Finance Tips for Startups Trying to Survive the Pandemic

Someone said, saying “when the pandemic is over” is starting to sound a lot like “when Rihanna releases a new album” and lol, I couldn’t agree more. We should start adjusting to what life looks like now, instead of making plans for when the pandemic ends, because we have no idea when that might be. Everything around us is constantly changing, including the way we do business. The World Economic Forum says that the businesses that are most likely to survive this pandemic are the innovative ones. I also believe that businesses that have made good financial decisions in the past (have emergency funds) are most likely to survive the pandemic. 

For businesses that are still in their infancy stage, this might be a very tough period as they don’t have a pool of savings to tap into and unfortunately have to depend on their creativity. We’ve come up with a few finance tips and tricks that businesses can utilize to not only survive the pandemic but operate smoothly even after it is long gone.

1. Don’t put your eggs in one basket

You have probably heard this piece of advice a thousand times before, but you need to listen to it now more than ever. With so many businesses closing their doors, the least that you can do as a business owner is diversify your income. Depending on one source of income/sales is way too risky, you need to start thinking of how to improve the customer experience and in turn, get more sales. What else do your customers need apart from what you already provide? Can you provide that product/service? Try by all means to think of ways to introduce new offerings to your existing customer base or start providing something new to a new clientele.

2. Everything is becoming virtual, why aren’t you?

This tough period has forced so many business owners to think on their feet and execute immediately. We’re also seeing so many businesses hopping onto the online scene and honestly, it makes so much sense! Think about it, do your customers need to visit your office for all of your products/services? Is there a way that you offer your services online? Can customers order and have your products delivered to them? If there is even the slightest chance that you can continue with some parts of your business online, then GO FOR IT! You don’t have much to lose, setting up an online platform is less costly and has higher returns, in most cases.

3. Make Smarter Budget Choices for Your Business

We need to make smarter money moves this year and that starts by budgeting better. Also, try by all means to increase your income and decrease your expenses. The first thing you can do is ask yourself; what costs can you absolutely live without? Think of all the costs that are not vital to your business operations and all the costs that are unnecessary now that some employees are working from home.

For example, you no longer have to buy coffee and tea because, if no one is in the office, no one needs these during coffee breaks. Most landlords can give their tenants payment holidays and cuts on their rent, you will never know if yours is keen unless you ask them. Administration costs such as stationery can lower your spending, see how much money you can save by not buying these. To save the company from costs of petrol, try to arrange all meetings online so you don’t have to travel to any venues or offices. The last thing you can cut out of your budget are events (if you’re still having those), as great as they may be for employee morale, the business can do without it for now.

4. Invest in learning new skills

When push comes to shove, become the jack of all trades. For the time being, try not to outsource services such as Marketing and Finance. Tough times call for tough measures, so as a team, this is the time to invest in a new set of skills. There are a lot of free online courses, make use of them. Take a social media course and handle your own social media, this cuts out the Marketing consultancy fees you pay. Your finance team should also try to learn how to create professional and accurate annual financial statements, that way you can pay less on finance fees to other businesses. 

We’re all trying to survive the pandemic so we need to do business better, the key is to try and see if you can do some things in-house instead of outsourcing.

5. Apply for relief grants

Do your research and find out if your local government and banks are still offering relief funds. If they are, take full advantage of this opportunity. Apply for your business and hope for the best. After all, who doesn’t like free money?

I hope you find these tips helpful, here’s to successful and thriving businesses in 2021!!!

2021 Workplace Superpowers – The Musthaves

If I was asked what my special skills were a year ago, it would definitely differ from now. 2020 came with a twist and remote work forced every one of us to learn how to Do It Yourself (and I don’t mean cooking).

Here are some of the must-have skills for 2021 that will make you more sellable to recruiters, and an asset in your current workplace.

The requirements for success in the workplace are changing and what matters most is your ability to adapt to change/trends as they come.- Nneka Alfred, Head of HR, She Leads Africa Click To Tweet

Hard Skills for the Workplace


1. Data Analytics: The workplace today requires us to think in data. This requires us to do a bit more research, crunch those numbers, understand raw data and drive business growth based on concrete analysis.

