Over the years, the United States Government has funded a number of agencies and platforms to support African companies to do business with both the U.S. government itself and with the U.S. private sector.
To provide more clarity on ways in which the U.S. can assist in growing African businesses and entrepreneurs through trade, investment, and technical assistance, Africa.com is organising a one-day Virtual Summit – if you are a Motherland Mogul looking to expand your business into the United States, this is not the one to miss!
This Virtual Summit will bring thousands of c-suite executives and decision-makers of African businesses together with high ranking U.S Government and business officials. It will be held on Wednesday the 14th of October 2020 with the following panel sessions:
Panel 1: View From The Very Top The Summit kicks off with keynote remarks by the highest-ranking U.S. government official responsible for relations with Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, The Honorable Tibor Nagy. Then, the Chairman of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (President and CEO of GE Africa) Farid Fezoua, will deliver keynote remarks from the private sector perspective.
Panel 2: Hear It From The Agency Heads A panel discussion featuring the Chief Operating Officer of Prosper Africa, a new U.S. government initiative that brings together the resources of over 17 U.S. Government agencies to connect the U.S. and African businesses with new buyers, suppliers, and investment opportunities. Joining this panel are the ‘Africa heads’ of some of the key U.S. Government agencies that do business with Africa, including the International Development Finance Corporation (formerly OPIC); The Export/Import Bank; USAID; and the U.S. Africa Development Foundation.
Panel 3: Hear It From African Business Heads The third portion of the summit is a panel of very senior African business leaders who have done business with the U.S., who will provide their perspectives on their experiences and guidance to those who seek to follow their footsteps. Panel 4: Views From Ambassadors Country-by-Country The fourth portion of the summit is a panel of U.S. Ambassadors to several key African countries who will speak about the resources available specifically in their markets to support African businesses.
This event is free so don’t miss this opportunity to take your business international!
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.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
As a seasoned businesswoman, Lola Denga has been in the beauty space managing her own business for the last nine years. She offers exclusive services that can be enjoyed from either her own home or that of the clients. Her services include Swedish Massages and manicures among others.
Over the years Lola noticed that these beauty treatments enhanced women’s self-esteem and decided to take a step further. Instead of just focusing on external beauty she decided to write a devotional called G.LO.W (God’s love overwhelms women) to helpwomen intensify their inner beauty.
In a 7-day devotional, Lola helps women foster a deeper connection with God and in doing so, focus on their internal beauty.
She believes that beauty has to come from within and by connecting to the maker, God himself you will achieve wholeness.
What inspired you to open a beauty business?
From the time I was 14 years and went and got my first manicure, I have always wanted to be in the beauty industry. After going to beauty school, I’d go to certain places and see the standards were not the same as those taught in school.
That’s literally where my passion started; I really wanted to bring beauty’s standard and dignity back. I wanted to create an ambience where clients would feel like they are getting the best service and are relaxed.
Beauty school focuses largely on the outside. Why did you decide to go a step further with your devotional?
I realized that after speaking to more women, a lot of them were dealing with inner issues. Yes, they were coming to enhance their outside beauty which consequently led to a temporary sense of confidence. But, the truth is, only when the inside is in harmony with the outside, do you enjoy beauty to its maximum.
What has opening a business taught you about yourself?
It has taught me that I really love people. It has also helped me showcase my creativity and organization skills. I have managed to pick up a lot of other skills through this experience.
What setbacks have you faced while starting and continuing your entrepreneurial journey?
There’s been a couple. It has taken me longer to get off the ground as I personally finance everything. I’d be saving to try and buy equipment by doing other jobs on the side.
Also, people’s attitudes have also posed a challenge. They are becoming more receptive to luxury beauty but largely it is seen more as an unnecessary indulgence rather than a necessity. It has made me see a gap in the market for education.
Educating people on everything from the healing properties of beauty treatments like a massage. I also educate people on how a good regular self-care routine can help reduce stress levels and create a work-life balance.
Where do you seek encouragement during those moments?
I am fortunate to have a strong support system. I have my parents, my husband and my friends and definitely my relationship with God.
How important do you think a relationship with God is to an entrepreneur?
Honestly, it’s very important. Number one, it will keep you sane! There are a lot of things you’ll come across that you didn’t expect to come across. Business competition notwithstanding, there are people you expected support from that disappoint you.
Having a strong relationship with God ensures you know that this is not just a business idea. It is actually a gift and you need to understand that you are using it to worship Him and to impact lives.
At this point, your business should have a purpose and should not just be to make money. The purpose part makes sure that you don’t give up easily.
