“I LEFT THE USA TO PURSUE MY PASSION IN NIGERIA.” MEET UGOCHI NWOSU, FOUNDER OF RELIANCE CLINICS

ugochi

Not everyone owns up to their purpose especially when it takes you from one continent to another. Ugochi left the United States to pursue purpose in Nigeria.

Ugochi is the founder of Reliance Clinics. She’ll be sharing insights into her life as a medical practitioner, health tips, the numerous challenges she faced and how she was able to overcome them. 


Who is Ugochi Nwosu?

I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I was 7 before my family immigrated to the United States. That was where I did all my schooling. After my undergraduate degree, I did my residency training in the States also until I returned back to Nigeria in 2019. This kick-started my goal to start a business that provided quality private healthcare services. 

What are you passionate about?

Healthcare! I really want to live in a world where everyone has full access to adequate healthcare. In Nigeria, the rate at which people in their early 40s and 50s die is really alarming. All of these can be avoided. 

I just want to help people live healthy and productive lives where they get to see their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Although this would be beautiful, it’s not easy. If people want to live till their late 80s, it starts from now. So, I want to keep educating people about this. 

What ignited the spark to start Reliance Clinics?

For me, the inclination to work in healthcare came since my undergraduate studies. I learnt about the possible challenges, the requirements and mapped out the areas to make an impact. It was important to be properly grounded in what I was planning to do to avoid making any silly mistakes.

I also worked with a whole lot of NGOs to ensure I had a feel of what I was about getting myself into. I didn’t really plan to start a business for myself. The decision to do that came after I kept searching for an NGO to work with but couldn’t find any at that point. This made me start looking for other possible opportunities

During my residency training, I met people who were interested in digital healthcare services and connected with them. They encourage me to just do what I need to do because no one makes actual change by talking and observing. It was great for me because I didn’t see myself as someone that could take up that level of responsibility upon myself. The plan had always been to work for someone who was already doing the things I needed to do. That’s basically how the business came alive. 

How was the startup phase of your business?

I’m not going to deny the fact that everything was new to me. Firstly, we had to scout for a suitable location, then we had to figure out a way to get supplies for the clinic and basically test these supplies yourself because everything had to be reliable 100%. 

For funding, I met the founders of a health insurance company during my residency training so things sort of worked out for me in the sense that they needed a trusted clinic that they could send patients to so they kind of gave me the initial funding for the clinic. 

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

One major challenge has been hiring and training staff. For those in healthcare, the quality of services offered has to be nothing but excellent. Most times, doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc expect some things to be done in some certain way based on what they’ve seen before or something which might not necessarily be the right thing. 

When you tell this category of people that there’s a standard that should be met and we’re not going to overlook that standard just because we’re operating in Nigeria, it turns into a situation where it feels like you’re telling them that they’re not properly trained or something so that was a major challenge for me. 

Another challenge we had, in the beginning, was dealing with patients and staff who were used to things being done in certain ways and then we do them in totally different ways. For instance, most patients that come to our clinic are used to being given so many drugs even for not so serious cases. When we give them just 1-2 drugs, they feel like we’re not treating them the right way or we don’t really care about their wellbeing which is why we’re given them little amounts of drugs and that’s not the situation at all. 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

When it comes to hiring, you have to ensure that those people actually have the skills they claim to possess. It’s mandatory that you do. I’ve learnt over time that you have to be very intentional when deciding who to bring on board, how to evaluate their skills and how to train them so that from day 1, they can actually deliver. 

 

Ugochi is a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“My Goals Define Who I Am.” Meet Ayomiposi Ogunsi, Founder of Ideabud

ayomiposi

Your goals are the key to success in your career or your business. As you get closer to achieving your goals, the chances of truly finding yourself increase immensely because you’re constantly breaking barriers and getting to know who you truly are. 

“My goals define who I am!” Ayomiposi isn’t taking chances when it comes to achieving the impossible. She’s the founder of Ideabud and is breaking boundaries in her business.


Who is Ayomiposi Ogunsi?

I’ve lived in Lagos almost all my life till I went to the University Of Ilorin for my tertiary education. Before I started Ideabud, I had worked with two management consulting firms as a research analyst and a team leader for mass monitoring and evaluation. I did this for a while before deciding to start my own business

ayomiposi

I’m really passionate about people’s development as regards their careers and personal growth. I’m also passionate about entrepreneurship and creativity. One thing about me is I get excited about new things. It could even be something old that’s done in a new and refreshing way. 

