CoLab Kaduna: Growing a community of IT Experts

CoLab is Kaduna’s first innovation hub and co-working space. The goal at CoLab is to grow a collaborative community of programmers, developers, designers, bloggers, graphic designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and tech enthusiasts generally.

CoLab organizes some weekly and monthly events and programs to achieve these goals. Some of them include:

We want to attract attention back to Kaduna through technology - @CoLab_kd Click To Tweet

Code School

Code School is CoLab’s introduction to computer programming initiative that immerses users into the world of programming for the web with an introduction to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The whole course takes 5-7 weeks to complete and students are able to build simple sites upon completion.

Code School is built around the hypotheses that:

  • It is much easier to learn as a group as against learning as an individual.
  • It is important to learn how to code as part of a team. (This is a critical skill-set that employers look for.)

CoLab for Women

CoLab for Women is a platform that serves as a means to drive the adoption of technology by women and will also be a safe space for any sort of discussion among women.

This particular initiative is organized and run by women only. It has its meet ups once every month.

CoLab Elite

This is CoLab’s talent accelerator program which has been designed to fast-track intermediate developers into world-class talent.

If you already write code but keep wondering how to build projects, work with teams or follow global best practices, then CoLab Elite just might be what you need.

CoLab Weekly meetups

Meetups happen every weekend at CoLab where we cover topics that range from basic to very technical. They are usually free for all to attend.

If you want to learn about business, web or app development, machine learning, digital marketing, network or just play video and board games, you should attend one of our CoLab meetups.

If you would love to be a part of the awesome CoLab community, you can connect with CoLab on social media. Everyone and anyone is welcome to take a tour of the facilities anytime or attend any of the meetups.

Three things inspired CoLab:

 

1. Kaduna is ideal for a startup/technology hub. On the average, there is the better power supply in Kaduna than anywhere else in the country. The cost of living is low and basic infrastructure is available.

Another good thing about that region is that fast internet is esily accesible. Kaduna has a lot of talented young people. The state also has a number of tertiary institutions (which are an important factor in creating a pipeline for talent). It is also in close proximity to two key markets (Kano and Abuja) and can access a third, Lagos via air and train (for people and goods respectively).

2. Over time, the best IT people we had come across – programmers, network engineers, big data scientists, Internet of Things (IoT) hobbyists etc have been from around Kaduna.

However, very few of them understood the value of the skill(s) they had or had ever tried to apply it to solving actual problems.

3. Technology is the single biggest vehicle for taking people out of poverty and poverty in these part of the country is rampant.

CoLab intends to make this push by aiming to achieve 5 things:

 

1. Provide an environment that allows natural curiosity, fosters learning, and inspires creativity and innovation. CoLab has gone all out to make the space as aesthetically motivating as possible within budget constraints.

Given the right environment, smart people interacting with each other naturally tend to create cool stuff -@CoLab_kd Click To Tweet

Currently, CoLab’s facilities include two open indoor workspaces, a private meeting room, a conference room, two Outdoor workspaces (in view), internet, constant power supply and a modern library with paper books and kindles.

 

2. Offer high-level mentorship from both national and international mentors who have made an impact globally. The founders of CoLab believe a well-rounded education is a key to building a successful company.  They want to double down on not just ICT knowledge, but also everything required to succeed.

We currently have the ex-Director of Global Search at Yahoo as one of our international mentors, also the former Vice President of an Investment bank in the UK as another. Some of these mentorships and one on one sessions with mentors outside the country will take place virtually.

 

3. Train anyone interested in the ICT skills that are necessary to compete at an international level. We’re talking Code, UI & UX Design, Blogging, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, IoT etc. CoLab will cover recent tech languages and global best practices.

There is a high demand for these specific skills across the world, yet we have many who could easily fit into such positions, with some training. Most of these roles can be filled remotely, i.e having people work for companies across the world from CoLab… However, we are not pushy about them remaining domiciled here.

 

4. Beyond training, CoLab intends to go a step further by linking its community members with jobs and opportunities, both remote and physical from across the country and globally.

The best way to break the mentality that the only way to earn a living is via a structured, salaried job (civil service, banks, etc.) which is prevalent in this region is to actually link people up with an alternate means to earn a living.

 

5. Lastly, CoLab wants to build an in-house team of the best brains to tackle national and global problems. We want to attract attention back to Kaduna and show people how to be profitable through technology.

Our subscription fees were decided by the public and have no bearing on what it’ll cost to set up fully.

The long-term goal is to make Kaduna as a whole, an IT hub, the go-to place in Nigeria when there is an IT need. Who knows? It may be the next India. 


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Five skills every online journalist must have to be successful

If you’re an online journalist, content creator, or digital analyst, this one’s for you!

