Imagine Africa at the center of our plates: Preserving, profiting and healing our roots through food

 

What does food, nutrition, and gender equity have in common for Africa and its diaspora?

Together they have the ability to transform the future of Africa’s food system by empowering women and girls who represent the vital engine of the economy.

Africa and its diaspora have a key opportunity to address the double burden of nutrition from diabetes, heart disease to malnutrition by promoting the health and beauty of African foods from teff, millet, moringa, baobab and hibiscus which can unlock economic potential and grow an emerging consumer market with the right policy, resources, infrastructure, packaging and promotion in place.

The World Economic Forum projected double-digit growth of Africa’s economy over the next 50 years. Like Asia and Latin America, the food and agricultural sectors will follow these projected trends.

Currently, a rise in Western fast-food chains has proliferated across the Continent in the name of job creation. Furthermore, the World Health Organization(WHO) reports heart disease and diabetes will outpace killing Africans more than AIDS.

Without a proper health care infrastructure to combat NCD, the economic returns from job creation in the fast food system will have to pay for the health of Africa’s people.  

What shift can happen on the continent to ensure that public health and economic growth are not in conflict?

Academic researchers have documented the positive role of the African heritage diet; therefore economic opportunities are prime for investment in the indigenous foodways while preserving the heritage and supporting a climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agricultural landscape.

In addition, scholarly works and visionary leadership matched with the public will can ensure that Africa is truly at the center of the plate for Africa and not just on the menu.

How have I come to this belief?

After attending the 2014 African Union Summit which has a theme on ‘food security,’ I was inspired and challenged with how to contribute to the AU Agenda 2063 to address youth opportunities.

Traversing across the continent, I had the esteemed pleasure to tour and speak to colleagues in the health care systems, nutrition systems, and academic institutions along with parents and students about diet and non-communicable diseases.

That’s why I created WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, to inspire a new generation of women and girls to lead in improving the food system for healthier, sustainable economies and communities in Africa and the Diaspora.

And our children’s generational icon is Little WANDA, a new girl character from the Diaspora, who uses her superpower of African foods to heal her communities with the help of women farmers, food producers, and nutritionists which we call them Big WANDAs.

By visiting the local markets in Ghana, I enjoyed the sights, sounds and buying from the entrepreneurial women selling their farm-fresh produce and packaged goods while I also concerned how the big box grocery stores may displace these micro food enterprises if we don’t see their value in our local food economy and tourism industry.

How can we build a food system that ensures local food entrepreneurs have equitable footing while multinational corporations join the food supply chain?

And what about Africa’s youth?

While giving a nutrition workshop with at a primary school in Nigeria, I saw the eagerness of the students to learn nutrition education after reading “Where’s WANDA?” bilingual book series.

One parent shared how her daughter shared healthy tips to help her Nana prevent diabetes; in a nutshell, she wanted to become food ‘shero’ like Little WANDA in the “Where’s WANDA?” series to help their Nana who has diabetes.

Over the last few decades, fast food chains with subsidized corn syrup, refined wheat and salts have become mainstay fixtures in urban diasporan communities with little healthy food access known as a ‘foodapartheidd,’ the same effect may happen in urban centers across Africa without intervention.

Proper comprehensive nutrition-centered agriculture policy preserving local foodways combined with nutrition edutainment, standardized food labeling, and promotional campaigns are key to keep at bay the unintended consequences particularly in middle-income countries with non-communicable diseases like hypertension while lowering health care costs.

If the African American experience is the ‘canary in the mine’ for Africa, what early intervention and visionary leadership can change the direction of this path? 

In creating WANDA, it was clear that investing in women and girls will be fundamental for Africa’s future!

And men’s role as gate openers of opportunity is key to unlock the resources to build workforce and leadership and combat the historical nutrition inequities and the stigma in the food system.

For too long the world publicly shunned the nutritional value of Africa’s indigenous foodways while using Africa’s food and labor to build their economy. Training more women and youth in nutrition and agribusiness is critical in improving health and economic opportunities for all.

Decolonizing our diet is not only good for the economy but our local food ways.

And agriculture needs an image makeover to inspire a new generation of food leaders with characters like Little WANDA to set course on a proper pathway for a healthy and wealthy Africa.