What are your proudest moments during your nine years as a businesswoman?
One of them was when I published my book. I was very proud of that! Over the years I have been involved in numerous photoshoots as a makeup artist. Those were enjoyable experiences.
I think overall, every day has something that makes you feel like it’s worth it. Even the small things like when a client expresses their gratitude are enough for me.
Do you feel that in Zimbabwe there are enough structures put in place to assist women to open businesses?
Until recently no. But so far, it looks promising. There are quite a few women in business organizations that are starting. The government is also coming in with funding. I am excited to see how this will translate for future business owners.
As a seasoned businesswoman, what are you doing to support women in the entrepreneurial space?
I like to host prayer lounges. During this event, I keep in touch with women in business and keep encouraging them. I also offer career guidance tests if people are unsure of which direction they should be heading in.
I definitely do want to grow these ventures and I have intentions of being a facilitator and speaker in this year.
How do you balance it all?
I’d say time management, though I am not perfect at it yet! Prayer too, because that’s where I get my energy from. I also believe in incorporating things that you love to do even if it’s just reading a book. You need that time to distress and reflect.
That’s how you balance and you don’t end up breaking down or cracking. You have to make sure you get that allocated time for just being you and not thinking about business, not thinking about being a wife and just zoning out.
How do you unwind?
I like journaling, sometimes I’ll just journal for no reason. Occasionally, I enjoy either reading a book or watching a chick flick with a bowl of ice cream. I’m simple like that!
Definitely, I do try to spoil myself when I can. I go and get pedicures and foot massages done by someone else.
What are your top five tips for achieving wholeness?
1. You need to discover your strengths and weakness and accept them!
2.To realize your dreams, set goals and timelines for yourself.
3. Check your relationships with God, family and friends. Make sure that if there are any gaps, try to fix them. Also, let go of things that hurt as they will only hold you back.
4. Work on your self~esteem and general image. Once you find your personal style, you will avoid the pressure to follow trends and be a certain person.
5. Do stuff for others. Sometimes when we are hyper-focused on ourselves we can become closed off. Find something you enjoy doing that will bring impact to someone’s life.
Edirin Edewor is a two-time Amazon Bestselling Author, a Mindset and Author’s Coach, and an Entrepreneur. She works with three types of entrepreneurs to help them publish their books and establish their brands.
Through Edirin’s Process Publishing System, entrepreneurs are helped to write their books with ease in record time get published on Amazon and become bestsellers.
She also caters to the AUTHORPRENUERS who want to sell their books profitably as well as create extra streams of income through their writing.
Finally, Edirin’s 5-Step Process Blueprint helps unknown and underpaid entrepreneurs in the service industry become highly influential and highly paid personal brands.
How do you think your past failures set you up for success?
In 2011 when I was 20, I attempted suicide. After that, I have had 502 of my job applications rejected in 4 years. I failed in 9 out of 11 business in 5 years. I battled with depression and a diagnosis of Early Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 25. With all this suffering, I felt like a failure and thought my life was over.
After much reflection, I began developing a growth mindset which helped me overcome all of these difficult times. I eventually wrote two books; The Productivity Checklist which became an Amazon Bestseller in 2016 and You and Your Mindset.
Understanding that my failures were only learning processes, helped me eventually succeed in life and business. These lessons have helped me effectively start, scale and sustain my business in no time. So, now I help others too.
You do a lot of great work with authors. How important is writing to establishing one’s authority in any given field?
A lot of influential business people today have written books to establish themselves as authorities in their fields. From Robert Kiyosaki, Brian Tracy, to Steve Harris, Arese Ugwu, Nimi Akinkugbe and myself.
Sharing your knowledge with the public shows that you know what you’re doing. It also helps you reach a lot more people with valuable information and grows your value perception.
What tips would you give our young Motherland Moguls who are trying to gain influence in business?
Everyone has to start from the bottom. No one gets to the top of the mountain by falling there. Getting to the top of the mountain of success requires you to climb. It will take some time, dedication, commitment and keeping a positive attitude in the face of obstacles.
One great way to growing influence is getting published and growing your own community. There are many skills and tools to help with this.
Social media platforms have made it easy to grow your influence and build a community of a loyal following today.
From your experience what are the difficult aspects of being an entrepreneur in Africa?
First of all, being an entrepreneur anywhere, male or female, is difficult. However, Africa presents some unique challenges.
The continent is not as technologically and industrially advanced as first world nations. Therefore, there are limited opportunities available to us. This forces us Africans to be creative and create unique solutions to solve our challenges.
