This article is sponsored by the FCMB SheVentures proposition. FCMB SheVenturesis empowering female entrepreneurs, helping them build their businesses, and improving the overall success rate of businesses owned or run by women. Please click hereto learn more about how FCMB SheVentures can support you and your business.
We’ve seen time and time again that we are only going to be able to move forward as a community, if we all use our skills and talents to support each other.
Over the past three months, several incredible women served as mentors for the FCMB SheVentures Program. These experts shared, connected, and bonded with the fourth cohort of this mentorship program supporting women-led businesses in Nigeria.
Some of the feedback from the mentees, shows how impactful this program was to entrepreneurs across Nigeria.
To learn more about how SheVentures supports the growth and aspirations of Nigerian women in business, visit www.fcmb.com/she-ventures.
Since Covid-19, we’ve all been in search of new ways to do things from the comfort of our couches. Figuring out how to find a mentor online can be a bit challenging because successful people are usually booked and busy but it’s very doable!
When you’re looking to find a mentor online, sending a bunch of emails or LinkedIn messages requesting that they take you under their wings may not be the best way to go. If you’re looking to have someone to mentor you, they probably get tons of similar requests every day. You’ll need a strategy that helps you stand out.
Here are some hacks to help you find a mentor online and possibly a friend for life:
Find relevant people
If you haven’t already, make a list of people in your field who inspire you. You can then boil it down to 3-5 people. When you have your list, make sure you find out as much about these people as you can. To find a mentor, you can also use the LinkedIn Career Advice feature, a great tool for finding new mentors.
Make yourself visible
The next step is to make sure your LinkedIn is popping with your work experience and accomplishments. The CEO of a company is not very likely to reply to a message from an account with no bio and 5 connections. Apart from LinkedIn, you want to make sure your presence on social media is clean and reflects who you are in the best way possible.
Hit them up!
Now it’s time to send a message to your mentor. Don’t say who you are and then go on to ask for them to mentor you. What you want to do is show that you respect the work they’ve done and talk about how this has also impacted your own life, you can then go ahead to ask if they can help with a specific area of your career.
Once you do this, don’t forget to give a reasonable time for a reply, preferably a week. Make it easy for them to contact you by providing your contact information.
What can you do for them?
Don’t forget that mentors are people too so what you want to do is gain their friendship. One of the best ways to get a mentor is to build a personal connection.
Volunteer to help them with a project, help out with a cause they’re passionate about or offer to help with some research. You can even interview or write an article about them – this is a great way to get to know who they are and connect with them in the process.
Born and raised in Kigali, she blossomed into a vocal leader during her time as a student at Bugema University, where she headed multiple student organizations and worked as a teaching assistant and instructor.
I have a passion for people development, and being a mentor is a way to share my knowledge and experiences to impact another’s success. It is fulfilling and keeps my motivation high, knowing that I am touching a life by giving back.
My life has been shaped by the mentors I have met throughout my journey, and I hope to support the younger generation to go beyond their limits and change the world.
Why should mentorship be important to young African leaders?
The African continent has struggled under bad leadership, and some of the consequences are still faced by the African population.
But it has also experienced some of the most brilliant and visionary leaders, which have shed the light, banished the darkness, and brought hope for today and the future of Africa. To maintain and develop great future leaders of Africa, we need to be proactive, starting with the empowerment of our youth.
By some estimates, up to 60% of the African population is the youth, and they need to be empowered and encouraged to explore their potential and use available resources to their advantage. This will not only provide us with great leaders in the future but will also speed up the continent’s development now.
With mentorship, young leaders can learn from past experiences and success stories, and stand on the shoulders of giants to go further.
What makes a good mentor/mentee relationship?
I sum this up as the 4 C’s:
Commitment: The mentee must identify the right person for mentorship, including past experiences and areas of expertise, to ensure that the mentor is in a position to help them to achieve their goals.
Communication: The mentee should have clear goals and communicate the agenda they want to be mentored on, how often they would like to check-in, and a preferred communication line (email, Skype calls, or face-to-face meetings). This will help both mentor and mentee to schedule their regular meetings and track their progress.
Compassion: It is the responsibility of the mentor to create a positive and friendly environment for the mentee to share openly their opinions and challenges. They should check if they are meeting the set goals, and maintain objectivity throughout the course.
Care: The mentor should take ownership of the program, make sure that they listen clearly to the mentee’s needs, and use their best abilities to support their growth. The mentee should respect the mentor’s willingness to share their time, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to support and guide them towards achieving their life goals.
What do you hope for the next generation of African leaders? How can mentorship help achieve that future?
I am very optimistic about the next generation of African leaders. Having worked in multicultural settings, I have had the opportunity to interact with amazing, bright young women and men across the continent.
My peers are very ambitious and innovative, with brilliant ideas. Their aspirations for African development are incredible, and they have already made a remarkable impact in their respective communities.
I have no doubt about the great future leaders they are.
The youth are eager to learn from leaders’ experience and take up their wisdom. Mentorship will guide them and show them how to apply this knowledge to make them better future leaders.
How has your career in global health impacted your mentorship skills – and vice versa?
Global Health Corps provided me with great opportunities to interact with leaders and experts in different areas. So many willingly shared their experiences and wisdom, and they are still great resources for my success as an alumna of the program.
I am provided with guidance, encouragement, and support to achieve my goals. This experience has strengthened my passion to give back.
How have you benefited from mentorship—both as a mentor and a mentee?
Being a mentor has improved my leadership skills; my mentee looks up to me, so I have to set a good example and be the type of leader I want to see.
It has also boosted my communication skills and keeps me engaged by offering me fulfillment, seeing the impact it makes. Mentorship has broadened my network and offered me opportunities to learn from my mentees as well.
As a mentee, I grew significantly both personally and professionally. Learning from the best offered me different opportunities and extended my professional network. The leader that I am today is the result of these relationships.
What are you doing to gain a global perspective? We want to share your story! Click here to share.
In the last 5 years, I’ve built an amazing team, grown a community to more than 500,000 women across 135 countries, been featured in international media like Forbes, CNN and CNBC, generated hundreds of thousands of dollars through partnerships with global brands like Facebook, Samsung and Google, and was even invited to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange!
One thing that has helped me to successfully do all of this is goal-setting. I love setting goals at the beginning of the year because it’s a wonderful opportunity to take a break, think about what you’ve accomplished so far and where you want to go in the future.
Here are 5 ways you can set goals and achieve your goals in 2019:
1. Create a vision board
Vision Boards are the bomb.com. At the beginning of the year, my friend Edibly and I sat down and thought about what we wanted to get accomplished this year. It was hard to narrow it down but it’s been great having my goals written down and staring me in the face every single day.
2. Find an accountability partner
Find for an accountability partner or a group of like-minded people. Share your major goals for the year and what you’re looking to achieve every month.
Last year I decided to focus only on projects that were solely aligned with my passion for travel, digital and entrepreneurship. That focus and strategic positioning helped me secure great opportunities that probably wouldn’t have been available if I hadn’t taken a more targeted approach.
I had the opportunity to serve as the Host of the first ever Airbnb Africa Travel Summit in Cape Town, South Africa.
4. Plan your finance and Investments
If I don’t have it, I don’t spend it. If I have it, I want to spend less of it. If you ask me to spend money, I won’t return your calls. See how easy it is. Seriously in 2019, you need to get serious about budgeting, investing and planning.
In her book, the Smart Money Woman, Arese Ugwu breaks down financial concepts as simple lessons to help you achieve financial freedom in 2019.
5. Find a natural mentor
I’ve always found it quite awkward to go and ask a complete stranger to fill such an important role as a mentor. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them by reading their articles, listening to their speeches or by attending a class, but a mentorship can be such a personal relationship and you want to make sure your values and personality types align. Look for people in your immediate circler who could serve as a source of inspiration to you.
The SLA team has pulled together resources to help you set and achieve your goals in 2019.
She Leads Africa is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting young African women and their journey towards professional success. The organization has been featured on CNN, CNBC Africa, Black Enterprise and Fox Business and has more than 600,000 community members across Africa and the diaspora.
We often hear it said “the dream is free but the hustle is sold separately”, but what if the hustle didn’t have to be so expensive?
It has been a dream of mine to visit Lagos, Nigeria for a very long time. I am happy to share that I recently visited Lagos, Nigeria to explore opportunities that may be available for Lawgistics Legal Consultants. A legal consultancy that I run based in Johannesburg.