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5 Types Of Accounts Every Woman Should Have Before 35

5 Types of Money Accounts Every Woman Should Have Before 35

Mo money, mo problems right?

Mo Money Mo Problems

Maybe for Diddy, but definitely not for us. Definitely not in this economy and with the bills we need to pay and with the power moves we’re trying to make.

More money equals more financial security for ourselves, our businesses and our families but how do we go about achieving that in the long run? The first thing you have to realize is that you can’t wait until you’re older to get started. In fact there are things you can do before you turn 35 which will go a long way in ensuring your financial independence for the rest of your life.

We spoke to financial advisors from United Capital about what young women need to do to be better prepared for their future and they shared with us 5 important money accounts that every young woman should have before she turns 35 years old. Now 35 isn’t a hard and fast deadline but we can all probably agree that we better start to have our stuff together by the time we turn 35.

Topics this guide will cover:

– What are the 5 accounts you need to have before you turn 35

– Why each of these financial accounts matters for your future

– How you can get free financial advice to help you reach your money goals


So how do you download this free guide? Easy – just fill out the form below to join our community and get access to this guide and AWESOME weekly content.  


If you already know you’re ready to speak with a financial advisor who can help you set up long term savings and investments options, then you should connect directly with the United Capital team by emailing them at privatetrust@unitedcapitalplcgroup.com.

Come what may…business must go on

Intel Nairobi event

To all intents and purposes, many economies on the continent have seen a slowdown. Businesses are being tested for resilience, they are being pushed to the edge, and the strength and acumen of their value chains are being tested. But come what may, businesses must go on. They may not thrive as they when the economy was buoyant, but they must continue in earnest.

As I think about these times, two things come to mind.

  1.  The need to build a strong brand to have a sustainable and viable business in and out of a slowdown.
  2. The need to continually prepare and plan to scale your business around the core business activity at the earliest possible opportunity.

Building a brand. Building a business

What is the difference between a brand and a business?  A business is an enterprise that creates an opportunity to trade and generate revenue. A brand is made up of intrinsic values, quality and characteristics that endear clients and aspirational clients to the business.

I always say when starting a business, it is crucial to focus on building the brand first, so that you can have a viable, sustainable business in the medium to long term. And building a brand is not child’s play. A business brand is almost always made up of the personal and business values of the CEO.

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Especially for a small business, it is almost impossible to separate the personal brand of the CEO from the business brand. These become indistinguishable given that the CEO is the face of the business, and most likely the primary client-facing representative of the business. 

For the business owner and CEO, this brings home the need to reflect on, define and articulate your personal and business values right from the outset. This delivers you your business brand.  Understand and define what you are trying to achieve with your business and what values are aligned with that personal and business aspirations. 

Then, commit to live those values – through how you operate your business, how you choose and interact with clients, the quality of your services and products, how you recruit and engage with staff, how you present yourself to the world – presentation skills, public speaking skills, networking, and personal style. When we focus on these from the outset, we endear clients, and essentially revenues, to our business, create brand loyalty, and, come what may, in and out of recession, we enjoy a level of brand loyalty.

Scaling your business

Most business start with one core idea, concept, initiative, but there is always an opportunity to scale and expand that business. Think of a fashion brand that starts initially producing clothes, then start to produce and sell accessories, then later on goes into interiors, and maybe even then a lifestyle venture such as a restaurant. 

What enables such a business to do that successfully is the power of their brand.  When a brand is strong, it has a following, and clients will seek out that brand for every aspect of their daily needs.

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It’s an intentional decision. Many global corporations and their CEOs at one point decided to develop their personal and business values (=brand) to keep their clients and customers hooked. In the event of an economic slowdown or economic upturn, their business, through their brand strength, remains a viable and sustainable enterprise.

You can do it!

The price of business and entrepreneurship is uncertainty, and the prize is a vision fulfilled, success even in the midst of uncertainty.Image result

Someone recently shared with me a precise lesson in living. They said, if we knew the times and seasons, if we knew exactly what would happen to us or our business next month, next year or in 3 year, we would not need faith, we would not need to be resilient.

It is often the uncertainty in business and the ambition and determination to curb that very uncertainty that fuels the drive to success. 

Risk taking buoyed by a strong brand can bring some comforting business stability.

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist