Catherine Lesetedi: Botswana’s Boss Woman

Botswana

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.

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SheaMoisture Spotlight on Finance Queen: Anie Ufia – founder of Kolo Lagos

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.

Connect with Anie and her business here Website, Instagram, Twitter


Tell us about Kolo Lagos.

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

  1. I love food. Food loves me.
  2. Food makes me happy.
  3. 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


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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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The Tourism Queen of Botswana


Reinventing tourist experiences in Botswana

Cynthia Mothelesi is blazing a trail and carving out a unique space with bespoke experiences in the tourism landscape of Botswana.

She is somewhat of an ‘evolving soul’, constantly seeking out ways to deepen her life experiences and provide an opportunity for others to do the same with her travel agency, Happy Soul Adventures.

Trained as a graphic designer, she spent three years lecturing before deciding to expand her horizons. She applied for a job at the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), where she served as Marketing Manager for seven years.

Her experiences at BTO were an opportunity for her to travel, sharpen her marketing and PR skills and forge valuable relationships.

She then realized that there was a gap in the tourism sector, which became the catalyst for her foray into business. 

Cynthia Mothelesi uses her creativity and business savvyness to create bespoke experiences that allow her guests to engage with the soul, beauty and people of Botswana in an unimposing, intimate way. 

Connect with Cynthia and her business on her website and social media


What inspired you to go into tourism?

I saw so many opportunities and I realized that there were a lot of gaps in the industry that we were not tapping into.

In Botswana, we see tourism as going on safari, and we really only see it as valid in the Chobe or Okavango. However, I think that tourism has so many facets – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

While I was at BTO, I followed the AirBnB culture because I love hosting. Then in 2017, I decided to venture out on my own because I realized that I could grow. It could be enough for myself and I could do more with the experience and passion that I have.

How did you come up with the idea for Happy Soul Adventures?

I began by focusing on my Airbnb listing, and every week I would have guests from all over the world coming to stay with me. Most times, I would host them at my house, but I didn’t just want to give them accommodation.

I wanted to share what Botswana is all about – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

I wanted to tell them my Botswana story, especially in terms of our people. Not wanting them to just see Botswana as wildlife and safaris, but rather for them to come away knowing that we were more than what the Western media depicts us to be.

That experience taught me a lot and I decided that I would focus 100% on Happy Soul Adventures.

What kinds of tours / experiences do you offer?

Sometimes I take my guests on a city tour. It would include going to nightclubs like Zoom, or to a local pub, George’s, for karaoke night. We may go to Kilimanjaro, which has a place that sells really amazing local food.

I also have clients who come to learn how to milk a goat or bake bread the traditional way. Guests can learn how to do pottery or make a tapestry. It really goes to show that we have a beautiful story to share and that there is value that can be found in it.

What do you keep in mind when you design your tours?

I really want my guests to immerse themselves in our stories. I feel like we Africans can do more to celebrate who we are as people. We tend to shun our own culture and I want to rather celebrate what makes us unique.

Happy Soul Adventures also engages with communities. I don’t want to run a company that is only about me making a profit. So it is more of a collaborative effort.

With collaboration, we are able to build and grow more. Happy Soul Adventures is about connecting people.

What is the most important thing that you want your guests to take away from your tours?

I want people to be able to interact and break down social divides. I feel that at the end of the day, we are all human. – @mothelesi Click To Tweet

I want my guests to be able to experience this. I realized that people are looking for something new for the soul. People love simple, soulful and enriching experiences and I am happy that the responses have been great.

What does Botswana have to offer the world that is unique?

I realized that what we at home think is ‘backward’ or ‘unsophisticated’ is actually something that is unique about us. The fact that we take things slow, and keep things organic is something that people actually love about Botswana.

Guests who visit Mogobane village for example, really love the peace and quiet because it isn’t something that they get to experience often. They really get time to connect with themselves.