2. Content Creation: Your ability to produce entertaining or educational material that not only caters to the interests and challenges of a target audience but increases engagement and conversions definitely sets you apart from others in your field.

The content you produce can take many forms, including blog posts, videos, graphic design and newsletters. 

3. Marketing: Businesses worldwide need analytical people who understand what sort of tools are available in the growing digital toolbox, and know how to dig in through trusted channels.

4. Sales: This can pass for both a hard skill and a soft skill as sales involves persuasion, but with a specific commercial end in mind. Your ability to convert leads to revenue would give you a spot in any workplace.

5. Video production: The average person will watch 25 continuous days of video in 2021. Video content is quickly becoming the dominant form of all communication and companies are fighting to create effective digital video assets.

6. Product Development: This involves managing the process of developing a product or enhancing existing products in order to meet customer expectations effectively. If you haven’t noticed, times are changing and the direction of products being developed is too. 

Soft Skills for the Workplace

1. Creativity: Developing new ideas, applying new solutions to address existing problems.  Some people are naturally creative on their own, but a lot of us need to bounce ideas off others to get the creative juices flowing.

An ability to learn continuously and willingness to adapt to change is essential to boost your creativity.

2. Communication skills: Interpreting information through speaking, listening and observing is a must-have skill for 2021. Organizing thoughts and data points into a comprehensive, holistic narrative will get you where you need to be in your career.

3. Collaboration: Collaboration suffers when roles and goals are not defined. The next time you take on a group project, strike up a conversation about what success looks like, and who’s doing what. This simple act can get everyone rowing together faster and more effectively. 

The next time you take on a group project, strike up a conversation about what success looks like, and who's doing what.- Nneka Alfred, Head of HR, She Leads Africa Click To Tweet

4. Adaptability: Manage your mindset. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances starts with a mindset that’s willing to adapt to changing circumstances. If you tend to balk at change, reflect on the reasons why — and then see if you can reframe your perspective to help you see things differently.

5. Emotional intelligence: Practicing control, knowing when to push, expressing yourself and observation of interpersonal relationships among people in a workplace is very important when working with people.

6. Leadership: Leadership in the 21st century is much more about influence than authority, learning to appreciate and adapt to people with different perspectives, priorities, and personalities is a key skill to develop.

Having a difficult time figuring out your superpowers? 

2021 workplace skills

Here are three questions you can answer to guide you:

  • What unique contribution do you bring to projects, conversations, and meetings you attend?
  • Why do team members come to you for help?
  • What would be missing if you were to leave your current place of work?

If you are unable to answer these questions yourself, ask a colleague or friend. If your answers do not reflect the skills listed above, don’t relent or give up. The internet is packed with so much information, take some short courses, seek guidance from a work buddy, mentor or your boss. 

A superpower isn’t just a skill but a perspective, a mindset and a way of working that enhances everything you touch. The requirements for success in the workplace are changing and what matters most is your ability to adapt to change/trends as they come.

#HowWeSpent2020: Zimbabwean start-up teaches women how to farm in pandemic

Chashi Foods

While this year has been challenging for most, we’re spotlighting non-profits and social enterprises that have worked hard to continue making an impact despite the added challenges that 2020 brought. If a story connects with you, please support the organization and founders in this series. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining She Leads Africa today.

ABOUT CHASHI FOODS (ZIMBABWE)

Most people know that global hunger is a pressing issue — but what you may not know is that food waste is equally concerning.

Food wasted every year in the continent could feed up to 300 million people, according to the United Nations. In just Uganda alone, up to 40% of fruit and vegetables end up being discarded. Post-harvest losses have a negative impact on the environment as food decay releases methane, which is 28 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, and is associated with global climate change. 

However, where many would see a problem, Chashi Foods saw an opportunity. 

“Much of what’s sold in markets is wasted because farmers cannot store the food. So they have to return home and pick fresh fruit and vegetables to sell the next day. During the dry season very little grows so people go hungry. Moreso due to strict government-mandated measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus we could potentially spark food shortages around the country.” – Forget (Product Development Director)

Chashi Foods is committed to providing sustainable solutions in reducing food loss. By the use of smart technologies and agro-processing, Chashi Foods has been able to increase the shelf life of farm produce. But their mandate goes further, coining them the three P’s, Chashi Foods concentrates on people, planet, and profit.

