Catherine Lesetedi is a graduate of Statistics from the University of Botswana. She has built a career in the insurance industry since she joined it in 1992. Currently, Catherine is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).
She has built her career from scratch, and over the years, she has been adamant that adopting a flexible style of leadership is beneficial for leading an organization and getting the best out of her team.
Her career so far…
Looking at Lesetedi’s career, nothing about her story and her leadership principles and philosophies are ‘textbook’. Her style of leadership is pliable and acrobatic. It lends itself to whatever situation she and her team are in.
She’s extremely driven, open and open-minded, preferring to lead from behind, pushing her team forward, encouraging their gifts and honoring their intellect, allowing them to innovate, to grow and give to the business what she cannot.
Catherine maximizes on their strengths and makes sure that wherever there are gaps, there are people who are passionate, willing and able to execute and fill them.
Her journey there…
There is nothing predictable about Catherine Lesetedi. Even her choice of Statistics as a field to study at the University of Botswana (UB) was a bit of a wild card, even for her.
She describes it saying, “when we were making choices about what to study at varsity, we didn’t really know much about careers, to be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about Statistics until I got to the Department of Student Placement at the Ministry of Education.”
“I was late; my father and I had run out of fuel. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath, and I had forgotten my initial course choices. My brother, who I really admired, had studied Public Administration and Political Science, and that’s what I wanted.”
“They said that that weird combination didn’t exist, and told me that I was going to do Statistics and Demography.”
“If you think something is difficult, it becomes really difficult. If you think you can do it, sometimes you even surprise yourself.” – Catherine Lesetedi, CEO, BIHL Group
Her life experiences…
She studied Statistics at the University of Botswana, and even though her journey into that field was incidental, once there, she made the best of her situation, excelled and gleaned many things that she took forward with her into the rest of her life.
Certain experiences and her mindset set the stage for her early career and propelled her forward.
According to her, “in terms of decision-making, logical thinking, the confidence, and aptitude to learn; the program grounded me.”
“I may not use the formulas every day, but there are skills that I gained that I apply on a daily basis, even if I don’t recognize that ‘this is Statistics.”
The mathematical element empowered her to be able to engage with budgets and numbers, and not shy away from that aspect of whichever job she did.
Her philosophies for life…
All of the disciplines in the world are interrelated, so having a good understanding of what is going on across the board is beneficial for one; especially if a young woman wants to build herself up and build her career.
This is something she practices herself because, throughout the course of her career, she has gradually improved upon her leadership skills, attending leadership courses and taking on the responsibility of self-improvement.
Doing this has encouraged her to take a deeper look at herself; what drives her and pushes her beyond her own limitations. This outlook has put her in good stead as a leader, as someone who encourages others, ensuring that they are able to get the best out of what they need to do.
As a mentor, both personally and professionally, the story that she tells, the example that she sets, is one of “show up and do your best.”
Ms. Lesetedi is big on recognizing talent and putting it to good use within the BIHL Group. These are some of the elements that make her up as a woman, as a leader, and these are some of the things that she has imparted to her mentees.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.
And, if you’re new to our community, starting tomorrow you’ll get more information on what She Leads Africa is and how you can boost your personal and professional development as a part of our community! Otherwise, it’s business as usual. 😏
Can’t wait to see how financially stable you become this season, so ensure to share your progress/ journey to getting the bag with us, every day on our social media @SheLeadsAfrica.
See you on Instagram! Lola Naija
Share this with your friends and family, let’s get the bag this September.
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 Anie Ufia
22-year old Ufia Aniebietabasi is the CEO and founder of Kolo Lagos. She is a Mass Communication graduate from the University of Lagos.
After an experience where she was shocked to find out that she had no savings of her own in a bank or anywhere else, Anie made up her mind to create a system that will make savings fun and a priority for her.
Seeing the immediate results it had on her finances, she was determined to help other young people like herself, take control of their finances.
You are sure to either catch Anie preaching the gospel of financial freedom or on the lookout for opportunities with which she can drive social change.
Kolo Lagos is a proudly Nigerian brand that is passionate about bringing back the saving culture in a unique way.
We aim to achieve this by encouraging people to save money in a piggy bank, popularly called “Kolo” in Nigeria.
Our kolos are made from quality tested wood and specially handcrafted with love in Nigeria to help people curb overspending, grow a saving habit and stay disciplined while at it.
