Being your own boss as a freelancer

You need to fully get your hustle on and sell yourself whenever you get the chance. Click To Tweet

Welcome to the freelance life.

First off, I’ve noticed a Nigerian trend where too many young people are obsessed with the title of CEO on their name cards, and less committed to undertaking the hard work that comes with working for oneself. In an economy that may or may not be in a recession, the conventional employment sector is overburdened as too many people clamor for scarce resources. For some others, the strings of a 9-to-5 or round-the-clock job working for someone else is just not appealing.

Let’s be straight up, here. Freelancing is not an easy path to navigate but there are serious perks to it if you’re actually good at what you do, and if you’re prepared to put yourself out there. There is such a wide range of freelance occupations which includes writers, graphic designers, animators, accountants, MUAs, hair stylists, recruiters, lawyers, models, real estate agents and more.

Statistics tell us that about a third of all working Americans are freelancers. In several parts of Africa, we can expect that more people are also taking up freelance work. There are several perks to working as a freelancer:

  • Your time is flexible
  • You’re your own boss
  • You get to select the projects that interest you

All that sounds super great, so let’s balance it out. There is a downside…there is no guaranteed income stream. This is true especially when you’re just starting out. It means you need to fully get your hustle on and sell, sell, sell yourself whenever you get the chance. Some periods may be a lot better than others. Sometimes, you’re absolutely swamped with work and at other times, you’re almost begging for work.

How to boss it?

Network!

Whenever you meet new people or talk to old friends, tell them about what you do. People are always looking for freelancers but you wouldn’t know if you don’t spark up the conversation.

Be super organized

It’s important to respond to clients in a timely manner and to keep adequate records. It helps to have a to-do list and to set hours when you must get things done.

Brand yourself online and offline

Use social media to showcase your skills and highlight your personal brand. Work on a splendid offline portfolio too, get all your marketing tools in check.

Look for opportunities on social media

Forget looking only at the traditional sources! I personally have been exposed to more opportunities on social media. Twitter is a great tool to find work and engage with other freelancers as yourself.

I personally love the freedom that comes with being able to plan around my own time, to travel while I work, to work at odd hours. Just remember, you need to be practical about your goals and expectations, and you need to put considerable time and effort in to get to your ideal place.

Kindly share your tips and experiences from working as a freelancer with us.

Kgauhelo Dube: The European framing of public discourse is disturbing

Kgauhelo Dube
2015 Mbokodo Women in Arts nominee @kgauzagp shares why she moved to the arts sector Click To Tweet

Kgauhelo Dube incorporates her knowledge and experience in traditional advertising into the work she does within the arts, culture and heritage field. She combines these on an eclectic mix of projects, including her own brainchild, #longstorySHORT.

#longstorySHORT was launched in March 2015 to promote African literature through interactive events. These events feature the work of African writers, discussions about important topics affecting literacy in Africa and the sale of books.

Kgauhelo continues to be part of a wide array of projects from festival management, content production for TV to acting as a strategic consultant to various artists, cultural foundations and corporations.

She was 2015 nominee for Mbokodo Women in Arts award in the category of “Promotion of Arts and Culture in the Media”.


You worked as a brand strategist for a firm. Why did you make the move to literature?

I didn’t move from brand strategy environment to literature. I’d say I moved to the arts, culture and heritage sector. I made the move because I believe there’s a big role that the arts, culture and heritage sector play in social change, especially in South Africa, a country with a huge identity crisis.

The European framing of public discourse is disturbing. Popularising and normalising versus romanticising African ideas, identities, philosophy, languages are instrumental to unlocking the various economic, moral and societal crises we are currently facing.

The arts can play a huge role in social change, especially in South Africa @kgauzagp Click To Tweet

#longstorySHORT has been well received since its inception in March last year. What is the ‘short’ story behind the name, and how was the idea born?

Popular culture has in one way or another succeeded amplifying (whether tastefully or not) very important issues, and so we felt that we could tap into those same strategies and platforms to normalise the culture of reading.

#longstorySHORT hosts a podcast in Setswana. Do you see any financial benefits to publishing in African languages? Is there a growing market for such books for young Africans writers to tap into?

It’s difficult to focus on creating a business model around a culture that has been demonised over centuries. So, whilst there’s an opportunity in getting more Africans to read in indigenous languages, the first port of call would be for us as Africans to love ourselves enough to understand the potential transformative value of the wisdom that’s locked up in our languages.

Being African shouldn’t be about wearing “costumes” on our independence days and during Africa month. There’s no point in pouring a lot of resources in creating African content and selling it to people who mostly associate upward mobility and sophistication with European brands, languages, lifestyles and frame of reference.