Nothing can replace hard work, commitment, and sacrifice in order to be successful but I want to explore other practical measures I took to make my Lagos dream come true so that you also can Cheat The Hustle.
In May 2018 I had a coffee meeting with Moyo, she was visiting Johannesburg for her brother’s graduation and a mutual friend put us in touch. She is a content creator and PR genius that is based in Lagos and we spoke about all the ways I could expand my brand.
Moyo also invited me to the Flourish Africa conference that was happening in July 2018. I previously did not know anyone in Lagos, but after 1 coffee meeting and a loose invite to Lagos, I started planning and a few weeks later I was on the ground.
Meeting Moyo helped me Cheat The Hustle because I now had a contact and she organized several meetings for me in Lagos with people in positions I could barely imagine connecting with.
The Flourish Africa conference is the brainchild of Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, who needs no further introduction and by virtue of the one person in my network, I was able to personally meet Mrs. Alakija and even appear on Channels TV station.
Build your networks to help you Cheat The Hustle and this is a 2-way street, you also have to be willing to help others in their feat to Cheat The Hustle.
Being part of the She Leads Africa community is a killer way to Cheat The Hustle because you get access to a great network of women and events around you.
When I did my research on accommodation in Lagos, the places I would have liked to stay at were out of my price range so I decided to approach South African brands that have a presence in Nigeria. The first on my list was Tsogo Sun which owns Southern Sun Ikoyi and I asked them for sponsored accommodation – to my shock and pleasure they said yes!
Working with a big partner can give you leverage so that you don’t have to hustle too much to make your dreams come true. The key is that you show them value! When you send that cold email to make your ask, study what they do and how it can tie in your message.
Brands want to work with someone that shows them Value (by understanding their value), someone who can create Visibility for their brand (this doesn’t necessarily mean you have 100k followers on Instagram but that when you tell your 1000 followers something they engage) and someone with an authentic Voice!
The value I showed to Southern Sun Ikoyi, with the help of Moyo, I was able to secure a spot on Bella Naija to invite entrepreneurs to a Cheat The Hustle Brunch. I created visibility.
I also had several meetings which I shared online to showcase the venue as Southern Sun Ikoyi has private meeting rooms that can be used for presentations, meetings, small book launches, etc.
During my time in Lagos, I had a radio interview with Tunji Andrews on Nigerian Info FM. We spoke about ways in which entrepreneurs can Cheat The Hustle because entrepreneurship is not just a passion- for me, it’s my lifestyle so I use for voice to speak on it!
How can you put these 3 V’s in place for you to partner with a big brand?
My new saying is “What you don’t have in intelligence, make up for in being organized.” If you are organized and plan well, it can make look really smart.
I learned the hard way that the yellow fever vaccine must be taken 10 days before you travel. Fortunately for me, I got my shot the day before my trip. It could have been easy to blame my travel agent or other friends who travel to West Africa for not telling me earlier- but this could have been avoided by a simple Google search.
You cannot Cheat The Hustle with a helter-skelter mentality. I am still learning this one because I suffer severely from procrastination, general disarray and doing things “on the fly”.
Being organized may not sound sexy because its so basic- but the results of an organized life are very attractive!
I swear by mentorship and currently have 3 mentors who have been fundamental to help me Cheat The Hustle. Mentorship can be so misunderstood and this affects its impact. If done right, your mentors can help you see opportunities and overcome obstacles. Mentors serve in the space of the tension between “running a business for the present and building a business for the future.”
I recently read a great article by Dr. Ola Brown, who I met at the Flourish Africa conference, where she talks about the difference between a mentor and political godfather. She also highlighted something to me- that I can help my mentors! They are human too, and still, have their own goals they want to accomplish. However, I may be able to serve as the plug for them!
In order to Cheat The Hustle, you have to hustle. What I mean by “Hustle” is – show up, commit, sacrifice, pray, believe, serve, work, pitch. Hand out those business cards and take the risks. It will be hard to Cheat The Hustle if there is no Hustle coming from you.
In February 2018 I wanted to come to Lagos but I didn’t want to pay for my air ticket. I tried to hustle by emailing every airline that flies from Johannesburg to Lagos but I was not successful.
When the opportunity came around again, I put my money up and bought my ticket on Kenyan Airways. I invested something and all the other elements came together to help me Cheat The Hustle.
