MOLPED FEATURE ON SIMI DREY: AWARD WINNING RADIO AND TV HOST

Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.

Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.

Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections. 

You can connect with Simi on Instagram and Twitter.

ABOUT SIMI DREY

Simi Drey is an experienced multi-award-winning Broadcaster who has worked across media platforms in both the United Kingdom and Nigeria. 

With a First Class Degree in Broadcasting and Journalism from the University of Wales, she currently hosts the Saturday and Sunday morning shows on the Beat 99.9FM and on television anchors 53 Extra on African Magic.

Having won the Future Awards Africa for Best OAP (TV and Radio) in 2019, Simi Drey uses her platform to share her passion for entertaining and educating the youth; tomorrow’s leaders.

What does friendship mean to you?

Friendship means family. My friends are people who know me, they know my strengths, they know my weaknesses yet they still love me. 

They have been there for me and always will be at different stages of my life and I will do the same for them.

Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity?

There have been numerous occasions where my girlfriends helped me but the most recent would be Gbemi Olateru Olagbegi who nominated me for the OAP category of the Future Awards Africa. She did this without my knowledge and even when I won, she still didn’t tell me what she had done. Someone else informed me. 

Since then, winning the award has opened so many other doors for me such as being the Nigerian representative of a panel in South Africa, to discuss the role and emancipation of women in African society.

Can you tell us about a time when your friend (s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?

In the first year of my career, while I was more or less fresh out of university, I did not know anyone in Lagos and I was hardly earning anything. I didn’t feel like I was making progress and I was extremely frustrated. 

During this period, I became friends with Dr Kemi Ezenwanne. She constantly encouraged me and prayed with me. She also helped me get a foot into the modelling industry which eventually brought about enough funds for me to move out of my aunt’s house, and rent my own place. 

Without her, I may not have continued pursuing a media career.

How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?

I have three different power circles. One consists of four women including myself, the other consists of three people, myself included and the last, five in total.

I don’t think I chose them to be honest. I think we realised how much we had in common and we just ‘clicked’ as friends. However, they have remained in my power circles because of their loyalty and support throughout the years. When the world saw me as a nobody, they were there. We have grown together and stayed together through stages of our lives; school, employment, marriage, childbirth and even divorce. 

No matter what though, we see the potential in each other and we strive daily to bring it out. One person’s success is a success for the entire group.

How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?

I think now more than ever, networking is much easier especially with social media. There are people I am friends with on Instagram for example that I had forgotten I had never met. 

However, because we talk a lot and exchange ideas, it feels like we know each other inside out. 

Social media networking can start simply by liking or commenting on a person’s picture. Search for someone in a similar industry as yourself or someone who has inspired you along your journey and send them a message. 

Don’t just write ‘hi’ though. Make it personal.

What is your fondest memory of you and your girlfriends, from when you first began your careers?

Before I started working in Nigeria, my friend Deena and I auditioned for the X-Factor. Neither of us made it past the first audition. Along with our friend Sully, we thought we were going to become a successful girl band- Deena and I as the singers and Sully as a rapper. We never released a single together. Our dreams of a girl band were pretty short-lived. 

Fast forward and Sully is now a successful Investment Banker in London, I have become a multi-award winning Broadcaster and although Deena actually continued to pursue a career in music, she now has been booked for shows across Nigeria and the UK and her songs play on mainstream radio stations.

Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?

I think the phrase ‘women don’t support women’ has been one of the most damaging statements for young women.

 I would say first and foremost, do not compete with other women. See them as allies. Celebrate their victories and try to lift them up in ways you can. They will do the same for you. 

Society is difficult for women generally but when we stand together, we have so much power.

#MyGrowthSquad series is powered by Molped (@MolpedNigeria). Connect with them on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.


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MOLPED FEATURE ON OMOWALE DAVID-ASHIRU: COUNTRY DIRECTOR, ANDELA

Molped sanitary pad is a product from Hayat Kimya Limited (manufacturers of Molfix diapers), and is a skin-friendly, ultra-soft, sanitary pad, designed to make young girls feel as comfortable, soft, and secure as they feel beside their best friends.

Molped’s breathable layer keeps young women fresh, and it’s skin-friendly, cottony soft layer does not cause irritation. Molped sanitary pad is every girl’s best friend, helping them be more confident, and supporting them through their periods.

Molped has partnered with She Leads Africa to highlight the beauty and importance of valuable female connections. 

About Omowale David-Ashiru

Omowale David-Ashiru is the Country Director for Nigeria and Ghana as well as the Head of Africa Operations at Andela, a company that helps build distributed software engineering teams quickly and cost-effectively. 

Before joining Andela, Omowale’s professional career included a decade-long stint at Accenture, where she started as an Analyst and grew to become a seasoned Management Consultant, Business Process Re-engineering expert, Interim Human Resources Lead and a Certified Project Manager. 

During her time at Accenture, Omowale led complex and challenging projects at numerous strategic clients including the largest bank in Nigeria and West Africa (at the time) as well as a key financial regulatory organisation in Nigeria. In her role, she collaborated and worked with diverse and multicultural teams in various countries, including India, Singapore, Oman, and South Africa. 

After Accenture, she established and managed a maternity retail company for eight years. As part of the Youth enterprise drive of the Federal Government of Nigeria, her company was vetted and awarded a highly coveted entrepreneurial grant. The company also supported the community by partnering with a Not-for-Profit organisation, to employ secondary school graduates as part-time sales assistants with the aim of economically empowering them while assisting them to prepare for and gain entry into tertiary institutions. 

Omowale obtained a First Class B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ibadan. She has won awards for leadership, academic excellence and theatre. She has a deep passion for inspiring people and has a mentoring circle for ladies. She is an avid reader and loves adventure. 

You can connect with Omowale on LinkedIn and Instagram.

What does friendship mean to you?

For me, there are two things that stand out when I think of friendship. The first is people who get me, which basically means that we think alike. For example, we could be looking at something and we just laugh because the same thought crossed our minds, at that same time. 

Friendship is also vulnerability, a friend is someone I can really be myself with. This is particularly difficult for me because I am not a vulnerable person by nature, so I have had two, maybe three friends including my sister, that I have ever been vulnerable with.