The world is said to be moving online and many are debating if this shift could be the fourth industrial revolution.

This move has seen the rise of digital and/or online journalism and publications which are generating all-things-zines.

This means a lot of information is now available on the internet through webzines, e-zines, mobizines etc, creating easy channels of accessibility to these throughout the world. The internet phenomenon has thus, undoubtedly created a hub for freelance journalists, particularly writers.

Writing for the web, however, may not be as easy as you may think if you are a novice. It requires much skill and is slightly less traditional from print journalism.

On top of having regular journalist skills of interviewing, good writing, research, and accuracy, you must have the ability to be web savvy and stand out. The good thing is you can learn how to excel at these skills.

Understanding and patience will reward your writing with instant tracking, likes, and comments.

As a digital journalist you need to consider these five techniques to incorporate into your writing:

Hyperlinking

When you hyperlink, you want to ensure that when you click on a word, phrase or image within a file it takes you to a different web page or document.

The hyperlinked text is usually highlighted blue, italicised and underlined.

Chunking

Because we read differently on the web than we do in print, a huge paragraph of information as such does not cut it in web writing.

This is why breaking up huge text and making it easy to read is necessary. Use a numbered list, bulleted list, and subheadings. That is chunking.

SEO

Keywords are an essential for search engine optimization (SEO). If you want your article to be part of the list on a search engine, you have to be keyword savvy.

Take time to learn this technique and know how to weave in keywords seamlessly into your writing.

Headings and sub-headings

As a web journalist, it is your duty to make sure that web readers can easily scan your article and direct them to that precise information they are looking for.

The easier the better, hence the use of catchy headings and sub-headings.

Word count 

Writing less is essential in web writing. Depending on your chosen online publication this will differ. Some publications require 400 – 600 words and others will require 600 – 900 words.


Got a story or article you’d like to publish? Share your story with us here.

Elsie Mutsaka: You must do what sets your heart on fire

Elsie Mutsaka
I realised that my brand and I are one and so my blog should be the same @ElsieMuts Click To Tweet

Elsie Mutsaka is an up and coming PR dynamo, social media marketer and blogger from Zimbabwe based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her accessible fashion aesthetic is inspiring women from all walks of life to be confident in their style.

After discovering her personal style, Elsie started getting questions about her outfits and where she gets pieces. That encouraged her to start blogging and share her style with a wider range of people.

SLA contributor Anelisa Nokoyo had a chat with Elzie to find out what inspired her quirky fashion blog, and what she has in store for the future.


When did you start blogging?

Initially, I started blogging last year, April 2016 under the name differentlyconfident. Then this year I changed my domain name to my full name. I realised that my brand and I are one and so my blog should be the same.

What would you like to achieve with your blog?

I have always wanted to share my style with people and through this blog, I manage to do just that. Most importantly I wanted to bring about the idea that style is not about the price tag or label, and that you can look perfectly chic while still living within your means.

Growing up I had times when I was not as confident about how I looked, but as I grew older I became comfortable in my skin, looks, and style. That’s the exact same message that I would like the people that read my site to get each time they read my posts.

It’s basically a site for any type of woman to visit and get outfit inspiration, love the skin they’re in and know that they can create their own unique style. Also, while people shy away from thrifting, I find that it’s one of my favourite things to do with my sister each holiday, as you get stuff that nobody else has.

So I always mention where I get my clothes for each blog post and I’m not embarrassed that I shopped a SALE or that I thrifted. Ultimately, I intend on building a brand that inspires and speaks to women who fully know and understand themselves or who at least aspire to.

What do you enjoy most about blogging, and what are some of the challenges?

I really enjoy putting outfits together and reading comments from people who read the posts. Most of the time I really appreciate it when people give their honest opinion and usually, my family and friends do the most.

I think one of the challenges is when the writer’s block strikes. Sometimes you really have good photography but you are just not satisfied with your writing, but when I eventually get it together it’s amazing because I get to think out loud.

What are some of the wardrobe essentials that you think each woman should have?

Well, personally I believe everyone should have a really good quality blazer, a good pair of denim jeans, black pair of heels, very good quality handbag and at least one vintage or pop of colour item.

I could go on and on, but those are my faves, just that I own more than one of each. Whenever I am asked to, I style people or help them create their dream wardrobe so the essentials differ sometimes depending on your style.

Besides fashion, what else do you write about?

Besides fashion sometimes I write about things that matter to me like issues that women face, but I do this as a contributor for other platforms. Other times on my blog I share about my beauty routines which are quite simple.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt since delving into the world of blogging?

I have learnt that you must do what sets your heart on fire, sometimes trends in the blogging sphere are awesome but they are not always your thing. It’s okay to do what you feel comfortable in.