What ignited the spark to start Ideabud?

Deep down, I always wanted to help people bring their ideas to life. No matter how scary or tasking those ideas are. I just enjoy helping people out with whatever it could be. People would always say, “Ayomiposi has the answers!”

After numerous conversations with top executives, colleagues, friends and the likes, I discovered that most people had brilliant ideas but couldn’t bring it to life. They were always stuck at the implementation stage. I saw a void and decided to fill it. 

The heart of IDEABUD is passion. Let’s track back a little since I started working with corporate organizations, I had always wanted to see people excel in their respective fields and businesses. Not everyone has the luxury of time to monitor a project from the startup phase until it gains ground and becomes something spectacular. This is where my passion comes in.

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

Most businesses that operate in the field of consultation experience a very similar challenge which is getting clients. Without clients, a business cannot operate. You can discuss with clients over and over only for them to change their mind when you think the project is 95% ready to kick off. 

Another challenge I’ve faced is how to create content to drive IDEABUD. This might appear like a minor issue but it was a major stumbling block. The thing with consulting is you have to be careful how you project your content to your audience because it tends to become technical rather than relatable.

It got to the point where I needed to take a step back and reevaluate the situation of my business and map out ways I could reach out to people better. It was during this evaluation stage I came across a guide from SheLeadsAfrica’s Facebook page about storytelling. It really helped me in so many ways. 

These challenges have helped Ideabud become a business that people can actually relate to. It put us on a path to being the best at what we do. 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

I learnt at the early stage that establishing a standard operating procedure goes a really long way. This procedure has served as a guideline for me when dealing with clients, because, before then, I just dealt with clients as the spirit led. It really messed up a whole lot of things for me and the client. So, you should always have a standard operating procedure that helps you identify what needs to be done at specific points in time.

 

Ayomiposi is a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram and LinkedIn.

“Your Skin Is A Priority” Meet Adi + Bolga Co-Founder Feranmi Ogundipe

If you meet Feranmi, you may wonder, “why does she love skincare so much? What is it about skincare that makes her tick?” Feranmi’s love for skincare stemmed from her personal battle with acne some years ago. During our conversation, she said, “I wasn’t one to have acne and at one point I had terrible acne and everyone was like “Feranmi, what is going on with your skin?”

I remember walking into pharmacies to ask for a solution and they couldn’t quite give me guidance. I remember going back and asking a new friend that I just met because I saw that she had some insight with skincare and she said, “I think you have combination skin and you should get a gel cleanser.”

I got the gel cleanser and just that small tip from her made my life so much easier. My co-founder and have had this type of experience so we said why don’t we just create something for skincare that will help people out?”

“Your skin is a priority”

Feranmi believes that skincare is a necessity for every person. That is one of the guiding ideas for the platform she and her co-founder are working tirelessly to create. However, she acknowledges that different reasons- a major one being money, keeps us from making our skincare a priority.

Adi + Bolga plans to help out with this by creating a budget-friendly system for buying skincare products. As Feranmi said, “we are trying to see if we can help people pay in instalments for some of the products because not everyone can afford to buy all of the products they need at once. This will really be for those who have serious problems with acne or other skincare conditions.”

Adi + Bolga is using technology to make it easier for black people to access skincare education, professionals, and products. On their website, you can take skincare tests and quizzes and this will be used in formulating a personalised skincare regimen for you.

Adi + Bolga is also the parent company of Bare the Community, an interactive online community for skincare lovers. On there, they share stunning skincare content and offer great advice and product recommendations for different skin types and conditions.

What you can learn from Feranmi’s business experience

  • Know your why: Your goal should be at the forefront of your mind. Be clear on your why. Know what you are in that space to do. This will guide the skills you decide to learn to run your business well. This will also guide the kind of strategies you put in place for your business.
  • Listen to your customers: Sometimes, people reach out to us for product recommendations and the product we may want to recommend is not within their budget or easily accessible in their location. This lets us know how best we can serve our audience. It may now lead to questions like, do we look for cheaper or more accessible products to recommend? Do we contact the brand to find out if they can make their product accessible to our audience?
  • Make your services clear: It is important to make your services clear and understandable to the people you are trying to serve. One of our main challenges is getting people to understand that our service is new. It is not common. We are introducing a new idea to the public and it is always a challenge getting them to understand what we do and why it is beneficial. Let’s say I develop a cream, that will be easy to sell because everybody understands what cream is and what cream should do. I can easily push that but a beauty tech platform is different. It is a very new idea so I need to make sure our services are clear.

