Muthoni Maingi: Glass ceilings are the biggest problem that women face

Muthoni Maingi is a true renaissance woman.  She uses the power of digital innovation to transform lives.

Being the Head of Digital Campaigns at Oxfam is just the latest place she is flexing her muscles. She is also the founding director of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE). Muthoni was also an integral team member in Safaricom projects like BLAZE and Little Cab. 

In this insightful chat with SLA, she shares some insights on her career journey and growing with the new digital trends.


 

At what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?

As the Brand strategist at Creative Edge, the director would find my colleagues and me on Twitter fairly frequently.

Instead of reprimanding us, she challenged us to think through how we could begin to sell digital as a service for the agency as it was traditionally lead at the time.

From then I fell in love with digital as a marketing proposition and have never left since!

As the Head of Digital Campaigns, what exactly do you do?

My work at Oxfam really allows me to live true to my passion and purpose!  I stay up at night thinking of initiatives that use the power of digital to connect people and amplify voices to influence decision makers.

With my team, we work to grow the brand to become a leading digital influencing organization. We use mobile, web and social media to drive, support, donations and offline participation of millions of people globally.

Does Oxfam still consider traditional media and offline campaigns in this digital age?

At Oxfam, I am constantly inspired by the amazing work that uses digital technology to influence and leverage the power of people to end poverty.

The organization’s inspiration and drive to achieve change for millions of people is embedded in the values, mission, and vision. It is the exact same whether applied to campaign offline or online, there is no separation from the core objective.

How has your current role changed your perception of how powerful technology can be in changing lives in Kenya & around the world?

I don’t necessarily feel like I am just now seeing that technology can and does have the potential to create change. What I can say has changed is that my approach has always been very Kenya and Africa based.

I think that it is great that organizations across the globe are increasingly making diversity a core strategic agenda and that means that varied expertise in the room allows for improved performance and efficiency.

Consequently, this experience has allowed me to exhibit our regional ingenuity on a platform that is hungry for fresh perspectives from this part of the world.

What advice can you give about personal growth and knowing when it’s time to leave a job even when it throws you out of your comfort zone?    

Prior to working at Oxfam, I held major positions in the telecommunications sector. I have always had very specific objectives in terms of how I see my career going.

I look at what my objective is in terms of my career goal and what space is available for me to explore that as well as to build something of value for myself and the organization.

For example with Safaricom, I was really looking at how I could bring digitally lead segmented prepositions to life.

Being secure in that knowledge, I began to look for spaces where I could grow from a digital perspective and lead a team that actually creates digital products.  The opportunity at Oxfam offered me that.

When you have solid relationships then everything else always figures itself out - @NonieMG Click To Tweet

How important are mentors to you? Do you have any?

I try to avoid what can be termed as the ‘expert by proxy’ bias. Where we tend to listen to the loudest person in the room and assume that as a result, they are competent and capable.

I genuinely look deeper to find people who are ‘true experts’ in the aspect I am looking to grow towards, even if they are the quieter or less visible ones in the room. Or even if they are not in the room at all.

I consider different people mentors in different ways. Actually, I ensure that they are the actual people that I should be talking to.

Having been so successful in the famed ‘Silicon Sahara’, one of the most competitive tech industries in Africa. Does this mean women are getting better recognition for their contributions in the tech world?

It would not be accurate to look at my path and determine that the state of women is improved because of it. My success is not a beacon of change as a lot more should be done and a lot more can be done to ensure that no one is left behind.

Women have a long way to go to get their dues in this industry, not because of their lack of talent or capability but simply because we operate in a world with restrictive, discriminatory and in many cases violent social norms. This applies to all women regardless of class, race, gender and sexual orientation.

I am my own cheerleader, and I am very comfortable with failure... - @NonieMG Click To Tweet

What do you think is the biggest misconception women have about how to become successful?

The fact that this question is only asked of women says it all. Women across the board put in the work, glass ceilings are the biggest problem that women face.

These ceilings appear in overt, micro-aggressive or in hidden values and norms that keep women consistently not only fighting to deliver results in their day job but also having to work around harmful social norms as another layer of labor.

The only work that women should be doing is working to deliver to the bottom line, the strategic objectives of an organization.

In moments of self-doubt, what do you tell yourself?

I really believe that I am my biggest cheerleader. I know myself, and I am very comfortable with failure. My self-doubt, as a result, is usually very short-lived.

I’m lucky that the only ‘right’ thing that I have done in my life is to surround myself with a fantastic network of cheerleaders and truth tellers.

They really keep me away from damaging self-doubt with great advise, recognition and validation.

What are your proudest career moments so far?

The Bloggers Association of Kenya is the baby that I am most proud of. Being a part of something that has helped so many people and grown an industry that otherwise did not exist as a Founding Director fills me with a lot of joy.

What advice can you give about being fearless and following your dreams?