Can you tell us of a time when any of your girlfriends connected you with a career or business opportunity? 

Actually, this is how I got into Andela, a connection from a friend of mine. So a friend of mine who was in Andela also, mentioned Andela to me, got my CV and basically connected me with the opportunity to work here.

Can you tell us about a time when your friend (s) helped you through a difficult situation in your career?

At some point, I was at a crossroads in my career and business. I was running my own business, and it had gotten to a point where I was considering either going back into the corporate space or just continuing my business.

I had been considering this decision for about two years, when I had a conversation with my friend and she spoke about the issue from a different point of view. It was a lightbulb moment for me after that conversation, and I was able to make a decision. That decision eventually led me to being open to getting a corporate job, and I found myself in Andela.


How many women do you have in your power circle, and why did you choose them?

This is a very interesting question because interestingly enough, I actually have a power circle or more like a prayer circle actually, with three women. We talk together, we pray together and I am vulnerable with them.

We meet every week for about two hours unfailingly, and we talk and pray through issues and decisions. Just like the earlier example I shared, I spoke with one of them about a decision I needed to make. I didn’t even give her the facts of the issue because I didn’t want her to be biased. After some time, she prayed for me and got back to me with some advice that gave me clarity.

It’s an interesting story how I met them. Basically, my husband and I host a bible study course which we have been running for years now, with different sets of people. So these women and their husbands had been attending the bible study, and when it was time to start the life fellowship, we just picked ourselves because we had been together for years and had built an organic relationship.

How do you think young women can network with other women to achieve career success?

There’s a principle called the four degrees of separation which basically means that you’re four persons away from anybody else you want to meet in the world. What that means is that if I want to meet Obama today, there are four people between him and me. 

This means that everyone you meet is important and every opportunity to meet someone is a networking opportunity. So you shouldn’t be looking out for who in particular to network or a special opportunity to do so. Instead, simply look for more opportunities to meet people. 

Also, the more people you meet gives you a wider pool to choose from, and assign positions like a mentor, and an accountability partner to different ones. I have several instances of meeting people like this and how it has helped me.

In summary,  just look out for opportunities to meet people, and treat them well also.

What is your fondest memory of you and your girlfriends, from when you first began your careers?

Back in the university when I was in my final year, a company decided to come to my university to test and interview students for jobs. It was quite interesting for me because we were all young and still in school, so we had lots of questions to ask each other about what to wear or what to say.

That same way, we also had to travel to Lagos for the first time for an interview and I remember how excited everyone was then. Now when I look back, I see how far most of us have come since then.

Finally, what advice/tips do you have for young career women, to help them build and maintain valuable relationships with other women?

I think the key tip is humility. You should be humble and stay humble so that no matter what, you’re able to treat people with respect. The thing is as you continue having access to more people, you should remember to be respectful.

Humility will always get you far and help you maintain your relationships.

#MyGrowthSquad series is powered by Molped (@MolpedNigeria). Connect with them on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube.


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HOW I WENT FROM MY 9-to-5 TO PERFORMING ON A WORLD TOUR WITH MR.EAZI – SINGER-SONGWRITER, TOME

Building a successful brand is challenging whether you are a small business or individual. Historically, breaking out has especially been a tough job for women in music and entertainment.

One talent who seems to have cracked the code in navigating the music business is a 9-to-5’er turned singer-songwriter Tome. In just 2 years of becoming a full-time singer-songwriter, she has performed with Burna Boy, Wizkid and Mr. Eazi on world stages, and she is just getting started.

In March 2019, she debuted her single L’amour and released her debut EP, The Money, in February 2020. With her mantra, “I am enough. I am TÖME”, she’s determined to become a household name and empowering voice to African women across the world.


Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Michelle Oluwatomi Akanbi. I’m a Nigerian-French Canadian Singer-Songwriter born in Montreal, Canada. I was raised in the diverse city of Toronto where I grew up listening to Fela, Erykah Badu, and Alicia Keys.

Music is a very important part of my life. I am my art! I put 100% of me into my music – sound, vocals, lyrics – all of it.

How will you describe yourself as an artist?

My music is what I like to call Afro-fusion. With a fun mix of genres, my songs have messages of love, fun, and empowerment. As an artist, I would say I am a lyricist with a message.

What influenced your passion for the arts?

I honestly can’t say there was any specific influence on my love of the arts. But I remember watching Superstar (1999) with Molly Shannon as a child and thinking to myself, I’m going to be a superstar one day. #Day1Dreams

What motivates you to get up every day to make music?

My motivation to keep going in my career is to make my family proud. I hope to provide them the ability to live the lives they want to.

Other people also motivate me. I am so lucky to be around people I can learn from. They add to my experience and view of the world which makes it easier to write music. There’s always a story to tell apart from my own.

Tell us about your career journey.

I’ve always been making music. I released my first project on SoundCloud in 2015 – an EP titled One with Self. It was a really personal project of 5 songs I recorded on my phone while I played guitar. 

In 2018, while I was still working as a Marketing Executive at my full-time job, I recorded Tomesroom Chapter 1 and many other songs. I didn’t release any of the songs at the time because I had no team and didn’t want it to go “nowhere”. I planned to do another year working at my 9-to-5 job and “learn more about the industry”.

In 2019 my dad (who is now my manager) heard my song L’amour and asked me if I was ready to work. I said yes and officially started my career as a full-time artist.

So far, I have been really blessed. In my first year as a professional recording artist, I have shared the stage with incredible talents like Wizkid, Burnaboy, and done a tour with Mr. Eazi in Europe.

I have learned so much and improved my craft in such a short time. It’s amazing to know that it’s only the beginning.

What influence do you want your music to have on the African woman in today’s world?

I hope my music helps women accept their own strength. Every time I get on stage, I remind myself – “I am enough. I am TÖME”.

I want to show that the African woman can be and do anything. You don’t have to limit yourself to what anyone wants to tell you to be. All the obstacles in your way are only temporary. 

You attract what you think and if you are focused and know what you want, you can never fail.

What are your top 3 tips for young African women looking to make their mark in their career or business?

