Beatrice Cornacchia is Mastercard’s Head of Marketing and Communication for the Middle East and Africa and the creative force leading the company’s brand strategy across the region’s 69 markets.
In this op-ed,she shares her expert opinion on the benefits of a woman-centric approach to business strategy.
As a marketer, I appreciate when creativity meets great insights and data to deliver an approach that achieves its objectives. As a woman, I also especially love seeing these kinds of successful activities share commentary on the way our world interacts with women, or shed essential light on how much of our world was designed without women in mind.
From Ariel’s powerful #ShareTheLoad campaign to Dove’s inclusivity campaigns, there are some fantastic examples of brands actively shifting the conversation to include women and expand on their contributions to the world we live in. But it’s not just about recognizing changing times or joining a social impact drive, it’s about much more than that.
By incorporating the diverse perspectives that women bring, championing female role models as ambassadors, designing fit-for-purpose products that meet women’s needs, and creating content that encourages women to pursue their passions, brands can effectively tap into the spending power and influence of women.
Take sportswear apparel for example.
We took note when Nike put the spotlight on tennis star Serena Williams through its ‘Dream Crazier’ ad encouraging women to dream big and aired a TV spot calling for acceptance and respect, featuring the tenacious South African Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya. These are just some of the prominent and provocative content from multiple brands that put women at the center of the conversation. The sports industry clearly understands the business growth opportunity that exists when we incorporate the true – not imagined – perspectives of women.
By drawing attention to the strength, unique shapes, and differentiated athleticism of women, and showcasing real role models in better designed active-wear clothing, the women’s sports apparel industry has done just that – tapped into a significant consumer base: women. How significant? According to the ‘African Women’ Ipsos Study, women represent the most significant consumer base — 89% of African women are the decision-makers or co-decisionmakers for household purchases.
When it comes to products and services, are we meeting the actual needs of women? Do we have insights that can help us incorporate women’s experiences into the design and innovation process? We must consider the functionality and practicalities of women’s interaction. In short, we have to help design and develop a world with both women and men in mind.
To do this, we need women to be part of the design and innovation process, especially in this age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to inspire young girls to consider and pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through initiatives like Girls4Tech. As part of this program, Mastercard has committed to reaching one million girls globally by 2025, including thousands in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.
So, what exactly is the value of a world that includes women by design?
In addition to the humanitarian benefits, it’s a considerable amount. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank estimates the loss in global wealth from gender inequality at $2.5 trillion. And while five Sub-Saharan countries feature in the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs’ global top 10 countries with the highest number of women entrepreneurs, the IFC says that more than half of SMEs in Sub Saharan Africa with one or more women owners lack access to finance and puts the financing gap at $42 billion. Clearly, there are huge opportunities for finance.
Global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman agrees. It estimates a global revenue opportunity of $700 billion is currently being left on the table by the financial services industry not fully meeting the needs of women consumers.
As a payment technology leader with global insights, Mastercard has invested significantly in understanding women’s financial priorities, and mapping out those priorities across different life stages. After all, a specific position in time often influences our need for specialised support and ingenious innovations – in sportswear as much as financial solutions.
Just think of the more than 10,000 female unbanked informal traders, street-side vendors, and township salon owners who can safely accept payments through QR code as a result of Mastercard’s partnership with uKheshe, a financial inclusion platform in South Africa.
Indeed, for the large population of excluded women, financial inclusion is about more than getting access to a bank account. It also means helping level the playing field for the women farmers who are growing Africa’s food, by providing access to buyers, pricing and speedier payments. It’s about hope for the future through financial payment solutions such as Kupaa – which facilitates school fee payments in budgeted amounts – increasing the ability of remote families to keep girls in school.
By making a conscious decision to integrate women’s perspectives into our business, marketing and innovation strategies, more women will benefit from solutions specifically designed for their needs. More companies will see revenues climb. More societies will experience elevated productivity. More economies will grow and thrive.
After all, a world that works better for women, creates limitless possibilities for us all.
In 2018, Black Panther solidified its place in pop culture as one of the greatest movies of all time. In addition to highlighting #blackexcellence, the movie also normalizes African women’s place in STEM.
If you are an African STEM woman, here are 5 reasons you should be proud of according to Black Panther.
