Patricia Kihoro: Create the work you want!

patricia kihoro

Patricia Kihoro needs no introduction. The multi-talented Kenyan singer and actress has only grown since becoming a finalist at Tusker Project Fame 3 (TPF) in 2009. Now, Patricia has produced her own musical stage show, worked with a variety of renowned musicians and performed across Europe.

Through all this, what matters most to Patricia is harnessing positivity and creating a great product.

“As people in the creative industry, we are always tarmacking. I got to a place in life where I decided I wasn’t going to stay in the house waiting for work so I created the work I wanted ”, Patricia says.


Obviously, music is not all there is to you. Tell us about the other things you do.

As an entertainer, my interest spans singing, acting, writing, stage performances and photography. In the spirit of creating work for myself, I wrote, directed and produced my own stage show, Life in the Single Lane, a narrative involving interactive storytelling, acting and singing.

The name was inspired by my then single status. In this show, I had put in all my savings and was a bit nervous. The play sold out, reaffirming my belief in authenticity.

Life in the Single Lane was not fiction, I was not acting, I was being me. I wanted to create a product that was original and authentic. It ended up being something that people were comfortable bringing their friends, parents and even their teenage children to watch.

Evidently, the love bug bit again and it’s a wrap for Life in the Single Lane, literally. So, how much of our personal issues should we let into our businesses?

When creating a product, say a play or music, my current state of mind matters a lot. I know I am my greatest enemy. But the good thing is, I was able to harness into my heartbreak positively and create a great product.

Patricia Headshot 3(1)

You were in the Because You Said So stage show. How was it?

In 2014, along with a group of friends led by Jason Runo, we staged an improv comedy show dubbed ‘Because You Said So’, a hilarious comedy improvisation stage show.

Improv comedy is a form of live standup comedy that is unscripted and entails off the cuff responses to scenarios created by a host. The show has gone on to enjoy tremendous success over the past 2 years.

Do you worry about everyday things other entrepreneurs worry about? I mean issues like paying bills or paying late.

As a creative especially, I worry that my product may not be good enough.

Tell us about your radio show. What kind of music do you play?

My radio job at HBR 103.5 is something I take pride in. My show Afrocentral showcases urban and contemporary music from across Africa. I also host creatives making waves on the continent.

There’s a lot of good music out there, songs that don’t enjoy any or enough airplay. This is the kind of music I play.

Africans are so talented. My greatest joy is when I receive feedback from delighted listeners who call in asking more about the music or the artist.

This sounds like a fun and easy job. Is it?

I sometimes have to turn the internet upside down looking for music on YouTube and even reaching out to artists directly.

Before HBR, I worked at 1 FM radio as a News Presenter. I would say persistence and networking have helped a lot.

You’re also an actress. Tell us about it.

I was cast on MNET’s production Changes (my first TV gig), Sauti and Rush TV pilots and the 1st & 2nd season of Groove Theory (Africa’s first ever musical TV series).

These were not roles that were handed to me. I had to rigorously audition for each and every one of them. I have even had to audition for a role in my best friend’s production.

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You’re multi-talented but do you ever suffer indecisiveness, especially with what project to do and when?

Unfortunately, I can never choose music over my acting, radio or vice versa. These are all abilities that make up who I am as a creative person.

Of course, I become indecisive at times. Some friends have advised me to concentrate on one thing, say music. But if I did that I feel I would be selling myself short.

Are you involved in other ventures outside the creative industry?

Besides being involved in the creative industry, I am one of the mentors at Blaze. Blaze is a recently launched platform that empowers youths to be in control of their careers and future while helping them succeed in their specific chosen fields. It is a sub-brand of Safaricom,  a leading mobile service provider in Kenya.

I also mentor in media, arts, and journalism.

How are you inspired?

I keep a group of close-knit friends who inspire, build and challenge me to grow in my career.


We want your stories! Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Aina Fadina: I wanted to see a change in mainstream media

aina fadina i for africa

In a time where virtually anyone can discovering their production skills using their mobile phones, webseries have become a means to address the lack of diversity in mainstream media. I for Africa is one such series that features and celebrates African-inspired innovators across different industries. Its founder, entrepreneur, fashion model and creative director, Aina Fadina recently chatted with SLA about the series, which is now in its third season.


What was the spark that leads you to create I for Africa?

Living in NYC, I was surrounded by so many talented and innovative creatives, entrepreneurs, and innovative thinkers inspired by Africa, and I thought they needed to be celebrated. As I traveled around the world, I noticed the same examples.

