How Tamiko Cuellar monetized her gift and launched her business

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

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

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

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

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


What made you decide to launch your own business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Established larger organizations usually hire me to develop their leaders.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africa is rising

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

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

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

Who is your dream client/partner? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This article was put together by Lungiswa Mzimba

6 ways to break down boundaries to becoming a successful entrepreneur

There is nothing women can’t do.

Surely, there are so many hindrances that women in business face. However, when it comes to race, the number of black women entrepreneurs have greatly increased over the past decades.

According to the Census Bureau, eight million businesses in the United States are owned by people from minority groups, and 2.5 million of these are owned by African-American (which makes them the only racial or ethnic group with the highest number of business ownerships).

Also, in the very recent State of Women-Owned Business Report, the number of firms owned by black women grew by 164%. 

We all know it, there is nothing women can’t do. While the stakes are higher, you can break down the boundaries and become a successful entrepreneur.

How?

1. Embrace diversity

Before you make other people believe in you, you first have to believe in yourself. Instead of seeing it as a barrier, you have to embrace your diversity and use it as a competitive advantage.

Take note that diversity goes beyond gender, nationality, color, or race. We have to embrace our uniqueness, be proud of our strengths, and turn our weaknesses into opportunities. 

2. Be passionate about what you do

When you love what you are doing, you gain the courage to look past the challenges and the discouragement from other people. To succeed in business, you’ve got to have a strong mission.

Why do you want to start a business?

Successful entrepreneurs have many things in common. One is their sense of purpose. Of course, an obvious reason is to gain profit.

But there certainly has to be a reason much higher than that which motivates you to pursue what you do.

3. Accept that failure is part of it

You’ve heard stories about business tycoons bouncing back from their failures and have turned out to be better entrepreneurs.

You won’t believe how founders of giant companies like Twitter, Huffington Post, LinkedIn, and PayPal all went through massive failures, costing them millions of dollars.

Here’s the thing – 75% to 90% of all startups fail. It only shows that failing in business is normal.

At some point, you will commit mistakes, you will make wrong decisions, and you will fail. The secret is to never give up.

4. Plan ahead

Behind a successful business model is a solid plan. You don’t jump into the river without knowing how deep it is.

Create a detailed business plan. Identify pain points. Pool your resources and know your options. For example, where will you get the funding? Will it be from your savings or through business financing?

Will you still need investors? How will you reach out to them? List down all your ideas. Do your research. Invest in knowledge. And be ready to start something.

5. Embrace Change

No matter how comprehensive your business model is, at some point, you will have to make adjustments or perform a total shift.

Changes in business are inevitable. Market demands and trends change from time to time. It is scary to confront changes. That’s a normal reaction.  But you have to be flexible and adaptable. Otherwise, you could be left behind.

6. Don’t Forget that You Are Human too

As you establish and grow your business, you will find yourself devoting most of your time to it.

You will miss some important family affairs for client meetings, endure sleepless nights for endless paperwork, and forego weekends to beat deadlines. The key is to strive for balance.

Drink your water. Eat your veggies. Sleep. Pamper yourself. Get your hair done. Go for a mani-pedi.

For you to keep up, you have to be physically and mentally healthy.

Becoming a businesswoman is not an easy feat. Striving for success is much more challenging especially when people kind of judge you for your race or gender.

But don’t let anything or anyone stop you from becoming a top-notch entrepreneur. Remember, in business success, there are no boundaries.


This article was written by Lidia Staron

Lidia Staron is a part of Content and Marketing team at OpenCashAdvance.com. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

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Your blackness is enough on “Jesus and Jollof”: Podcast by Yvonne Orji and Luvvie Ajayi

