This woman-led startup bets it can help African businesses grow faster

As Sub-saharan Africa lags behind in the World Bank’s 2020 ease of doing business report, one woman-led startup thinks it can help entrepreneurs grow their companies in this tough environment.

After years of mentoring startups and running businesses in Ghana and Nigeria, Munachim Chukwuma started IB Consulting in February 2019 to help founders overcome operating challenges she also had to face as a young entrepreneur.

Munachim and her team believe they’ve found the recipe to help African business grow quickly with their innovative and affordable service model.


"Never have a business with NO business structure" #RedFlag – @consultingibobo Click To Tweet

Why Nigerian startups are struggling to grow.

According to experts from Harvard University, startups that want to stand the test of time must learn new ways of operating and behaving. This is difficult for a lot of entrepreneurs because these new ways tend to be completely different from their start-up roots.

Most startups struggle to grow and scale either because they do not know how or lack the proper structure and strategy. This is where we come in.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

IB Consulting believes that African entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses must realize they are in a different phase of their business life cycle, and therefore must change.

IB Consulting’s growth recipe for startups.

To help entrepreneurs struggling to scale, Munachim and her partners created a service model that combines strategy consultation, negotiation, and content creation.

IB Consulting bets its 3 service tentpoles are what entrepreneurs need to grow faster despite the difficulty of doing business in Africa.

We decided to focus on strategy consultation, negotiations and content creation as a company because we realized most of the challenges most businesses face in today’s society are tied to those three areas in one way or another.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

In addition to its unique service model, IB Consulting promises clients efficiency, personalization, and great service.

Why you should watch out for IB Consulting.

In less than a year, IB Consulting is proving it is not just all talk. The company reports that since February, it has helped over 10 business owners rebuild their structures and execute action growth plans.

It’s also not just about the money for this company this woman-led company. They have done some pro bono work for new entrepreneurs who could not afford to pay for some of our services.

In 2020, the company plans to expand aggressively to reach, help and educate help businesses across Africa.

We intend to grow over the next year of business and reach more people across the continent, as we also reinvent our business and launch more products that can meet the needs of our prospective clients.

Munachim Chukwuma – Founder, Ibobo Consulting

Visit https://iboboconsulting.com/ for more information on how IB Consulting can help your business.


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SheaMoisture Spotlight On Award-Winning Midwife: Tolu Adeleke-Aire – CEO ToluTheMidwife

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Tolu Adeleke-Aire

Tolu Adeleke-Aire is the CEO and founder of ToluTheMidwife.

She is an internationally trained, dual-qualified healthcare professional. Tolu is an accomplished senior midwife and nurse. Tolu has over ten years of clinical and management experience.

She completed an MSc in Healthcare Management, after which she worked with the reputable UCL (Department of Nutrition).

Tolu founded ToluTheMidwife to create a holistic experience for families. One that included preparing, supporting and empowering expectant parents as they transition to parenthood. She does this through evidence-based health education.

One parent at a time, Tolu is living her business mantra, “save a mother, save a child, save a community.”

To learn more about Tolu’s business and connect with her, visit her Website, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions, how did you start?

I started ToluTheMidwife Healthcare Solutions (officially) in 2018. The aim is to prepare, support and empower expectant parents as they transition to parenthood through evidence-based health education.



Birthing a baby is a life-changing experience,and services rendered must offer a holistic approach. – @ToluTheMidwife Click To Tweet

At ToluTheMidwife, we offer Antenatal Classes, Postnatal Classes, exclusive “With Woman” services and Dads Antenatal Classes #DadsAntenatalNg.

Through effective health education, we can influence a positive change in health behaviors. This will drastically reduce Nigeria’s maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

We truly believe that informed and empowered parents will Save a mother, Save a baby and Save a Community.

What was your motivation?

While still working in England, I visited Nigeria often because I always wanted to move back.

So during one of these visits, I read an article about the atrocious maternal and neonatal mortality rates. I instantly became obsessed.

That article made me struggle to understand why so many women die just because they are having a baby. On further research, I noted many women lack basic evidence-based health education.

As a result, I created Tolu the Midwife to fill this gap, with the hopes of saving mothers, babies, and communities.

What makes your brand stand out?

I would say our dads antenatal classes, #DadsAntenatalNg. We are the first to incorporate antenatal classes for dads in Lagos and possibly Nigeria.

Society expects men to understand the beautiful yet challenging changes that happen to women during pregnancy. To support their partners in labor and in the postnatal period.

All that without being taught, educated, informed or even supported.
This is grossly unfair, drives men away and generational patterns are subconsciously repeated.

Our holistic approach covers the transition to parenthood right from conception for both men and women.

Another thing we do is offer our couples, round the clock online maternity support through our exclusive “With Woman” packages.

Couples feel very reassured knowing there is a midwife available to answer all their questions and alleviate any anxiety or refer them to the hospital (if required).

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

1. Time management: I had a demanding full-time job and was starting a business in Nigeria.  It was very challenging and I found no matter how hard I tried, the “naija factor” would disrupt my plans.

I am currently working part-time, as this gives me enough time to focus on building ToluTheMidwife and The Maternity Hub (Nigeria). 

I am also able to attend various courses which have been extremely helpful in building my brand.

2. Funding: I was unable to secure a personal space as I had planned and this threw me out of sync. I froze the plans I had for the classes for a while.

However, I am currently leasing spaces as required for my classes (pay-as-you-go) and this is working out really well.

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

As a brand new start-up, we are trying new and exclusive services such as dads antenatal classes and baby massage classes and evaluating the response we get from our clients.  

We also constantly monitor maternal needs and trends.

Do you have a personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

I didn’t consider the third party factor and it left me devastated at the start of my business. 

As an example, I write the handbooks for the classes and have them updated throughout the year.