1. You are Ingenious
Wakanda is nothing without its Vibranium, and no one knows how to leverage this special resource better that Shuri – the Black Panther’s sister.
Throughout the movie, we can see how Shuri’s inventions have helped the Wakanda’s advancement in technology. From Blank Panther’s nanotechnology suit to the sound-absorbing sneakers, Shuri’s inventions solved a lot of problems for both Wakanda and her brother.
Shuri should remind you of why you are a STEM Woman – to create, invent, innovate and deliver life-transforming solutions to the world. The next solution the world needs is in you!
2. You are Important
While the movie is not called “The STEM Women of Wakanda” (Marvel, we wouldn’t mind a spin-off), if you take away Shuri’s inventions, the Black Panther would be a very different film.
As a STEM professional, you may never get billboard-sized recognition you deserve, but that doesn’t make your work any less important. Your solutions behind the great things your organization speaks volumes about how valuable you are.
3. You are Emotionally Strong
For those of us, especially in engineering, we see ourselves in positions to exercise physical strength but how about emotionally? Angela Bassett was the perfect actor for the mother of our superhero. Queen Ramonda was an embodiment of strength!
Sometimes, we see our products or solutions come to life only to die a few months or years later. Many times, we even see our ideas die before they see the light of day. No matter the odds, we are wired to stay strong and not give up.
4. You Know Your Stuff
Shuri, the STEM Gem of Wakanda, knew her stuff. She could explain anything to you and knew the workings behind everything powered by Vibranium. You could never catch her off guard.
As a STEM woman, you prove your worth every day by dazzling all with the depth of knowledge you have. Take pride in your investments to improve yourself every day!
5. You are Multi-Talented
Not only was Shuri a tech guru, she was also a warrior. She did not opt to stick to her lab but got involved in what made her work valuable.
As an African STEM woman, you have a unique perspective the world needs. You have been blessed to do so much, you should never feel streamlined to stereotyped functions. You can always step into new vacant shoes and know what to do – because you can!
Are you a #STEMWoman? Share this post and tell us what you are most proud of accomplishing.
Sola David-Borha is the Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank. In this article, she shares her insights on opportunities in the Agriculture industry.
Motherland Moguls, you don’t want to miss out on this one.
Africa needs to make more food
With the world population expected to swell by 2 billion people over the next three decades, Africa has an opportunity to step up and become a major global food production hub.
For the time being, Africa remains a net importer of food, despite its vast tracts of underutilized land and other enviable natural resources. Its reliance on food imports weighs on the continent’s current account and spells a missed economic opportunity.
The adoption of modern and innovative farming practices could spur a step-change in the output of existing and new farmlands. The Netherlands, a country that is roughly 3.4% the size of South Africa by land area, provides a good example – being the world’s second-largest exporter of food by value, despite its size, thanks to high yields.
To shift the industry onto a new trajectory, a combined effort between policymakers, financial services firms and the industry itself will be needed.
What you should be thinking about
Financial services should consider how they can facilitate the sector’s growth by providing sustainable finance solutions across the agriculture value chain.
Investments in areas such as logistics, renewable energy, warehousing, and other storage facilities, agro-processing plants, and irrigation technologies will be crucial, as will public investments in road and rail infrastructure as well as ports.
Access to markets is also an important focus area, and measures to tackle this issue will boost the entire agricultural value chain.
Policymakers can play their part by creating an enabling investment environment, as countries such as Kenya have done.
To align policies across the continent, governments should consider existing frameworks. Regulations should be aimed at striking a balance between economic growth and safeguarding Africa’s natural environment.
Encouragingly, the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will lower tariffs and promote intra-African trade in agriculture, making the continent less reliant on food imports from other regions. And through cross-border initiatives, Africa could strengthen its food export prospects.
Standard Bank is funding African Agribusinesses
African states and farming groups would also do well to adopt ‘smart farming’ concepts. Standard Bank, for instance, in partnership with technology companies, has piloted projects that use drones to monitor the health of crops, and digital technologies to monitor and regulate soil moisture in order to save water by avoiding unnecessary irrigation.
Standard Bank is also working with development finance institutions and export agencies to develop sustainable finance solutions specifically for the sector. We are funding projects that allow small-scale farmers to transform themselves into contractors that supply commercial farmers.