How did you turn this habit into a business?
I started Kolo Lagos during my final year at the University. I suddenly realized that I had zero savings, not in the bank or even in a piggy bank.
This made me buy a piggy bank for myself and discipline myself to save money. I bought one from a carpenter that was introduced to me by a friend.
Since it worked for me, I told my friends about it and everyone wanted a piggy bank so they could save money as well.
That was how the journey began!
Having a niche business, how do you make your brand stand out?
At Kolo Lagos, our kolos are crafted and designed to promote the rich and beautiful culture in Nigeria and Africa. They have also added an innovative touch to an old approach of saving money which was used since the days of our forefathers.
The reusability of our Kolos has also added a modern twist to it and is the ‘WOW’ factor that attracts our customers.
Can you share with us 3 things you struggled with at the start of your business, and how you overcame them?
The major challenge I struggled with at the start of my business was building brand loyalty. It was a new business and with the prevalence of online fraud, most people are scared to make a purchase from an online store.
However, as the business grew, people began to trust us enough to refer us to friends and relatives. I have now moved from selling kolos to just friends and family but to people who discover us via the internet.
Another big challenge I struggled with was finding artisans who knew their onions, could deliver neatly done jobs, and deliver them on time.
I am glad that I have overcome that challenge since I have a particular one I now work with…
Tell us about a personal experience that translated to a business lesson for you.
My first business lesson was before I even began my business. I had given a fashion designer a fabric and style to make an outfit for me.
I decided to come to get it at the allotted time the tailor gave me, but despite the sufficient time I gave, my dress wasn’t ready.
It was quite annoying and frustrating, to say the least. So I took that lesson with me to Kolo Lagos when I started it.
Working with artisans means that I constantly have to follow up, make calls and even go there physically if need be, just to ensure that everything is done well and on time. That experience stayed with me and has been a major lesson that has helped my business.
What impact have you made in your community since starting your business?
Since starting my business, I have impacted my community by speaking at workshops and seminars to both young and old people about money, and why it’s important to maintain a healthy saving lifestyle.
What is your 2019 goal, and what have you done so far to achieve it?
My goal for 2019 is to get more local distributors within Nigeria and at least one international distributor in order to achieve the goal of selling 2,000 kolos this year.
I am currently speaking with someone who is interested in becoming an international distributor.
Share with us 3 fun facts about yourself
I love food. Food loves me.
Food makes me happy.
I know how to play drums.
What’s your fave skin care routine?
My skin care routine is done at night when I get to nicely cleanse my skin with my organic skin products, and prep for the night before going to bed.
How do you feel about promoting your brand on She Leads Africa, courtesy of SheaMoisture?
To be totally honest, I am still in utter shock even as I type this.
I remember when I applied for it and a part of me wasn’t sure if my business would be selected, but I applied anyway.
I am deeply and sincerely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you so much, Shea Moisture. You ROCK!
Describe your business with one word…
The word is UNIQUE.
Missed our first Shea Moisture Spotlight? Click here.
You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia
Asiyami Gold is one of the continent’s most notable Instagram influencer’s who is consistently revered in hundreds of comments for being authentic and inimitable in her storytelling as well as her work.
Her personal storytelling does not hold an essentialist, romantic nor exotic gaze of the continent.
Rather, everything she does, from her presets to her consulting, shows the continent the way it is— a mix of technological innovations and idiosyncratic socio-economies, with a shared political history.
Gold is the Founder and CEO of the creative agency A Gold Studio and has worked with clients like Furla, Pantene, HERE map and Christian Cody.
Amy Sall is the founder of digital magazine SUNU: forthcoming print and digital publication.
Even before the launch of the Journal, Sall’s tens of thousands of Instagram followers have known her best for making pre-colonial and historic media (film, TV, photography, interviews, reports etc) from the continent accessible by sharing images and stories that scream “for us, by us and of us”—foreshadowing the meaning of “sunu”, the Wolof word for “our”.
A few months ago, a friend of mine suggested that I follow @theslumflower on Instagram, and my life has never been the same since!
Sis is all about being unapologetically self-loving, creative, independent and successful.
If you want to write, design or create but you’re feeling like as an African woman, there are certain worries that you work through alone, then following @theslumflower will give you enough inspiration to turn your #hotgirlsummer into a #hotgirlyear.