You can join the Adi+Bolga community by following Bare the Community on Twitter and Instagram. For more juicy skincare tips sign up for their newsletters.

 

“You Have To Learn To Stand Your Ground”- Jane Frances Esegha, Founder, JF Segha

Although Jane studied architecture, she had very little interest in designing structures. After NYSC, she worked in an architecture firm but felt stagnant in her role and this made her depressed. One day, Jane’s boss introduced her to site supervision and in December 2017, Jane Frances quit her job to go into construction full-time.

In January 2020 she established JFSegha. In five years, Jane hopes that JFSegha will be working with international construction brands to execute global construction deals. Jane has a diploma in Interior Design from the British School of Interior Design and a certificate in Project Management.

This article contains Jane’s business journey, tangible lessons from Jane’s experience with her construction company, JF Segha.

What inspired you to start your own construction company?

In secondary school, my teachers kept telling me that I would become an architect because I was good at Technical Drawing. At the time, I didn’t even know what exactly an architect did. I grew up in a small town in Ondo and there were no architects there.

When I got into university, it was a different ball game altogether. Studying architecture was fun but I did not enjoy it if I am being honest. I was supposed to do a masters degree in architecture but I did not. I deferred my admission because I just knew that it wasn’t for me. I am glad I did not waste those two years.

I got a job after NYSC and that job introduced me to construction work. I found that I loved being on-site, I loved supervising the artisans and seeing the construction come to life. I could relate well with the workers, talk about materials, finishing and I loved every bit of it. 

How do you manage to work with different people on a construction job?

When we have work I am on the site 24/7. If I am not there, someone else I trust will be representing JF Segha. Our motto at JF Segha is to be thorough in our approach and dealings so we do not leave anything unsupervised.

I design what I want to see and give clear directions but I also stay there to make sure that everything is done well and that they pay attention to details. Also, my experience supervising constructions since 2017 has taught me a lot about managing people and artisans in general.

From your experience with JF Segha, what advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs and business owners?

  • Stand on your word! As a woman in my line of work, you have to learn to stand on your word. The artisans will try to advise you to go their way. They will say, “ah Madam do this now, leave am like that…” You can’t listen to that. You have to be stern. You have to know what you want to achieve.
  • Don’t fall into mediocrity. If you are selling quality, you cannot allow anybody to sway you because there is a lot of mediocrity in this country, a lot of people telling you to manage. No, I do not want to manage. You have to know what you want and stand by it. No one should change your mind. I have had to let go off a lot of workers because of mediocrity. What do you mean by I should manage?”
  • Perseverance is very important. Running a business is stressful and as such, you must be strong enough to withstand the challenges that would come your way. Artisans will try to stress you, clients, almost everyone will make demands on you and your time but you have to remember why you wanted to have a business in the first place

Jane is one of the She Leads Africa x Oxfam High Growth Coaching Program. Click here to find out more about JFSegha and keep up with their journey on Instagram and Facebook

 

Kene Rapu: Find something that makes your brand different from everyone else

Kene Rapu is the founder and CEO of ‘Kene Rapu’, the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, established in 2011.

Her brand has played a significant role in changing the face of ‘Made in Nigeria’ footwear. Kene is a fully qualified lawyer with an LLB law degree from the University of Bristol, UK and a Masters Degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion, UK.

In 2016 she was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation as one of 1000 African Entrepreneurs who’s idea could “change Africa”, in 2017 as one of 100 ‘Most Influential’ women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa and most recently listed in the prestigious Forbes Africa ’30 under 30’ class of 2018, in the business category.

All Kene Rapu slippers are proudly made in Nigeria for the global community.


Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible - @KeneRapu Click To Tweet

What vision did you have when you started out, is it different from what you are experiencing now?

Our vision was to be the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, and it has
remained the same.

We are excited about the progress we have made so far, and are looking forward to getting the nations wearing KR.

What is it like making it to Forbes 30 under 30 lists?

The journey so far makes me more excited for the road ahead. I’m passionate about what I do, and it is humbling and encouraging to know that something I started 7 years ago, has morphed into a business that is recognized globally.

How has this exposure impacted your brand?

Having a world renown brand highlight your business as one of 30 emerging brands in Africa, is definitely gratifying for a business owner, increases consumer trust and opens you up to a new network of professionals and investors.

How can an entrepreneur build a solid brand?

 

In whatever area you want to go into, do your market research. Find a unique selling point, find something that makes your brand different from everyone else in that market.

Know your customer, define him or her, have a clear vision of where you want your brand to go; stay focused and remember why you started.

Having come this far starting out in 2011, what important lesson can aspiring entrepreneurs take from your journey?

Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible.

Understand that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Hard work pays. Consistency and integrity are important. Provide value; a quality product will market itself.

How do you deal with gender biases you encounter as a woman running an enterprise?

As a female in business, sometimes there are unnecessary issues you have to deal with, that
should not be the case. However, challenges make you stronger, whether gender-related or
otherwise; deal with them head on and move on.

When you jump past hurdles, it is a testament that indeed you are a survivor. I also believe surrounding yourself with the right company is helpful. I have female friends in the business, and we spend time discussing how to resolve our common challenges. Having strong ladies in your corner certainly makes the journey easier.

What message do you have for women who need the courage to follow their passion?

Go for it. The road is not easy, in fact, it is difficult, but it is certainly gratifying when you begin to break through. Seize the moment and start now.


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Video: “I saved money from my wedding to start my business” – Samiah Oyekan Ahmed

 After attending SLA’s Lafiya Lifestyle Expo where she shared her knowledge on work-life balance, SLA had a tête-à-tête with Samiah Oyekan Ahmed at her store in Abuja.

She also highlighted some challenges she faced when she decided to switch careers. 

“As an only daughter to two medical doctors, deciding to become a full-blown businesswoman wasn’t well received especially by my dad who had great succession plans for me”, said Samiah. 

Beyond all the challenges of starting a business in Nigeria, getting funding to start is usually the hardest, but Samiah was smart with her money, and she found a way to cheat that particular struggle. 

“I saved money from my wedding planning and used it to start”, she says. 

Samiah went ahead to give her two top advice for intending entrepreneurs.

Watch the video here:

 Samiah Oyekan-Ahmed is the Founder of The Gift Source & Fusion Lifestyle. She is a Medical doctor turned entrepreneur, who currently runs two companies, Fusion Lifestyle Ltd, and The Gift Source. 

She is super passionate about hers and other’s entrepreneurial journeys, as well as sharing knowledge. Samiah is a wife and mother of 2 kids as well as a published fiction author.


 If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your startup story with us.

How to overcome the fright of starting a business

If you have decided to ignore all the advice of well-meaning individuals and friends and have still gone ahead to start a business this year, you must have some real guts. Starting a business is no easy task. There are endless challenges that often discourage you from even starting. 

When looking at all the challenges entrepreneurs face, it’s easy to question how your business would thrive. If your business was a soft, supple, newborn baby, your goals as a business owner is to see that this business survives its first years. 

But how do you achieve this and start your business like a boss?


1. Face your fears

Spending nights rolling on your bed, worrying about your business goals won’t make you cause you to achieve them. Unfortunately just thinking about your business will not turn it into reality. You may have several doubts about the likelihood of people getting your products and services, but until you put your business out there you won’t know for sure.

Start by creating your sample products, sell them to family and friends and get feedback about them. With every action, you take you to become less and less afraid.  Every action you accomplish will help your confidence grow and you’ll begin to see your fear diminish.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive people can make a huge difference on the success of your business. There are people who would do nothing to encourage you and will not give any positive feedback. If you stay close to such people, you will begin to doubt your ability to reach your business goals. 

The truth is, the people closest to you may be more susceptible about your business than strangers. Expect it. They may not believe in your ability to drive your business to fruition, you shouldn’t make it your aim to prove that point to them.

On the other hand, having a supportive people chip in a suggestion or two will stir your faith in your business, you’d start to believe in this brand becoming tangible as you hear them talk about it like it already exists.