  1. Stay on-trend. You have to continuously push yourself to experiment to stay as relevant as possible and grow. 
  2. Stay open-minded and knowledgeable. It’s the same whether you have a 9-to-5 or business.
  3. Stay true to yourself. People can tell when you’re not being genuine. You will never make your mark if you don’t know yourself and get lost in other people’s vision of you.

Follow Tome’s journey and vibe to her music.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/Tomeofficial_/
Fanlink: https://fanlink.to/tome

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This woman-led startup bets it can help African businesses grow faster

As Sub-saharan Africa lags behind in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business report, one woman-led startup thinks it can help entrepreneurs grow their companies in this tough environment.

After years of mentoring startups and running businesses in Ghana and Nigeria, Munachim Chukwuma started IB Consulting in February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.

Munachim and her team believe they’ve found the recipe to help African business grow quickly with their innovative and affordable service model.


"Never have a business with NO business structure" #RedFlag – @consultingibobo Click To Tweet

Why Nigerian startups are struggling to grow.

According to experts from Harvard University, startups that want to stand the test of time must learn new ways of operating and behaving. This is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because these new ways tend to be completely different from their start-up roots.

Most startups struggle to grow and scale either because they do not know how or lack the proper structure and strategy. This is where we come in.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

IB Consulting believes that African entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses must realize they are in a different phase of their business life cycle, and therefore must change.

IB Consulting’s growth recipe for startups.

To help entrepreneurs struggling to scale, Munachim and her partners created a service model that combines strategy consultation, negotiation, and content creation.

IB Consulting bets its 3 service tentpoles are what entrepreneurs need to grow faster despite the difficulty of doing business in Africa.

We decided to focus on strategy consultation, negotiations and content creation as a company because we realized most of the challenges most businesses face in today’s society are tied to those three areas in one way or another.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

In addition to its unique service model, IB Consulting promises clients efficiency, personalization, and great service.

Why you should watch out for IB Consulting.

In less than a year, IB Consulting is proving it is not just all talk. The company reports that since February, it has helped over 10 business owners rebuild their structures and execute action growth plans.

It’s also not just about the money for this company this woman-led company. They have done some pro bono work for new entrepreneurs who could not afford to pay for some of our services.

In 2020, the company plans to expand aggressively to reach, help and educate help businesses across Africa.

We intend to grow over the next year of business and reach more people across the continent, as we also reinvent our business and launch more products that can meet the needs of our prospective clients.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

Visit https://iboboconsulting.com/ for more information on how IB Consulting can help your business.


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Meet The 2019 She Leads Africa ACCELERATOR Participants

Its been 3 months since She Leads Africa launched the 2019 Accelerator program in Nigeria and this year’s boot camp is about to come to a close.

The SLA Accelerator program is designed to identify, support and fund the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

This year, the program went digital and out of about 300 applications, 16 women with innovative businesses were chosen to be a part of this 3-month program.

The top 5 finalists will pitch their businesses on Demo Day (November 2 from 11 am – 1 pm) in front of Judges and a virtual audience all across the globe, where the winner will be selected.

The winner of the Accelerator program will receive a 2 million Naira funding grant from SLA.

Find out all you need to know about the participants and their businesses below.


Mariam Ofeh-Sule

Business: TheBookDealerNG

Mariam is a writer and the founder of TheBookDealer.

Her prose has appeared in the Guardian Ng, Brittle Paper, Arts and Africa, ITCH Creative Journal and Litro Magazine UK.

She writes monthly articles for ArtxJuJu, a brand committed to challenging the demonization of African culture, which Mariam also co-founded

In 2016, Mariam had a major depressive episode that caused her to fold inward and spend a lot of time alone, and avoid people. Books were her only companion.

In each book, there was a new story with new characters whose lives were different from hers. She had the liberty to travel far and wide within a book. For Mariam, reading a book was a form of therapy.

In a bid to share that warmth with people, Mariam realized that the average Nigerian is faced with inaccessibility to books.

TheBookDealerNG is an online bookstore that provides access to African Literature. African literature because the only thing better than the warmth of a good book is a book that sees and validates your existence. 

Dr. Rebecca Achokpe Andeshi

 Business: Awe Farms and Consult

Dr. Andeshi is the founder of Awe Farms and Consult.  A cloud-based digital platform that provides farmers in rural areas in Nigeria with instant financing solutions and veterinary services with the use of a drone for efficient disease diagnosis and delivery of veterinary supplies in remote livestock farming communities.

She was motivated to start her business because of the inability of smallholder farmers to afford high-quality input.

This has always been a pain point for her as a third-generation farmer. Thus discovering that farmers live on less than $1.25 a day was a rude awakening for her.

Dr. Rebecca now provides digital input financing to smallholder farmers in Nigeria from recycled agricultural waste increasing productivity by 33%. 

Nafisah Oseni Wahab

Business: NUFAESAH

Nafisah is the founder of Nufaesah – a fashion line that provides workwear for the urban Muslim woman.

Her products range between pants, dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, shirts/blouses, jackets/blazers, scarves, and turbans. 

As a working woman, Nafisah has had two major negative experiences in her career.

A judge at the High Court of Lagos State once sent her out of court because of her headscarf.

Secondly, it was so difficult finding workwear that made her look the part for work, that was fashionable while keeping within the Islamic guidelines of dressing.

These episodes made her design her workwear for religious women – both Muslim and Christian.

Cynthia Omokhekpen Asije

Business: The Adirelounge.

Cynthia is a multi-award-winning textile designer passionate about eradicating extreme poverty using capacity development and entrepreneurship, by infusing old cultural practices and technology.

She learned the trade from her mother who used her Tie & Dye making skills to get her family through school.

Cynthia has been recognized as the top textile artist by World Bank & International Finance Corp as one of the Next African 100 startups for building a sustainable textile industry in Africa. 

Cynthia’s desire to sustain and promote Nigeria’s cultural heritage and indigenous method of hand-dyed fabrics, uses this method to empower women and the empowerment is reflecting in these communities by creating a sustainable industry.

She wanted to help others like her mother get more out of life, curb unemployment and preserve the Nigeria cultural textile heritage.

