Naa Oyoo Kumodzi: How to survive a lay-off

Naa Oyoo Kumodzi
There is no quick fix to surviving a lay-off, follow these guidelines to prepare for it. Click To Tweet

“Everyone is dispensable in a workplace. As long as it’s not your company, then yes you are dispensable. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. If the company you work for today, decides that they are bankrupt hence they are shutting down or they are unable to pay you, what can you do? You just move on.”

These were the words of Naa Oyoo Kumodzi as she spoke of her lay-off experience at Tullow Oil, Ghana after working with the company for six years. Before the lay-off, Naa Oyoo worked as an officer in the health and safety department where she was training into Occupational Hygiene.

Though the layoff had been communicated to all employees worldwide and she had prepared herself for it, it still came as a shock. It is only natural for you to question the company when you realise how dispensable you are. This was what Naa Oyoo did. She was hurt and confused as to why a company would invest so much in her and still choose to let her go.

Despite these natural reactions, the lay-off was not hard-hitting for Naa Oyoo compared to others who experienced the same fate. The reason is that Naa Oyoo started blogging five years ago. This job had gradually turned into an income earning source. So when one income source was cut-off, Naa Oyoo knew she had other things going on for her.

Today, the lifestyle blogger, entrepreneur and social media marketer uses her experiences to educate others to prepare for the unexpectedness in life. To Naa Oyoo, a lay-off is an experience which some people have to go through. The memory of this incident rises up even after a long period of time, but it does not have to be traumatic. If you’re adequately prepared, you can survive this.

There is no quick fix to surviving a lay-off but you can follow the guidelines below to prepare.

Naa Oyoo Kumodzi: Anything can happen any time, you should always be prepared financially Click To Tweet

Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally

Preparation is always key. When a lay-off is communicated to you, you just have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

You have to ask the questions;

  • Is it going to be me?
  • What if it is not?
  • If it is going to be me, what will be my first mode of action?
  • If not, what should I do to prepare myself for any future lay-offs
  • Should I resign soon?

These are some of the mental preparations you have to go through in order to be alert and ready for the unexpected. You should also come up with an action plan that you will follow.


Have multiple streams of income and never be okay with one stream of income

Naa Oyoo Kumodzi may not have been aware of it at the time but starting out in blogging and creating content prepared her for the future.

While she was with Tullow Oil, she managed social media accounts for companies, this was also a source of income for her. Due to this, the day after her lay-off, Naa Oyoo was not wallowing in self-pity. Rather it was another day for business as she had to rise up early and work on the accounts she managed.

Naa Oyoo Kumodzi: Anything can happen any time, you should always be prepared financially Click To Tweet

Learn about savings and investment and start investing now

You cannot go through life without a dime to your name. You have to have some sort of investments and savings, no matter how small it is. As you generate income from pay-check to pay-check, you have to save some somewhere for unexpected circumstances.

There are so many banks and investment companies around, it would be advisable to find one that suits you. Anything can happen any time and you should always be prepared financially.

Naa Oyoo Kumodzi: Do not be satisfied in staying in your little corner always Click To Tweet

Learn more about yourself and improve on your strengths

You will need to be strong to face life’s storms. They can come at you when you least expect it. By learning more about yourself, you are able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you improve upon them and equip you into reaching your ultimate success goal.

Knowing thyself is the first step to success. Given the fact that the world is a learning ground; you should learn to open yourself to explore new opportunities and experiences.


Build a strong business network even whilst you have a day job

Everyone needs somebody at a point in their life. Who are you going to call if you do not network? You never know when you need to call up someone. Even though you may have a day job that takes all of your time, it is an obligation to go out there.

Build strong business networks, they will definitely come in handy one day. Do not be satisfied in staying in your little corner always. Learn to make new friends, go for business seminars, meet your friends’ friends. Just network!

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Anita Ottenhof: Bringing world-class luxury to Accra through Villa Monticello

Anita Ottenhof Villa Monticello
We look for the very best talent and often for us that has happened to be a woman Click To Tweet

Villa Monticello is Accra’s premier luxury boutique hotel. It’s run by a team that comprises mainly women in leadership positions. One of them is Anita Ottenhof, she’s the Deputy General Manager at VM with nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the international hospitality and travel industries.

Like most other industries, hospitality and travel tend to be male-dominated. Villa Monticello stand out despite never setting out to hire only women. They’ve just found that the best talent aligned with their goal to bring a world-class luxury experience to Ghana are women. Nothing beats that!

Was it a conscious decision to have women in key leadership positions at Villa Monticello?

Although we have several men on our team that have worked with us since we’ve opened, most of the leadership roles happen to be held by women. The women on our team are also some of the top talent in the world!

Take for example our Executive Chef, Ruby Paintsil who has over 25 years’ experience at a number of prestigious companies in the UK, such as Sanctuary Spa, BBC Television Centre and Restaurant Associates a division of Compass UK. It is rare to see a woman as a head chef and in countries such as the US, there are reports that there are less female chefs than female CEOs.