Once we’ve dealt with the mind-shift, yes, then there are great opportunities for publishers, writers and content creators to disseminate exciting books, films, learning software in our languages! Think about it, Setswana is not only spoken in Botswana. SA has a huge population of Setswana speakers as well. Remember, we didn’t create the borders so there’s linguistic spill over in countries that border each other.

#longstorySHORT has celebrities endorsing African literature as its marketing strategy. Click To Tweet

It’s understandable for writers to participate in the reading events organised by #longstorySHORT. But no one expects a celebrity to participate in them. Why was it important to get them involved?

This is where we use the tactics employed by the marketing industry. It is a classic case of celebrity endorsement.

Instead of endorsing a beverage, the participating celebrity is endorsing African literature.

With 92% of local libraries closed in South Africa and the rise of ebooks, are print publishers in Africa staring at a bleak future?

The going statistic is that 92% of predominantly black schools don’t have functional libraries.

However, there’s been a surge in local libraries being built in these areas post-apartheid, which is why a lot of #longstorySHORT readings happen there.

How does #longstorySHORT engage with those who, for whatever reason, can’t attend readings and don’t have access to the internet?

#longstorySHORT is one of many literacy/ literature promotion campaigns. The scope for the change that needs to happen is not only going to be achieved by us.

There’s an exciting growth in literary entrepreneurship with many great young thinkers tackling the illiteracy conundrum in many different ways. There are festivals, online book clubs, bloggers, road-shows, master-classes and a host of other exciting things happening at the same time. It’s a special time for African writers.

According @kgauzagp to there’s an exciting growth in literary entrepreneurship Click To Tweet

In addition to the work #longstorySHORT is doing, what else can be done to help Africans publishers thrive and encourage bookstores to stock more African literature?

Since a nation’s literacy rate has a direct link to its GDP, more official interventions need to happen. There’s lots of policy around eradicating illiteracy, but there’s very little enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.

Governments have to have a more urgent, creative and spirited approach to these problems. It’ll never be enough to highlight these challenges within the contexts of calendar days such as World Book Day and World Mother Tongue Day. Consistent intervention is key.

What does the future hold for African literature, and more specifically for #longstorySHORT in the coming year?

From a promotional perspective, we believe the brand #longstorySHORT has high equity. Now the challenge is maintaining the frequency of readings and reaching remote audiences all over the continent.

That requires some brave brand managers and philanthropists pledging their marketing budgets and collaborating with us.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

‘Go the extra mile, because it’s usually empty’: Why you should Do it Now Now

How @DoitBayo is bridging the gap between who people are now and who they want to be Click To Tweet

Do it Now Now is a crowdfunding platform that has the social development of Africa at its core. Founded by Bayo Adelaja, a research assistant at the London School of Economics, Do it Now Now helps supports social entrepreneurs in their quest to make a positive impact across Africa.

Bayo also hosts frequent StartUps for Africa events on Google Campus, in the heart of London’s Silicon Roundabout. We caught up with Bayo to find out a bit more about the Do it Now Now journey and the importance of social entrepreneurship right now. 


Where did the passion for entrepreneurship come from?

I love working at the LSE, the work is great and so are my colleagues but I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit within me. The only way I could do that was by stepping out of my comfort zone and saying this is who I am, who I want to be and I’m not going to let anyone talk me out of it.

I had been talked out of it in the past when a company that was trying to buy another start-up I had tried to steal my idea. At that point I wasn’t good at saying I needed help or a support network to guide me on the journey. I realised that most people don’t have that support. They also lack the skills, knowledge and connections.

I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I could help people to bridge the gap between who they are and who they want to be?

What is Do It Now Now?

Do it Now Now is a crowdfunding platform with an incubator attached to it. We help people raise up to £10,000 ($12,000) from their friends, family and other interested parties. Do it Now Now helps businesses organise their campaigns, their perks and rewards, the marketing, the budget, everything. We work with the startup from A to Z, giving them all the support they need over the course of a year to help them build a healthy, scalable and sustainable business.

We help people raise up to £10,000 from their friends, family and other interested parties Click To Tweet

My job at the LSE has helped a lot as. I saw that there was a gap between the amount of work that aid organisations can do and the amount of development needed on the continent. Social entrepreneurs and start-ups can be more flexible, quicker on the ground with more local knowledge of the community that they’re in.

That’s a huge advantage, and an opportunity for them to link up with other organisations in Africa who might be able to support them in one way or another. We also partner with incubators on the continent such as the Kumasi Hive, working with tech entrepreneurs in Ghana.