As an embodiment of all five, she believes in nurturing and stimulating young minds. Her philosophy is simple: no act of change is small; everyone has a role to play in their community.
This is reflected in her social business Ori from Sierra Leone or Ori which manufactures unisex shea butter-based hair and body products infused with essential and carrier oil.
This enterprise is set up mainly to support Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone where I serve as Founding Director since 2016.
Her educational background is in French and Global health and she has spent the past 5 years teaching in Sierra Leone. She has been involved in education, civic engagement, girl empowerment, and agricultural projects.
Yasmine loves writing, researching, photography, traveling, acting/playing drama games, watching movies and doing yoga.
She speaks to SLA on her aspiration to expand Ori and grow Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone into a training center in West Africa for girl child capacity building.
What motivated you to become a social entrepreneur?
I didn’t actually plan or aspire to be an entrepreneur ever let alone become a social entrepreneur.
When I left the United States in February 2014 and returned to Sierra Leone I didn’t have a job.
After 3 months of job searching I found one at a school in June 2014, however, Ebola engulfed the nation and schools were shut down in July 2014 after a national emergency was declared by the then-president.
During those 9-10 months of schools being closed, what saved me was private tutoring. I did that throughout and in April 2015 when the emergency was uplifted I started searching for formal employment and got a placement to commence September 2015.
From September to December 2015 my tutoring “side hustle” grew and it surpassed my salary — it was then I took a calculated risk and decided to quit formal employment and grow this newfound business.
I registered my tutoring/translation business as Mina Bilkis & Co in 2016 and started catering to teaching adults in the evenings who work in NGOs, offices and it expanded to private tuition classes as well.
The proceeds of the tutoring business I reinvested in buying photography equipment and a camera (as I mentioned earlier, I love photography) and added the photography division to my business.
In July 2017, I opened the shea butter business but at the time it was called Karité (French for shea butter) with the aim making it a social business so as to make Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone (which was founded in 2016) more sustainable and by designating 5% of our proceeds to Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone.
However, in early 2018 I decided to shut down productions for 9 months. Upon further research, I discovered that the name Karité was already trademarked. So I went back to the drawing board and in October 2018 Ori was born.
In March 2019 it was officially launched where our beneficiaries of Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone gave some of their testimonies of the program and how they have benefited from Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone.
Returning to a harsh job market in 2014, this catapulted me into entrepreneurship, moreover living in such a astoundingly beautiful country yet endures so much pain and suffering and is victim to the paradox “resource curse”, I don’t see how one wouldn’t want to help and build your community in your own way.
Tell us about your work with Girl Up Vine Club, and how it is impacting communities in Sierra Leone?
Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone or Girl Up was founded in January 2016 and operates at the government-assisted secondary school called Vine Memorial Secondary School for Girls (VMSSG) in Freetown at the Junior Secondary School (JSS) (middle school) level targeting girls ages 11-17.
We aim to promote the health, safety, leadership, and education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone through community outreach, advocacy, and public speaking workshops.
Our main projects are Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)/Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR), Digital Rights and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).
We meet once a week for 90 minutes and discuss a topic of the week outlined in our monthly curriculum.
Our topics stem from social issues ranging from mental health, peer pressure, self-care, health and body rights, and feminism. Every year the new girls (who get inducted at the start of every year) are given journals to log in their thoughts and are given assignments on a topic discussed or are asked to research new words or expressions.
As English Language and speaking is an underlying issue for many, we do English classes often to strengthen their Grammar and Vocabulary so they are able to facilitate workshops or speak in public confidently in addition we offer internal public speaking and self-confidence building sessions.
So far, our beneficiaries have facilitated workshops in Kambia Port Loko, Moyamba and other parts of the country sensitizing, educating and engaging different communities in the scope of our aforementioned projects.
Do you have success stories of the girls that you’ve mentored so far?
In my 2018 Tedx talk entitled “Creating Safe Spaces in the Global South”, I highlighted my work at Girl Up and our success stories and our beginnings and mentioned the following girls:
Suad Baydoun served as the first President of Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone. I met Suad in October 2015 at the US Embassy when I was co-facilitating the International Day of the Girl Child.
She was actually the reason why Girl Up was launched at her school. She was a Junior Secondary School student at the time preparing to take her middle school exam: Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) that upcoming academic year.