We have never said, “We only want to hire women” but we look for the very best talent whose vision is aligned with our mission to be a leader in African hospitality and often for us that has happened to be a woman.

Was Accra ready for a luxury business when you launched Villa Monticello? How has Villa Monticello being received since launch?

The idea for VM came about through our desire to create an establishment that paralleled some of the international 5-star niche boutique hotels that we loved in cities around the world such as New York, Marrakesh, Johannesburg, and Provence where luxury and service were not mutually exclusive.

This sort of hospitality experience appeals to a very unique clientèle. Accra is a very cosmopolitan city and we believed that people who live in and travel here would appreciate our vision. It was a new concept in Accra but we have been very well received by guests and recognized by international hospitality industry vanguards such as World Travel Awards, Conde Nast Johanssens and Trip Advisor.

Villa Monticello was the first to introduce the concept of intimate luxury hospitality to Accra Click To Tweet

How has Villa Monticello changed Ghana’s hospitality industry?

When we first launched in 2011, we were the first to introduce the concept of an intimate luxury world class experience in hospitality. Over the past few years, the luxury landscape has really begun to develop in Accra —in real estate, hospitality, retail, and dining. It’s still at early stage but we believe we have contributed to its growth.

Customer service is another concept that is still growing in Ghanaian business. Impeccable customer service is core to VM’s values. We strive to provide an unforgettable experience for our guests. We are beginning to see a more customer centred service being adopted by others in the hospitality industry and across sectors.


How has your “unsaid commitment to women” (mentioned here) translated in running your business?

Although we don’t discriminate based on sex in any way, we have attracted a very powerful core group of women leaders who share the same values, international outlook and passion for excellence.

The way we approach our customers is the same way we work together as a team. We are constantly meeting, reviewing feedback and making necessary adjustments as a team and as a business.

We have attracted a very powerful core group of women leaders who share the same values Click To Tweet

Tell us more about The Lady initiative, why did Villa Monticello start this?

We understand that it can be challenging for many young women to get the opportunity or nurturing that they might need to excel. Working in collaboration with Ghanaian businesswoman Isobel Acquah, we launched The Lady in January as an empowerment initiative for young women aged 18 to 25.

Through the initiative, young women participate in practical foundational courses covering key topics such as wellness, confidence building, financial awareness, social and business etiquette, and personal grooming. The Lady, is an effort to impart to young women the ethos and values that have driven Villa Monticello to a leading position in the Ghanaian hospitality market.

At the end of the program (which ended last month), we granted internships to participants and to one promising young women at the university level, a scholarship to further pursue her education.


You offer a number of services including The Koncierge and Bespoke Weddings. How do you ensure that you maintain the same values and quality in everything that you do?

Our ultimate goal is to deliver exceptional service and provide an experience for our guests which is second to none. This outlook is applied to all aspects of the VM brand.

We are constantly striving to play a significant role in transforming the standards of the hospitality industry in Ghana and the role of women in the industry. We also want to have a positive impact on the next generation of African women business leaders.

What are three hidden treasures in Accra that visitors tend to miss?

  1. Chapter One Restaurant! Even if you don’t stay at VM, experiencing a meal at our fine dining restaurant is a must. The African fusion inspired menu combines flavors from Africa, Asia, India, and Europe using locally sourced ingredients. Enjoying a traditional tea, classic brunch or an exclusive bottle of wine from our Barrels Wine Club cellar can be a highlight for any visitor’s trip to Accra.
  2. Legon Botanical Gardens. There are very few green spaces in the city and this gem provides a necessary respite. Escape the hustle of the city for a picnic with friends. Or a simply a walk in the park to view the local flora, birds and butterflies. They have recently expanded to include an amazing play area for kids.
  3. Night Market in Osu. Several times a year, arts organization ArchiAfrika hosts a free all-night party in the streets of Osu. ArchiAfrika brings live music, lights, outdoor seating, and a great cross section of professionals, artists and local residents together. There attendees enjoy local food such as kenkey and grilled fish from vendors.

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

Abena Ofosua Obuba: I left engineering to become a bridal consultant

abena ofosua obuba akatasia brides she leads africa
My interest in chemical engineering was fading. Waking up each day to go to work became a chore Click To Tweet

Abena Ofosua Obuba’s dream has always been to own a business she is passionate about and be her own woman. So, after being in the Ghanaian power industry as a Chemical Engineer for 4 years, she knew it was time to make her dream happen.

This led her to start with the necessary preparations by maintaining her position for another year in order to save money. Abena also acquired entrepreneurial skills before starting up on her own.

She then resigned after her fifth year with the power industry and started Akatasia Brides, a bridal consultancy business which took off immediately due to her carefully, well thought out plans and preparations. Now, Akatasia Brides is a household name and one of the best bridal consultancies in the country.

Tell us a brief history of your career as a chemical engineer before Akatasia Brides?