I gave the first book to a printer and I didn’t receive them on time for the very first class. It made me upset because when I did receive them, they were not fit for purpose.

So when I updated the books again and sent them to the printer, I monitored every single step to avoid a repeat of what happened before.

It was a really helpful learning experience for me because as a startup, I can’t afford to have a stain on my reputation, so I take all the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself.

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

I would say being able to make pregnant couples feel informed and empowered about their pregnancy, birthing options, and postnatal care. Most of them report feeling less anxious and worried because they know we are one call away.

They also ask the midwives and doctors to complete all aspects of their antenatal check-up. The women have their personal antenatal handheld notes, so they keep track of the important numbers in pregnancy.

All in all, I have been able to support more parents and help them become more informed and prepared to welcome their children to the world.

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

My major goal is to add new services to ToluTheMidwife. This is partially completed but we would love to regularise the frequency of the classes.

We are also working hard to open The Maternity Hub. A one-stop hub for maternity, with services from conception to 6 weeks postpartum.

Can you share with us three interesting facts about yourself?

I am a real foodie and funny too, so you’ll usually catch me chilling and laughing.

Another interesting thing about me is that I prefer a good movie and company, over living it up in the clubs and bars on a Friday night.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA sponsored by SheaMoisture?

Absolutely ecstatic. SLA is an awesome platform for amazing African women.

To have our services featured on your sites, sponsored by SheaMoisture is truly an honor.


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


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Top 5 ways a Diverse Workplace can Help Companies Thrive


Leading companies know that having a diverse workplace and culture is the key to boosting employee morale.

As the workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, workplace diversity becomes harder to ignore. Companies are beginning to see its importance and are beginning to embrace it.

What you need to know about workplace diversity…

The word ‘diversity’ connotes different things. It could be age, gender, race, color or even culture.

A diverse workplace represents an inclusive company. It is important to the employers that employees feel like they make a significant contribution to the organization using their unique qualities.

If organizations want to improve their competitive advantage, they must learn to manage a diverse workforce.

A diverse organization creates a positive image for businesses as it shows inclusivity and equal employment opportunities. 

Here are 5 benefits of workplace diversity…Read more Click To Tweet

1. Increased exposure

A highly diversified workplace comprises of people from different culture and backgrounds.

This gives room for increased exposure as employees learn from each other.

2. Innovation

Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. You can never run out of ideas when you have a diverse team.

Why? This is b Juditecause they all bring something to the table. Having different cultural backgrounds means the way they think differ; the beliefs that shape their thoughts are not the same.

This vast difference, even between gender breeds innovation.

Creative concepts are born out of each one offering a solution or suggestion. People from different backgrounds have different experiences and perspectives. This leads to creativity. 

3. Grows the organization’s talent pool

Embracing diversity means you’ll attract a large number of candidates from all walks of life. These are people well versed in different diverse skills set and knowledge.

As the number of candidates increases, the chances of finding a suitable candidate will increase too.

4. Employee retention

Who doesn’t want to work for a company that embraces diversity? They don’t discriminate but accept employees from all backgrounds. In the long run, this promotes quality and boosts the morale of the employee.

5. Employee performance

The chances of being happy in an environment that is open and inclusive are higher than one which isn’t.

Employees are more likely to feel comfortable, happy and safe in an organization that embraces diversity. This boosts the confidence of the employee as they feel confident in putting their best.

The higher your employee’s morale, the more productive he or she is.

Organizations who have a range of employees enjoy the benefits of having a broad skill set and experience. All of these gives the company an advantage over others. 


Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.

Navshika Beeharry: Adding accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa

Navshika Beeharry is a British-Mauritian blogger, speaker, and interculturalist.

She shares her experience of volunteering overseas and advocates for intercultural awareness to be at the heart of charity and aid efforts to improve foreign assistance in the motherland.

In this article, she also provides consultancy for sustainability advice, strategy development and/or content creation.

Shika, as she is fondly called, believes it is important for NGOs to develop empowering stories of self-managed income/resources to challenge the mindset that success derives from external donors as opposed to the people themselves.

In 2015, when she returned home from a volunteer placement in Tanzania, she founded “Becoming Africquainted” as an initiative to candidly recounting the life-changing memories she made, including some difficult observations of when Western intercultural communication goes badly wrong.

Since then, it has grown into a platform of its own that provides discussion and resources to all aspiring volunteers or expats, encouraging them to undertake their service overseas responsibly and respectfully.


Shika on Intercultural Awareness

For Shika, intercultural awareness is an unmissable step that any foreign volunteer must be willing to take to better know their own cultural limitations and how to healthily navigate new ones.

However, this must be reciprocated by host communities within Africa too, by ensuring they take responsibility for their own narrative and how they wish for it to be told and remembered long after any volunteer exchange has ended.

It will take time to help visitors to form new associations of Africa they see, but the benefits to sewing two-way intercultural connections are fruitful and increasingly necessary for the prosperity of the interconnected world we live in.

Volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built – @Shika_Bee Click To Tweet

To be a successful foreign volunteer, Shika believes it begins with an understanding of yourself / skillset and a genuine desire to be of service to someone. Such a person is often thought to be self-sacrificing with care for their wider community and an unrelenting passion to contribute to a cause bigger than themselves.

However, to be able to add accountability and value to foreign volunteering efforts in Africa, one needs to;

1. Have a good knowledge of the country and organization whose aims you would like to champion.

Each summer in Africa, this ‘higher cause’ has all too often displayed itself as ‘saviourism’, ‘privilege’ and ‘Western ideas’ – to name a few.

What usually begins as a selfless summer trip quickly manifests itself into self-serving behavior when culture shock takes over, conditions become unfavorable to live in and personal expectations are not met.