3. Be Patient

If there is one thing you will most likely encounter, is roadblocks! And when you do, you will need lots of patience. When things get tough, don’t through your hands in the air and shout “I don’t have time for this”.

Firstly, try and understand that the problem you face is not always your fault. If you cannot go through the problem, find a way to go around it. Do not compare yourself with what you see on the news and social media. Seeing everyone move on a much faster pace may be discouraging. 

When you do his a roadblock on your journey, figure out how to deal with it while putting other aspects of your business in track. You should always be ready to take off when the roadblock is removed.

4. Dance upon disappointment

As an entrepreneur, managing disappointment is a skill you can’t afford to live without. So what if things do not work out as you plan? What if a key team member decides to leave at the last minute, or a trusted supplier fails to supply your ingredients on time? What would you do when people fail you?  

You cannot always control all circumstances when working with people. When things go wrong, you shouldn’t beat yourself over. Try and come up with new alternatives. Though this may be tough, it will become a lot easier if you stay positive about it. 

Take a break, play some music and dance away your disappointments. You can also create a warm environment where everyone can come together and decide on the next steps for the business will be.


If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your start up story with us.

Smangele Nicolette Ngwenya: I am Enough

Born in the east of Johannesburg in Ekurhuleni, Smangele Nicolette Ngwenya is a self-motivated, systematic and confident woman.

Having grown up in her grandmother’s green shack, she sums up her background as colorful and supportive. 

This background inspired her to start the WomenYouAreEnough organization. Through her organization, Smangele hopes to empower and inspire women. 


What was the motivation behind your organization? 

I’ve always wanted to be involved in meaningful & fruitful things. My prayer has always been, God helps me to give more than I can receive. Being raised by a giving grandmother made it natural to me.

When the organization started, I only wanted to help take a disadvantaged girl child to school. Then suddenly, I also wanted to collect sanitary towels so that no girl child could miss class because of something that occurs involuntarily.

The organization has since become a movement with a hashtag #WomanYouAreEnough which reminds all women that it’s okay to be imperfect, that it’s okay to help other women without taking the glory once they reach to the top. WomanYouAreEnough means that when Queens(Women) gather, wonderful things happen.

What does confidence mean to you?

Personally, confidence means complimenting another woman’s beauty & understating that their beauty is not in the absence of mine. It means recognizing the strength of another woman & knowing but also knowing that I too am enough.

So confidence is about being happy in my own skin and also appreciating the strength of those around me. 

Has your confidence ever been compromised? 

Women have often compromised my confidence every now and then. I have had a very strong personality which has often mistaken for being a miss know it all.

I was teased for my body weight and facial features. However, despite all these negative comments, I have never felt any less confident. In fact, I have been fortunate enough to attract confident women who see each other as Queens and not threats.

What is your mantra?

My daily mantra is reminding myself that I am enough. Even on my worst day, I wake up and dress up knowing that without any reasonable doubt, I am enough. I don’t have to force what’s meant for me as it will find me.

Are women empowered today?

I have to say that women empowerment is definitely on the rise. Especially with the use of social media, we are seeing more women in the corporate world holding higher positions. Different organizations and movements are making sure that women empowerment is on the rise.

WomanYouAreEnough is one of those. We have different empowerment programs such as the matric dance campaign where we dress up disadvantaged girls for their big day. We also host seminars and share personal struggles to continue encouraging women. Therefore, females are inspired by everything we’ve done.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

My late grandmother Salamina Mafoka Molakeng Mimi truly inspires me. Though life has dealt with her, she has remained hopeful. My mother NoNhlanhla Ngwenya who from the age 18 has worked double shifts at various restaurants so that we can have a normal childhood also inspires me.

Finally, every other female who decided to go for it even though their background didn’t allow them also greatly inspires me.  

Does overconfidence cause more problems than under-confidence?

There’s nothing like being overconfident according to me. So, I’d say there are more problems caused by being under confident. Society still tries to tame females.

They tell us we are too old, too confident or too much. At the end of the day, these things make us doubt ourselves & we end up in a certain box hating each other as females.