Omoh Alokwe

Business: Street Waste Company

Omoh is the founder of the Street Waste Company – a social enterprise in the environmental and waste management sector.

Their core focus is on waste recycling collection and waste upcycling training.

The company’s business goal is to encourage people to embrace a culture of waste reduction, reuse and recycle to attain a sustainable environment.

Her company also gives advisory services to corporate clients, collect recyclable waste and partner with organizations through their corporate sustainability programs.

Omoh’s motivation for starting the Street Waste Company was borne out of a passion for making an impact and creating a solution to the endemic waste problem around us.

Having studied environmental management at the masters level, she realized the basic solution to this menace is attitudinal. So she Co-founded SWCL where they encourage people to imbibe the culture of waste recycling through our incentive-based scheme. 

Tola Oyinlola

Business: Interg

INTERG brings to children the Fun and Learn Tablet.

This tablet comprises smart games with several stages of learning and engagement, providing an exciting new way to change the learning content as children grow.

In 2018,  Tola volunteered to teach with an NGO to give back to her community. She realized how difficult and boring learning can be for the average Nigerian Child. 

She spent a lot of time trying to find teaching aids online and eventually decided to create an app for mathematics, which was well-received by all her students.

Even though she was unable to create an app for all subjects, she had found a solution that she was determined to monetize. In many ways, INTERG is simply building a product that speaks to a historical problem with learning.

Lilian Chinweotito Uka

Business: EduPoint

EduPoint leverages on Artificial Intelligence.

It is an innovative online platform that connects students with verified local teachers who deliver one-on-one lessons in any subject, skill or exam, to help students or learners meet their learning expectations and also enable passionate tutors to earn extra income.

As a little girl in primary school, Lillian struggled with learning and understanding in a class of over 40 students. Her aunt decided to take her to a personalized class.

This involved a peer to peer learning and within the shortest period of time, she emerged the best in class and since then has been an advocate of peer to peer learning. 

This overwhelming class population density coupled with differences in student’s learning pace has resulted in a significant decline in learning outcomes of students in Nigeria over the past 10 years, reducing exams success rates from 40% to less than 20% in major exams.

Globally, conventional methods of education are transitioning from centralized to distributed, and from standardized to personalized. 

This is why she created EduPoint, which serves as a solution that bridges the gaps between helping learners meet their learning expectations while improving the livelihood by providing employment for these professionals. 

So far, they have delivered over 30,000+ hours of learning to over 100 learners directly and over 1000+ learners indirectly in Nigeria which includes K-12 children, youths and adults and has generated over $30,000 in revenue. 

Andrea Kamara

Business: The Balance Bowl

Andrea is the founder of The Balance Bowl.

She was motivated to start after she realized there was a lack of convenient, healthy, and affordable food for the busy African. 

Balance Bowl is a tech-enabled health and wellness company that offers busy Africans access to delivered meals, licensed dieticians, fitness coaching, as well as other healthy living content from the convenience of the mobile app.

Ifeoma Benjamin

Business: isabiDeliver

isabiDeliver started due to the increase in consumer’s need for on-demand delivery.

Ifeoma discovered that there will be a need for a more affordable and available service that meets that need which is what isabiDeliver is doing.

In 2016, Ifeoma decided to turn her hobby (Food blogging) into a business venture called iSabiFood.

iSabiFood is an online food ordering and delivery application where she experienced some inherent limitations of dealing with restaurants as a single vertical.

In 2018, she took the same last-mile delivery principle and applied it to other verticals.

It matched the expectations consumers have of the on-demand economy and smoothed out all of those inefficiencies in the operating model and that’s how isabiDeliver started.

Nyemachi Alexis Wokekoro 

Business: Welima Tea

Welima Tea is about transforming rich African medicinal recipes into teas that would combat different levels of pain ( menstrual cramps), promote well-being, and actualize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)Goal 3.

Nyemachi got the opportunity to do her pre-clinical rotations in The Gambia. 10-15 days every month, pains were the order of the day because of the menstrual cramps she suffered.

For a while, she thought something else was wrong because the pains were unresponsive to any medication prescribed.

This continued till her doctor suggested she research on alternative medicine and analyze it with her knowledge in medicine and that was how Welima Tea began.

Oyindamola Adesina 

Business: Simbi Interactives 

Oyindamola is the founder of Simbi Interactives – an edTech startup that is solving the problem of poor education in Africa by using Simbibot.

Simbibot is an artificial intelligence-powered product- that can give every child access to quality education and equal learning opportunities.

Oyindamola Adesina’s childhood ambition was to study medicine, because as an individual living with sickle-cell, she felt she needed the medical knowledge to help herself and others living with the disease live better lives, and, if possible, eradicate it.

She ended up studying Water Resources, Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology in the university motivated Oyindamola to help every pupil get access to quality education and equal learning opportunities regardless of the conditions that might hinder them.

Oyindamola is using Simbibot to ensure that quality education available, accessible and affordable to all kids.

Omobolanle Esther Oladapo 

Business: Farm Hire 

Esther started Farm Hire to give farmers access to the latest farm equipment, input, and information around them towards fully mechanizing agriculture in Africa and boosting food production.

Esther started farming with her co-founder in 2018 following the clamoring for youth involvement in Agriculture.

She had several challenges which included; where to hire equipment, get modern inputs and hire workers for the farm.

She later observed that millions of local and intending farmers in Nigeria have similar problems, which is why Farm Hire came to life.

Cynthia Keku 

Business: SafeHaus-UKNigeria

Safehaus-UKNigeria is a concierge service which provides working mums with young children thoroughly vetted staff to look after their home.

Cynthia was motivated to start Safehaus-UKNigeria as a result of the inability of her older siblings, their children, expatriates/investors to visit because of the insecurity in the country.

Safehaus-UKNigeria also helps expatriates and Africans living in Diaspora, with a trustworthy and security-conscious logistics service, so they can focus more on their business and less worry about their personal safety and security.

Jennifer Eneanya 

Business: Amaranthine Media 

Amaranthine Media is an indigenous storytelling machine, a content development firm and a production company that produces indigenous live-action and animated content.

They particularly focus on easily-accessible, entertaining and educational content for children and teens.

