5 ways to support the ambitious African woman in your life

teyana taylor power couple

Women are going beyond traditional roles of stay-at-home moms and caretakers, and building careers outside teaching and nursing. Through legislation and promotion of gender equality at work (which still has a long way to go), women have been catapulted to an unprecedented level of success both financially and socially.

A lot of women are venturing into the jungle of entrepreneurship, starting their own businesses in the pursuit of becoming Motherland Moguls. The men who love these women may either be intimidated by their drive or, are cool calling “shotgun” and letting their lady do her thing.

If you are in the ‘shotgun’ group, here are 5 practical things to do to show your support for a Trap Queen in your life; things she probably wouldn’t ask you for but would appreciate.

1. Be her CEO

Before you quit your day job know that I am talking about Chief Evangelical Officer. Spread the “gospel” of her business to your friends, family, colleagues, people in a queue at the bank. When you start up, there is usually not much of a budget for marketing so you rely a lot on word of mouth and referrals.

Share links to her business on your social media, and have a couple of her business cards in your wallet and car. If you know someone in her field, hound that person until they meet with her. Recommend her business to supply a service to your employer.

2. Groceries

When you start your own business, there is very little money for luxuries. We have all read about entrepreneurs living on bread and eggs or eating cereal with water. She is a Trap Queen so she will never ask and she has the basics covered.

However, she will appreciate some of her favourite pre-hustle treats once in a while. I’m not suggesting that you go and fill a trolley because that would actually infuriate her. She doesn’t need to be rescued, but wouldn’t mind being spoiled.

She may live at home with her folks so housing is not necessary, but you can fill her tank with gas so she can get to meetings. This is not a closed list. You know what your Queen needs.

3. Give her space. Lots of it.

Being an entrepreneur is a lonely path and that’s how entrepreneurs actually prefer it. When its time to strategise, plan, and envision the future, please do not disturb. If things aren’t going well and we need to lick our wounds, we often retreat into our caves.

Entrepreneurs do not work a 9-5, they work as the need arises: their laptop is their office, they work overnight and sleep during the day. Taking calls or replying texts can break focus or creativity, which entrepreneurs need.

Don’t be upset when she doesn’t call or text back in 24 hours and under no circumstances is it ever acceptable to be needy or nag her.

Realise and accept that if an opportunity comes along, she will need to invest time in it so you must never make her choose between you and it.

4. Be secure

Networking is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. You need to be known in your field because the playing fields aren’t equal. Owners of startups need to be beating the streets of the cities, pushing business cards into the hands that could later sign their cheques.

It’s undeniable that men are the leaders of the business world therefore women will inevitably spend time with them for professional purposes. Most of these events take place after hours or on weekends so you need to be secure enough to let her go. Some weekends dates will have to be cancelled because she finally landed a networking opportunity with someone she has been trying to meet for ages.

Alternatively, you may have to accompany her to a black tie event where she will leave you with a table of strangers so she can talk to her potential investors. In those instances, be a big boy and network for yourself!

5. Hold her hand

As mentioned above, entrepreneurship can be a very lonely road and it does get very hard before it gets easier. Singer John Legend once said, “the world is beating you down, I’m around in every mood.” I don’t think that means PMS but times of fear, failure, joy, triumph, loss, betrayal, anxiety and insecurity.

Holding her hand also means keeping her accountable because entrepreneurs are dreamers tend to be passionate about their project. But they can also get carried away with flighty thoughts. This why you need to reign her in sometimes.

Finally, in case you haven’t figured it out it yet, her networking will also help you meet new people who can change your life too. So invest in your Trap Queen and watch her build the empire.

How to spot a swag assist

You want to be a boss. You dream of being the type of woman who is on her grind, building an empire and taking no prisoners. Chairman by M.I, I’m a Boss by Rick Ross, and Looku Looku by The Mavins are key songs in the playlist of your life.

There’s only one big problem – you think your partner might be a hater, #SwagDeflator – every #MotherlandMogul’s worst nightmare.
Nicki Minaj - Hell No GifOne of the most critical factors that will impact your professional and entrepreneurial growth is your significant other. Having a partner who supports you is a godsend  – their belief in your talents and dreams will have you thinking you’re Oprah 2.0 or the female Dangote-in-waiting. Having a partner who actively blocks your shine is the worst.

With this in mind, we, at She Leads Africa, have come up with a few tips to help you spot a partner who will support your #MotherlandMogul swag. They’ll be your very own Swag Assist.

1. Was his mum a hustler?

To start, you have to take it all the way to the beginning. Our families and childhoods have a huge influence on what we think our lives should look like when we become adults.

Licia Ronzulli - EU parliament member with baby

If a guy grew up with a mum who was always on her hustle, he’s more likely to see your hustle as normal and ordinary. Additionally, if his mum is a hustler herself, she’s more likely to tell him to chill if he starts complaining too much about your work schedule.

This isn’t to say that sons of stay-at-home mums will want you to do the same. But understand that it may take him some time to get used to your hustle.

2. How much gendered language does he use?

Any potential partner who uses words like “men’s work” or “women’s work” should raise red flags.

Jasmine and tiger from Aladdin

To be a #SwagAssist, a guy needs to have his own beliefs about gender norms not what society has told him. He needs to be comfortable sharing the work at home. For example, if you’re running late at the office, he should put the kids to bed.

If you have a big meeting the next day and don’t have time to cook dinner, he needs to be fine with that. If your man sees the world in one particular way and thinks that you need to stay in your lane, he’s probably not going to be the Barack to your Michelle.

3. How hard does he try to upgrade you and your business?

Beyoncé told the world she wants to upgrade her man, but you should also have someone who wants your business to reach the next level.