Secondly, the African market is still not largely globalized and the ease of doing business on a global scale is still being stifled by the political and economic environment.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs on handling this?
As stated earlier, we have to create unique solutions to our challenges. While we wait for certain technologies to become available to us, we should maximize on what we have.
This also includes constantly seeking opportunities to partner with global businesses to create more favorable conditions to do business. Here is where building trust and fostering good relationships become vitally important.
From your past failures, what would you advise a young African woman getting set to start a business or career?
Being patient and intentional about learning the lessons even when you fail, helps you learn faster, fail less and fly higher.
Today I have built a multi-million naira business sharing this message and helping entrepreneurs build influence so they can share their stories and impact others.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
We are all about the latest shipping solution from Aramex – Shop & Ship and here are 5 reasons why we can’t get over this new service.
1. Offers shoppers 23 physical addresses across the globe: With Shop & Ship you get 23 physical addresses across the globe making it easier for members to shop from websites that don’t normally ship to Nigeria! Shop and Ship provides physical addresses in 23 countries, that enables members to purchase goods and ship them from as many countries as desired.
2. Delivery within 3-6 days: Presently S&S has the fastest delivery time for shopping at international stores.
3. Cost saving – Pay for just what you order: S&S ensures that shoppers are only charged based on the actual weight of the item(s) bought and not by volumetric weight. What this means is that unlike other regular shipping companies, S&S will only charge for the weight of the product to be shipped, and not its dimensions. This is a sure way of reducing shipping costs.
4. S&S allows for tracking of goods to the point of delivery: Shoppers are able to track their goods from the first day until it arrives at your destination. This service guarantees peace of mind especially with customs bottlenecks and all.
5. Pay for your Shipping in Naira: For added ease, Shop & Ship offers you the option of paying for your shipping using your Naira card when your shipping arrives Nigeria.
Join us for a Twitter chat with Shop and Ship!
*Sponsored post by Aramex
Aramex (DFM: ARMX) is the disruptive leader in the global logistics and transportation industry. Established in 1982 as an express operator, the company rapidly evolved into a global brand recognized for its customized services and innovative multi-product offering. Traded on the NASDAQ from 1997 to 2002, Aramex today is a publicly traded company on the Dubai Financial Market, employing more than 18,000 people in 567 locations across 69 countries and leads a strong alliance network providing global presence, and bringing together 40 independent express companies from around the world. The range of services offered by Aramex includes integrated logistics solutions, international and domestic express
In Cameroon, a banking career is every girl’s dream job. For one thing, working in a bank comes with a glamorous lifestyle, which most young ladies dream of; a well organised air-conditioned office, a safe place to work and obviously the glamour of dealing with money.
But 25-year-old banker, Sonya Sandra Toukam Inah says being a banker takes a lot of hard work. There is no substitute for hard work, “you must be willing to work, to make a contribution and have a personal sense of identity”.
Toukam has five years’ experience working with Union Bank of Cameroon. Throughout this time her humility, dynamism, and spirit have given her the opportunity to serve in several capacities in the bank. From an internship, Toukam has been able to accelerate all units of the operations department ranging from customer service, fund transfer agent, clearing officer and personal assistance to the General Manager at the prestigious bank.
Toukam told SLA contributor Marriane that, even though dynamism and humility propelled her career, what really did the trick for her was hard work. She equally advocates for a great degree of clarity and purpose. “I think having clarity of where you are headed, is important. It is important to know where one is headed.”
When asked for her advice to other young ladies who dream to take up banking as career, Toukam proposed the following tips:
Ladies…you have to be clear on what your goals are and how important they are to you. When this is known, you have to go for it. But remember, nothing comes on a silver platter. Choose your subjects rightly and remember hard work is key.
As an aspiring banker, you have to be confident, smart and above all well groomed.
A good banker should be very optimistic. This is because your positive attitude is a pulling factor to all potential customers.
A bank is a confidential institution; every potential banker should be of good morals and integrity.
Lastly, you must be smart and willing to learn from your superiors and colleagues.
Do you have a career in banking? What other tips would you offer aspiring bankers?
Wave Academies is a vocational training platform which aims to empower millions of disadvantaged West African youth. With skills that transform their mindset and employment opportunities that enhance their social mobility.
Misan Rewan is the founder of WAVE Academy. Born and raised in Nigeria, Misan plays a vital role in the transformation of Nigeria’s education and skill development sectors. She has worked in management consulting with The Monitor Group on a wide spectrum of projects in both the private and public sector. She also supported aspiring Ivoirian entrepreneurs through, TechnoServe’s Business Plan Competition; and developed a scholarship administration model as a consultant with the Center for Public Policy Alternatives in Nigeria. Misan supported Bridge International Academies’ international expansion strategy, and is a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur.
