MUST READ -The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School

So, you want to be an entrepreneur? There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that it may not be at all like what you see on social media—the serene photos on the beach, overnight insta-fame, and the perfect work/life balance.

The truth is, only a handful of people get to experience those things consistently, and they typically have to pay their dues for an average of 15 years.

Research shows that only half of new businesses survive for the first five years, and only 35% are able to survive for 10 years. Even grimmer, Bloomberg research shows that 8 out of every 10 businesses fail within the first 19 months.

But don’t be discouraged!

There’s good news too, which is that freedom and autonomy are real, and so is the thrill of doing something that you love day in and day out.

The question is: how do some people do it?

In my latest book, The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: I share 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School and share the secrets that every new entrepreneur should know.

From the value of infrastructure to remaining relevant, aspiring and operational entrepreneurs will learn:

  • How to build a sustainable business from within;
  • How to create a healthy work/life balance;
  • How to stay true to their original vision, while creating a model that consistently engages their audience;
  • How to avoid common reasons for business failure including leadership and management failure, weak value proposition, unprofitable business model, and poor financial management; and
  • How to create cash flow streams that will enable them to defy the odds and beat the statistics.

Want to be part of the success stories this year, then The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won’t Teach You in Business School is a must-read.

Here’s what readers are saying:

“…I bought this book and I’m so glad that I picked it up. The author, Andrena, explains her own personal journey of entrepreneurship and TRULY breaks down her struggles and triumph in the area of finances, making a profit, health journey, love and all. The reality is that (as) an entrepreneur it will affect all areas of your LIFE, Sawyer talks exactly about the things that they don’t teach you when you’re getting your MBA. Quick read as well!”

“…This book is worth the read. It has incredibly insightful information on what people tend to not address in business school. A must for anyone that wants to pursue owning their own business. Definitely recommend, it is a keeper.”


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Makalela Mositsa: I am on a journey to create a powerful legacy through leadership empowerment

Makalela Mositsa, simply known to some as Kay, is an author, model and social entrepreneur with a passion for helping women realize their true essence.

She helps young women make the transition from being ordinary women to becoming future leaders with real impact and deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still maintaining a healthy home.

Makalela started writing for She Leads Africa in early 2016. This year, she ventured into leadership empowerment where she coaches high school youth on topics like becoming leaders and starting their own businesses.

Makalela offers a wide range of programs and services – from individual coaching to seminars and keynote addresses.

Fellow SLAy queen Jeanette Nkwana had a chat with her and got to know a little more about this multi-faceted woman.


 

How did you go from social entrepreneurship to the runway?

Modeling has always been a passion for me. When I heard Miss Eagle SA was modeling and empowerment all wrapped in one, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing contest.

Miss Eagle SA is a great platform for me to reach out to and motivate as many individuals as I can. Women empowerment has always been my first love and modelling is just fantastic.

Getting to do the two simultaneously has been an exciting journey for me. I believe doing what you love is freedom but having everything in one package is indeed a blessing.

 

Why leadership empowerment?

Leadership empowerment is synonymous to transformation. Click To Tweet

It is the art of bringing out the best in others and encouraging them to lead and pay it forward by empowering others.

Realising that though a lot of people have dreams and great ideas but still need to be empowered so that they can fulfill their desires is what ultimately led me to this path.

Without empowerment, motivation, and encouragement, dreams of world change will remain just that, dreams.

 

What are the top 3 qualities you believe any leader should have?

  • Passion for what you do
  • Full of motivation
  • Aspiration to make a difference

 

You help young women transition into leaders, what is your approach to this?

A good coaching process sets the way forward, holds people accountable, enables them to take responsibility for their own direction, opens up the way for greater communication, increases competency, and expands innovative opportunities. 

These are all ingredients of leader-empowering behaviors, which has been shown to increase psychological empowerment also. 

 

If you could, would you travel back in time or into the future? 

Back in time. What I know now leads me to believe I could’ve been better and done more in the past. I don’t regret the past, but I do feel I could have made a better difference than I did.

