“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

 

Motherland Mogul Feature: Siyamthanda Makhwabe

According to a World Bank article published in November 2018 on women entrepreneurs and the future of Africa, enterprises owned by male entrepreneurs have more capital than women-owned enterprises.

This month, we shine the spotlight on a fierce lady who has bootstrapped her way into starting not just one – but two – businesses while holding down a full-time job.

Siyamthanda Makhwabe is a professional town planner, a wife and mother, owner of Kuhle Bags and Accessories and a town planning consulting business.

Fellow Motherland Mogul, Zimkhitha met with Siyamthanda to talk about juggling work, business, a kid, and a briefcase.


Siyamthanda at an on-site inspection

The Many Hustles of Siyamthanda Makhwabe

Determined to gain financial freedom, Makhwabe took the leap in 2019 to start two businesses while keeping her job as a town planner.

Leveraging her background in Town Planning and Housing, Makhwabe started a consulting business catering to SMEs and startups. Using the power of her network as a launchpad, she has run this venture in the past year purely by word-of-mouth and industry referrals.

In October 2019, Makhwabe diversified her business portfolio to include a fashion business named after her daughter, Kuhle. Here she offers affordable bags and accessories to South Africans online via social media.

She coverts a lot of customers via WhatsApp and uses Instagram to advertise what’s in stock, which markets she will be visiting and pop up stalls.

Showcasing merchandise at a weekend popup market

Entrepreneurship: A seat at the table

As a STEM woman working in a male-dominated space, Siyamthanda has not always found it welcoming. She explains that this dismissal boils down to the most basic things. For instance, in meetings, men are more readily acknowledged and engaged than women.

“When you sit at that table, it can be very easy to feel invisible and like a fraud, hence many women rather take the back seat”, she says, talking about the dreaded imposter syndrome that creeps in even when you know you have both the qualification(s) and relevant experience to be seated at the proverbial table.

With her ventures, Makhwabe has found autonomy and confidence in being a decision-maker and leader. This remains a key motivator for her in moving her business forward.

Siyamthanda’s Top Tips for every Hustler

Here are Siyamthanda’s top tips for female entrepreneurs on the building – not only a sustainable – but profitable business, from the ground up:

1. Before you throw money at it – innovate

There is a temptation to think that money will solve your problems. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to learn how to be scrappy. Think on your feet, look at the competition and see how you can offer more value to your customer base.

2. Stay learning and find mentors

As you grow your business, you will find out there is a lot you don’t know. It is necessary to stay curious, take short courses and prioritize soft skills. A mentor also gives you an edge in the game. Having someone who’s been there in your corner is invaluable. It’ll save you money, time and headache.

3. Never stop networking

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know.

Reach out to those in your market and those outside to get inspiration and to see what is out there. This will help expand your mind into untapped segments.


Zimkhitha‘s Notes:

My interview with Siyamthanda was eye-opening. I think it is important to emphasize how necessary it is for female entrepreneurs to be more transparent about their experiences. The hustle does not always look glamorous and that’s okay. To all you Motherland Moguls out there, keep on SLAying and exuding your #BlackGirlMagic!


Ready to take your business to the next level? Join the Motherland Mogul Insider program.

ABIGAIL NAA TAGOE: In 2019, I must be among the top 5 most sought-after makeup artists in Ghana!

Abigail Naa Lamiokor Tagoe is a 23-year-old beauty entrepreneur from Ghana. She developed an interest in all things beauty, during her undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana, Legon.

She is the founder of Finesse By Maanaa, a beauty community which features a team of professional makeup artists and hairstylists. Her mission is to empower women through beauty and leave her clients feeling the best version of themselves.

Abigail Tagoe is one of the top 5 finalists of the SLA x Dark and Lovely Beauty Accelerator program where she recently went through a high-intensity residency week with the SLA team at the LO’real HQ in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In this article, she talks about her takeaways from the SLA x Dark and Lovely Beauty Accelerator residency week.  


The world is not looking for mediocre people. To be a driving force, you have to be exceptional - Lessons from the SLA x Dark and Lovely Beauty Accelerator Click To Tweet

How did you hear about the SLA x Dark and Lovely Accelerator program?

I saw a sponsored post on Instagram about the program and immediately knew that it was what I had been looking for.

However, I was a bit hesitant to sign up after reading the rules, as I had never created a pitch deck before. But I went ahead with it and was so grateful to have been contacted.

How would you describe your overall experience?

Putting my experience in very few words, I would say it has been the most challenging mountain I’ve had to climb in my entire life.

My whole thinking process was disrupted, I mean in the space of a week I’ve had to think outside the box. I’d say I have certainly been driven out of my comfort zone.

Meeting all the important people who are the driving force of the beauty and digital marketing industry was a highlight for me. The information I received was priceless!

What are your 5 key tips for submitting a winning application

  • Be clear about what problem your business is solving
  • Hone in on your strongest asset
  • State some factual evidence using numbers!
  • Be transparent
  • Keep it short, but convincing.

 

Tell us the most important thing the SLA Accelerator residency has taught you.

The SLA Accelerator has raised the bar for me. This program has urged me to press on until I reach my goal. I’ve also learned that the world is not looking for mediocre people. In order to be a driving force, you have to be exceptional.

Now I know that In 2019, I must be among the top 5 most sought-after makeup artist in Ghana!

 

How do you get your glow up?

My glow up must definitely be from God honestly. It’s too bright, I don’t see how anything else could have done it.


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

How to Hire an Attorney for Your Business

For the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of female entrepreneurs in Africa. In the 2017 MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) report, Uganda – as one of the only two low-income economies to be included in the report – had the greatest number of female-run businesses in the world, which corresponds to 34.8%. The country even superseded high-income countries like New Zealand (33.3%), Australia (32.4%), and Russia (32.6%).

2017 has been an amazing year for many African women who chose to take the entrepreneurial path, so as in 2018. If you’re thinking of launching your own business, now is the time to do so.

There are many kinds of business that require very small capital, some you can even start from home. Sometimes, a loan can help you get started if your savings are not enough.

Why Should You Hire an Attorney?

You’ve got a great business plan. A great product. A great concept. But how do you transform all your ideas into a tangible, operational business that is headed for success?

Of course, you need help from the professionals.

You probably have thought about hiring an accountant already. The reasons are pretty obvious. You need someone to help you with your books, make sure you’ve got the numbers right, and manage all your business taxes.

But how about an attorney? You probably haven’t thought about it yet. Or maybe, you think that it’s too soon to get one.

But the truth is that you will most likely need a good business attorney at every aspect of your business, from ensuring that you meet all the requirements set by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to organize your business (what type of business is most suitable for you as well as your tax structure), getting copyright and trademark advice, and many more.

And as your business grows, a good attorney can help you carry out your expansion plans, understand the tax consequences of any changes with your business structure, prepare and execute contracts with your customers, suppliers and business partners, and file or deal with a lawsuit.

Do you have an attorney for your business? Read this article for steps on how to hire one Click To Tweet

Hiring an attorney is essential to achieving your business goals. Check out the following tips and suggestions in order to find the best lawyer to help you:

1. Look for an attorney who specializes in business law

Like doctors, attorneys are becoming increasingly specialized these days. Some specialize in family law, others in criminal law or real estate law.

Basically, you want to hire the attorney who has the experience and skills with corporate and mercantile laws. He or she should be skilled with making contracts, familiar with various business structures, understand real estate (you might have leasing issues for your commercial space), experienced with tax and licensing matters, etc.

Depending on the nature of your business, you will also need other legal services. For instance, if you’re into media, design or any other creative type of business, you will need a lawyer who will help you get copyright protection for your work.

2. Look for an attorney who is familiar with your industry

He or she may not know every aspect of the industry you’re in, but the right lawyer should be at least familiar with it. Don’t forget to check the track record of the lawyers you are considering.

He or she should have a pretty good understanding of the industry’s ins and outs. Also, make sure that the lawyer does not represent any of your competitors.

The last thing you want to happen is to have your confidential business info leaked to your competitors.

3. Find someone who educates

A good attorney does not just give you the results you want. He or she also keeps you well-informed about the legal concerns your business is facing.

The attorney should be willing to educate you and your staff about your current legal needs and situations, how it affects your business, and how similar problems can be prevented in the future.

Your lawyer should also be proactive about updating you with recent policies or changes in existing policies that affect your business.

4. Get a good attorney who charges a reasonable fee

Most lawyers charge an hourly rate, but some do a fixed rate. Good lawyers are willing to negotiate with their fees without compromising the quality of their services.

Choose an attorney who is flexible with his billing. It is not all the time that you will need his or her services so paying monthly or hiring a company lawyer may not be a strategic idea yet, especially if you are just starting your business.

Hiring an attorney for your business should not be that complicated as long as you keep all these suggestions in mind.

Once you found the right one, keeping a good relationship with your attorney is the key to ensuring that he or she will be there when you need help.