So, the most unique selling point about Botswana is that we are very peaceful, quiet and laid-back. It gives people the opportunity to reconnect with their soul and really get to love themselves even more.

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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The HealthCare Giant of Botswana

“Bridging the gap between Policy and Implementation in Gender, Reproductive Health, and HIV/AIDS”

Professor Sheila Tlou – whose surname translates literally to ‘elephant’ is a veritable giant in the gender, health care and sexual and reproductive healthcare space in Botswana, Africa, and the world.

To Professor Sheila Tlou, the themes are inseparable, and much of her work includes activism at the intersection of these spaces.

Professor Sheila Tlou is the co-chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition and the co-chair of the Nursing Now Global Campaign. From 2010 to 2017 she was Director of the UNAIDS regional support team for Eastern and Southern Africa.

She is a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Health of the Republic of Botswana (2004-2008). 

Also, Professor Sheila Tlou was the former Professor of Nursing at the University of Botswana and Director of the WHO collaborating center for Nursing and Midwifery Development in Primary Health Care for Anglophone Africa. 

Professor Sheila Tlou has conducted research and taught courses like nursing, pre-medical and social science students on Gender issues relating to HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Ageing and Older Persons.

She has played a key role in the development of national nursing and medical education curricula, working to broaden the scope of Health Sciences education in Botswana.


Her work on HIV/AIDS

The first case of HIV in Botswana was reported in 1985.

As was the case with the pandemic in the early years, the virus spread quickly, and with Botswana’s small population, the implications for social and economic stability were devastating.

However, Botswana responded to the pandemic and implemented a number of health care reforms and programs including the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) in 1999 and universal access to ARVs (antiretrovirals) to those who were at an advanced stage of the disease.

The management of the virus in Botswana is due in large part to the role that Professor Tlou played in those years, and she continues to lend her voice, wisdom, and expertise to the healthcare space worldwide, today.

For example, the transmission of HIV from mother to child decreased from about 30 percent in 2003 to about 8 percent in 2008. Maternal mortality due to AIDS also decreased from 34 percent to 9 percent under her leadership.

Her work is ‘numbers’ and report-based, however, one cannot forget that the work that Prof. Tlou continues to do has a major impact on the lives of women, and by extension, their families and communities.

“I am hoping that what I say will inspire young people to be able to ask themselves how they will be able to participate in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals because as far as I’m concerned, all 17 of them are… Click To Tweet

Professor Tlou worked tirelessly at the intersection of gender and health, to generate research and forge important partnerships between academia, government, and civil society.

She advocated for real change at the grassroots level in Botswana.

As Minister of Health, she led a forward-thinking and focused HIV care, prevention, treatment, support, and care programme that is used as a model all over the world today; a testament to her knowledge, resolve and leadership.

One of the hallmarks of great leadership is the ability to translate ideas into plans that are actionable – Professor Sheila Tlou Click To Tweet

Professor Tlou is aware of the role that young people have to play in continuing the challenge of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths – effectively ending the disease by 2030.

Her work on gender health

Professor Tlou is the United Nations Eminent Person for Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. She is also the International Council of Nurses Goodwill Ambassador for Girl Child Education.

In her past assignment as UNAIDS Regional Director, Professor Tlou provided leadership and Political Advocacy for quality sustainable AIDS response in 21 African countries, from Eritrea to South Africa, including the Indian Ocean Islands of Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Comoros.

She has been instrumental in the formation of advocacy bodies such as The Pan-African Positive Women’s Coalition (PAPWC) and the High-Level Task Force on Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV in Africa.

Professor Tlou initiated and chaired a High-Level task force on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Services for Young People in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Because of the uniqueness and peculiarity of the cultural context of African societies, HIV/AIDS thrived in a thick cloak of ignorance, denial, and secrecy that Prof. Tlou has recognized as a deterrent to the success of any programs that may be implemented.