 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from within. The intense passion that is burning within me always pushes me to reach for my dreams.

It inspires me to be limitless and driven, and ultimately be a better person than I was yesterday.

What are your top 3 hacks for dealing with school, entrepreneurship and work/family life?

  • Set time for each task- prepare a schedule at night for the tasks I’ll be doing the             following day.
  • Attend to tasks in accordance with their priority.
  • No matter how swamped I am with school work and meeting deadlines, I never take for granted the time I need to spend with my family.

 

How do you explain the complexity of entrepreneurship?

Everything originates from a thought, what you think you become. Click To Tweet

Many entrepreneurs who have achieved phenomenal things did it without being in possession of formal qualifications. They observed what was happening and lacking in society and thought implemented ideas that could eradicate such problems.

Entrepreneurs believe in their own thoughts and work hard to bring them to life, but they also never forget the importance of education, in whichever form.

When you are in business you need to understand the market, comprehend the business language and most importantly make others see and understand your brand narrative so they can invest their time and money in it. 

 

If you had to describe your life right now using a movie title, which would it be and why?

Journey. I’m on a journey to create a powerful legacy that will forever continue to empower others and have a positive impact on the society.

 

Has your age or gender ever been a problem for some of your clients or anyone in general? How did you deal with it?

I’m a simple person, just a young lady with big dreams and a strong desire to realize them. People are different, some arrive at their own conclusions about you before getting to know you and others get to know you before judging you or your capabilities.

I had moments where I was looked down on because of my gender, age, and appearance, but I always let my work speak for me, I’m confident in my abilities. 

What has been the greatest lesson you learned building your different careers?

If you can think it then you have the ability to breathe life into it. Our imagination is boundless and that on its own makes us limitless beings.

We all have greatness within, whether you make it count is your own prerogative.

 

What advice will you give to young women who want to go into social entrepreneurship and women empowerment?

Firstly, believe in yourself and in your dreams. Do it because you love it. Never let the fact that people don’t see and believe in your vision hinder you.

Finally, be the change you want to see.

Hanna Ali: Through my short stories, I hope that Somalis will connect to feelings of uprootedness

Hanna Ali is a writer, poet, teaching fellow and so much more. She is the first contemporary author to publish her collection of short stories in Somali.

Through her book “Sheekadii noloshayada”(The Story of us), she never shies away from controversial topics, while she proves that where there is pain, there is beauty.

She explores the themes of home and (un)belonging in her creative works, and captures the unspoken tensions and hopes of displaced people, therefore, it’s only apt that her work is accessible to the entirety of the Somali diaspora and beyond. 

Having shared her insights on how to stay relevant as a creative writer during an SLA Facebook Live, Hanna talks extensively about her writing and her decision to publish in Somali instead of English language.


Why is it important for you to publish in Somali?

I think it’s powerful to say that I am a Somali author who has been translated to Somali. Buying my short stories is much bigger than myself and it’s about supporting this incredibly amazing movement of bringing modern stories in indigenous African languages.

Market FiftyFour has given me an incredible platform to publish in Somali and I was attracted to the notion that African stories in African languages matter. They matter because we exist, and we not only deserve but demand brand new, contemporary stories in the indigenous languages. 


Your work covers themes of displacement, fracture, uprootedness. Why are these important themes for you?

These are important themes for me because I was a child refugee, and the experiences that I have had of course affect my work.

I also think that a great deal of Africans and of course others in the West do feel a sense of displacement as part of the diaspora experience and the notion that you don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Through my short stories, I hope that people (Somalis in particular), will connect to feelings of uprootedness and to know that they’re not alone in their life experiences.

 

There is a poetic ring to your prose, and you consider yourself first and foremost a poet. What is it that draws you to poetry?

Poetry, for me, is very raw and it’s a genre that always sticks with me; poems have a way of hitting you hard in that pit in the bottom of your stomach and unearthing all the tense feelings that we carry.

