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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The Queen of Representation – From Botswana to the world

“The A-Girls are exceptional, black vinyl dolls that appreciate the African girl of today, with all her versatility and diversity”.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’. According to Bakani, creating the brand was essential in order to excavate and resuscitate what African beauty is. 

Until August 2016, Bakani July Johnson was a Lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) in the Social Work Department. She holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work and has worked intensively in the psychosocial field since 2004, gaining experience with Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic as a social welfare case manager.

Prior to that, she worked with the Government of Botswana as a Social Welfare officer. After years of ideating, planning and testing, Bakani left the UB and started her doll-making business.

Bakani is a social entrepreneur and is constantly looking for ways to enhance the lives of others.

She is also a founding trustee of Musani Family Care Foundation, an organization that focusses on the restoration of Botswana’s family unit, and offers accommodation to families in transition, mostly caregivers of hospitalized patients who come from far off villages.

Musani Family Care Foundation seeks to bridge the gap by providing temporary housing and support for these families who need it most, at no cost. 

Connect with Bakani and her business on social media.


Why it is important for me to make the dolls…

I have always loved children. I am forever looking for ways to enhance their wellbeing and this led to the realization that there were no black dolls to use during clinical sessions with my little patients.

As a social worker, dolls are some of the symbolic tools used for communication during sessions. However, more often than not, the dolls that were donated looked nothing like the children I worked with.

This became a query, to manufactures and it was not a pretty feeling as it was seen from the point of exclusion. 

I realized that I could continue with the feeling of being ‘left out’ as a black African girl, or I could do something about it.  The research allowed me to see that I, and others like me, were never a concern for doll-makers; they had their own market and concerns.

Whatever I could find was by sheer luck.  I refused to use divisive story-telling or to accept that it was ‘someone else’s fault’ that as Batswana – and Africans – we don’t have black dolls.

The more I searched, the more I was challenged to create the doll I was looking for. I worked from thought to product, beginning in 2007.

The effect representation has on young Batswana /African girls…

We have for the longest time been portrayed as ugly, and not a representation of beauty.

If you research dolls throughout history, you will not like what you see. We have been ‘caricatured’ through the years and our features ridiculed. Our natural hair is still a full-on debate today.

With the dolls, I am simply excavating and resuscitating a black girl’s beauty.

The idea of the @AGirls15 dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. – Bakani… Click To Tweet

The idea of the dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. 

The development of The African Girls Dolls is a winning communication tool targeting children.

These are one-of-a-kind vinyl dolls that appreciate the diversity of African girls and were created with the realization of a lack of representation both commercially and in messaging for African children.

Most props and toys used are of girls and boys are not of African descent. Through the African girls’ collection, I am constantly helping organizations to create a unique language of truths, trust, and symbols as part of visual storytelling and visual messaging.

I understand that symbolically, images help us to understand abstract concepts that cannot always be translated into words and dolls have throughout history been symbols to communicate, appreciate and represent.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’, and speaking to that aspect we want to be able to say ‘she is so pretty, just like a doll’ – and actually talk about a doll that looks like her. 

Children are visual beings. They connect to things visually and will remember things seen more than things said. They connect with objects or pictures from memory.

Africa and Botswana are about symbolism, or what things represent and communicate.

By giving girls @AGirls15 dolls that look like them, we are communicating a million things without words. Silent messaging works well with children – Bakani July Johnson Click To Tweet

If you listen in on doll play, your child communicates with what she sees. If her dolly is wearing beads she will have a conversation about that. The idea was to have dolls that are relevant to the children, thus when one looks at the dolls, they will realize that some have tutu skirts and modern symbols which represents a ‘modern girl’ whereas others are dressed in traditional Tswana regalia.

Great dolls bring the thought of history, self, and admiration. Children from different ethnicities benefit from playing with dolls that are a different skin tone, make and versatility.

Though dolls are not photocopies of the individual, we believe that to a small child the most important thing is that her little dolly is beautiful just like her, validating who she is and how she relates to herself.

The role I see my dolls playing in a Motswana girl’s life

This product, created by an African woman for African children is girl-centered for now and is self-esteem/self-efficacy based.