Bayo Adelaja herself
Bayo Adelaja herself

How does the fundraising process work?

You raise money with us and we help you grow. Then, we expect you to donate 20% of your gross income or £500 ($600), whichever amount it higher, to the charity that you chose at the beginning of your campaign. Do it Now Now collects commission that enables us to run the programme.

We also have Startups for Africa, the free version of the programme which brings together people who are interested in growing their businesses, fostering collaborations and getting a conversation started. We want to show people that it is possible to be a purposeful, conscious person and have a business that is not just about the money, but about people and causes; it’s a heart thing.

Money is great but being part of a community that cares about people and supports you is so much better.

How can social entrepreneurs be successful on the continent?

Do it Now Now is based on this principle: start now, plan now, do it now and do it well. Get on your feet and keep moving. So many of us have a good ideas that will change Africa but we spent too much time planning and researching. We’ve been relying on potential for years, if not decades.

I want people to see that it’s not difficult at all to be a purposeful business. Social entrepreneurship is a fantastic way to support Africa’s development and still support yourself financially. I’m not here to simply line my pockets and die rich, I’m here to help people and improve life on the continent.

I want people to see that it’s not difficult at all to be a purposeful business Click To Tweet

If we have businesses that are strong, healthy and doing positive things it becomes good PR for Africa. Be passionate about your business, your people and the rest of the world will see it too. We need to recognise who we are, where we come from and build what’s needed —no one is going to do that for us. Africa is not a token, it’s not something you do on the side, you need to treat it with the respect that it deserves.

bayo-adelaja-01jpg

How do you balance a full time job and running Do it Now Now?

Well, I work about 80 hours a week: I wake up at 5am to build my business then go to work at 10am. Then I sleep and do it all over again, because I’m super passionate. Someone once told me ‘go the extra mile, because it’s usually empty’. If we just pivot the purpose of business we can make a truly sustainable and long-lasting impact.

‘Go the extra mile, because it’s usually empty’ - how to make your mark Click To Tweet

How can a budding social entrepreneur get started?

Pick a problem and pick it wisely. It has to be something you’re passionate about, otherwise you’ll quit. You’ll quit quickly and you’ll leave people in the lurch. Pick something small and specific, then you can then blow it up and make it big. Always work with other people and look out for collaboration opportunities.

I go to as many meetings as possible because you never really know who you’ll meet. My favourite saying is; ‘you can’t see the holes in your own head’. You have no idea what the gaps are in your business because you’re too close to it, so you need others to step in and provide a different view.

Share your idea. I saw an SLA instagram post that said ideas alone aren’t worth very much. And while that may be controversial, it’s true. There are so many ideas you can have in a day, what counts is the implementation, your passion, your network, your influence and how you communicate.

Just make sure that you’re able to share the idea, because without people your ideas are nothing. Realise that you don’t have to fix every problem, you just have to start with one, and if it expands, fantastic.

Without people your ideas are nothing. Here's how to build your social entrepreneurship business Click To Tweet

…And what do you do with what’s left of your free time?

My sisterhood! I love hanging out with my girlfriends, chatting, having a coffee and chilling but then I’m back to work.

There are also many things I want to do and grow in —hiking, learning French, Mandarin, Korean, reading. I also love music, someone once told me that I have 132 playlists on Spotify! Above all I love working, because I’m passionate about it. I simply do what I love.


Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

5 unsexy business ideas to get you started

business ideas

Quirky title, hey? You see, when many of us ladies venture into business, we often look for the cleanest, neatest and safest sort of ideas. However, on the flip side, the dirty, messy, riskier ventures have a tale of profit to tell.

Consider some of the ones below.

Farming

Many young people are dropping suits and ties for muddy boots. Guess what, turns out farming is feeding the nation while raking in returns. You can consider mass farming of basic food like onions, tomatoes, fruits.

You can also venture into unique vegetables especially with the current eating-healthy movement. If those options don’t rock your boat, consider growing fruit and flowers to export to Europe.

my own kind of paradiseA business that provides basic needs, that is food, shelter, clothing has a higher retention rate in the market. You can lease land next to a good source of water, hire a few hands to help and get a truck to take the produce to the market.

 

Better still, you can make friends with a broker who would charge reasonable rates. Just as with all businesses, ensure the market is ready for you. Do your homework and talk to a few farmers to get a sense of the industry.

Interesting enough, ventures such as pig farming, snail farming, and even maggot rearing have found their place. Definitely not an idea you probably had but for the record, it’s working. Here’s more proof that farming is the new cool.