Three years she has blossomed to socially driven and motivated young woman. She has now taken her West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) waiting for her results to go to university.
She has founded her own safe space for girls at her senior secondary school — St. Joseph’s Secondary School and she is a TV presenter.
Mariam Jalloh was very timid and withdrawn when we first met three years ago and wasn’t academically strong.
She graduated as the highest-ranking student of her year and was also selected as class prefect. She aspires to study Accounting in university next year upon her WASSCE results.
She currently serves as our Co-Program Coordinator and Teen Advisor at Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone.
What are some challenges you faced while growing your vision for the organization?
To impact change — long-lasting and sustainable change it doesn’t come easy and anything easy I tend not to want (haha).
Nothing good comes easy I believe but sometimes you can also become fatigued by not seeing the fruits of your labor manifest sooner than anticipated.
A challenge starting Girl Up was deconstructing what girls have been learned and taught their entire life — which translates in the way they speak, think about/perceive themselves and surroundings and the way they interact with one another and loved ones.
Wanting to unlearn something as an informed person is one challenge, but educating others on how to is a different ballpark and that was a challenge at first in growing my vision and molding Girl Up Vie Club Sierra Leone.
There is no right or wrong way or answer to combat this and I am not someone who is easily defeated so I persisted and continue to persevere. I myself continue to unlearn toxic societal “norms” and patriarchal stratification.
What helps me is surrounding myself by like-minded people I can express my grievances to, laugh with and I partake in guided meditation sessions and do yoga to recharge and recalibrate myself.
As an organization, we learn and grow together so when we hit these hurdles in regards to
Do you have role models that have influenced your journey?
I would be doing my entire existence a disservice if I do not start with my family. I owe my mindset, strength, and determination to my parents but most importantly my mother — Dr. Aisha Fofana Ibrahim.
My mother is a feminist scholar and activist who teaches Gender Studies at both the undergraduate and masters level at Fourah Bay College (FBC) – University of Sierra Leone (USL).
It is with her love, encouragement, and support I am who I am and do what I do. So my mom has played an exponential role in my journey.
Outside of my family dynamic, I would say Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I am her secret child she doesn’t know about. Chimamanda is fearless and speaks her mind unapologetically (even if it is deemed “controversial”). I like that.
I also adore Oprah Winfrey. Always have as a child. She is the epitome of inspiration and motivation. I admire her business mindset and when I have my Ori and Mina Bilkis cap on, I say to myself “What would Oprah Winfrey do?”.
Also, I think of how she began her career and see how she has from TV and transcended throughout the decades and is relatable to all walks of life. I like that because I aspire to that.
Recently, I’ve been looking up to Rihanna as well. From a successful singing career to becoming a successful businesswoman with more to come.
Identity isn’t stagnant, it’s dynamic as are human beings. We evolve. I have evolved and grown and will continue to do so, therefore I like that about Rihanna. She’s unstoppable.
Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
Mother Masire is a graduate of The University of Botswana, with a BA in Social Sciences, majoring in Sociology and Public Administration.
She also did a number of developmental courses including brand and project management to support her marketing and advertising career.
As one who is always willing to learn when interested in a subject matter she studied mindfulness over 10 years through online courses, attending seminars, workshops, training retreats etc.
Her interest in mindfulness and its benefits grew over the years, so when Dr. Didi Bjorn approached her with the idea to start a sustainable development social enterprise, she jumped at the opportunity, and AfroBotho was born.
AfroBotho is a skill-sharing service that fosters mental health and wellness for individuals, organizations, and communities in Africa and the world.
Connect with Mother Masire and her business on her website and social media
We believe if we are at our best emotionally and mentally we do the best for ourselves and families, workplace, communities, and our world.
Why did you decide that there was a need for an organization like AfroBotho?
The name AfroBotho was inspired by the African concept of Botho, a social contract of mutual respect, responsibility and accountability that members of society have towards each other.
It defines a process for earning respect by first giving it, and to gain empowerment by empowering others. It is all about interconnectedness amongst all people with the realization that ‘I am because you are’.
AfroBotho was the brainchild of Dr. Didi Bjorn. She felt that we had an aligned passion for issues of mental and emotional wellbeing and that with the combination of our skills we would be able to add value to our clients’ wellbeing.