By helping farmers prolong their product shelf life they have managed to increase their income per capita. More nutritious food will be available to rural and urban dwellers, especially children as they can eat the dried produce. Their main target is to hire mainly women to manage the operations and collection of revenue at Chashi stations. All the while stopping food waste will be beneficial to the planet.

 

DEALING WITH THE MARKET MAFIAS & COVID-19

Just before the COVID-19 lockdown started in Harare, Forget had been in a plight to eliminate intermediaries or market mafias from the supply. The market mafias have garnered a reputation to buy produce from the farmers at a very low price and then exorbitantly sell them to the consumers. 

However, as the lockdown was imposed their focus had to shift. Suddenly, they had no product to buy as the rural farmers found it hard to commute to the city center. But their call to action was even stronger as farmers’ harvested produce went to waste since large markets were closed. Eventually, Chashi too had to close their production and their impact seemingly came to a halt.

Beyond buying from rural farmers, Chashi continued to support farmers by providing mentorship and training in post-harvest management and agribusiness. During the Covid19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown period, they trained over 100 farmers in post-harvest management and helped reduce over 5 tons of produce from being lost. 

Forget shared a beautiful success story of a female farmer in Guruve, a small village center in the North of Zimbabwe. “After receiving our training manual, this lady was able to dry about 300kgs of tomato harvest which she sold to the local hotel. I haven’t met her personally but she’s come to refer to me as family. That’s what we are aiming to do at Chashi – improving people’s livelihoods.”

As it became apparent that the pandemic would drag on for long, Shareka looked for new avenues of selling their products. As you might guess, the top of the agenda had been gravitating to selling items online and getting them delivered to doorsteps.

While this sounds easy in theory, it brought all sorts of challenges. Professional storefront to be built, photography to be taken, secure payment methods, delivery drivers and transport, and getting the message out there that they’re virtually open for business is not an easy job.

So Chashi came up with an easier plan, they leveraged already existing platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp.

 “The pandemic has only enhanced the need for more supply chain resiliency, and for us to make the most of the food that is being produced, disseminated, and purchased not only in Africa but throughout the world.” – Forget Shareka

ADJUSTING TO MAKE IMPACT IN A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

“We created a WhatsApp group in which we were facilitating the selling of farmers’ produce. We identified a common hotspot of activity and traffic in the city, and then created a meeting point for farmers to sell their products and push volumes. We did this free of charge and it was fulfilling seeing the weight we lifted off their shoulders.” 

The nearly instantaneous economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 shutdown has wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. For Chashi what has kept them going is reploughing all their sales proceeds into the business towards operational expenses which include salaries and maintenance of their machinery. 

Forget testifies that the pandemic has taught her and the organization an important lesson in resilience. The pandemic now presents additional challenges for managing mental health and other economic challenges.

Loss and suffering may change a person, but much will influence its trajectory, including biological, environmental, behavioral, and psychological components. “Any life stressor, to some degree, is out of our control. How long will the pandemic last? When can we go back to school? To work? All valid questions, but they are also unknowns and uncertainties; we don’t want to get stuck ruminating about them,” says Forget.

Lastly, Shareka made a warm invitation. Women constitute nearly 50% of the agricultural workforce and own one-third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, they are a key pillar of Africa’s food systems. As the challenges related to COVID-19 come into force in various countries, women’s livelihoods and business activities are threatened, ChThasi food is inviting all women in farming, leadership, and business to join them in their journey. 

“We have the expertise to change the trajectory of female farmers, we’re inviting investors and business developers to help us increase our reach.” Forget says as her last words

If you would like to support Chashi Foods, visit chashifoods.com

#HowWeSpent2020: From water weeds to artisan products

Minimeth Founder: Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro

While this year has been challenging for most, we’re spotlighting non-profits and social enterprises that have worked hard to continue making an impact despite the added challenges that 2020 brought. If a story connects with you, please support the organization and founders in this series. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining She Leads Africa today.

In a bid to deal with the abundance of invasive water hyacinth plants clogging up local waterways, Nigerian entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro founded Mitimeth, a startup not only improving environmental sustainability but also producing beautifully-handcrafted artisan products. 