Fearless? That isn’t me, I have a lot of fears. That said, the best advice that I have ever been given came from Sylvia Mulinge who was my Director while at Safaricom.

“Progress not perfection, believe that if you have been called into the room then your contribution is valuable. The people in that room want you to succeed.”

What is the one thing you will not be happy if you haven’t achieved when everything is said and done?

I am increasingly concerned about my relationships with people, friends, family, workmates and several others. I would not be happy if I did not achieve a real and authentic relationship with these people.

Personally, I think that when you have solid relationships, everything else will figure itself out. Without that, what are we really here for?.


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Elom Ayayee: Photography for me was a fortunate accident

Elom Ayayee never thought photography would be a part of her life. Her career path was in international relations, policy, linguistics, and publishing. But her love for beautiful images in magazines ignited her desire to pursue a career in photography.

She wanted to recreate these looks which seemed limited to only models for the everyday woman who could be a wife, mother, entrepreneur / employee, believer, citizen and role model.

Elom started with no knowledge of photography. She didn’t know how to take photos and had no clients. But with time, constant practice and determination, she opened her photo studio Elom Ayayee Portraiture where she takes magazine-worthy images of women to remember for the rest of their lives.


How did you start your photography career?

Photography was a very fortunate accident and I fall in love with it more and more every day. It’s all about meeting someone for the first time and finally creating a timeless piece of art that speaks to the essence of who they are or who they want to be in the moment it was created.

To me, that is the amazing power of portraiture. Photography for me is the power to exist in time. It’s a way to say “I was here. I lived, I loved, I hurt, I suffered, I rejoiced, I was silent, I was loud. I held this space”.

Why do you focus on women?

I started photographing family and friends and before I knew it I had a client base. My move to photograph women was not just a great business plan. But, it was also a way to highlight these women who are sometimes invisible in the roles they play. Women often get lost in their responsibilities and forget to appreciate themselves.

My initial desire was to give women just one day off. A day to get pampered and remember and document who she is outside of all the hustle.

To get her hair and makeup done and the most beautiful images of herself that would be loved and cherished and appreciated for all time.

What were some of the hurdles you encountered and how did you solve them?

Marketing has been the biggest hurdle. I’m naturally a very private person and 90% of my client base is from referrals. Putting myself out there is still a very uncomfortable experience for me.

That being said, my target market is small and very specific so that tends to minimize the effort I would otherwise have to make in marketing myself. It’s a lazy way of marketing I guess; give great service and let happy clients do the talking for you.

How do you get your photographs to spread your messages?

I don’t create my photographs for the general public. I create images for my clients to hang on their walls in their homes – this is very intimate and private. Images that hopefully their great great great grandchildren will see and talk about.

My images are about time, legacy and emotion. All of my images say different things in the different homes they live in. I can usually tell by spending enough time with a woman who she wants to see when she looks at an image of herself. I pull on every resource within me during a shoot to be able to give her that.

Click To Tweet

How do you improve your photography and get inspired? 

I do this every way that I can. I enjoy constructive criticism from people I look up to in the industry and my clients. I’m always on the internet trying to figure out how to get what I see in my head right.

My clients are all the inspiration I need. I’ve met such incredible people. Every woman has a story, every child has incredible potential. One day what I create for this person will be a timeless treasure to someone else.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?

Yes! I’m doing a series for women that I’m very excited about. It’s easy to promise to take the most amazing picture a woman has ever seen of herself when she’s been pampered and dolled up and looks like the jackpot.

Can I take the most beautiful picture of a woman make-up free? This is my challenge to myself and all my clients. So far, it’s been amazing. Women are so deep and they carry so much behind their eyes.

Each of my clients who have trusted me enough to put themselves in this vulnerable place has been won over. It’s literally the most powerful image you could ever take.

What photography gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best?

I started with a Nikon D3300 and I’ve always used natural light. My first studio was robbed and all my gear was stolen, that’s when I switched to Canon. I’m now shooting on a 5DMark iii.

I own a 50mm lens which I shoot 80% of my shots with and a 70-200 for my outdoor portraits. I use Adobe Photoshop for my editing.

What advice would you give young photographers who want to make it in this industry?

I really don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak for the whole industry, but I would say you need solid people skills and know the basic fundamentals of how to run a business. There’s a huge difference between a business and a hustle.

Also, advise often depends on what area of photography you venture in. So, the first thing I would say is, find your niche, and contrary to popular belief, the smaller your niche the better. Too many photographers are doing too many things. You can’t have it all.  Give great service. Master your craft.


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WEBINAR WITH SUPRIYA SHARMA: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR BRAND WITH DIGITAL MARKETING (APRIL 19)

Building a successful brand can be risky business and quite a challenge, especially in this forever evolving digital space!  FYI – that’s all about to change…keep reading!

While you should tailor your brand’s strategy to its specific goals, how can you ensure that your brand stays ahead of the game, amidst the disruption, through digital marketing?