An opportunity for African Women
Climate change poses a serious risk to Africa’s food security – and the world’s. The effects are already being felt – Tropical Cyclone Idai caused unprecedented damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi less than a year ago, while catastrophic droughts and flooding have affected South Africa and East Africa, among other regions. Currently, the devastating locust invasion in East Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia specifically – is threatening food security in the region.
Considering that agriculture already accounts for a large portion of Africa’s GDP, the impact of climate change on the economy can be severe.
Another risk is that the expansion of Africa’s agricultural sector will place more strain on the continent’s water resources, which need to be carefully managed. The adoption of advanced irrigation techniques is a good start.
Standard Bank recently partnered with the United Nations (UN) Women on a project aimed at developing climate-smart farming techniques amongst rural women. The initiative is being rolled out in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, and Nigeria.
While the sector’s future is not without its risks, it may well be Africa’s biggest opportunity in the coming decades. Being a major contributor to GDP and employment, the agribusiness sector is the continent’s most effective lever for achieving inclusive growth.
Standard Bank Group
Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets with a unique footprint across
20 African countries. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are
listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the
Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.
Bank has a 156-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise
outside southern Africa in the early 1990s.
strategic position, which enables us to connect Africa to other select emerging
markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and our balanced
portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth.
has over 53 000 employees, approximately 1 200 branches and over 9 000 ATMs on
the African continent, which
enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business
banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
earnings for 2018 were R27.9 billion (about USD2.1 billion) and total assets
were R2.1 trillion (about USD148 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at
31 December 2018 was R289 billion (USD20 billion).
group’s largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
(ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20,1% shareholding. In addition,
Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates
trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets.
How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?
Apply some Emotional Intelligence!
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.
Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:
1. Be self-aware
The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.
Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?
2. Listen Intelligently
Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.
Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.
3. Understand your clients’ personalities
Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.
Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.
Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.
1. Beyond the ‘bounce back’: take time for yourself
As a new mom, your postpartum recovery is about more than your body. Along with physical changes, you also deal with mental challenges like negotiating your identity. Your life is more than work and motherhood.
2. Lean on your support system: it takes a village
A big kudos to any parent who has ever had to do it with no support.
If you’re lucky enough to have people around to assist you, accept the help. Without husbae and my family’s active involvement in our tiny human’s development, I would not be as snatched with edges intact as I am right now.
Use some of your time away to hang out with grown-ups. Focus on nurturing your most meaningful relationships. If you feel a little bit guilty – it’s normal. On my first date night away from the baby, I constantly checked in with my mother-in-law. I eventually allowed myself to relax and enjoy the time out. So can you!
3. Filter out the noise: set boundaries
As a new career mom, you become privy to a lot of well-meaning advice that might not be right for you.
You must be discerning and accept only the advice you deem resourceful. Filter out the noise by setting clear boundaries.
4. Learn to trust yourself
To every mother, biologically or otherwise – you are doing great. Trust the process and most importantly, trust YOURSELF!
Ungazilibali is an isiXhosa (South African) word meaning ‘do not forget yourself’. It’s the word I think about when I’m faced with self-doubt and anxiety in balancing work and parenting. When those moments come, it’s important to have one go-to thought that reminds you of why you are a badass!
I think of my mother, grandmother (RIP) and mother-in-law, my role models. Remembering that I come from a line of strong women helps me re-center myself. They did a stellar job, and so can I.
Life as a new career mom is not a walk in the park, but if you can take time for yourself, lean on the support of people who love you, set boundaries and learn to trust yourself, you’ll be physically and mentally okay.
When all else fails, ungazilibali. Don’t forget (or lose) yourself on this journey!
Are you mentally exhausted? Get Peace Hyde’s free tips for fighting against the odds here.
Mariam is a writer and the founder of TheBookDealer.
Her prose has appeared in the Guardian Ng, Brittle Paper, Arts and Africa, ITCH Creative Journal and Litro Magazine UK.
She writes monthly articles for ArtxJuJu, a brand committed to challenging the demonization of African culture, which Mariam also co-founded
In 2016, Mariam had a major depressive episode that caused her to fold inward and spend a lot of time alone, and avoid people. Books were her only companion.