Where others saw a pest, Idachaba-Obaro saw an opportunity

Water hyacinth, she explains, is a species of aquatic plant with violet flowers. It looks attractive, but this invasive weed is actually horribly destructive to the communities along the rivers where it grows in thick mats. The plant keeps fishermen from reaching the fish and students and others from traveling on weed-choked waterways. It may look pretty, but it’s actually devastating to a whole way of life. Water hyacinth at first appears to be an utterly worthless invader, something that just needs to be ripped out and thrown away. But Idachaba had other ideas.  Working with local communities, MitiMeth takes water hyacinth, an evasive destructive weed, and upcycles it into personal and interior accessories. 

“We are making this product in Nigeria, and we are making a product that has global appeal.” — Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro

In the face of this global pandemic, Achenyo had to take immediate action by protecting the level of the impact of her organization. Achenyo shut down operations way before the local authorities imposed the lockdown.  The next step was assuring her employees that she would do everything in her power to keep them employed, “we’ll make it through this together” she said. Immediately she could see the positive change it sparked within their attitudes as they knew they had one less thing to worry about, contrary to the tales they heard from their mates and neighbors who had been furloughed. 

Not all hope was lost

The government in Nigeria went on to close state borders and introduce other aggressive responses to COVID-19 in the form of travel bans. This heavily interrupted the supply chain of Mitimeth.

On the environmental level, Mitimeth continued to make an impact as their artisans continued to harvest the water hyacinth for weaving. However, the products could not make their way to the main production hub.  “If there’s one silver lining from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it’s helped expose vulnerabilities in their supply chain” – Achenyo mentioned.

At present, there is less demand for their products since home decor and accessories are hardly seen as an essential service. “We see this problem trickling down the supply chain. So we find ourselves with a warehouse full of raw materials because we made a commitment to our artisans that we would take all their products”, Achenyo said. 

Instead of seeing it as a setback, they took this time to do some much-needed R&D and they’re currently exploring the possibility of using the water hyacinth as a textile. “Since most people are sheltering in place, we have seen the consumers’ affinity towards wanting to make their outdoor spaces more appealing. And so we have been afforded the opportunity to expand our outdoor and garden collection”. New ideas are also brought into the communities MitiMeth works with.

MitiMeth essentially provides distribution platforms for the community and match up the appropriate skills with the products to be created. The company provides training for communities the company works with through collaborations and partnerships within the public-private sector. This involves running workshops, held within the communities to understand how things work.  Minimeth Community Impact

“Funding definitely has been a challenge this year for the organizations that we partner with. So we are seeing some reductions in the number of training we do. But I think the important thing is keeping the momentum going. And I’m glad that with one partner that we’re working with, in the next two weeks we’re going full steam ahead with the training despite the situation that we’re in right now.” Achenyo adds.

One of the challenges the organization faces is they’re unable to hold the training using online tools since the communities they work with are reside in network-deficient areas. “Perhaps in the future, there could be the provision of smartphones which can enable remote learning along with the training seminars for the artisans.”

Minimeth community training

Most of the funds Mitimeth gets are plowed back into the business, having more than 150 artisans and a commitment to procure their products, nocent goes to waste. They also have to take care of the operational costs of the business including shipping and wages. 

Due to the drastic drop in sales, Achenyo had to ensure that they maintained sustainable financing by making good use of their cash reserves from previous years. “A big lesson this year taught us was it’s important to save for famine during the seasons of abundance.”

Hard work certainly pays off as Mitimeth was able to open a new branch in Lagos on the 21st of June. “It’s been tough, but we certainly don’t regret making that decision. So we still grow even during this time”, she said. Achenyo went on to invite other women on her journey.

“They can support what we’re doing, by purchasing our products, knowing that with each purchase, they’re actually supporting a fellow African woman or a fellow African youth, and it is going back into the economy, it’s going back to help people fulfill their obligations.”

There is a United Nations Environmental Programme Map, which illustrates where water hyacinth is prevalent in different parts of the world. If you look at the map of Africa, 44 countries have this infestation problem. Achenyo makes a call for action that if other women can replicate this business model and solution in several other countries, the impact would be amazing to those communities most affected by it.