I worked in the power industry for 5 years as a chemical engineer in the business development section. I started my career first off as a Health and Safety Officer. Later, my role changed to business development and I think that was a great stepping stone for me to branch into entrepreneurship because I was meeting high level officials/influencers in Ghana’s power industry.

I began to develop a perfect skill set for entrepreneurship. The company I was working with at that time was a start-up, so I learned a great deal of lessons as the company grew and as I took on a managerial role.

Why did you switch from chemical engineering to bridal consultancy?

I switched from chemical engineering to bridal consultancy because of the following three reasons;

I knew if I did not resign, I would never achieve this dream of becoming an employer Click To Tweet
  • My interest in chemical engineering was fading. Waking up each day to go to work became a chore. It was a huge task for me. I was unhappy and it felt like I was at the wrong place. I however put in a 100% whenever I was at work though it was unsatisfying.
  • I was planning to have a baby. Having a baby is a full time job and my position as a Chemical Engineer required total commitment. This means, I had to work from 7am to 6pm and this would have taken a toll on me and my family
  • My passion to own my own company. It had always been my dream to run my own business; to be the controller of my own ship. I knew if I did not resign from my position as an employee at some point, I would never achieve this dream of becoming an employer.


What preparations did you make towards your resignation?

I planned for a whole year on how to smoothly transition from my previous job to the bridal consultancy business. I planned out how much money I needed; the exact time I will be leaving my previous employer and the work that was required to start a new business.

That planning period was also my trial period so that meant I saved all I could for that one year and lived on the new business. Since that worked, I knew the business was going to work if I were to resign from my previous job.

Walk us through the process it’s taken you to get Akatasia Brides to where it is now?

Akatasia Brides started out as an online business on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms where I worked as a freelance bridal make-up artist. After sometime however, I thought of sourcing for gowns for brides.

This was to add value to my work by providing the complete packages for brides. So I researched and gained experience in dressing up brides. I added on my personal style and helped dress up brides for their big day.

After the great feedback I had from my customers, I opened a bridal salon with a make-up studio in Tema, Ghana. There I sell ready-to-wear wedding gowns; assist brides to select customized wedding dresses with all their specifications and provide beauty services.

I started @Akatasiabrides as a freelance bridal make-up artist - Abena Ofosua Obuba Click To Tweet

What are some surprising lessons you learned along the way?

  • You need support from your business team and your family to make your business work.
  • You should be reinvesting your profits into the business at least for the first two years.
  • Time management is of the greatest essence when you start your own business.


What were the biggest things you struggled with when you started Akatasia Brides?

I did not have any financial background so I struggled with keeping tab on the finances until I hired a professional to take over this part of the business.

I have started taking accounting lessons also. I need to know where all the money is going.

What’s your most memorable experience as a bridal consultant?

The first time a bride kissed my cheeks and hugged me after trying on her gown and said “thank you so much Akatasia”.

Everyone calls me Akatasia now —it means lady in our local dialect, Twi. I do not think I can get any better experience and satisfaction than this.

#MotherlandMoguls looking to resign to start their businesses should PLAN Click To Tweet

If you could offer one piece of advice to a person considering resignation, what would it be?

I would say they should PLAN. If they can put out some sort of plan on paper, then they can draft a business plan from that.

From that plan you can have a better view of what you will be getting yourself into.


How do you think pursuing your passion has turned you into a better person?

I have become very enthusiastic, optimistic and strong. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted because you do not know what the market/environment is going to hit you with next.

Your resilience always carries you through. And being able to succeed through this has made me a stronger person.

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5 life lessons we can learn from Becca

One failed option does not mean all is lost! Lesson learned from @beccafrica and her career Click To Tweet

Becca’s first appearance into the spotlight was on the second season of the TV3 annual singing competition, Mentor, where she was selected to represent the Ashanti Region, Ghana. The music mogul who barely had fame then, however had to pull out of the contest.

This was after discovering that participants had been secretly tested and cleared of HIV/AIDS without their knowledge and consent. Also, because the terms of contract were not up for discussion and rather was a ‘take it or leave it’ affair.

Upon quitting the show, Kiki Banson, under EKB records signed her and released her first debut studio album “Sugar” which got five nominations at the 2008 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards.


Today Becca is a multiple award winner (Kora Award, one National Youth Achievers Award, four Ghana Music Awards, and three 4Syte TV Music Video Awards) and one of the most influential women in the country; a status she may not have acquired if she had not been bold and daring enough to stand her grounds.

Here are five life lessons we can learn from Becca;

1. Know your rights and fight the system to do the right thing

Many people are being taken advantage of and have had their rights infringed upon because they themselves are not aware of their civil and human rights. Becca knew her rights and knew they were being trampled upon when her consent was not sought before the HIV test was conducted.

If you do not speak up against infringements and injustices, the world will assume you are okay with whatever treatment given to you.

Know what you are about and never accept just anything Click To Tweet

2. Know what you are about and never accept just anything

People who usually say “anything goes” are seen as indecisive, unfocused and complete pushovers. They are also often taken for granted.