Running a school

This is another brilliant idea that works due to the rising population. There’s already a gap, just bridge it. It could be in extra curriculum activities or mode of delivery.

You could start off with a day care or kindergarten program and keep working on the next grades/classes as you go along. Most schools started off like this.

 

giphyWorth noting though, is that the running expenses of a school are high, especially once it grows full-blown. Whether with the little ones in nursery school, pre-teens or teens, some chaos is bound to happen. Also, be ready to deal with the parents. Still, the returns are good and with consistency, it’s worth a try.

Recycling/waste management

Most countries in Africa seem to have a garbage collection problem. Of course, except Rwanda (we’ve got a national cleaning day, so don’t crucify me yet!), Johannesburg and Mauritius.

Generally, waste isn’t managed properly and the rising population in major cities can attest to this. This thought lends itself as a business opportunity for an entrepreneur thinking of a practical and profitable solution.

When it comes to business, other than maximizing profit, solving a need creates further sustainability and passion for the business. If you are sick of all the littering and dirty neighbourhoods, then piece that plan together. Plus, you don’t need to roll out in the city only. Consider smaller towns with bustling activity.

You may need to talk to local authorities such as city or town councils, negotiate landfill rates and invest in trucks, rolling carts, incinerators and casual labour.

One word of caution though, a research on existing cartels involved in this job is advisable. This will give you an edge and help you avoid being maliciously ousted  from the business.

Manufacturing or importing human hair wigs and extensions

Everyone I know who ventured into this business with a passion is smiling at the profits. You just need to identify the source of the hair, which could be India or China.

For the record, Brazilian or Peruvian hair is just branded as such but most of it is from China. Read more about this here.

 

giphy-10There are several varieties but once you find a reliable source, especially a manufacturer with ready-made hair, all you’ll need is some branding. You can actually do this locally and place your product in the market. Engage in some rigorous advertising online, in beauty shops or salons and there goes another (hairy) business idea!

Running a funeral home

I’m not going to risk sounding morbid, so this point is going to be brief.
This may not need much explanation. With life, comes the inevitable end. You’ll definitely need to be tough to do this as you’ll have to deal with emotional families and friends still coming to terms with the death of a loved one.

giphyUndoubtedly, you’ll need ample space to  accommodate an embalming room disconnected from the main home. You’ll also need a storage room for client files, a meeting room and possibly a room displaying options of caskets.

You’ll need qualified professionals, dressing tables and materials and recommended chemicals, powders, and creams to preserve the body. It is estimated that one can break even in two years in this kind of business.

Andrena Sawyer: Flexibility is key to increasing your business lifespan

andrena sawyer

Start-ups sometimes need miracles to survive. Luckily there are superheroes who rise up to the challenge. Take Andrena Sawyer for example, she runs P.E.R.K. consulting an advisory firm that provides quality and affordable services for small to mid-sized nonprofits and businesses.

Andrena is so effective at ensuring SMEs survive that in 2015, P.E.R.K. consulting, placed 1st in the AccelerateUp Business Growth Competition presented by the Maryland Small Business Development Center and Capital One Bank. This basically means that P.E.R.K consulting can serve as great model to new startups.

When Andrena offered to share her story with SLA, we jumped at the opportunity. Get ready for actionable advice on overcoming funding challenges, lengthening your organisation’s lifespan and increasing revenue.


Firstly how can SMEs overcome the juggernaut that is funding?

Importantly, SMEs need to create effective business models that include strategies for cash flow management if they’re to navigate funding challenges.

Cash flow challenges are inevitable for most start-ups, and many wait until a seeming crisis to develop a management plan. Creating a strategy before the need arises is essential for survival.

In addition, it is important that SMEs have a compelling value proposition. As a Small Business Consultant, I meet passionate entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but the value ends at their passion.

To survive the initial start-up years, the problem that a business solves should be clear to customers, investors, and partners. I firmly believe that the more informed stakeholders are, the more engaged they will be.

How can organizations lengthen their lifespan?

Simply, flexibility and innovation are the keys to organizations lengthening their lifespan. With the advent and increased use of social media, industries and consumers are rapidly changing.

It has become more important now that founders remain flexible and informed of how their customers’ needs are changing. The focus should be on creating a culture where change is encouraged.

Doing this can take an organization from a reactive to a proactive stance in marketing, capacity building, and revenue generation.

How did you manage to increase P.E.R.K.’s revenue by 72.3% in one year?