If you would like to support Mitimeth, visit www.mitimeth.com

“At the age of 12, I was already selling.” Meet Feligold Food and Spice owner, Felicia Ogumah

Felicia Ogumah is the brains and strength behind Feligold Food and Spices, a food company based in Warri, Delta State that began in October 2019. They package and sell food items like dry fish, crayfish, prawns, melons and local spices. Felicia’s business skill is something that has been cultivated since childhood. She says, “I grew up selling. At the age of 12, I was already selling. I think it is something that is a part of me. My friends tell me ” Feli there is nothing you can not sell. Even if they package stick and give you, you will sell.”

This article covers Felicia’s experiences running Feligold food and spice and valuable lessons you can take away from it.

Warning: Checking Felicia’s Facebook and Instagram page, will make you buy something.

What is the inspiration behind Feligold Food and Spice?

It, first of all, came as an insight, an inspiration from God. When I first started, it was something I really just wanted to do with everything that I have and am. God was stirring it in my heart to do it and so far it has been very profitable. God has been involved in the sourcing to get my products. I had no level of experience, I had no one putting me through, I did not go for any offline or even online training on Food and Spice. Divine connection came in. God was strategically connecting me to people. In fact, I am amazed!

If it is just crayfish you want to sell, put all your effort into selling that crayfish. Don't jump into doing everything at once. Pick one thing and try to get the best out of it before moving to something else. Click To Tweet

How do you manage Feligold Food and Spice?

For now, we ship to Benin, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Anambra. We have even shipped to a customer in Europe. That particular customer contacted me through Instagram. In fact, I get most of my customers online. The lockdown affected us because most of my clients are outside Delta State.  When the roads were eventually opened, the cost of the way-bill was high. Doing business right now is not the way it was before the virus. I pray everything goes back to normal”

If you choose to do something, let it be something people identify you with because you are passionate about what you are doing. Click To Tweet

From her business experience with Feligold Food and Spice, Felicia has three major business tips.

  1. Have a good reason for starting your business. Don’t go into the food business only because you think it is something that must sell. Everybody is into food business now. You have to have a passion for it and know why you started. It is important to know your why!
  2. Be focused. If it is just crayfish you want to sell, put all your effort into selling that crayfish. Don’t jump into doing everything at once. Pick one thing and try to get the best out of it before moving to something else.
  3. Be known for something. Let people know you for something. If you choose to do something, let it be something people identify you with because you are passionate about what you are doing.

Continue reading ““At the age of 12, I was already selling.” Meet Feligold Food and Spice owner, Felicia Ogumah”

“You Don’t Have All The Answers!” Meet Catyna Designs Founder, Celestina Utoro,

What do you do after losing everything in a fire? How do you start to put your life together again? Celestina Utoro had to think about this after she experienced a fire outbreak in March 2019. “I was watching all my property burn and I could not do a thing about it. Everything we had got lost in that fire,” Celestina says. Still, perseverance and gratitude are rich in her voice, “I am grateful I am alive today. If I hadn’t woken up when I did, the story may have been different.”

At this point in Celestina’s life, her major concern is rebuilding and putting necessary structures in place so that her business can blossom, “There are so many things to be done, but first I have to create structure. I have to set a steady foundation. I can’t just sit down and fold my arms. I have to get up and try again.”

Catyna Designs is committed to bringing life into a space with Afrocentric decor items. They are major retailers of original adire window blinds and throw pillows. This article covers Celestina’s business story and valuable lessons from her experience with Catyna Designs.

What is at the heart of Catyna Designs?

I love African culture and heritage, and I feel like it is a signature that we should not let die. A lot goes into local art-making from the grassroots in terms of how they are made, the creativity and the time that is dedicated to it. I noticed that even though their productions are of world-class value, most of the creatives in that line are not equipped with what it takes to promote their work on a global scale. So because of my love for these forms of art, I decided to become an instrument- a vehicle for these artworks. The whole concept of Catyna really is to be a vehicle for these artistic innovations.

Being structured also helps you to identify the weak points in your business. If you do not have a structure in place, you will not really be able to track your progress as you go. Click To Tweet

“I find joy when I am working with a community to produce the adire window blinds. I also see the joy of creation on the faces of the workers. Their joy and hard work motivate me to push for our items to be globally accessible. African cultural pieces deserve that kind of exposure.”