Also, there are so many bloggers out there and everyone has a niche and something unique they bring to the table, so it’s good to celebrate others. I enjoy commenting on other people’s blogs. It does not take anything away from me when their work and skill grows, and if you appreciate other people’s work oftentimes the favour is returned.

If you appreciate other people’s work oftentimes the favour is returned Click To Tweet

What else do you do besides blogging and how do you blend the two occupations together?

So, besides this blog, I do public relations, which means I spend my days working as a social media marketer for an online store and managing other platforms for clients. Because the social media thing is my 9-5, I usually blog in the evenings and do shoots on Saturday mornings.

It’s all about organising your very little time well. The two also blend well because it’s all use of the digital media, so sometimes I reply to comments on the job.

bcct You need to use what you have and what’s around you

Give us your top three tips that you’d give to anyone who wants to start blogging…

Once you figure that you want to blog GO FOR IT! I mean just do it. Secondly, just trust the process and even if like 3 people read your blog that’s okay, it takes time to grow an audience. When I first started blogging a close friend of mine offered to take pictures of me, she had no camera experience whatsoever but as my blogging got better, her photography did as well and because she believed in me so much I gained confidence.

What I am trying to say is you need to use what you have and what’s around you. I did not have a professional photographer but I had a friend and that helped me grow, and here I am.


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

Catch Elsie on her blog, elsiemutsaka.com to get some on-point fashion tips and lifestyle news.

Tabitha Tongoi: Authenticity matters

Write from personal experience has helped @CravingYellow remain consistent Click To Tweet

When a post on your blog clocks about 40,000 views in under 24 hours, I think it’s safe to call you a highly successful blogger. Tabitha Tongoi creator and owner of the Craving Yellow blog, still gets astounded to know that she reaches that many people with her effervescent nature and views on life’s ups and downs.

The 26-year-old Kenyan, natural hair enthusiast and lover of all things yellow has been blogging for over two years now. Tabitha touches on everything hair, beauty, lifestyle and of course, finding yellow i.e. finding joy in life’s simple pleasures. She has lived, worked and studied in four continents, her current home being Melbourne, Australia.

Tabitha is currently on holiday in Nairobi and SLA contributor Diana Odera caught up with her to get to know more about life as an African blogger in the diaspora.


Who is Tabitha outside of the craving yellow moniker?

Personally, I feel like I’m a thinker and I’m a writer. In my free time, I’m always thinking of new ideas, researching on creative projects etc. I love the mind space. I’m always engaging with my mind so I guess I’m a bit of an introvert; I spend a lot of time observing the world and people.

When it comes to my extended life – I’m the last born of 3, I have an older sister and an older brother who just got married last year.

Career wise – I am getting into the blogging space, I studied Political Science, which was never meant to bring me here but here I am.

I’m a bit of a nerd, I love to read and study, I‘ve always loved school. I also love to give and I love to encourage others and see them succeed.

How did the Craving Yellow movement begin?

It started when I was in my last year of uni. I had just come back from England, which was an amazing experience that made me grow into myself, learn how to formulate my own ideas and be confident in myself. Once I was back in the US with that mindset, I took a class on the power of documentary photography in telling new stories that are untold.

I had just finished reading Americanah and I was so inspired so I decided to turn the camera on myself and tell my story because I felt there weren’t enough women in the diaspora who’s stories were being told, if any. So I started off on that premise, I knew I loved hair and people would talk to me about hair so that was a constant conversation starter.

Hair was the hook but I also wanted to talk about other things e.g. who are you? When you go home what type of conversations are you having with yourself as a young African woman living abroad? It gradually took on a life of its own from there on. I saw a lot of my friends get into depression, addiction and just losing themselves so it was also about touching on these types of conversations and experiences that women face.

I was so inspired so I decided to turn the camera on myself and tell my story Click To Tweet

Your blog focuses on your natural hair journey as well as beauty and lifestyle topics. How do you go about creating great content that is relatable and consistent?

The premise has always been my hair because that is what I can teach people about as a skill I have. I haven’t been as regimented as I’d like to be because I have a full-time job and run the blog on the side.

On average I make sure to release 2-3 youtube videos, mostly on hair and hair reviews. On the blog, I put out two posts a month on hair and for lifestyle topics. I think that because I write from my own personal experience, the type of content stays consistent. I don’t write what everyone else is writing about so it just comes to me naturally. When I’m not able to write, I don’t force myself at all just to appear like I’m writing.

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At any point, have you felt the pressure from trolls online or any negative feedback that you may get on your blog – pressure to make you change from your premise?

In terms of hair care, in Kenya as compared to abroad, I have only felt pressured when I’m compared to fashion bloggers who have a very different production process and different content. Sometimes people blur the two.