These circumstances fuel a type of instinctive desire to fix things that do not exist ‘back home’.

Though the intention may come from a good place, the means by which it is executed becomes misplaced and frequently results in misunderstanding and conflict.

Why?

A lack of intercultural awareness. A large number of young people in the West – diaspora included – are conditioned into thinking that volunteering overseas is a worthy extra-curricular life experience or a means of personal development.

These reasons are problematic because they refer to an underlying tone of personal gain that volunteering is based upon.

The emphasis is rarely ever to learn about culture itself – something which really should underpin any healthy volunteer exchange.

2. Acquire traits that enable you to observe, recognize, perceive and positively respond to new and unfamiliar intercultural interactions.

Some markers of intercultural awareness within international development are:

  • Humility – being receptive to, and accepting of, new and unfamiliar situations
  • Patience – in recognizing that positive outcomes take time to reveal themselves
  • Humanity – acting humanely with a trusted concern for the community being served.

These traits are not something we can quantify or expect anyone to learn quickly in a crash-course.

But volunteer exchanges can be measured by the quality of relationships being built, along with their participation and respect for our cultures once they arrive.

One indication of this lies in how well volunteer behaviors are recognized and reciprocated by the communities which they serve.

3. Volunteers should be given guided self-reflection time.

This is to serve like one-to-one inductions in a paid workplace where their observations and experiences are discussed to foster a dialogue which enables them to explain their realities so that they can be better understood.

Doing this not only prevents them from distancing themselves from problems they see by claiming ignorance, but it also provides a space for healthy goals to be set, contributions to be assessed and accountability to take place.

This is important to help redefine the negative African post-colonial perceptions that many foreign volunteers have unconsciously grown up with.

After all, what better way to rewrite the story than if told it ourselves to those who do have a desire to listen, by virtue of visiting the continent first-hand?

A good start for non-profit-organisations is to offer their own guides into standards of behavior that outlines an interpretation of volunteer ideas and expectations during their stay.

This formalizes the process whilst mitigating the risk of volunteers unhelpfully referring back to their (often biased) perception of problems and methods of solving them.


Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.

How Tamiko Cuellar monetized her gift and launched her business

Tamiko Cuellar is the CEO and Founder of Pursue Your Purpose LLC, – a global coaching, consulting and training firm for emerging entrepreneurs, corporate intrapreneurs, and leaders.

She spends at least 6 months each year traveling throughout the continent of Africa where she speaks, coaches, and trains leaders, entrepreneurs, students, and women.

In addition, Tamiko was appointed as a mentor to emerging entrepreneurs in Africa as part of the Tony Elumelu’s Entrepreneurship Programme in 2016.

Tamiko has been a guest contributor on Forbes, The Huffington Post, amongst other publications.

In this article, Tamiko shares with us her journey to becoming a smart boss lady, and how she’s helping ladies on the continent do the same.


What made you decide to launch your own business?

There were multiple catalysts that compelled me to launch my own business I had survived three rounds of layoffs (retrenchments) at my corporate job in the United States as a result of the 2008 economy.

My job was becoming more stressful and adversely impacted my health, and I was only given a $700 bonus after helping to acquire a $30 million client for my company.

Besides all of that, I felt that my potential was being stifled and I was not fulfilled.

I then decided to monetize my gifts and skillset on my own terms, by launching my business to help other women transition from corporate and grow their businesses.

On your journey to becoming a Smart Boss Lady, What are some exciting things while launching your business?

Since there weren’t many coaches that were doing what I was doing when I first started, I looked for as many existing coaches as a template and tried to emulate them.

I later realized that it was my uniqueness that caused my brand to soar internationally.  I would encourage aspiring and emerging boss ladies to harness what’s unique about you.

That’s your sweet spot. People don’t need a clone. They need you to show up in your authenticity

“My uniqueness has helped my brand to soar internationally. Harness what's unique about you, that's your sweet spot.” – @PursueurPurpose Click To Tweet

What are some of the common problems entrepreneurs hire you to solve? 

The most common problems that women hire me for are helping them to narrow their focus, defining their target market, creating/refining a brand that attracts their target market, and also how to sell and make money consistently

Established larger organizations usually hire me to develop their leaders.

Why did you choose the business name – Pursue Your Purpose LLC? 

My company’s name was birthed from a common answer to a question that I would often ask people, which is, “What would you be doing if you could do something other than your current job?” 

The answer was always something different than what they were currently doing! Then my follow-up question would be, “Then why aren’t you doing that?” 

This was usually followed by a blank stare because people didn’t know why they weren’t getting paid to do what they love. It was then that I realized that most people that are working are doing what they have to do rather than what they want to do.

I’ve mastered a system that creates entrepreneurs who get paid to do what they love and I simply coach others on how to profit from their God-given purpose.

Tell us about your experience working almost exclusively on the continent of Africa.

 I absolutely love it!  I am called to Africa. The Africa I see is very different than the Africa that is portrayed in the media. 

Africa is rising

It’s ripe with potential because the majority of the population in many African nations is very young (ages 15-25) and emerging leaders are going to be at the helm of solving Africa’s problems very soon.

Someone needs to develop and train these emerging leaders.  I also feel a deeply personal and cultural connection to Africa being an 

African-American women of the Diaspora who can also bring a high level of skills to the continent that I’ve acquired in the States.

Who is your dream client/partner? 

First and foremost, my dream partnership would be with SLA in some way to build capacity in its community of professional business women from a global perspective.

As a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management in the U.S., I also love working with Universities throughout Africa on entrepreneurship curriculum development as well as being a guest lecturer to business and entrepreneurship students. 

Additionally, I love working with agencies and the Ministries of Trade & Industry to teach sub-Saharan African businesses on how to export their products into the U.S. duty-free. 