Knowing and expressing explicitly what you want and deserve will convey the message that you are not a pushover or easy prey to sleazy commitments.


3. Never be afraid to pull out of a negative environment

When Becca found out that the contract she was given was not going to help her reach her goal, she pulled out. As humans, we sometimes adapt to a toxic place or an unhealthy environment not due to the lack of options but mostly due to fear of the unknown.

Eventually, we end up paying dire consequences for our actions and choices. You need to learn how to let go of things, people and situations that can be a breeding ground for retrogression.

4. There are other ways to succeed

There isn’t one formula for success so if going one way doesn’t help, try the other. Identify and if need be, create avenues to thrive; what matters is reaching your destination.

Becca left a reality show and ended up with a record company which guided her to success and catapulted her to 5 nominations in the 2008 VGMAs. One failed option does not mean all is lost. In fact, it could be for a greater good or just the boost you need to get to your green land.


Resolve issues amicably and in the best and most healthy way possible Click To Tweet

5. Always be the bigger person

Life will always kick your butt; that is something we cannot control. What we can put a rheostat on however, is how we react to difficulties and problems we face.

Don’t dwell too much on the past that you lose focus on the future. Resolve issues amicably and in the best and most healthy way possible so you can move on without any demons of the past.

Charlotte & Sheila Addison: Fulfilling the language needs of businesses

Enlaza Global plays a pivotal rote in helping businesses transition to the global stage Click To Tweet

Sometimes, not getting to study what you’d like in university can be blessing in disguise. When the Addison sisters were offered a language course at university —a course that was not considered prestigious— they soldiered on.

Today, Charlotte and Sheila are co-founders of Enlaza Global, a language translation service provider particularly focused on the language needs of businesses. Both sisters also work as translators at The Jeli, a literary publisher for black millenials.

Here, they fill us in on why businesses need to use language as a tool and share what living in Cuba to perfect their Spanish taught them.

What are the language needs of businesses?

The language needs of businesses can be one of many things. There are untapped markets ready for products/services by businesses willing to operate across regions and markets. A language service provider like our Enlaza Global plays a pivotal role in helping businesses make that transition.

Having international clients and business partners reveals the importance of having some level of communication in an international language. When working internationally, there will be a need to translate corporate and business documents to reflect in-country needs.

Also, websites and social media sites can be translated in order to create diversity and reach a wider market online.

According to the research survey, “Can’t Read, Won’t buy: Why Language Matters” by CommonsenseAdivsory, 52.4% of consumers buy only at websites when the information is presented in their language.

We create diversity by using the tool of translation to add value to technological products Click To Tweet

We help to create diversity by using the tool of translation to add value to technological products such as apps, software and websites among others.


Why do you think you were offered a language course? Why was it not considered prestigious?

We believe we were offered a language course because of our academic background. We studied Literature, Christian Religious studies, Government and French at senior high school. These would have definitely played a role in the choice of course we were offered.

The notion of prestige when it comes to academic courses in our societies, we believe stems from the belief that some courses map out a clear-cut career path for one whiles others do not.

Another reason could be that most people have not come to appreciate and understand the tool called language and its role in a global village.

I imagine you’ve received some odd questions for studying a language course. What are some of them?

Some of the funniest questions we have received for studying a language course are :

  • Is that a subject within your course or is it your main course of study?
  • Will you gain immediate employment upon completing the university?
  • Do you want to be a teacher?
  • What are you going to do with it?
  • What is the relevance of your course in an office (working environment)?
Living in Cuba fanned our desire to honour and celebrate people who have given us their time Click To Tweet

Tell us about living in Cuba. What led you two there?

Our reason for living in Cuba was to study and improve upon our Spanish skills. We also wanted to acquire cultural knowledge and sensitivity.

The experience was as fun as it was challenging. There are vital principles that we learnt to imbibe from Cuba such as patriotism and loyalty to ourselves as Africans, to our nation Ghana, to always be supportive and to push people forward.

It also fanned our desire to always honour and celebrate people who have given their lives, time, effort or money in building us as individuals, organisations and Africans as a whole.

On the other hand, living in a socialist state like Cuba, came along with its challenges. These include internet limitations, a lack of opportunities for foreigners, the daily low productivity, a lack of ingenuity on their part and the subtle racism that stares you in the face everyday.

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Vera Adu Amani: How I found creative ways to build my brand

Vera Adu Amani

Vera Adu Amani started her fashion company with no capital, no showroom and no PR services. All she had was a vision, talent and a voice which she used as a strong marketing tool on social media to build her brand.

As the face of Adu Amani Klodin, she used her hairstyle (popularly described as Adomi bridge) to promote her brand at the 2015 Chalewote Arts Festival. This hairstyle went viral and led many clients to her company.