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Nothabo Ncube: You are bigger than your surroundings

When Nothabo Ncube was only 14 years years old, her mother died in a tragic road accident. Before she died, Nothabo had made a promise that she would become a doctor. 15 years later, Nothabo is not only a doctor, but she is also a consciousness speaker and entrepreneur featured on TEDx. 

Her journey to becoming a doctor was not easy. After joining her dad in Canada, Nothabo lived in the projects which were subjected to high crime rates, prostitution, and drug dealing.

In order to survive, Nothabo had to listen to a deep voice within herself that told her she was more than her environment and she will rise through it. 

Looking back at her journey, Nothabo concludes that every moment was important as it revealed to her what her purpose was. Now she lives her life inspiring and helping other women find themselves. 

In this interview, Nothabo talks about her mentorship program – Esther.


What projects are you involved in at the moment

In August 2017, I launched an online mentorship program for young women. The program called Esther’s Mentorship aims to assist women to win back their power, settles into their true selves, realize their potential and be the best of who God created them to be.

I use my personal experiences and testimonies to empower and assist women to realize that it doesn’t matter where one has been. That through their broken pieces, there is hope at the end of the tunnel and God can use their pain.

Before I always played victim to my journey and it took time to get to a place where I started seeing things differently. Now I understand that some of the things that happened were launching me into my purpose. Therefore it is my intention to be a medium, a voice, a source of guidance to enable the mentees to see through their pain.

Why did you name it Esther?

While speaking at an event in South Africa, one of the speakers took an interest in me. We began talking about my life’s journey, my vision and plan for the future. I told her about the mentorship program and she suggested that I call it Esther.

Upon return, during a conversation with my spiritual mother, she said I reminded her of Esther. As if this was not confirmation enough, I then decided to name it Esther because we are raising queens.

How is the mentorship structured?

The mentorship runs every Sunday for 30 minutes, in one on one sessions. As we have women from different parts such as Zimbabwe, USA, Canada and South Africa, we needed a day where everyone would be easily available.

During the mentoring session, I help women structure their goals and create guidelines on how best to move on their journey. I aim to empower the young women and open them up to a different sphere of who they are.

What are your 5-year plans for the Esther Program?

Currently, we have one on one mentorship sessions. However, in the future, I would want the girls in Zimbabwe to have meet up sessions at least once a month. This will help them in creating a platform where sisters come together and support each other.

I also intend on having centers especially in the big cities and branching to the rural areas where I feel those in the rural areas need it the most. My intention is to build a community of sisterhood that reaches every girl that needs it.

Tell us more about your TEDx Talks

My friends have been very instrumental in my TEDx journey. My friend instigated my first TED talk in Canada. She submitted my story to the TEDx recruiters. They then interviewed me and asked me to share my story on their platform. My talk was titled: A inspirational Story of Hope, Faith, and Grace.

Then again in Zimbabwe, another friend also submitted my name for the Bulawayo TEDx Talk. This talk was very historical as it what it the first time TEDx was being launched in Bulawayo. However, my first talk was what opened the door for other speaking engagements.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I think my inspiration stems from my own pain of not having had a mother figure. Growing up, I yearned for that backbone from someone I trusted. This wasn’t always the case but I had a few people that I was led to along my journey who have guided me. Driven by this,  I would want to be that person to someone else.

Which women have been the most influential in your life?

Oprah Winfrey was very influential in my life. In 2011, I was looking for money to go to school and a friend of mine suggested I go on her site. There was nothing on scholarships or bursaries but what popped up was a box that said tell us your story –“you become what you believe”.

I typed my story and put my cousin’s number as my contact details. They called her three times and she kept hanging up on them thinking it was a prank call. She eventually asked me about it and of course, I was shocked, “How does one hang up on Oprah? When Oprah calls, you answer!”

Fortunately, they called again and I got to talk to Oprah. While I did not get money to go to her school, she told me of her journey from her childhood to where she was today. This truly encouraged me and made me change the way I perceived my journey.

I started seeing my pain through a different lens. I started understanding that purpose was birthed by my pain. That’s when I knew I was called to speak.

What advice would you give other young people in a context like Zimbabwe?

Never allow your circumstances to define who you are, you are bigger than your surroundings. God is bigger than the current reality of what Zimbabwe is going through. When you tap into that higher source of power it’s inevitable that things will work in your favor.