The levels of hilarity from the Jesus and Jollof will have you spitting out your coffee and drenching your OOTD. By listening to this podcast hosted by two proudly American- Nigerian women – Yvonne Orji and Luvvie Ajayi, you’re let in on the secrets from being highly degreed women to breaking it into Hollywood as top class comedians, they spill the tea on glowing up and stunting on haters to make the best out of your hustle. If you’re about badass captions on the gram and Twitter- you’ll have a whole decade of content with Jesus and Jollof. Facts, no printer. I was introduced to Jesus and Jollof by my sister, after her non-stop giggles got me curious, “What was so funny”, I Thought. She’d just started listening but seemed to really enjoy it so I gave it a try “Couldn’t be that funny”, boy was I wrong. Yvonne Orji and Luvvie Ajayi easily switching between their Nigerian and American accents, talking about how they connected to their encounters with smooth-talking Naija boys, I was hooked. I think it’s incredible that these two Goat queens are out here breaking bounds.
In short, listen to the trailer of Jesus and Jollof here
Growing up in a whitewashed society, it’s hard finding your voice when you’re forced to think and talk in a certain way and especially when you have African parents waiting on you to finish your masters and bring home a suitable husband. Luvvie Ajayi, otherwise known as the “Professional Troublemaker” has got a lot to say on a lot of topics, as seen on her Twitter and IG, she’s hilarious all around. Luvvie is an award-winning writer, speaker, digital strategist, activist, and comedian- Ajayi is nothing short of a game changer. She has another podcast called Rants and Randomness, where she talks about her most pressing rants, raves, and faves on pop culture and the world right now. I have been a fan of Luvvie Ajayi since her incredible Ted talk on “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable“.     Yvonne Orji, 34, received her masters in Public Health but opted to be a comedic genius against her parent’s wishes. I would say she’s the spicy half of the podcast, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Fairly new to the scene, this woman is here to break bounds. I listened to Yvonne’s Ted Talk where she talked about on her decision to remain a virgin until marriage. I was so inspired listening to her and kept looking for more. That’s where I found Insecure, where she stars as a headstrong lawyer. Luvvie joined forces with Yvonne Orji, to speak on the challenges of being immigrants, goal-oriented women with a heavy dose of comedy on their days starting up and living out loud, raising consciousness about real women and girls today. Jesus and Jollof is my top-pick for the podcast of the year. It might be a bit of an overstatement but I have never heard anything so raw, inviting and relatable as a young black millennial. It’s like having incredibly supportive besties as you rush through your day. Why Jesus and Jollof, they mentioned them to be “the two things they can’t do without”. I appreciate these amazing God-fearing women for giving me the courage to go for what I’m worth. We need more black voices sharing their stories, I think this podcast is a pop culture staple, If you don’t leave as inspired as I, I don’t know what else can do the trick. Catch Jesus and Jollof every Wednesdays on SimpleCast and do follow these queens on their social media @yvonneorji and @luvvie on Twitter. You won’t be disappointed.
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7 Lessons MotherlandMoguls can Learn From Meghan Markle

Well, she is no longer just Meghan Markle. She is now Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Sussex.

I love weddings, but boy I love a royal wedding. They happen once in a while but they always linger for long. Nobody could distract me as I watched Prince Harry and Meghan tie the knot in May.

From the carriage to her page boys and little brides, spectacular floral arrangements, and silk minimal dress, everything. Meghan Markle was fascinating!

The more I read about her, the more inspired I am by her story. She reminds me of two powerful women in the Bible, Queen Esther, and Ruth. Like the two women, her life is far from perfect- yet she is now the embodiment of royalty, purpose, and confidence.

Here are lessons every woman can learn from Meghan’s page.

Your Past Doesn’t Define You

If it was up to royal protocol, Meghan wouldn’t be ‘Her Royal Highness’ now. She broke all protocols –she is a divorcee, raised by divorced American parents; one being African American.

Yet that didn’t in anyway stop Prince Harry from marrying her. The past has got nothing on you. It can’t stop God from blessing you, giving you a new title and changing the course of your destiny.

 

Stay Positive

Meghan is the daughter of Doria Ragland, a social worker and yoga instructor and Thomas Markle, a daytime retired lighting director. Maybe she never thought that she would one day end up in the palace; not even as a distant relative.

You can imagine how awful her parent’s divorce must have been for her. She was just six years old and the youngest of her two older paternal half-siblings. But that didn’t stop her. Surely she was remarkably positive and that mindset paved the way for a bright future.

Don’t Laze Around Waiting For Prince Charming To Sweep You Off Your Feet

Meg wasn’t sitting around waiting for a Prince to find her. Before meeting Prince Harry, she was a successful actress, UN ambassador, and blogger.