After this great exposure, Vera’s brand story has been used as a case study in Professor Ato Quayson’s book “Globalization of Oxford Street”. She also won the 2015 urban designer of the year at the West African Fashion Awards; has gained recognition as influential designer in Africa and is currently a mentor/judge at the Ghana Coalition entrepreneurship leadership challenge.

How did you discover social media as a great marketing tool?

When I started the company, I had nothing! I had no money, no showroom, no team of marketers working for me. All I had was a vision, talent and a voice so I started sharing my work online just to showcase what I could do.

As I connected with many people who reacted positively to my work, I became more active on the social media platforms. That was when I realized that social media is easy and a cheaper way to reach more people.

After this realization, I equipped myself by reading and researching on digital marketing strategy and other social media materials to brand my company online.

I then created my own style, my own platform to inspire, educate my followers and promote other brands.

After your discovery, what steps did you take to use social media to build your brand?

The only way your work speaks for itself is if someone is listening. When it comes to business you need to make some noise to get your message across so I started making so much noise about my work to get the attention needed.

The steps I used to build my brand are as per below;

  • I chose a memorable brand name which is easy to remember, pronounce and spell. I used the name on all of my social media networks. This makes it easy for followers to search and find my company.
  • I repositioned myself, developed my voice and built my social media presence. I focused on one network (Facebook) which worked for my brand from the beginning since I didn’t have a team working for me.
  • I adapted a social media marketing strategy plan. Thus a monthly calendar list where I created features like Facebook trade.
  • I used visual marketing like videos and photos to promote my work. I engaged storytelling which has always been my number one key. It is one thing describing a product and another selling a product.
  • I shared and commented on interesting articles, works by other people and trending issues.
  • I asked questions; read and learnt from others especially brands/people I look up to. This was to help me distinguish myself from the others.
  • I also engaged my followers, answered their questions, expressed my gratitude to them and sorted their opinions on things. I used their opinions to create content which they shared with their friends.
  • I learnt to communicate with my followers effectively. For instance; I can’t use the same language and tone [contents] I use on Facebook /Instagram for Linkedin followers.
  • What you say on social media will go a long way to affect you so I learnt to let certain comments roll off my back. You should know when to shut up.

Which marketing tool skyrocketed your brand?

I will say my hairstyle to the 2015 Chalewote Arts festival popularly described as Adomi bridge skyrocketed my brand. The plan was to look different, unique, to stand out, and have fun.

As the face of my brand, I take every opportunity to promote my brand so the Chalewote Arts festival was a great place to showcase my work. I did not think the hairstyle will get such attention but it did and since then, my brand has been on the lips of many people.  


How has social media affected your company’s growth?

Everything that I am now and have now was gained through social media. Through social media, my brand has gained exposure, income, clients, jobs and followers.

Social media boosted my brand visibility, and boosted my self-esteem personally. My brand was unknown but now I don’t have to introduce myself anymore, there is this phrase I usually use; ‘Google my name’.

Social media has connected me to people that I wouldn’t have been able to meet in real in life.

Now that your brand has gained the exposure you wanted, what is next?

Well, my brand has gained digital exposure but not physical exposure so my team and I are working on traditional marketing and building relationships outside the internet.

I also want to develop, expand and own a successful fashion design business. Not just a onetime wonder but a sustainable, profitable fashion design company.

I am hoping to rewrite the African story. When a person thinks of Africa, it shouldn’t be a story of slaves, monkeys, ugliness or violence, it should be positive. Beautiful kente shoes/bags by Adu Amani should come in mind.

So I will say I am working on making the brand a vehicle to communicate the beauty of Africa to the world through fashion. I want to leave positive digital footprints.




What is the most outrageous marketing tool you had to use to get your followers attention?

I have used many funny strategies but the funniest was the one that skyrocketed my brand. This is the Adomi bridge hairstyle. I knew I would get some attention but did not expect the photos going viral.

The hairstyle attracted both positive and negative reactions. I was made fun of when the photos went viral. Some comments were very mean and hurtful but I joined in the fun and used it as an opportunity to promote my brand. This had many people sharing my brand all over social media.

I never thought the bridge on my head would gain such massive audience but it did and was worth it.

Your Adomi bridge hairstyle was imitated by many people at the 2016 Chalewote Arts, how do you feel about it?


I feel very inspired. It makes me know that I am an influencer and whatever I do affects other people so I am more responsible for others and not just myself.

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The new African woman likes sex on the beach

Is it me or is there is a huge rise of the cosmopolitan woman in Africa? I call her, the new African woman. The new African woman meets friends for cocktails like ‘sex on the beach’, after she gets off her 9-5 corporate job. She’s the woman who talks freely about sex, and enjoys it too.

This woman takes vacation days and balances career and work life. This is a stark difference from our mother’s generation. For one thing, if I told my mom I was having sex on the beach…the furthest thing on her mind will be a drink in a glass.

Sooo who is this new African woman? Here are 11 ways the new African woman is breaking the mold.

1. We take care of ourselves first…without any apologies

Scandal - its handled gifWe have realized that the woman who does everything for others must first take care of herself.