My short stories were created out of my poetry and the intent is for my stories to read like poetry in the sense that I want it to be raw and vulnerable and full of meanings that hopefully anyone can relate to and draw from.

Do you have a routine to get into writing? What space do you get into for you to be creative?

I find that I write at the most random time, whether it’s convenient or not! Sometimes it’s waking up from a dream at 3 am and making notes on my phone, other times it’s whilst working on something else.

I wish that I could say that sitting down with a big cup of tea and soft music at home is the magic trick that wills my mind into writing but mostly you just take what you can get.

Having said that, most of my best writing has come from sitting outside on a warm day or night so maybe that’s my secret after all; fresh air and warmth.

Since storytelling is very important in Somali culture, how do you draw inspiration from your Somali roots in your stories?

I draw inspiration from my Somali roots simply because I am a Somali who was born in Somalia and who speaks Somali. 

I grew up in Europe and therefore my culture is all around me, I’d say it’s hard to not draw inspiration from it!

A lot of the topics you tackle are contentious, how important was it for you to veer away from conventional and safe topics?

Nothing about me has ever been “safe” or “conventional” and so, of course, my writings have no place being in that sort of category.

I wouldn’t necessarily claim that I went out of my way to write contentious topics, but I do think it’s important for any writer to speak their truth and to let their creative imagination take them to where it needs to go to organically by not having an agenda per se but an idea.

Also, safe and conventional just oozes out boredom and I hope that my writing is anything but boring.

How do you make sure that your writing skills improve?

I think that it’s very important for writers to be well-read and to take themselves outside of the bubble of writing by reading different genres and writing styles.

Sometimes when you’re in a writing phase, you tend to lose yourself inside of an imaginary world so reading lots and taking time out to focus solely on my doctoral studies helps me to then come back to my creative work with a new perspective.

I also find that there are always going to be bad first drafts and accepting that is an important way to improve.

What is your advice to young African female writers on getting published?

 

My advice is put yourself forward and apply to as many writing competitions as possible alongside online magazines and other creative platforms that are continually looking for submissions.

It’s important to know that rejection is an essential part of any creative work and that you should never let that steer you from your goal.

Ultimately, you must be the greatest believer in yourself and your work and eventually, the world will catch up as well. Just do it!


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Annemarie Musawale: I took my power back

Annemarie Musawale
Being a single mom, academic writing seemed the best option in order to be home for my son & earn a living Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and she says, she’s never actually stepped one foot out of East Africa. Growing up this self-publishing author almost always had a book in her hand. Needless to say, she made up stories of her own. By the time she went to high school, Annemarie had pretty much read every book her classmates were just beginning to discover.

Annemarie went to the University of Nairobi to pursue a BSc. Degree in Botany, Zoology, and Chemistry. Two years into the course, she was accepted to Makerere University to do BPharm. Leaving work as an active Pharmaceutical Technologist, 2009 was the year Annemarie Musawale became a full-time academic writer. In her own words, ‘Being a single mom, it seemed the best option in order to be home for my son when he needed me, and still earn a living.

SLA contributor Rumbidzai had an opportunity to interview her and Annemarie had all these interesting stories to tell.


How long does it take you to write a book?

Unfortunately for me, writing my own books is not my day job. So I can only write in my spare time, which is very scarce these days. So on average, it can take me anything from six months to two years to write a book. I’m working on making time no matter what, to write daily but so far, I’m not there yet.

Looking at the books or pieces you have written what is your ultimate goal?

When I wrote “Single Motherhood Unplugged” almost eight years ago, it was a catharsis for me. A way to get my baggage off my back and let it go.

I put the book up for sale because once it was written; I could not just throw it away. There were life lessons to be learned, a way for someone else to learn from my experience. So I let it go out into the world and find its audience. It is my one non-fiction book and I call it my ‘step-child’ because of how much I do not market it. The goal therefore with that book was…help someone else who was looking for answers.

My other books are fictional in nature. They were written with a lot of love and I guess their goal has been achieved. To have someone read them, and enjoy the words; perhaps be touched by it. My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists.

