As a parent or guardian, paying for your kids’ education can be a big deal especially with everything going on right now. We need all the help we can get. There’s nothing like a bank that has your back, and that’s why Wema Bank is here to help!
Wema Bank, Nigeria’s leading innovative bank, is set to award 20 school children with a N50,000 School Support Fund in the 2020 Wema Educational Award.
The annual award is available to holders of the Bank’s Royal Kiddies Account and holds in September, 2020.
How can your kids qualify?
Parents and guardians are to open a Royal Kiddies Account in any Wema Bank branch close to them with a minimum of N100,000 before September 12, 2020.
If you’re a parent or guardian who already has a Royal Kiddies Account, you can top up your balance to N100,000 before the deadline to also qualify.
The winning accounts will be notified of their reward after the final selection on September 18, 2020.
The best way to save for your kids education!
The Royal Kiddies account is a savings account opened by parents and guardians to help you save up for your children’s education. As a Royal Kiddies account holder, your child gets to enjoy a competitive interest rate of 4.75% on savings, an E-Purse for electronic transactions and many other incentives including an opportunity to win the annual Wema Educational Award!
Dotun Ifebogun, the Divisional Head, Retail Business, Wema Bank says, “It is our way of supporting parents in educating their children and we are happy with the impact we have made in the past years.
“This year, education has been greatly hampered by the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and we hope this will go a long way to support this year’s winners as they settle into the new normal. We also hope to use this gesture to help inculcate a savings culture into children and prepare them for financial freedom early.”
You heard it here first. This is your chance to get the support you need for your kids’ education so don’t wait up!
For those who don’t have children, the holidays are full of endless shopping, traveling, entertaining, eating and lots of family time. But for those who have children, it’s an entirely different story.
Holidaying with children can sometimes be quite the adventure – and not in a fun way! From soiled diapers to crying toddlers, the list goes on.
However, is it possible for parents to enjoy their holidays without being broken by their children? As a mom, here are some lessons I learned that have helped me survive the holidays.
1. Enjoy every time you get with your little ones
I learned to accept the fact that the holiday period is a time to embrace my superpowers and bond with my child. It was not a gruesome punishment or some curse bent on making me unproductive. It was time to play catch up, to try new things together, to experiment and get to know him better.
Because I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice, I also worked hard on preparing myself for when school was out. Though I didn’t have much time off, I made sure that with what little I had, I made the time to spend it with my children.
2. Do things with them
It’s very easy to simply buy your children toys to entertain themselves or let them watch TV. I learned from my son that this does not always work. Despite eagerly opening his presents, he often became quickly disinterested especially when he had no one to play with.
Even with a few hours of TV, he usually had a lot of free room for mischief or adventure.
I realized that I need to capitalize on this time to ensure he wasn’t up to any mischief. My first moves were to get in touch with his creativity and engage him in things that we could do together.
From messy activities such as decorating cupcakes to playing peek-a-boo, my son was happy and I relaxed knowing he was doing good.
3. Remind them to be nice
I have always wanted a super courteous child who is the first to greet all the elderly people that visited form church or his great- grandma and grandpa. But when my son started growing up, I was in for a rude shock. He was awfully rude to them and often had no regard for his elders.
This made me livid at my son for letting me down after all the talks we had regarding manners. I realized that I needed to step-up my game through continuous reinforcement of positive behavior.
I could have taken my anger out on my son but I realized he was only a child who just needed the right direction.
4. Plan ahead of trips
During one particular event, we went out to have lunch. On that day, my son decided to reject every single thing that was offered to him. The only thing he wanted was jollof rice which wasn’t on the menu. He threw a fit over this.
Though embarrassing, this experience taught me a great lesson in planning. For large celebrations or when going, I try as much as possible to bring in my son’s favorites. This can include food or even cutlery. My obligation was to ensure my child had a great experience.
5. Maintain routines
When going on holidays, everyone usually wants to throw out their usual schedules and simply relax and be lazy. With kids, they tend to take advantage of this period and push their bedtimes. For parents, this becomes quite the difficulty.
It is important that we maintain good habits and practice our routines with the children. Sleep is quite essential in ensuring the whole family are relaxed and enjoy the holiday. Therefore, make sure that you maintain the different routines and schedules that are part of your family culture.
With these few tricks, you can keep your children tuned in for fun while you also enjoy your holiday. Some say its pure magic, I say its the art of minding children through the holidays.