Allow us to school you!…

Join Supriya Sharma, on Thursday, 19th April, as she teaches us how to take your brand’s success to the next level with digital marketing.

Supriya Sharma is the Managing Director of SAS Business Solutions, a global service provider catering to big business houses, SMEs and educational institutions.

She has spoken at some international events of repute on topics that include Leadership & Women, Time Management, Effective Business Communication, Being beautiful, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, Digital Marketing (take charge of your business) and Entrepreneurship.

Take charge of your business through digital marketing with Supriya Sharma on April 19th. Reg here: http://bit.ly/SupriyaSharma Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Steps to choosing the right marketing network
  • Best practices to curating valuable and shareable content
  • Tips for leveraging the right brand influencers
  • A guide to effective content promotion via social campaigns
  • Building a sustainable brand strategy with digital marketing

Register below to get access to this opportunity and submit questions you would like Supriya to answer.

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Time: 11AM Lagos // 12PM Johannesburg // 1PM Nairobi

Watch here:

About Supriya

Supriya Sharma, is a certified corporate trainer, coach and motivational speaker who began her academic journey as a scholar (gold medalist) in aerospace engineering. She was offered full scholarships at renowned US and UK universities and further developed her skill set to be an astute management professional gaining valuable experience in HR, corporate communications, sales and marketing.

Seeing the current status of the world’s economy, Supriya decided to pursue a course in entrepreneurship from one of India’s Ivy League business schools, where the idea of SAS was born.

In 2014, Supriya represented Nigeria in the Dreamforce Conference which was held in San Francisco, USA. To add, she has conferred the title of Ms Intelligent – Lagos & Ms Talented – Lagos in the Beauty Pageant organised by ICA in 2017.

Supriya strongly believes in giving back to the society as a part of her responsibility. In this view, she actively volunteers her time to develop employability skills among the Nigerian youth and is closely associated with women empowerment missions across Asia and Africa.

WEBINAR WITH HODAN NALAYEH: HOW TO BUILD A SUCCESSFUL DIGITAL PLATFORM (APR 5)

Digital platforms are taking the world by storm and as a digipreneur, leveraging these platforms can help you to connect with your audiences in a natural and personal way.

So since digital storytelling has become a popular channel for curating various narratives, how best can you, as a digipreneur and Motherland Mogul, maximize on platforms like YouTube to tell amazing stories?

We’ll be chatting with Hodan Nalayeh, on Thursday, 5th April, who will be sharing strategies on how to successfully build a digital community using platforms like YouTube – through storytelling.

Hodan has over thirteen years of experience in client management, sales and production in radio and television. Before founding Integration TV, she also worked on a number of TV shows, including the popular TV shows American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

She has changed the society with refreshing content that uplifts the spirit and shares pioneering stories of success.

Join @HodanTV for a webinar on April 5th, to learn about building a digital community. Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Building a community with the power of storytelling
  • Tips for innovative storytelling using YouTube
  • Building your confidence as a digital entrepreneur and African woman

Register below to get access to this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Hodan to answer.

Webinar Details:

Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Time: Toronto 5am // Lagos 10am // Johannesburg 11am

Watch here:

About Hodan

Hodan Nalayeh is a media entrepreneur, a social media powerhouse and the Founder of Integration TV, which reaches millions of viewers across the globe.

Known for her commitment to self-empowerment, entrepreneurship, and Somali communities, Nalayeh has changed the society with refreshing content that uplifts the spirit and shares pioneering stories of success. As a trained journalist, she is captivated by the power of stories to change lives.

Born in Somalia and raised in Canada from the age of 6, Hodan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Windsor and a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Seneca College. Nalayeh is also a strong advocate for education, but more importantly, life education.

She’s also a mom of two boys and believes changing society starts with changing our narrative of success for Africans.

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi: Never sell yourself out – stand up for what you believe in

Emeline  Nsingi Nkosi is a confident and experienced bi-lingual actor and presenter based Accra, Ghana presenting for GHOne TV. She is currently presenting and producing a lifestyle and entertainment show called ‘The Core’.

She has interviewed the likes of Asamoah Gyan, Ozwald Boateng, Abedi Pele, Azumah Nelson, Sarkodie, M.Anifest and many others.

 Emeline has a background in Fashion Textiles. She was named Hilary Alexander’s “Secret Seven to Watch” and nominated for the Ethical Award at Graduate Fashion Week 2012. 

During her final year in the university, she created a visual dissertation on natural hair which awakened her love for presenting and producing.

 Emeline founded M about Town, a London based Lifestyle show in 2015.  Highlights include interviewing Rosario Dawson, Ian Taylor and documenting the Ethical Fashion Forum Summit and Fashion Africa Conference 2015.

Emeline has been writing and interviewing celebrities for ThandieKay.com since early2016, concentrating mostly on inspiring individuals, she has interviewed Angela Bassett, Ade Hassan, and Zuriel Oduwole.