Again, her sensitivity to the fact that women empowerment is a key issue that lies at the heart of HIV/AIDS prevention means that her work is alive to the issues that are particular to African women.

“Gender inequality, gender-based violence, including sexual violence and sexual exploitation, are at the core of young women’s vulnerability and need to be addressed if we are to achieve that SDG of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030″.

This very goal gives us a platform to deliver services based on rights, inclusiveness, universality and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Her Recognitions/Awards

Professor Tlou has received many national and international awards. Among them are… “the Botswana Presidential Order of Honor, the Florence Nightingale Award from the International Red Cross Society, the Trailblazer Woman Leading Change Award from the World YWCA, the Leadership in Health award from the Global Business Council (Health)”.

She also got “the President award from the US National Academy of Nursing, the President award from the US National League for Nursing, the Princess Srinagarindra award from Thailand, the Christianne Reimann award from the International Council of Nurses, and The Princess Muna Al Hussein award from the American Nurses Credentialing Centre”.

“Leaders who are able to communicate the importance of their activism are often able to inspire groups to pull together towards a common goal”.


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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Memoirs from the Google Developers Festival (DevFest) Lagos 2018

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, thousands of developers and tech-savvy young adults attended the annual developer festival (DevFest) of sessions, workshops, training, code labs and much more.

DevFests (Developers Festival) are community-led, developer events hosted by Google Developer Group (GDG) chapters around the globe. This event is focused on community building and learning about Google’s technologies.

 

Find out what went down at the #DevFestLagos #DevFest18 organized by @gdglagos Click To Tweet

The Devfests which was launched  2007 had its first GDG Lagos Devfest event hosted in December 2013, and has been continuously become an annual event which developers around the globe anticipate.

Each DevFest is uniquely tailored to the needs of the developer community and the region that hosts it.

Just like several other years, this year’s Devfest Lagos was in clusters and had a collaboration of several chapters within the same region. There were several GDG chapters and Developer Student clubs by Google within the southwest region of Nigeria in attendance.

Ada Nduka Oyom – one of the organizers of the Dev-Fest  talks about her experience at the DevFest Lagos 2018:

Ada Nduka Oyom

“Knowing how far the entire team had come in preparations, it’s safe to say every session held was a highlight on its own. From having reputable speakers from Top Tech organizations like Google, Apollo, Andela, Interswitch, PayLater,  etc give insightful technical talks on several Technologies and products.

We also had a panel session on working remotely to help tailor one of the up and rising need for developers in Nigeria and Africa”.

 

“DevFest Lagos is always going to be an annual event and the 2019 event will be taking place on November 2nd, 2019. More information would definitely go out via our meetup page and twitter handle as we approach the date”, says Ada.

According to Ada, the DevFest 2018 Lagos chapter had about 2394 developers in attendance, with some participants coming in from other local GDG chapters outside Lagos.

Haven been actively involved in the developer community for a long while, she can attest to the growing network of developers in the Lagos chapter alone.

“ With several other developer events happening across Nigeria and Africa having attendees of 1000 or less, it’s always indicated the possibilities of us getting more. We just needed to bring them all in one place and that’s what we did”, she continues.

Ada is a software developer and Open source advocate who currently leads Developer relations at Interswitch group. She’s also the founder of She Code Africa and Open Source Community Africa where she’s focused on matters bothered around Women in tech and Open Source respectively.

At @gdglagos we knew we needed to bring all developers together in one place, and that's what we did - @Kolokodess #DevFestLagos #DevFest18 Click To Tweet

Many of the first time attendees were overwhelmed at how large the developer community was, and this was definitely a great networking opportunity for them to network with each other.

Attendees got access to speakers such as Lade Tawak –  a Design Researcher who has experience conducting strategic and evaluative user research in East Africa and West Africa and has worked on B2C & B2B products in various industries.

Lade Tawak

Lade spoke about why developers should be interested in the users of their products and gave practical steps for developers to take when it comes to understanding users.