In some Shark Tank and Dragons Den episodes, investors want to know how much personal funds entrepreneurs have invested in the business. This comes before they give a cent of their money. You must have skin in the game!
Ps: I absolutely loved flying Kenyan Airways, can we shout out to #AfricanExcellence! It reminded me of flying Turkish Airways, except everyone was black 🙂 I loved it! From October, Kenyan Airways will be flying non stop from Nairobi to New York. And I am here for it!
Let’s give our hard-earned coins to our African businesses as they also Cheat The Hustle!
Have you have been able to Cheat The Hustle? Click here to share your insight and experiences with us.
I recently got a professional mentor. This was not something that had been penned down in detail in my goals for the year. What had been penned down is that I need to seize opportunities that will enhance my network.
So as a true choleric, I jumped on any networking opportunity that presented itself to me. This rather abstract goal led me to join a mentorship forum for Human Resource Professionals whose goal is to provide mentoring opportunities to HR professionals through peer mentoring.
My first meeting with my mentor happened early this year. Let’s call her Alexa. To say that I was intimidated is an understatement. Alexa has achieved so much. She is a high-flying career woman, she has a C-suite job, and reports to the Board.
She is confident, she is witty and to wrap it all, she has an amazing sense of style.
Ok. Stop giggling.
I, on the other hand, have worked at my current job for eight years. I was not proud of my employer and I had been carrying this label that I work for the wrong organization.
It was for that reason that all my job applications had not been successful. So much negative vibe about my work situation.
So Alexa and I met at a beautiful restaurant and the conversation started with her telling me about herself. I wanted her job. She makes so much impact.
Isn’t that all that us millennials want, to make an impact?
Then the conversation moved to me. I told her about myself, my work situation and why I had signed up for a mentor. At the end of the meeting, Alexa told me that as part of the preparation for our next meeting, I need to identify the one thing I want to take out of our mentorship relationship once it came to an end.
It was a wonderful evening I must say.
When I got home later that night, I reflected back to my conversation with Alexa. It was like I was outside, looking into our conversation and I was deeply saddened by the picture that emerged. I started my career so positive, so energetic and with an attitude of I can handle whatever comes my way.
Eight years later, to sitting across my mentor, I had changed to this negative person who felt like she had no power.
This realization coupled with Alexa’s assignment on my expected outcome from the professional mentorship forced me to take a long hard painful look at myself. That was the only way I could change the narrative.
I must say that it was not easy. I took some time out to reflect on my life and I realized that it was no longer clear to me what my vision was professional.
The Bible says that my people perish because of a lack of vision. How true this is. If you do not know where you are going, anywhere is good enough. But anywhere is not good enough for me.
I want to live a life of purpose and a life of meaning and my career plays a huge part towards that. Pema Chödrön in his book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, says “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”
Self-reflection is hard. Self-reflection is painful. But self-reflection is necessary for you to scale to the next level of your career.
Do I now know what my vision for my professional life is? Yes.
Do I have a plan of how to achieve it? Yes.
It involves stepping out of my comfort zone by seeking opportunities that will make use of skills that I possess. Indeed, writing this article is stepping out for me. And so for my next meeting with Alexa, I know precisely what I want out of the professional mentorship I am being offered.
In the words of Denzel Washington, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influence in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
Fellow female professionals, do you want to scale the career ladder? My advice, get a mentor.
Usually, great stories of Tech and Startups in Nigeria are set in Lagos, and that has been so for a while until the CEO and Co-Founder of Innovation growth Hub, Daniel Chinagozi decided to change the narrative.
With that decision, InnovationGrowth Hub otherwise known as IGHub began its baby steps in 2015 by facilitating and enhancing an ecosystem for Tech and Business enthusiasts in its home state; Abia State.
IGHub is dedicated to startups at various stages of maturing by providing Mentorship, Co-Working Space, Event Space, Business Support Services, Warm Community and Network for Entrepreneurs in order to increase the success rate of fresh startups within the region.
In light of that, IGHub has been hosting and organizing Startup Weekends in Aba and Umuahia since 2015 till present.
StartUp Weekends are the brainchild of TechStars Foundation, where anyone such as Tech and Business Enthusiasts pitch their ideas, form a team and create a Startup all within 54 hours.