Collaboration is key! Click To Tweet

What you can learn from Celestina’s experience

Collaboration is key! I work a lot with people at the grassroots. Most of them just want to create, they really don’t want to be out there promoting their work. As a result, they are not generating the kind of funds that they need to take care of themselves and their families. So I said to myself, “Why don’t I add value by collaborating with them? Why don’t I create a space where they bring their skill and I bring my expertise?” That way, we can join our gifted hands together to create wealth and success.

Do not underestimate structure: You have to be structured. You can’t do everything at the same time. You can’t be everywhere at once. Being structured also helps you to identify the weak points in your business. If you do not have a structure in place, you will not really be able to track your progress as you go.

You don’t have all the answers: At some point, you have to come to terms with this. You have to accept that you do not have all the answers. When I got to this revelation, it led me to find spaces that can help me grow. You need that support. You need a community that is interested in your growth. 

Continue reading ““You Don’t Have All The Answers!” Meet Catyna Designs Founder, Celestina Utoro,”

“I Learnt Perseverance After My Fire Accident” Meet Eco-friendly Entrepreneur, Chidiebere Nnorom

If there’s one thing Chidiebere Nnorom wants us to know, it is that she’s a typical Igbo girl with a never die attitude, never ever wanting to give up! Even after going through a rough patch, she refused to succumb and found her way back up.

Chidiebere Nnorom is the Co-founder of Paperbag by Ebees. She has a strong passion for the environment, social impact and business.  

Watch this space as Chidiebere is determined to change norms and make waves as an entrepreneur, environmentalist and a young global leader. Scroll down to read more of her story.


What’s your background story?

Before my business grew to the stage it is at now, I went through a lot! I was involved in a fire accident which kept me indoors for a while. I had to stop business operations and lay off staff. It was unbelievable. Imagine being at a point in life where you are clueless about what to do next. Well, that was me then.

It took me almost a year to heal. I couldn’t work or do anything. My savings had been zapped and I kept wondering how I’d scale through. There was a personal instinct to do something, I knew it wasn’t the time to give up but to breakthrough! I needed to turn the light on in my heart and that I did. 

To cut the long story short, the accident was a validation to move on. Months later, I picked up my business and started building up gradually. Next thing I knew, business calls were coming in! People said they saw the paper bag and wanted to order. Some of the paper bags they saw were made way before the accident. The referral rate was massive! I was so elated and grateful I didn’t give up back then.

What ignited the spark to start Paperbag by Ebees?

In 2016, we started off as a food delivery business but one of the problems we faced was the packaging, we just couldn’t find the right packaging. With a background in geography and my love for the environment, we decided to start creating eco-friendly packages.

There were a lot of “buts!” That was the year the foreign exchange was high, fuel scarcity and other things kept creeping in. We had to take a step back to think of how we could make it. My team and I carried out some research, tried out different products, monitored what was moving and what wasn’t. Everything was coming up gradually.

Before I knew it, we made it official!

 

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

At the early stages, our major challenge was accessing raw materials in Nigeria. It meant having to buy in large quantities and also importing from China. We had other expenses to run the business and couldn’t afford it.

This caused a setback. We had to think of how to make it ourselves. We carried out some research and found alternative ways to come up with the resources. That was when we started the business for real!

Business development was our second challenge, it took us a while to see that the market was ready. We had to try out different products to see if the market will accept us. It was quite hard, to be honest. After a series of experiments and market research, we were able to count a milestone. Finally! We achieved growth.

These experiences really shaped our mindset as a company. To every business owner out there, celebrate your little wins! We count every little effort we make as a win and an opportunity to do better. I’m learning to take joy in the little things, every small success is a validation. I say to myself, “Chidiebere well done!” It tells me that every step I took at the time was worth it.

 

How do you come up with the designs on your paper bags?

I won’t take all the credit, I have a really good team. My own inspiration came from purpose. The point is, if we chase our real purpose there are things we won’t struggle to do. I found my passion, and everything fell into place.

Finding the right people who know what they are doing is key. I also took some time to learn product design. It’s a combination of all these things.

 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

I was in paid employment and transitioning was quite drastic.

Take your time and plan! If you’re transitioning from paid employment to business, have enough money to cover up for your expenses. Make sure that the business can take care of your bills. There is no need to go through stress because you’re an entrepreneur, life can be easy!