More than play, the dolls are seen as communication tools that instill gender and ethnic pride as a foundation for social skills. What you see and is preached becomes a norm. If everyone talks about ‘light-skinned’ being better, children will want that.

I want parents to hand the dolls to the children without influencing the children’s taste about them. 

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls from those that design the clothes to those that do the hair and packaging.

I am very committed from an economic point of view to create an ecosystem that will hire many people because the project has a lot of potential for growth.

I want a situation where the dolls will have ambassadors so that the young ones can appreciate the mortal presentations of the dolls, just the way they experience the princesses that they see at places like Disneyland.

I will build the momentum and I am open to ideas to help develop the brand even further. I am sending out a call to all African and Botswana girls to join the brand as re-sellers and distributors for their countries.

How I manufacture my dolls…

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls, from those who design the clothes to those who do the hair and packaging.

Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have companies that work with vinyl for doll making, so we have been forced to outsource.

However, we do have tailors and designers, crochet ladies and shoemakers working on other aspects of the dolls locally.

How the dolls have been recieved by people so far

The success of the dolls has transcended borders and continents, and they have reached international markets.

Botswana has been amazing! The relevance is clearly understood, the need is very apparent and we can only express gratitude for all the support.

Media has been keen at each stage of their development, and young, hopeful Batswana are eagerly working to join the brand and with open arms, we are welcoming ideas and collaborations.

The dolls are currently available across Botswana, as well as re-sellers in Johannesburg, the Netherlands and the United States of America.

We have worked with brands like the Netball World Youth Cup, International Women in Sport, Botswana Tourism Organization and we are currently working on a project with Botswana Netball.

The growth of the business will definitely be stimulated by partnerships.  Partnering at different levels with others is beneficial.

I am working with so many individuals who want to run with certain aspects of the product and I have never been as relieved as the agreements come to fruition. I know now I cannot do it alone! 


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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MUST READ -The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School

So, you want to be an entrepreneur? There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that it may not be at all like what you see on social media—the serene photos on the beach, overnight insta-fame, and the perfect work/life balance. The truth is, only a handful of people get to experience those things consistently, and they typically have to pay their dues for an average of 15 years. Research shows that only half of new businesses survive for the first five years, and only 35% are able to survive for 10 years. Even grimmer, Bloomberg research shows that 8 out of every 10 businesses fail within the first 19 months. But don’t be discouraged! There’s good news too, which is that freedom and autonomy are real, and so is the thrill of doing something that you love day in and day out.

The question is: how do some people do it?

In my latest book, The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: I share 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School and share the secrets that every new entrepreneur should know. From the value of infrastructure to remaining relevant, aspiring and operational entrepreneurs will learn:
  • How to build a sustainable business from within;
  • How to create a healthy work/life balance;
  • How to stay true to their original vision, while creating a model that consistently engages their audience;
  • How to avoid common reasons for business failure including leadership and management failure, weak value proposition, unprofitable business model, and poor financial management; and
  • How to create cash flow streams that will enable them to defy the odds and beat the statistics.
Want to be part of the success stories this year, then The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School is a must-read. Here’s what readers are saying: “…I bought this book and I’m so glad that I picked it up. The author, Andrena, explains her own personal journey of entrepreneurship and TRULY breaks down her struggles and triumph in the area of finances, making a profit, health journey, love and all. The reality is that (as) an entrepreneur it will affect all areas of your LIFE, Sawyer talks exactly about the things that they don’t teach you when you’re getting your MBA. Quick read as well!” “…This book is worth the read. It has incredibly insightful information on what people tend to not address in business school. A must for anyone that wants to pursue owning their own business. Definitely recommend, it is a keeper.”
What are you doing to gain a global perspective? We want to share your story! Click here to share.

ZANDILE MBOSHANE: ON RESTARTING & REBRANDING

Was 2018 not such a great business year for you? 2019 can be different! How about rebranding?

Zandile Mboshane shares her story about rebranding her business after its failure some years back.

This Motherland Mogul started a hair-care business, BlkSapphire, in 2014 which failed due to lack of funding amidst other challenges. She closed down the business and went back into corporate but felt unfulfilled.