Lastly, I love training corporate leaders and HR managers on how they develop innovative entrepreneurial thinking in order to be on the cutting edge of what the rest of the world is doing. 

I would love to do more of these three types of training and coaching.  I’m very open to being contacted by your readers for partnership and speaking opportunities throughout Africa.

What’s the most exciting project you’re currently working on? 

I’m very happy to say that my fourth book, “Cultivating An Entrepreneurial Mindset” should be out by the fourth quarter of 2019. 

This will help thousands of aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs both inside and outside the classroom to develop the right thinking that leads to having successful, profitable and sustainable businesses. 

My calendar for 2020 is filling up quickly with organizational partnerships, speaking and training opportunities with universities, corporations, and government agencies throughout Africa, so I welcome as many strategic alignments as my company can accommodate.

I am also adding new Global Brand Ambassadors to my team all over Africa who are highly influential and can help us impact more people.


This article was put together by Lungiswa Mzimba

A ‘Maternity Leave’ Revolution is taking place on the continent

The topic of parental leave in Africa is a commonly contested issue that is brought to question time and time again. In many parts of the continent, actual maternity and paternity leave are non-existent. 

Distiller giant, Diageo have made a huge step in a positive direction regarding parental leave by being the first large scale employer in Africa to provide their staff with six months paid maternity leave and four weeks paternity leave on full rate pay in all their markets across the continent.

Diageo made this announcement in conjunction with their move to increase parental leave in their Western and Asian markets as well.

This is a big step in the corporate world given that very few (if any) employers in Africa are permitting six months of paid leave – which makes it easier for women in the workplace to be both mothers and have a career with little stringent time complications.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) states that 80% of women in Africa and Asia are deprived of maternity leave. In terms of paternity leave, the numbers are even lower with only eight countries out of 54 giving fathers more than a week’s paternity leave.

This debacle has made it difficult for African women who are/want to be mothers to progress in the workplace because it forces them to choose one or the other but never both.

SLA contributor – Diana had a sit down with HR director of the Diageo Africa division, Caroline Hirst, and Clemmie Raynsford, Head of Market Communications to learn about the steps taken and reasons for making such an empowering initiative come alive. 


Why did Diageo decide to do this now as opposed to say 2 – 4yrs ago?

Caroline: We have been really progressing on the gender diversity perspective, we’ve worked really heavily on representation on a leadership level and in every aspect of our business and in particular generally where women are underrepresented.

That has been really successful. However, we have recognized that the gender diversity agenda can’t just be about how many people of which gender you’ve got doing what things.

It’s much more a breakdown of stereotypes, how do you create an environment where everybody can succeed, that’s really our aim.

I was really keen to bring this policy in Africa because I think you can be forgiven for thinking that the gender diversity agenda is all about enabling women in Africa to do what men do which is not the case.

It’s about all of us think differently about how we work together and so having this shift around parental leave and particularly the shift around paternity leave across Africa has not only given men more benefits and women too but it’s also got people talking about the diversity agenda as something that’s relevant and a means to change for everybody.

Clemmie: It’s about us being a supportive employer and saying you can take more time with your family.

With the beverage industry being such an old fashioned industry, most of our big breweries in parts of Africa took it positively commenting that it’s a really pioneering step that’s actually saying we are an employer first and we care about our people and giving them the right to the environment to do their work in the best way possible.

If they need to be at home they can be and have their family and have that balance.

As a working mum, what does this new initiative by Diageo mean to you and your family?

Caroline: I was fortunate enough that when I had my children, the UK legislation already allowed mothers to take up to 40 weeks off.

When I had my daughter and took 6 months off leave, the main consideration for me as the primary bread-winner in my household was how would I afford to take that much time off?

When I had my son, I took a year off, most of it being unpaid so I feel that if this policy was in existence then, it would have made a lot more financial sense.

This new policy will make a difference for women across Africa. I also hope that more men will feel welcome to take the 4 weeks paternity leave and spend time at home with their families.

One of the things that we are seeking to do in our business is to make it okay for anybody to be a parent as opposed to it being something that only women can talk about or experience fully.

Clemmie: I think what’s great about this policy is that not only does it take the financial pressure off which probably is sort of 70-80% of the main factor.

But also, in saying that your company will give you full pay for 26 weeks off, it’s also saying that slightly the company is expecting you to want to and is absolutely fine with you taking that extended period of time off.

It’s the combination of being allowed and your employer saying – we support you and we know that you have a family, this is a crazy new stage in your life so not only will we help you financially but here is some extra time you most likely need.

The feedback from a lot of our African markets included people just suddenly feeling that sense of support that never existed before.

It has been very positive from our various East and West Africa businesses.

Why can’t fathers get the same amount of time off as mothers do?

Caroline: In the future, we could look at a possible potential for that.

Our intention is to create an environment where men can be fathers. And we think that moving to four weeks paternity leave whereas before in most markets it’s usually just two weeks or less, signals a progressive step forward.

We have operationally a few constraints around how we would extend that to six months here where the majority of the workforce is male, but aspirationally, would we like to change that in the future of course.

Image by Wayne Djokoto

Do you think this move will eventually result in a more motivated employee/worker?

Caroline: We definitely hope so. I guess it is part of a broader package that is contributing to an environment where everyone can do their best work.

And we think that everybody can do their best work when they are treated as a complete human being, when their home life is respected and when we enable people to make choices to have a fulfilled life.

Clemmie: I think that is the main point of the policy. We feel it is quite pioneering in where we are taking it around the world but equally, it is just one policy and there are many within a business that are designed to support people around our values and how we think people should be treated.

You can see that specifically in the female empowerment space. This policy has become a game changer for a lot of people who want to have families or are thinking about having another child etc.