I realized there was something here. I felt that it was important to change the narrative of what mainstream media was reporting about Africans and immigrants. It’s important to change the narrative of our stories and the people telling African stories around the world.

With so many web series, how do you stand out?

The engagement with guests on the show is in a very relaxed format that draws the viewer in to the conversation. It is a conversation between two friends talking about what inspires them and motivates them to be pursuing their ventures.

Additionally, the program highlights the transatlantic journey of people from different ports inspired by Africa.

What defines someone inspired by the African continent? How do you brainstorm episodes and people to interview? Have you faced any difficulty finding personalities to talk to for the series?

Someone inspired by Africa is in the manner in which they choose to celebrate the continent through their creative ideas. It’s the connection of the heart and soul to the continent.

With coming up with episodes, I reflect on who I am inspired by personally and professionally. My finger is always on the pulse of what is happening, so it makes it quite easy to think about who to interview. Finding someone to interview is actually quite easy for me. I have a lot of friends who have recommended other creative friends. People have been very kind to say yes.

There are so many dope people doing phenomenal things, so brainstorming is quite easy. An interview depends where I am, if I am able to connect to the people, and if they have a project coming out.

Overall, coming up with a list of people isn’t challenging at all because there are so many creatives inspired by Africa.

Did you have to learn any new skills to host a web series?

I have experience modelling international. For modelling, I took commercial acting classes, which allowed me to transition to hosting. I have developed an acute understanding camera presence, engaging with people in the same space and how to engage with the camera.

What has been the one I for Africa episode that stands out to you?

They all stand out for me, every person I have interviewed has inspired me in so many ways.

If I had to choose, perhaps it’ll be the first ones I shot in South by South West. Once we were done, I realized this is what I wanted to do. It also showed me that the path of content production wasn’t an easy one, but I wanted it. I wanted to see a change in mainstream media, rather than complain about it, I needed to create a solution. Taking that first step to create something is what stands out to me. Starting something isn’t hard; the challenge is how you chose to continue.

As someone who travels a lot for work, which African city holds the most cheerful memories for you?

Tough one…I have loved every African city for various reasons. Lagos fills the core of my existence. Cape Town challenged me the most from a psychological perspective. It was there that I met two friends —who became brothers— who welcomed me with open arms. Accra speaks to my soul. Cotonou brings beautiful childhood memories.


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

Acting career tips from Cameroon’s Nsang Dilong

Nsang Dilong is Cameroon’s rising screen star. In this exclusive chat, she shares tips on starting an acting career, ways to improve an acting career and talks on the Cameroon film industry.

“Always try to perfect your craft daily either by reading books on acting, watching other actors and also practicing. It takes constant hard work and determination.” Nsang Dilong says.


Nsang is a beautiful young lady who is earning her right as one of Cameroon’s rising TV stars in the acting industry. She’s had the luxury of acting in many Cameroonian movies and series like Whispers, Tchanga and Inoma, Separate Lives, Rumble and Expression. She has also acted in a handful of Nigerian movies.

Outside from her acting career, Nsang is a model and philanthropist. Her humanitarian works revolve around making sure more orphans and vulnerable kids go to school. It is proof of the impact and healing she brings to most Cameroonian local communities.

Here, the Tchanga and Inoma actress spoke on how she navigated her path into the industry and challenges she faces as young actress. Nsang also offered advice to other young persons who wish to take up acting as a career.

On how she navigated her path into the film industry;

“Well I cannot say I have fully navigated my way around the film industry. I am still in the process. It takes constant hard work and determination.

Always try to perfect your craft daily either by reading books on acting, watching other actors and also practice.”

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On what the Cameroon film industry is like;

“The Cameroon film industry is growing in great strides, very great strides. Many people didn’t believe in it, but we are taking up the challenge as young women and it’s really evolving, considering the fact that our movies are now internationally recognised.”

Her advice on starting an acting career

– I will tell every person, especially young girls, who wish to take up acting as a career to get an education first.

– Be sure you have the passion and talent for acting. When passion meets hard work, success is sure.

– Don’t expect to be movie-stars overnight. Patience and consistency are key elements in this industry.

– If you can afford it, go to film schools, attend film festivals and workshops as much as you can. Read books, there are a lot of good acting books out there. Get them and read.

-A great deal of learning also happens on the field. By field I mean when you are acting. Accept criticisms, read and learn on how to rise above mistakes.

What the misadventures of Koffi Olomide tell us about violence against women

koffi olomide

Koffi Olomide has had quite a week.

To be honest with you, I’d never heard the name before. My taste in music seems to run parallel with his specialties. I got to know him recently though, and for all the wrong reasons. If you aren’t aware already, let me fill you in.

The renown rhumba singer from the Democratic Republic of Congo was kicked off Kenyan soil on July 22 after clearly kicking one of his dancers.  On the same day of his arrival and still at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he assaulted the lady in front of Kenyan airport police and the media. Now, in another place and time, this incident would have blown over pretty quickly after a few comments thrown around here and there and a slot in the day’s prime-time news. He’s a celebrity after all. All publicity is good publicity.

Unfortunately for Olomide, these are different times.As soon as the videos of his assault hit the interwebs, a  barrage of condemnation and censure descended upon him like hell-fire in the form of social media outcries, especially on Twitter. The 60-year-old singer, known for acting on his anger outbursts, was not getting away with it this time. The jig was up.k2

Olomide’s scheduled performance was cancelled after public outcries to boycott it. He was then taken to the police station and deported, along with three of his dancers the very next day.

Catching up on these events, what first came to my mind was, “Shame on you!” I don’t get how a man old enough to be my father was caught kicking a woman. When confronted about the issue Olomide gave some nonsensical excuse about protecting the lady from muggers. Bah! I wasn’t hearing it.

And neither were a lot of people, men and women alike. Even the higher-ups of Kenyan society spoke out. In a statement, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth and Gender affairs, Sicily Kariuki, described his conduct as an insult to Kenyans. The Constitution states that violence against women and girls cannot be accepted in any shape, form or manner.

When he landed back in Kinshasa, Olomide was received by a wave of jeers from the gathered crowd. He was booed by fans as he left the airport for his house in Kinshasa. Following this fiasco, Zambia, where the singer had a series of shows, also cancelled his performances. One of the organisers of that show Njoya Tembo, said, “Koffi has proved to be violent when musicians are generally peace ambassadors.”

But it did not end there.

Olomide was then charged with assault in a Kinshasa court and sentenced to three months in jail. This came after a rigorous campaign to have him arrested was started by Congressman Zakarie Bababaswe, who had filed a petition on behalf of the Congolese public to get the musician punished for assault. His arrest – which was ordered by the attorney-general– was received with jubilation by locals and foreigners, who feel justice must be done for all, and especially in enforcing women’s rights.

As I watched all these events unfold in the space of a week, I just knew I was witnessing a revolution. African countries have generally lagged behind in condemning (and enforcing laws against) violence towards women. Yes efforts are being made, but it is taking longer for us to see the effects. However, this outward condemnation of a seasoned musician in the face of his actions is a sign of progress. If even he can be charged in court and receive a sentence to serve jail time, then we are definitely moving in the right direction. To that I say, hongera! (Swahili for ‘congratulations’).

My cheering didn’t last very long. After just one day, Olomide was released from prison on July 28. For some weird reason, another twitter campaign got him out. This campaign was started after an outcry from his team for DRC to rally behind the singer as he had been ‘unfairly prosecuted’. Please tell me, what unfair prosecution are they referring to? He got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned. Kicking a woman is inexcusable, especially with his past record of similar transgressions.giphy

But you know, what? I still see a victory. Africa has learned something. One cannot get away scot-free for such gender-based violence any longer. Olomide’s trials through the past week will serve as a warning to anyone else even thinking that they can get away with such actions. It is a victory for women in Africa. Mess with us and you’ll receive a stern reminder that we are people too and assault is assault. You can go to jail for that, whether you’re famous or not.

Motherland Moguls, what do you think of the singer being released from his sentence? Sound off below in the comments.

How to know if you’re ready to be an entrepreneur

#WOCinTech Chat

Are you feeling an itch to test your prowess as an entrepreneur? Do you think it’s time to get to some self-medication for this entrepreneurial fever? Don’t! There is no magic pill that catapults you from your office cubicle to the members-only entrepreneurs island. Your success lies in a tiny mustard seed that needs to be nurtured. It’s the streak of hope that your crazy idea might just work. The glimmering light that tells you that you can make it.

Starting a business means you’re opening up to possibilities between immeasurable success and catastrophic failure. The difference between the two can leave you indecisive. There may not be a set time or perfect recipe to starting your business. However, there are hints to let you know that possess the qualities to be a successful entrepreneur.

