Funmilola Awosanya: Volunteering helped me become part of something big

Funmilola Awosanya has dedicated her free time to volunteering. She has over five years of experience as an insurance broker, advocate for women and girls development, and business development in the nonprofit sector. She earned a Higher National Diploma in Insurance from Lagos State Polytechnic in Nigeria.

Being the founder of an online one-stop forum, she’s trained youths on vocational skills, entrepreneurial skills, and business development, and also advocated for quality education. As the Founder of, she led entrepreneurship programs that equip young women and men on hand skills and empowered them through entrepreneurship, business, career, leadership, and advocacy.

Funmilola has volunteered as a lecturing and overseeing committee, youth advocate, an agent of change, for diverse organizations including the Young African Leadership Initiative West Africa Region, Makoko Dream Project, and Young Transformation Initiative.

Through these experiences Funmilola has developed skills in capacity building, leadership development, mentoring, community service, business development, and project planning and implementation.

In this article, she highlights how volunteering has played a big role in her career and personal growth.

When you volunteer for either small, local or international project, you change something the world. Click To Tweet

On becoming a volunteer…

I started volunteering in 2017 after joining the Yali Network Face2Face Facebook group. It all started when I began to connect with members from different parts of the world.

One day, the founder of Makoko Dream Project – Emmanuel Agunze posted a volunteering advert for people who can join him on his quest in advocating for quality education which I saw was in line with what I do. I joined his volunteering team and haven’t looked back since then.

Why volunteering is powerful…

Volunteering is a powerful tool for you to gain new skills which can be used for your academic and professional careers as it gives you the opportunity to be part of something big.

When you volunteer for either small, local or international project, you change something the world. Winston Churchill said we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.

Volunteering is powerful as it allows you to be part of a team who put smile and hope on others.

Most local and international opportunities like scholarship, conferences, summit, and others request for working experience in which volunteering is also accepted as a working experience so you can see how powerful volunteering is.

Most people acquire their working experience through volunteering.


On where and how to volunteer for a social cause…

You don’t have to be in a group before you can volunteer. Most youths are just lazy to make use of their phones to search for opportunities.

You can follow or check some certain websites to get new and current volunteering opportunities. Subscribe to their websites/ newsletters to get updates and also follow organizations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as they post most opportunities their too.


On balancing volunteering with a full-time job…

Most volunteering gigs are not full time. If you have a full-time job and the passion to volunteer, all you need to do is to identify part-time volunteering programs/ project you can get involved with, which will not affect your job.

I for one, always go for volunteering programs during the weekends and holiday time.

On impacting people through volunteering

Through volunteering have been able to make an impact in the Makoko community through the Makoko Dream Project.

Volunteering for the Makoko Dream Project has given me the chance to partake and contribute to various educational projects, Christmas party project, Medical Outreach in Makoko which has impacted over 100 children and women.

I’ve been able to make an impact also while I was volunteering as a mentor for the Young African Leadership Initiative West Africa Online Cohort 5, I was able to mentor over 2 participants intensively, encourage and motivated them in completing their various community projects and program at large.

Also, I mentored over 80 participants of the Young Transformation Initiative where I was volunteered as a facilitator.

5 things I’ve gained from volunteering…

  • Becoming part of a community of young change makers
  • Having a sense of fulfillment
  • Its opened my eyes to things happening in my community which needed extra help
  • I’ve learned new skills

 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Facebook Live with Deliwe Makata: How to run a startup while completing your studies (Sept 13)

Getting an education should not be a barrier to pursuing your dreams early in life.

Com’on, we’ve gone past that time where we had to wait for graduation to start a business, master a new skill, or even start making trips to the bank…

Deliwe Makata is a living example. Currently an undergraduate, she founded Women Inspire, an empowerment and capacity building network for young women and girls in Malawi.

Deliwe has trained over 250 Malawian girls and conducted over 50 face to face mentoring sessions with girls, about issues relating to personal development.

You can start your career or business while in school. Learn how. Click To Tweet

Join us on Wednesday, 13th September, as we host a Facebook Live Chat with Deliwe, who will be sharing her advice on starting a company and pursuing her passion while completing her studies.

