Joanna Steele: 2019, my year of return – from London to Equatorial Guinea

I was born in London in the 80s to Jamaican immigrants who arrived in the UK as young children in the 1950s.

My mum studied and worked as a nurse for the NHS (UK’s national health service) specializing as a midwife before becoming a health visitor. My dad was a Ph.D. educated engineer, physicist, and researcher working for MI5 (the UK government security and intelligence agency). He was also an Open University lecturer.

My early ambition was to be a lawyer. I began a Law degree at London Metropolitan University but discovered pretty early on that it wasn’t for me.

I changed to Marketing and Spanish with the ultimate aim of working internationally.

After university, I worked in a number of traditional PR and marketing roles and in the early 2000s, transitioned to a more digital focus.

More recently I have been making my mark within the UK digital retail space leading award-winning teams, projects, and campaigns.

I developed the content for the Mothercare (UK Mother & Baby Retailer) app – Winner of Best App at Paypal E-tail Awards – 2013 & 2014. I managed the social media team shortlisted for Best Social Media.

In 2017, I was a Tech50 Women award nominee which acknowledges emerging UK female tech talent.


“But I’m leaving London for Equatorial Guinea”.

Why Leave?

In 2014, I met my now fiancée –  a self-taught digital designer and animator who had worked for companies including Google and Amazon.

We would often get requests to design leaflets and websites – many from DRC and Angola where my partner originates. There was a clear demand for digital and design services but no-one local to fulfill.

My partner went to DRC to explore the market and landed an opportunity in Equatorial Guinea where he teaches animation at a local school, has built their website and is working on other marketing collateral.

Africa’s potential as a global leader in the world’s digital economy grows significantly every year.

A growing population, increasing internet penetration and mobile adoption, already goes a long way towards overcoming infrastructural barriers to digital transformation and connecting people and services online.

That’s why we’ve created Dimax – a digital agency helping businesses in Western Africa become more digitally focused to drive growth.

Relocating and establishing a business is exciting, but it is hard work - @MissSteele Click To Tweet

How am I preparing for such a big transition?

Here are my top 5 ways to prepare for a huge transition such as this…

1. Visit the region multiple times. Read, research and understand the cultural and business landscape. Upskill if necessary.

Current reads: “How We Made it In Africa” – compiled by Jaco Maritz &
“Africa’s Business Revolution – How to succeed in the world’s next big growth market” by Acha Leke, Mutsa Chironga and Georges Desvaux.

I’m also a student at the Oxford University Fintech Programme learning about how technology is disrupting financial markets.

2. Network. Get yourself known. I attend at least 2 networking events per month and am working on elevating my online personal brand

3. Get your finances in order. Reduce expenditure, increase passive income and have a plan for how your assets will be managed whilst you’re away

4. De-clutter – I didn’t realize how much stuff I had – most of which I don’t need or won’t be able to take with me

5. Focus on your physical and spiritual health. Your mind and body will be tested with all that you have to do, so step up your exercise and healthy eating regime.

What am I looking forward to?

  • Playing my part in Africapitalism. Driving financial returns and long term sustainable economic growth with social and environmental responsibility, education and community enrichment at the core.
  •  Living and working side by side with my partner in life and business
  • Sounds cliché, but the weather – anyone who has ever lived in London knows the struggle!

I will however definitely miss my family, friends and the fast-pace of London.

Looking to make a similar transition? Follow these steps…

  • Preparation is key. I’ve hired a business coach to help me plan and prioritize which has been so helpful because at times I get overwhelmed with what I need to do including holding down my day job whilst I’m still in the UK!
  • Be patient. You’re going to want everything to happen quickly – know that everything will happen when it’s meant to.
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable: No need to always know your next move. Whilst we have short, mid and long-term goals, we still don’t have everything figured out.  It helps not to overthink things. Once we made the decision to make the big move, things just started to fall in place.
  • Tell people about your plans: you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help you or connect you with someone that can.
  • Be flexible: Whilst I aim to be in Equatorial Guinea by the end of 2019, nothing happens before its time. Following my most recent visit, 

I have been invited back to host a workshop and participate on a panel at TegCampus – an annual tech initiative for young people organized by telecommunications company GITGE in May. So, I will be back sooner than I had anticipated. Watch this space!

Follow my journey on Instagram and read more about Dimax here: www.dimaxdigital.com


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What went down at Face Africa’s Annual WASH Gala – March 19′

Rewriting The Story of Africa through water. – Adebola Williams

The narrative of Africa is changing, and (we) the offspring are joining hands in numbers, working towards a better tomorrow for generations to come.

Africa has and always will be one of the richest places in the world with resources that can build many nations, nurture and develop talent in various sectors of life and most importantly provide clean water systems in every home and community.

Having clean water may seem like the most accessible thing that everyone should have in 2019, but unfortunately, it is a struggle that millions of people are still facing.

Like any math problem, the goal is to find the answer by solving an equation. Saran Kaba Jones’s answer to contaminated water in Africa is creating access to clean water systems for everyday people through FACE Africa.