My role model in this business is Diana Gabaldon because our paths are remarkably similar. Background in the sciences, Diana started out writing (in her late thirties) just to ‘try it’. She ended up creating characters it is difficult to let go of. Twenty years later, Diana is where I want to be, twenty years from now.

My ultimate goal, of course, is to make the New York Times Bestseller lists - Annemarie Musawale Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

For the sake of some of our Motherland Moguls who haven’t read your book, “Single Motherhood, what can they expect from it?

They can expect it to be raw, painful to read even and completely truthful on what it is really like to have a baby on your own. I called it ‘unplugged’ because it is like those musical performances where the singer has just a stool and a guitar and whatever talent they have in their bodies. They present it to you and let you judge them on the merit of their work.

In the book, I let people into my head and lay it bare for them to do with, as they will. It was a very difficult thing to do, but from the feedback I have gotten, there are people out there who needed to read it. So have a look at it with my blessing.

Now that’s interesting! In your line of work is there anything you find particularly challenging?

Well, the business of writing has its challenges as many writers can tell you. The first is marketing. Getting enough people to hear of your books so that they want to go look for them. The market is crowded and getting noticed is hard.

Add to that the fact that my books are not the typical ‘African writers’ type of book. One of my Kenyan readers put it this way; “This book could have been written by anyone, anywhere. It is not confined by time or space.” And while I agree that that is true, I think that nobody but me could have conceived of these books the way I did.

It was my unique perspective brought about by living in the ‘global village’ but residing in Kenya. For that reason though, my books don’t have a readymade market. They have too many elements that are foreign to the African psyche, and yet if it were written by a Westerner, most Africans wouldn’t have a problem with it. But the combination of being an African, writing a global book is a new idea.

The upside of this is, my audience is not confined to those around me but is truly global. When I see that people from as far away as Japan, Ukraine, Russia, America, and Brazil…have clicked on my links and looked at my books…it makes me feel warm and happy. However, it also makes hosting book signings a bit difficult.

When I began in this business, I was traditionally published. However, my publisher was very stingy with information to do with my book. They expected me to do the lion’s share of marketing (as most authors are expected to) without giving me feedback on what was working, what sales figures were or even paying me royalties. So I took my power back, took my books back and went the self-publishing route. This way, I have complete control over my content and when I try a marketing style, I have direct feedback on whether it is working or not.

Another major challenge is getting people to leave reviews. I can get an email from a reader telling me how great one of my books was, and why. But asking them to post a review gets an ‘I’ll do it right away.’ and then crickets. All of my reviews that have been given on any of my works have been totally random and unrequested. Those are usually the best kind though so I am not complaining.

Annemarie Musawale: The first challenge in the business of writing is marketing Click To Tweet

Annemarie Musawale

Do you read your book reviews? How do you react to both the good and the bad?

I read every single book review I get. It is like catnip for writers I think. Any writer who tells you they do not read their reviews is either lying or not invested in their work. I am yet to have a bad review though, so maybe when that happens I will be more selective. Even when I get less than four stars, the reasons given for it are not to do with the work; one three star review stated that the price of the book and the size were not commensurate. Well, at the time, my publisher controlled the price…

My one and only two-star review was one I got on my book, “Child of Destiny”. It is actually one of the most comprehensive and complimentary reviews I have ever received. But the reader had a policy that if she is unable to finish the book, she gives it an automatic two stars. I urge you to go and read the review on Amazon, and see if your curiosity to read the book is not peaked.

I am always grateful for anyone who takes the time out to read my book and then go the extra mile and write a review. It is a compliment whether the review is good or bad and I always appreciate it.

Annemarie, what’s your favorite under-appreciated book/ novel?

I think one book that probably does not get the recognition it deserves is “Children of God” by Maria Doria Russell. I cannot emphasize how much her creation of new worlds and her envisioning of the future of this one influenced my writing and my life.