Earlier this year, she decided to retry and rebrand the business under the name Hairmatology.

She tells us how she dealt with the discouragement of the failure with the first brand, how she overcame the fear of trying again and how she went about with the rebranding.

Zandile holds a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering from Wits University and describes herself as a truth seeker, “If God saw it fit to number our hairs, then there must be significance in it”, she explains her love for hair-care.

She is currently refining her product offerings and soon we will be seeing her hair-care products under the new branding.


“It really is better to try and fail than to live in fear of “what if” I fail again” – Zandile Mboshane

After being disappointed in business with BlkSapphire, what made you re-open and rebrand?

After my business failure, I decided to go back to work. I got a job as a candidate patent attorney but the reality was I was bored and my heart wasn’t in the work I was doing.

At the end of last year, I left that job without having much of a plan in place. I decided to try again at the business.

Tell us about Hairmatology, and how it is different from BlkSapphire.

The name Hairmatology is derived from the word ‘haematology’, meaning the study of disorders of the blood.

I decided to be specific in terms of what my business is about. Hairmatology is a scalp and hair-care specialist business.

My business mantra is, “Beauty from the inside out”, helping one attain healthy hair from the inside out. The difference between BlkSapphire and Hairmatology is actually more of a mindset shift than anything else.

What I’ve realized is that emotional detachment from the business goes a long way when it comes to making rational wise business decisions that move the business forward.

Having a brand name that speaks to what the business is about, helps to establish one’s brand identity in the marketplace - @ZandileMboshane Click To Tweet

Take us through the process of rebranding. What steps did you take?

Part of me didn’t want to let go of the name BlkSapphire, so initially, I decided to change only the BlkSapphire logo.

I had the logo redesigned but I was unhappy with it. I then thought about changing the name. A friend of mine told me that my intention to change the name to Hairmatology was the right move because the hair-care market is highly competitive to the point of saturation, so having a brand name that speaks to what the business is about without having to explain it helps to establish one’s brand identity in the marketplace.

I went ahead with the name change with the CIPC and applied for a trademark (that’s still pending). I then used my creative talents to design the new logo.

When you fail at something, your confidence takes a knock. Rebranding for me was a process of rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence -@ZandileMboshane Click To Tweet

What challenges can one expect when rebranding and what has been your biggest challenge?

The challenge for a lot of start-up entrepreneurs is the lack of awareness when it comes to protecting their intellectual property.

A lot of entrepreneurs disclose their innovations without having the right protection in place be it in the form of a trademark, design or patent.

Emotional attachment to the old name was a challenge for me, it took some work to let go. My biggest challenge though was overcoming doubt and fear.

When you fail at something, your confidence takes a knock, so the rebranding was also a process of rebuilding my self-esteem and confidence in my creative talents and abilities.

...rebranding is the starting point of rebuilding the business. Click To Tweet

What has rebranding taught you about creating a great brand?

It has taught me not to despise small steps of progress. Ultimately big successes are achieved through the cumulative effect of incremental steps of success.

There’s a part of me that wanted to say to myself that all you did this year externally in the business was rebrand but I had to remind myself that this is the starting point of rebuilding the business.

Any lessons you have learned from the failure of BlkSapphire?

BlkSapphire was a labour of love but I wasn’t strategic and aggressive enough when it came to pursuing opportunities to drive sales.

The biggest lesson was definitely learning to overcome fear so I could try again. I had to learn to trust in my abilities again and learn how to fail forward.

It really is better to try and fail rather than live in fear of “what if” I fail again.

How has rebranding positively impacted your business?

It’s brought about a clarity of purpose and a focused vision of what the business is all about. I’m still working on refining my product offerings so that they exceed the customer’s expectations.

At this point, I can’t measure the value of the rebranding on a monetarily but three years from now, measured from the point of rebranding, I’ll be able to measure the impact of rebranding by comparing it to the three years I ran the business as BlkSapphire.

 

If you had to dye your hair, which color would it be?

Platinum blonde! I think that the contrast between my dark skin and the hair color would look great, plus I’m looking forward to the day when I’m completely grey!


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