Saturdays are usually for Aso-Ebi, headwraps tied in perfect origami style coupled with highlights, contour, and lashes that completes the ultimate glam.

Well, this Saturday was different. The African culture graced Guastavino’s with couture dresses, hand-stitched suits and ties made from fine textiles for the most prestigious event of the year, FACE Africa annual WASH GALA.

The WASH GALA was an evening that captured and honored voices that want to and are changing the narrative of what home really looks like and their trials and tribulations in home improvement.

FACE Africa’s keen eye to detail and prestige was felt from the moment people walked up to the stairs and through the doors of Guastavino’s.

Africa is home when you invest your mind and soul the journey is built brick by brick with our hands and not by the colonizers. FACE Africa’s journey to supply clean water started 10 years ago and of course, it was no easy task raising hundreds of dollars in the beginning to now raising millions in its 10th year.

There is power when we join forces to enhance our resources.

Aqua blue, forest green, these colors illuminated the entire venue creating the vibe of taking in the fresh air that trees provide and drinking crisp water through clean water.

What a feeling. This year’s WASH GALA honorees are Didier Drogba, Nomzamo Mbatha, Mr. Eazi, and Bozoma Saint John.

Nomzamo Mbatha

Rising Star Honoree Nomzamo Mbatha acceptance speech was filled with cries, laughter and the room responded with a standing ovation.

“The credit and the bragging is so different nowadays. It is not about what designers you have, or the different houses you may have across the world.

It is how many people that are on your payroll, and how many organizations we have started to make sure that the blood of our ancestors that were used as fertilization to grow the natural resource, and that the natural resource that we have as the African continent is not just the resources as gold or diamonds, it is us. Those that are scattered across the world”.

Nomzamo told her story in a room that felt like home because home is where her heart lives.

We all come from different sectors of the continent, some experiences different from others but we share a common fight, developing Africa.

Adebola Williams

Adebola Williams CEO of RED Media and WASH Gala Co-Chair touched on many successes on the continent such as three major banks in Nigeria having women as chairman and President Sirleaf paving the way for women in politics.

But still, many women face challenges and are slowed down by fetching water when this energy can be put to good use by doing other things in society.

Williams continued by shedding light on new millennial problems in the world. Back-aches and hands aching him from long texting, but Africa is still dealing with about two million water-related diseases.

Bozoma Saint John

A room full of advocacy, people who want to do better for our continent. We were reminded about the importance of voice by Bozoma Saint John CMO at Endeavor and WASH Gala Voice of Change Recipient.

“Once you have been silent, you have been forgotten, it is important to use our voices to change the narrative”.

Bozoma demonstrated what it meant to lead by example and using her voice for change and impact by sharing the stage and honorable moment with her daughter Lael Saint John.

Didier Drogba

Like the good old saying “If not us then who” exuded the room by Didier Drogba who was WASH Gala Humanitarian recipient. Drogba was unable to attend the gala in person due to an emergency in Côte d’Ivoire but left us with a beautiful video message.

“It is our responsibility to bring awareness and change in Africa. Water is life, so invest in clean water for the community,” he said

Caroline Wanga

Caroline Wanga, Vice President of Human Resources at Target Corporation and WASH Gala 2019 keynote speaker commended all attendees in the room and noted that “Guastavino’s ain’t neva have these many Africans in here before”.

For those that know the upper east side of New York City, the upper class and diplomats fill the area where the average rent is $2500 –  $3000 a month, just imagine how much hosting an event on that side of town would be.

Wanga key points were the importance buying and labor market, “ Africa Immigrants are the answer to developing our nation, rent to pay, Louboutin’s to wear, outfits to make, either way, someone somewhere does not have clean water”. Wanga also implored everyone in the room to “Get this Shmoney” and invest in Africa.

Every day is another opportunity to be better and do better, technology has increased the number of collaborations between people and spreading awareness to causes at a fast pace.

I can just imagine the impact and change that will occur between now and five years with FACE Africa clean water initiative. We are definitely on our way to a clean and thirst quenching society.


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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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Erika Atienza: From solo backpacking through Africa to becoming a Digital Entrepreneur

This is not a success story of a freelance solo backpacker who became a digital entrepreneur. Not a story of someone who went from nobody to become somebody.

This is a story of someone who used to live life passively, without a purpose other than to make it through the day okay, until finally realizing a dream, then realizing she can fulfill that dream, and eventually going after it.

This is a story of how I finally came to understand a lesson I’ve heard many times over – That there is nothing in this world we cannot accomplish if we really put our heart’s desire into it.

And it all started in Africa.

Erika shares how she became a digital entrepreneur and founded @whileinafrica by moving from the Philippines to backpack and volunteer through Africa. Read more... Click To Tweet

First, the Travel Bug…

I had a typical life with an 8-5 job and everything about my life was “okay”. It’s not bad at all. I was fortunate but I was definitely not living life on the edge.