Noella Moshi is the Programs Lead at WAVE. She was on the founding team of African Leadership University (ALU) Education where she directed Marketing, and worked on the curriculum. Noella co-developed Goodbye Malaria, a social impact venture that works with private and non-profit organisations to eliminate malaria. She is a Mandela-Rhodes scholar, and a Praxis Fellow.
Ifeanyi Okafor grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about helping young people discover themselves.
Aissatou Gaye is a Senegalese citizen who works as a Finance Coordinator at WAVE. She is currently helping the organization draft its way towards financial sustainability through various revenue diversification and cost reduction strategies. Aissatou is also the co-founder of YAWcamp, a summer camp that focuses on developing critical, creative and proactive thinking among Senegalese youth.
Amina Lawal is the training operations coordinator at WAVE. She is skilled in communication, research and creative writing. She firmly believes that having the balanced 360 degrees life is possible and steadily strives to have such balance. When she is not working, Amina writes for various blogs.
We share the amazing story of these great women and how their awesome work at WAVE is creating the next generation of change drivers.
What was the driving force that lead to creating WAVE?
Lifting John Stott’s definition of vision as: a deep dissatisfaction with what is and a clear grasp of what could be, I’d say the driving force behind starting WAVE was a deep dissatisfaction with the state of affairs for West African youth.
There are over 40 million unemployed youth in West Africa, but beyond the statistics are real faces, people like you and I, whose reality is chronic unemployment, disillusioned poverty and a loss of dignity that leads to growing levels of frustration across the region.
WAVE was an attempt to stop complaining and to do something about it. So a few friends got together in a room and started designing a solution. Enter WAVE – an attempt to level the playing field for hardworking young people by teaching them the skills required to get a good job, increase their incomes and build a brighter future
What has been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve faced and how have you crossed each hurdle?
Biggest challenge faced has probably just been me dealing with my own insecurities (imagined and real) and coaching has been helpful in crossing the hurdle. I don’t hear enough leaders in this part of the world talk about their shortcomings and how they’ve built support networks to deal with them, and I’m no different.
So overcoming has been through everything, from having a coach who helps bring self-awareness to my “automaticities” (my default way of responding) and helps me generate my best self, to family and friends who “hold the space” for me to JUST BE (rather than DO), to the serenity prayer that helps me discern where to focus my brain cells, effort and anxiety. I could give you a laundry list of other challenges faced but the critical challenge/hurdle is dealing with me first so I can see most other challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.
What values have been crucial to your success in the business world?
Inclusiveness – Most of what drives me comes from a simple notion I’ve had since I was a kid, of not wanting poor people to be poor.
At WAVE today, this value translates as “Putting People First” – from the people we exist to serve, to our team who does the serving to our partners who support our service. Our clients see how we have designed our model, service delivery and feedback culture to put them first and so are able to be very forgiving when we slip up, give us feedback and grant us a second chance to make it right.
What principles and skills are necessary for young people to possess in order to excel in today’s world?
There are three things I think are important for success: Knowing your “why”: Understand what motivates you, and connect it to whatever work you are doing. For example, I care about learning for the sake of personal growth. That’s my “why”. As long as I am doing work that pushes me to stretch beyond my current capabilities, my “why” is being fulfilled.
Learning from everyone: Everyone has something to teach us, and if at any point we aren’t learning, then we need to look harder for the lessons. One of my favourite things about working at WAVE is that each person brings insights from their unique experiences; from the driver to an intern, to the people we serve.
Trusting yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Take advice from everyone, but at the end of the day, whatever decision you make must come from you, so that you can stand by it. That way you avoid regret, and you avoid living someone else’s life.
What innovations have helped in achieving the set goal at WAVE, and how exciting is it to train young people of diverse background and see them become more equipped Africans?
Our goal at WAVE is to increase income for unemployed youth. We do this by screening youth for attitude and motivation, training them on employability skills, and then matching them to job opportunities, where they can earn while they learn.
Our most powerful innovation has been to integrate “paradigm change” throughout our process. End to end, we focus on helping youth to mentally connect the dots from where they are, to where they want to be. After WAVE, youth who had dreams but no belief that they could achieve them, can now see how their current efforts will lead them to the next step of the ladder to wherever they want to go. Their self-image also changes: After WAVE, they no longer say “I can’t do this”. Instead they say: “I can’t do this yet”. And that mindset shift makes all the difference.