To add to Caroline’s point – it’s got to be more than a policy, it’s got to be how people are feeling in the workplace and how they go through experiences with their line managers and their colleagues and with other opportunities.

When handling maternity/paternity breaks in your various establishments, do you include an additional labor cost or do you look at it as a way of scouting for new talent?

Caroline: Any policy has a cost, but this hasn’t been a discussion which has been driven by cost, it’s about who we want to be as an employer at a global level and some things are worth spending money on – this is something worth spending money on.

Plus we feel that the benefits outweigh any cost in terms of the retention of people, the attraction of people and really the living proof in one more manifestation of who we are as an organization and what it means to work for us, so yes it is a cost but it is worth it.

How do we handle workers not being around?

When you have those gaps, you have the opportunity to give other people more experience and more learning opportunities, so we see that as a definite opportunity and it can be managed in that way.

In Diageo, we are a company that invests very heavily and at the simplest level we believe that people learn the most and grow the most by doing different things and therefore maternity or paternity leave naturally creates an environment/opportunity for someone else.

We are also committed to the notion that when people go out on maternity leave and they leave a job, they come back to their job. We’ve not had a reaction where anybody thinks it’s insurmountable and certainly, if you look across Europe where longer maternity leaves have been mandated for many years people still manage it fine with no qualms at all.

Have you ever had an experience where the employee came back from maternity and couldn’t handle the work/mom life balance and didn’t perform as well as she used to?

Caroline: When you come back from having a baby, your life is different. From my own experience, I came back to a new job that demanded more time from me for travel and the like, so it was a massive change in my working environment and it was the hardest in my professional career.

I doubted myself and I had to work really hard to find a way to be a mum and to also do my job.

In Africa, it’s really the same kind of balance struggle, we all have to find our own way of reconciling those different life aspects.

We try as best as we can to be considerate and to give people permission to do what they need to do to cater to what is a huge transition in life.

What we don’t want is for women to feel that they have to be superhuman, which is kind of what we tell ourselves as women that we have to do to manage everything at once.

We try and sort of humanize our workplace and have people share their stories so that other people feel that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.

We also encourage men to tell the same stories and to feel that they can also do those things. It is important to have an environment where people can talk about their home life, and that counts for men and women and we are certainly trying to work towards an environment of gender parity. Our intention with all of this change is not just about women but it’s for both genders to progress in both their professional and personal lives.

What do you envision for the future of parental leave in Africa?

Caroline: We really hope that it does encourage other organizations to think about that provision.

This policy is generally trying to create a discussion on how men and women work together and gender stereotypes and what does a progressive business look like… so hopefully it’ll create more of debate beyond should we be spending money on parental leave.

Caroline Hirst, HR Director, Diageo Africa

Historically, the approach that we took here in Diageo is we had benchmarked other companies and markets in Africa and Diageo’s aim was to be better than the market, but we decided to take a break from the past and said forget the market because the market wasn’t going to get us anywhere, let’s focus on what do we think is right, let’s do that and everybody else can follow.

Clemmie: The onus is really on us now because when we announced it, the focus was on making sure everybody internally really understood because this is primarily for our employees and it’s important that they feel good about it and about the fact that they work for a company that is thinking about this and about them.

Now the onus on us is to make sure that people like Jane Karuku (our MD in Kenya’s EABL); when they’re out attending major events, that they are referencing the kind of progressive stance that we as Diageo want to take.

It’s not about a policy and a cost, it’s about a culture that is making your employees happy and to want to do great work because they have the flexibility and the support that they need, so the return on investment is exponentially better.

There is a bit of work to be done in making bigger awareness of this change and this initiative around Africa, and hopefully it does get more people thinking and gets African businesses to fully understand that it’s not just a large international company that can afford this but they can as well and they can see what the benefit is from an employee engagement and activity perspective.


This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.

WANT TO BE A BETTER MANAGER? KEEP THESE 3 THINGS IN MIND

Being a boss babe leader and managing others is not easy.  I remember when I was first starting off as a manager, and I had to make my first hires.

I overthought everything.  

I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but at the same time, I wanted to get the most out of the people I hired. 

Here are three basic statements I kept in mind when reflecting on my ability to engage and mobilize anyone working with me.  

They are useful to think about whether you manage one intern or twenty individuals.


1. Understand the goals and aspirations of each member of your team.

I used to think that I had to approach each member of my team the same.  I would provide them the same information and respond to them in similar ways, expecting the same output from each. It did not get me very far.  

Each person needs to be treated as an individual. Understanding how each member of your team ticks will help you get the most out of them.

If you know how to acknowledge and recognize each member, you will know how best to motivate and communicate with them.  

With just a bit of work and understanding, you can get a lot more out of a team member, because you will be speaking their language. No two people are motivated the same way, so you cannot always expect the same result from different individuals.

If you are an employee…

  • Tell your manager what motivates you.
  • Tell them what you want to get out of your experience working with them and how you prefer to be approached.
  • If you are confused about your role or objectives, ask or show them what you think they should be.

They might not always listen, but you can at least demonstrate how self-aware you are. Some managers will appreciate it.

Those who don’t probably shouldn’t be managers.

2. Each member of your team knows what you expect, and where they are in terms of performance

I was notorious and continued to have issues with communicating what I want from others.  Even when we think we have done an excellent job, we usually have not.

Making sure each member of your team understands their place (even if it changes monthly) is key to making sure you are getting the most out of them.  

They should be getting feedback from you regularly, and you should periodically inquire about making sure they are on the right track.

If they are not, its either you haven’t done an excellent job being explicit or the role does not suit them.

If you are an employee and your company has a formal performance review process, nothing your manager says during the performance review process should come as a surprise.

  • Ask for regular feedback and make sure you get clarity if you are confused.
  • Send your manager an email with what you discussed, even if its feedback, to make sure you both are on the same page.