Dr. Didi Bjorn is a clinical psychologist with a specialization in Disaster Psychology from the University of South Dakota. It was there that she gained expertise in various disaster response and management techniques.
During her college years, Didi volunteered at the American Red Cross and later participated in the disaster response following the September 11 World Trade Centre attacks.
All those experiences prepared her for AfroBotho, where she seeks to extend all she learned by becoming a Botho Ambassador, healing and reconnecting humanity.
As an ambitious, young career-driven Motswana I lived a very busy, unbalanced life when I was employed in corporate environments.
Throughout my career I often found myself being the ‘default counselor’ for organizations I worked for. This was heavy for me because I was not a skilled psychologist, and got attached to what was shared with me.
I wished for a retreat center within our country that would provide a safe healing space for those seeking reprieve and time out to reconnect with themselves.
Dr. Didi Bjorn and I wanted to be the change we wished to see and started AfroBotho in order to share skills that empower people to find peace and harmonious interactions among each other.
What are the benefits of mindfulness, and how is it beneficial in the workplace?
Mindfulness is ‘present-focused consciousness’, a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and the environment without judgment.
It’s a state of awareness. Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as: “Paying attention; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
There are many overlaps between mindfulness and aspects of positive psychology as it applies to cognitive-behavioral therapies.
In some of our training, we call ourselves ‘the why and how team’. Dr. Bjorn usually shares WHY people go through the emotions and mental challenges they experience and I share HOW they can access their personal grounding and calmness while they are going through them.
Mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and conflict, increase resilience and emotional intelligence while improving communication in the workplace.
For leaders who are contemplating different strategies to help foster a healthier, happier and more productive workplace, I suggest that they incorporate mindfulness in their organizational culture.
Some of the numerous benefits of mindfulness include; a more effective management style, creating a more positive work environment, stronger, healthier team dynamics, better manager-employee relationships, fewer rash decisions that can damage the business, and healthier strategies for preventing or addressing conflict when it comes up.
According to a study conducted by The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, more than half of the 550 million working days lost every year from absenteeism are stress-related.
Further, 80 percent of employees report that they feel stress at work and need help learning how to manage it.
What do your workshops/sessions entail?
The way we work with our clients is not etched in stone. We are solution-based in our approach and always strive to get to the root cause of a problem before we even design a program.
Each client program is personally designed for them. We believe you cannot prescribe without first identifying the challenge/issue.
We have a program called ‘The pulse check’ which we usually start with before beginning any program. This is an exercise that helps individuals to look at their challenge from the inside out.
The purpose thereof is to get a deep and clear understanding of our clients’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
Once feelings and expressions of negativity have been clearly identified, we work together to actively begin the work of uprooting these often deeply embedded productivity killers.
As the termination of the vicious cycle of blame, attack, and accusations toward self and others, as well as the need to constantly live in defence-mode, occurs and is replaced by an all-round healthier and balanced sense of being, they can be – and are – empowered to channel that positivity into their professional life and workplace.
After the ‘pulse check,’ we start on a program that addresses the client’s desired objective.
What is the future of the workplace, and what role does AfroBotho play in realizing it?
The workplace environment as we know is evolving, just like every other aspect of our lives.
The rapid digital transformation is bringing about an equally rapid human transformation. As much as employees need employers for their survival, so too do employers need balanced employees for their business survival.
Moving forward, organizations will need to compete for talent by modifying their business practices. The future of work may dramatically change within the next decade – just in time for the arrival of Generation Z. This is where Mindful leadership is critical.
AfroBotho’s skill-sharing focus is on what is called soft skills, and we believe it is the most essential skill for anyone to thrive in a group, either within a family or work environment.
In general, soft skills encompass creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, creativity, critical thinking, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence and people management. These skills are so important to the future of work for employees, employers, and leaders.
In most jobs, technical skills alone are not enough to be truly effective. A salesperson with an unrivaled knowledge of their product and market will have little success if they don’t have the interpersonal skills needed to close deals and retain clients.
A business manager needs to be able to listen to employees, have good communication skills, and be able to think creatively to lead a successful team.
Strong soft skills ensure a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment. The modern market offers consumers an unlimited number of choices through various technologies.
For these consumers, convenience is easy to come by. Competition is global, so customer service is often what influences the choice to engage a particular business. The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with customers is, therefore, a vital factor in an organization’s success.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.