Beyonce and Jay Z dancing

There are plenty of guys who pay lip service to supporting their partners, but in reality they couldn’t care less. Does your partner think about how their personal and professional networks can help you grow? If they have special skills, do they use them to support you? For example, if he’s a banker has he offered to look at your numbers? A #SwagAssist will energetically try to support your professional aspirations.


Align your partner with your ambition.”

–Bola Adesola, MD Standard Chartered Nigeria


4. What does he say when you complain about the hustle?

We all have times when nothing seems to be working, and we just want to roll up into the fetal  position and give up.

Biggest loser - Jillian Michaels

Yes, we all want a partner who is occasionally going to baby us and tell us everything is going to be okay. Here’s the thing though, building a business isn’t child’s play and having a partner who is going to let you give up is not helpful if you’re really trying to be a #MotherlandMogul.

You need someone who cares about you so deeply that they’ll listen to you complain, but believes in you so much that they force you to get back up.

5. How does he react to your business success?

When you’ve just signed a big deal and you tell him, pay attention to his expressions and tone of his voice. Does he give you a weak smile, like kind Yetunde gave her boyfriend when he proposed with an ugly ring? Does he say congrats quickly and then get back to how bad the traffic was in Lekki? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got yourself a certified #SwagDeflator. A #SwagAssist will make it clear that you da real MVP.

LA Galaxy soccer player celebrating

He will give you Azonto, Shoki and the running man all at the same time. All of his social media followers will know that you just won. He’ll be so excited people will think he won the lottery. That’s the sort of partner you need walking with you on the journey to professional success.

Everyone knows that one of the easiest ways to lose a war is to start fighting on two fronts. Just ask any German commander circa early 1940s.

It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur – and guess what? Your husband, your bae, your partner, your number 1 is a critical member of that village.

We hope you find someone who cares about your professional happiness and success just as much as you do.

If you’re married and yourMaya Rudolph Saying No guy is a swag deflator, please don’t cite us in the divorce proceedings.

 

 

 

Yay or nay? To have and to hold his last name after marriage

Glenview-Mansion-Maryland-Ethiopian-Wedding-Ceremony-Recessional

It seems that the custom of taking one’s husband’s name after marriage is slowly fading. Women the world over are opting to keep their maiden names after tying the knot. African women are choosing to do the same to the dismay of some and intrigue of others.

There are people who do not understand why a woman would not want to change her surname. It is a PSA that a certain someone put a ring on it, after all.  In a culture that wrongfully values women based on their relationships with men, this decision is being met with resistance.

Who started it

It turns out this custom isn’t even African. It was started by the French and spread to Britain during the  Norman Conquest in the 11th century. A wife was considered a husband’s possession, and, hence had to adopt his name.

Over time, the custom changed to include the scriptural notion of unity that marriage brings to a couple. The tradition then spread to the Motherland through colonialism.

Not everyone finds it necessary

It is actually illegal in some places  to change one’s name for marriage or other reasons. Quebec does not allow women to change their names after they get married. This law exists to extend the Quebec Charter of Rights (1976) statement on gender equality to names, according to Time.com. The same applies in Greece and Belgium.

Even in France,where the custom started, citizens are required to keep the names on their birth certificates for life, though women can take their husband’s names socially, but not legally. The situation is similar in the Netherlands where women can only take their husband’s name under special circumstances.

Italian women can’t legally change their names, but are permitted to hyphenate their surnames by adding their husband’s. Women in Malaysia and Korea customarily keep their maiden names. Burundian women also do not adopt their husband’s names, according to allAfrica.com.

Reason behind rebellion

So why don’t you use your husband’s name? For Nigerian journalist, Amma Ogan, the answer is in the question: “Because it is his name, not mine,” she says in an interview with us.

In her article “Of Marriage and Ownership,” (published on the discontinued 234Next website) she writes about her choice to keep her maiden name and the bewilderment that met her decision. Of the custom she writes:

“Ask a Nigerian man to change his name and he will consider it an insult of the highest order. This means that women are considered fair game, mothers, sisters, daughters, all. The first retort when a woman protests is: Why don’t you want people to know you are married? But that is really a side bar. The people for whom that knowledge is most important are the ones who are in it. Are you married? Yes. Move on.”

For Ogan, and others like Dr. Sophie Coulombeau, keeping their maiden names is a matter of maintaining  their identity, and upholding equality. For them, marriage does not equal validation, as the custom may suggest.

So what could this mean for us?

As a wife, changing your surname to your husband’s can be symbolic. The function of marriage is to unite two people and sharing a name can represent this unity.

Ugandan Anita Arinaitwe Mugisha chose to use her husband’s name, telling allAfrica.com that it signified a new beginning and gave her a sense of belonging. In the same article, Joshua Nshuti, a Ugandan man, said that sharing his name with his wife made him proud and is a constant reminder of his responsibilities to her.

Women opt to keep their maiden names for various reasons whether it be maintaining their identity or asserting equality. Some of them have worked hard to create a name for themselves professionally and don’t want to give that up.

Others marry people from across the world and find keeping their maiden names less confusing. And a few are just trying to avoid all the legal paperwork that comes with changing your name on identity cards, passports, health insurance and bank accounts plus more.

As  businesswomen on the rise, ready to disrupt the old boys’ club, and take the world by storm, one could argue we should abandon a practice that is in its very origin dehumanizing. On the other hand, as I mentioned, taking one’s husband’s name symbolizes unity for some.

Ultimately what is important, I think, is to leave it up to the woman to decide what changing or keeping her name means to her. Perhaps in order to allow that to happen, women shouldn’t be judged for choosing to do either.
Change your last name after marriageWhat do you think Motherland Moguls? Do you plan on changing or keeping your name when you get married? If you are married, did you opt to adopt your husband’s name or keep your maiden name? Let us know in the comments below.