What mechanism are necessary for facilitating trainings at the Academy?
A trainee must be between 18 and 35 years old, they must agree to the terms and conditions of the training. The trainer and the training operations coordinator must be physically and mentally ready. We make sure each training cycle runs at it’s optimum best.
What tools and support are relevant for young people in the course of their advancement and what kind of partnership would be vital to this?
We provide absolute in-house trainers and also external facilitators who are experts in their fields to train these young people. We also provide ”on the job” support for them, by arranging workshops, alumni panel and counselling.
A partnership with Google could help with the ICT angle, covering the fundamentals of computer skills and basic software they need to know about. Also, the social media angle, most of the jobs we get are evolving, so many of our employers want people with computer skills, or those who can use social media.
What support system has been relevant in helping WAVE thrive over the years?
The success of WAVE over the past three four years has been a combination of multiple factors. The level of engagement and passion from our staff to deliver a rigorous and excellent model. To make access to economic opportunities easier for young underprivileged youth, the financial support we receive from our funders and their commitment to the vision that we are after, and last but not least our employer partner network who are willing to hire based on soft skills, instead of proxies like degrees.
How impactful have the programs at WAVE been over the years, and what kind of investors are you looking to work with in the future?
WAVE’ s reach has grown a lot over the past four years. Since our inception in 2013, we were able to train over 1600 youth on employability skills and place over 800 of them on jobs in the hospitality and retail industries, of which a good number was able to double their income after a year on the job.
We however still have a long way to go to reach the numerous unemployed youth in Nigeria and across West Africa; we cannot do the job alone. We are currently codifying our magic to share with different stakeholders that could effectively reach our target market and bring about the change we want to see: a world where every young person is equipped enough to move up the economic ladder.
What’s the one phrase that resonates for WAVE and why?
The resonating phrase at WAVE is “Start small, Learn fast and Grow big”. The reason behind this is that we believe and understand that the soft skills we train on are vital to the achievement of career goals. Success is not achieve overnight, but it takes consistent conscious steps towards the achievement of success. WAVE is one of those conscious steps to career growth.
What recent achievements have re-echoed the growing impact of WAVE?
One of the recent achievements that re-echoes at WAVE is the increment of our Alums average Salary to N33,000. It is an achievement for us because this is what we set out to do; increasing the income of youth who do not stand a fighting chance in our economy today.
Tell us your favourite destination country?
My dream destination country is America because of the limitless career growth opportunities available.
Are you doing any impactful work to empower unemployed youth?
Dumisile Melody Mphamba is a 19-year-old Zimbabwean young lady who will be starting her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, this fall, under a full scholarship.
Growing up in a country with a ‘broken’ health system, she aims to contribute solutions to eradicating the inequity in the healthcare sector. Dumisile hopes to becomes a medical doctor and public health professional, who focuses her career on optimizing access to healthcare, for low-income Zimbabweans.
She describes herself as an artistic scientist. During her high school days, Dumisile co-managed 26 extracurricular clubs including: Public Speaking Captain and Toastmasters Vice President. She is also an active She is a Worship Leader, actress, Youth Music Director and volunteer in her community. Dumisile is the oldest of three girls, and lives with her parents and sisters in Harare, Zimbabwe.
In this interview, she takes us through her incredible story to Stanford…
What has been your motivation for excellence and what impact have you made as a result?
My core belief is that I was created to praise and please the Lord. What better way to honour my Creator and Source than to give Him my best and nothing less?
In this same regard, I take pleasure in developing other people, so that whether they share my spiritual beliefs or not, they can live to get the very best out of life, and share the very best of their gifts with the world.
I do this in many ways, my particular favourite being, as a mentor and Youth Group Leader in my church, as well as the Youth Music Director and Worship Leader. In addition to that, as a Cultural Captain and leader in my school.
I believe that, by striving to maintain excellence as a form of worship, I inspired several of my schoolmates to pursue academic, extracurricular, sporting and other equally important forms of excellence, and thus obtain a sense of fulfillment.
Take us on a walk through your journey to attaining a full scholarship at Stanford University?
I began considering applying to the US for tertiary education when my school Guidance Counsellor suggested that I consider it as an option. Anyone who knows me, knows that at the time (I was 17) I had made a solid plan to complete my GCE A-levels, pass and go straight to medical school, without going through the relatively complicated American path to becoming a medical doctor.