But after being able to travel to a foreign country alone for the first time,  I had an epiphany that I wanted to see the world. Since that trip, it was just never the same for me. That night, I finally understood what passion meant. And mine was to see the world.

And so after 2 yrs of over-planning and some modest savings that were definitely not enough, off I went. I left despite the doubts because if I waited for the “right time”, I was afraid it wouldn’t come.

Buying my 1st and only backpack

Why Africa?…

I was choosing between South America and Africa and somewhere along my research, I found cheaper flights to Tanzania. And that was really the main reason why Africa ended up becoming my first solo backpacking destination.

Also, I thought it was exotic and I wanted to prove to myself that I can pull it off. Indeed, I was able to visit other African countries as well for the next few months.

Budget Problem. No Problem…

A few months before my flight, I looked for volunteering opportunities and ways to travel cheaply. I searched workaway for hosts but there’s really nothing in there that I found interesting.

Couch surfing community in the cities I wanted to visit seemed dodgy and everywhere else, there was only voluntourism.  A little deeper into my research and I had an “AHA” moment. I learned that safari tourism is big in Tanzania. In fact, all over East and Southern Africa.

I did marketing in my previous job so I’m familiar with the whole concept of “Ex-Deal”. Hence, I emailed every one of them in a personalized manner, introduced myself like a pro, and offered to help in their marketing in exchange for food and accommodation.

A few days later, I received another milestone in my backpacking career, someone actually replied and took me in.

And so, with my heart full, I went to Tanzania and for the next few weeks, I was staying at their office helping them out with marketing while combining it with tours here and there.

It was the perfect way to get to know the culture and experience the local life, just my kind of travel! I worked with Gosheni Safaris in Tanzania and experienced the local life

From Freelancer to a business owner…

After I left, my “boss” kept emailing and texting me about the things I have started while working for him. I carried on to politely help them and after some time of consistent demands, I had another “AHA” moment.

I presented the best opportunity they can ever imagine… that I work for them remotely.

They were thrilled with the idea and we came up with a fair price that later on increased to a modest amount that funded most of my travels. This idea fired me up and I basically traveled for the next 2 months in Africa, either looking for volunteering opportunities or trading off my skills.  

I continued to travel for a couple of years more doing the same thing until I finally decided to slow down a bit. As I had a lot of free time now that I wasn’t all over everywhere, I decided to take it up a notch and find a few more clients by emailing them and advertising myself.

Eventually, in 2018, I took another major step and built my own website, made everything official, and registered my humble digital marketing service.  

It’s worth mentioning that until this time, the same company in Africa where I first volunteered is still a client and they have passed on a lot of referrals to me ever since.

Looking back, I think the thing that made all the difference is that I always did my best while serving my volunteering time.

Even though I was not getting paid, even though I know I wasn’t going to work-volunteer for that company for long, I gave it my best shot and I always try to have fun. And it paid off in better ways I can imagine.

So always, always do your best. This is how you make impressions and build connections. A lot of opportunities can open by simply putting your best foot forward at all times.

Good times and shots with friends in Nairobi, Kenya.

Here are some lessons you can learn from my experience…

1. There’s no one right way to do things

You don’t need to have a big capital to start your own business. Especially in this day and age, even a kid can become an entrepreneur, all you need is creativity and courage.

In my case, the right dose of luck and creativity allowed me to build a modest lifestyle of being able to work from anywhere in the world and where I was able to combine my skills and passion.

But there is no one way right way to do things.

The first things to ask yourself are:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What am I good at?
  • What are my potentials?

Then try to think if there is a way where you can combine the two. The possibilities are endless!

If like me, you’re a born traveler but stuck at a job you semi-hate, set aside some time to find clients through Upwork or another online network, and save up until such time that you can quit your job and plan a life of travel around it.

If you travel first and then just find anything to earn money from, not capitalizing on your skills… It will be really difficult for you to sustain it.

Doing what you love will allow you to meet new friends and make your life even more colorful.

There’s no such thing as bad luck, only excuses - @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

2. Don’t be greedy, but know your Value

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally. When I volunteered, it didn’t matter that I was not getting paid at all.

Had I been greedy and negotiated for compensation on top of the free meal and accommodation, the turn out of things may have been different.

After seeing how I worked, they understood my worth and that gave me more than enough leverage to negotiate for what I thought I deserved.

At the same time, they trusted me even more, which added to their confidence in trusting my business not only in terms of skills but attitude as well.

If you follow your passion and build skill around it, income will follow naturally - Erika @whileinafrica Click To Tweet

3. Just go for it and the universe will conspire to help you

I first came across this statement in Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”, years ago, and it stuck with me since. It sounds so cheesy but even after evolving as a person and having a change of perspective many times. I have always believed this because IT IS SO TRUE.

If you put your energy and focus into something you are passionate about, you can indeed move mountains.