Hold on to hope, tap into your truth, and continue fighting things will eventually change. Listen to your God’s voice, the voice that is kind and brings you peace is where your true power lies. It’s leading you right where you belong.


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Babalwa Fatyi: Serving my Purpose with my many hats on

Meet Babalwa Fatyi the South African Environmental Scientist who is a wife, mother, poet, author. She is also the managing director for Myezo Environmental Management Services Consulting company, Myezo growth and development institute, and co-owner of the ZenQ fashion line.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution towards the development of the economy, Babalwa has been awarded various accolades.

She won the Standard Bank 2016 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, and in 2016, she won the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Award. 


 

What factors have helped you achieve as much as you have?

The biggest factor that has contributed towards my success is not contradicting who I am. I aim to produce outputs that are authentic. My outputs should be aligned with my inner being and bring me peace.

To ensure this, I’ve made sure that I understand my purpose and that I align my goals with that purpose. That way when I’m faced with challenges, I am strengthened by focusing on my purpose which God revealed to me. Therefore, when I feel out of tune with what I need to do, I talk to friends and to God. They remind me of purpose and keep me on track.

Secondly, I am driven by serving others. I see my gifts and talents as a means to achieve greatness.

You wear many hats, tell us your secret ingredient for achieving it all.

The things that I do revolve around my core and serve my purpose. My responsibility revolves around showing gratitude and taking care of the environment that has been entrusted unto us. Poetry allows me to respect and feed my soul, by nourishing it.

My ZenQ clothing line in an expression of my artistic creativity through clothes. I believe clothes can reflect the essence of who we are. They can show how we feel as well as how we wish to be viewed.

A dress designed by Babalwa from ZenQ clothing line.

All these different things are just a tangible expression of who I am. My gifts and talents, which are given to me, to fulfill my role as an environmental ambassador and a steward. So I do not wear many hats but I wear one hat: I wear me.

What led you publishing your poetry book “Greetings from My Core”?

Poetry to me is an expression of who I am and a conduit through which I could find my voice and reach out to others and request them to engage with me on some of the matters that affect our society.

Through poetry, I could share my authenticity, experiences and love my surroundings, including its beautiful diverse people I encounter, who inspire me or bring life to those experiences.

This enables me to be more conscious and is also an opportunity for me to give reverence to God.

Babalwa with African Fashion Pioneer Vanya Magaliso

What can you tell us about your company – Myezo Environmental Management Services consulting? 

At Myezo, we seek to serve the environment, communities, and developers through guidance on how to best take care of the land we have. We help developers with regulations and assessing the impact of developments on both the land and the communities.

Through our work, we learn’t that our solutions must be tested by our clients who are our partners. As respect, empathy and listening to others are key in what we do, we must incorporate all the diverse views we face.

How has Myezo developed in terms of creating jobs?

Our greatest strength is our heart for youth and solidarity to the challenges our country face in terms of unemployment and poverty alleviation. We aim to bring to life the National Development Plan goals by playing a role within our areas of influence and capacity.

Through providing a platform, we’ve helped youth penetrate into the job market and therefore provided them with the needed resources to improve their lives and their families.

The youth were not only exposed to scientific knowledge but also to self-awareness, project management, and organizational skills among others.

Captured with the colleques.

What does the Myezo Growth and Development Institute do?

At this institute, we do coaching and mentoring through our collaborations with some universities. We contribute to ensuring that there are no wide gaps between what is taught at schools and what industries expect from graduates.

Our other collaborations with other organizations include projects such as the Princess D Menstrual Cup. Through this, we hope to put girls back to school and not miss out on learning due to natural biological processes.

This is aligned with our environmental stewardship role as this cup reduces the sanitary pads that go to the landfill or medical waste disposal sites.

Finally, together with the Tsogang Re Direng Youth Foundation, we empower girls with career selection decisions and also help connect them to skills development opportunities. These include skills such as events management of vintage recycling where they learn practical environment-friendly skills that generate income.

What do you do to relax?

I’m a very outdoor kind of person. So for fun, I take walks at the nature reserves around my neighborhood. This helps me find peace and tranquility in just giving my self-time to be alone at times and just recharge.

I also believe in being spiritually fed and therefore fellowship with other believers. Other than this, I spend time with my husband, family, friends. Listening to the sound of my kid’s laughter and running around brings joy to my life.