By default, because the hair blogging field here is very small, it’s easy to be compared to others. But I think in terms of my own journey, one thing I really appreciate is having lived abroad and having had to be in my own mind space and create this blog with no outside interruptions. I admire what people do but I’m very clear in what my message is and what my premise is, I’ve never been threatened or intimidated.

Having lived in four continents, how have these diverse environments contributed to your personal growth, your professional and academic career?

I’ve really had to learn who I am and to be fine with that. I always stand out everywhere I go, so I’ve been forced to really look into myself and ask myself internally – who am I and what do I stand for, what are my passions, what drives me? etc.

As a whole, it’s allowed me to have a very clear vision of who I am as a young person, more than I would have if I had stayed in Kenya. I’ve learnt to be my own island. Adaptability has been another strength I’ve gained, great work ethic as well.

What keeps you motivated?

I think about young girls out there who are probably struggling with a lot and need just a bit to encourage them to push on and keep at it. A lot of women struggle with issues on love, lifestyle related issues, family, loneliness etc.

Whenever I feel lazy I remember that maybe someone is watching me and this is what’s keeping them motivated. That’s a privilege to be in a position like this. I put myself out there, not afraid of the risks or the negativity, I believe if my mission is true, people will see it.

When did you know it was time to monetize your site?

That actually just happened on its own to tell you the truth. When I set out to blog, I never really had a template, especially blogging internationally. Brands started reaching out to me about eight months after I began blogging and that was brand reviews.

In regards to monetization, that began a year and two months into blogging. It’s just happened gradually and sporadically. I’ve never approached a brand, they usually get in touch with me first because I do have a full-time job so I was never doing this for the money aspect. If it’s something that I know will be interesting content for my followers then I will consider it.

I’ve mostly just been testing the water, it’s not anything that was formalized, in fact, the job I‘m doing now, I got it because of my blog. I’ve never had a steady, livable amount of money come only from blogging. The thing people have to note with blogging is that it’s a journey and a step by step process.

So if you go out looking for money, people smell that on you and turn away and subscribers/followers get bored. You end up losing your personal touch. I’m still learning the ropes with this section but it’s looking more plausible as the blog grows.

I’ve never had a livable amount of money come only from blogging, it's a step by step process Click To Tweet

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What skills does one need to become a successful global blogger like yourself?

Blogging seems to be the in thing right now. I don’t think I’m as successful as you say but I think it starts with who you are. You have to really know what your purpose is and it has to be unshakeable. If you start blogging for Instagram likes, you’re going to die out real quick.

So for starters – know what story you want to tell and always write from where you want to write from. Don’t do things because it’s popular, don’t imitate other people – just do your own thing. By doing that, you establish your niche and your followers who will be reading other blogs as well will see why they should stick around with you and love you for who you are.

Authenticity matters and confidence in your message is very important. You’ll always find someone who’ll listen to your story.

Mpho Makhafola: You’ll look back on this time and be proud of the woman you became

Mpho Makhafola greatest passion in life is inspiring young women through her writing Click To Tweet

Mpho Makofola is an inspired storyteller and creator of the Young Mothers Series, a platform that grew out of her very interesting and addictive blog, I Am My Own Gift. Through the blog, she has created a safe haven for young mothers to feel accepted and loved.

Mpho’s blog in a way validates the worth of young mothers as valuable members of society. It creates a sense of community, belongingness, and sisterhood as well as a safe space for young mothers to share their stories about the joys and hurdles of existing in a world that largely discriminates against them.


Tell us about yourself, who is Mpho?

Mpho Makhafola is a linguist who studied at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). She is also a blogger and an educator at an all-girls school in Pretoria.

Her greatest passions in life include writing and inspiring young women through her blog posts and being surrounded by strong women who in turn inspire and motivate her to be great. Mpho loves a good laugh and is absolutely a girly-girl who loves having her nails did and her face beat 🙂

What is that one tipping point that caused you to create the Young Mothers Series on your blog? And are you yourself a young mum?

What inspired the Young Mothers Series was all the young mothers I have the privilege to have met and engaged with. Many if not all of us have a friend or family member who is/was a young mom and I noticed just how negative society is towards these young women and how falling pregnant young has been and is still such a taboo across all races and groups.

This really broke my heart because I believe that being a young mom is a challenge in itself. Why add on to that by hiding your pregnancy and loathing oneself just because society is so negative? Why not accept of one of life’s greatest gifts to women, motherhood? So the continued judgement and ostracism of young mothers pushed me to seek these young women out, document their journeys to motherhood and give them a voice to say, “Yes world, I fell pregnant young, but I am still capable of achieving my goals and pushing myself to get my education and so much more. A baby doesn’t mean the end of my life and all that is good in it”.