In each book, there was a new story with new characters whose lives were different from hers. She had the liberty to travel far and wide within a book. For Mariam, reading a book was a form of therapy.
In a bid to share that warmth with people, Mariam realized that the average Nigerian is faced with inaccessibility to books.
TheBookDealerNG is an online bookstore that provides access to African Literature. African literature because the only thing better than the warmth of a good book is a book that sees and validates your existence.
Dr. Rebecca Achokpe Andeshi
Business: Awe Farms and Consult
Dr. Andeshi is the founder of Awe Farms and Consult. A cloud-based digital platform that provides farmers in rural areas in Nigeria with instant financing solutions and veterinary services with the use of a drone for efficient disease diagnosis and delivery of veterinary supplies in remote livestock farming communities.
She was motivated to start her business because of the inability of smallholder farmers to afford high-quality input.
This has always been a pain point for her as a third-generation farmer. Thus discovering that farmers live on less than $1.25 a day was a rude awakening for her.
Dr. Rebecca now provides digital input financing to smallholder farmers in Nigeria from recycled agricultural waste increasing productivity by 33%.
Cynthia is a multi-award-winning textile designer passionate about eradicating extreme poverty using capacity development and entrepreneurship, by infusing old cultural practices and technology.
She learned the trade from her mother who used her Tie & Dye making skills to get her family through school.
Cynthia has been recognized as the top textile artist by World Bank & International Finance Corp as one of the Next African 100 startups for building a sustainable textile industry in Africa.
Cynthia’s desire to sustain and promote Nigeria’s cultural heritage and indigenous method of hand-dyed fabrics, uses this method to empower women and the empowerment is reflecting in these communities by creating a sustainable industry.
She wanted to help others like her mother get more out of life, curb unemployment and preserve the Nigeria cultural textile heritage.
Omoh is the founder of the Street Waste Company – a social enterprise in the environmental and waste management sector.
Their core focus is on waste recycling collection and waste upcycling training.
The company’s business goal is to encourage people to embrace a culture of waste reduction, reuse and recycle to attain a sustainable environment.
Her company also gives advisory services to corporate clients, collect recyclable waste and partner with organizations through their corporate sustainability programs.
Omoh’s motivation for starting the Street Waste Company was borne out of a passion for making an impact and creating a solution to the endemic waste problem around us.
Having studied environmental management at the masters level, she realized the basic solution to this menace is attitudinal. So she Co-founded SWCL where they encourage people to imbibe the culture of waste recycling through our incentive-based scheme.
INTERG brings to children the Fun and Learn Tablet.
This tablet comprises smart games with several stages of learning and engagement, providing an exciting new way to change the learning content as children grow.
In 2018, Tola volunteered to teach with an NGO to give back to her community. She realized how difficult and boring learning can be for the average Nigerian Child.
She spent a lot of time trying to find teaching aids online and eventually decided to create an app for mathematics, which was well-received by all her students.
Even though she was unable to create an app for all subjects, she had found a solution that she was determined to monetize. In many ways, INTERG is simply building a product that speaks to a historical problem with learning.
It is an innovative online platform that connects students with verified local teachers who deliver one-on-one lessons in any subject, skill or exam, to help students or learners meet their learning expectations and also enable passionate tutors to earn extra income.
As a little girl in primary school, Lillian struggled with learning and understanding in a class of over 40 students. Her aunt decided to take her to a personalized class.
This involved a peer to peer learning and within the shortest period of time, she emerged the best in class and since then has been an advocate of peer to peer learning.
This overwhelming class population density coupled with differences in student’s learning pace has resulted in a significant decline in learning outcomes of students in Nigeria over the past 10 years, reducing exams success rates from 40% to less than 20% in major exams.
Globally, conventional methods of education are transitioning from centralized to distributed, and from standardized to personalized.
This is why she created EduPoint, which serves as a solution that bridges the gaps between helping learners meet their learning expectations while improving the livelihood by providing employment for these professionals.
So far, they have delivered over 30,000+ hours of learning to over 100 learners directly and over 1000+ learners indirectly in Nigeria which includes K-12 children, youths and adults and has generated over $30,000 in revenue.
She was motivated to start after she realized there was a lack of convenient, healthy, and affordable food for the busy African.