Unsatisfactory work…

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Your present job no longer fulfills you like in the good old days. Instead it drains your energy and sucks life out of you like a vampire. Or it could be that you’re stuck under the heels of a Devil wears Prada boss barking orders at you here and there. When you stop getting fulfilled by your work, your work efficiency and productivity goes down. Beware though, a few bad days doesn’t guarantee that you are ready to walk down the entrepreneurial road. You have to be extremely tired of working for someone.

A burning passion

We have all attended (or been dragged to) those business pitch talks that set our imagination wild with ideas on how business is the next-thing for us. I’m talking about those presentations done by shady-looking speakers with fascinating (fake) success stories of how cash was made within no time. As an entrepreneur you shouldn’t be carried away with the hype.

Entrepreneurial passion is about the itch. It’s about a business idea that won’t let go. This itch stems from inside you; it irritates you to get it done. It’s that pounding thought that tortures your mind from months. Most businesses that flourish are those that are hobbies of the business owners. If you have guts to turn a hobby into business, then you are ready to fly.

Understanding that 100% of your efforts could vanish giphyBy now, you understand that there are serious risks involved in entrepreneurship; it could be losing all capital investment, facing legal problems or accruing debts. Before starting a business, you should research on the risks involved and how to mitigate them. Talk to experts whose start-ups failed, you could learn a thing or two.

Do you think and act like an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are fascinating people; they think and act in a certain way. They are never content with things the way they are. Entrepreneurs always seek alternative ways to improve existing ideas. They take risks and are thrilled with trying new things. They are motivated by control, problem solving and creativity.

A new business will teach you more than you think. You get to acquire new skills, grow thick skin and face the challenges that confront your ego.

Why?

You’ve got to answer the question —why am I starting a business? Is it because my job is boring? Can I be a better boss? Can I create new ideas? Will I solve problems more effectively? Have I reached a ceiling in my career? The answers to this question may be varied but you need to be truthful to yourself

Finally your attitude dictates it all. If you don’t give up, don’t take no for an answer and don’t take things personally, then you are set for setting out in the Motherland Mogul path.

4 career lessons from Akothee, Kenyan singer and entrepreneur

akothee

Earlier this year, Akothee set off a storm on Kenyan gossip forums as curious minds wanted to know about her wealth. The singer is thought to be one of the wealthiest celebrities in the country and her rapid rise to fame sparked rumours. Wagging tongues suggested that she got her wealth from a rich man and that she is part of the Illuminati. She was even accused of human trafficking. Just goes to show that there is still a long way to go before haters will stop saying horrible things about successful women. Akothee has quite a lot to teach us about life and business, get your pens ready.

It’s okay to have a rough start

Akothee left school aged 14 to marry the man she thought was the love of her life. In her own words, she came from a stable family but rebelled against expectations placed on her. She stayed at home, working as a housegirl for her mother-in-law over the course of seven years. All this while, her husband was in school getting his degree. He would eventually leave her for another woman.

It was after ten years of marriage that Akothee returned to school. She was 24 years old.

It is never too late to make a change in your life. A bumpy ride should not stop you from moving forward.

Nurture your inner hustler

After her divorce, Akothee moved from her village to Mombasa. There she learned how to drive and took to driving a taxi as part of her brother’s business. Yes, you read that right, she drove a taxi (some sources say it was a matatu).

Akothee is known to be a great dancer and although she has made money from it, when she started she was dancing for free. It was others who suggested that she consider dancing as a business. She followed this advice and went on to earn a living as a professional dancer, dancing at high-end parties in cities across the world.

Write this down, you can make profit from doing something unconventional. Always persevere and like Akothee land on your feet not on your back.

Diversity is the spice of life

Looking at all the things Akothee does begs the question, what exactly is her side hustle? Is it her music? Is it her business? The parties she hosts? The acting she does on the side? On the business side of things, Akothee has admitted that her ventures fund her Instagram glamorous living.

She is the woman behind Akothee Safaris, a travel agency and transport service (remember the taxi company mentioned above? It has now expanded to a fleet of cars and will soon acquire a private jet). She also owns a 5 star boutique hotel in the coastal city Diani. In addition to this, she deals in real estate and property, buying and selling luxurious homes along the Kenyan coast.

These days, everyone is expected to find their niche and stick to it but Akothee shows us that you can choose to buck the trend.