She shares her experience of volunteering overseas and advocates for intercultural awareness to be at the heart of charity and aid efforts to improve foreign assistance in the motherland.
In this article, she also provides consultancy for sustainability advice, strategy development and/or content creation.
Shika, as she is fondly called, believes it is important for NGOs to develop empowering stories of self-managed income/resources to challenge the mindset that success derives from external donors as opposed to the people themselves.
In 2015, when she returned home from a volunteer placement in Tanzania, she founded “Becoming Africquainted” as an initiative to candidly recounting the life-changing memories she made, including some difficult observations of when Western intercultural communication goes badly wrong.
Since then, it has grown into a platform of its own that provides discussion and resources to all aspiring volunteers or expats, encouraging them to undertake their service overseas responsibly and respectfully.
Shika on Intercultural Awareness
For Shika, intercultural awareness is an unmissable step that any foreign volunteer must be willing to take to better know their own cultural limitations and how to healthily navigate new ones.
However, this must be reciprocated by host communities within Africa too, by ensuring they take responsibility for their own narrative and how they wish for it to be told and remembered long after any volunteer exchange has ended.
It will take time to help visitors to form new associations of Africa they see, but the benefits to sewing two-way intercultural connections are fruitful and increasingly necessary for the prosperity of the interconnected world we live in.
To be a successful foreign volunteer, Shika believes it begins with an understanding of yourself / skillset and a genuine desire to be of service to someone. Such a person is often thought to be self-sacrificing with care for their wider community and an unrelenting passion to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.
However, to be able to add accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa, one needs to;
1. Have a good knowledge of the country and organization whose aims you would like to champion.
Each summer in Africa, this ‘higher cause’ has all too often displayed itself as ‘saviourism’, ‘privilege’ and ‘Western ideas’ – to name a few.
What usually begins as a selfless summer trip quickly manifests itself into self-serving behavior when culture shock takes over, conditions become unfavorable to live in and personal expectations are not met.
These circumstances fuel a type of instinctive desire to fix things that do not exist ‘back home’.
Though the intention may come from a good place, the means by which it is executed becomes misplaced and frequently results in misunderstanding and conflict.
A lack of intercultural awareness. A large number of young people in the West – diaspora included – are conditioned into thinking that volunteering overseas is a worthy extra-curricular life experience or a means of personal development.
These reasons are problematic because they refer to an underlying tone of personal gain that volunteering is based upon.
The emphasis is rarely ever to learn about culture itself – something which really should underpin any healthy volunteer exchange.
2. Acquire traits that enable you to observe, recognize, perceive and positively respond to new and unfamiliar intercultural interactions.
Some markers of intercultural awareness within international development are:
Humility – being receptive to, and accepting of, new and unfamiliar situations
Patience – in recognizing that positive outcomes take time to reveal themselves
Humanity – acting humanely with a trusted concern for the community being served.
These traits are not something we can quantify or expect anyone to learn quickly in a crash-course.
But volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built, along with their participation and respect for our cultures once they arrive.
One indication of this lies in how well volunteer behaviors are recognized and reciprocated by the communities which they serve.
3. Volunteers should be given guided self-reflection time.
This is to serve like one-to-one inductions in a paid workplace where their observations and experiences are discussed to foster a dialogue which enables them to explain their realities so that they can be better understood.
Doing this not only prevents them from distancing themselves from problems they see by claiming ignorance, but it also provides a space for healthy goals to be set, contributions to be assessed and accountability to take place.
This is important to help redefine the negative African post-colonial perceptions that many foreign volunteers have unconsciously grown up with.
After all, what better way to rewrite the story than if told it ourselves to those who do have a desire to listen, by virtue of visiting the continent first-hand?
A good start for non-profit-organisations is to offer their own guides into standards of behavior that outlines an interpretation of volunteer ideas and expectations during their stay.
This formalizes the process whilst mitigating the risk of volunteers unhelpfully referring back to their (often biased) perception of problems and methods of solving them.
Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
What impact does your business have in your community?
It’s no news that companies take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously. It’s like a magic door that opens up more opportunities and this is why. The world is ever-changing and businesses are looking for more ways to connect with their customers.
As a BOSS Lady, beyond making the $$$, you need to look at the bigger picture on how you can create a positive change in your community.