It took a lot of convincing from my Guidance Counsellor and my mentor, Dr Charlene Kembo-Chideme. But, I joined EducationUSA Harare, took the SATs, sought guidance from the EducationUSA advisor and fellow Zimbabweans in the USA (in crafting my application essays), applied, and the rest is history.
I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University, also on very generous scholarships, but Stanford had always been my dream school, and their package was the most generous of the three. So I am very grateful for having such an easy choice to make!
What principles have been fundamental to you and why?
My defining element is my constant motivation to please God, and pursue a close relationship with him. But, this was not always my conviction.
When I was about 14 years old, I experienced a time of loneliness and rejection by friends I had trusted for years, as well as tragedies that led to angry questions: What was the point of living? What was the point of God?
It is then that I began to realize, through prayer, introspection, and a bucket load of tears, that my job was not to understand why things were the way they were. But, what was important was for me to flourish in those circumstances, and please God by doing my personal best, no matter what my surroundings looked like.
While in high school, you balanced having an outstanding grade while managing over twenty-six extracurricular activities. How did you achieve that?
The most important element was my close relationship with God and our often brutally-honest conversations. I also received constant encouragement from my parents, and had a strong support structure of older sisters, particularly my mentor, who affirmed me especially when I needed it.
I also have to mention my artistic outlet. I studied only science subjects at Advanced Level, and so it became increasingly important for me to deliberately let out the artist in me on stage, through public speaking, theatre, music and worship.
What qualities are essential for young Africans?
Resilience is key. One of my favourite quotes is “A river cuts through the rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins. As young Africans, we must believe in the unique gifts and ideas we possess.
We must be resilient enough to seek new ways of pursuing our goals if ever we fail, and we must refuse to allow our gift to die without being tapped into. I believe that leadership is the ability to use our gifts to unite people; Towards a vision that benefits followers, and to inspire them to develop their own vision for their lives, so that they may use their gifts to, in turn, benefit the lives of others.
What are your plans for Africa and Zimbabwe in particular in the coming future?
My goal is to become a medical doctor and public health professional, who focuses her career on optimizing access to healthcare for low-income Zimbabweans.
I look forward to collaborating with many like-minded individuals, both in Africa and the world at large, who are also passionate about developing healthcare infrastructure in our part of the world.
During college, I aim to involve myself in service initiatives that can, in one way or the other, enable me to begin to work on developing Africa.
Tell us how you sang your way to Paris in 2014
I first heard of Alliance Francaise de Harare’s annual national contest ‘Sing Your Way to Paris’, when I was 13 years old, and purposed in my heart to win it someday, even though I had never sung in French before, let alone in front of the audience.
I entered the contest when I was 16. With the support of my family, French and Music teachers, and my musical genius of an aunt, Aunty Tammy- I sang and performed ‘Je Lui Dirai’ by Celine Dion, and became the first teenager ever in the country to win the contest! It was a dream come true.
Reading a book or watching a movie, what would be your preference?
That is hard to answer. I tend to watch movies upon recommendation from trusted sources. The same goes with books. It is my own elaborate form of laziness. And I am proud of it!
What an inspiring young lady! How has the belief in excellence helped you achieve your goals?
Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson was born in Germany, grew up in Sierra Leone, and completed her studies in Canada and the USA. She is a social scientist, organization consultant, academic and writer. Dr Yabome Gilpin- Jackson considers herself to be a global African, dreamer and storyteller – a curator of African identity and leadership stories.
She’s been named International African Woman of the Year and Emerging Organization Development Practitioner 2017. The author of Identities: A short story collection, and initiator and co-editor of We Will Lead Africa, Volume 1.
Best known for: Her laugh. Yabome, who is married and the mother of 3 children, has also published several journal articles and book chapters and continues to research, write and speak. Most recently at Princeton University – on the importance of holding global mindsets and honouring diversity and social inclusion in our locally global world.
What is We Will Lead Africa?
We Will Lead Africa is a platform for inspiring continued change and transformation on the African continent, in two ways: First, we collect, curate and share the stories of everyday African leaders who are making a real impact on the progress of the continent. Second, we encourage networks of everyday leaders to gather in their communities to share, learn and inspire each other to continue taking actions that make a difference.
At our root, our work is about sharing inspiration and action, through the power of storytelling. We know that the personal narratives of ordinary everyday leaders are in fact extraordinary. Our first volume shows this powerfully. It reminds us everyday that Africans are taking charge of their destinies and futures, despite popular opinions.
My inspiration came from a deep desire to be part of the movement of Africans reclaiming our own narratives. When you live in the West/Diaspora, you are bombarded by news, images, and everyday negative stereotypes, that imprint the challenges and deficits of the continent on entire populations that don’t know any different. As this is perpetuated, Africans ourselves become hooked into a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, even when we know that the dominant view is an incomplete one.