This could mean anything from quitting a job that we hate to starting our own business. It could also mean ignoring all the haters and going back to school for a second degree.

2. We choose family…and career

career-and-familyRemember when there was a time where women had to choose between advancing in her career versus raising children and being a great wife?

Well, who said a woman can’t do both. African women are finding ingenious ways of balancing the two. We can cook a mean jollof for dinner and defend a case in court the next morning.

The new African woman does all.

3. We are girls who code and do everything else

african-graduatesDid you know that there was a study that showed that black women are now the most educated group in the United States?

Similarly, African women are excelling in subjects that where once thought to be dominated by men. We are killing it in math, science and technology. And we look good while doing it.

4. We are literally turning lemons into lemonade

lemonade olajumokeThe African woman is the most industrious of all the species. Our work ethic and our ability to wring every drop out of a great opportunity is unmatched.

Both these qualities are seen in my current favorite #MotherlandMogul, Olajumoke Orisaguna. Who else is able to wake up one day selling bread and go to bed at the end of the day with a modeling contract?

5. The love we seek is multi-dimensional

You know how our mothers will tell us that there is only one way to a man’s heart and that is his stomach?

Well, there are a thousand different ways to the new African women’s heart. She wants wit, adventure and staying up late with her love watching cartoons till 3am while eating ice cream.

6. We don’t pretend to be perfect 

olivia-pope-scaredHave you ever cried at work? Or cried because you had a huge project coming up and you were so stressed out? I have (and I would love to hear your stories in the comments).

Women have had to hide their emotions in the work place because of the fear of being judged as weak compared to the man. But we know we are not perfect, and neither are men.

So dry your tears, listen to some Lil’ Kim and go be the most perfect imperfection ever.

7. We are breaking the glass ceiling in our careers

producerWomen are the biggest consumers of African movies. We single-handedly pump money into this industry. For a long time, men dominated in the directing and producing of African movies…but not any more.

With the rise of Yvonne Nelson, Shirley Frimpong Manso and other female producers, times are a’ changing.

8. And our careers span past doctors and engineers….we are creatives

chimaChimamanda Ngozi Adichie is my personal hero. And to see her making the world stop and listen to what she has to say as a writer and a speaker is so inspiring.

It puts our parents’, “only be a doctor, engineer or lawyer” talk to shame. While those careers are great, creative careers in the arts are also important. We need more African photographers, writers, artists, graphic designers, the list goes on.

9. We wear made in Africamade-in-africa

Any fans of ‘African City’? How many times have you watched an episode and wanted to buy everything the girls wore. From the jewelry to the shoes and the clothes themselves.

I had to stop watching because my retail lust was getting out of control…and get this? Everything is made in Africa! We are showing the world what African career wear, girls night out outfits and bathing suits can look like.

10. We are leading the front lines on African issuesyvonne-nelson

Everyone in Africa knows the inconsistent power struggles that we all suffer through. In Ghana, we call it dumsor meaning “light off, light on”.

Well, guess who led the movement to tell the Ghanaian government enough is enough? Actress and producer, Yvonne Nelson. She led the cause and soon, others joined in droves.

African women are no longer waiting to be told to speak, we are leading the force on issues that affect all of us.

11. We are intentional about changing Africa

This point is captured perfectly by this quote by Elizabeth Blackwell; “For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.”

African women everywhere are doing their part for the next generation of women. From organizations like our very own SLA to movie producers writing more complex roles for women, or business owners who create scholarships for girls.

We are all more aware of the role we play in changing Africa and the stories that are told about African women.

Laurie Frempong: Why I self-manage my modeling career

When it comes to the modelling industry, Ghanaian model and fashion blogger Laurie Frempong is her own boss. She manages her career, finds her own jobs, negotiates payments and acts as her own PR. This model has been self–managing since she was discovered at a casting for Project Walkway Ghana nearly four years ago.

Over the years, Laurie has secured editorial, swimwear, print, runway and commercial modelling contracts without a manager or an agency. She would be first to admit that balancing self-management and a modelling can be very tough but with determination, one can achieve anything.

What led you to self-manage your modelling career?

After being discovered and gaining exposure at the Project Walkway Ghana, I went into full-time modelling but in Ghana, there are no real modelling agencies and models signed under agencies had to go out and search for jobs.

There was no need having a manager who would not assist me in anyway, yet expect to be paid. So I chose to manage my own career. This was not easy especially since I had to combine management with modelling. Both jobs are full-time so there are days my management skills would be lacking and there are days my modelling skills would be lacking. This was at the very beginning though, now I have developed a skill to balance both jobs so as to not lack in both areas.

As a self-managed model, how do you find work? What jobs have you done over the years?

Well in order to find work, I had to build a brand and that was what I did. I am identified with my natural hair and my colourfulness. After this, I found work through recommendations; attending castings —which are very few in the country, and via social media. I take my work very seriously and always give my best on the job so people contact me for a job knowing they are getting nothing but the best.