You can be a mama and an entrepreneur

On top of managing all that showbiz and entrepreneurship, Akothee is a mother of five! She has said that having kids is a hobby and she won’t mind a number six. As a single mum, she’s both the mother and the father, add to this her diverse hustles and her as a person outside her celebrity status. Her children have seen her through all her struggles and respect her for it.

Akothee is a huge inspiration to single mums. You can be everything you want to be in addition to being a great mother.

It’s been said that her past European partners are the ones that gave her money but after studying Akothee’s entrepreneurial spirit, I’ll take that with a pinch of salt. Here’s to living life to the fullest while generating your own wealth!

Twitter chat with Flavia Tumusiime: Building a career in the media industry (Jun 16)

she hive nairobi

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Ever wanted to know how to make it in the media industry? Are you invested in building your public image? The media can be a very lucrative place for young women to build a career in but many of us don’t know the first step to enter into it.

Join us on Thursday June 16 for a twitter chat with Ugandan TV presenter, radio host, MC and actress, Flavia Tumusiime on building a career in the media industry. If you’re not sure how to move forward in becoming a media personality, then you need to join this chat.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SheHiveNairobi to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • How to balance public and private lives as a celebrity
  • When to start building your public profile
  • How to gain and maintain a lasting public image
  • The necessary skills required to work on TV
  • Media industry mistakes to avoid at all costs

Twitter chat details:

  • Date: Thursday June 16, 2016
  • Time: 2:00pm WAT // 5:00pm EAT
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChatsshe hive nairobi

About Flavia Tumusiime

Flavia Tumusiime, has become a consistent and steady face in Uganda and Africa’s media world. Her journey began at the age of 14 when she landed top spot as one of the hosts of popular teens show on WBS TV. She later did a short stint on HOT 100 radio before being offered a show on the number one radio station in Uganda 91.3 capital FM where she now hosts the mid-morning show daily.

She was a face of Freedum Nytil a Ugandan clothing brand from 2006 to 2008. In 2007 she featured in her first film role in “Kiwani”, a H.Ssali production and is now lead actress in the “Beneath the Lies” series. Flavia’s career took a major turn in 2011 when she landed a role as co-host of the popular game show “Guinness Football Challenge” for 2 seasons and also became the first Ugandan VJ for popular African music channel, Channel O. She was the first East Africa to co-host the popular Big Brother Africa reality show in 2012.

How to build an online media company on a start-up budget

Eyitemi Popo ayiba magazine media

Before launching Ayiba Magazine, I searched online for existing African-authored content sites targeted at young Africans and was scant to find any doing what I had in mind.

I launched Ayiba with the goal of providing a platform that showcased African change makers around the world who were disrupting tired narratives through media, technology, and innovation.

I didn’t just want to start a blog, instead I wanted to build a network of writers that covered content from across Africa and the Diaspora in a way that connected our generation.

If we look at mass media outlets that cover Africa, we have the BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera, amongst others, but none of them are African owned. I have always asked myself why there are no prominent African owned media outlets that cover content from across Africa.

A long-standing argument in development has been that all the books written on Africa are authored by old white men. Well, we’ve entered a new Digital Age and the same thing remains true about a large percentage of the content found online.

Of course that is increasingly changing, but it’s due to sites like Ayiba, channels like Arise TV, and others in the new media ecosystem. I believe Ayiba is important for the media landscape because our readers are our writers. We create content to inspire young Africans that is written by young Africans.

What sets us apart is this authenticity and the fact that we constantly strive to cover content from all over Africa – not just the usual suspects of Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa.

Over the past three years, there are five key strategies that have allowed our platform steadily scale. All of them relate to content creation because as the say “content is Queen.” Or do they say King?

Anyway, from day one, we have focused on generating diverse and quality content because we know that is how we will one day grow to millions of readers. A girl’s gotta dream!

Our strategies are:

Building a well-managed virtual office:

Since our team lives across three continents and four time zones (and is often moving between locations), we have had to create virtual processes for everything we do.

We’ve refined and streamlined our digital work environment using a combination of platforms, including Slack, Google, Facebook, and Dropbox.

Building a diverse team:

When recruiting, we don’t limit our search. All that matters is that the talent is tapped into global media and has a voice.

It’s because of the diversity in our team that we manage to cover stories from all over the world and are able to land features with so many diverse subjects.
Ayiba Team_medium

Training new talent:

We can’t always expect to find the best ready-made talent. Sometimes we have to nurture the talent we seek.

Our editorial team is committed to working with our contributors to produce quality content that meets the standards Ayiba has set for itself and that our readers have come to expect.