During her session, Lade stressed about how developers are sometimes their own users.

Sandra Israel-Ovirih

Sandra Israel-Ovirih one of the facilitators and attendee of the DevFest shared her experience and highlights from the event.

“I had an amazing experience cause I got to meet other developers in the ecosystem and also learn about new improvements to technologies and the diverse ways developers are using Google technologies”.

Sandra facilitated a code lab on Firebase, where she taught participants how to use some features of Firebase in their web applications. By implementing and deploying a chat client using Firebase.

 

 

Below are her key highlights from the  Google DevFest.

  • Getting to speak to Kechy Eke, Product Manager at Firebase extensively about a certain side project and getting advice on how I could use ML Kit to achieve what a certain feature of the project.
  • Facilitating the code lab and getting feedback on my talk.
  • Seeing the Number of people gathered and eager to learn how to improve their skills and become better Developers.
  • Seeing companies that leverage on the ecosystem also give back heavily to the ecosystem.

I got to meet other developers in the ecosystem at the #DevFestLagos #DevFest18 by @gdglagos and also learn about new improvements to technologies - @SandraIsrael_O Click To Tweet

Besides learning about new tech and everything she mentioned above, Sandra’s key takeaway was realizing that the ecosystem of developers is growing fast and we need to organize meetups and groups to keep growing talent.

Sandra is a self-taught front-end Developer. She has experience in building beautiful and progressive web apps. She is enthusiastic about solving problems with technology through a combination of technical knowledge and a keen eye for design

Want to connect with other female developers and join the developers’ community? Sign up here.

See more photos from the Google DevFest Lagos 2018 below:


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

The United Nations is using it’s Women’s Global HeforShe initiative to drive gender equality

Gender equality is a fundamental human right but remains a distant dream for many women worldwide.  The United Nations’ HeforShe is a solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality.  Its goal is to achieve equality by encouraging both genders to partake as agents of change and take action against negative stereotypes and behaviors, faced by people with feminine personalities/genders.

Grounded in the idea that gender inequality is an issue that affects all people—socially, economically and politically. It seeks to actively involve men and boys in a movement that was originally conceived as “a struggle for women by women”.

The HeForShe movement is gathering momentum globally as a cohort of select leaders from both the public and private sectors join the drive and stand out as visionaries on gender equality.

On behalf of Standard Bank Group, Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala, has become one of the global “Thematic Champions” in the HeForShe movement. These leaders have committed to implementing game-changing policies and concrete actions towards gender parity.

“Achieving gender equity is a moral duty, a business imperative, and just plain common sense. Women embody half the world’s talent, skill and energy – and more than half of its purchasing power.

So every sensible business leader must be committed to achieving gender equity in their company and to contributing to gender equity in the societies in which we operate,” says Tshabalala.

Sim Tshabalala

@StandardBankZA will improve the representation of women in executive positions from the current 35% to 40% by 2021. #HeforShe Click To Tweet

In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Gender Gap report, it is estimated that it will take more than 217 years to achieve workplace equality after gender parity took a step backward in the past year.

Concrete commitments made by Standard Bank Group in order to bring about tangible change include:

  • Reaching parity in executive positions and to improve the representation of women in executive positions from its current 32% to 40% by 2023.
  • Lift the representation of women on the Board from 22% to 33% by 2021.

Standard Bank is also committed to increasing the representation of women Chief Executives in its Africa Regions network from 10% to 20% by 2021, while Standard Bank South Africa will improve the representation of women in executive positions from the current 35% to 40% by 2021.

While progress has been made in certain countries in Africa to close gender gaps, others remain behind the curve. Namibia and South Africa both score in the Top 20 in the WEF global report on gender equality – after closing 78% to 76% of their gender gaps – but Sub-Saharan Africa still displays a wider range of gender gap outcomes than practically any other region.