Jennifer started Amaranthine Media because writing, storytelling and creating content is second nature to her and she had worked in this industry for over a decade.

In addition, as she grew her family, she realized that there is a dearth of indigenous content for children and teenagers.

Jennifer then decided to transmute her life-long passion into a medium that would serve the dual purpose of providing educational and entertaining made-in-Africa content for children and teenagers.

Adaorah Momodu 

Business: Oncopadi 

Oncopadi is Africa’s 1st digital clinic improving access to “medically verified” information and survivorship services via integrated social features.

Oncopadi is a health-centered initiative that leverages data, research, digital technology and impact of scale to reduce the cancer burden in Nigeria.

In Adaorah’s 4th year of medical school, she lost a friend to hepatocellular carcinoma, 6months following diagnosis. 

She remembered feeling helpless, as she watched him become socially withdrawn and its effects on his family.

During her LUTH clinical rotation, even higher numbers of cancer mortality were recorded. It was in this pain Adaorah found the strength and purpose to pursue a career in Oncology.

As a grassroots cancer physician, she has learned that patients have sensitive topics surrounding their diagnosis & care which they preferred discussing with survivors, as many were misinformed and some just needed a less bureaucratic means to access their doctors.

Ifeanyichukwu Obidi-Essien

Business: EduLead Concept

Ifeanyichukwu saw the need for children to learn more effectively and express their innate creativity and that is her driving force.

Her business is solving the problem of unavailability of animation training platforms, with which children could learn more effectively and creatively. 

EduLead Concept is a company that provides Educational Technology Services to children in the nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Their core service is Animation Kids Club, an after-school training activity for primary school children where they are equipped with animation skills with which their creativity can find expression and also improve in learning.

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Find out more about the SLA Accelerator Here.

SHEAMOISTURE SPOTLIGHT ON HEALTHY LIVING QUEEN: LYNDA ODOH – CEO HEALTHIFY AFRICA

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skincare innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

Meet Lynda Odoh

Lynda Odoh-Anikwe is the CEO and founder of Healthify Africa.

She is a Medical Doctor from the University of Nigeria and started Healthify Africa. Healthify Africa is an enterprise that strives to tackle the dietary risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

In the course of her daily interactions with patients, she realized that people were most driven by convenience and availability when making healthy lifestyle choices.

Lynda decided to start a fruit delivery service. She hopes this will create an enabling system for busy urban dwellers, to conveniently meet the World Health Organization’s daily fruit recommendation for a healthy life.

Her vision is to see an African continent where adopting a healthy lifestyle is easy, practical and sustainable.

You can connect with Lynda and her business on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Tell us how you started Healthify Africa.

When I began to practice as a medical doctor, I saw that there were so many instances of non-communicable diseases that could have been avoided by a simple dietary change.

I started Healthify Africa because I wanted to create a solution to the problem of non-communicable diseases. My goal with Healthify Africa is to address dietary risk factors.

I do this by providing a service that helps busy people adopt healthy eating habits. This is done through a simplified system and healthy lifestyle advocacy.

At Healthify Africa our focus is on increasing the consumption of fruits for busy urban dwellers through a delivery platform. By providing affordable fruit boxes, fruit cups, fruit and dip platter to school children, homes and offices, we’re building a healthier Africa one person at a time.

SheaMoisture

What was your motivation for finally starting your business?

For me, it was because I had been in similar situations and I understood the challenges people face in trying to adopt and sustain healthy dietary habits.

I grew up in a health-conscious family and I grew accustomed to having a very healthy diet. However, when I became a young adult and my schedule became tighter especially during my internship, it became extremely difficult to eat the right things.

It was a situation of knowing the right thing to do, but being unable to do it. I knew then that there must be other busy young people like me, men, women and even mothers who wanted their children eating fruits but were pressed for time as I was.

"I realized that just like myself, people were most empowered by convenience and availability rather than just knowledge." – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

That for me was a huge community need that I passionately wanted to see addressed. So I made the decision to become the change I desired by creating an enabling platform. A platform that supports healthy food choices so as to help myself and others with the same challenge.

What makes your brand stand out?

Healthify Africa is not just another food company, that caters to only satisfying hunger. Instead, my brand is particularly focused on ensuring that everyone has access to the daily consumption of 400g of fruits, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


The vision is to create a world where healthy eating is most practical and the dietary risks of non-communicable diseases reduced to the barest minimum.

That, as well as our commitment to healthy lifestyle advocacy, has been a huge attraction for our clients because they can see it.

SheaMoisture

What are three things you struggled with when your business kicked off and how did you overcome them?

When I first started my business, a lot of people did not understand what we were trying to do and that equated to zero orders. We had to create a lot of awareness about the health benefits of patronizing our convenience-based service.

Also, through our follow-up and feedback system, we tried to encourage our clients to make referrals and this has continued to help our brand.

Secondly, being a fruit delivery service, food hygiene, presentation and safety during transit were some of my topmost priorities. It was a challenge finding the ideal packaging that met all the criteria and would still fit into our production cost.

I did my online research and eventually was able to find a reliable supplier that we now work with.

SheaMoisture

Finally, it was important that our fruit packs get delivered in a cold temperature range for a great client experience. This was a challenge when we had to deliver long-distance orders. This was an issue because there is currently no thermostat equipped delivery services operating in Abuja where we operate from.

To overcome this, we currently partner with a reliable express delivery service and improvise with ice packs in the chillers for long-distance deliveries. Hopefully, in the near future, we can have our very own thermostat equipped delivery bikes.

How do you stay above the noise in your industry?

We made sure to implement a system of receiving and acting on feedback, from early on in the business so that we know what exactly our clients want and tweak our approach to offer them that.

This has been really helpful in building a business that our clients love and customer retention as well.

Did you have any personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

Before I started my business, I had a few unpleasant experiences with logistics. On one occasion, I was to make a trip and I had made an earlier arrangement with a cab driver. However, on the morning of the trip, he was a no show, which made me have to find another one. To cut the long story short, I ended missing the bus I was to get on.

When I began my business, I took that experience with me and created a better delivery structure. I ensure that all delivery arrangements are made on time to avoid communication-related challenges. As a second step, I also make backup plans to ensure that I don’t disappoint my clients.