She has joined Alexander Amosu’s prestigious LuxAfrique and covers Art exhibitions, Luxury Travel, Restaurants and Fashion in London and internationally.

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi makes us proud to spell our name W-O-M-A-N!


Pace is better than haste - @emelinenn Click To Tweet

What things have you learned about life from being a media personality?

Everything is about great PR and image, it’s no coincidence when you see more of an artist or actor in the media, it’s all carefully curated, and nothing is random.

Your mood can really impact your work, if I have an argument with someone I care about, I can’t leave it to linger, otherwise, my day just feels dark and negative and you need to able to put on a happy face for TV.

Life can sometimes feel lonely especially when knowing who to trust, surround yourself with people who really have your best interest at heart.

 

Tell us about an interview you conducted that taught you the most?

My interview with the boxing legend Azumah Nelson. He shared that his ill wife had found out that she wouldn’t survive just before he was about to have one of the biggest fights of his life.

Although he didn’t want to fight, he felt he couldn’t cancel it as it was sold out.

It taught me that sometimes you have to put your work before your own needs but also that at the end of the day, what really matters the most is those you care about, without them life feels meaningless.

What’s the one question you wish you’d asked someone you’ve interviewed but never did?

When I meet key personalities I have an idea of what I would like to ask but if it’s not possible, I tend not to dwell on it.

The only person I wish I could have probably gone for a coffee, drink or dinner or maybe all three was Angela Bassett.

I interviewed her for ThandieKay at a beauty brand launch that she had collaborated with. When I went to sit next to her, I felt such warmth and love. We spoke skincare and American Horror Story.

 

What should every woman try at least once in her life?

Travelling alone. It gives you such self-confidence and belief in your strengths. Before visiting my cousin in the US, I spent the first 7 days alone in New York and at a Yoga ashram in Monroe.

It was both thrilling and petrifying. I’ve never relied on my senses and my gut as much as when traveling alone to various places.

Advice for aspiring media entrepreneurs?

  • Start: What can you do today that will impact your career positively?
  •  Look at how your favorite media entrepreneurs started and how can you replicate that for you?
  • Get onto casting websites such as Starnow and look for opportunities if you want to get into presenting.
  • Head to relevant networking events
  • Get onto Linkedin, build your network.
  • Hone your skills, can you do a part-time course? Check out Coursera or Masterclass

What app do you most often use?

Sleep Cycle. I’ve used it for around 983 nights as of today, I’m obsessed with my sleep and getting enough of it.

What can you not miss on TV?

I don’t watch TV at home but when I’m traveling I’ll put on the TV to see which channels are in that country and which programmes they watch.

At home, I’m more of a Netflix chick, I’m currently waiting for the new season of The 100.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

One of my uni teachers told me to slow down and remember that I have a long career ahead of me. For one project, I must have put about 5 different design ideas into one and she reminded me that if I am to have a long career ahead, then why use up all of my ideas in one go.

I want to achieve everything yesterday but actually, there is no need, pace is better than haste.

What’s the key to developing a successful personal brand?

1. Being authentic to yourself and your audience, I’m really not good at lying and then remembering that lie, so I can’t pretend to be something I’m not or will be found out. At the end of the day, there is only one you and those that like you will stick with you.

2. Knowing what you stand up for, so when opportunities arise you know if they fit.

For example, although I love red wine, I’m not a big drinker, so an alcohol brand sponsoring one of my shows wouldn’t really fit, it’s not me and I can’t stand there pretending to like something that I don’t.

3. Never sell yourself out – stand up for what you believe in, don’t be swayed easily but be flexible. Rooted in a tree but flexible like the branches.

What brings you the greatest joy?

Simple things in life, the sun, warmth, my partner, mum, brother, those close to me being happy and fulfilled.

When I see a project realized and it has impacted people positively, yoga, good smells, music, amazing food, and red wine.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me means genuine support for women, knowing that everyone has their own journey and there is enough space for everyone.

I see it over and over where women are catty towards each other but it’s so pointless and a waste of energy.

What song instantly gets you up and going?

Fabregas – Mascara – When I working as a Graphic Designer, I had many lunchtimes where I would go for a walk listening to this song to uplift my mood.

Anything by Koffi Olomide – Effrakata, Micko, Loi … it reminds me of my childhood and feeling carefree. It puts everything into perspective.

What’s next for you?

More seasons of “The Core”, starring in a film out later in the year, producing season 3 of Revealed with Bola Ray, more travel.
I have a good feeling for this year.

2018 is the year of ……?

Money, work, and sleep

I feel like this is the year to grow the finances and as women, being able to talk openly about it, being able to ask for what we are worth and then growing those finances by investing.

Work because I love what I do and want to create more entertaining but impactful content and sleep because I promised myself that I would take better care of myself this year.

Health = Wealth.


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Nomvelo Chalumbira: There are endless possibilities available to millennials now than there previously were

‘Lazy…entitled…’? Enough with the name calling!

Because some bold young ladies are challenging the way some describe millennials, and Africa is already celebrating their work!