Balance Bowl is a tech-enabled health and wellness company that offers busy Africans access to delivered meals, licensed dieticians, fitness coaching, as well as other healthy living content from the convenience of the mobile app.
Welima Tea is about transforming rich African medicinal recipes into teas that would combat different levels of pain ( menstrual cramps), promote well-being, and actualize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)Goal 3.
Nyemachi got the opportunity to do her pre-clinical rotations in The Gambia. 10-15 days every month, pains were the order of the day because of the menstrual cramps she suffered.
For a while, she thought something else was wrong because the pains were unresponsive to any medication prescribed.
This continued till her doctor suggested she research on alternative medicine and analyze it with her knowledge in medicine and that was how Welima Tea began.
Oyindamola is the founder of Simbi Interactives – an edTech startup that is solving the problem of poor education in Africa by using Simbibot.
Simbibot is an artificial intelligence-powered product- that can give every child access to quality education and equal learning opportunities.
Oyindamola Adesina’s childhood ambition was to study medicine, because as an individual living with sickle-cell, she felt she needed the medical knowledge to help herself and others living with the disease live better lives, and, if possible, eradicate it.
She ended up studying Water Resources, Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology in the university motivated Oyindamola to help every pupil get access to quality education and equal learning opportunities regardless of the conditions that might hinder them.
Oyindamola is using Simbibot to ensure that quality education available, accessible and affordable to all kids.
Safehaus-UKNigeria is a concierge service which provides working mums with young children thoroughly vetted staff to look after their home.
Cynthia was motivated to start Safehaus-UKNigeria as a result of the inability of her older siblings, their children, expatriates/investors to visit because of the insecurity in the country.
Safehaus-UKNigeria also helps expatriates and Africans living in Diaspora, with a trustworthy and security-conscious logistics service, so they can focus more on their business and less worry about their personal safety and security.
Oncopadi is Africa’s 1st digital clinic improving access to “medically verified” information and survivorship services via integrated social features.
Oncopadi is a health-centered initiative that leverages data, research, digital technology and impact of scale to reduce the cancer burden in Nigeria.
In Adaorah’s 4th year of medical school, she lost a friend to hepatocellular carcinoma, 6months following diagnosis.
She remembered feeling helpless, as she watched him become socially withdrawn and its effects on his family.
During her LUTH clinical rotation, even higher numbers of cancer mortality were recorded. It was in this pain Adaorah found the strength and purpose to pursue a career in Oncology.
As a grassroots cancer physician, she has learned that patients have sensitive topics surrounding their diagnosis & care which they preferred discussing with survivors, as many were misinformed and some just needed a less bureaucratic means to access their doctors.
Business: EduLead Concept
Ifeanyichukwu saw the need for children to learn more effectively and express their innate creativity and that is her driving force.
Her business is solving the problem of unavailability of animation training platforms, with which children could learn more effectively and creatively.
EduLead Concept is a company that provides Educational Technology Services to children in the nursery, primary and secondary schools.
Their core service is Animation Kids Club, an after-school training activity for primary school children where they are equipped with animation skills with which their creativity can find expression and also improve in learning.
The fourth industrial revolution (4th IR) has many of us in a bit of a tizzy! Because we either do not know how we can keep our skillsup to date in our various industry.
Or we are not sure whether we will have jobs once the full-on 4th IR movement takes over.
I would like to zone in on the financial sector, as we have seen cases of some big banks letting staff go in a bid to drive up efficiencies.
They also do this to give a customer-centric offering to their clientele and to meet their shifting expectations.
Gone are the days when your study designation has to be finance-related before you can get a job in the financial sector,
You can acquire both soft and critical skills in various other disciplines such as digital innovation, social media, digital marketing, communications, and PR.
In fact, the list is relatively exhaustive, a simple Google search should have myriad options pop out for you.
We are moving away from the era of traditional disciplines and working in jobs that require only one thing from you.
Now more than before, it works to your advantage to be savvy and knowledgeable in systems outside your focus area.
This not only makes you invaluable as an employee but challenges you to grow sis.
We are right on the cusp of digitization and the move for a business to be tech or digital-first, as more customers want to services rendered at the customer’s convenience.