Here’s why you should attend the She Means Business 2020 Training

She Means Business is back for the third year in a row and we are here for it. Want to know why? We are all about helping you get all the resources you need to be one hundred percent that Motherland Mogul.

Quick warning: This article might make you sign up for the She Means Business training.

So what is She Means Business? 

She Means Business offers digital training sessions for entrepreneurs to come together to learn how to effectively grow their business online and share strategies for success. 

In partnership with Facebook, we are providing entrepreneurs and creatives with the tools and resources needed to thrive during COVID-19 so you can tackle new business challenges and survive this period. We know times are still tough and we have your back.

Do you know the best part? It is completely free and happening online so there is absolutely nothing blocking your success this time.

And now the benefits

Well now that you know what She Means Business is, here’s a look at the benefits you will be getting from the program this year:

  • Informative and hands-on training from our seasoned trainers to teach you how to use online tools to grow your business and reach new customers. 
  • Insightful weekly Facebook Live sessions, with experienced entrepreneurs sharing their journeys about running a digital business, and the tools they have used to help them grow their businesses.
  • Weekly Instagram Live sessions where you can connect with other entrepreneurs in your industry, share business issues, and get advice live on the spot.
  • Tools, tips, and online features, to help your business survive during the COVID-19 period.
  • Certification of attendance to be distributed post-training and so much more!

Want to get access to the training and resources you need to grow your online business? Then sign up for the She Means Business training.

Click here to start learning

Motherland Mogul Feature: Siyamthanda Makhwabe

According to a World Bank article published in November 2018 on women entrepreneurs and the future of Africa, enterprises owned by male entrepreneurs have more capital than women-owned enterprises.

This month, we shine the spotlight on a fierce lady who has bootstrapped her way into starting not just one – but two – businesses while holding down a full-time job.

Siyamthanda Makhwabe is a professional town planner, a wife and mother, owner of Kuhle Bags and Accessories and a town planning consulting business.

Fellow Motherland Mogul, Zimkhitha met with Siyamthanda to talk about juggling work, business, a kid, and a briefcase.


Siyamthanda at an on-site inspection

The Many Hustles of Siyamthanda Makhwabe

Determined to gain financial freedom, Makhwabe took the leap in 2019 to start two businesses while keeping her job as a town planner.

Leveraging her background in Town Planning and Housing, Makhwabe started a consulting business catering to SMEs and startups. Using the power of her network as a launchpad, she has run this venture in the past year purely by word-of-mouth and industry referrals.

In October 2019, Makhwabe diversified her business portfolio to include a fashion business named after her daughter, Kuhle. Here she offers affordable bags and accessories to South Africans online via social media.

She coverts a lot of customers via WhatsApp and uses Instagram to advertise what’s in stock, which markets she will be visiting and pop up stalls.

Showcasing merchandise at a weekend popup market

Entrepreneurship: A seat at the table

As a STEM woman working in a male-dominated space, Siyamthanda has not always found it welcoming. She explains that this dismissal boils down to the most basic things. For instance, in meetings, men are more readily acknowledged and engaged than women.

“When you sit at that table, it can be very easy to feel invisible and like a fraud, hence many women rather take the back seat”, she says, talking about the dreaded imposter syndrome that creeps in even when you know you have both the qualification(s) and relevant experience to be seated at the proverbial table.

With her ventures, Makhwabe has found autonomy and confidence in being a decision-maker and leader. This remains a key motivator for her in moving her business forward.

Siyamthanda’s Top Tips for every Hustler

Here are Siyamthanda’s top tips for female entrepreneurs on the building – not only a sustainable – but profitable business, from the ground up:

1. Before you throw money at it – innovate

There is a temptation to think that money will solve your problems. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to learn how to be scrappy. Think on your feet, look at the competition and see how you can offer more value to your customer base.

2. Stay learning and find mentors

As you grow your business, you will find out there is a lot you don’t know. It is necessary to stay curious, take short courses and prioritize soft skills. A mentor also gives you an edge in the game. Having someone who’s been there in your corner is invaluable. It’ll save you money, time and headache.

3. Never stop networking

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.

Reach out to those in your market and those outside to get inspiration and to see what is out there. This will help expand your mind into untapped segments.