And no, I am not a young mom myself. I initially thought this would make it hard to capture the stories of these young mom’s realistically without watering them down because I “can’t relate”. I really tried by all means to treat each feature as a new experience and always remembering that these young women deserved their truth’s to be shared as raw and beautiful as they are.

The Young Mothers Series helps young moms with whatever they are struggling with at the moment Click To Tweet

Mpho Makofola 1

What is your favourite thing about the blog?

It has to be the impact that it has had on strangers, on the featured mommy’s and even on me. Some of the responses I got still get me emotional. I had no idea of the struggles and emotional trauma some of these young moms go through because the world is so unkind to them. I mean some even had family turn against them, partners desert them and literally had no support at all throughout their pregnancies. And I’ve always been so humbled to hear that my blog has resonated with someone or given them hope in knowing that they are not alone.

Besides the young mother series, I was also lucky to feature a number of amazing personalities like Fareida Metsileng (pharoahfi), a young poet Thuto Gaasenwe and I also did a blog post for NUK and Artemis brands in relation to the young mother’s series.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to be the kind of woman who’s capable of reaching out to uplift other women?

I’ve always said that it’s hard being a woman, we go through mountains of struggles and obstacles are constantly put in our way to break us yet we still show unbelievable strength and manage somehow to put on that lipstick and fight on.

I’ve had my fair share of challenges, struggled a lot with self-image and body issues, insecurities, relationships and all of that negativity seeped into all areas of my life. My blog started out as a place to vent about my relationship frustrations and how hurt I was at that point. But God had better plans for my hard times and I managed to still heal and share on myself whilst healing women out there who shared some if not all of my sentiments.

Mpho Makhafola young mother's series

Mpho Makhafola young mother's series 1

I also was raised in an underprivileged area so I always felt the need to fit in with friends and be someone I wasn’t, especially in high school. I had to really dig deep to find myself and be comfortable with who I was and where I came from and not be ashamed of myself and blame myself for things I had no control over.

So I saw the need for the upliftment of women especially in our personal lives, we are often so ashamed to speak about our hurts. I decided to basically tear myself apart and to share deeply into my life in order to piece other women together one blog post at a time.

I saw the need for the upliftment of women especially in our personal lives - Mpho Makhafola Click To Tweet

What inspires you to continue your work every day?

It has to be my admiration for women. I am absolutely amazed when I see women pioneering in life and breaking down barriers to achieve and be phenomenal. I just light up inside when I see a fellow sister making waves.

And of course, the thought that this blog post I write could help someone with whatever they are struggling with at the moment and give them a new outlook on life.

What else do you do outside of blogging?

Besides blogging I am an educator, a student and a lover of life!

What message would you like to share with young mothers who’re dealing with backlash for being who they are?

Ha-ha! This is actually the question I always asked the young mothers, but to her, I would say…YES! You’re a young mom but that doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Your child can only mean you fight harder to reach your goals not that you give up on them.

YES society will not make it easy for you, it’ll probably kick you when you’re down. But there is strength and so much beauty in your journey, nobody is more suited for this path than you! You’ll look back on this time and be proud of the woman you became. Fight on heroine!


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

Sekayi and Tukiya: We want MaFashio to represent Zambia on a much more international scale

Sekayi Tukiya Fundafunda MaFashio she leads africa
When sisters Sekayi & Tukiya started @MaFashio they didn’t know that fashion blogs existed Click To Tweet

With big smiles and charming personalities to match, Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda have a star-like quality about them. Popularly known as Kahyi & Kii, the powerhouse sister-duo are behind Zambia’s hottest fashion blog, MaFashio.

According to the sisters, “MaFashio” is a slang that describes someone who either looks really good —or really strange. In other words, fashion that makes a statement. That is essentially what MaFashio aims to deliver —content that celebrates the uniqueness and strangeness of Zambian fashion and culture, packaged in a way that is fun, inspiring, and accessible. Since bursting onto the scene in 2012, MaFashio has positioned itself as the premier “style house” in Zambia with its one-stop shop approach to fashion solutions, including blogging and styling and creative direction.

Kahyi & Kii have carved out a permanent place for themselves on the fashion and lifestyle scene in Zambia and are well on their way to becoming a successful and well-recognized international fashion brand. The sisters recently opened up to SLA contributor Uloma about their blog, fashion, and some of their favourite things from 2016.


How did MaFashio begin? Where did you find the inspiration to start a fashion blog?

Kahyi: We had a lot of artistic influences growing up —mom made wedding dresses and dad was an artist. As teenagers we dressed very differently from our peers, which wasn’t something that was popular in Zambia at the time. One summer towards the end of our high school years, Kii and I happened to spend a lot of time together, and we discovered just how cool the other [person] was.