This article was written by Lidia Staron

Lidia Staron is a part of Content and Marketing team at OpenCashAdvance.com. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic planning and decision-making process. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

African Women Entrepreneurs – A Different Perspective

I recently came across a TED talk by  Natalie Case and Freya Estreller. They are co-founders of CoolHaus, a company that creates architecturally designed Ice cream in the U.S.A

I found their passion and drive for their business fascinating. They started their business with an old postal van, which they converted to an Ice cream truck.

In less than a decade, CoolHaus has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise. It now has over ten trucks, two scoop shops and is being distributed in over four thousand groceries stores across the U.S.

They currently oversee seventy employees and they plan to broaden CoolHaus to the number 1 recognized Ice cream brand in the world.

Bringing this home to Africa, with the entrepreneurship buzz going on right now, I began to look at the reasons for the springing startups we have right now, especially the businesses founded by women.

Why do women want to be their own bosses? What makes entrepreneurship exciting and interesting right now?  I asked around and found answers like:

I.  More income will help me take care of myself and my family

II.  A business will help to beat the recession crunch

III. It will enable me to be independent of my spouse/ partner

IV. No one wants to be a stay-at-home mom anymore

V. I want to be respected and admired as a capable leader

All of these are great motivating factors but are these all there is to entrepreneurship? These do not have the ability to project a business to global standards. 

It is important we know the motive for creating a business because of this, in most cases, determines how far a business will grow.

A woman may want to augment her spouse’s income. She may start a business to achieve this and this will determine the kind of business she goes for and what her vision for her business will be.

If her trade achieves that goal in a few years there might not be a need to expand the business any further. While earning enough to cater for her family is important, having this mentality about the business may stifle it.

If we survey all outstanding businesses, we would discover they were created by people who had a vision of making their companies prominent in the world. This factor may be deficient in Africa’s startups. It is imperative that African women entrepreneurs must first begin to develop a different orientation towards startups.

As entrepreneurs, we have to begin to look upward toward progress and acceleration Click To Tweet

Building the right business starts from the core, but the right questions need to be asked. Why is it being started? What motivates an individual to start a business?

If these questions are answered correctly, this would change the way African women entrepreneurs approach their businesses. Sadly many entrepreneurs do not know the ‘WHY’of their business.

This crucial step is neglected AND camouflaged with reasons like “Everyone swears by it on Instagram“, “It’s what brings in the cash” and “It just seems like the best thing to do now”

The ‘why’ of a business also establishes if a business is the right thing to do. Does it really meet a need? Does it emerge from an undeniable conviction in the entrepreneur’s heart?

Listen. There are two ways to go about it.

1. Find a passion to turn to a business or find a business to turn to a passion

While a business is something entrepreneurs should be passionate about they shouldn’t be delusional about the relevance of their business. Every business should satisfy the needs of people while accruing profit.

2. Striving onwards

While being financially liberated may be a reason a business is started it should not be the sole reason a business continues. 50% of the United States GDP comes from small businesses employing less than 500 people.

African women entrepreneurs should seek ways to come together and build a conglomerate enterprise that can employ young people from every scope and status in Africa thus helping young entrepreneurs off the streets.

Women should be encouraged to dream big and start businesses that can grow into mega-corporations in their lifetime. This indeed is possible.

Entrepreneurs should understand that within them lies the capacity to create a lasting legacy Click To Tweet

African women entrepreneurs shouldn’t be constricted to starting businesses that are short termed, escape routes to financial challenges.

Entrepreneurs should be made to understand that within them lies the capacity to create a lasting legacy and they should regard their business as legacies.

They should be encouraged to have prospects and plans for expansion into the future. Therefore partnership and public corporation are the way to go if these businesses would outlive their founders.

All of these start with a different perspective and a clear vision of what entrepreneurship means and what African female entrepreneurs can do. Some of which include: 

  • Influence the decision making in a nation if they drive its economy in a significant way.
  • Sponsors lawyers, activists and projects that will push the goal for women rights and achieve gender equality faster.
  • Reducing the risk of young girls being raped by removing them from the streets through the provision of jobs.
  • Put communities in Africa in the spotlight, they can influence global decisions and drive Africa’s economy.
  • Create brands that outlive them and change the world.

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

Kukua: Changing the narrative of the Motherland with africaboutik.us

africaboutik.us is the online store of Ghanaian-German designer and fashion blogger MsK NY. Five years ago MsK started her fashion blog African Prints in Fashion (APiF) and has expanded it since to a lifestyle brand with over 350K followers worldwide.

African Prints in Fashion is focusing on exploring the Imprint of Africa/African diaspora on Fashion and Design and aims to empower by showcasing the creativity and innovation that comes from the African continent educates and changes the perception of what people perceive to be African Fashion & Design.

africaboutik.us is bringing to you a contemporary mix of modern African Fashion and Interior Design. The platform offers a curated selection of Africa-inspired fashion, fashion produced on the African continent, accessories sourced from local artisans as well as designs handmade at our home base in Brooklyn, NY.