Annemarie Musawale

Are there Annemarie Musawale stories or experiences you would love to share?

Well, recently I have had several aspiring writers ask me how I got started. It’s a difficult question to answer because I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.

I’d write something and take it to my mother to read. She’d read it and tell me I did well. I guess she was my very first ‘fan’. When she died, I sort of lost my way or my reason for living and I channeled all that pain into writing “Single Motherhood Unplugged.” It was a conduit to get rid of the rage and the pain. It was that or go mad.

It was the beginning of getting better. After that, there were many stories I began and failed to finish. But then one night I had a dream about a teenage girl and a teenage guy. And when I woke up the story was still in my head. And it stayed in my head until I wrote it down.

Then I sent it to the Kwani Manuscript Project. And they long listed it despite the fact that it was in no way an ‘African writer’ type story. So when people ask me, “How did you do it?” I really don’t know what to say. Because it just happened.

Tell us would you rather be unable to use search engines or unable to use social media?

This is a hard one guys. Search engines are necessary for just finding things out and social media is necessary to get the word out. They’re both equally important. But if I absolutely had to choose, I guess I could do without social media for a while. There are other ways to get the word out…hopefully.


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

Oby Bamidele: The more you conform, the less you become

I predominantly help women dig deep to discover their true self - Oby Bamidele Click To Tweet

Oby Bamidele is an Authenticity Coach and registered Counsellor who believes that a person can only be truly happy when he or she is being true to themselves. Oby started her career as an accountant, and in her book “Finding Purpose”, she shares candidly her challenges and triumphs in breaking out of a conformist life and uninspiring career.

Her interest had always been in people and psychology, but at 18 years old, she lacked the knowledge and conviction to convince her parents that studying Psychology would be a wise career choice.  

After years of struggling to live the fulfilling life she craved, Oby finally took the leap and she certainly is not looking back. Her goal is to empower women around the world to be authentic, self-aware and live purposeful, nonconformist, liberated lives.


Tell us a little about yourself and your job as an Authenticity Coach?

Although my clients are diverse, I predominantly help women dig deep to discover their true self and the clarity and courage to make the changes that will enable them to live a deeply satisfying life.  We live in a world where we strive to fit in and conform to gain approval. We do what is expected of us by our families, friends, society and the world, usually to the detriment of our own needs, dreams, and passion.

In our bid to fit in, we lose the essence of who we are, or we hide away the parts of us that we feel do not fit into the ideal standard. However, doing so hinders our ability to embrace our uniqueness and individuality.  

When my clients come to me, they are frustrated, confused, scared and unsure. My job is to help them, understand who they are, identify the root of their problems and coach them to develop the right mindset, resilience, and resources to achieve their desired change.

Oby in red cardigan -park

Before becoming an Authenticity Coach and Counsellor, you were an Accountant. What inspired the transformation?

I started my career in Accounting, having studied Accounting and Finance at University. But I was unfulfilled in a career that didn’t play to my strengths, passions or interests, which for me was soul-defying. I wanted to be excited about my work and not dread Monday mornings.

Oby Bamidele wanted to be excited about her work and not dread Monday mornings Click To Tweet

I was unhappy and constantly trying to be the person that I thought I should be rather the person I truly wanted and needed to be. As a result of my unhappiness, I made poor choices in my spending, relationships and my eating habits. Things were spiralling out of control, I was engaging in excessive behaviours to numb my emotional pain.

I reached a low point where I had to re-think my life; my self-discovery journey began. I started having counselling and mentoring. Through counselling, I began to know me and I liked the new person that was emerging. I learned that not knowing what I wanted was the route to a wasted and frustrated life.

I have always been passionate about empowering people and the more self-aware I became, this stood out strongly as the career path for me. It took me 5 years to complete my training in counselling but I thoroughly enjoyed it. After working part time as a counsellor, I finally took a leap of faith and launched my private practice.

I love my work and I am extremely passionate about it. I understand the pain of my clients because I have been there. Also, I run self-awareness masterclasses for women and teenage girls, called BARE. Doing the work I love gives me the opportunity to work with schools, organisations, to speak about Authenticity and Mental Health.