About 600 people have taken part in the 6 Startup weekends IGHUb has hosted so far; sparking a desire within a lot of people in the region to execute their problem-solving ideas and teams immediately.
This year, the winning team at the Startup Weekend – Women Abia Emergency, a Healthcare Emergency solution went on to virtually pitch at the finals in Paris and are currently pivoting on the model and set to launch soon.
IGHub has stayed true to the model of Hubs, which involves clusters and ecosystems for similarly-minded individuals. In recent times, the presence of the hub has given enthusiasts assurance on where to get consulting for any of their ideas.
Providing solutions such as Digital Marketing, Web Development, and Android Development in form of training and rendered services, Abia and South East, in general, is gradually transforming to its version of Silicon Valley with tiny bursts of innovation sprouting from bright ideas.
Interestingly, the number of Developers have increased since IGHub began operation with the majority of them admitting the presence of the Hub and the possibilities it opened them to inspired them to take on that path.
Bearing in mind the importance of building transgenerational businesses, IGHub has held Basic Entrepreneurship Development Courses (BEDC) which are centered on equipping Individuals with relevant skills for building World Class Brands from their ideas.
Going further on this initiative, IGHUb is set to begin an Incubation program by the third quarter of 2018 featuring three startups from the just concluded 2018 Abia Hackathon. The 12-weeks incubation program will provide Startup Teams with Business Development Training, Mentoring and Seed Funding to prepare them for the journey ahead.
IGHub has embraced Social Media for broadcasting latest activities and opportunities among its ever-expanding community. It also relies on local media for its Tech Evangelism as it runs a regular radio program on Magic FM in Aba. This channel has served in converting the older demographic into believers of the Innovation Journey.
Due to the nature of the clime and seeing a need for supporting Business that are not Tech-based but require tech services; IGHub has also started providing Technical support and Web Development Services to these Businesses in order to position them for Global advancement. Slowly but surely, IGHub is driving economic growth and competitiveness in South East of Nigeria.
Located at the 5th Floor of the second tallest building in Aba, IGHub is set to continually ignite Tech and Business Success Stories in South East and Nigeria in general.
Meet Babalwa Fatyi the South African Environmental Scientist who is a wife, mother, poet, author. She is also the managing director for Myezo Environmental Management Services Consulting company, Myezo growth and development institute, and co-owner of the ZenQ fashion line.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution towards the development of the economy, Babalwa has been awarded various accolades.
She won the Standard Bank 2016 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, and in 2016, she won the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Award.
What factors have helped you achieve as much as you have?
The biggest factor that has contributed towards my success is not contradicting who I am. I aim to produce outputs that are authentic. My outputs should be aligned with my inner being and bring me peace.
To ensure this, I’ve made sure that I understand my purpose and that I align my goals with that purpose. That way when I’m faced with challenges, I am strengthened by focusing on my purpose which God revealed to me. Therefore, when I feel out of tune with what I need to do, I talk to friends and to God. They remind me of purpose and keep me on track.
Secondly, I am driven by serving others. I see my gifts and talents as a means to achieve greatness.
You wear many hats, tell us your secret ingredient for achieving it all.
The things that I do revolve around my core and serve my purpose. My responsibility revolves around showing gratitude and taking care of the environment that has been entrusted unto us. Poetry allows me to respect and feed my soul, by nourishing it.
My ZenQ clothing line in an expression of my artistic creativity through clothes. I believe clothes can reflect the essence of who we are. They can show how we feel as well as how we wish to be viewed.
All these different things are just a tangible expression of who I am. My gifts and talents, which are given to me, to fulfill my role as an environmental ambassador and a steward. So I do not wear many hats but I wear one hat: I wear me.
What led you publishing your poetry book “Greetings from My Core”?
Poetry to me is an expression of who I am and a conduit through which I could find my voice and reach out to others and request them to engage with me on some of the matters that affect our society.
Through poetry, I could share my authenticity, experiences and love my surroundings, including its beautiful diverse people I encounter, who inspire me or bring life to those experiences.
This enables me to be more conscious and is also an opportunity for me to give reverence to God.
What can you tell us about your company – Myezo Environmental Management Services consulting?
At Myezo, we seek to serve the environment, communities, and developers through guidance on how to best take care of the land we have. We help developers with regulations and assessing the impact of developments on both the land and the communities.