Nomvelo Chalumbira, 23, recently graduated from Wits University where she studied journalism and is currently interning at Reuters Africa.

She is also the co-founder of Melenial Media, a digital-content platform created by two young black women, for young black women, with the aim of empowering them and supporting the great work they are doing in different spheres of society.  

What started as a blog is growing into a great media brand, and with a prestigious award already on their shelf, we thought we should get into the psyche of this aspiring media mogul, and also asked her to share some of her work with us.


What made you decide to start early, co-founding Melenial Media while still studying?

I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after university and felt that my degree had not prepared me for the job market, but I was always interested in media, and after doing a blog with my friends for a year, I wanted to start something that represented me and other black millennial women.

My passion was to be a part of the change of the media landscape in South Africa and not rely on building a career at already-established media companies.

In my third year, my current partner and I saw a huge gap in the market of voices of millennial women of color, and thus Melenial Media was founded.

There is no set path to success Click To Tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millennials have been called many (not so great) names, such as ‘the Me, Me, Me Generation”, as expressed in an article by a reputable magazine. What are your thoughts about this?

Times are very different and things are being done very differently. Many traditional industries have been disrupted and altered to suit the needs of the current generation.

For instance, the media industry is becoming more digital and fast-paced. We must all keep up with the new.

As an article in the Atlantic put it very well, “every generation has been a me, me, me generation”, so what is new?

How did you go from blogging to having an award winning media brand? What drives you as an entrepreneur?

It hasn’t been easy! Building a business has taught me discipline and perseverance, especially juggling studying full-time and doing Melenial. But, I absolutely love what I do and having the privilege to do what I love every day is a great blessing.

That has helped me get through the tough times, knowing that the reward is sweeter than the sweat. We try our best to be consistent and put out the best content.

Entrepreneurship is challenging but I have a great family support system. What’s even more exciting is being able to be a part of the advancement and empowerment of black women.

Please share some of your photojournalism work with us:

 

More Than a Barcode: Like identity, our sense of place is fluid; it changes as the place changes and as we change. One’s sense of place becomes part of their identity, and one’s identity affects the ways we define and experience a place. Therefore in the construction of identities, part of what one does is to instill place with meaning by attaching memories and experiences to the place.

 

Serene yet Strong: Mammy Setshogo fulfilling her regular duties of looking after and running a tavern household in Soweto. Here she is washing the household’s clothes and she looks serene, regal, strong and beautiful whilst doing a mundane chore.

 

 

 

How does Melenial Media aim to empower millennials and change such narratives about them?

Melenial Media showcases a diverse range of women doing great things in their respective fields. We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman.

The content you find on our site is interesting, fresh and relatable – not only to millennials but to any generation. We showcase that there is no set path to success.

Melenial Media shows that anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision.

We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman - @nomvelo_c Click To Tweet

From the work you have done so far with millennials, what potential do you think they have to make Africa even greater?

There are endless possibilities available to Millennials than there previously were. This makes the potential to do great things even greater.

With information, access, and opportunities available at our fingertips, millennials are creating their own opportunities and path.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. And that is exactly what millennials are doing. They are not afraid to take a chance and create their own realities that suit them.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. Click To Tweet

You won the ‘2016 Top Youth Culture Blog in Africa’ award in such a short space of time. What does the award mean to you and Melenial Media?

It was a humbling milestone to have reached in such a short time. It has made us realize that we are creating a sustainable business that is making a difference and contributing positively to society.

What we have created is something quite relevant in the current South African media landscape. We have started something unique, which I am extremely proud of.

...anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision. Click To Tweet

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How Africa Matters Initiative is unapologetically changing the African narrative

The Africa Matters Initiative (AMI) is a youth-led organization dedicated to creating spaces for African expression and robust dialogue by embracing our complex identities and history through online platforms, workshops, and summits rooted in ‘Afrocentricity’.

Lead by black women, AMI empowers young Africans to reject the notion that Africa is only corrupt and poor.  They are changing the narrative by re-shaping the way we look at Africa, cultivating active citizenship and leadership in all spaces.

AMI has a three-part mandate: Change the African Narrative, create platforms for critical engagement, and accountable media reporting


What inspired the start of Africa matters Initiative?

On the 7th January 2015, the world was in chaos as writers at Charlie Hebdo in Paris fell victim to a grisly terror attack.

Social media campaigns flared up with people from around the world proudly proclaiming #jesuischarlie. While this solidarity made many feel that perhaps there was some hope, after all, the global outpouring of love for Paris made the deafening silence surrounding the Baga attacks in Nigeria that was much more damning.

Days after the attacks in Paris, Boko Haram carried out a massacre in Baga, but the news cycle left it relatively unreported.

In addition to the media’s silence, too many fellow Africans also remained silent. This is because many African youths have bought into the negative notions of Africa as poor, corrupt and hopeless.