We do not hear about all that is going well, the innovations occurring, the industries emerging and expanding, the people and groups who are no longer waiting for our political leaders and foreign aid to fix all our problems. As we lose hope, our conversations become like the very dominant Western narratives we are subsumed in.
For example, I received a call for submissions to the Kwame Nkrumah International conference a few years ago and the list sparked a deep desire for change in me. The list was focused on all the historical issues that have led us to the political leadership challenges we face on the continent. Then, I thought what about leadership NOW and into the FUTURE? What does that look like? That was what sparked the idea for We Will Lead Africa.
When I met my co-founders and co-editors, Sarah and Judith, they shared similar thoughts and sentiments and off we went. It’s important to say also that we are not interested in a one-sided view or only the positives…we want to know and be inspired by the fullness of stories of everyday leaders. How do they navigate and overcome the challenges they face everyday, to solve complex problems on the African continent?
This volume is so full of inspiration and examples of courage! I was impacted by all of them in different ways. But, the one that I keep remembering though is, Chris Mulenga’s story about starting a program to help get street children recognized for their resilience and innovative capacities and reunited with their families.
Chris describes how he has done this work that has a 90% success rate. He describes himself as poor when he started and says he is still poor. Yet at the time of writing the book he had helped over 6,500 children and has been recognized with international humanitarian awards.
He attributes his inspiration to the value of being hospitable-which he learned as a child- whereby his family would share what they had no matter how little; and to the orientation of service to the poor that comes from his Catholic faith.
I just keep thinking about the resources available to so many of us, and yet, we are stopped by the myth that we do not have enough to make a meaningful difference to the lives of others. What if we just tried? What if we just started now, with whatever we have?
What are the 3 main steps you’d advise for an aspiring author ?
1. Get clear what story you are passionate about telling and why
2. Get clear who you want to tell it to
3. Be focused and determined…and just start writing.
There really is no magic to it – it’s 90% determination and the willingness to make time to do the work needed.
Growing WWLA brand…
Our priorities are growing We Will Lead Africa networks and encouraging other African leaders to take on editing volumes as well. The three of us have identified a volume we will work on next, and we are documenting our process, which we will make available to others interested in editing a volume as well.
For now, stay tuned in the next 18months to 2 years for the following volumes: We Will Lead Africa: Technology; We Will Lead Africa: Women; and We Will Lead Africa: Governance.
Our priority is in growing our impact in inspiring everyday Africans to take action for the change and transformation of the continent. We are in this for the long haul and are choosing to go together so we can make real progress. As the often quoted proverb attributed to African wisdom goes: If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
Your roles include: social scientist, consultant, academic, writer, curator of African identity and leadership stories. How do you prioritise all your roles?
My overarching anchor is that I am an applied social scientist in the field of Human and Organization Development. My work is about developing our human capacity to be, think and do things differently and better than we are doing today. What excites me is the idea of human potential and what we are capable of- under the right conditions.
Everything else is attached to my work as an applied social scientist, whether I am working with a single leader, an organization, a community or students on a campus. My consulting to leaders is about how they can lead in ways that helps their teams and groups reach full potential.
My teaching in the field, is to help students develop the capacity for complex, systems-thinking about human concerns. My writing and research is also to spark transformational change in the issues I write about.
Before and beyond all this, I am a wife and mother and that person who loves my close and extended family fiercely. I pray for strength to always be a decent human being in the world. At the end of the day that’s my first priority. Living and loving well, such that who I am and what I do makes a difference to others. Even if it’s just my smile…or my crazy laugh.
Do you have a positive story to share about an African initiative?
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
Growth of e-commerce Gives Rise to Sophisticated African Digital Consumer
After scouring the store for a new pair of sneakers, Paballo Molahlehi finally lands on the one that catches her attention. She stares at it excitedly, swooning over the fresh pair of purple Reeboks. “It’s precisely the one I was looking for, I knew I was going to find it here” she nods as she adds the shoes to her shopping basket.
Thrilled with her latest addition to her growing sneaker collection, she navigates her way to the pay point. Molahlehi is doing all this while reclining comfortably on her couch, enjoying the convenience of online shopping. “I stopped going in-store after discovering online shopping. It makes more sense because my purchases get delivered to me for free, and I usually get discounts.”