As we spent time getting to know each other and observing the people around us, we both simultaneously had this realization that we were encountering a lot of people dressed in really interesting and diverse ways. That was how the idea for MaFashio came about. One day we just decided that we were going to start telling people they looked nice, take their pictures, and create a place where we could post and share these pictures.

At the time we started, we didn’t even know that “fashion blogs” existed. All we knew was that we had found this project that we were really passionate about and we were determined to pursue it as far as we could. We built a simple blog on Blogger put up pictures, then spammed everyone we could think of to direct them to our blog.

One day we got a call from Gareth Bentley, who had somehow caught wind of our site and was impressed by what we were doing. He showed us how other bloggers were doing it and gave us tips on how to make the site appear more professional. From there things sort of took off.

When did you realize that MaFashio had finally broken onto the Zambian fashion scene in a big way?

It was definitely when we got invited to attend and blog at Fashion Week in 2013. It was such a surreal experience, getting the VIP treatment and being introduced to some major players in the Zambian fashion industry.

Being at that event and getting to blog about it definitely put us on the map and opened doors for us. After that, we knew it was time to take MaFashio to the next level and that was when we decided to register the brand as an official entity.

We never back down from a challenge and we are motivated to continue improving our skills Click To Tweet

Your story sounds almost like a fairytale. Coming from an artistic background, having a flair for fashion and design, and then starting what was probably the first fashion blog in Zambia at a time when there was no one else in the space.

Were there any parts of this whole process that did not come easy to you?

You’re right, we do have a natural affinity for styling and writing, but the photography and other technical aspects didn’t come easy and took a lot of effort. In fact, we are still learning, but that’s what I love about us.

We never back down from a challenge and the more MaFashio grows, the more motivated we are to continue improving our skills, acquiring new ones, and also asking for help when there is something we can’t do ourselves.

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How does the division of labour within MaFashio work?

Kahyi: I have a background in Economics and Finance, so I would say I am the more business-savvy one of the team. I love structure and I enjoy creating systems so I am always looking for avenues to incorporate that into our business.

Kii: I have a background in Law, which has come in quite useful in interpreting the contracts we are presented with. When it comes to MaFashio, while Kahyi focuses more on the planning and organization, I would say I contribute more to creating the content and aesthetics for the site.

In the best of ways, Kahyi is the yin to my yang and we complement each other in a way that is good for the business.

As frontrunners in the fashion blogging industry in Zambia, how have you embraced this role as leaders and mentors? Also, as others come onto the scene, what has it been like dealing with the competition?

Kahyi: Last year we organized an event called Fashion for Brunch and honestly it was a struggle to scrape together 16 bloggers at the time. This year, we hosted the same event again and we had 35 bloggers. We even had trouble picking the 20 we needed for the event!

It has been a pleasure for us to watch this new generation of bloggers come onto the scene, and we don’t necessarily view them as competition because we understand our role. The only yardstick by which we measure our growth and success is ourselves.

Kahyi: I attended a lecture earlier this year where the topic was about learning to “transcend” and I think that has been my mantra this year, professionally and otherwise.

As MaFashio, I see us knowing what our strengths and talents are, and keeping in our own lane but also giving ourselves permission to spill over into other lanes as things change and we find new ways to adapt. I believe there is more than enough space for everyone in this industry to grow.

The only yardstick by which we measure our growth and success is ourselves Click To Tweet

DiElleCi: Working with sisters can be light on tough love

Diasy, Luisa and Cleo are Angolan sisters who are leaving their imprint on the blogosphere not just in English but Portuguese too. Their blog DiElleCi, a mash of their names, is becoming the go-to for advice on beauty, fashion and health. These sisters are all students, Cleo recently graduated with a degree in engineering, but find the time to give readers a peak into their lives. SLA reached out to them curious to know more. We learned that working with sisters is great but can be light on the tough love and reduces the need to micromanage. DiElleCi share more about running a bilingual blog, including what’s in their purses below.


When did you start your blog? What lead you to it?

We started our blog on February 10th, 2016 because we have always had a creative side. We also had the desire to do a project together. However, we noticed that as university students, the academic side of our lives was taking over the creative side that we very much exercised when we were younger. For that reason, we decided to create an outlet where we could share another side of us and our additional interests.

Also we, as young African women, felt like we weren’t represented in social media, especially in the Portuguese speaking market.

Have you faced any difficulties blogging in both Portuguese and English? Which of your audiences is bigger?

The only difficulty we’ve had with running the blog in two languages has been ensuring that our voice remains the same both in English and in Portuguese, regardless of translation. So, it takes some time when translating posts since we need to add expressions for each language. But we are glad we have done so, since our biggest audience is the Portuguese one.
CI

Have you taken any special steps to grow your audience?