Africa has the youngest population in the world with over 200 million youth between 15-24. So what happens when the youth become despondent?

Who are its initiators and for how long has the initiative been in existence?

AMI was founded by Farai Mubaiwa and Reanne Olivier in April 2015.

Both Mubaiwa and Olivier are passionate black women who are actively changing the African narrative in their own spaces and aim to empower African youth to also make tangible change.

 

How are Africa matters beneficial and useful to young people?

Many young Africans have bought into the notion of African inferiority and Africa Matters aims to change this by facilitating the process of unlearning and learning.

Africa has the youngest population in the world (especially the female population), and for youth to be empowered and to empower the continent, we must unlearn negative notions and re-shape how we see our continent and its contributions.

What makes Africa Matters beneficial and useful,  is our aim at changing the African Narrative for Africa to Matter. We as an initiative are taking an active approach to not only creating awareness about embracing one’s identity but teaching them why and how to do so in their own uniqueness.

We are an organization that is unapologetic in grappling with difficult conversations and using these tough spaces and histories as a springboard of encouragement for African youth.

In what countries are Africa Matters Initiative present, and how can interested people become a part of the initiative?

 

AMI has a strong global reach on our social media platforms especially in over ten countries in the continent.

Many of our community members span from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, United States and the United Kingdom.

We intend on expanding our physical reach throughout the continent. For those of you are interested in forming part of our global community please feel free to apply here.

 

What platforms does Africa Matters Initiative use to fulfill its mandate?

Africa Matters uses four platforms to fulfill its mandate:

  • Online engagement through opinion pieces by Africa Matters writers or the sharing of news articles
  • Hosting summits to engage on specific topics with various crucial stakeholders
  • Presenting workshops on African leadership, feminisms, and youth empowerment
  • Giving school talks on youth empowerment and the role young people need to play in shaping Africa

Our end goal is for African youth and the diaspora to be empowered to change the narrative by actively bettering society while embracing Afrocentricity. Get involved in leading the change now.

Is the organization adopting any unique approaches to changing the narratives about Africa?

 

We try as much as possible to partner with various organizations who share similar values and visions as we do.

This is unique because it is key to our growth as African organizations as a whole, for us to recognize that there is value in collaboration. This is something often referred to as creating ‘shared-value’.

By working together, we share resources, knowledge, and networks. Africa Matters has found various strategic partnerships that have given us access spaces that we would not have gained access to without the partnership.

 

Have there been any difficulties so far with achieving the initiative’s purpose?

A difficulty that we face is not being physically accessible to our audience due to lack of funding. Over the years we have been self-sustained and to fully achieve our mandate of hosting summits, works and school talks it is important for us to conduct these platforms in person or have a full-time representative in countries to do so.

 

Please share some of the milestones you have achieved

Some of our milestones include two International Awards.  In June 2017, our founder was awarded the Queen’s Young Leader Award.

This award recognized the incredible work that Africa Matters is doing in changing the narrative. From over 3000 applications, only 60 were chosen, and the work and influence of Africa Matters were highlighted globally.

In September, we were invited to the One Young World Summit in Bogota, Columbia. We have successfully coordinated and hosted three summits, 4 workshops; attended 5 African and Global Conferences and obtained over 10,000 followers on our various social media platforms respectively.

Where can people learn more about Africa Matters Initiative?

To gain a better understanding of AMI, please watch this YouTube video. People can also learn more about Africa Matters from our various social media platforms: 

Facebook: Africa Matters

Twitter: @AfricaMatters15

Instagram: @AfricaMatters2015

LinkdIn: Africa Matters Initiative

 


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

Rinsola Abiola – Intellectual Capacity is key to career impact in politics for young women

Ms. ‘Rinsola Abiola is the SA (New Media) to the Speaker House of Representatives in Nigeria, President APC Young Women Forum (APC-YWF), Board Member – Young Women in Politics Forum (YWiPF) and a Youth Representative for the APC Board of Trustees

Her career journey in politics is one that has taken precision and determination and an example worthy for young women looking to make a change from a political platform to emulate.


The representation of women in politics and governance is dismal - @Bint_Moshood Click To Tweet

What is your career role? 

I’m a Public Relations consultant and a young woman in politics. I currently head the All Progressives Congress (APC) young women forum, a support, mentorship, and capacity building group for young women aged 18-35, who are members or supporters of the APC.

I am currently the youngest person appointed to the APC board of trustees, and one of the three youth representatives.

 

When did your career in politics begin?

My full-fledged political participation began in late 2013. Before then, I was a member of civil society, through a number of youth-focused NGO’s.

The decision to join mainstream politics was informed by a desire to be part of the process, as opposed to sitting outside of it and offering criticism. I came to the realization that a political office would enable me to do so much more, and for a larger number of people than I could as an individual.

 

What impact can women in politics bring to a nation? 

The involvement of young women through mentoring and capacity building would ensure the grooming of a new generation of women who are prepared to hold both elective and appointive positions and have a clear strategy for engagement.