Launched by Emma Watson and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2014, HeForShe represented the first global effort to actively include men and boys as change agents for gender equality at a time when most gender programs were only targeting women.

The U.N. recently reported that nearly 20 percent of women surveyed said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the previous year. #HeforShe Click To Tweet

It was the beginning of a trend that only seems more relevant as stories emerge of sexual abuse and harassment suffered by women in the workplace.

The Sustainable Development Goals call for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, but campaigns such as the most recent International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women highlight that there is much work to be done.

The U.N. recently reported that nearly 20 percent of women surveyed said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the previous year.

Originally conceived as a one-year media campaign to raise awareness about the role of men and boys in gender equality, the HeForShe website garnered more than 100,000 male supporters in its first three days.

These males affirmed their commitment to the cause by declaring themselves “HeForShe” and saying that gender equality is not just a women’s issue. Early adopters included a clutch of celebrities and politicians, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and actor Matt Damon.

Since then, 1.6 million men have signed up online, including at least one man in every country of the world, and its “Impact Champions” include the presidents of Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, and Indonesia, among several other heads of state. 

The issue has also been the subject of 2 billion conversations on social media.

But HeForShe is not without its critics. Many in the gender equality community say they would like to see the movement make more concrete demands of its male champions, and have called for civil society to play a greater role in developing and monitoring the movement.

“Now is a good moment for reflection and discussion about HeForShe, which has achieved high visibility, clear successes, and also drawbacks,” said Gary Barker, co-founder of Promundo, an NGO working to engage men and boys for gender equality, which has advised the HeForShe campaign since its launch three years ago.

“Having that amount of reach and star power on board means there’s huge potential, but we need to harness it before the movement loses momentum … [and] we need to push UN Women to go further and ask more of men,” he added.

Johannesburg : 9th October 2018.


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Webinar with Chevening: How To Get Into The 2019 Chevening Scholarship Program (OCT 23)

Imagine yourself receiving a fully funded scholarship at your fave UK university that offers you a chance to achieve your academic goals and gives you the chance to develop yourself professionally or network extensively?

Guess what? Chevening is bringing you a chance to realise that dream and more with their global scholarship award program!

Want to know more?

We are inviting you for a Webinar with Jibike Faborode, Program Officer at Chevening Awards, who will be dishing out tips on how to apply for a scholarship with Chevening on Tuesday, 23rd October.

This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss ’cause you sure won’t find any of Jibike’s tips on Google! Yes, we went there…

Join SLA & @UKinNigeria for a webinar on October 23rd at 4 pm to learn how to get into the Chevening Scholarship Program @cheveningfco! Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • What you need to know about the application process
  • Do’s and dont’s for writing a quality application
  • Preparing yourself for a successful interview process
  • Scholarship troubleshooting

Register below to access this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Jibike to answer.

Webinar Details:

Date: Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Time: 4pm Lagos // 5pm Joburg // 6pm Nairobi

Location: We’ll send you the link to watch once you register

Watch the webinar here:

About Jibike

Jibike is a project management and strategic engagement professional, with over 4 years of experience working in the public diplomacy and international development space. She currently serves as the country programme officer for Chevening in Nigeria and also as Co-Chair of Her Majesty’s Government Women’s Network in Abuja.


Chevening Awards is the UK government’s flagship global leadership programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations.

Young leaders are awarded merit-based scholarships and fellowships to study at any UK University of their choice, after which they are required to return to Nigeria to assist in the further development of their home country.

The alumni network is structured to maintain lasting positive relationships with the UK and help to advance foreign policy objectives.

Approximately 38 – 53 Nigerians and about 300 Africans are awarded are awarded annually. The Prime Minister recently announced an additional 100 awards for African leaders, starting in the 2019/20 cycle. Chevening in Nigeria aims to grow the representation of women on the programme from 39% to 50%, hence women leaders are strongly encouraged to apply.