Creating content partnerships:

A major aspect of the Digital Age is the sharing and redistribution of information. Ayiba contributes to this by republishing and cross-publishing content, as well as cultivating distribution channels for our content.

We would like to see more collaboration in the African new media ecosystem.

Designing an aesthetically pleasing site:

Your content can be ace, but if your site looks amateur, readers will be less likely to stick around. WordPress themes are inexpensive and can easily be customized to meet your needs.  

I highly recommend them.

Of the points listed, talent acquisition has certainly been the most challenging hurdle. However, since we recruit talent from both the Diaspora and the continent, this increases our talent pool.

In the Diaspora, we reach out to our founding team alumni networks at Mount Holyoke College and Yale University. In Africa, we use Opportunity Desk to post our internship and fellowship programs. The internship program is for all roles outside editorial and runs for three months at a time, while our editorial fellowship is for up to six months. Ayiba emphasizes training homegrown journalistic talent.

Our environment is fast-paced, yet focuses on quality of content rather than quantity. Our editors work directly with our interns and fellows to improve their craft, providing a partnership from which both parties benefit. Some fellows choose to stay on after their fellowship, which has been great, but most leave to pursue other great opportunities. However, all benefit from an experience that has improved their writing ability.

One tip I can give on recruiting in a start-up is to make sure that whoever you bring into your team buys your weakness and sells you their strength. This means the team needs to be balanced by whoever you decide to bring on board. Each individual should neutralize the weaknesses of the team as a whole with their strengths. That’s the best way of keeping a lean team that delivers.

Ayiba covers-urban to formationWe recently published our first print issue, which was well-received. In fact, it was invited to exhibit at the first African Art Book Fair at the Dak’Art Biennale in Senegal. It was a challenging and time consuming process, but the whole team learned a lot. The best part is that we were able to create and distribute our print issue to five continents with less than $100 spent on the project.

We did this by:

  1. Recruiting talented design students who were looking to expand their portfolios to include magazine spreads.
  2. Using a pay-per-issue print service like Blurb, so we didn’t have to order in volume or handle delivery.
  3. Using creative commons like Flickr for stunning high quality non-copyrighted images.

If you are unable to recruit designers, I would advise purchasing template bundles from sites like Creative Market or Themeforest and modifying them to suit your aesthetic. Adobe InDesign is quite easy to learn and YouTube is a great resource.

In under two months, my team with little experience in print publishing, pulled together a beautifully designed 60-page print issue on a shoe-string budget. This is an example of the importance of having a flexible and committed team that is willing to take risks and accept new challenges.

As we look to the future, Ayiba would like to continue building on our original series. We have had a lot of success with our Afropolitan Diary, Start-up Stories, and Becoming series. We believe this is because they focus on personal narratives.

Most recently, we interviewed Fadumo Dayib, the first female presidential candidate for Somalia, for our Becoming Series. By telling this one individual story, we were able to more eloquently and profoundly highlight larger social and cultural issues in Somalia than we could have with a hard-hitting op-ed, for example.

Going forward, we would like to build on our nuanced storytelling and diversify the mediums we use to create these stories. In the coming year, we plan to build new partnerships that will make creating video posts a possibility.

Ayiba was started with a team of two and funds from an Indiegogo campaign that raised exactly $1,090. Today, we have a team of eight spread across three continents and are seen by organizations like the Financial Times and Seedstars World as an outlet that connects them to artistic and entrepreneurial talent in Africa and its Diaspora.

My point is don’t let insufficient finances be an excuse for not starting a business or fulfilling your life’s work. It only takes hard work, perseverance and a little creativity to build something from what is seemingly nothing.

Girls Talk London: Rebranding what it means to be a young woman in the UK

All across the world girls and young women are looking for spaces to express themselves and have their voices heard. While the issues may be different, digital media is providing the platform for young women to create what they wish they could see. Vanessa Sanyauke and Remel London, diaspora women based in London, have come together to create Girls Talk London and talk about the issues facing young women in the UK.

Vanessa and Remel shared with us how they’ve gotten corporate leaders to see the value in their organisation, the networking tips they’ve used to connect with high profile guests like Adele’s stylist and the best African restaurant in London.


Why is Girls Talk important to young women in the UK?

Vanessa: At present in the UK there is not one single talk show that targets young women. We do not have a platform to talk about trending topics that affect us or hear from guests that are of interest to our everyday lives.