Social media has been a great catalyst to the growth of our audience. Firstly, Facebook is great since almost everyone has an account, so we make sure to keep our Facebook page current and engaging.

In addition, Instagram has been equally great since it has so many pages that cater to girls that share similar interests to ours. Because of that, we have been featured on some high quality pages and have seen more growth and exposure from them.

Most importantly, we have made it a priority to remain consistent in both the frequency of posts and in the quality of content.

How can a young African woman reading this start monetizing her blog?

Blogs can be monetized in many ways. As a starting point for us, we decided to monetize our blog through affiliate links. However, we have noticed that it’s not the most sustainable option. We’re currently working on developing different ways to get a more sustainable return without compromising the overall brand.

What is it like working together as sisters? Is there any conflict?

Working with sisters is great because we share the same values and know each other very well so when conflicts arise, there are no issues in addressing certain situations.

However, since we know each other so well and care about each other, sometimes it is hard to give much needed “tough love”. Above it all, the biggest benefit since we know each others weaknesses and strengths is that there is no need to micromanage, which makes task distribution easier.
DI

How do you find time to update your blog regularly as students?

Being students has taught us about discipline and multi-tasking, so we have applied those attributes to our blogging routine.

In addition, like we mentioned before, we separate our tasks according to our strengths and weaknesses. We have seen it has helps us save time and energy when tasks are well divided and only the best person for the job is in charge of a specific task.

ELLEWhat’s the process of blogging like for you? How do you come up with content ideas?

The process of blogging for us is very interactive. We have been very lucky because our audience has been very good at telling us what they like and what they want to see. Even more, we get inspired by our everyday routines and experiences and share what we think would be helpful or interesting. Most importantly, we gain inspiration by seeing ourselves as the audience and consistently asking ourselves what we would like to see.

Can you share what’s in your purses right now?

Wallet, student and Oyster card (for public transport in London), our blog planner, snacks, chapstick, a book we are currently reading, iPhone, portable charger and of course keys.

What is the last song you played on your iTunes/iPod?

We were just listening to the new Rihanna song ” Sledgehammer”.


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

Blogger’s Delight: Love Mavin with Maggie Adofo

Maggie Adofo_Blogger's Delight

Editor’s note: Every two weeks, SLA will feature an African blogger killing the game. 

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Maggie Adofo. I graduated from the College of Saint Rose with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Marketing, and Public Communications.

I’m a part-time blogger and work full-time.

My blog brings aims to bring women who are interested in beauty and fashion together.

What inspired the idea of beauty blogging on Love Mavin?

Love Mavin started as Love Scrapbook during my Freshman year while I was in The College of Saint Rose. At the time, it was an online diary documenting my college experience, and it’s been a source of motivation for me to become a better person academically, socially and even professionally.

I channel my creativity through my videos and blog posts.

How do you balance a beauty blog (which includes your YouTube channel, your IG, being a Curls Understood brand ambassador) and a 9-5 job?

It has not been easy at all! After graduating college, my full-time required me to work 40 hours from Friday to Sunday. So Mondays through Thursdays were dedicated to developing my brand. I would shoot videos, take photos, and prepare content during this down time.

At the time, I had the opportunity of visiting Youtube Space New York for workshops and NYFW. Now that I work a regular 9-5, I have had to schedule the days on which I film, edit, post and promote. I rely on my planners to keep track of this.

The moment I get home, I dedicate a solid 3 hours to my blog before doing anything else. I try to submit one post / review a month, but I promote the brand on all my social media pages. Currently, Curls Understood is re-branding the blogger submissions which is really exciting.

Blogging takes a lot of time and dedication, but my passion and the satisfaction I get from posting supersedes the sleepless nights and stressful deadlines. 

Maggie Adofo _ Blogger's Delight

Have you been able to monetize Love Mavin? If so, through what avenues? If not, do you have plans to do so?

For about two and a half years, I was able to monetize my blog enough to be considered a full-time job. It was incredible! Google Ad sense wasn’t too bad but my primary source of income came from selling advertisement spots on my blog and external services like video editing, product photos and some graphic designing.

A lot of brands were also very generous with providing PR gifts to be blogged/reviewed so essentially, my ROI was great. I didn’t have to invest too much to begin with. At the end of the day, monetized content is great because you can earn with click throughs. It’s always nice to earn money when you are not around.

What are your plans for Love Mavin? Where do you want to take the blog/ brand in the future?

Personally, I am working towards creating a stronger relationship via collaborations with other bloggers and expanding my brand’s services. As I genuinely love my 9-5, and have no plans on quitting that any time soon, the goal is to maintain a balanced schedule while building a brand that will encourage and inspire others to do what they love and live a full life.