Firstly, when your business is seen making an impact, it shows that you have an interest in social issues which will help raise your company profile, attract new customers and/or identify new opportunities.
Remember, being socially responsible is good for the bottom line.
If you want to learn how to create, craft and manage social change strategies, join us on Thursday, August 22nd, for a Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of JuaKali Workforce, who’ll be dishing out tips to help your business aim for change.
Some of the topics we’ll cover:
How to discover what social issues are most relevant to you and your community.
5 different ways your business can create a positive social change while you make profit.
Finding purpose and grit in social projects.
Impact vs Sustainability.
Facebook LIVE details:
Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
Time: 12PM Lagos // 1PM Joburg// 2PM Nairobi
Watch Facebook Live with Judith:
Judith Owigar is passionate about initiatives involving youth, women and all things technology. With a Masters in Applied Computing from the University of Nairobi, she’s the founder JuaKali Workforce, an online micro-jobs platform that connects young people to short term jobs in Kenya’s informal sector.
In 2015, Judith shared a panel with President Barack Obama of the U. S. and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She is a 2015 East African Acumen Fellow and a 2014 international Focus fellow.
She has been named as one of the Top 40 under 40 women by the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya and has been recognized with the Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.
Tamiko Cuellar is the CEO and Founder of Pursue Your Purpose LLC, – a global coaching, consulting and training firm for emerging entrepreneurs, corporate intrapreneurs, and leaders.
She spends at least 6 months each year traveling throughout the continent of Africa where she speaks, coaches, and trains leaders, entrepreneurs, students, and women.
In addition, Tamiko was appointed as a mentor to emerging entrepreneurs in Africa as part of the Tony Elumelu’s Entrepreneurship Programme in 2016.
Tamiko has been a guest contributor on Forbes, The Huffington Post, amongst other publications.
In this article, Tamiko shares with us her journey to becoming a smart boss lady, and how she’s helping ladies on the continent do the same.
What made you decide to launch your own business?
There were multiple catalysts that compelled me to launch my own businessI had survived three rounds of layoffs (retrenchments) at my corporate job in the United States as a result of the 2008 economy.
My job was becoming more stressful and adversely impacted my health, and I was only given a $700 bonus after helping to acquire a $30 million client for my company.
Besides all of that, I felt that my potential was being stifled and I was not fulfilled.
I then decided to monetize my gifts and skillset on my own terms, by launching my business to help other women transition from corporate and grow their businesses.
On your journey to becoming a Smart Boss Lady, What are some exciting things while launching your business?
Since there weren’t many coaches that were doing what I was doing when I first started, I looked for as many existing coaches as a template and tried to emulate them.
I later realized that it was my uniqueness that caused my brand to soar internationally. I would encourage aspiring and emerging boss ladies to harness what’s unique about you.
That’s your sweet spot. People don’t need a clone. They need you to show up in your authenticity
What are some of the common problems entrepreneurs hire you to solve?
The most common problems that women hire me for are helping them to narrow their focus, defining their target market, creating/refining a brand that attracts their target market, and also how to sell and make money consistently
Established larger organizations usually hire me to develop their leaders.
Why did you choose the business name – Pursue Your Purpose LLC?
My company’s name was birthed from a common answer to a question that I would often ask people, which is, “What would you be doing if you could do something other than your current job?”
The answer was always something different than what they were currently doing! Then my follow-up question would be, “Then why aren’t you doing that?”
This was usually followed by a blank stare because people didn’t know why they weren’t getting paid to do what they love. It was then that I realized that most people that are working are doing what they have to do rather than what they want to do.
I’ve mastered a system that creates entrepreneurs who get paid to do what they love and I simply coach others on how to profit from their God-given purpose.
Tell us about your experience working almost exclusively on the continent of Africa.
I absolutely love it! I am called to Africa. The Africa I see is very different than the Africa that is portrayed in the media.
Africa is rising
It’s ripe with potential because the majority of the population in many African nations is very young (ages 15-25) and emerging leaders are going to be at the helm of solving Africa’s problems very soon.
Someone needs to develop and train these emerging leaders. I also feel a deeply personal and cultural connection to Africa being an
African-American women of the Diaspora who can also bring a high level of skills to the continent that I’ve acquired in the States.
Who is your dream client/partner?