Girls Talk is made for the everyday young woman in the UK and the hosts have open and honest conversation about current social media trends and have special guests and experts on fashion, beauty, work, relationships & life who give the viewer life hacks and tips to implement in their lives.

This show rebrands what it means to be a girl in the UK and the hosts are non-judgemental advocates for women’s issues and rights.

Remel: Young women need positive role models and I think that we showcase exceptional talented women from different walks of life and industries that they can aspire to be like.

How did you build the business case for corporate partners to see the value in Girls Talk?

Girls Talk London the organisation, connects FTSE 100 businesses with female talent-young girls and professional women. The business case is that a great deal of our corporate partners have less than 20% of staff who are women and even less at executive board level. We are the middle-woman and bring talent to them and help them to increase diversity.

The UK government has introduced reporting measures which starting this year that requires any business with over 250 employees to report the salary and bonuses of male and female staff. This is another incentive for businesses to really address the gender pay which is currently at 19%.

The fact that the government is putting pressure on businesses to treat their female staff better helps businesses see the benefit of working with us.

How have you gotten high profile people to serve as guests on Girls Talk?

We have built a reputation of professionalism and excellence in all that we do so most speakers can see that we are organised and they will be looked after when they speak at an event.

Also, most high profile women are tired of being the only women in the roof and are actually passionate about doing all they can to get more women in their sector so selling the benefits of speaking at our events is not always that hard for us.

What networking and relationship building tips can you share with our audience looking to connect with high profile people?

You need to show that you are professional and organised so we’d encourage having a website or information packs which provide detail about your work and mission.

For speakers and sponsors always show your gratitude for their time and be able to explain what you can do for them. Be confident and concise-high profile people always have limited time so try and avoid long emails and conversations by being clear and straight to the point.

What are the hardest parts of getting Girls Talk off the ground and how are you looking to fill in the gaps?

The hardest part in getting the talk show off the ground is building an audience. It takes time to grow so we are focusing on our mission, content and produce a show to the highest quality.

We fill a gap in the market because we cater to all young women in the UK as our hosts come from all backgrounds including African, British and Asian as well as having a Dean as a host we are able to reach out to male viewers too.

In addition, our show helps improve the lives of our viewers because interview guests who are experts in business, careers, fashion and beauty. It is not just about a group of women gossiping!

If you had the choice between a powerful mentor and significant business funding, which one would you choose and why?

Vanessa: Oh this is a tough one! I would say a powerful mentor because knowledge is priceless and if you have a powerful mentor the money will surely follow with their direction and support.

Remel: I personally have a lot of plans and ideas of how I would like to continue to support young women and create opportunities for young people so I would choose business funding. 

What’s your vision for Girls Talk and what can we expect to see in the next 12-18 months?

Remel: I would love to see Girls Talk go on an international tour visiting different countries to inspire girls all over the world but also interview inspirational women from all over the world. 

Vanessa: My vision for the show is for us to expand our audience —we want an international audience and we are looking at partnerships and sponsorships already for series 3 so watch this space!

Fast Five with Vanessa

Vanessa - Girls Talk LondonFavorite Afrobeat singer? Tiwa Savage

Best African restaurant in London? Wazobia on Old Kent Road

Makeup must have? Blusher

Favorite woman in business? Oprah

Topic you’re most excited to talk about on this season of Girls Talk? I am really excited about the interview with Adele’s stylist and also our show on Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose and the sexualisation of women on social media.

Fast Five with Remel

Remel - Girls Talk LondonFavorite Afrobeat singer? Moelogo

Best African restaurant in London? Sweet Hands

Makeup must have? Concealer!!!

Favorite woman in business? Oprah Winfrey

Topic you’re most excited to talk about on this season of Girls Talk? Social media  

Kalinè: You don’t need the ideal situation before you do something with your talent

Kaline Official - 1

Singer, pianist, composer and producer – Kalinè is an artist of many talents. The Berklee College of Music graduate inspires her fans through her genuine and unique lyrical style while navigating the Nigerian musical industry as an independent artist. After getting her start in the industry ten years ago, she has remained a self-managed artist who believes that the beauty of not being on a label or represented has given her the power to make decisions about her musical career—what she wants to do and how she wants to do it—all of which have molded her as the artist that she is today.

She Leads Africa spoke with Kalinè about her journey as an artist and entrepreneur and why honesty is her favorite form of inspiration.


You published a piece on your blog Self-Managed- 9 Reasons why you should be your biggest cheerleader. Why did you decide to self-manage as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you?