Love Maggie’s story and want more Love Mavin delight? Check out her website and follow her on social media here and here.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, click here

Don’t vex: 10 must do’s for using social media for business

There is so much hype on using social media for business. Yet, many brands are not using it at all or many of those who are, are not getting it right. We’ve complied the basic must dos for all of us to revisit once more.

Thousands of businesses have taken to platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus to build a brand that’s accessible, lovable, and profitable. Instagram has proved to be an especially viable means of building a customer base for fashion brands. Think Orange Culture, Eve and Tribe, Shop Zuvaa, Iconola, Tzar Studios, and so on.

Social media gives you access to an enormous audience that could be converted to loyal customers if you play your cards right. Below are 10 steps that will help you dominate social media and harness its potential.

1. Know your why

Explore why your business is on social media and why you are on each specific platform. While social media allows you to build a relationship your audience, the nature of the relationship you have with your consumers is completely up to you.

Are you on social media to share relevant information to your industry, showcase your business products, establish yourself/business as an expert or some mix of them all? Whatever it is, knowing your ‘why’ is an imperative first step.

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2. Decide the best platforms for your business 

Use your why to inform the social media platforms you choose for your business. There are over 400 social media platforms currently active and it is impossible to be them all. What platforms do you think would be more beneficial for your business? Let’s dive into the benefits of a few: Instagram and Pinterest allow you to connect with audience on a visual and emotional level.

Google Plus helps with search engine rankings. LinkedIn is great for publicizing your company profile page or business resume. Ryze is a social network for businesses, may especially helpful for business to business (B2B) companies. Twitter, Facebook, Talkbizniw, Affluence, and Quora; the list is exhaustive.

Take time to study the benefits of each of these platforms then pick at most 3 of the those platforms for your business.

3. Develop a strategy

Wondering why 100 fashion bloggers are talking about the same shirt from a particular fashion brand at the same time? Well, it’s no coincidence. Welcome to the world of strategy – the ultimate key that unlocks opportunities for businesses.

To start, your key strategies must align with your company’s mission. While all of the elements listed below are part and parcel of doing the strategic work, it is important to understand that setting time aside to write our your overall social media strategy is a vital actionable step that stands alone.

Having a good social media strategy is essential for growth. Your strategy should include all of the elements listed below as well as data and feedback metrics. With a clear metrics for examining progress and growth, this work will be for naught.

maya-rudolph-thinking gif4. Get the timing right

Preparation + opportunity = success.

Opportunity is a function of time, and posting the right content at the right time makes a difference. On Facebook, post from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m any day for the highest average click through rate; 3 p.m. on Wednesdays is the peak time.

For Twitter, post from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. from Monday to Thursday. The peak times for LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus are 5 p.m. daily, 3 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. on Wednesdays respectively.

5. Be human

Think of developing a well rounded person as you develop your brand on social media. You must clearly articulate your mission and choose consistent brand colors, style, and tone for all of your social media accounts.

Remember to show empathy in your branding, after all, there is a person on the end of the screen.

nicki-minaj-human-being6. Know what your audience wants and give it to them

As you begin to build your followers and audience, take the time to listen to them. Study the kind of posts they react to; which posts get the most comments? Which ones get the most likes?

Which of your social media pages does your audience constantly engage on? Are they creating content and visuals related to your product that you can repost. Social listening and data collection is crucial: once you provide your audience with what they want, they’ll stick around and tell others about you.

7. Use hashtags

As distracting as they appear to you, hashtags go a long way on social media. People are constantly searching for things, and correctly hashtag-ing your posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, will put you on the radar and increase your visibility on search engines.

Use hashtags reasonably and strategically, and soon enough you’ll see the benefits.

8. Offer promotions, contests and discounts 

Everyone likes freebies in every shape and form. Giveaways, special offers, and discounts will get people to notice your brand.

Be clear on how every giveaway you host improves your business, helps you grow, or increases audience interaction and participation. In order to create a win-win situation, everything you do must also be beneficial to your brand.

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9. Link back to your website

Many people forget this step: don’t forget that social media is there to help improve your business and as such, people must know where to find you off social media.

Connect everything to your website so that your followers can actually make the purchase after you’ve done the work of building the relationship and converting them to loyal fans. Don’t just add your website link to your social media profiles; share that link with your audience intermittently as reminder.

10. Stick to the plan

Finally, it is so easy to fall off on social media as a tool to grow your business if you are not consistent with steps 1-9. But there only way to win in the long run is to be consistent.

As famous entrepreneur Jim Rohn accurately described: “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic principles”.

We would love to know – what are some social media tips that you apply to your brand?