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I am a wife and mum to three amazing children, a girl who just turned six and a set of twins who are 3 years 6 months. Beyond that, I am also a marketer for a multinational company. My job involves a lot of travel that takes me away from my family a lot of times.
About two years ago, I accepted a work assignment that moved us to another country, away from our extended family and support structure. While I love my family and I am fully cognizant of the fact that I am the only mother my children have, the truth is, I also love my career!
Many women in my position struggle trying to balance their love for these two things. In this article, you’ll find some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as a working mum.
Be kind to yourself
As mothers, we often have the tendency to judge ourselves based on what our children can or cannot do. I remember, when my twins were younger, I once overheard a mother speaking of how her 10-month-old baby was already potty trained and slept throughout the night.
At the time, my twins who were near twice that age were not potty trained and barely slept throughout a whole night. For a moment, I felt that I was not doing something right – maybe if I spent more time with them it would be different.
Then it occurred to me that I am not in competition with anyone and neither are my children. With patience and at their own pace, my kids would soon figure out how to use the potty and sleep through the night. Most importantly, I needed to be kind to myself.
Use the right words
Having often heard words such as “full-time mom” being, I have always wondered what it really meant. Did it make me a “part-time mom” because I was away working for eight hours?
The truth is, despite being a mum who goes to work, I am also still a full-time mother to my children. Yes, I don’t spend the majority of my days with them, however, I still fully embrace my full-time motherhood responsibilities just as I do in my career.
Block the naysayers
My first business trip was when my twins were four months old. Luckily enough for me, my mother came and looked after my twins for the four nights I was away. However, when I got back, one not so gentle colleague cornered me and asked me what kind of mother I was to go away and leave such young kids.
This experience and many others taught me early on to learn to block such people. I had a conscious choice to be both a mother and to continue work. Therefore, I knew what I was doing and wouldn’t let others judge me for my choices.
It’s okay to ask for help
People and society, in general, will always have opinions of what you “should” do and should not do when it comes to your children. You should do X by yourself when it comes to your children you should do Y and not the nanny.
There was a time when I would do everything that needed to be done for my children by myself. Not only was this not sustainable, but I soon realized that I was no superwoman and had to learn to ask for help and accept it when it was offered.
Don’t give in to pressures that say you have to do everything – it’s okay to ask for help.
Build a network with other working moms
Sometimes, it’s easy to think that you are the only going through what you are going through. Personally, talking with other working moms helped me realize that I was not the only one going through stuff.
Getting together and sharing what we were going through as working mothers truly helped. We were able to share notes on how we were handling certain situations.
Inspired by this, I created the Mum’s in Stilettos community where through social media and the blog, working mum’s come together to share their lessons. Such platforms encourage you that you are not alone and that you can manage being a working mother successfully.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
Being a woman is one of the greatest privileges I feel I have been given in this life. We are all aware of the history of oppression that women have suffered in the past and the many women who fought off the oppressors and paved the way for us.
Now we delight in the possibilities and opportunities presented to us, to carve out our own destinies. I once heard someone say, “Some of us (women) have become the men we dreamt of marrying”. That is certainly an ode to all you badass females kicking down doors and handling your business. That is not to say, we don’t need our wonderful men.
Should my time upon this earth be up very soon, I will forever be proud of starting Demur and hope to be counted amongst those badass women who have kicked down doors and shaped history. I know I have started something that will forever live on.
Along with that, one other thing that I know I want to leave on this earth when my time is up, are some little Noreen’s. Some beautiful children who I can help mould into pleasant human beings who will also go on to make a significant contribution to the world during their time here. I also want to be able to chase them around whilst I’m still young and fit.
Whilst I am working hard to build an empire and ensure I have all my ducks in a row, the little Noreen’s project is not an urgent one, but it’s one that’s on the agenda. Never mind the fact that I’m fast approaching 30 and should I not reproduce soon, society will be looking at me with cause for concern as if I am some strange creature. The body clock theorists do not help much either.
I am surrounded by friends and family members who have given birth in the last 2 years. Not only have I had the joy of watching these beautiful children grow, I am also a godmother to three of these children. I can certainly tell being a mother is not an easy job at all from watching these mothers raise their kids.
Being a mother to a young child is very demanding. There are many sacrifices you have to make including for some women, putting their careers on hold. If you are in employment you get your maternity leave and various allowances but when you are going at it alone, can you afford to take a year or so out of your own business?