Having been there before, Oby Bamidele understands the pain of her clients Click To Tweet

I have written two books; “Finding Purpose” and my latest book is titled “Me, My hair and the Rest” -an autobiographical account of my journey to self-acceptance and authenticity, recounted through my relationship with my hair.  

What are some obstacles you encountered during this transformation?

My main obstacles were fear in its various forms, particularly fear of losing my identity. I discovered how much my identity was attached to a job title, despite the fact it was a job title that didn’t excite me. I was still desperately trying to hold on to a status that made me feel validated by others.
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Why do you think many women are conforming to societal standards lately? What happens to people who conform to societal standards?

I think that as human beings; we crave approval and acceptance. Often when we try to follow our own way, we fear we will be rejected, ridiculed, or looked down on. Many are desperate for approval and believe that conforming is the way to earn that validation.

Culture and society model the perfect life as having financial wealth, status and possessions, looking flawless and perfect. It is all about the external things. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with having material wealth, many rarely stop to question whether the cultural and societal norms are aligned with their own values.

As African women, many of us have had our lives mapped out from a very young age. Before the age of 10, I knew that my life would look like this; go to university; get a good job; get married and have children. For a long time that was as far as I understood my purpose to be.

Many African women have had our lives mapped out from a very young age - Oby Bamidele Click To Tweet

But I lacked self-knowledge to question if I wanted those things and if so, why. Was it out of my own desires or because I had to tick a box?  When I ask clients these questions, many don’t know the answer. Some are scared to find the answer in case it clashes with what they feel they should want. However, this way of thinking is very liberating. The truth will always set you free.

What happens when we conform?  

I think it really depends on a person’s personality. Some people conform and are seemingly happy because they know no other way. But I do believe that conformism makes life mundane and mediocre. It prevents us from being fully passionate and living purposefully. It makes us bored and apathetic towards life.

Then we begin to look for excitement in other things. Hence why people develop excessive and overindulgent habits: over-drinking, over-eating; spending; gambling; and even excessive TV watching as a form of escapism.  

I believe every human being is born with gifts, talents and unique qualities; when we discover, embrace and walk in them it makes life deeply satisfying. It ensures that our lives are part of the bigger picture, that we matter and are making a difference. In my counselling work, I have discovered that conformism and inauthenticity can be a big cause of depression. Conformism does more harm than good.

How does one know when he or she is not being true to him or herself?

If you are somebody who is very much dependent on the opinions and judgements of others in determining your own path, then you are not being true to yourself. I wrote this in my book “Me, My hair and the Rest” that if your confidence is in the approval of others, then that isn’t confidence.

Confidence is when you are anchored in who you are and able to walk boldly in your own lane, even if people are walking in the opposite direction.  

Oby Bamidele: Confidence is when you are able to walk boldly in your own lane Click To Tweet obyliving

Why should it be our ultimate goal to be our real selves? What steps should one take to discover their true selves?

When you are authentic and true to yourself, it allows you to discover and embrace your unique brilliance; the gem that has been placed inside of you; the things you are meant to do to make a difference in this world.

It deepens your self-awareness and you learn to understand how to leverage your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  When you are not being true to yourself, you will only be scratching the surface of who you are really meant to be. There is so much greatness; so much power; so much within us and the truer you are to yourself, the more you will be able to utilise them creatively.

What will you tell your young self about conforming less?

It’s interesting because this is a question I often ask my clients. I ask them to connect with their younger selves. If I met little Oby, I would encourage her to find her own way and stay on that path. I would validate and let her know she is enough as she is. Also, I would encourage her to continue in the things that she loved doing.

I gave up a lot of my interests and hobbies as a teenager, because they weren’t cool and I wanted to be cool. When I had counselling, I spent a lot of time rediscovering that little girl, and I found lots of clues and answers in doing so. I would say to her, “be unapologetically you”.