Molahlehi is among Africa’s growing middle class who have money to spend and whose shopping habits have changed. With the surge of internet penetration on the continent, many Africans are easing into the habit of shopping online. According to a McKinsey’s Lions go digital report, online shopping could account for up to 10% of retails sales (with a value of around US $75 billion) by 2025, as more Africans gain access to the internet.
The increasing access to the internet is seeing a rapid emergence of e-commerce sites eager to tap into the continent’s growing online consumerism. The likes of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are at the forefront of this evolution. Companies such as Jumia, a Lagos-based online retailer, are dipping their finger in almost all major markets on the continent, cutting themselves an enviable piece of every pie. Jumia is also among Africa’s best-funded e-commerce sites, having raised US $150 million in funding in 2014.
As more people take to the internet to do their shopping, the demand for devices such as smartphones also increases. The 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey finds that in countries such as South Africa, smartphone acquisition increased from 52% in 2016 and 63% in 2017. Some of the more technologically advanced nations like Kenya and Nigeria boast a smartphone uptake of more than 44% and 30% respectively. Across the continent, the number of smartphone users saw a nearly twofold increase, reaching more than 226 million. This spike in smartphone penetration is steering a digital revolution on the continent, exposing users to the endless opportunities the internet provides.
Here are some of the top e-commerce platforms in Africa that are reaping the benefits of the booming internet penetration on the continent.
With a mission statement and ethos for connecting African consumers and entrepreneurs to do better business together, Jumia is blazing the trail of e-commerce sites in Africa.
The company is creating a platform where small, medium and large African companies link with their potential market, thus creating a new-age ecosystem that bypasses the middle man.
Launched in 2012 in Nigeria, the site has solidified a footprint in over 23 African countries, with a network of over half a million sellers since its inception. Jumia has managed to create a stellar reputation for being a hub for products and services spanning across the retail, food and hospitality, talent recruitment, concierge and the hotel and catering industries. Apart from servicing the needs of consumers and businesses, Jumia has also been upskilling and aiding employment for many Africans who are qualified in areas such as Engineering, IT and online marketing and web development.
South Africa’s Takealot is the go-to online retailer for the shopper that seeks a convenient and simplified online buying and user experience. The site has been around for over a decade, having been established in the year 2002. Its broad catalogue and variety of products in entertainment gives it an impressionable edge. Customers can shop anything from books to games, computers and TVs.
Part of what makes Takealot an e-commerce success story is that the online retailer strives to provide its customers with the very latest products in the market, coupled with up-to-date product specification.
In April 2017, Takealot scored a significant investment of over US $69 million from Naspers, one of Africa’s biggest digital companies. This came after the online retailer received US $100 million investment from investment firm Tiger Global Management in 2014. Naspers boasts a 53,5% stake in Takealot, while Tiger Global owns about 34%.
Kenya’s largest online shopping mall, Kilimall is relatively new in the e-commerce space but has remarkably managed to create an inter-continental mark since its launch in 2014. The site, now established in other countries such as Nigeria and Uganda, has a retail customer base that continues to boom.
Kilimall is known for providing electronics such as phones, computers and gadgets, stocking top brands such Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, and Phillips. The site also offers other products such as home appliances, clothes, books, health and beauty products, and more. All its services are accompanied by a 7-day free return policy on their premium range of goods, making it an attractive choice for consumers.
Konga has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2012 as a Lagos-only e-commerce site that specialised in baby and beauty care. The online platform has morphed into a major online retailer, often dubbed “The Amazon of Africa.” In 2015, Konga joined forces with leading Nigerian banks to launch KongaPay, a safe and convenient online payment method to tackle the issue of trust in Africa when it came to online payments.
The online marketplace was one of the first in Africa to create a system of payment that was integrated with world banks – an innovation that uses click system that eliminated the sharing of sensitive information during payments.
With a backing from the South African media giant, Naspers, Konga is now a major player in the e-commerce space. In 2014, Naspers, which has a 50% stake in Konga, invested US $50 million in the online store.
Established in 1999, South Africa’s online store Bidorbuy is one of the oldest online marketplaces in Africa. What makes the site unique is that buyers don’t only get to purchase what they want, but they can also make a bid for products, functioning as an online auction. The site provides a platform to facilitate trade between buyers and sellers. Previously owned items such as antiques and collectables are some of the most popular on Bidorbuy, making up 40% of all items sold. Other second-hand products shoppers prefer include high-end DSLR cameras and lenses, laptops, books, as well as video games.
Over the years, Bidorbuy has made several acquisitions of South African online businesses. These include popular sites such as online jobs portal, Jobs.co.za and e-commerce company uAfrica.com.