I have a friend who has a business that has just taken off and there are opportunities lined up that will only take her business higher. However, those opportunities require her full attention to go forward and now her partner is asking for kids. She asked me, “Can you choose between having kids and taking your business forward?”
You can’t chase two rabbits at the same time that’s for sure.
The choice to take a career break and have kids or try and juggle both is a personal one. No one can choose your destiny for you, not even your partner. For me personally, I feel, if I was to have a baby in the next year or two, one is going to have to suffer. It’s either I will not be able to give my child the full attention she deserves (I really really really want a girl first by the way) or I will not be able to fully commit myself to Demur. So, I am seated here asking myself the same question as my friend, what do I want more? To some people that is an absurd question to even ponder about.
You cannot compare a baby to a business. Although to a certain extent it often feels like I have a baby already. As much as I can delegate things to other people much like leaving your baby at the babysitters, you still must make sure that the baby is looked after. You must protect your baby, you must protect the integrity of your business. I cannot go on holiday yet without worrying or checking in on Demur, just like a Mother who has left her child at home.
So, can my friend say to her partner, “Baby I want a child but you are going to have to wait until I finish building my business,” When will that be though? I can certainly understand why some women chose not to have children at all. Oprah once said she chose not to have children because she knew it would get in the way and well look at the incredible empire she has built. There is no telling whether she would have had the same level of success had she chosen to have kids.
You can have your cake and eat it too
On the other hand, there are women who show us that you can have it all. Beyoncé had her first child when she had already created a wonderful legacy and went back to business and there is no doubt she will get right back to business after the twins.
I once read a quote by Shonda Rhimes, where she said: “Motherhood is not about shrinking down, it’s about showing your kids how to be a powerful woman.” For Shonda Rhimes that means juggling being a mother and running her Shondaland empire. How do you balance the priorities of having a child and building an empire? Is it selfish to want to build something first and delay starting a family? Success is a long winding road, what if it takes you 10,20,30 years to get to the level of success you want, before having kids?
I’m often asked, “Why don’t you want to have children now?” and my honest answer is, “I am building privileges for my children so that when they are born they will want for nothing.” With what I am building, I hope when I have my kids I can devote all my time to them. I hope to have built Demur to a level where it can run without me and I can afford to take a maternity leave without any financial constraints. I hope to be able to attend as many sports days as possible, stay at home with my children for sick days, cook their favourite meals and sit there and listen to their long-winded storytelling. These are the joys of being a mother I want to fully commit myself to and enjoy fully.
On the other hand, I also get asked, “Why do you want to have children?” I want children because I want someone to carry on my legacy when I’m gone, although I must admit childbirth does not look like fun. The thing is I know I can have it all but perhaps not all at once. It’s more of a question of what do I want more and when do I want it? Can I afford to put my dreams on hold for a year or two to start a family? Is it wrong to think of children as a hindrance to my dreams?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oladoyin Oladapo is the author of the “Girl to the World” book series which consist of four chapter books and four picture books for children below 12. These books share values essential to girlhood; intelligence, curiosity and self-esteem while highlighting the diverse world around us. They are more than learning about differences instead, they are fun and captivating to read like traditional children’s stories.
This is because after spending six months in a local elementary school with her team, Oladoyin discovered that children that age are not as concerned as we were about learning about developmental concepts such as culture and values. So if her team wanted to get children to read, they had to mask all the educative material with fun and exciting stories.
This led them to create the “Girl to the World” book series which empower children but are still fun to read. The series teaches children but not are not textbooks. Oladoyin believes that the content children consume at this age moulds their future; her goal is to expose children especially girls to different cultures.
Read on to find out how Oladoyin Oladapo is helping girls reach their maximum awesomeness through the celebration of culture, girl power and universal concepts like arts, friends, family, fashion, sports and school.
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing background?
I am from Nigeria but live in the USA. My family migrated to the States when I was very young, so that was where I had most of my education. I studied sociology with education concentration and political science with international relations concentration.
Around my junior year, when I first got the “Girl to the World” idea, I was studying gender and inequality in education and I think that a lot of that really formed the idea. I however planned on making multiple things with the idea; thus toys and animation etc. The first prototype I made with this idea wasn’t a book. I had to try out other things until I finally decided to start with a book, which was a great idea I must say. With regards to my writing background, I never had professional experience in writing. But I was always doing creative writing among others in school which gave me some experience in this field. So when the time came to write the books, what I did was to put together what I knew and I guess I did the best that I could.
You said you and your sister read a lot when you were young, which books had the most impact on your life? Would you say reading so much at a young age ignited this passion to write the Girl to the World series?
My sister and I read a lot, I remember reading the Bible a lot when I was growing up. At that young age however, I wasn’t able to understand the Bible so I was given the picture Bible which made it a lot easier to understand. In terms of actual storybooks, our dad would take us to the library all the time. We spent an entire summer reading Chicken Soup for the Soul. I mean we read the entire series of that book just like the Babysitters Club, the Magic Treehouse, Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants series. I really enjoyed Captain Underpants because it was an easy read and I loved the pictures and how funny it was. Also I believe that because I read so much, I had the confidence that I could write the book even though it was something I never planned on doing.
From your Youtube video, you stated that there are four chapter books and four picture books about four amazing girls. These girls are Akua from Ghana, Shivani from India, Estefany from Colombia and Chazelle from Trinidad and Tobago. How did you come up with these characters and how did you choose their nationalities? Was is random or planned?
Everyone wants to know why I don’t have a Nigerian girl. It’s a long story. The thing is, the first person who joined my team was a Ghanaian girl who helped me write the first story. And later, when we decided to extend to other characters, we wanted geographical diversity.
It didn’t make sense to have Nigeria which is like two doors from Ghana. I wanted to get other places around the world. Ghana was already there so I decided to hold on with Africa and try other continents. Then I decided to choose countries that I felt like I knew enough to write about. As I am an outsider and not from any of these cultures so I did research and talked to people who are from there. I wanted to make sure I had enough resources, facts and details so I could write about them.
I wanted it to be authentic, genuine and good. That was the major reason for creating stories from different regions. Also these were cultures I really really enjoyed.
I feel like if I wasn’t a Nigerian, I will be Indian. All these countries I was exposed to, I felt like part of them. With each character we wrote about, I felt like I was the one in the story. As a Nigerian, I have lots of Ghanaian friends and I am used to their culture so I chose cultures that resonated with me. However, these characters are just the beginning. I plan to extend to all the other cultures.
You and your team spent six months in a local elementary school to study and test out your contents. Can you share with us some of your findings?
What I learnt was that children just want to have fun and want to be engaged first and foremost. When I was serving them lunch, I would observe the things I did that got them excited. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to make textbooks.
We know that it is good for them to read things that will educate, inspire and inform them about other cultures, but they don’t know that and they do not care. Thing is, they don’t need to care because they are 10 years old. If we want them to learn these things then we have to make sure to create something that would be exciting, informative, relatable, fun and easy for them to grasp. I think my problem with the books out there is that they don’t have that.
If you should read a book about a girl from Ghana, what you will find is; “Hi, I am Akua from Ghana. Ghana is a country in Africa. Africa is a continent”. That is true and nice but that is not fun to read. Older people can read that and be all right with it but imagine a 7-year-old reading that. It is just not going to stick. So we decided to write out all that we wanted to do and teach. Then we had to brainstorm on how to mask them underneath the fun; so that the children will enjoy the books but also be educated.
For instance, we wanted to teach kids about entrepreneurship so we talked about how Akua who lives in Cape Coast, Ghana spent her holidays with her aunty in Makola Market Accra. She gets bored and ends up creating something out of some old Kente then sells it in the market. But we never mentioned the wordentrepreneurship even once in the book.
However, we stated the qualities and skills of an entrepreneur. We wanted children to understand the essence of creating something on their own. Even if you are not from Ghana, you know how you can be so bored during the summer. So we wanted them to know they could create something and make money during this period.
What makes these four girls and their stories so special?
Their diversities and the fact that they are just like us makes them so special. Diversity is not just about skin colour, it is about experiences and having different stories to tell; that is what we are capturing.
Growing up, there weren’t many books with characters that looked like me or experiences similar to mine or the woman I was becoming and we wanted to change that. We decided to create books children would relate with. So I sat down with my team and we really broke it down according to what we want the girls to be exposed to and we came up with diverse characters.
We had one girl who was interested in science, another interested in politics then one who was really loud and the other an introvert. We had to make sure that we had girls who had afro, straight and curly hair. This is supposed to be relatable to all sort of people since we were looking at diversity and different kinds of personalities. These books are also special because they;
Ignite – open your eyes to the characters in their countries and their lives. Thus causing children to be curious about other cultures.