Register below to have access to this opportunity.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Founding a company while in school
  • How early self-development has helped Deliwe to train young girls in Malawi
  • 3 keys to balancing your studies and side hustle

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Time: Lagos 1pm // Lilongwe 2pm // Nairobi 3pm


Watch here:

“She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Deliwe makata – Founder of Women Inspire, Malawi. How to run a startup while completing your studies. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting!”

Posted by She Leads Africa on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Watch the first part of this video on our Facebook page.

About Deliwe

Deliwe Makata is a writer, speaker, and highly ambitious leader, with aspirations of getting into international public policy-making. She is the founder and executive director of a women empowerment organization called Women Inspire.

Women Inspire is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, both locally and internationally. Through training & mentoring women and girls in the areas of education, human right advocacy, capacity building, leadership and decision-making positions.

As a speaker, Deliwe has inspired many through her motivational appearances with international organizations, such as AGE Africa.

Deliwe is also an exceptional final year student currently pursuing her undergraduate degree with the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, studying Arts in Humanities.


The SheHiveTour is back and better than ever. Scroll down to see when we’re coming to your city.

Look back at #SheHiveTour2016.

What to expect:

  • Expert led sessions that will teach you tangible business and career skills
  • Networking opportunities
  • Access to senior business leaders
  • Turn up moments and explosions of #AfricanGirlMagic

Our Joburg ladies gave us love as usual. Click on the image below to relive the fun from SheHiveJoburg (February 2017).


Our sold out SheHive Kaduna (April 2017) was an incredible experience. Check it out by clicking below.

We’re coming to Toronto July 2017 to enjoy the summer weather with you! Click the image below to join us.


Cape Town was fire!!! Reminisce on the fun from SheHive Cape Town by clicking the image below (February 2017).


Of course we have to come to Washington DC to pay homage to the city of Olivia Pope. Click the image below to join us (June 2017.


Don’t see your city on the list? Then let us know that we’re crazy for skipping your hood. Sign up below and get your entire squad to do the same. We come where our community calls.

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Not sure if you should care about attending a SheHive?

You must be crazy! But in any case, this is what you can expect from a She Leads Africa experience:

  • Fun and engaging content: We aren’t boring and strive to deliver business content in a fun and relatable way.
  • Young women like yourself looking to make an impact: Our community is full of smart and ambitious young women who want to live their best professional lives.
  • Access to real business experts: At our events we always have exceptional speakers who have been there and can show you how to do that

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Get these four mentoring elements right & reap the rewards

lucy quist

‘Get yourself a mentor!’ I bet most of you have heard this sentiment shared at one point or another during trying times in business or career. What always amazes me is the matter-of-fact way this is normally mentioned. When you get a chance to probe what precisely a mentoring relationship ought to look like, don’t be surprised to get a pair or two of blank stares. That’s the nature of buzzwords. Everyone throws them about but very few understand the process that one must follow to ensure a worthwhile mentoring relationship.

When I started my business, I was told at the first business incubation meeting that no business succeeds without mentors. I bought into this; after all business advisors who have been in the game for some time said it. What they failed to mention though is the importance of structuring the relationship in a business-like manner to make it mutually responsive for both parties. ‘If it is not structured, it’s not going to work.’

Before we get some structure, let’s define what mentorship is. In its simplest form, mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable one. With this knowledge in mind, I went looking for a mentor and my criterion was simple: ‘experienced business owner who has made strides in the business world’. But guess what? The relationship never took off and I found it a tad bit contrived.

Over the duration of my business, I have formed relationships with various mentors; some time-bound, others more regular and yet others sporadic based on need. I have also taken on mentees; some didn’t work out while others flourished. I have settled that structure makes or breaks a mentor/mentee relationship.

Structure has been credited for the turnaround of Ford Motor Company when Allan Mulally, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) saved the company from bankruptcy. A structured approach to any intervention necessitates forward thinking. Without it, one is stuck in thinking in the now. Structure implies commitment and precision. And it is these two attributes that I found lacking in my previous relationships. I have, to my great dismay, found that lack of structure tends to be the norm in such relationships. Over the last two years, I have learnt that for a mentoring relationship to succeed, four elements need to be present.