4. There will always be doubts. Welcome them with open arms

No one is born a master of anything. Sometimes we doubt ourselves and fail so we can stand up and learn new things every day. That is simply the nature of life.

Without those, there is no life to live.  I still get insecure if I’m fit to deliver the service I’m selling and then I talk to potential clients who have no clue what to do with their marketing and I realize that I actually have a lot of things to share and they find it very helpful.

We were born in a society where success is defined in comparison to others, an unfortunate recipe of society. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Don’t let it be that way. We are successful if we achieve peace, content, and happiness in the things we love to do. Even more successful if we can feel the same joy for others too, regardless of gender, race, or religion.

Me and my husband, Martin, on a weekend trip while living in our previous home in Cyprus, with our friends from Russia, and our favorite all-purpose cloth (shuka) from Kenya

 I’m Asian and I’m married to a European, yet we put up a business for African tourism and blog about our travels because we fell in love with this continent and now consider it as our 3rd home.

Who knows how long I can carry on being a digital entrepreneur, maybe in a few years time I’ll decide to become a musician, perhaps a painter, or maybe I’d prefer to settle down as a housewife, and that is okay.

But for now, I’m still a backpacker, I still travel cheap, and definitely not rich (financially). But I found my purpose and I’m living my dream. And that’s more than I can ever ask for.

So ladies, do yourself a favor and get out of the box and let the world see what you’re capable of.

Find and live your passion and tell us your story.


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3 ways to network in the diaspora

With the current online social media landscape, there is no excuse for not having a social network of people that you interact with and get inspiration from.

It is becoming increasingly important to have a social network of people who you can get feedback from, especially if you are an entrepreneur or are running a business in the African diaspora. Understand that it is important to keep the contacts in your network up to date because people often move from place to place.

There is a myriad of social media networks that can be used to build your network of potential business partners or mentors that you may need to get to the next level of success.

On the other hand, there is always the old school method of going to workshops or conferences to build that network of support as well.

Attend Local Conferences & Networking Events

One of the ways for creating a networking relationship in the diaspora is by attending conferences or workshops where people who are interested in similar things as you are meeting.

For example, there are Black Hair Expos that meet annually for people who are interested in all things concerning black hair.

These expos and conventions make it easier to start networking with people who have similar interests and helps in keep that connection going by attending those conventions annually.

Having a business card that you can exchange with people at these gatherings can be useful and a quick way to exchange contacts. Although it may be more difficult for people who live in the diaspora to attend such workshops and conventions, there are other ways of creating and building your network for potential future partnerships.

Esther Manuela- Shem at the Women’s Day Event

Use the Social Media Toolbox

Social media is now one of the most utilized tools for building a network. It is a crucial tool for keeping your network organized and up to date.

One of the more popular networks, Facebook, offers the convenience of having both a personal profile and a business page. With this feature, you can separate your more casual social media network from your business and professional network.

Other social media networks such as LinkedIn are tailored for business networking.

This makes it easier to navigate your network of people who are connected to you in a more business relationship or partnership. For people like me in the diaspora, social media is vital in helping us to connect with people who far from us in distance.

The opportunity to have a webinar or a “Google Hangout” to share ideas and discuss issues makes social media a handy tool.

Keep Up with your Network

In the diaspora, people in your network are prone to change location frequently. This can often make it hard to keep up with people and plan meetups.

The challenge in keeping up with people in the diaspora is that people are not always online at the same time due to time zone differences and other factors.

This becomes a challenge especially when you need to communicate or discuss a potential future partnership or need confirmation on a business deal in an instant. A good way to combat this challenge is by having a set time or schedule of contacting your network online and being consistent with it.

Most people check their messages after work or early in the mornings. By sending messages or jumping on a call with your network of people at a certain time every week. This makes it easier to keep up with the network.

Overall it is important to have an active social network while living in the diaspora. It can be helpful for building a business and having a network of mentors to communicate with


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WAMBUI GICHOBI: On a quest to travel the world with her project – #Adventure197. (49 countries down)

Wambui Gichobi is a visual media producer based in Nairobi, Kenya with Survival Media Agency. Over the last 8 years, she has produced short films on issues regarding adaptation and mitigation for environmental degradation and social justice issues.
While working with SMA, she is currently trying to travel to all the countries of the world with her project Adventure 197. She is currently on country number 49 and hopes to cover continental Africa by road.
 
Wambui is an Environmental Science graduate from Kenyatta University, Keny, and a keen environmentalist with a specific interest in climate change and media for climate change. For the entire time of her career, she has followed the yearly international climate negotiations creating media with SMA yearly for environmental awareness.
 
She has been at the forefront of environmental activities in Kenya, initially heading Sustainable Africa Youth Foundation (SAYF) in university, which promoted environmental awareness and tree planting, especially in schools. 
She has also worked for the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Wines Agencies Limited (KWAL) in the Quality, Safety, Health, and Environment sector.

Tell us about #Adventure197. What was your biggest motivation to start this journey to travel the 197 countries?

Prior to my decision to start Adventure197, I had traveled previously on work assignments.