SheaMoisture

Can you tell us of any impact have you made in your community since you started your business?

As a medical doctor, I am really passionate about helping people live healthier lives and I made sure to infuse this into my business.

Through my brand, I have been able to raise awareness about the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Also, we have encouraged people to sustain a healthy lifestyle by organizing health and fitness challenges.

Most recently, we actively participated in the 2019 global week for action against Non-Communicable diseases. We engaged in a social media awareness campaign (#enoughNCDs #healthifyafrica) and an educational video series with a team of Doctors.

It is of great value to me that my clients are enlightened and empowered to make the right decisions for their health. – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

Can you share your 2019 goals with us and what you’ve done so far to achieve them?

Since we had already introduced our business, our 2019 goal was to broaden our client base. Our method was to strictly implement feedback from clients. Also, we started building partnerships that will ensure quality product delivery and unforgettable customer experience.

After doing this for some time this year, we have recorded an increase in the number of clients that have requested for our service. This is something we are going to keep doing since it’s bringing positive results.

We believe it has laid a great foundation for more successes with so many growth possibilities ahead and we are optimistic about that.

What are three interesting things about you?

The first is that I love DIY’s. I have actually painted my room from start to finish on two different occasions just for the fun of it. The last is that I love the power bikes but I’m too scared to get one yet.

SheaMoisture

What’s your favorite self-care routine?

I like to get soaked in a warm bath after a stressful day. I simply light my candles and toss in some petals. After that, I take a mental trip to wherever the CALM Meditation App takes me to, preferably the waterside.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA, sponsored by SheaMoisture?

I feel absolutely ecstatic! When I first saw the email from SLA and SheaMoisture, I was so excited. I had to read it over and over again to make sure it was really for me. Thank you so much She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for this opportunity.

What is one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/ services?

Authentic!

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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SheaMoisture Spotlight on Hospitality Queen: Frances Omanukwue – CEO Pro Event Hostess Hub

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Frances Omanukwue

Frances N. Omanukwue has over seven years’ experience as an Event Hostess and Event Coordinator.

She is also the author of “Becoming A Profitable Event Hostess” which is the first event hostess book in Nigeria.

After seeing the potentials in the event hostess industry and how young ladies can maximize this opportunity to be financially independent while bridging the unemployment gap, she started empowering young ladies through event hostess jobs.

To increase the number of young ladies who will benefit from this opportunity, Frances founded “The Pro Event Hostess Hub,” a social media platform to groom young ladies who will not only attain a level of financial independence but most importantly, will be hostesses that abide by the ethics of the industry.

Recently, The Pro Event Hostess Hub was nominated amongst the top 15 Most Creative Businesses in Nigeria by Global Entrepreneurship Network-Nigeria.

Frances interests range from entrepreneurship to volunteering. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer for many causes that cut across health and young women empowerment.

Frances tells us more about how she started providing jobs and supporting young women in her community.

Connect with Frances on her Website, Instagram, & Twitter…


How I started thePro Event Hostess hub…

After graduating from the university and not being able to find a job, coupled with encountering some financial challenges on the home front, I decided to look for ways to survive as well as support my family.

At the time, I started working as an event hostess which is what most people refer to as an usher.

As I grew in the industry irrespective of the setbacks, I observed how the money I earned over the years had helped my family especially my siblings in paying for tuition and fees, as well as sorting out their personal needs. 

With this realization, I started linking more young women within my community to event hostess jobs.

Over time, they’d come to tell me how the opportunity had helped them to pay for school fees or sort their other financial challenges in school, learn a trade and are about to start a business. Seeing the difference it made in their lives, I decided to take it more seriously so that by doing so, I can help other young women irrespective of their location.

How I’ve impacted my community since starting this business…

So far, I’ve been able to link more than 100 young women to event hostess jobs which they have used to raise money to support themselves in school, learn skills and start businesses of their own.

Some have also used this opportunity to learn skills that helped them get into corporate employment as well.

3 things I struggled with at the start of my business…

  1. Understanding how to structure the business: I struggled with this in the beginning but I started going for training and I have definitely gotten better since then.
  2. Training existing and new event hostesses: It wasn’t easy to convince them to go through the training process at first, but from the feedback and results of other ladies who have attended our training, others can now see the benefit of it.
  3. Business Acceptance: Initially, I struggled with convincing people to accept my brand. However, through constantly promoting our work, more people are starting to understand and value the importance and benefits of event hostessing.

3 interesting facts about myself…

  • I am naturally an introvert but people think otherwise.
  • I love driving and playing video games.
  • Learning about new things excites me a lot.

My fave skin, hair care product…

Shea butter

A message to SheaMoisture & She Leads Africa…

I am really excited and grateful to She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for providing a platform where women can showcase their businesses and how they impact their communities.

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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The Tech and STEM pioneer of Botswana

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with. 

Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.

Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.

She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.

Connect with Kgomotso Phatsima and her business on social media.


Why I founded Dare to Dream…

When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.

After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.

I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.

On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…

I will talk about myself and my own experience here.

When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’

Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.

So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.

With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.

But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.

Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?

I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.

I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.

There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.

We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.

How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…

In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.

Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.

At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.

We need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.

We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.

Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…

We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.

BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate. 

We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.

We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.

It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.

There is something very powerful about collaboration.

We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.

What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year. 

The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…

Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.

After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.

So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.

The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects. 

How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…

We want young people to solve African problems using technology – @KPhatsima Click To Tweet

Also, we want to teach them that they can look around for themselves, and identify where the problems are, and create devices and apps to overcome them, and make money out of them.

The fact that we are training teachers and students is a good step because we are pushing them towards appreciating the importance of 4IR and the power of technology in building businesses.


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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SheaMoisture Spotlight On Award-Winning Midwife: Tolu Adeleke-Aire – CEO ToluTheMidwife

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Tolu Adeleke-Aire

Tolu Adeleke-Aire is the CEO and founder of ToluTheMidwife.

She is an internationally trained, dual-qualified healthcare professional. Tolu is an accomplished senior midwife and nurse. Tolu has over ten years of clinical and management experience.