 

Are there special qualifications you need to have a head start in politics?

For basic political involvement, no. But when it comes to the elective office, there are minimum requirements established by law, e.g – completing a secondary education.

For appointive positions, one would require certain skills or qualifications in order to be deemed worthy of such a position. Intellectual capacity is key and formal education provides a level of refinement which helps a great deal.

It is also important to have good communication skills – this entails knowing the right way to engage a particular type of audience, from the highly educated to the not so educated.

 

What can young women do to be taken seriously in a male-dominated field?

Same as anyone needs to do if they want to be taken seriously, have something to offer, add value, develop a good number of skills required and seize good opportunities to prove your mettle.

Be loyal, dedicated and committed to the ideals of your environment. Take a professional approach to everything and distinguish yourself.

Do not leave room for doubt, and know how to be firm without being forceful or harsh Click To Tweet

 

What roles have you held in the past and how did that help in getting you to where you are now?

I served as the founding PRO of the APYF in 2014, and some months later, as the PRO/Secretary, when the APC Young Women Forum was formed, I also served 

These roles increased my knowledge of what young people actually desire from the government. I learned communication skills and how to view time as one of my most valuable resources. Most importantly, I learned how to have a strong work ethic.

I’ve worked with a magazine brand, in a bank, I got the required certification in public relations, a profession I had always admired and set up a firm

Politics is expensive and you need resources - @Bint_Moshood Click To Tweet

 

As one of the executives of the Young Women in Politics Forum (YWIPF), how will this help in empowering other young women to pursue a career in politics?

I’m set to begin a peer mentoring programme with young women both here in Abuja and other states of the federation, which will be aligned with the objectives of YWIPF. 

Also, knowing that a Forum exists for young women with similar interests will encourage many to join, as one thing I have noticed is that some are interested but are just at a loss as to how to begin.

Siphesihle Losi: I’m a fan of exceptional service

siphesihle losi

 Siphesihle Losi  is  the 25 year old owner of ILosi Events Management. She was born in Grahamstown, a small town in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, and as a child took part in ballet and contemporary dancing, which she still enjoys today. Sipesihle volunteered on campus radio when she was in High School, studied Travel & Tourism and has worked for one of the biggest events companies in Cape Town. At only 25, she is a rising powerhouse.


I’ve always known that I have the leadership skills needed to achieve the best results in whatever I do Click To Tweet

Tell us about yourself Siphesihle; where you grew up, your schooling, what you do etc.

My name is Siphesihle Losi and I am 25 years of age. I was born and raised in a small town called Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, where I studied at local public schools and later attended Rhodes University.

During my childhood, I took part in contemporary dancing and ballet. I later did a little bit of radio at Rhodes University radio station on a voluntary basis, until 2008 when I finished matric. I then moved to Cape Town to study Travel & Tourism at Boston City Campus. I also did Fashion Design at Design Academy of Fashion.

 

What first Inspired you to create your own business?

siphesihle losiWhat inspired me to create ILosi Events Management is the fact that I’m a fan of exceptional service; and I’ve always known that I have the leadership skills needed to achieve the best results in whatever I do.

I’ve played leading roles in my community and school, and have always received compliments for my great work ethic and good communication skills from friends, colleagues and superiors.

However, I only started my company in 2013, after I resigned from one of Cape Town’s biggest event organising companies (at the time). I suddenly realised that I had a huge following of students and community people who often called to ask if I could link them up with events/promotional work.

To be honest,  I was a bit annoyed because I was jobless at the time. But one of  my friends asked me why don’t I start my own company, and I laughed at him because I didn’t have any capital, but he slowly persuaded me into starting my own business and… here we are!

 

What do you enjoy about being an event organiser?

I mostly enjoy the unpredictable aspect of the work I do, because something as simple as unexpected weather changes can call for split-second improvisation on my part to make everything work.

I also enjoy the challenges that event organising comes with, because I feel that it strengthens me to grow and become a better person and businesswoman. It’s fun to meet with different clients, companies, staff and going to different venues, the travelling, the food and amazing chefs- just everything!

 

Take us through a typical day in your life as an Events Manager and overall Motherland Mogul…

siphesihle losiA typical day in my life begins with me waking up at 5am in the morning to prepare for my morning run. I always have my cell phone on hand to check emails and the social media pages before 7am, I then relax with a refreshing bath to kick-start the day. I’ll also have lots of water and some oats before filling my mind with work.

At work, no two days are the same, as I might be sewing dresses/aprons for the staff or getting some administration work done on one day, and attending to a 6am call time the next. Whenever I have an early call time I know that I’ll have to be up at 03:30am in order to get the job done right. All my clients know me as an early bird, keeping to a particular schedule helps to keep me organised and punctual.

 

What achievements are you most proud as a business owner?

What I’m most proud of thus far is the clientele I have, besides working on South Africa’s biggest events, my clients are good people to work with, and I have the opportunity to work alongside companies that have been in business for more than ten years. To me that’s something that I pat myself on the back for.