Primarily,  the reason for the increase in revenue is that we identified our niche. When P.E.R.K. launched in 2013, I envisioned being all things to all clients.

I desperately wanted my passion for community development to translate quickly to meet the needs of anyone that was interested. The challenge was that our customers were confused about our expertise, experience, and scope of work.

Also, in our second year of operations, we started to refine our offerings to three key services. They include entity formation, business development, and capacity building support. This created a more targeted marketing approach, which allowed us to focus our efforts and ultimately bolster our credibility.

Understanding our market also allowed us to conduct more accurate research.  This helped to set competitive rates and create strategic partnerships with other key players in our industry.

Wells Fargo1

What advice will you give other startups looking to use P.E.R.K. as a model?

There are two things I would say to startups looking to use us as a model:

  1. Be persistent. As cliché as it sounds, do not give up. Entrepreneurship can be extremely stressful, and founders may find that they initially encounter a lot of rejection. My advice is to do your due diligence by ensuring the idea is viable. Get the support of trusted mentors and advisors, and push through the challenges.
  2. Be creative. I once read that the average millionaire has about seven streams of income. There is a lesson to be learned there. If those who are thriving financially are always looking for ways to earn more, I believe that businesses can thrive in much the same way. For example, P.E.R.K. primarily provides consulting services. However, there are several other ways that we generate revenue including trainings and seminars, publications, and referrals through partnerships. As long as it is consistent with the business’ value proposition, there is no limit to how creative founders can get in generating revenue or reaching their audience.

As a Sierra Leonean, are you engaged in any initiatives back home?

Interestingly, even though I am not directly engaged in any initiatives in Sierra Leone, P.E.R.K. maintains a partnership with several organizations.

These organizations help to mobilize young Sierra Leonean professionals in the United States and within the diaspora. In 2013, we helped launch the Sierra Leonean Empowerment Network. The network has since grown to include thousands of young professionals, many of whom are now working in Sierra Leone.

Who will you say is the greatest African woman to have ever lived?

Fortunately, there have been many great African women who have impacted the continent and the world. Women like Nana Yaa Asantewaa, Winnie Mandela, and Miriam Makeba immediately come to mind.

However, I have been personally impacted by Leymah Gbowee’s story. As someone whose life was altered by the Liberian/Sierra Leone civil war, her story narrated in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell reignited my passion for community work.

Studying her work as a peacemaker who mobilized thousands of people in Liberia to put an end to the war compelled me to launch P.E.R.K. Consulting as a platform to support other change agents.

Surprisingly, women like her are often thought of as just extraordinary. But her story challenged me to believe that any woman with a conviction and commitment can inspire a community to effect change.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

 

Patricia Kihoro: Create the work you want!

patricia kihoro

Patricia Kihoro needs no introduction. The multi-talented Kenyan singer and actress has only grown since becoming a finalist at Tusker Project Fame 3 (TPF) in 2009. Now, Patricia has produced her own musical stage show, worked with a variety of renowned musicians and performed across Europe.

Through all this, what matters most to Patricia is harnessing positivity and creating a great product.

“As people in the creative industry, we are always tarmacking. I got to a place in life where I decided I wasn’t going to stay in the house waiting for work so I created the work I wanted ”, Patricia says.


Obviously, music is not all there is to you. Tell us about the other things you do.

As an entertainer, my interest spans singing, acting, writing, stage performances and photography. In the spirit of creating work for myself, I wrote, directed and produced my own stage show, Life in the Single Lane, a narrative involving interactive storytelling, acting and singing.

The name was inspired by my then single status. In this show, I had put in all my savings and was a bit nervous. The play sold out, reaffirming my belief in authenticity.

Life in the Single Lane was not fiction, I was not acting, I was being me. I wanted to create a product that was original and authentic. It ended up being something that people were comfortable bringing their friends, parents and even their teenage children to watch.

Evidently, the love bug bit again and it’s a wrap for Life in the Single Lane, literally. So, how much of our personal issues should we let into our businesses?

When creating a product, say a play or music, my current state of mind matters a lot. I know I am my greatest enemy. But the good thing is, I was able to harness into my heartbreak positively and create a great product.

Patricia Headshot 3(1)

You were in the Because You Said So stage show. How was it?

In 2014, along with a group of friends led by Jason Runo, we staged an improv comedy show dubbed ‘Because You Said So’, a hilarious comedy improvisation stage show.

Improv comedy is a form of live standup comedy that is unscripted and entails off the cuff responses to scenarios created by a host. The show has gone on to enjoy tremendous success over the past 2 years.

Do you worry about everyday things other entrepreneurs worry about? I mean issues like paying bills or paying late.

