmes that complement each other for that balance total body workout to get a lean, fit and toned body.

A woman just exercising is incapable of looking masculine as the female body does not have sufficient protein to build that much muscle - Evonne Mudzingwa Click To Tweet

Advice for women in exercise and fitness programs…

“Fitness is not a size”.

There is this sad notion that if people are skinny then they don’t have to exercise or are automatically fitter than the bigger people. You can be a skinny unfit person, we call this skinny fat.

Equally a person can be of big built but fit. One’s lifestyle is what determines their fitness levels.

Women should support each other in business. I faced less support when I started my fitness Studios and had to work extra hard to show that what I do is the same or better than in male-led fitness Studios.


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Your Self Care shouldn’t suffer at the expense of Career Excellence – Nnennaya Udochu

Female engineers have been branded to be nerds and unattractive. It is a common belief that female engineers have no sense of style, not feminine enough and probably too strong for the average man.

Contrary to this widely held bias, Nnennaya Udochu is a firm believer that female engineers can be trendy, decent, and elegant.  Nnennaya’s life and style is full proof that women are going against this bias.

As an analog engineer, she doesn’t fit into what you’d typically call your hard hat-wearing engineer. She has held the office of a Professor Faculty in the Mathematics department at the University of Portland, Oregon., and she balances career with self-care.

Nnennaya doubles as a fashion blogger and also motivates ladies who fear that taking a career in engineering or any career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) would impede and perhaps limit their chances of a relationship.

In this article, she shares her experience in the profession gives her insights on the misconceptions placed on women in STEM.


 What prompted you to want to become an Engineer?

I enjoyed solving a lot of Math problems and enjoyed a particular topic in my physics class, Electromagnetics.

It was from that course in Secondary School I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering.

 What setbacks did you experience pursuing this dream?

Taking some engineering courses that would make me think, “why me” or “God help me” because I found them very challenging. For example, Thermodynamics and Statics.

Aside from those challenges, the fear of self-doubt. Sometimes, just believing in yourself regardless of what people think goes a long way. I remember being in a study group where we were discussing our prospective first jobs and I said Microsoft or any Fortune 500 company.

The whole group burst out laughing but today here I am staying in the course of what I want for myself.

 Did you have a hard time proving your credibility to your male lectures/superiors?

Yes, I did most of the time. It took a lot of hard work and proving myself but I would always let the quality of my work delivery speak volume.

Once you’re very knowledgeable about your expertise and firm about making decisions, it would be difficult for anyone to question your abilities in the workforce.

 Females in #STEM tend to recline to the background whenever leadership or academic roles are called for. Was this your experience?

No this isn’t my experience. I am very tenacious in the pursuit of leadership or academic roles in my career; certainly not shying away from it.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Portland, Oregon and I’m continuously getting mentored by senior leaders in my industry.

 As an Analog Engineer, what does your typical workday look like?

My workdays are very busy and a lot of critical thinking is involved.

Every day I am faced with new challenges on addressing power issues and honestly, everything I learned in Physics II (especially applied principles of electromagnetics) are applied from day to day.

Basically, I am mentally tasked each day.

 You are also an Instagram blogger. Tell us about your journey.

The journey so far has been great! I continue to curate content on my platform to inspire people across the world through my travel shots, beauty, hair and showcasing different fashion looks ranging from street style to guest inspired looks at a wedding.

I’ve collaborated with brands such as Pitusa, Chi Chi London, Res Ipsa, Palmers, Victoria Emerson just to mention a few and my work has been featured on various Instagram and media platforms.

The most exciting experience I’ve had from my journey so far was being privileged to have featured on a fashion segment on Fox News (Fox12 Oregon) discussing the latest Fall fashion trends in 2018.

 In your opinion why do you think women in #STEM do not take self-care as a top priority?

I feel it’s because they don’t want to appear unserious for their jobs and have their co-workers not take them seriously in a meeting or on a project.

The perception of a woman figure in STEM is always painted wearing dirty clothing, or plain tops and jeans and this have clouded some women’s judgment on how they would like to present themselves.

 What advice do you have for women starting out in #STEM?

Stay persistent and confident in the pursuit of your career goals. Don’t let the presumptions society has about women in STEM be a reason you get discouraged in achieving your career goals.

Who you are or aspire to be shouldn’t be limited by someone’s experience.

What’s the look on people’s face when you’re all dressed up like a diva and you tell them what you do?.

They are always astonished and perplexed. Some make decent remarks like, “Beauty and Brains” while others find the need to argue.

Once a co-worker said I was in Finance and I said, “No”. Only for him to turn back around still amazed and say, “I always thought you were in Finance and you were a spoilt brat because of the way you dress”.

Between anger and range, I managed to get my emotions in check and simply responded, “For someone educated that is quite shallow of you to say”.


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FCMB Launches Hub One – A tech-themed co-working space in Nigeria

The Nigerian Tech industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Many innovative ideas, platforms and more have been developed, which have provided more job opportunities.

However, certain infrastructural gaps created a need for affordable tech spaces and enabling environment where tech start-ups can thrive, collaborate and share ideas without having to deal with exorbitant overhead costs.

To address those gaps, FCMB has created Hub One, a tech-themed co-working space. Hub One is a space that allows for partnerships, collaborations, and possible investments.

It is a professional office space with unlimited internet, constant power supply, free coffee and a community of like minds. Speaking at the official launch of Hub One, Adam Nuru, Managing Director of FCMB, said the Bank recognizes and believes in the power of technology and youth-driven enterprises. He assured the public that FCMB will continue to invest in initiatives that support and develop Tech start-ups in Nigeria.

@MyFCMB has created Hub One - a tech-themed co-working space that allows for partnerships, collaborations, and possible investments. Read more... Click To Tweet

According to Bukola Smith, Executive Director, Business Development, FCMB “Hub One is designed to engage the Tech ecosystem as a means of providing solutions for today and the future’’.

She further stated that the Bank intends to create physical and virtual hubs across the nation over the next few years.

 Situated in the heart of Yaba, Lagos, Hub One which is created in partnership with Passion Incubator, is a conducive environment designed to foster collaboration and drive creativity within Nigeria’s tech start-up ecosystem.

Olufunbi Falayi, CEO of Leadspace by Passion Incubator commended FCMB for the initiative. He disclosed that “Hub One provides the necessary infrastructure for tech start-ups, as well as capacity building events, to enable them to focus their limited resources on their business development.

Routinely, Hub One will host several incubation programmes, hackathons and pitches to support and provide a platform for tech start-ups

For FCMB, Hub One is more than just a physical location, it’s a vision. A vision that supports the aspirations of Nigeria’s tech start-ups to attain their full potential.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.

Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.

Visit https://www.fcmb.com/hub-one/ for more information.


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