3. You actively act on advice and feedback on how you come across to your team, and how you can be a more motivating leader

No one is perfect but spending a few hours a week on seeking and receiving feedback can make you a more effective leader.  

You can ask for input in various ways: informally at group meetings or formally through surveys. Take some time to read about different approaches to leadership and reflect on who you admire as a manager.

Write down the traits and feedback you want to embody and try them out. Want to check how you are doing? Continue to ask for feedback over time.

If you are an employee…

  • Ask your manager if you can give them constructive feedback.  
  • Think about what you can learn from your manager and make the best of the situation.
  • If there is something that doesn’t sit well with you, keep it in mind for when you have a chance to manage others.

How can you use these statements to make a change or move forward?

With each element, try to rate yourself.  I would suggest on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 meaning disagree strongly and 10, strongly agree.

Ask your teammates for feedback to help you decide where you stand.

For the statements you rate less than 5, you might want to spend some time thinking through how to bridge the gap.  You can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Where do you want to be?
  • What is the first thing you can do to make progress in that particular element?

That one small step you take can help you get closer to the leader you want to be and get even more out of your team.


This month of July, we’re telling stories about boss ladies breaking boundaries, and how you also can hit your #BossLadyGoals. Got a boss lady story to share with us? Click here.

Chioma Ogbudimkpa: On creating Redbutton and using Green Fashion to meet the SDGs goals

Chioma Ogbudimkpa is a certified project management professional who has served in different capacities and projects across 5 countries and different industries.

She has put in over 9 service years in FMCG, Consulting and Real Estate.

Chioma is also a sustainability advocate and a Green Champion. She has been actively involved in the ‘Going Green’ Initiative from the YALI Network since 2015.

She started her entrepreneurship journey with the launch of her women’s wear label, Redbutton in 2017 to explore her creative side.

Following this, Chioma has received a seat at the table of various local and international platforms; she is a ‘She Leads Africa’ (SLA) Accelerator beneficiary of 2017, a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and the winner, Creative Business Cup Nigeria 2019.

She will be representing Nigeria at the Global Creative Business Cup in Denmark this July. She’s also an alumnus and beneficiary of the Nigeria Creative Enterprise (NICE) program 2019 powered by the British Council.

She has a Bachelors in Project Management Technology and a PGD in Strategic Management & Leadership. Chioma loves to cycle and play scrabble at her leisure time.


There are several ways to stand out. Look around you, look inside of you, talk to people that have the capacity to help you discover new territories – @chiomaredbutton Click To Tweet

What led you to fashion at the beginning and what led to the switch to sustainable fashion

My mum owned a fashion house back in the 90s, that’s where and when I started to sew, sketch and play with fabrics.

I found that I was always stitching something (till date..lol), my mum’s tailors were tired of me because nothing they make for me stays the same. I loved to experiment and add my own touch here and there.

It was fun and engaging so I continued on this path up until I started working in the corporate space. I made my work clothes and sometimes, people wanted me to make clothes for them when they realized I made the dresses myself.

It was extracurricular until 2016 when I decided to start the business properly. I enrolled in Martwayne fashion school while I was still working, just to get a professional grasp of fashion designing and the business of fashion. Following that, I launched Redbutton in 2017.

Because I am a Green Champion, it was only natural for me to incorporate sustainability into my fashion brand. I started to research ways I can be green, while still maintaining fundamental design principles.

There are several ways I have built in ethical fashion principles in my processes, including using recyclable paper packaging, ensuring minimal waste, ethical production processes and fusing sustainable materials.

What are the possible career options here?

It’s quite evident that the Africa fashion space is experiencing the highest rave she has ever had, and doesn’t seem like it will decline anytime soon.

The demand and interest in the over $50bn industry have been incredibly progressive which also implies that there are tons of career opportunities, even in a sustainable fashion.

Some common ones are textile producers (in knitting, weaving, dyeing, etc). Even here in Nigeria, we are yet to scratch the surface in exploring our indigenous woven fabrics from different tribes.

We also have fashion designers, illustrators, machinists, thought leaders in ethical fashion (not very popular in Africa but there are) who are consultants, show curators, editors, etc.

Where do you see this line of business taking you?

Building a strong ethical fashion brand that promotes African craftsmanship and design innovation, and of course, a profitable fashion business that will birth several other ethical fashion advocates and workers is my overarching goal.

Our zest for color, patterns and the intricacy in our embroideries are phenomenal and it appears we are not exploring what we have enough.

This is what I want to project to Africa and the world by exploring eco-friendly materials and African art.

What are the challenges in the fashion business, and how do you manage them?

Production is slow and expensive. But I have realized through this journey that the process and result are far more important than the speed.

It’s also more expensive to run, because eco-friendly materials are not exactly cheap (more expensive than regular fabrics), meaning that your pieces will not be cheap.

But once you can properly project your value and find your target market, you will be just fine

You use water hyacinths for some of your products, why water hyacinths? What was the reception like at the UN?

It was just an experiment, to be honest, I didn’t expect that it will be this serious o..lol!

I was researching on sustainable fabrics, something different from our woven fabrics, I bumped into this social innovation enterprise who also up-cycles waste for furniture and home decor pieces.

I found that water hyacinths can be dried and woven into panels like our Aso-oke.

I said, ‘I never saw anyone try this out in fashion, is it even possible?”

The fact that it wasn’t popular in Africa drew me further into the research. I tested it and realized it could work but the dress will be dry clean only, no machine wash.

We are constantly exploring more eco-friendly materials we can fuse into our designs to create statement pieces.

Some of the water hyacinth pieces we fused with Adire were showcased at the 4th UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi and received resounding acclaim from assembly members and delegates.