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

Royal Adventures of Princess Halima: It just takes time for others to see your vision

The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima book series was created to teach African children more about their history & culture Click To Tweet

While digital content has made it easier for people across the globe to access previously underrepresented stories, there is still a significant gap when it comes to online and offline content focused on authentic African stories. After the birth of a new generation of their family tree, Anna, Lucy, Jainaba and YaAdam came together to ensure that more African children knew about their rich history and culture.


Why did you believe that Princess Halima needed to be created and how did you find yourself being the one to make it happen?

We are half Gambian and Tanzanian and wanted to bring Africa to the forefront and educate our readers that Africa is a continent full of rich history, and not the misconceived idea that Africa is a single country.  We want our readers to find an escape into Africa’s vast richness and history while following Princess Halima in all her adventures.  And most importantly, we want to empower young minds with knowledge that will pique their interest to one-day jump on a plane and make the journey to Tanzania, Ghana, or Nigeria or any other country in Africa!

Our inspiration- Halima Bah
Our inspiration- Halima Bah

The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima project was inspired by the birth of the first baby (grandchild) in the family, Halima Bah. Halima is of Guinean, Gambian, Tanzanian descent. With such a rich combination of African culture and history, we thought the best way to educate Halima about her many homelands was to start the series of books through which she will get to not only discover her heritage, but also learn about the African continent as a whole.

Why don’t you believe that books such as Princess Halima have been created before in the market?

You will find that most stories about Africa are told through animal characters. It boils down to controlling our own narratives and images of ourselves in the world. Storytelling is one of the most important traditions humans possess to influence, shape beliefs and behaviors. We could not exist without the values, the wisdom and the courage shared from past generations through the art of storytelling. As such, this campaign is an effort to control the stories and images of our beautiful continent.

What makes Princess Halima different from all of the other educational content out there on the market?

Princess Halima is a brave, curious and courageous African girl that is intrigued by the wonders of the world but specifically her continent of Africa. As a Princess, she luckily gets to travel across the continent visiting cousins, friends and family. During each visit she takes time to explore all that these beautiful countries have to offer from the culture, fashion, languages, parks and historic sites etc. These adventures and experiences shape her worldly view, and those of her readers.Princess Halima Book Cover

For your business to get to the next level, would you prefer funding or a high value mentor? Which one would you choose and why?

We would prefer both but to be completely honest, at this point we would select funding over a mentor. We have built a machine over the past two to three years that is working for us. Every member of our team handles different aspects to ensure we are reaching our goals and meeting deadlines.

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What is the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey that you want to share with young African women entrepreneurs?

The most valuable lesson we have learned is patience. We have also gained an understanding that although we are passionate about this project and believe in its power, it will still take time for others to jump on board. In addition, we have learned that while we have received significant support from our African communities it wasn’t that overwhelming support we anticipated. However, it doesn’t mean that the interest and love isn’t there, it just takes time for others so see your vision and feel your passion for something you so strongly believe in.

What story can you not wait to tell next?

We are excited to tell the story of our homeland, The Gambia also known as the Smiling Coast. The smallest country in mainland Africa is going through some transitional changes right with the results of a recent election which has birthed the movement #GambiaHasDecided. This movement speaks to the ultimate pride, honor and fight Gambians have. Princess Halima’s story will capture its beauty and strength.

Fast Five

Favorite story or nursery rhyme as a child

Favorite story Shaka Zulu, was scared of it but loved it at the same time.

What did you want to be when you grew up

Work in the international development(United Nations) field like our mother.

Any travel tips for when you’re on the go with young ones

Get them a good book like ours, you can’t go wrong with The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima

What author are you most inspired by

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria

Ebook or hard copy

Hard copy! I love the smell of books and closing the book upon completion gives me a sense of accomplishment.