I have worked many brands and shows like Afua Biney, Kiki Clothing, Woodin, Lema Press, Ernest Chemist, Zedi & Cross Alikoto Clothing, Nallem Clothing, Papa Oppong, Steve French, Wusuwa’s Diary, RIP Runway, Legon Fashion week, Catwalk for Orphans among others.


What are the challenges you face as a self-managing model in the industry? How do you overcome these challenges?

When I chose this path, I knew it was not going to be easy. Given the fact that Ghanaians are still warming up to modelling as a career, I knew I would face challenges. But I was still hopeful and determined to go through with my choices no matter what.

Challenges I face include;
Non-payment for jobs well done.
Getting paid less than what was negotiated.
Missing out on castings because these opportunities are communicated directly to modelling agencies.

For the payment challenges, I have rectified it by using a rate card. The rate card has details of how much a model charges depending on the type of job wanted. This card takes into consideration the number of hours involved, etc. This way when I am approached by a client, they know exactly what to expect.

With t
he issue about the castings, there is nothing I can do about it other than investing in myself, updating my portfolio and branding myself so well that I will not depend on these castings.

Would you say self-management is better than having another person manage you?

Well, there is nothing like being your own boss but to some extent I will say having a manager has its pros.

For instance, if I had a manager, I will have more time to focus on becoming the best model since I would not have to worry about the negotiating of contracts and payments.


Are there many self-managing models in the industry? What advice would you give to a self-managing model?

There are as many freelance models as there those who are under management in the industry.

The advice I would give to a self-managing model like me is – self-management is not easy but nothing good comes easy. So stay focused; build your brand and portfolio, set goals and work towards them and most importantly learn to use social media to market your brand.

Also when starting out, many people would try to take advantage of you so build your negotiation skills and be firm at all times.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Every single thing. This career allows me to express myself in so many ways and be true to myself.

I also love seeing the product of my hard work. After all the stress, when I see the final work and it looks amazing, I am happy.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done as a model?

Recently, I had to do a runway for a fashion graduate, Steve French. The concept was to act like a mad person on the runway. It was one of the most creative shows ever.


Which international brand would you like to model for and which concept would it be?

Vlisco. An editorial spread and a fashion film. The fashion film will tell a story about the history of African Prints. And I would be the model styled in some iconic Vlisco designs since its inception.

I also dream of being a Victoria’s Secret model. That will be a dream come true for me.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Emma Maame Efua Tandoh: Our business only exists because of those we serve

maame emma outspoke edge she leads africa

The coolest startups are those that offer services particularly targeted to other startups. Emma Maame Efua Tandoh started Outspoken Edge in 2015 to offer digital marketing services for entrepreneurs looking to scale up their businesses. It gets even better, Outspoken Edge focuses on women-led businesses. Say yes to girl power!

Since it’s inception, Emma has guided Outspoken Edge to new heights which she credits to what she learned at SheHive Accra earlier this year. Outspoken Edge has also been part of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. We learned about digital marketing in Ghana and what proud moments feel like when you’ve achieved a lot.

What’s the digital marketing scene like in Ghana? How does Outspoken Edge fit in (or not)?

The digital marketing scene has undergone a transformation in Ghana. Over the years, it’s seeing a lot of new players, including Outspoken Edge, which I founded in May 2015. What differentiates us from the others is our focus on startups and SMEs.

We realized that a lot of our competitors were focused on providing services for big businesses and multi-nationals. There was an opportunity for us to make an impact because there are a growing number of burgeoning entrepreneurs who had great ideas and would need help scaling their business.

As a entrepreneur myself, I had a first-hand experience of how hard it is to want to stay lean but also market and scale your business as quickly as possible. So, its always easy to understand the peculiar needs of the brands and businesses we manage.


Why did you decide to focus on providing services for women-led businesses?

Let’s face it, over the last year, we’re hearing a lot about women in agriculture, women in tech, women in business. Clearly, a lot more women have taken up the challenge and are ready to lead in their respective fields and charter their own courses through entrepreneurship.

Over the last few years, economists and academics have trumpeted and continue to agree that women entrepreneurs are an under-tapped force that can rekindle economic expansion. So, the question is, why not women-led businesses?

At Outspoken Edge, we simply saw a gap in the market and seized an opportunity to make impact. We (women) are the future of business, we’re the future of our respective economies. We believe if we can help one woman effectively scale their business online using digital tools, then that’s progress. If we can help more, that’s success.

Why do you think you were chosen to be part of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme?

The 2016 cohort of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is made up of men and women from diverse backgrounds in Africa. These are entrepreneurs who are challenging the status-quo and with their exploits, products and services. They are leading a new generation of Africans who have the grit, tenacity and attitude to transform their continent.

Outspoken Edge is no different from these businesses. What helps us stand tall is our passion and commitment to our work. Also, our resolve to leave a legacy and inspire others on the same journey to be great and make an impact in our communities and in the world.