Technological developments in the 4th IR do not necessarily have to translate into job losses and retrenchments in the financial sector, but rather encourage us to think about how we can collaborate and create better solutions to marry human activity with artificial intelligence.
As individuals, the following tips will ensure that not only do you remain competitive in your sector but that you are agile enough to move along with your organization as it expands and moves away from traditional modes of conducting business.
1. Never Stop Learning
You know that saying that says if you’re the most intelligent person in the room, move to another one?
You can never reach the point of ‘knowing it all’ continue advancing yourself and applying your knowledge base, even if it is through short courses. Stay learning, stay on top of your A-Game
2. Identify and Connect with Influencers in your Industry
Nothing beats learning from titans of industry. Identify someone within your business unit that you can shadow or learn on-the-job capabilities from.
This will put you in good stead should you want to take your shot at a different position within the team.
3. Show up for yourself.
Sis, be on time and put in the work. Most importantly, when you have gotten a seat at the table, make your voice heard, do not cower behind self-doubt or allow the dreadful imposter syndrome to cripple you.
Show up for yourself sis, be on time, put in the work. And most importantly, when you have gotten a seat at the table, make your voice heard, do not cower behind self-doubt or allow the dreadful imposter syndrome to cripple you.
4. Create a personal and professional development plan.
Ensure that you have your PBOB (personal board of directors) holding you accountable to keep on smashing those goals out the park!
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
Captain Kgomotso Phatsima is best known in Botswana for her pioneering work as one of the few women pilots in the country. Her career began in the military, and she diligently worked her way up to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.
Captain Phatsima’s work as a pilot and her passion for youth development led her to discover that there were very few girls who were adept at – or even interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, which are key for the aerodynamics space.
Not only are STEM subjects integral for becoming a pilot, or engaging in the aerospace industry, they are also essential for the development of human capital and the future of business in Botswana, Africa, and the world.
She founded the Dare to Dream Foundation (of which she is the President) in 2008 which deals with the advancement of youth, women and girls in STEM, aviation and aerospace as well as entrepreneurship development, with the intention to get young people interested in STEM-preneurship and the aviation and aerospace business.
When I was growing up, I never had the chance to sit like this with a pilot or get into an airplane until I had the chance to fly one.
After I qualified as a pilot, I sat down and thought: ‘What can I do to give the upcoming generation – especially those who grew up in a village, like me – an opportunity to do that?’.
I started Dare to Dream to give back to the community and to try and open up their eyes to opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.
On the ‘barrier’ to girls’ entry into STEM & traditionally ‘female/male-dominated’ subjects…
I will talk about myself and my own experience here.
When I told my parents that I want to fly and be a pilot, my mother said ‘In our time, a girl could never fly a plane. You cannot be a soldier!’
Sometimes it goes back to our upbringing and the culture. A girl must be domestic, and boys also have prescribed activities.
So we separate ourselves from engaging in these things. The same mindset goes on to say that ‘Some things are hard, and are only for men’, like piloting or engineering.
With some of our families, their backgrounds are what can hinder the involvement of girls in certain subjects and limit girls to certain careers.
But as the times and technologies change, and with other women and organizations such as ours showing that it’s possible, there is more of an acceptance that you can be and do anything you want.
Is Africa / Botswana in a good position to keep up with the world’s “breakneck’ speed?
I think so because the demographic dividend of the youth in Africa indicates that young people make up most of Africa at 60 percent.
I think that the whole of Africa is at a good advantage to participate in the technological changes that are taking place right now.
There are a lot of young people who are interested in technology. I also think that Batswana are in a good position to take advantage of what is happening.
We just need to channel the youth in the right direction to take advantage of the technological era, and prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the businesses of tomorrow, which will be different from the businesses of today.
How Botswana (and Africa) can prepare for ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)’…
In other African countries such as Rwanda, you’ll find that coding and robotics are taught in schools and they are part of the curriculum.
Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa stated that coding will be taught in schools. We in Botswana are a little slower in catching on to these developments.
At Dare to Dream, we partnered with Airbus to sponsor 1,500 students across the country in rural places and trained them in robotics in order to prepare them for 4IR.
It was also important that they know that there are careers in the aerospace industry that are STEM-related that they can take advantage of.
We are looking forward to partnering with the Ministry of Education, but there have been some delays, which I hope will be overcome in the future.