As a creative especially, I worry that my product may not be good enough.

Tell us about your radio show. What kind of music do you play?

My radio job at HBR 103.5 is something I take pride in. My show Afrocentral showcases urban and contemporary music from across Africa. I also host creatives making waves on the continent.

There’s a lot of good music out there, songs that don’t enjoy any or enough airplay. This is the kind of music I play.

Africans are so talented. My greatest joy is when I receive feedback from delighted listeners who call in asking more about the music or the artist.

This sounds like a fun and easy job. Is it?

I sometimes have to turn the internet upside down looking for music on YouTube and even reaching out to artists directly.

Before HBR, I worked at 1 FM radio as a News Presenter. I would say persistence and networking have helped a lot.

You’re also an actress. Tell us about it.

I was cast on MNET’s production Changes (my first TV gig), Sauti and Rush TV pilots and the 1st & 2nd season of Groove Theory (Africa’s first ever musical TV series).

These were not roles that were handed to me. I had to rigorously audition for each and every one of them. I have even had to audition for a role in my best friend’s production.

LITSL 1

You’re multi-talented but do you ever suffer indecisiveness, especially with what project to do and when?

Unfortunately, I can never choose music over my acting, radio or vice versa. These are all abilities that make up who I am as a creative person.

Of course, I become indecisive at times. Some friends have advised me to concentrate on one thing, say music. But if I did that I feel I would be selling myself short.

Are you involved in other ventures outside the creative industry?

Besides being involved in the creative industry, I am one of the mentors at Blaze. Blaze is a recently launched platform that empowers youths to be in control of their careers and future while helping them succeed in their specific chosen fields. It is a sub-brand of Safaricom,  a leading mobile service provider in Kenya.

I also mentor in media, arts, and journalism.

How are you inspired?

I keep a group of close-knit friends who inspire, build and challenge me to grow in my career.


We want your stories! Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

“Your natural hair makes you look unkempt”

natural hair

In case you haven’t heard, something amazing happened in South Africa. Just recently, the pupils of Pretoria Girls High protested over subliminal racist rules at the school. Apparently, the school basically told these young girls that their natural hair and Afros make their uniform look “unkempt”.

ShockerIn a world where black women and girls continue to defy the odds and accomplish feats in business and career, our hair cannot continue to define us. It’s been a decade since India Arie reminded us that we are not our hair.

Yes, we understand that typically, our natural hair is incredibly thick. We know it is lush, ravishing, gorgeous and most likely, voluminous. We also understand that our hair does not lie flat like straight hair. In a society that associates hair that is straight or has loose curls as ”tidy”, we obviously don’t fit.

Yet, having natural hair should never be a crime and it’s high time we (Africans included!) stopped hating on natural hair. I mean, what’s wrong with deciding to wear your hair without a relaxer? When will the world understand that all hair is equal? Healthy hair can be natural, straightened, coloured or chemically treated!

Back to the issue at Pretoria, the students have also claimed that the rules in place don’t allow them wear inherently Black hairstyles. They are not to wear Bantu knots, braids, dreadlocks too!

News of protests from the students against the school’s arbitrary rules have gone viral. A petition titled, ‘Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High’ that has garnered over 14,000 asks that;

– The school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against black and Muslim girls;

– Disciplinary action against teachers and other staff members implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions

– Protection for the learners who protested to ensure they will not be victimized.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirls has been trending on Twitter.

boqor riya #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighmodupe oloruntoba #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthapelo mokoena #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthickleeyonce #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighThis message from a teacher to a parent takes the cake:

amandla #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighLet’s hear what you think about the natural hair debate. Should the way you keep your hair define you? Should educational institutions have the power to decide how girls keep their hair?

Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule: I know and understand my own purpose

Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule

Dzivhu Precious Tshiwalule, a Dietician and co-founder of UPower Africa is one woman who makes being a superwoman seem easy. She attributes her balance in life to knowing and understanding her life’s purpose. As a wife and professional, she refuses to be limited by just her talent but strives to break new grounds.

She is also the author of an informative book on eating right, ”Shaping your Attitude towards Healthy Eating.” Lerato Motshana, our SLA contributor had the chance to talk with this awesome and passionate woman.


Tell us about UPower Africa

UPower Africa is a youth development initiative focused on developing disadvantaged students, especially in remote rural areas. We help them gain access to basic information and education.

So far, we have branches in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia. And in South Africa, every province has a UPower Africa manager.

How did you become a part of UPower Africa?