It takes a lot of guts and hard work to reach certain heights where the world can’t help but identify with you. Meghan Markle was literally a chaser of knowledge in every aspect of her life.

Meghan’s humanitarian work and passion for helping people especially women and children align perfectly with her husband’s charity work. That’s a power couple if you ask me!

Don’t Fall For The Pressure

The media hasn’t been nice to Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother and only family member present on the wedding. Didn’t she have cousins, aunties, and uncles?

In a world where numbers are deemed prestigious, Meghan only had her mum by her side. Sometimes all you need is that one person who has kept it real from day one.

Don’t Give Up On Love

 

Meghan had been in a relationship with Hollywood actor and producer Trevor Engelson in 2004 which resulted in a marriage in 2011. The marriage lasted only two years after which their divorce was completed in 2013.

Since June 2016, Meghan has been in a relationship with Prince Harry, after they met on a blind date set up by a mutual friend.

Last month, they made it official. I’d bet on my chocolate (Trust me, chocolate is the next best thing after my son) that her ex-husband wishes he hadn’t let her go. If only he knew what life had in store for her!

She didn’t let the divorce stop her from falling in love again. And look what a fairytale ending it is!

Keep Smiling

Go ahead and have a look at that sunny smile. You would think that after being officially crowned a member of the British Royal family and the Duchess of Sussex, that she would show less of her teeth.

Not Meghan! She is giving us the whole shiny set. If you ask me, that is how you know a confident woman who is truly being herself, not caring if she’s royal or not.

You don’t know how much good a smile can bring your way. Apart from keeping you young and radiantly beautiful, you just might attract a handsome prince!

Keep It Simple

It’s a wedding! A royal wedding but Meghan isn’t moved by the fact that the whole world stood still for her. She appeared in a low bun, with pieces of hair falling out of place and proudly rocking her freckles.

You could hardly spot any make-up and a dress that was simple but gorgeous. Do I have to add that her dress was modest and that there were no boobs or other assets on display?

She wasn’t seeking to impress anybody. Except for her Prince of course. If he thought she looked amazing, it doesn’t matter what the rest of us think.


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Nnedi Okorafor: All hail Black Panther

All hail Black Panther!

For weeks on end, Africa has been celebrated across continents. There has been a glorious showcase of its beauty, wealth, culture, resilience and diversity, on screen. 

From both young people and the people, many around the world have come out to embrace the African heritage. The Wakanda fever has seen people dressing in African fabric, rocking natural and bald hairstyles, and chanting Xhosa battle cries. 

But, beyond the outstanding representation of African culture, the Black Panther production also featured award-winning actors of African descent such as Kenya’s Lupita Nyong’o, Zimbabwe’s Danai Gurira, and Uganda’s Daniel Kaluuya. 

Currently, Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor is writing the ‘Black Panther: Long Live the King’ comic book. Using her unique brand of storytelling, Nnedi hopes to inspire others to re-create the African narrative. 


With a worldwide box office record or $897 million according to Forbes Magazine, Black Panther has had a phenomenal influence on the world. Originally a comic book, this story has changed the narrative of black characters in comic books and in the media. And instead of the typical American superman, we are now seeing an African, black, superhero!

But this is not it! Other than T’Challa’s superhero skills, we see women who do more justice to #girlpower than Wonder Woman or Cat Woman ever would. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Ramonda (Angela Basset) and Shuri (Letitia Wright), showcase the strength and power of women who slay!

Writing about women who slay is something that Nnedi is familiar with. Her award-winning Afrofuturistic novels combine culture and science to break the limits and the usual narrative of girls can do.

This passion is what led her to bring her unique brand of storytelling to Wakanda land. As the latest writer for this Marvel comic series, Nnedi seeks to remind us that our stories as Africans, as women and as superheroes, need to be heard.

Nnedi Okorafor

 

In changing the African narrative, we help the world recognize that Africa can create solutions towards the world’s development. But more importantly, we showcase the depth and diversity of the African people and their heritage.