1. Approach your potential mentor thoughtfully

Check the mentors’ track record with prior mentees to ensure that they have added value to others.

It also helps to have a specific request to approach them on and go there with a proposal on how you as the mentee hope to work with the mentor.

2. Have an agreement in place

For some reason we think it’s okay to have written agreements for all other interventions but not for mentoring, which is why, in my opinion, these relationships do not work to their full potential. You need clear guidelines on time, boundaries and work plans.

I have found that when you have it documented, both parties are held accountable to keep their end of the bargain. Most importantly, this enables you (and the mentor) to review the relationship periodically.

3. Understand your mentor beyond the surface

Just as we are always advised to understand what makes our bosses tick, the same principle applies to mentors. Know what works best with them; do they prefer email communication, are they best called in the morning etc?

Know what is important to them and how having you as a mentee is an added value to them.

4. You want the relationship, take charge of it

The assumption is you wanted to have a mentor for a specific reason to ensure that you fulfill your goal. Doing so, requires you take control of the relationship.

The mentor will not run after you, you need to do the running (until you’ve proven your value). Being timid will not get you anywhere neither will aggression. The trick is in striking a healthy balance.

When you approach a mentoring relationship in the same structured way you would coaching or training, you force yourself and your mentor to put priority to the union. When your needs are clear, the mentor knows exactly how they can support you.

The best part is both parties are accountable to each other, and with accountability comes measurement of impact and that is golden!

My mentor helped me learn my worth & start my business

It was the worst of times–I was jobless, broke, and in despair. Then I met a woman who told me to own my skills and know my worth, in that order. She is now one of my amazing mentors, and an inspiration for my organization, The Fairy Godsister, Inc.

Mentorship is significant to career success and personal advancement. Mentoring is a relationship between two individuals, in which a more experienced person imparts insight, wisdom, and guidance that can be leveraged to help a less experienced person progress in their professional, personal, or academic development.

In my career, I have had an opportunity to meet wonderful women who have empowered me to accomplish great things. As such, I have always enjoyed networking as a fantastic way to expand the cache of individuals in my rolodex. But simply increasing your number of acquaintances is not enough.


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Join a Network

There are networks whose primary purpose is to help match you with a mentor that is the right fit for your goals and ambitions. Do some research, and identify a few that are of interest to you. Then, reach out!

Here’s a tip: Before you begin your search, define a few goals that you would like a mentor to help you accomplish. This exercise will enable you to quickly filter out organizations that do not provide mentors that speak to your needs.

Affiliate networks

If you already work at a company, find out if there is an affinity network for women. If so, join one or five, and engage with the members in the network. Find someone who is more senior than you, whose position you may one day like to have, and ask that individual out for coffee to discuss their experiences.

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This is an organic approach to developing an advocacy relationship with someone at your workplace.

Leverage your network

The good thing about networking is meeting people; the bad thing is not following up. To avoid the pitfalls of this, make it a goal to find one potential mentor at every opportunity where you meet people. Set relationship building as a priority and find individuals from whom you can learn.Image result I have developed relationships with individuals simply because I reached out to follow up with an email to ask for a phone call or coffee after an event or upon reading their  LinkedIn profiles. A coffee, two dinners, and a Facebook/LinkedIn later, you now have a healthy relationship with someone who you will learn from and can leverage to your advantage.

Final tip

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship, so before you reach out to someone, consider how you may be able to assist them as well. In our organization, we have found that many of the mentors report great benefits from their roles.

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They learn things about themselves through their relationships with their mentees. So, when considering finding a mentor, be prepared to be a teacher as well as a student.

In conclusion, the relationships that are built through networking opportunities are seldom maintained beyond a few follow-up emails, resulting in a wasted resource. You need to build relationships, and most importantly, identify an advocate who will become a mentor.

Yet, I know that finding the right mentor is not always easy.

In fact, studies indicate that historically, women have reported greater challenges in finding mentors than men. This has led to the development of a number of networks and programs who aim to connect women with female mentors. The Mentoring Women’s Network, and The Fairy Godsister  are two such groups.