In 2017, I read an article about Cassie De Pecol, who was the first documented woman to have traveled all the countries in the world.

Further research showed that they had been no black or brown person who had traveled all the nations in the world. Adventure 197 was born of the need to travel the world as a black person and show the world that it is possible for a black person to accomplish the same.

The visa processes are much more challenging while traveling with a Kenyan passport as compared to other travelers i.e. with American or European passports.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world.

How do you believe travel impacts you as an individual and a professional?

Travel has impacted me in very many ways.

As an individual, I have been able to build my confidence through meeting and interacting with new people and sharing our stories. Traveling solo teaches you to have fun by yourself and to bond with others.

It has also taught me time management. Prior to the start of Adventure197, I was always late to meetings and appointments. Being responsible for my own flight schedules, train rides among other details has taught me to be time conscious and manage my time effectively.

I have also learned to measure growth by the clarity of progress. Traveling to different countries is very quantitative and there is no grey area in the number of countries you have traveled.

This is a measure I have adopted in other areas of my life whether emotionally, financially, etc. It is important to be clear on the position you are at any particular point in life in order to measure your progress.

Having to fund my own travels have also taught me how to manage my own finances. I have to learn how to get the money I need and plan for all my expenditures and be financially stable while at it.

People and cultures differ from one place to the next and it is important to learn and take note of the important cultures of the place you are visiting. Additionally, I have also learned financial management in terms of what jobs to pick up as there is always a need to get more income for my travel.

Travel has impacted me in very many ways - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

How do you manage work and travel at the same time?

When I traveled my first 14 countries, I held two jobs where I worked an 8-5 and also worked with Survival Media. I would schedule my travel to coincide with weekends and or public holidays.

In other instances, if my job with Survival Media required me to travel, I would apply for leave days at my 8-5. Most of my travel at this period was work-related.

When I made a decision to start Adventure197, I had to quit my 8-5 job. I currently work with Survival Media. The job is purely on an online basis and I will, therefore, go where the job takes me.

This has created flexibility in my schedule as I can work and travel at the same time.

In the first leg of my journey, I worked while I was in the United States at St. James, Louisiana, and also covered the caravan moving from Honduras through Guatemala in Mexico to the United States border.

Some of the benefits of my job are that I can pick up jobs from clients whenever duty calls or when the need arises. Once the job is done, I can then pick up from my current location and continue with my travels.  

As an environmentalist, you have purposed to offset your carbon footprint as you travel around the world, how do you intend to undertake this?

I am an environmentalist by profession and have been passionate about the environment from a very young age.

Through research, I discovered that most of my travels via air or trains would be very carbon intensive and I would have to offset as much of my carbon footprint as I possibly could.

I try to travel green as much as possible and in cases where this is not possible, I will try as much as possible to offset my carbon footprint. Cycling is one of the most effective ways of traveling green and this was very easy in the Eastern European countries where cycling is a huge part of their culture.

In addition, I have to be a mindful traveler which means traveling to countries close to each other thus reducing the distances covered by air or train and also avoiding plastic straws and Styrofoam packages.

My biggest motivation is to prove that it is possible for a person, male or female, to travel the world - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

This is quite challenging especially in countries that package their food in Styrofoam which means that I have to research and try to find restaurants that will serve their food in plates rather than Styrofoam.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint. I have set to offset my carbon footprint through the planting of trees which I started before I started Adventure197.

I have partnered with schools and individuals on tree planting projects. In my former primary school, I partnered with the school to plant mango and avocado trees on their land. I have also planted about 200 trees on our family land and over 1400 trees in a parcel of land that belongs to a friend.

I also plan to plant at least 1000 trees in Kirinyaga before I set out on the African leg of Adventure197.

What has been your biggest challenge meeting this target?

My biggest challenge has been getting land to plant trees. Most of my tree planting initiatives are centered on working with schools to plant fruit giving trees which are beneficial to the environment and to the school in terms of food provision.

I have come to realize that schools are very receptive to my goal of offsetting my carbon footprint and they will be willing to assist by holding tree planting initiatives.

49 countries down! What lessons have you learned and will carry forward to the next leg of your journey?

My biggest lesson so far has been “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and to always do my research. When I started Adventure197, I would worry about what to do and where to stay when I arrived at a new place. I have since learned to let go and enjoy my journey wherever I am at.

The second leg of my journey is to travel the African countries. I have traveled 10 so my goal is to travel the remaining forty-four.

In order to determine my carbon footprint, I keep track of all the miles I have traveled and then get an expert to calculate my carbon footprint - @WambuiGichobi Click To Tweet

What advice would you give to women looking to travel in terms of saving and planning for their travel?

It is important for people to travel solo. Solo travels will help you learn about yourself quicker, faster and much deeper due to lots of quiet time. You will get to learn about yourself and your character.

Additionally, it is important to save for your own dreams. Nothing in this world is given for free, you have to fund for what your dreams look like.