Through our work, we learn’t that our solutions must be tested by our clients who are our partners. As respect, empathy and listening to others are key in what we do, we must incorporate all the diverse views we face.
How has Myezo developed in terms of creating jobs?
Our greatest strength is our heart for youth and solidarity to the challenges our country face in terms of unemployment and poverty alleviation. We aim to bring to life the National Development Plan goals by playing a role within our areas of influence and capacity.
Through providing a platform, we’ve helped youth penetrate into the job market and therefore provided them with the needed resources to improve their lives and their families.
The youth were not only exposed to scientific knowledge but also to self-awareness, project management, and organizational skills among others.
What does the Myezo Growth and Development Institute do?
At this institute, we do coaching and mentoring through our collaborations with some universities. We contribute to ensuring that there are no wide gaps between what is taught at schools and what industries expect from graduates.
Our other collaborations with other organizations include projects such as the Princess D Menstrual Cup. Through this, we hope to put girls back to school and not miss out on learning due to natural biological processes.
This is aligned with our environmental stewardship role as this cup reduces the sanitary pads that go to the landfill or medical waste disposal sites.
Finally, together with the Tsogang Re Direng Youth Foundation, we empower girls with career selection decisions and also help connect them to skills development opportunities. These include skills such as events management of vintage recycling where they learn practical environment-friendly skills that generate income.
What do you do to relax?
I’m a very outdoor kind of person. So for fun, I take walks at the nature reserves around my neighborhood. This helps me find peace and tranquility in just giving my self-time to be alone at times and just recharge.
I also believe in being spiritually fed and therefore fellowship with other believers. Other than this, I spend time with my husband, family, friends. Listening to the sound of my kid’s laughter and running around brings joy to my life.
Around the world, women make 75 percent of the health workforce and continue to be the primary caretakers in communities and families. They also experience heightened health risks.
This is thanks to persistent gender-based violence and stigma that prevents access to preventive care and treatment. Despite these realities, women occupy fewer than 25 percent of leadership roles in the health sector.
Adanna Chukwuma, Karen Maniraho, and Favorite Iradukunda are slaying the game when it comes to demonstrating that young women of African descent can lead – and are leading – the global health equity movement.
As Global Health Corps (GHC) alumni, these ladies are committed to playing their part in realizing health as a human right for all.
GHC’s Brittany Cesarini caught up with these ladies to learn about how they’re crafting their own unique leadership journeys. And how they are disrupting the status quo in global health leadership along the way.
Why do you think we need more women leaders in global health?
Adanna: There is overwhelming evidence that diversity of team membership and leadership promotes creativity and productivity in teams. Therefore, increasing the proportion of female leaders in global health will increase our effectiveness at addressing the pressing health problems we face.
One can also make an ethical argument. We know that bias partly shapes the gaps between male-female representation in leadership. This bias does not always reflect performance. It may be a matter of discomfort with the idea of women in leadership. This is a wrong that must be righted.
Karen: Health and who has access to it will always be a discussion of power. Without women in positions of power, we cannot tackle the systemic inequalities that affect women and our communities.
Favorite: I think this is a matter of logic and holding true to what we believe. If global health values equity, equality, and social justice, if we are advocating for these values for other people. Doesn’t it make sense to start at home?
Where is equality and justice, when women make up to 75% of the healthcare workforce but occupy less than 25% of the leadership positions?
Adanna: In one session at the conference, Laurie Garrett and Agnes Binagwaho shared personal stories about the bias they encountered and overcame to excel in their careers. Their conversation stuck with me because of the understanding that excellence can be female, and it can be black African.
A paraphrased version of my favorite quote, uttered by Laurie Garrett, is:
Karen: It was quite inspiring to hear Dr. Afaf Meleis talk about the ways “women are vulnerable and at risk in their productive and reproductive lives.”
There was also a panel titled “How to Become a Change Agent in Global Health” moderated by Donna Shalala. It featuring Ambassador Deborah Birx, Patricia Garcia, and Vanessa Kerry, among others.
They all so candidly discussed successes and the importance of failures in their global health journeys in refreshingly honest ways.
Favorite: Dr. Afaf Meleis brought up the issue of missing nurses. Nurses are continuously under-represented in global health leadership. They have also missed out on discussions meaningful to the advancement of healthcare, yet we all know that nurses are the backbone of healthcare.