Inspire – shows the various types of careers and academics; encourage skills and talents building; hobbies. Also encourages girls to try out academic fields that are mainly male-dominated like science, politics, engineering, entrepreneurship which only few women tackle. We want to show how fun these unrepresented fields are.
The reader is exposed to the character’s relatable personality traits, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, passions and fears while also learning how to navigate them.
Engage – this is all about history; exploring defining moments in the past and making it enjoyable to learn the unique stories from each character’s country. This ties historical events to the characters’ life which is relatable.
Excite – this is culture. It is the highlights of festivities and occasions which genuinely depicts a cultural event or experience in a character’s country; usually traditional events with a touch of modern emphasis.
All these are embedded in every single story created. When girls read the books and see girls like them from across the world, they will think about being leaders and savour their culture and history.
They will view themselves not as superheroes or princesses but just as regular girls with lots of potential to offer to the world.
Among the four girls, which one is your favourite and why?
I really hate this question but I think Shivani is my favourite because she is actually me. The thing is I didn’t realize the similarities until I finished writing. Except for the fact that she is Indian, this girl is actually me.
Shivani is into student leadership and has a lot of activities in school. She is into fashion and she is a boss lady. Shivani is also structured, rigid and predictable. She had to learn to be a little spontaneous; something I also had to learn to do over the years. She was faced with some experiences where she learnt how to take life as it comes.
Who are your target audience? Which age group can read this book?
The chapter book is for children between the ages of 7 – 11 ,while the picture book is for children below 7.
I however think that the older you are; the book series is a quick read. I also have 15-year-old and 16-year-old reading it.
What was the hardest and easiest thing about writing these books?
The easiest thing was actually gathering the information while the hardest was the writing, editing, formatting, illustration then the publishing.
After publishing, how were the books received? How and where are you selling the book?
Reception has been overwhelming and people have been very supportive. Everything has been going a whole lot better than I expected, which is burning me up and I have to catch up to the wave. We have been shocked by the amount of support we have received. I don’t have any complaints. We already distribute to three schools and have 200 other smaller distributors. The books are also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble booksellers, through me and some book stores depending on where you are located. We are also trying to get the books on other distributors at other countries.
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I have three children ages 4, 6 and 12. I also run three businesses, my legal practice NKS Advocates, Law Query Kenya, an online legal resource portal with an android app and an entrepreneur empowerment company plus online directory with Mpower Limited. Then, I also have a social life.
As you can imagine, it is hectic. What surprised me a lot is that the hardest task is attending to my family. The needs of the family are financially, emotionally and time consuming.
My family need to be listened to, acknowledged, praised, and identified as individuals. This, I assure you, is quite time consuming. Yet, it is extremely rewarding when the family member feels happy and loved.
The number of hugs and kisses I need to dish out per day keep on increasing. I don’t complain because, I brought my children to this world and I must take care of them. They are a priority! Still, the greatest resource they consume is time!
The effect of being a mother is that, now, my hours are spent more on the children. My businesses are really affected by this. When it comes to this balance, a woman needs to decide what is important.
To me, my family and business are important. And yes, I have friends and social obligations that are important too. So, how can I possibly manage?
Focus on important things first
I struggle with this because I usually like to get everything done.
So, nowadays, I need to balance my day according to importance and urgency. Important means tasks that leave more impact or need more personal input. Sometimes, ME time trumps everything!
Make sure your to-do list not a wishlist!
How you execute your operations or business may need to be revisited. Do you really need to have physical meeting with a client? This takes up a lot of time in travel and may disrupt (in a positive way) your day.
Reducing physical meetings and focusing on deliverables can free up some time. Many companies now have self-help options to reduce physical contact while addressing routine issues.
Technology has helped reduce disrupted time and create more time for actual quality work. This should be used optimally as it can also become a disruption in itself or distance you from your customer.
Without relinquishing responsibility, consider getting someone else to help you get things done. The domestic help can ensure homework is done so you only need to check it and sign the diary (clearly you cannot delegate this). I rely on school transport and lunches for my children. It saves me two to three hours a day.