Here are my top tips for achieving this:

  • Be financially savvy.
  • Learn to manage your money and save whatever income you get whether you are earning at ten or fifty.
  • Have different accounts for different items and if you have plans for travel, have a specific account for this expenditure.
  • Invest and keep money aside. Whether for emergencies for your own dreams.

Any last words that you would like to share with our audience?

Of all the lessons that I want you to take home with you from my journey, the biggest one is to have a sense of confidence. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

As an African traveler, there will be a judgment at every turn i.e. at the visa applications, airports but have the confidence to go after your own goals and dreams. I hope to inspire people whether male or female to travel.

In the words of Lupita Nyong’o “Your dreams are valid”


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I have evolved as a traveler: Senzelwe Mthembu shares her ultimate travel guide

27 years old Senzelwe Mthembu is an explorer at heart, a South African traveler, researcher, content creator, and photography enthusiast.

When she’s not curating travel experiences, Senzelwe works as a social researcher at the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA). She focuses on youth transitions into adulthood, youth (un)employment, and on other topics related to young people.

She has a background in politics, philosophy, and economics and obtained her Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2015.

In this article, she highlights how she’s evolving as a traveler and her experiences traveling on the continent.


What made you fall in love with travel?

My passion for travel started at a young age when, as a family, we would drive down to rural Kwa-Zulu Natal during the festive season.

I remember being fascinated by the change in terrain and context. The first memorable trip for me was to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga. So my passion for travel and the African continent started right here, in South Africa.

I later realized the need to showcase my love for travel and to highlight Africa’s beauty to other Africans and to the world.

What kind of traveler are you?

I think I have evolved as a traveler and will probably continue to evolve as my interests change. I was once primarily interested in going to the main tourist attractions and wanting to do things because so many other people had done them.

Travel felt like quite a selfish endeavor. I now take a greater interest in the people from the place that I am traveling to and I want to fully immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I can.

What interesting social customs have you encountered while traveling the continent?

There are two things which I found interesting. The first was just how friendly and helpful people in Kenya are.

I have not experienced hospitality in the way I experienced it in Kenya. It felt like there was a real concern for other human beings, especially those visiting their country.

The second, which we generally don’t practice here in South Africa, was taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. Not only was this the case in the traditional Swahili settlement of Lamu where most of the population is Muslim, but this practice was also found in Nairobi, Kenya where on one evening we invited friends we had made over to our Airbnb home and they did the same.

I found it interesting that young people in Kenya were also taking their shoes off when entering someone’s home.

Paradise on a plate… Your favorite meal on any of your travels?

My favorite meal on my travels was at a very unpretentious, buffet-style traditional Swahili restaurant.

It was the first meal I had in Lamu, Kenya and consisted of pilau (a rice, meat and vegetable dish that is very popular in Kenya), lentils, fish in a spicy tomato stew and other vegetables.

I was so impressed by the flavors.

What do you know now about traveling on a limited budget that you wish you’d known earlier?

I wish I took the plunge earlier! Travel is possible for many people and a range of budgets can be accommodated.

But I do wish I learned the art of saving ahead of time and drawing up a budget. There are so many ways of making travel more affordable, whether it’s taking local public transport, staying in someone’s home or eating where locals eat.

Traveling on a limited budget does not necessarily make your experience any less enjoyable.

Got any travel & safety hacks for passport newbies & solo travelers?

Here are 3 tips for keeping safe and for saving money, especially as a solo traveler.

1. Do your research ahead of time.

The first important things to check for international travel in Africa is whether or not you need any vaccinations such as for Yellow Fever or Malaria.

Also, check luggage dimensions and free baggage policies for the airline or be prepared to pay extra, risk missing your flight or be forced to leave things behind!

2. Choose your accommodation wisely.

Solo travel often means paying more for accommodation since you won’t be sharing the costs with anyone. But that is not always the case!

It’s important to ask yourself what you can afford but also, what you can’t compromise on when it comes to accommodation. If your budget is low, you can still find good accommodation but manage your expectations.

Use Airbnb to book your accommodation as it allows you to book a private room in someone’s house at your stated budget. This makes it safer for you as most of the time you are living with a local who can provide invaluable information and tips about the neighborhood.

Also consider staying in a hostel or backpackers, which will work out to be much cheaper and makes it easier for you to meet like-minded solo travelers.  For both these options, remember to read reviews!

Be as prepared as possible.

Prepare for possible long layovers at airports by having a pillow or blanket, WATER (I cannot stress this one enough) and snacks from the plane or from home.

Carry a moon bag or small backpack for your valuables. It’s so much easier to remember the important things when you can access valuables easily. Write out important contact details and information in multiple places, including on your phone and have extra copies of important documentation in case you lose anything.

And make sure you can access your money from more than one bank card.What is your next travel destination, and why?

I will be traveling to Rwanda and Tanzania soon, but this time it’ll be as part of a beautifully curated group trip where West Africans and Southern Africans, amongst others, will meet in East Africa for an experience of a lifetime.