What advice can you give young women aspiring to have leadership roles in global health and to those supporting them?
Adanna: We can start where we are to influence the gender imbalance in global health in the right direction by challenging ourselves to take risks and more responsibility in our careers.
Karen: 1. Mentoring at least one girl will help change the status of women in leadership today. Secondly, don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, failure is something we should celebrate. 3. Don’t “lean in” if it’s only to replicate male models.
Our work as women leaders can’t simply be about breaking the glass ceiling. Rather, it must be about rebuilding the whole building so that its doors are open to all.
Favorite: We have a lot of female leaders in global health, yet they are not considered as leaders because we measure their leadership abilities against a biased definition of leadership.
We need to redefine leadership and not be intimidated by all the biased definitions out there. We need to realize that women are not just leaders but also innovators.
How are you committing to investing in your own professional development as a young leader in global health?
Adanna: I recently joined a Lean In Circle primarily so that I can be intentional about confronting my fears, taking career risks, and developing strategies for dealing with bias.
Karen: After my Global Health Corps fellowship in Burundi, that I realized elevating underrepresented voices through storytelling had a key role in amplifying health conversations. Also, reconnecting with my homeland and working with people taught me innovative ways of communicating health and social needs.
Favorite: I have always considered professional growth as a result of receiving and giving. receiving 2. giving. My mentors’ help in achieving my goals is part of the receiving.
With regards to giving, I have invested in younger women. However, I need to redefine my mentorship strategies to be more intentional with clear expectations and deliverables on both sides.
On Paper, Alice Gathekia is the perfect match for any legal department in corporations. She has worked for the Law Society of Kenya and with COMESA Court of Justice.
However, despite her consistent efforts dropping her application in town, she remains unemployed. She founded Kenya Youth Professionals with fellow youths that were facing the same plight in an effort to fight for better employment for young people.
Why does the youth need to step up now?
“Our government had promised about 30% of employment slots to youths in their campaign manifesto. This includes formal employment or tender allocation. It is time we held them to their promises.” She says.
Alice is the deputy director of Kenya Youth Professionals (KYP) and has petitioned the members of National Assembly on the issues that plague the youth in general when seeking employment.
This includes a reduction in experience in the job descriptions put out to give the youth a chance. She is also keen on getting a youth-friendly Principle Secretary in the Youth Docket to deal with Youth Affairs, and reduce the amount of government certification is needed prior to an interview.
When asked the major issues that have inhibited youths from getting jobs, she says without hesitation that the absence of generational change is a major cause. It has impeded the youth from accessing opportunities ideally designed for them.
The advanced retirement age and the scarcity of jobs leave the incoming youth out of the employment slots given that there are genuinely no jobs to go for. The lack of mentorship has also led to the degradation of the employment scene.
This scarcity accelerates corruption as well, which, to be honest, is really a buzzkill in Africa’s economy.
Alice described the Kenyan youth as innovative, creative, and hard working. To her, it is really wrong that there is an unfair distribution of jobs despite the qualifications. She believes that it is time young people fight for their space in the political, economic and social world.
She believes that once given the chance, the youth is equal to the task of leadership. After all, young people have more to lose in the future if they make wrong decisions.
This motivates Alice to spend her time petitioning the government institutions to fight against the odds that are stacked against the Kenyan Youth.
What are the challenges she encounters?
Some of the challenges she and her team face includes the politicising of the agenda. Some rival groups and ill-willed people often accuse the group of having a political ‘Big brother’.
This is a conditioning of the political mindset where people fail to realize that young people can fight as well as wage wars against systems set in place discriminate against the youth. This campaign aims at ensuring that the youth catch up from previous injustices visited upon them.
For her, this is a lifetime mission not only in Kenya but also in Africa in general. It is time for the youth to participate in making decisions that will benefit them in their future rather than a span of short time.
This does not need to be the grandest action and a simple start can go a long way. It is time for the youth to step up and take their rightful place. KYP stands by their motto: “Nothing for us without us”.
A normal day for Alice
Alice wakes up about 6 am, and her morning routine often involves putting herself together (which includes makeup because…why not).
She travels to the city, and depending on the day, spends several hours in meetings discussing the issues that surround youth employment and how to resolve them.
Alice intends to globalize this movement, which, to her and the rest of us, is a few years late.