For my businesses too, I get good help. It costs a lot but the peace of mind is worth it. Of course, I still take meetings but after putting my schedule on my phone calendar, I’m rarely double-booked. Also, I make sure my meeting locations are as near each other as possible or in a logical sequence. One of my top peeves is rushing through traffic.
What I have learnt with getting help is you can’t just instruct and wash your hands off it. There is need for supervision and direction. This requires periodic meetings and checking of all deliverables constantly. I manage this through emails and phone calls. I have all my office emails transferred to the email on my phone so that I don’t miss anything.
One thing I don’t delegate is strategic planning, and money matters! Also, when there is a crisis you need to show up!
Have good systems in place
Having standard systems and templates helps to manage quality control and brand equity. The customer satisfaction should be the same whether you are serving directly or through your staff.
The system should be linked to your phone or home computer so that you can check on things at any moment. I have installed an internet based management system in one business, and I’m still trying it out.
Talk to people who are successful in your field and get enormous insight. In particular, I realize that they have managed the same challenges I have and succeeded. It is amazing how mentors are ready to answer questions and give practical and workable tips. I used to stumble in the dark until I got a mentor who put on the lights for me.
Talk to peers (other entrepreneurs) who can share tips or information on opportunities and are more frequently available. Take thirty minutes out of your day and have coffee with your peers. You’ll always leave re-energized, not just from the coffee but from having learnt something new. Of course, I don’t mean idle chat sessions, that’s for your ME time!
Learning, networking and growing are key for any progress and success. You cannot know everything, there are new models and concepts coming out every day. Take some time to know current trends and news affecting your industry. Same applies to bringing up children, keep abreast with latest threats and trends.
When you have knowledge of what you are doing, it becomes easy and you can teach someone else. An entrepreneur must have knowledge on key aspects of the business human resource, operations, procurement, customer care, marketing, finance and strategic planning.
Don’t have time to attend conferences and seminars (this is highly recommended due to the diversity of participants)? No problem, the internet is your university. There are loads of excellent programs online.
I personally love TED Talks, webinars, and online courses e.g. Alison, Coursera and EdEx. These are free resources that can build capacity and keep you abreast with latest trends.
Schedule ME time to re-energize and refresh. A tired mind is worse than a tired body. I refresh through service clubs, socializing, pampering/exercise, travelling, reading and quiet time. Schedule this and make sure it’s in your list of Things to Do!
To have it all, the key thing is, “First things First, Important things First”. It doesn’t have to be either/or. You can have a life, a family and a business!
She Leads Africa interviewed Cofounder and CEO of MBA Mama, Divinity Matovu. As a mother of two, she is pursuing her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on entrepreneurial management and finance. She has launched four start-ups, lived and worked in East Africa and prides herself on being a global citizen and an advocate for women’s empowerment. This is what she had to say about navigating family and career planning as an MBA Mama.
“The biggest barrier for women with children interested in pursuing their MBA, women in business is: childcare. Many women find themselves saying: Oh, I have a child, I’m not going to be able to keep up. What will I do about childcare? Will I have any money going in? If we can develop something that helps women to save time and money on childcare, it becomes much easier to have a conversation and for them to continue advancing in their careers. You don’t want highly educated, highly qualified, and highly trained women dropping out of the workforce.
Our brand, MBA Mama, makes visible: women who successfully maintain their careers after maternity leave and even women who have children during the MBA. We are an online platform that provides ambitious women with tools and resources to leverage an MBA, and strategically navigate family and career planning.
Because of the childcare issues, there are a lot of women who are not at the table to lean in. That is not good for our economy or for business. We want to help women navigate having a child during their post MBA career so that they don’t fall behind their male peers, and so that they don’t feel like they have to drop out of the work force.
From our perspective, an MBA is a great degree that women should leverage to have career advancement. Firstly, an MBA is a graduate degree with the highest return on investment. During the MBA program, you can gain a set of skills that are transferable to any industry and add value to any career. An MBA can increase your access to an excellent network. Lastly, the types of careers available post MBA have wonderful benefits.”
Whether you’re a mother, a woman who is passionate about going back to school, a woman interested in starting a family or all of the above, Divinity provides you with these useful tips.
Here’s her top three tips for a successful family planning during the MBA:
1. Timing is crucial
There are quite a few women who are timing their ovulation cycle when pursuing their MBA. They work with their partners to make sure that they will be pregnant when they want to be pregnant. These women give birth during the winter break, which is 3-4 weeks.