We were published in the Kenyan dailies and featured on the UN Environment news updates. Between April and today, we have shipped over 50 pieces to the US and UK, following the contacts made from the UN event.

This is a testament to the fact that, even though our designs have the African aesthetic, they are also globally appealing.

Got any advice for younger fashion entrepreneurs?

Some say the industry is saturated, well maybe in some context. But also remember it is growing incredibly and the demand is looming.

There are several ways to stand out. Look around you, look inside of you, talk to people that have the capacity to help you discover new territories.

You can tweak your strategy, innovate, and position your brand for opportunities that are strategic to helping you grow. Not just for fashion entrepreneurs, the journey is HARD, trust yourself and trust the process.

Look for strategic collaborations, that’s one of the easiest ways to gain traction. – @chiomaredbutton Click To Tweet

I still have feelings of self-doubt, but I constantly remind myself how far I have come and how possible my dreams are.

Where can we see, follow and support your work?

You can follow our updates and see our pieces on our website, and our Instagram handle is @redbuttonng.

To follow my not-so-fun and unstructured personal stories, my Instagram handle is @chiomaredbutton.


Kenim Obaigbena: on becoming a Media Mogul – woman in film

“I wanted to tell stories that matter”.

Kenim Obaigbena is a Nigerian-British-American filmmaker and entrepreneur.

With a background in fine art painting, creative writing, photography and photoshop editing, Kenim began her film career in 2007, now she’s focused on her production vehicle OVG Media where she produces and directs films, documentaries, drama series and other scripted content for broadcast TV and digital media.

She was raised in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Togo, and the USA. She has lived in many cities around the world, making her both a true global citizen and a versatile filmmaker.

At the age of 15, Kenim founded Scoop Magazine with her two sisters, the teen publication was distributed across Lagos, Nigeria. While she formed a lucrative business in three years, she decided to focus on her studies and attended Tufts University.

At Tufts she discovered her love for filmmaking and spent her summers interning for music video directing legends Chris Robinson and Benny Boom as well as the production company Anonymous Content.

By her junior year at Tufts, she was producing and directing music videos for her fellow schoolmates and billboard artists like Timeflies and All Out.

In school, she also covered high fashion events like Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and global music festivals, including ThisDay Music Festival, which brought in pop stars like Beyonce and Rihanna. Graduating from Tufts in 2011, soon after the versatile filmmaker worked on big budget film sets, some including ‘Selfless’, and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’.

For several years, she produced live news coverage and documentaries for the 24-hour news network, Arise News, and worked on various projects with high profile global leaders, from former US Presidents Obama and Clinton to Nigerian President Buhari.

Kenim has dabbled in other business ventures from real estate investing, to tech and her pop-up bus service, Rainbow Shuttle.

Now she is focused on her production vehicle OVG Media where she produces and directs films, documentaries, drama series and other scripted content for broadcast TV and digital media.


Making a film is like starting a new business - Kenim Obaigbena: @ovgmedia Click To Tweet

Tell us a little about your background. Did you study filmmaking?

I studied communications and media studies. But I did start making videos in college.

I’ve been in film for 12 years and 14ish years in media. I’ve done every type of filmmaking under the sun, from News to music videos, commercials, Promos, docs, dramas, and even artsy film, you name it. Right now my focus is on docs, tv dramas, and features.

A few years ago, I came to the realization that I wanted to tell stories that matter. Stories that inspire a progression of nature in people. That could be a documentary, a sci-fi, a drama, whatever it is, it hopes to inspire people to be better in their lives.

Has filmmaking and storytelling always been your passion? How long have you been in the industry for?

I’ve always loved telling stories. I started young. My sisters and I started a magazine when I was 15.

I’ve also always done creative writing as a child. It runs in the family. When I was in high school I started taking painting seriously, it then evolved into photography and photoshop editing. But I wanted more so I moved into film. I’ve been in film for 12 years.

As a filmmaker, do you always have a full picture of what the story is going to be at the start, or does it reveal itself to you along the way?

It always starts out as a clear vision, but as I develop the story the vision can change, or become a more tangible version of its original state.

With documentaries, it’s a bit different. Yes, the story reveals itself along the way. But with a doc its important to be focused. Have a hypothesis and stick to it as much as possible.

Otherwise, you can easily fall into the trap of making a film for 10 plus years/.

Your recent documentary – This is Nigeria, highlighted Nigeria’s culture of corruption and election rigging. Why did you decide to investigate such a sensitive socioeconomic topic?

 In Nigeria the poor are invisible. They are neglected, underpaid and mistreated. I wanted to give them a voice. I also feel we live in a demokery, and more people in the media need to speak out.

People should be encouraged to vote for who they believe in and not who they think everyone is going to vote for. It’s the only way to make real change in this country.

What motivates you? How do you come up with ideas and stories to tell?

 Purpose.

My best ideas come in intense and vivid dreams. I give God all the credit for that.

In Nigeria the poor are invisible. They are neglected, underpaid and mistreated. I wanted to give them a voice - Kenim Obaigbena: @ovgmedia Click To Tweet

Besides -This is Nigeria, what other documentaries have you created?

At this stage, I’ve created so many for broadcast tv and youtube. I’m always creating digital content as well which you can find on my YouTube channel.

 How do you go about funding your films/ documentaries? And what advice do you have for others wanting to fund their projects?

 Keep making DIY content until you either create enough wealth to self-fund or get someone to believe in your talent and business structure (because every film is a business)  to invest in you. If you are creative and lack business acumen, partner with a solid producer that can bring in financiers.

I’m designing an online course that goes into the practicalities of independent filmmaking. How to get funding, how to make films on a budget etc.

I will announce it soon, but for now, I have a series on my youtube channel called ‘The DIY Filmmaker’, which also gives practical filmmaking advice.