She completed an MSc in Healthcare Management, after which she worked with the reputable UCL (Department of Nutrition).

Tolu founded ToluTheMidwife to create a holistic experience for families. One that included preparing, supporting and empowering expectant parents as they transition to parenthood. She does this through evidence-based health education.

One parent at a time, Tolu is living her business mantra, “save a mother, save a child, save a community.”

To learn more about Tolu’s business and connect with her, visit her Website, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions, how did you start?

I started ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions (officially) in 2018. The aim is to prepare, support and empower expectant parents as they transition to parenthood through evidence-based health education.



Birthing a baby is a life-changing experience,and services rendered must offer a holistic approach. – @ToluTheMidwife Click To Tweet

At ToluTheMidwife, we offer Antenatal Classes, Postnatal Classes, exclusive “With Woman” services and Dads Antenatal Classes #DadsAntenatalNg.

Through effective health education, we can influence a positive change in health behaviors. This will drastically reduce Nigeria’s maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

We truly believe that informed and empowered parents will Save a mother, Save a baby and Save a Community.

What was your motivation?

While still working in England, I visited Nigeria often because I always wanted to move back.

So during one of these visits, I read an article about the atrocious maternal and neonatal mortality rates. I instantly became obsessed.

That article made me struggle to understand why so many women die just because they are having a baby. On further research, I noted many women lack basic evidence-based health education.

As a result, I created Tolu the Midwife to fill this gap, with the hopes of saving mothers, babies, and communities.

What makes your brand stand out?

I would say our dads antenatal classes, #DadsAntenatalNg. We are the first to incorporate antenatal classes for dads in Lagos and possibly Nigeria.

Society expects men to understand the beautiful yet challenging changes that happen to women during pregnancy. To support their partners in labor and in the postnatal period.

All that without being taught, educated, informed or even supported.
This is grossly unfair, drives men away and generational patterns are subconsciously repeated.

Our holistic approach covers the transition to parenthood right from conception for both men and women.

Another thing we do is offer our couples, round the clock online maternity support through our exclusive “With Woman” packages.

Couples feel very reassured knowing there is a midwife available to answer all their questions and alleviate any anxiety or refer them to the hospital (if required).

Can you tell us one 1 to 3 things you struggled with as a business owner and how you overcame them?

1. Time management: I had a demanding full-time job and was starting a business in Nigeria.  It was very challenging and I found no matter how hard I tried, the “naija factor” would disrupt my plans.

I am currently working part-time, as this gives me enough time to focus on building ToluTheMidwife and The Maternity Hub (Nigeria). 

I am also able to attend various courses which have been extremely helpful in building my brand.

2. Funding: I was unable to secure a personal space as I had planned and this threw me out of sync. I froze the plans I had for the classes for a while.

However, I am currently leasing spaces as required for my classes (pay-as-you-go) and this is working out really well.

How have you managed to stay above the noise in this industry?

As a brand new start-up, we are trying new and exclusive services such as dads antenatal classes and baby massage classes and evaluating the response we get from our clients.  

We also constantly monitor maternal needs and trends.

Do you have a personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

I didn’t consider the third party factor and it left me devastated at the start of my business. 

As an example, I write the handbooks for the classes and have them updated throughout the year.

I gave the first book to a printer and I didn’t receive them on time for the very first class. It made me upset because when I did receive them, they were not fit for purpose.

So when I updated the books again and sent them to the printer, I monitored every single step to avoid a repeat of what happened before.

It was a really helpful learning experience for me because as a startup, I can’t afford to have a stain on my reputation, so I take all the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself.

What impact have you made on your community since starting this business?

I would say being able to make pregnant couples feel informed and empowered about their pregnancy, birthing options, and postnatal care. Most of them report feeling less anxious and worried because they know we are one call away.

They also ask the midwives and doctors to complete all aspects of their antenatal check-up. The women have their personal antenatal handheld notes, so they keep track of the important numbers in pregnancy.

All in all, I have been able to support more parents and help them become more informed and prepared to welcome their children to the world.

What is your major goal for 2019, and what have you done so far to achieve it?

My major goal is to add new services to ToluTheMidwife. This is partially completed but we would love to regularise the frequency of the classes.

We are also working hard to open The Maternity Hub. A one-stop hub for maternity, with services from conception to 6 weeks postpartum.

Can you share with us three interesting facts about yourself?

I am a real foodie and funny too, so you’ll usually catch me chilling and laughing.

Another interesting thing about me is that I prefer a good movie and company, over living it up in the clubs and bars on a Friday night.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture?

Absolutely ecstatic. SLA is an awesome platform for amazing African women.

To have our services featured on your sites, sponsored by SheaMoisture is truly an honor.


You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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Young women should benefit from the growing impact investment market: Ujunwa Ojemeni

Ujunwa Ojemeni is a financing, business development and clean energy expert with experience in the areas of opportunity maturation, project financing and impact investing.

She has been in the energy sector for over five years now. She was in project development for a while before transiting to impact investment.

While in energy project development, she coordinated several gases and power development opportunities valued at approximately $300 Million.

In energy impact investing, her work has involved working with partners to catalyze funding to the clean energy sector such as the $100Million Off-Grid Energy Access Fund (OGEF) along with the African Development Bank and others, as well as driving investments in and managing investments in various clean energy companies.

She is currently working with project developers by structuring and arranging appropriate financing for their businesses, working with partners to deploy innovative energy solutions and providing long term strategic support to key energy enterprises.


Tell us about some of your projects

Earlier this year, I was selected as one of the 60 young African Clean Energy Leaders for the Open Power Africa 2019 program by Enel Foundation in collaboration with top African and Italian academic institutions.

I was one of the 16 finalists of the program who proceeded to complete the final module of the fellowship based on the quality of our capstone projects. I also emerged as a finalist in the IFC Sustainability Exchange Ideas Contest for Youth Innovations 2019.

To promote the participation of more women in the energy sector, I recently launched “The African Women in Energy Development Initiative – AWEDI Network”.

It is the pioneer African organization focused on women across the entire energy value chain to offer mentorship, career sponsorship (acceleration), capacity building, and leadership training for women at all stages of their energy careers and for female students at the secondary and tertiary levels.