They come back that next semester, and for most of them, they are only taking classes maybe two days a week. There are also women who work to have children the summer before they start full-time work, and after they graduate.
2. Maintain consistent family time
When I’m with my daughter, I’m with my daughter. I’m unplugged and not checking emails or on social media. My philosophy is: quality of our time together as opposed to quantity.
Even though I’m really busy, that really helps us to maximize our time. So, figure out what time works best for you. Mornings are really good for us because we’re up and about and getting ready together.
3. Prepare for the week
I do meal preps on Sunday. So, I cook many meals on Sunday and then I’ll Tupperware everything into portions so that throughout the first three days of the week I have all of my meals ready to go.
We do take out Thursdays, so I know I don’t have to cook dinner that day. Fridays and Saturdays are easy, because I don’t have class. Sunday, I start my meal prep again.
On her four tips on successful business planning:
1. Create your own brand
I am an MBA Mama, and I see myself in my consumers. I’m investing time in the community and I hope that leads people to our brand. I launched the company and was very excited to get my partner Nicole on board.
That was a challenge because I had to make sure that my vision was clear, and that I could get someone else to buy into the idea.
2. Gain Financial Skills
Finance is central to any business operation. You can have a great brand and people can be excited about what you’re doing, but if you don’t know how to manage the money, if you don’t know how to read a balance sheet, and if you don’t know how to get your finances in order—nothing else really matters.
3. If you want to build an online community, communicate and be engaged
Be engaged with your online community—whether that’s responding to a tweet or re-tweeting someone mentioning your brand, communicating with fans on Instagram or featuring people on your blog.
By staying connected, people know that you actually see enough value in what they have to say.
4. Utilize Social Media!
Finally, any of word-of-mouth that can help your business will be good for your brand. People love referrals because it’s a trusted source and it’s even more trusted than paid advertisements. Through our blogs people find us, and the women we feature also spread the word to their followers.
Also, we feature women who share their stories through our “MBA Mama of The Month Initiative.” If someone can recommend your brand by word-of-mouth, that’s really the best way.
It was my last day at work and the first day of the next phase of my life. I had decided to become a full time entrepreneur and solely focus on building my own business.
My 10-month-old baby daughter would be my constant companion since my nanny was going away on leave at that time. This meant that it would take me longer than expected to get my business up and running.
Several weeks later, I now realize that setting up a business is a gradual process that requires time and dedication. Things also don’t always go as planned. Here is what I have learnt from my journey:
Have short, medium and long term goals
Dividing your goals into these categories will help you to focus while managing your time effectively. A popular acronym developed by George T. Doran is S.M.A.R.T. This means that all goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
Practising this approach can be beneficial if adopted at the initial stages of business development. Overlooking any of the criteria could hamper progress and create frustration.
I, for example, wanted to have my company up and running in two weeks. However, this was not possible given my home situation. I was able to adjust accordingly and establish my company within a more realistic time frame.
In taking this approach, I quickly learnt that focusing on gaining a large customer base and revenue without fully building and understanding my business model would not work.
According to Martin Reeves and Mike Deimler in their Harvard Business Review article, Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage, a company must have its antennae tuned to signals of change from the external environment, decode them, and quickly act to refine or reinvent its business model, and even reshape the information landscape of its industry.
Going into the same industry as my previous employer, I initially believed that developing a similar work structure would lead to business success. However, I realized that this approach would not be ideal given the lack of human and financial capital on my end.
I chose to adopt the most relevant aspects for my business such as customer relations. I opted to take a different approach on other aspects such as marketing.
Goals are moving targets
Business goals are moving targets. You can’t afford to get comfortable as this leads to stagnation. It is important to be open to providing current market needs. Keep abreast of the happenings in your industry as well as related industries.
This can be done through reading business journals and articles, attending conferences with industry peers, or simply carrying out research to understand the latest developments in the market. As an entrepreneur you need to keep up with the ever-changing market needs.
Enjoy the ride
Make the most of your experiences. Learn from each of them. Don’t be consumed by the business, however, as this will result in stress. In order to avoid frustration devise various coping mechanisms.
According to Forbes magazine, this could be as simple as scheduling breaks throughout the day or focusing on other interests that are unrelated to your business. Most importantly, appreciate your family in this moment. In my case, being with my baby daughter was the best stress reliever I had and probably will ever have.
At the end of the day, my nanny being away turned out to be a blessing in disguise.