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How to build a creative writing career

Black girl writing

Sow your seed in the morning and do not let your hand rest until the evening; for you do not know which will have success, whether this one or that one, or whether they will both do well.” Ecclesiastes 11:6

I saw a tweet some time ago where a young lady was looking to start off her writing career.  She wanted an agent and was pleading with people in her circle to help her retweet her request until she got one. According to her tweet,  she believed that would be the best way to kick start her writing career. She got 10 retweets but unfortunately no agent.

Many people wait to take that big leap in their career or business until they find someone more experienced to help them. I think that is a mistake. We have to be independent and proactive in looking for new opportunities and we can’t wait for others to help us. If you’re looking to build a creative writing career, here are 10 things I think you should do to get started.

Read from other writers

The first step to take if you want to be a great writer is to read.  Read a wide variety of books from classics to contemporary, fantasy to horror, romance to crime. Make it your goal to read at least one book every month.

Better if you can read a book a week. Read as many short stories as you can find. Read until you find that genre that you get a lot of joy reading and you believe you’d be interested in exploring. 

Concentrate on your genre of choice

Find as many authors as possible who have published works in this genre.  Pay attention to their writing style: how they use words, how they tell their story and the unique techniques they use in telling their stories.

There is always something to learn or borrow from other writers as you develop your own unique style.

Start writing

The use of social media in itself lends itself to writing.  One of the best ways to be a writer is to write something every day. Your writing doesn’t have to be fantastic, it just has to be clear and readable.

Aim to create suspense in your writing. Always ask yourself, can someone tell where this story will end from reading the first paragraph?

Keep writing as part of your hustle

From the outset, you will probably not make any money from writing. All across the globe creators are struggling to make ends meet. Even in Los Angeles which may seem like the centre of the creative universe, Jules Barusch says, “I’m not going to say it’s always easy. I am currently an actor, writer, and movie producer living in Los Angeles—but I also have to copy write and work in a hotel to make the ends meet“.

It may be hard to accept but writing will probably have to take second place in your work life but you have to fit writing into your lifestyle.  You may decide to write for 30 minutes every day after work or to have a 2,000-word short story available to share every weekend. Whatever you decide, ensure it is a consistent practice.

Share your writing

Don’t be too proud to beg. Send private messages to your friends and ask them to help you share your work. While you’re sharing, also ask them to provide you with feedback about your writing so you can better understand what your audience is looking for. 

Offer your writing service for free

Yes, I am fully aware of the great “exposure cannot pay your bills debate” but exposure can pay your bills…eventually.  Remember that as a writer you are building a portfolio.

You don’t want that portfolio to be empty when someone who needs your services comes calling. And who says that someone is not among the readers of that journal you sent your short story to?

Enter writing competitions

You may not win but your writing will improve. Entering a competition means that you will ask more people to read what you have written and ask for their feedback. It also means that you may get the attention of judges who already work in the industry.  

Even if you do not win, someone may be impressed by your writing style and can follow up for further opportunities.

Pray

Pray that the stars align in your favour. A good friend once told me that heroes are made or destroyed every decade. I dare say that each new day is that start of a new decade. How do you know that today isn’t your day? Pray it is. Hope it is. Believe it is.

Write some more

Experiment with all types of writing. Try your hands on short stories, flash fictions, novellas and even a novel. Borrow ideas from different genres.  Do not be afraid to push your creative limits.

Remember,  there are really no new stories there are just new ways to tell old stories.  What would a Cinderella story look like if it was sci-fi? What if we created a horror Rapunzel? Push your mind to the edge.

Keep on writing

No matter what happens do not give up on your writing. Many think that if they are not discovered in the first few years of writing, then they should go do something else. But a majority of the well-known creative writers wrote for several years before their big break.  

Take for instance Paulo Coelho, author of one of the most profound books I have read, “The Alchemist“. He started writing in 1982 but it was not until 1994 that this book gained traction and went on became a best seller.

The first publishers in 1988 only produced 900 copies and refused to reprint and more than 20 years later the book is an international bestseller. The Alchemist has become one of the best-selling books in history, selling more than 65 million copies, and even set the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. 

So never give up in pursuit of your dreams.