This is the age of wellness and African women won’t be left behind when it comes to health and well-being. Fed up with the lack of healthy living content geared towards African women, Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola knew she had to do something about it.
So she started Radiant Health, Nigeria’s first women’s health magazine. Available on Apple and Google Play, Radiant Health is a complete guide to healthy living for today’s African woman. Currently, it is the only global African-owned health magazine focused on bringing all aspects of health and wellness under one title.
The magazine also focuses in-depth on socio-cultural issues that are relevant to the well-being of every African woman or girl. We spoke to Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola to find out how African women move towards living healthy. She was graceful enough to share her favourite smoothie recipe too.
Why did you feel like now was the right time for you to start Radiant Health and why you are the right person to do it?
I was constantly surprised each time I googled African or Nigerian health magazine. I found there wasn’t much in that space. This is a search I had done periodically from the time I was a student and well into my career. But somehow, it never quite occurred to me to start one…until three years ago.
I was out for a long run one early morning and thinking about health care in Nigeria, as I often do. And the idea just very clearly came to me to start a health magazine. I didn’t feel the least bit qualified to publish a magazine. But by the end of that run, I had my mind made up to go for it. I thought, “why not me?” It’s fair to say I was tired of waiting for someone else to do it.
Why do you think many professional African women struggle with living a healthy lifestyle?
I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Chimamanda Adichie, that says “We have taken over our father’s job while retaining our mother’s responsibilities.” In talking to so many of my peers and Radiant Health readers, lack of time brought on by our increased responsibilities is a big issue.
Even when the partner/spouse is supportive (and many of them are), African women still bear a heavy share of home, child rearing or other imposed traditional responsibilities. Many try to create a balance with careers and/or side businesses. Often time, it’s the health that gives, if we’re to keep up with these expectations.
Equally challenging is the dearth of credible, African-tailored health content we can rely on. No matter where in the world we live, our African sensibilities, consciously or unconsciously, influence nearly everything we do including our health-seeking behaviors.
But when it seems everything out there is telling you your culture is incompatible with healthy living (think food for instance), we need a platform that not only counteracts this message but guides us to live a healthy lifestyle that embraces our African essence. And that’s what Radiant Health brings to the table.
What makes Radiant Health different from the other health and wellness platforms that exist on the market?
I like to think of Radiant Health as a complete guide to healthy living for today’s African woman. We recognize that health is not just the absence of disease and encompasses the whole self.
So in addition to health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition we also focus on the mind, spirituality, style, beauty, culture and life. We began as Nigeria’s first women’s health magazine and we’re now the only global African-owned health magazine focused on bringing all these aspects of health and wellness under one title. Our content is well researched, fact-checked and written by experts in their respective fields.
We are also very driven by the social issues that impact African women. Every single Radiant Health magazine issue focuses on an in-depth socio-cultural issue that is relevant to the wellbeing African woman or girl.
I’m also committed to dedicating a portion of our revenue to support well-organized local, homegrown organizations that are working on alleviating some of the most egregious social injustices faced by the African woman.
Finally, we believe strongly in aligning only with advertising partners whose products are not in direct conflict with health promotion. For a startup, it hasn’t always been easy to turn down tempting offers but this is something I feel very strongly about.
For your business to get to the next level, would you prefer funding or a high value mentor? Which one would you choose and why?
High value mentor. There’s nothing quite like mentorship from someone who has walked the path you are trying to walk on. I don’t want to give the impression that capital is not critical to growth. It is. But even those with deep pockets still need high value mentorship to succeed. I believe with the right mentorship, the funding will always follow.
I’ve been fortunate to have encountered some great mentors along the way. I should also add that a high value mentor could be a business coach or strategist that you pay for. You don’t have to wait for someone to freely take you under their wing to benefit from high value mentorship.
What can we expect to see from Radiant Health over the next 6 months?
Currently, our quarterly issues are published digitally and sold via in-app subscription purchase on Apple and Google Play app stores (news stands). Plans are now underway to add limited print issues in the coming months.
We’ve also begun the first launch of a series of our Radiant Body Reboot fitness and nutrition program that have only been available to a select group until now. By the end of the year, we would have rolled out the complete 90-day Reboot program, which includes a done-for-you 21-day clean eating plan (yes, even on an African diet).
What is the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey towards a healthy lifestyle that you want to share with other young African women entrepreneurs?
We need to start seeing self-care as essential to our business or career success.
As entrepreneurs, we are consumed by our business and making it work. It is such a tough job being an entrepreneur that in all of the hustle we often lose all notions of self-care. We eat, move and sleep very poorly. Before long, we burnout. I know because I too have succumbed to this burnout and I see it in just about every female entrepreneur I’ve encountered.
But success doesn’t have to be at the cost of your health. You can take out 20 – 30 minutes throughout your day to incorporate some wellness into your life. You don’t have to wait till you have large chunks of time to take a fitness class or cook for the week.
Indeed, tiny drops of water make a mighty ocean. Every morning take 5 minutes to sit still and breathe; then move for 15 minutes. It will make an incredible difference in your productivity and overall well-being.
I love this quote from Gandhi that says, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” Investing in your health and well-being first is a precursor to success.
Favorite smoothie recipe?
2 handfuls of spinach + 1 apple + ½ cup of blueberries + ½ lemon juice + 1 inch ginger or turmeric + 1 cup water + 1 tbsp. chia or hemp seeds.
Yoga or Pilates?
Best workout playlist?
I always have Asa, Femi Kuti and Adele on rotation. I workout to mellow music.
Morning, midday or evening workout?
Morning. I’m an early riser.
Favorite fitness app?
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