You mentioned that SheHive Accra helped grow your business. Tell us how

SheHive Accra was really a turning point in my career, I must say. I had Outspoken Edge registered in May of 2015 but for several months, I was afraid to take the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship. I knew this was definitely what I wanted to dedicate my life to but there were questions and concerns, lots of them.

In January, when I heard She Leads Africa was going to be in Accra, I quickly applied. Over a week, armed myself with so much practical and useful business development, financial and marketing knowledge. It was exhilarating.

I met other women entrepreneurs from Ghana and other countries and we shared our experiences and challenges. One of my biggest takeaways was a session on marketing where we were taught how to put together a marketing research survey. We worked in groups and were asked to put our questions to the test by going out individually to speak to potential businesses and clients.

This wasn’t just a great way to test the knowledge that had been imparted but also to reach out and speak to real people and with my survey questions. I was able to sign up a new client for Outspoken Edge after just 40 minutes of interviewing a shop manager in one of the malls in Accra.

SheHive Accra was that jolt I need to get my business off the ground. The experience was one of my best this year and I’m most grateful for the new opportunities and partnerships.

Having achieved quite a lot already, what would you say you’re most proud of when it comes to your work?

Proud moments for me are when I get great feedback from clients.

Our business only exists because of those we serve. So, it’s always great to receive great testimonials and feedback from the brands we work with.


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

Edem Fairre: I need to push more boundaries if I must get to the top

edem fairre

Edem Fairre is one of the few models in Ghana who has managed to turn modelling into a career. She was discovered by Donthes Media in 2010 fully ventured into modelling in 2014.

Though she has been in the industry for barely two years, she has walked several runways across the country; worked with known brands like Beige Capital Bank, Nivea, Renault, Samsung, Bayer Chemist, Joy FM, DSTV sport, Airtel Ghana as well as various fashion designers. She holds a managerial position in one of the top modeling agencies in Ghana, Empire Gh Models.

Naana Joa had a chat with Edem, who though has achieved so much in the industry than many Ghanaian models, still feels the need to push more boundaries to achieve her goal.

Why do you feel the need to push more boundaries? What is the goal?

It doesn’t matter your achievement in life, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always something new to learn; a new goal to set and achieve. I’ve focused mostly on lingerie, promotional, commercial and sport modeling.  

I’ve not had time to perfect my runway skills but this is something I intend to correct. There’s more to achieve in my field of work. Equipping myself and excelling at all aspects of modeling will help me stand a better chance at getting to the top.

My goal is to be a supermodel like Naomi Campbell or Tyra Banks who managed to establish themselves as the most recognised and in-demand models of their time.

I also want to prove that modelling is a real career like law, medicine, engineering and business.

Entrepreneurs and professionals alike complain of bottlenecks to getting to their goals and reaching the top. What would you say has been a hindrance for you?

It’s easier blaming where I come from but that would be somewhat unfair since Africa has raised champions.  I admit there are limitations in Africa. You’ll need to go the extra mile to break boundaries here. But with hardwork, dedication and talent, I believe this can be done.

Personally, I’ve had challenges like self-doubt, my current studies at the university, and lack of funds. Surprisingly, models also doubt their work and themselves. Our job is to portray a character and the goal is to get it right. So when the results for the work done shows otherwise, self-doubt sets in. You begin to doubt your worth and suitability.

I am currently studying ABE UK marketing management at the university.  This simply means losing some job opportunities. But this course is to help me manage my brand better so I’m not one to complain.

In the industry, other people call the shots especially when you do not have the funds to promote your brand. You are taken advantage of and made to settle for less than you deserve.

Professionally, I will say unhealthy competitions and partiality is another challenge. Though the modeling industry in Ghana is small, it is very competitive and I love competitions. They push you to be better at what you do. But it gets ugly when competitors use unethical means to get contracts. This results in unqualified models being given jobs while the qualified are bypassed.


What steps are you taking to changing the narrative?

Regarding self-doubt, I am working on building my self-confidence and keeping a positive mind and outlook on things.

I have also accepted that losing jobs because I have to be in school is totally worth it.

To solve the issue of lack of funds, I am on the verge of breaking through in the movie industry.  Also in the pipeline is hosting gig for a television show called Event Update on Top TV. These I believe would give me something on the side to help push me to the top.

With unhealthy competitions and partiality, I believe models need to be independent. This way, they are able to fund their own projects. This may not entirely solve the issue. However, it would be a start.

Advice for budding models?

  • Be yourself
  • Respect yourself and those you work with
  • Don’t sell yourself short in the name of modeling
  • Accept a good job even if it may not pay well


If you were to contest with an African model, who would it be?

Well, I’d contest with myself.

There must be a secret to your success as a model. Tell us about it.

If I tell then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. But I’d be willing to share with any woman who joins the modelling family.   

Do you ever imagine not reaching your goals? What would you do if that happens?

That is not an option! I have worked so hard and patiently. I will not accept failure.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.