I have always been passionate about helping SMEs to be successful and founded the “SME Transformation Project” through which I provide business advisory and funding to women-owned
SMEs in low-income communities.

I help them navigate through basic business challenges such as marketing and distributing channels, product line expansion, and most importantly, funding, which they have difficulties accessing from traditional financiers.

In addition, I am a mentor at the Cherie Blaire Foundation where I provide support to women entrepreneurs to help them grow as they build their businesses in different parts of the world.

Before all of these, I worked in the management consulting unit of KPMG where I focused on startup advisory and process improvement for such enterprises.

Share your experience with female inclusion in the energy sector?

In 2014, when I started my professional involvement in the energy sector, there were only 2 women on the team, and I was unclear how to navigate or how to find suitable mentors within or even outside the organization.

Although the numbers are gradually improving as more attention is being
given to the subject – more women are coming into the sector.

However, if you look at the management of most companies, it is mostly dominated by men. In fact, although female representation is improving globally, it remains considerately low.

In fortune 500 companies, only 6.6% of CEOs are female and 25.5% of board seats are held by women. This was one of my motivations to launch the African Women in Energy Development Initiative (AWEDI Network).

Being a woman in any sector let alone a male-dominated sector is generally tough and there is still significant room for improvement to make it more conducive for women to thrive.

As I always say, we are equal but different. Women are saddled with the responsibility of childbearing and a lot of times childbearing and home keeping.

Issues such as not employing pregnant women or newly married women are really sad and worrying. Organizations are typically worried about the gaps caused by maternity leave but the evidence is clear that a diverse workforce is good for the bottom line.

Furthermore, returning to work after maternity leave is not always smooth especially when you have been sidelined and not promoted along with your peers who may not even have performed as well as you.

In some other organizations, there is no provision for things such as nursing rooms for nursing mothers.

Another issue is the ‘flexible working myth’. Some organizations do not make any provisions for this, while others allow it in principle but in reality, it is difficult to utilize it as you might be considered unserious and penalized for it.

As a society and as corporate bodies we must institute
policies and implement the same to enable both men and women to perform optimally – paternity leave is still not taken seriously by many.

What were your major challenges in the industry and how can African women manage it?

One challenge is being undermined maybe because one is young. It is an interesting combination to be young as well as an African female committed to achieving big goals.

Nevertheless, I believe that being an expert in your craft is most important and clearly demonstrating this expertise by being visible. At meetings, there is always something you can contribute – most times we know more than we realize.

So I always encourage women to be bold and speak out more. In addition, we have to network sensibly; unfortunately, we usually do not have the luxury of time to attend all networking events due to other responsibilities but we should pick the most relevant events to attend.

We should also network horizontally and vertically i.e. with our peers and with those in higher cadres.

Another tricky challenge is finding the balance between being confident and people thinking you are self-promoting.

I have learned to ignore any naysayers and self-promote because if you don’t talk about what you have done and what you are doing and keep waiting for someone else to notice you, you will be waiting a long time.

So tell your managers what you have accomplished; share with your network your key accomplishments. We live in a social media age, so accept and embrace it.

Finally, it is easy for people to get threatened by your brilliance and even try to bring you down. But you must rise above that and focus on how you intend to bless the world.

Make your bosses look good but don’t dim your light because others are mediocre. Shine, shine, shine!

How can young businesswomen position themselves in order to benefit impact investment?

Simply put, impact investments are investments that are made with the intention to cause positive, measurable, economic, social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The major criteria generally agreed for an investment to qualify as impact investing is that it is intentional i.e. it has a positive impact on social or environmental impact, it is profit-oriented i.e. a clear expected return and although metrics are still being debated, that the impact is measurable.

There is a growing impact investment market globally and particularly focused on developing countries to provide capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, healthcare, education and many more.

Young women can definitely benefit from this growing market either as impact investors themselves or by adequately positioning their enterprises to benefit from those funds.

The key is ensuring that the enterprise meets the criteria mentioned above, as investors are clearly keen on supporting such innovative enterprises.

A quick way to assess how impactful an enterprise is could be assessing its impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and considering broader metrics such as how many jobs are created through the enterprise.

Therefore when wondering if your enterprise would be attractive to impact investors, ensure it has economic, social and/or environmental impact accompanied by a financial return. So, impact investments are regarded by some as “doing well by doing good”.

Are there any career opportunities in energy and financial inclusion for women you can share with us?

There are numerous career opportunities in this sector depending on one’s interests, skills, readiness to take on these opportunities amongst others.

On the AWEDI Network platform, we share numerous opportunities daily and weekly. The real decision is for women to decide that they are qualified to take on these roles, apply for them, get the skills required and soar.

The statistics are that women mostly only apply for opportunities when they meet 100% of the hiring criteria while their male peers apply when they meet 60%. So I always encourage women to look beyond their shortcomings and believe in themselves.

In the energy sector whatever your interests are, it could be in legal, governance, finance, investments, technical, etc. there are opportunities for everyone.

Finally, personal development is crucial – I am a proponent for acquiring crucial skills for my next level it could be leadership skills or a new segment of the sector I believe is the future.

Before I joined the clean energy sector, I was in the gas and power sector. This had no form of renewable energy solutions. Over the years even before I switched, I started reading extensively on the future of energy, attending seminars and training to prepare myself for my next steps.

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace – @UjunwaOjemeni Click To Tweet

To improve my finance skills I did various financial modeling and investment courses some more structured while others at my pace.

So, I suggest women identify where they want to go and acquire the skills needed for their next level and put themselves out there when the opportunity arises or better still seek out suitable opportunities and read widely.

One thing I learned a few years ago was about ‘pain letters’ from Liz Ryan – she is the founder of Human Workplace and is very vocal on LinkedIn. She proposes that the job seekers identify the pain they are solving for their hiring manager, and write directly to them explaining how they will solve the key challenges.

That is definitely the next level of being proactive and has yielded fruits for many.

What is next for you?

I am currently working on a broader program to better support green enterprises – super excited about this project and the impact these businesses will have in achieving the SDGs.

I will definitely share more details with your network soon.


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