Co-incidentally, my husband is the founder of UPower while I am the co-founder. My husband grew up in poverty and so naturally, he feels obliged to help kids in rural areas who are going through what he had experienced first-hand.

Aside being a co-founder, what are your other roles in UPower Africa?

In addition to being a co-founder, I am also a member on the UPower Africa board.  We are currently involved in a couple of projects, but I’ll mention a few. We donate computers, school shoes, online university applications and motivation to students in schools. I oversee these projects, liaise with provincial managers, and provide assistance where necessary.

20160803_075628-1_resizedUPower Africa is not a typical NPO. How were you able to achieve that?

I am inspired by the evident success and progression of those we’ve been able to help and motivate. Meanwhile, UPower Africa is just three years old but we’ve recorded successes in helping people get into universities.

Let’s talk about your book, what’s it about?

I wrote a book titled “Shaping your Attitude towards Healthy Eating”, and it extensively addresses the attendant health consequences of not eating right.

The book is significant to me because as a first-year student in 2005, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. As a Dietician and from the knowledge gathered, eating right contributes so much to good health. I never got to know the cause of the tumour but through research, I have come to believe there was a link to the kind of food I ate.

So, I decided to write a book, highlighting the importance of healthy eating and how to keep chronic health conditions like cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetics at bay.

Is healthy eating the ultimate solution to chronic health conditions?

Evidently, food plays a huge factor but there are other factors like smoking and so on.

Let’s move on to less serious stuff. What do you do for fun?

I am usually so busy and actually don’t relax much. I do a lot of seminars on purpose discovery and the like. I am also involved in a lot of church activities, indoor exercises, and travelling. Obviously, I don’t engage in a lot of what people qualify as fun.

UPower Africa, book-writing, being a Dietician, a mother, how are you inspired?

I am excited and driven by my life experiences and the need to be of help to the next person.

What would you say to an African young woman who views marriage as the ultimate life goal?

Marriage can be beautiful if you are married to the right partner.  My husband and I enjoy a unity of focus and that has helped our marriage. Notwithstanding, I don’t believe marriage is the ultimate life goal. A purpose-driven life should be the goal for everyone, man or woman.


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Rutendo Chilenge: Our relationship with clients goes beyond the economic

Rutendo Chilenge

There can never be enough events management companies as we Africans love our events. Motherland Moguls in events management have added little bits to differentiate their brand. Take incorporating floristry and gardening into events, for example. Rutendo Chilenge is the founder of Majestic Gardens, a registered events company in Zambia. She is also the woman behind Chitenge and Wine, a chill picnic and live performance that has become a platform for indie artists and musicians. Rutendo shares with SLA contributor Itumeleng, her other ventures and how she got her start as a florist.


Tell us, what business ventures have you gone into?

For the past 6 years I have been running an events company which is legally registered in Zambia called Majestic Gardens. Majestic Gardens is an outdoor event venue hosting weddings, bridal parties, wedding photography, music video shoots and any events that require an outdoor venue.

What was the attraction for you? Why go into events management?

Majestic Garden’s first event was in 2012. At that time I was unemployed and took this as an entrepreneurial opportunity to change my life.

For a long time in Zambia, halls -a more expensive option- were the only outdoor events venues available. At first, the attraction to entering events management for me was the love of gardening. I inherited this gift from my mother. Majestic Gardens has only grown and grown since I started it. Now, our venues have the capacity for between 250 to 400 people.

What is the one thing that makes your events special?

We get to know who the clients are, get one-on-one interactions which the clients and give a personal touch to the events. We build relationships based on trust and understanding with clients. This goes beyond the economical aspect of the business.

Beyond the service, Majestic Gardens is also a memory. I try to give my clients the best regardless of who much they can afford.

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What is the most memorable event you have hosted?

A bridesmaid was proposed to at a pre-wedding photo-shoot held in our gardens. She was not expecting her fiancé to sneak up on her from behind flowers.

I love that I was a part of their happiness!

Tell us about Chitenge and Wine. How did it come about?

Chitenge and Wine is an Afrocentric picnic idea that my late brother and I adopted from Nairobi’s Blanket and Wine event.  It was a novel idea in Zambia and so we grabbed it.

It is centered around the Chitenge cloth and for every ticket, our guests get a bottle of wine and a chitenge. The concept is to encourage the combination of passion and the African spirit in young people.

Our focus is to help young people, especially artists understand that they can reach any height even as Africans. Interestingly, most of our guests are budding artists and we provide a platform for their talent and passion.

What’s the long term goals for your businesses?