With a lot of Nigerian women in film coming out to create and show their talent, do you think the filmmaking industry is still male dominated?

Yes and no.

When I started out in Hollywood in Los Angeles, my experience was quite sexist. It was a boys club, and even the few black men and women allowed in were walking on ice.

I’ve never been one to think because I’m a woman I can’t do this or that. I generally don’t see gender or race. That’s just how I was raised. So I didn’t really understand why they wouldn’t allow me in the “clique” until recently.

It took me understanding the nature of the film industry to overcome this.

Make sure you hire the right people for the job they occupy and ensure they are all equipped, efficient and positive - Kenim: @ovgmedia Click To Tweet

Firstly…

Film is generally a very cliquey industry. It’s not easy to get into people’s crews. Over time I have learned there are a lot of reasons for this.

At the end of the day making a film is like starting a new business. Literally, people often register a new LLC or LTD for their film.

As with any business you want to make sure you hire the right people for the job they occupy, and they are all equipped, efficient and positive. Aspiring filmmakers aren’t often experienced enough and you can really only take on so many interns.

So it wasn’t necessarily because I was a woman, that I was often not allowed into the boys club, but because I wasn’t part of their clique. And being a woman, especially being a black woman in America, it made initiation harder.

Secondly…

Regardless of one’s gender and race, as a producer/director you are an entrepreneur and you have to build your own team. So really I was wasting my time trying to fill in other jobs on those sets.

Ultimately you should not be looking for a seat at their table, you should build your own table and hand out your own seats.

Sure, not everyone wants to be a producer/director, and even to you, I would say find a way to build your own table. Find some up and coming directors and producers and attach yourself to them. So they call you for every shoot.

Honestly, if you offer your services to an aspiring director/producer pro bono, they will look at you as a co-founder of their career, and they will likely make you a part of their team in the long-run.

People are more loyal to their day ones.  But don’t just do this with one director/producer. Do this with as many as you can.

To conclude, yes the industry is male-dominated, but if you build your own pathway, it does not have to be.

Nigerian women in Nollywood have done this, and their movies are more financially successful than that of their male counterparts. It’s inspiring. 

What advice do you have for women filmmakers in general when starting their own projects?

 Focus on craftsmanship and expertise. Put in your 10,000 hours to become an expert. These days you can learn how to do anything on youtube.

Purchase gear, so that you can go out and shoot any day you wish. I go into more details about this on my online course.

The more you learn the more you realize you don’t know everything - Kenim Obaigbena: @ovgmedia Click To Tweet

 What are the top 5 skills every aspiring filmmaker needs to have? And what tools will they need?

    • Attention to detail
    • Willingness to learn. The more you learn the more you realize you don’t know everything. Be an open book and consume information and practical experiences.
    • Be honest and recognize your flaws and weaknesses. So you can hire or partner with someone else with strengths in areas you are weak in.
    • Have patience, but at the same time put your destiny in your own hands
  • Only seek advice from experts in a specific craft. Don’t ask your Uncle or aunt that’s a random businessperson what business practices you should use in film. Go on youtube or find a mentor with adequate experience.

 What’s next for Kenim? How do you plan to further grow your career and business?

 I’ll be creating more documentaries, more tv dramas, feature films, you name it!


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Cynthia Jones: From Banker to Baker

Cynthia Jones born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She worked as a banker at some of the most reputable banks in Zimbabwe, some of which are Banc Abc and Nedbank, until she found her passion in 2006, which is baking.

She never took qualifications in baking or culinary art, rather, she studied Marketing at the University of South Africa. Cynthia is a mother of 2 boys, and she holds 2 awards with Megafest Business Awards held in Zimbabwe.

In this article, she shares her experience switching careers and learning to manage a diverse team.


How you did manage to switch careers?

It was hard moving from full-time employment as it meant without fail I had to succeed or my family wouldn’t eat.

I started off with part-time baking after work and weekends, and because I love baking, I wanted to do give my all, and I gave myself 5 years to make it work and if it didn’t I would go back to full-time employment.

It’s 6 years to the day I left employment and I am happy I did. Now I do what I am passionate about and get paid for it too. I bake for all occasions and have also started teaching baking as well and specialize in cake art.

What are the Dos and Donts’ of transitioning

To do: 

  • Do what you are passionate about and give it your all.
  • Do a SWAT analysis of the business you want to do first.

I knew baking was for me because it calms me. I can wake up a 3 am and still enjoy doing what I do

Not to do:

  • Don’t just jump into a business because it worked for someone else
  • Don’t expect someone to do it for you. You have to be there 24/7 for the business to work. Not just delegating.

How did your prior work experience help in building your brand?

My experience as an employee helped me understand and appreciate the team that I have. Also, working in a bank was definitely an advantage as it has helped me understand my business and be able to manage and multi-task.

I am where I am because of the experience I got from there.

How have you managed to work with diverse teams?

I have grown up in a diverse community learning with people from all walks of life so it has been easy for me to deal with diverse culture.

My husband is Welsh (England). Which made me appreciate people from all over which helps me to able to deal with my clients and their cultural differences by doing so they appreciate my efforts.

Having worked in different sectors and finally finding passion in baking, what are your major tips to managing a diverse team?

Managing a diverse team is all about understanding the unique attributes that individuals respectively possess.

It is about taking note and recognizing contributions made by different people and understanding the different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, once a leader understands this, the work environment becomes conducive.

Here are some steps you can take to managing a diverse team: 

1. Make sure that your employees feel valued and included in planning which in turn leads to more contributions from them.

2. Getting to know each of your employees as an individual. Recognize each person’s unique talents and abilities.

3. Communicate with each employee and always giving back feedback.

4. Treat each of your employees fairly and equally.

5. Make sure that each person is participating equally on the team.


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