Fact checks. Do you know that in Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% to the National GDP? They also account for 96% of businesses in the country, as well 84% of employment. You would think with these numbers we would have more small businesses thriving, but the reverse (sigh) is the case.
Apart from lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses grow, Small businesses are also challenged with making strategic decisions due to a lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business. Stuff like keeping records of your goods and services, managing your payroll and the people who work for you, making payments, and staying tax compliant are all things we need to stay on top of.
Now imagine having a platform that helps you store necessary business data, calculate the necessary payments, invoices, taxes, and provides you information and insights at your fingertips? Using technology and data, this is designed so you can make better-informed decisions on how you can create great customer experiences, motivate your team, and manage and optimize your stock of products or services.
We know these things matter to you, so let us tell you about Sparkle and their recently launched digital business management solution called Sparkle Business. Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sparkle MFB is a digital bank, a lifestyle and financial ecosystem providing seamless solutions to individuals and SMEs by leveraging on technology and data. Sparkle is founded upon the values of trust, transparency, freedom, inclusivity, simplicity, and personalization. Sparkle is also deliberately focused on female-owned businesses and how Sparkle Business can provide necessary solutions for them to scale.
Sparkle Business is way more than your regular business account. With small businesses in mind, now you can easily manage tasks like payroll management, tax management, inventory and invoicing, customer management, and much more, all taking place in the Sparkle app.
So, what does this mean for you as a small business owner? You can know and manage all your customers. Avoid miscounts and stock loss. File tax deductions for your business and staff at the click of a button. Send invoices from the comfort of the Sparkle app, with the freedom to do much more.
Interested like we are? Click IOS or Android to download the Sparkle app with the Sparkle Business update. Do not forget to share your experience with Sparkle Business with us and other small business owners. When you win, we all win. Keep leading!
Not everyone owns up to their purpose especially when it takes you from one continent to another. Ugochi left the United States to pursue purpose in Nigeria.
Ugochi is the founder of Reliance Clinics. She’ll be sharing insights into her life as a medical practitioner, health tips, the numerous challenges she faced and how she was able to overcome them.
Who is Ugochi Nwosu?
I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I was 7 before my family immigrated to the United States. That was where I did all my schooling. After my undergraduate degree, I did my residency training in the States also until I returned back to Nigeria in 2019. This kick-started my goal to start a business that provided quality private healthcare services.
What are you passionate about?
Healthcare! I really want to live in a world where everyone has full access to adequate healthcare. In Nigeria, the rate at which people in their early 40s and 50s die is really alarming. All of these can be avoided.
I just want to help people live healthy and productive lives where they get to see their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Although this would be beautiful, it’s not easy. If people want to live till their late 80s, it starts from now. So, I want to keep educating people about this.
What ignited the spark to start Reliance Clinics?
For me, the inclination to work in healthcare came since my undergraduate studies. I learnt about the possible challenges, the requirements and mapped out the areas to make an impact. It was important to be properly grounded in what I was planning to do to avoid making any silly mistakes.
I also worked with a whole lot of NGOs to ensure I had a feel of what I was about getting myself into. I didn’t really plan to start a business for myself. The decision to do that came after I kept searching for an NGO to work with but couldn’t find any at that point. This made me start looking for other possible opportunities.
During my residency training, I met people who were interested in digital healthcare services and connected with them. They encourage me to just do what I need to do because no one makes actual change by talking and observing. It was great for me because I didn’t see myself as someone that could take up that level of responsibility upon myself. The plan had always been to work for someone who was already doing the things I needed to do. That’s basically how the business came alive.
How was the startup phase of your business?
I’m not going to deny the fact that everything was new to me. Firstly, we had to scout for a suitable location, then we had to figure out a way to get supplies for the clinic and basically test these supplies yourself because everything had to be reliable 100%.
For funding, I met the founders of a health insurance company during my residency training so things sort of worked out for me in the sense that they needed a trusted clinic that they could send patients to so they kind of gave me the initial funding for the clinic.
What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?
One major challenge has been hiring and training staff. For those in healthcare, the quality of services offered has to be nothing but excellent. Most times, doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc expect some things to be done in some certain way based on what they’ve seen before or something which might not necessarily be the right thing.
When you tell this category of people that there’s a standard that should be met and we’re not going to overlook that standard just because we’re operating in Nigeria, it turns into a situation where it feels like you’re telling them that they’re not properly trained or something so that was a major challenge for me.