First and foremost, my dream partnership would be with SLA in some way to build capacity in its community of professional business women from a global perspective.
As a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in the U.S., I also love working with Universities throughout Africa on entrepreneurship curriculum development as well as being a guest lecturer to business and entrepreneurship students.
Additionally, I love working with agencies and the Ministries of Trade & Industry to teach sub-Saharan African businesses on how to export their products into the U.S. duty-free.
Lastly, I love training corporate leaders and HR managers on how they develop innovative entrepreneurial thinking in order to be on the cutting edge of what the rest of the world is doing.
I would love to do more of these three types of training and coaching. I’m very open to being contacted by your readers for partnership and speaking opportunities throughout Africa.
What’s the most exciting project you’re currently working on?
I’m very happy to say that my fourth book, “Cultivating An Entrepreneurial Mindset” should be out by the fourth quarter of 2019.
This will help thousands of aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs both inside and outside the classroom to develop the right thinking that leads to having successful, profitable and sustainable businesses.
My calendar for 2020 is filling up quickly with organizational partnerships, speaking and training opportunities with universities, corporations, and government agencies throughout Africa, so I welcome as many strategic alignments as my company can accommodate.
I am also adding new Global Brand Ambassadors to my team all over Africa who are highly influential and can help us impact more people.
Surely, there are so many hindrances that women in business face. However, when it comes to race, the number of black women entrepreneurs have greatly increased over the past decades.
According to the Census Bureau, eight million businesses in the United States are owned by people from minority groups, and 2.5 million of these are owned by African-American (which makes them the only racial or ethnic group with the highest number of business ownerships).
We all know it, there is nothing women can’t do. While the stakes are higher, you can break down the boundaries and become a successful entrepreneur.
1. Embrace diversity
Before you make other people believe in you, you first have to believe in yourself. Instead of seeing it as a barrier, you have to embrace your diversity and use it as a competitive advantage.
Take note that diversity goes beyond gender, nationality, color, or race. We have to embrace our uniqueness, be proud of our strengths, and turn our weaknesses into opportunities.
2. Be passionate about what you do
When you love what you are doing, you gain the courage to look past the challenges and the discouragement from other people. To succeed in business, you’ve got to have a strong mission.
Why do you want to start a business?
Successful entrepreneurs have many things in common. One is their sense of purpose. Of course, an obvious reason is to gain profit.
But there certainly has to be a reason much higher than that which motivates you to pursue what you do.
3. Accept that failure is part of it
You’ve heard stories about business tycoons bouncing back from their failures and have turned out to be better entrepreneurs.
You won’t believe how founders of giant companies like Twitter, Huffington Post, LinkedIn, and PayPal all went through massive failures, costing them millions of dollars.
Here’s the thing – 75% to 90% of all startups fail. It only shows that failing in business is normal.
At some point, you will commit mistakes, you will make wrong decisions, and you will fail. The secret is to never give up.
4. Plan ahead
Behind a successful business model is a solid plan. You don’t jump into the river without knowing how deep it is.
Create a detailed business plan. Identify pain points. Pool your resources and know your options. For example, where will you get the funding? Will it be from your savings or through business financing?
Will you still need investors? How will you reach out to them? List down all your ideas. Do your research. Invest in knowledge. And be ready to start something.
5. Embrace Change
No matter how comprehensive your business model is, at some point, you will have to make adjustments or perform a total shift.
Changes in business are inevitable. Market demands and trends change from time to time. It is scary to confront changes. That’s a normal reaction. But you have to be flexible and adaptable. Otherwise, you could be left behind.
6. Don’t Forget that You Are Human too
As you establish and grow your business, you will find yourself devoting most of your time to it.
You will miss some important family affairs for client meetings, endure sleepless nights for endless paperwork, and forego weekends to beat deadlines. The key is to strive for balance.
Drink your water. Eat your veggies. Sleep. Pamper yourself. Get your hair done. Go for a mani-pedi.
For you to keep up, you have to be physically and mentally healthy.
Becoming a businesswoman is not an easy feat. Striving for success is much more challenging especially when people kind of judge you for your race or gender.
But don’t let anything or anyone stop you from becoming a top-notch entrepreneur. Remember, in business success, there are no boundaries.
This article was written by Lidia Staron
Lidia Staron is a part of Content and Marketing team at OpenCashAdvance.com. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings.
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