Dare to Dream’s most engaged stakeholders…so far…
We have engaged Airbus and also partnered with Botswana Innovation Hub, the University of Botswana and Botswana International University for Science and Technology – BIUST.
BIUST created an initiative to encourage young girls to get into STEM subjects because they realized that the number of girls applying for these subjects was low. They had called 100 girls from Central District schools to participate.
We form partnerships with organizations with the same mandate as us. For example, Debswana is interested in the 4IR and getting young people engaged in it, so we have partnered with them and they have assisted us to roll out our programs.
We have also done work with Major Blue Air, who own planes. The girls get a chance to get onto the planes, and I fly the children.
It’s not just about STEM, it’s about exposing the girls to new experiences and igniting the passion within them. There are other organizations doing work in the same area, and we are looking forward to also having them on board.
There is something very powerful about collaboration.
We have also recently partnered with EcoNet, who have chosen me to lead the Youth Development Programme in coding and entrepreneurship.
What we are doing differently is that we are teaching the kids how to code and build websites, but also entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We have enrolled the first 500 participants and we are starting in July this year.
The role Dare to Dream is playing in the conversation (and action!) towards Africa’s readiness for 4IR…
Even though we have trained 1 500 students, we realized that there is a gap with the teachers, and so we are preparing to train teachers in order to fill that gap.
After going around the country and doing work in 40 schools, I realized that the teachers themselves don’t know about 4IR, coding or robotics. Coding isn’t part of our curriculum at the moment; only a few schools have robotics kits, but they don’t know how to use them.
So, then we pulled in Debswana and other sponsors to train the teachers for a week at the University of Botswana. From there, the teachers will go back to their respective schools and train the students.
The goal is to have a national coding competition where all the students will come to Gaborone and showcase their projects.
How young African women can be a part of The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)…
SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.
Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.
She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.
SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.
SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.
About Tolu Adeleke-Aire
Tolu Adeleke-Aire is the CEO and founder of ToluTheMidwife.
She is an internationally trained, dual-qualified healthcare professional. Tolu is an accomplished senior midwife and nurse. Tolu has over ten years of clinical and management experience.
She completed an MSc in Healthcare Management, after which she worked with the reputable UCL (Department of Nutrition).
Tolu founded ToluTheMidwife to create a holistic experience for families. One that included preparing, supporting and empowering expectant parents as they transition to parenthood. She does this through evidence-based health education.
One parent at a time, Tolu is living her business mantra, “save a mother, save a child, save a community.”
ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions, how did you start?
I started ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions (officially) in 2018. The aim is to prepare, support and empower expectant parents as they transition to parenthood through evidence-based health education.
As an example, I write the handbooks for the classes and have them updated throughout the year.
I gave the first book to a printer and I didn’t receive them on time for the very first class. It made me upset because when I did receive them, they were not fit for purpose.
So when I updated the books again and sent them to the printer, I monitored every single step to avoid a repeat of what happened before.
It was a really helpful learning experience for me because as a startup, I can’t afford to have a stain on my reputation, so I take all the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself.
What impact have you made on your community since starting this business?
I would say being able to make pregnant couples feel informed and empowered about their pregnancy, birthing options, and postnatal care. Most of them report feeling less anxious and worried because they know we are one call away.
They also ask the midwives and doctors to complete all aspects of their antenatal check-up. The women have their personal antenatal handheld notes, so they keep track of the important numbers in pregnancy.
All in all, I have been able to support more parents and help them become more informed and prepared to welcome their children to the world.
What is your major goal for 2019, and what have you done so far to achieve it?
My major goal is to add new services to ToluTheMidwife. This is partially completed but we would love to regularise the frequency of the classes.
We are also working hard to open The Maternity Hub. A one-stop hub for maternity, with services from conception to 6 weeks postpartum.
Can you share with us three interesting facts about yourself?
I am a real foodie and funny too, so you’ll usually catch me chilling and laughing.
Another interesting thing about me is that I prefer a good movie and company, over living it up in the clubs and bars on a Friday night.
How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture?
Absolutely ecstatic. SLA is an awesome platform for amazing African women.
To have our services featured on your sites, sponsored by SheaMoisture is truly an honor.
You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.
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.