I also have the most amazing team in Johannesburg, Durban and North West, these are the people who saw the vision and mission I had as a young entrepreneur and decided to be a part of it and grow with me.

I am most proud of the fact that I’ve made a name for myself and I’m now able to inspire other young people who admire my hustle, as I continue to push through even the hardest times.

 siphesihle losi

What obstacles have you overcome as an entrepreneur?

I tend to take things personally and I am an impatient person. So I’ve had to learn not to take everything so personally, and have learnt to resolve issues with a calm approach. Most of the obstacles I’ve had, I overcame by asking for advice, seeking information especially from people that are in the same industry as I am, and what I’ve realised is that I don’t know everything and sometimes it is okay to seek assistance.

 

What are your future plans for ILosi Events Management?

The future for ILosi Events Management is to build an empire. I most definitely want to expand my services with the team I have, so I have been looking at décor designs. I would also like to have a permanent team and hopefully host our own events in the future.

How do you balance work and personal life?

I keep work very professional, my clients stay as clients and even though my friends happen to be business owners they are in different industries. I take great pride in building the best relationships with my clients and friends.

Things flow easily for me when I separate the two, but sometimes my friends suffer when I am a bit stressed out with work and I am not as bubbly as I normally am, but I try to keep things balanced.

 

What do you do for fun, and what are your interests outside of managing events?

I love running, contemporary dancing and I recently started playing tennis. I am now based in Johannesburg, so I don’t meditate by the beach or surf anymore, but I also enjoy that too.

 

What three tips would you give someone wanting to go into events management?

*Expect to work long hours and have little sleep.

*You need to enjoy constantly being in a crowd.

*Don’t expect to have a social or personal life because your work will become your life.


Do you have any insights on how to run a successful events management company?

Let us know here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Moatshe: A PR Business Must Not Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

sharon-moatshe

From the dusty streets of Kagiso township in Gauteng, South Africa, Sharon Moatshe has  tapped into the world of entrepreneurship at a young age, and believes that she can create whatever door she wants to open. After many months of looking for a job after graduating, the solution was simple, start a business with the limited resources that she had and survive.

Currently, she is the Director and Co-founder( along with Unathi Dingiswayo) at PR House of Creatives, a motivational speaker, wife and mother.

In her words: she didn’t believe she would end up so great; but here we are. Take a walk with us in this interview as we look into Sharon’s amazing work, and how she’s helping startups thrive in South Africa.


Take us on a walk through PR House of Creatives

PR House Of Creatives was co-founded by Sharon Moatshe and Unathi Dingiswayo after a long time spent job searching, and the resultant unhappiness of not seeing the change we wanted to see in our lives for ourselves.

We were then able to identify the necessity of PR and marketing, pertaining to brand management for SME’s within our community.

 

What support systems are critical to companies like yours?

Financial backing to ensure that costs are covered for: the technology used in ensuring we deliver real-time results, keeping up with current news & trends, graphics for content. As well as for our PR travels.

Another important thing is mentorship from big PR Firms and structures. PR is not an easy industry for businesses to remain sustainable, your business many come and go because of lack of mentorship.

 

sharon-moatshe

 

What innovations have helped your business stand out from competitors?

For a previous client of ours, Distinkt Vodka, we made media kits with vodka bottles and we had packaged these in potato bags, because the primary ingredient of vodka is potatoes. We draw our inspiration from client products/ services, and conceptualise from that point.

 

What challenges have helped your company grow over the years?

We have had challenges with regards to what we charge our clients. We have had to learn that SME’s are still growing and not making much money, but ,we must still charge a price that allows us to grow and sustain our business.

 

Know your WHY, your business exists as a solution to a problem Click To Tweet

 

What values are critical for success in the PR business?

Intergrity. A PR business must not over promise and under deliver! Always be a person of your word. Execute and do your very best to match the concept you sold your client.

 

 

What is your greatest success story thus far?

Our greatest success story has to be TG Foods and Events! We started with the team in the township when they were starting out, we poured our hearts into our work with TG. After a few months of working together the team got their own shop which they cater food from in an uptown busy market! The place is big and beautiful.

The teams understands the importance of their brand, even when they keep growing they continued using our services! It’s been beautiful watching them grow from strength to strength and knowing our creative team is a part of this journey.

 

Always be a person of your word Click To Tweet

 

What’s the next step for your company? Any plans to help small businesses outside the shores of South Africa?

We would love to first help small businesses in South Africa grow and sustain that growth, then certainly the rest of Africa will have a piece of our goodness!

The first thing businesses cut-out when they sinking/struggling is marketing and PR, which is more like stopping the clock to save time. We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business.

 

We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business. Click To Tweet

 

 

One phrase that resonates with your business strategy?

Creative team of all trades and master of all!


Do you run a PR company?

Let us know more about you and your story here.