For Chitenge and Wine, I would like to see it go to different towns in Zambia. This is so that we can learn about different cultures in the country. I would like it to be a major tourist event, so that tourists coming to Zambia do not only visit Livingston. I see Chitenge and Wine as one of the events listed on tourist brochures in Zambia.

I would like to see Majestic Gardens grow so big that it is moved to a larger venue that is able to host multiple events at the same time. I would also like to see Majestic Gardens grow into a floral culture resource centre that trains people on gardening. Gardening goes beyond sweeping.

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What is the biggest lesson that you have learned from being an entrepreneur?

I have learned hard work and discipline. There are times that money does not come in and the only thing that propels you to continue is your passion.

What drives you?

I love to positively impact people in whatever it is I’m involved. And that’s a whole lot, you know.

You currently live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, what is the one thing you appreciate about this country?

It rains a lot in Addis. I love the potential that the country has to expand its floral culture. Ethiopia can grow and export so many exotic flowers that cannot be grown in other regions of Africa due to the climate. It is flora that we can only imagine in my home country.

If you were to be given super powers, which powers would you want and why?

I have lost loved ones to sickness and conflicts. So it’s definitely going to be healing powers.  Also, If I could, I would help people through the pain and devastation of conflicts.


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Kate Mayeye: I’m the Kenyan designer who is inspired by Nigerian fashion

kate mayeye

Kate Mayeye is a Kenyan fashion designer and the CEO of African Fabric & Designs Kenya Ltd. Kate is inspired by her love for unique African prints and, in particular, the Nigerian fashion industry.  Recently, she had the rare chance of styling an award-winning Nigerian actress, Angela Okorie for three high profile, red carpet events. Kate shares with SLA her love for fashion, the opportunities it provides and how she is introducing a different fashion culture to Kenya.


Why African Fabric & Designs Kenya Ltd?

I love to stand out, and showcasing Africa’s unique culture has given me that opportunity. I am looking to place the African print on the world map. It would gladen my heart to see other people, not just Africans, embrace it.

Why are you drawn to the Nigerian fashion industry and how did you come across it?

I am married to a Nigerian. My husband and I love the impeccable finishing on designs made by Nigerians. I also wanted to introduce a different fashion culture in Kenya, and Nigeria has been the perfect reference as she is at the forefront of the African fashion market. Nigerians are the ‘who’ to watch for when it comes to fashion styles and trends in Africa.

How did you get the chance to dress Angela Okorie? Were there any challenges?

Angela Okorie was in Kenya a few months ago. The occasion was the pre-production of a dramatic comedy starring her, Mike Ezuruonye, Huddah Monroe and Mumbi Maina among others.

Former Miss Kenya 2014, now actress and producer, Juliet Ochieng  had approached me concerning the Nigeria-Kenya collaborated movie titled Brother Jekwe. I was the costume designer for the movie which Juliet also co-produced, my job was to provide outfits and accessories to support the narrative.

The biggest challenge in dressing Angela was her busy filming schedules. Our fittings sessions were practically non-existent but I’m glad things turned out great.

What would you say to a fashion designer whose dream is to dress celebrities?

In dealing with celebrities, be cautious. Focus on what they want, but make suggestions on what best fits. Be sure to communicate what you can or can’t do. Simply, be honest.

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What do you look out for in selecting fabrics?

When selecting a fabric, I look out for the uniqueness of the print, the thread count, colour-fast quality and the strength of the fabric. I don’t condone shrinkage or fading when it concerns my fabric.

If you were on a deserted island and could only take one piece of clothing, what would it be?

Well, let’s see. I would definitely take a Dera. It’s multipurpose.

What challenges have you encountered in your business?

Perfecting customer order has always been a challenge, especially when you have to depend on hired hands. But we learn and grow daily with every experience. The biggest challenge remains power blackouts. Traffic, courier clearance bottlenecks, and of course unforeseen circumstances are also issues we’ve had to deal with.

What advice will you give to young African women looking to start a business?

Every business owner requires a huge passion, commitment, and a strong support system. Be your own motivator, some days are going to be tougher than others but you can do it. With God on your side, it can only get better.

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2 year plan? Tell us about it

I’m working on business expansion, opening up more outlets to showcase our amazing designs. These designs would feature locally produced prints and materials that represent the different African cultures.

What other projects are you involved with besides African Fabric and designs limited?

I am a partner with an events and social media management company, DiMaye Media and also a one-third partner in a supplies and Maintenance firm- Tatu Dallas Supplies and Maintenance Ltd.

Which celebrity did you love designing for?

Every client is a star in my eyes. They are my celebrities.


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