The ideal situation would be to have a support system in a formal way, or to have a team. However, I got to a point where I was looking for people, as opposed to being found. It is a lot better to be found by a manager as opposed to looking for one or paying for one. This is because they are coming on board knowing exactly what you want to do and they have a passion for what you are doing.

I’ve learned to be discerning about who I want on my team as well. I have come into my own, and embraced the challenge that a self managed artist has and I try to use that to encourage others by saying, you don’t have to have the ideal situation before you do something with your career or talent. That is how the self-mantra was formed; by embracing it and seeing the beauty in it—until the right person approaches me.

We all know that building a brand is filled with everyday challenges, some big and some small and aggravating. What’s your favorite challenge that you have tackled and what did you learn from this experience?

Patience is the biggest thing for me. In this industry it used to be so difficult for me to see other people making a success of their talents and passions. I’ve learned that patience is the most important thing.

Everyone has their own journey, their own timelines and trajectories. There is no use being anxious or worried about what is going to happen. I strongly believe that I will get to where I want to go. I must be patient about with the recourses I do have.

Since you self-manage, this must also mean that you manage your own social media sites? If so, how have you built an online community around your brand? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs around building passionate fans and active online communities?

Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine, whether on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Soundcloud. I try to give valuable advice or useful and relevant information to my followers and supporters, while constantly remembering to be myself as I do so.

It is also good to have goals for each platform. Your Instagram followers are very different from your Facebook followers, likewise your LinkedIn followers. Figure out, what exactly do followers want to gain from the different platforms? It is a learning process, and a trial and error.

From your social media pages, I can see that you’re inspiring your followers in everything that you do—whether it’s singing or blogging. How do other activities that you partake in, inspire your work?

Photography, reading, social messages, conversations, and social issues inspire my blogging and songwriting. At Berklee School of Music I studied film and music scoring.

I’ve written music for commercials, and teach piano to little kids. Being an artist is a full time job. Everyday there is something to do—from social media, to practicing for a show, to styling, and to rehearsing.

What female artists do you gain inspiration and or empowerment from?

Adele, her honesty inspires me. Lianne Lahava, Laura Mvula—to name a few—teach me to stay true to myself and to write from an honest place.

How do you define yourself and your music, in terms of today’s climate?

If you come to one of my shows, you will hear reggae, highlife, pop, R&B and classical elements. The common thread that runs through all of my songs are honesty and elements of truth and authenticity through my repertoire. I am influenced by too many things to really put myself in the box.

I think that is where the world is headed—no longer really saying. Everyone is going into various genres; as the Internet and social media become more accessible around the world, we are all going to make music that we love and we know we will communicate to our followers and our fans.

What tips do you have on negotiating how much you get paid, how do you determine doing a free show or not?

It all depends on the type of gig, and how many minutes they want you to perform; how many songs they want and the number of instruments needed. All are determining factors and more—styling, makeup, and hair—help me to determine how much to charge.

However, creativity is relative. Some people have a budget. When you get to a point where you are trying to negotiate then other things come in, such as whether it is for a good cause or if it will be really good exposure for you or performing in front of an audience that you do not get to perform in front to often; or even someone saying, I will cover your costs but not pay your labor fees.

There’s also the situation where you have the opportunity to leverage off the people who ask you to perform—if they can open some doors for you, or introduce you to certain people and not pay you as much as you would like, that is a good reason to do a free or low fee gig.

How do you determine a good opportunity?

A good opportunity is one that won’t ever come around again and that you can be proud of. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For example, when I performed the national anthem at the President of Nigeria’s first official visit to America in Washington, D.C. An opportunity like that may not ever come around again. Another example is of the time that I opened up for Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo; it was something I knew I had to do.

Kaline Official - 2A good opportunity can also be for charity, a good cause, to leverage off some contacts, to experiment, or even to rehearse. Open Mic Night, no one pays you for that, but that is in itself a gig; use it as an opportunity to try out a new song or play in front of an audience that you’ve never played in front of.

What do you see yourself achieving as a musician and as a representation of African women, whether in the near future or the far future? What advice would you have for women trying to navigate the industry?

There is so much importance in understanding that we all need to be true to ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential. Patience is key for achieving your goals. Patience does not mean sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It means going out and doing what you can with the resources—limited or not—and pushing ahead with clear goals.

I want to be well represented and seen as someone who stuck to this idea of authenticity and genuity. I want to encourage people to do the same; to be as unique as possible.