Zimkhitha‘s Notes:

My interview with Siyamthanda was eye-opening. I think it is important to emphasize how necessary it is for female entrepreneurs to be more transparent about their experiences. The hustle does not always look glamorous and that’s okay. To all you Motherland Moguls out there, keep on SLAying and exuding your #BlackGirlMagic!


Ready to take your business to the next level? Join the Motherland Mogul Insider program.

SHEAMOISTURE SPOTLIGHT ON THE ADIRE FASHIONPRENEUR: CYNTHIA ASIJE – CEO ADIRE LOUNGE

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 Cynthia Asije

Cynthia Asije is the CEO and founder of Adire Lounge and holds a bachelors degree in Business Administration. She is a multi-award winning textile designer at Adire lounge, a hand-dyed textile company that trains women in rural communities and creates job opportunities for them.

She has a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from Enterprise Development Centre Lagos, and a Non-Profit Leadership certificate from Lagos Business School. Cynthia was on the Ynaija Power list 2018 for Fashion and Style and 100 Africa’s Next Startup by IFC-World Bank Group 2018.

Cynthia founded Adire Lounge because she is passionate about eradicating extreme poverty using capacity development and entrepreneurship by infusing old cultural practices and technology.

One woman at a time, Cynthia is working to eradicate poverty in her community with her brand.

To learn more about Cynthia’s business Adire Lounge, you can connect with her on Instagram, Twitter and on her website.

How did you start Adire Lounge?

I started Adire Lounge as a hand-dyed textile company that creates unique designs on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, T-shirts, scarves and silk. I also train rural women, widows and out of school youths in adire making.

The vision behind Adire Lounge is to preserve our rich cultural heritage and traditions, while also closing the unemployment gap and creating job opportunities for women and youth in my community.

I truly believe that Adire lounge is making a difference in my community and country as a whole.

What was your motivation?

I wanted to build a brand that not only made profit, but helped my immediate community. Starting Adire Lounge was a way for me to preserve our beautiful culture while helping young people like me, earn a sustainable income and help their families too.

Most of the women in my community are of low social and economic status so they live below the poverty line and it can be quite difficult for them to provide basic necessities for their families. With my brand, I have been able to keep some of them on a salary which has helped them provide food, education and health care for their families.

What makes your brand stand out?

We have been able to build a premium textile brand that creates unique hand-dyed prints on non-conventional fabrics like chiffon, silk, T-shirts and scarves etc. We have also made custom prints for fashion designers and corporate organizations.

Our pieces have been used by other brands to make products like footwear, pillows and other products. We also collaborate with different brands to make new products.

Also, our approach to business which follows a community commerce model has helped us stand out as a brand that makes a significant contribution to our community.

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

One of the things I struggled with was having access to enough finance when I started out. To combat this, I used the bootstrap method to finance my business.

Another issue I had was access to the market. It was a relatively new idea, so we needed to do a lot of marketing to increase our brand awareness. To combat the problem, we utilized social media marketing and influencer marketing to target our clients.

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

It can be quite distracting working in an industry that has a lot of competition such as the fashion industry but I have stayed above the noise in the industry by focusing on my “why.”

Focusing on why I stared Adire Lounge keeps me grounded and focused.


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

Most of the women in my community are of low social and economic status and they can’t afford to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. So since starting my business, I have been able to help them gain economic independence by providing them with jobs. With the income they earn from these jobs, they are able to provide good food, health care and education for their families.

I believe this will cause a ripple effect and a larger impact in society as they will be able to achieve financial freedom for them and their families, thereby reducing poverty.

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

Our goal for 2019 was to have an empowerment centre. So far, we have gotten the space from a community in Lagos, and construction work has started on the space we got.

Can you share 3 interesting facts about yourself?

I am creative, amazing and very resilient.

What is your fave skin, hair or self-care routine?

My favorite self-care routine is to meditate and I have a dedicated spa date.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand with SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture.

I am so excited about this opportunity to showcase my brand on the SLA platforms, sponsored by SheaMoisture because Adire Lounge will be able to leverage the network and meet more of our target audience.

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

When people think of my brand, I want them to think of it as a premium hand-dyed textile fabrics company, made in Nigeria.

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


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