Finally, through her contribution to Black Panther, Nnedi hopes to challenge people to rearrange their thinking. It is possible to create a new Africa. By telling these stories of Africa’s great future and her present achievements, we will create this new world that others have no option but to believe in!


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

Connecting the African Diaspora through fashion and entrepreneurship

As an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania, I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad twice in Ghana. This was the first time that anyone in my family, since we were brought to the USA as slaves, had the chance to return to our ancestral land.

While in Ghana, I was exposed to the vibrant and stunning Ankara fabrics and traditional Kente cloth. I instantly fell in love with the fashion there and it’s potential to grow beyond the shores of West Africa and take root and blossom around the globe.

I was also intrigued by the prospective economic impact that fashion could contribute to the households of Ghanaian artisans.

Then LaBré was born

Over the past year I’ve been vigorously working to realize my goals of creating and launching an African inspired fashion line, LaBré. LaBré exists to increase economic growth in Ghana through job creation. It also aims to provide Ghanaian artisans and their products with access and exposure to the international market. LaBré primarily employs women, a population that is often the most disenfranchised.

We just recently led a Kickstarter campaign which culminated into a little under $11,000 to employ more Ghanaian artisans with our company. I am proud of the fact that all of our items are handmade in Ghana by Ghanaian artisans.

My inspiration comes from my ancestors

At the end of the Civil War, most southern African Americans who didn’t migrate to the North made a living through sharecropping which replaced plantation slavery. This is also known as tenant farming.

These systems required farmers to plant and grow crops for the owner of the land in exchange for a portion of the crop. Sometimes, it required farmers to use their labor as rent to reside on the owner’s land.

Sharecropping and tenant farming has persisted in my family to my grandmother’s generation. As a result of having to be self-reliant, my grandmother grew up knowing how to plant cotton. Through sewing, she also knew how to turn the raw material into cloth.

My passion and dedication to create LaBré has culminated into the inter-generational exchange of technical skills. Not only that, it continues to build upon the legacy of self-empowerment, ingenuity, and tenacity.

labreThe power of Diasporic connections

Learning to deal with the challenges that come with running a business overseas, has made me appreciate the diligence of Ghanaian entrepreneurs. I’ve had to work with electric cuts, language barrier and a lack of efficient telecommunication. Add to that the fact that I’m not physically present.

The networks I’ve made have been helpful. Particularly with entrepreneur Peter Paul Akanko, CEO of Kente Masters. Paul helps coordinate and implement LaBré logistical operations on the ground such as shipping, inventory, and photoshoots.

In February 2016, the unemployment rate for Black American ages 16-24 was 14.5%. This is similar to the situation in Ghana. Young people aged 24 and under make up 57% of the Ghanaian population. According to the World Bank’s “The Landscape of Jobs in Ghana” report, 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15-24 don’t have jobs. My friendship with Peter is a great example of what collaboration throughout the Diaspora and youth entrepreneurship can produce.

Telling history through fashion

When you wear LaBré you aren’t just wearing beautiful clothes, you are showcasing your resistance.You’re showing that you are critical of where you invest your money, from who and where you buy, and in what you wear.

The common narrative is the extraction of wealth and resources from Africa. Through LaBré I am seeking to invest in the Ghanaian economy by providing supply for the rapidly growing demand for African inspired fashion.

As an African American, many of us desire to reconnect with our place of origin in meaningful ways. Through LaBré I am telling history through fashion.

Our men and women summer collections are both named after Ghanaian liberation leaders, Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa and King Badu Bonsu II. These are people who we in America grow up with no knowledge of. LaBré is committed to promoting heritage and traditional fabrics through modern design by producing a compelling fashion-forward aesthetic.

labre_juneteenthI plan to build LaBré into a global Diasporic community connecting people through fashion, art, history, and culture. I am currently creating an online platform with Andre Glover of Indsic. The platform will allow Ghanaian artisans mass market and showcase their designs to a global audience and customer base.

This is a grassroots effort that will work with local artisans. From the Kente weaving villages of Andanwomase and Bowire to market women in Kejetia and Tamale. I didn’t realize I would be using my International Relations and African Studies degree to create LaBré. If I could go back and give myself advice before starting my company it would be to “trust God and do it now.”