Kukua (MsK NY)

Tell us about yourself and what is africaboutik?

My name is Kukua and I am a professional Marketer and curator. Over 5 years ago I started with my Blog African Prints in Fashion. I used to always direct readers to online stores and online platforms when they asked me “where can I find that” or “where can I buy that?”

Eventually, it felt like it would make more sense to offer a platform with products instead of always directing the traffic elsewhere. That is how africaboutik.us was born.

africaboutik is a curated platform where I sell accessories and interior design items from artisans across the continent. And yes I do ship worldwide – also to the continent.

 

Which artisans across Africa are you working with and how do you connect with them?

I am half Ghanaian, so initially, I only worked with small artisans from Ghana as I felt more comfortable engaging with them and it was easy as I was able to meet them in person whenever I visited my family, and for new relationships, it helped to have parts of my family onsite.

My longest standing relationship is with an artisan in Accra, but I am also now working with artisans and small creative hubs in Morocco, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal.

My key communication tool with my artisans is WhatsApp – that really works best for status updates, exchange of images etc.

Authenticity is really important to me. I don't want to sell the same thing like everyone else - @MsK_NY Click To Tweet

 

How is africaboutik changing the narrative about Africa?

The frustrating thing about many textiles and even accessories that initially are made on the African continent are that so many are now made in China.

Even if you are in Accra or Nairobi you can easily come across products made in China. At Africa-themed events in NYC, I see a lot of so-called “Made in Africa” items that are 100% made in Beijing.

My goal from the beginning was to only select and produce items that I like and that are not too common on other platforms and that is authentic.

Authenticity is really important to me. I don’t want to sell the same thing like everyone else. I like to be different and unique.  Being connected to my makers individually, I know who creates the items, I know their personal situation and they know I am a one Woman Business. We work together to make things work for both of us, and I love that.

 

Can you give an example of products you are selling and how you are involved in some of the developments?

What I produce myself is the African City Bag – a high-end canvas bag that sports African City Names. That was my very first and for a long time my only product.

I also do temporary tattoos of Adinkra Symbols and furniture like the lollipop stools. All these things are made in Brooklyn where I am based.

Besides that, I am sourcing different basket designs and accessories from Ghana, Morocco, and Tanzania. My best selling accessories come from Ghana and South Africa.

I keep on editing and adding or removing products from the store, depending on seasonal trends or things I like.

 

What’s next for africaboutik?

I am focusing more and more on interior design and want to eventually make it my sole focus. I loved the process of creating my lollipop stools, so I want to my make more like that.

Currently, I am looking for young fashion/design influencers who can help me elevate my brand. If you are one and you are reading this, holler at me!

 

Where can people learn more about africaboutik?

Follow me on Instagram, check-out my online store, and follow my blog.


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#OwnYourYear Nairobi: Feb 3, 2018 @ Nairobi Garage

A goal without a plan is just a wish!

#OwnYourYear Nairobi is a must attend if you are serious about getting the support you need to accomplish your goals this year!

At this workshop, you will: 

-Learn how to live your best life through intimate mentorship sessions led by notable speakers

– Lay out practical and realistic plans for your New Year, and openly discuss how you can achieve even your biggest, most audacious goals

-Be supported and encouraged to achieve your goals through peer mentorship – we’ll hold you accountable even after the event is over!

-And as usual, enjoy this all in a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by other #MotherlandMoguls and #AfricanGirlMagic!

What are you waiting for? Don’t let another month go by without getting the support you need to make a plan that will ensure this year is your most productive and successful yet. Get your tickets below!

Schedule

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Tickets

4000 KES – Click here to buy your ticket using MPESA! If you’re experiencing difficulties with payment please email ore@sheladsafrica.org. 

Venue

Special thanks to our sponsor!

SheHive London: September 21st – 24th 2017 at The Africa Centre

PR career

After heading to Lagos, Accra, Abuja, NYC, Nairobi, London 2016, Lagos, Joburg, Cape Town, Washington DC & Toronto, The SheHive came for round two in LONDON!!!!








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Thanks to our amazing #SheHiveLondon partners and sponsors!

Our official venue sponsor The Africa Centre

Our official catering sponsor Papa L’s Kitchen

Our official drinks sponsor The Hunters Cocktail

Our official accommodation sponsor Westmont Hospitality Group

Our official media sponsor Bella Naija

Our official alcohol sponsor J&B Scotch