My sister and I have a shared passion for travel in Africa and so we launched our destination travel company, Lived Experience Travel, this year. Our first international trip is in partnership with Ghana-based, The Travel Clan (@thetravelclan on Instagram) and we are heading to East Africa.

This will be a two-country, 11-day trip to Rwanda and Tanzania that fuses culture, art, traditional food and that celebrates what Africa has overcome and what some of our achievements are.

 

Your final travel advice for motherland moguls?

I think we need to take advantage of what technology and social media have enabled us to do and that is – connect.

The best way to experience a new place is by meeting the locals, having real conversations with people and exploring together.

Another piece of advice is not to wait for others to come along and that local travel is valid! If you notice a pattern of passing travel opportunities up, save some of the money you would have spent on eating out and shopping until you can comfortably do a solo trip or an organized group trip.

Be open-minded, humble yourself to the ways of others, be yourself and learning from my past mistakes – draw up a budget (even if it’s rough).


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Live the Life You Want: Become a Successful Remote Worker with these tips

Do you like having a flexible schedule? Want to be able to attend a yoga class in the middle of the day? Do you like wearing your PJs until 4 p.m.? Do you want to be able to travel and two weeks paid leave is simply not going to cut it?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider working for a remote company or on a remote team.

Personally, I have chosen this lifestyle, and I am building a remote company called Baobab Consulting. My team spans four countries (USA, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa) and even people based in the same country do not see each other very often.

.@lizgrossman87 shares some tips on how she's living her best life as a successful remote worker. Learn more... Click To Tweet

This structure has allowed the company to grow sustainably, cutting costs like office rental and transportation, which can allow for more exciting company retreats and meetings surrounding our projects.

While there are clearly many benefits to working remotely, there are certainly challenges too. Here’s how to set yourself up for success, produce results and make your mark in a remote position.

Be a self-starter

If you are someone who needs constant reminders or supervision to complete your tasks, you should find an office job. Remote work means you will not have coworkers eyeing your screen, and you will not have office chat or visible competition that will push you to get your work done.

You have to be able to motivate yourself to get up out of bed on time without an official 9 a.m. clock-in. (Although you can always check in from your bed when you work remotely!)

Be able to work random hours

Especially if you work on a global team, you will need to be prepared to take calls at strange hours. When everyone is home, our team time difference spans nine hours, and it gets even more tricky when we are traveling.

In order to make meetings happen, someone usually has to get up extra early or stay up very late. It is not uncommon to receive work calls/texts at midnight. Just make sure to balance your personal/work time and set yourself limits that make you and your family feel comfortable.

Have exceptional digital communications skills

 My team is constantly connected via WhatsApp, Google Suite, email, you name it. We are building systems that will allow us to all remain on the same page and keep our productivity.

If you are someone who prefers oral communication or hates texting, you will need to flex the digital muscles to be successful on a remote team.

Be disciplined and force yourself to have a routine

When you make your own schedule, it can be easy to have weekends flow into weekdays, to take long breaks in the middle of the day and work late hours in the night.

This is one of the major perks of remote work, but it can often be a trap that decreases productivity. Even though some remote companies may maintain a standard 9-6 workday, they do not build in a routine.

Decide on one that you can stick to that makes you feel professional and productive, but will allow you to live your flexible life.

Build a community at home

Most of our friends and family in more traditional office jobs are around other people for a minimum of 40 hours a week. It can become easy to rely heavily on them for normal socialization or to discuss work-related issues.

We are not trying to put too much pressure on our loved ones, so it is critical to find another social or professional outlet.  Go to a local coffee shop and meet other remote workers, join a co-working space, or even join social clubs to build relationships with like-minded people.

Build a community with your remote coworkers

At Baobab, we predominantly use WhatsApp for this. We send birthday shoutouts, selfies, articles and news that relates to our company values and team.

Also, the team uses social media to encourage one another and to share news about our team and teammates. We also plan biannual team retreats, where we bring as many people together as we can for work and recreation

Remote work is the future, and I encourage everyone to consider the benefits, but also the potential pitfalls.

If you are interested in joining a remote team, Baobab Consulting is always looking for talent, so please check out our website for more!


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Chiedza Museredza: Making the move from Zimbabwe to Canada

Moving to a whole new country, a whole new continent may seem like the scariest choice you could ever make. Will you like your job, will the move be worth it, or what if you never manage to settle in?

These are just a few questions you may ask yourself. On the upside, what if it becomes the best decision you will ever make, what if you find a great group of friends and your job is the best career choice you could have made?

Chiedza has previously detailed her experience on immigrating to Canada to be a lawyer. Starting as a Masters student, she got an internship at one of the biggest law firms in the country and currently is completing her articles at McMillan LLP. She details below her experiences moving countries to kickstart her career

There are various ways you could immigrate to a new country – as a student or as a professional. The choice may lie with your experience and qualifications.