Banke Ajayi is encouraging men to stay handsome with her skin and hair care brand – Ahjayee

Banke Ajayi is the founder of Ahjayee – a skin and hair care product for men. She studied Electrical/Electronic Engineering as her first degree. She later did an MSc in Financial Engineering and most recently an MBA focusing on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Her career started in Technology then she moved into Investment banking where she currently works as a Risk Consultant.

In this interview, Banke talks about how she developed her brand and dived into entrepreneurship.


Where did your obsession for skin and hair products come from?

My journey in skin and hair care started over a decade ago when I couldn’t really find hair products in the market which worked for my hair but I wasn’t sure how to fix this problem.

Growing up my mum also mixed different oils into the hair products she bought and I and my sisters’ hair flourished under her care.

Honestly, I kind of forgot about this but it all came back when I happened to pass a store which used natural butter and oils for their products.

I actually saw some oils my mum had used. From then on I was hooked, I watched videos, researched online, attended courses and started making natural hair and skin products for family and friends.

I studied sciences and engineering which I think helped in understanding the “chemistry” part of this journey. As we used these products, we found our hair become healthier, creams worked better and best of all, we knew exactly what we using.

 What motivated you to launch Ahjayee?

People asked why didn’t I start this as a business, but back then starting a small business was not as accessible as it is now.

I carried on researching and mixing, then about 2 years ago, I started seriously thinking about starting a business. My main motivation was to create a range of products using the best nature has to offer, which do what they are intended for, where every ingredient plays a part in delivering results for the person using them.

This was the first part, the second was to create products in which the customer played a huge part, products which fit into their lives easier.

The products had to be of high quality, and customer feedback is an integral part of product development. Without the customer, there is no business.

Why did you decide to focus on male products only?

I was talking to a male friend and he mentioned how he felt there wasn’t a lot out there for him in terms of products he could use which were simple, easy and just functional.

This was a light bulb moment for me. What if I could create a line exclusively for men, but not just a product line but one which gave men a little something special daily.

Many conversations later, some more research and Ahjayee was born in 2017. Our aim, to bring a touch of luxury to his everyday routine with quality, effective and easy to use products.

 Do you plan on branching into women hair and skin products too?

Not at the moment but certainly something we wouldn’t rule out. That said, some of our products are unisex. Such as the skin cream or face serum, and we have seen quite a few women who like the more woody or earthy scents who buy our products.

 Tell us about your products. Which is your favorite? 

The range includes Face & Body, Beard & Shaving, and Hair products. All their ingredients are carefully thought out and add a function to the overall product, cutting out anything unnecessary. Our products are all natural and free from any nasties.

Our tagline: “Be your own handsome” encourages men to spend a little more time in taking care of themselves.

Picking a favorite would be very difficult as each one was inspired by different instances or needs so all have a special place in my heart. 

Where are your products made, and who has access to them?

The products are made in the UK and can be delivered worldwide. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

 Why did you choose your last name (Ajayi) AhJayee as your brand name?

This came about one afternoon during a car ride. I was talking with my friend and her sister who does branding, we were discussing logos and my vision for the brand, then my friend says – why not a play on your name.

We spelled it out phonetically and it just seemed to work. The rest they say is history.

 Have you experienced any challenges since inception? And how did you overcome them?

I would say the first challenge was balancing my 9-5 with Ahjayee. The trick has been to understand you can’t do everything at once. Therefore,  my to-do list and daily can-do attitude have been key to managing both.

The second has been marketing and PR, I have had to pay a lot of attention to this as it is a new area for me.

It has been a really interesting journey and I have learned so much and still learning. I had to take additional classes and speak to people who have been through this, all in all, I am loving the process.

 Where do you see Ahjayee in the near future?

I hope to continue to grow and get new customers, getting valuable input from them which will allow us to give them better service and products.

 When you’re not testing or mixing creams and soaps, what are you doing?

I love running, cycling, walking and traveling to new places. When I am keeping still, you will normally find me reading.


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