Professionals who qualify have the option of applying for an Express Entry Visa into Canada whilst students have the opportunity to qualify for a post-graduate work permit. Consider what your best option could be.

Making the move…

Going in blind when making such a seismic change to your life requires preparation. Moving to a new country takes a lot of research, time and money.

Plan what you need to do to, how you’ll do it, then take the huge leap and DO IT! Sometimes it means finding new ways to create opportunities for yourself and opening doors through your own initiative.

Chiedza describes the experience of moving to another country as challenging. In particular, moving to a country where she did not know anyone. It felt like starting all over again.

“To prepare for my move I connected with people on LinkedIn who had made the same move as I wanted to make. They, in turn, connected me to other people. I was very lucky to connect with helpful people.”

The power of networking…

Qualification and experience from back home may not always be recognized by potential employers. Some may prefer someone with Canadian experience and those with prestigious work experience or attended Ivy League or Oxbridge universities may fare better on the job market but not everyone has this experience.

Networking has a major impact on the impression you could make to your future employer. Before approaching someone to discuss opportunities it is definitely worth it to research the company and anything else you can find out about the person off LinkedIn (i.e. Google them).

This helps you determine how to approach them- what do you have in common and more importantly what do you specifically need help with.

“I found the best way was to network with someone in the company/firm/organization and they would recommend me.

Most companies trust recommendations from their employees. I have noticed that broadly worded networking emails are not very helpful.

Being specific with emails always shows that you know what you want So in essence what makes one the best candidate as a foreigner is effective networking that will result in getting recommended for the job you want.”

Be mentally prepared…

The job hunt is one of the hardest processes you could go through, but remember, perseverance is key.

“You have to have a thick skin and be resilient. You will be told “no” more than “yes”. Don’t take it personally – just keep going until you achieve your goal.”

Nobody deals with rejection well, but one small setback does not necessarily mean you should give up.

“I believe that what is meant for me will be for me and that rejection is not a denial of my dreams. So, I keep it moving. In terms of managing my expectations, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.”

Managing the corporate world has been extremely busy. “I struggled with impostor syndrome the first days. I had to remind myself that I worked very hard to get where I am so I deserved to be at the firm just like everyone else.”

Chiedza shares the key lessons she has learned from her immigration to Canada:

  • Failure is the best form of feedback because it forces you to change and grow – so failure works for you and not against you;
  • Don’t let your achievements set you back. It is very easy to relax after getting successful at something; and
  • Be grateful. Each time you want to complain (even when the complaint is valid) – just think of what you’re thankful for. This is one of the best ways to deal with stress.

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4 ways to cop Your Goals vs your Glow (Number 3 is our favorite)

The average working-class woman gets caught up in an entangling web where she is trying (so hard sometimes) to achieve her goals, reach her maximum potential, score-in on every success story and look effortless while at it.

It is like she wanting to be wonder woman; hair blowing in the wind (or no hair at all), athletic legs standing firmly in the ground, and beauty unhinged as she saves the world, in this case, hers.

Most people say you can almost never have it all. You can almost never be extremely successful, which comes with a lot of to-do list, running around, and still look glamorous while at it.

Or to be specific, keep to your health/beauty goals as you slay in both financial figures and that figure 8.

But at the end of the day, it all boils down to having a balance, realizing that in this thug life of achieving your goals and your glow, you can manage it all, because it is your life and you are in charge, always.

Here are a few pointers to help you

Set up realistic and achievable plans

 Sometimes, when you set up a far-reaching list of what you want to achieve, that is all they are going to be – far-reaching. Where you stretch yourself beyond every elastic limit until you crack and the pressure becomes visible.

Create a list of practical success plans, or health/ beauty regimen you want to achieve for the next one month (it is always good to do it in bits. When you flood yourself, you overwhelm yourself) and stick to it!

Have a scale of priorities

In this case, I would say your health first, but, different strokes for different folks. So make a decision of what takes the front seat and have the other at the passenger seat, with the seat belt on.

That way, they are both on the same level, but one thing has the wheels and navigates the other, which happens to be secured and safe regardless of a crash.

Passion makes everything look stress-free because you exude a different kind of joy while ticking off the goals that reflect on your skin and glows you up. Click To Tweet

Strive for contentment, NOT perfection 

This is when you know that there is no perfect balance and sometimes wonder woman gets a hit or two. The ultimate goal should not be perfection but rather contentment. 

This way, you’re able to find the core of things, that you hold them firmly yet delicately together.

We all have it. Look for yours.

Make sure you are passionate about what you do

Passion makes everything look stress-free because you exude a different kind of joy while ticking off the goals that reflect on your skin and glows you up.

“Find what you love and let it kill you”. According to Bukowski, this is a great tip for being happy and fulfilled enough to run that errand, set up that meeting and not dreading it all every step of the way.

And because you are away from that toxic and draining environment it is most likely to reflect positively on your glow.

Give yourself love, backed up by smart thinking, that way you will not put yourself or your business in jeopardy. 


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