Another challenge we had, in the beginning, was dealing with patients and staff who were used to things being done in certain ways and then we do them in totally different ways. For instance, most patients that come to our clinic are used to being given so many drugs even for not so serious cases. When we give them just 1-2 drugs, they feel like we’re not treating them the right way or we don’t really care about their wellbeing which is why we’re given them little amounts of drugs and that’s not the situation at all.
What have you learned so far from running this business?
When it comes to hiring, you have to ensure that those people actually have the skills they claim to possess. It’s mandatory that you do. I’ve learnt over time that you have to be very intentional when deciding who to bring on board, how to evaluate their skills and how to train them so that from day 1, they can actually deliver.
Ugochi is a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Your goals are the key to success in your career or your business. As you get closer to achieving your goals, the chances of truly finding yourself increase immensely because you’re constantly breaking barriers and getting to know who you truly are.
“My goals define who I am!” Ayomiposi isn’t taking chances when it comes to achieving the impossible. She’s the founder of IdeaBud and is breaking boundaries in her business.
Who is Ayomiposi Ogunti?
I’ve lived in Lagos almost all my life till I went to the University Of Ilorin for my tertiary education. Before I started Ideabud, I had worked with two management consulting firms as a research analyst and a team lead for performance monitoring and evaluation. I did this for a while before deciding to start my own business.
I’m really passionate about people’s development as regards their careers and personal growth. I’m also passionate about entrepreneurship and creativity. One thing about me is I get excited about new things. It could even be something old that’s done in a new and refreshing way.
What ignited the spark to start IdeaBud?
Deep down, I always wanted to help people bring their ideas to life. No matter how scary or tasking those ideas are. I just enjoy helping people out with whatever it could be. People would always say, “Ayomiposi has the answers!”
After numerous conversations with top executives, colleagues, friends and the likes, I discovered that most people had brilliant ideas but couldn’t bring it to life. They were always stuck at the implementation stage. I saw a void and decided to fill it.
The heart of IDEABUD is passion. Let’s track back a little since I started working with corporate organizations, I had always wanted to see people excel in their respective fields and businesses. Not everyone has the luxury of time to monitor a project from the startup phase until it gains ground and becomes something spectacular. This is where my passion comes in.
What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?
Most businesses that operate in the field of consultation experience a very similar challenge which is getting clients. Without clients, a business cannot operate. You can discuss with clients over and over only for them to change their mind when you think the project is 95% ready to kick off.
Another challenge I’ve faced is how to create content to drive IDEABUD. This might appear like a minor issue but it was a major stumbling block. The thing with consulting is you have to be careful how you project your content to your audience because it tends to become technical rather than relatable.
It got to the point where I needed to take a step back and reevaluate the situation of my business and map out ways I could reach out to people better. It was during this evaluation stage I came across a guide from SheLeadsAfrica’s Facebook page about storytelling. It really helped me in so many ways.
These challenges have helped Ideabud become a business that people can actually relate to. It put us on a path to being the best at what we do.
What have you learned so far from running this business?
I learnt at the early stage that establishing a standard operating procedure goes a really long way. This procedure has served as a guideline for me when dealing with clients, because, before then, I just dealt with clients as the spirit led. It really messed up a whole lot of things for me and the client. So, you should always have a standard operating procedure that helps you identify what needs to be done at specific points in time.
Ayomiposiis a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram and LinkedIn.
This is the last part of “Inside Global Citizen”, a limited series. We pull back the curtain and highlight members of Global Citizen staff who are key parts of the organization’s advocacy, impact, and more. Be part of our community of outstanding women by joining today.
Didi Morake had a lucrative career in the corporate banking industry. After completing her Masters in Strategic Marketing from the Wits Business School, Didi landed a position working as the Customer Value Proposition Designer for Youth at ABSA Bank.
Didi’s position at ABSA allowed her to pursue her passion for helping the youth. However, when she heard about Global Citizen, she saw a whole new world of possibilities for making a difference.
Resonating deeply with the organization’s goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, Didi took the leap and left the corporate world. Didi Morake now works as the Senior Manager for Strategic Partnerships where she spearheads the Global Citizen Fellowship Program powered by BeyGOOD.
Morake believes that she is now doing the work she was always meant to do.
“Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a doctor. I was always that one friend that was there for others – to pick them up when they fell. I thought being a pediatrician was befitting to me and my personality. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that it wasn’t about the title, it was about the purpose – which I had at heart – helping young people.” — Didi Morake
On Creating Sustainable Programs to Tackle Unemployment
Unemployment in South Africa is staggeringly high, especially among young people. According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 from 29.1% in the previous period. It was the highest jobless rate on record since quarterly data became available in 2008.
Whilst this might seem like a crippling challenge to some, Didi and her team are doing something about it. “Young people are the future, and with the right access to skills and training opportunities, everyone can achieve their full potential. This is exactly why the Global Citizen Fellowship powered by BeyGOOD exists,” says Morake.
By working together through the fellowship program, the partnership offers young people an opportunity of a lifetime. Designed to empower young people with work experience, the program is not only supporting the vision of a South Africa that nurtures its youth.
The Global Citizen Fellowship is also equipping young people with the skills they need to play a role in social justice, helping their communities achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and amplifying causes that they believe in.
Take how the program is structured for example. It has multiple phases designed to offer each of the 10 fellows a fully immersive experience. The program covers subjects such as leadership, advocacy, international development, and global citizenship.
“Fellows will also have the opportunity to take part in a series of masterclasses given by industry leaders. The program also features educational field trips designed to help fellows develop into value-centred, community-driven leaders,” Didi added.
Didi added,“The past cohort were learning about using digital technology to drive social change; how storytelling can help spark cultural shifts; and the role of innovation in an ever-changing world.”
“ I think our youth are really passionate, and they’re very hungry to be heard, especially the females. What I pray for is that they keep that consistency to ensure that when they get to the top, they are bringing in other sisters into the workforce.” — Didi Morake
Cathy From Limpopo: A Rewarding Success Story
“I remember Cathy from Limpopo, who has her blog called Millennial Mirror, a platform born out of the need to create a space for young people to share their experiences. She came in with a very analytical brain since she had a background in Mathematics and Information Systems. It was so beautiful to see her discover her creative side by the end of the fellowship and become more in touch with it.”
“Now Cathy hopes to one day be able to use technology to find solutions for society’s pressing issues and tackle injustices,” Morake added. This is Didi’s why — helping young people reach their full potential. This success story is one example in which Didi finds her work rewarding and helping her fulfil her purpose.
Thrive: Didi’s Call to Women in 2020
2020 has been an especially tough year in youth development and employment for women. While the situation is not all grim, Didi comments that in her work, she continues to find herself asking one major question — ‘where are the women?’
According to Didi, there are a lot of spaces women still need to occupy.This is why Didi’s mandate to all women this year is — thrive.
“Thrive in what it is that keeps you up at night. Thrive in your personal and spiritual relationships. Awaken to who you are and unleash your potential.” — Didi Morake
Ifeoma Okoli is an Audit Analyst with a degree in Economics and Statistics. She has a Diploma with the Association of Charted Accountants.
Ifeoma is also known to be a driven and enthusiastic Financial Analyst. In this article, she provides her tips on how women can effectively manage their money.
The finance world is typically a male-dominated industry. What led you on to the path?
I think the notion of the finance industry is typically a male-dominated industry was all in retrospect. Nowadays, especially in Nigeria, more women have begun to demand a seat at the table in this industry.
On what led me to this path, I think one of my first inspiration career-wise was my dad. He too worked in this industry and I loved number crunching.
However, one of the things that helped me was that my father insisted I do a lot of unpaid internships during my secondary school holidays. That gave me an early start to understanding the nitty-gritty of the industry.
How would you describe your day-to-day responsibilities as an Audit Analyst for your company?
I look at my role as more of control and compliance (Risk Mitigation), working constructively with finance and other departments to improve internal control across the organization.
How would you advise more women to become more financially literate?
First of all, to be financially literate does not mean you have to study finance in school.
In fact, studies have shown that most people whose job is to manage other peoples finance are actually very bad at managing their own personal finances.
With that being said, some of my advice to women is below:
You don’t need a glucose guardian to be rich. Get a job and work towards increasing your net worth.
There is dignity in labour and financial independence is one of the best gifts you as a woman can give yourself.
This may sound very cliche but create a budget tracker. This would help you to know how much you should spend, how much you have spent in a month, variances and mechanical ways to save up from bargains.
Whenever you are free, listen to financial podcasts. It will help improve your financial knowledge, plus if you have a side hustle, the podcast will teach you how to scale your business faster while learning from the mistakes of other entrepreneurs.
To check out some of my favorite podcasts, click this link .
How can the modern young working women budget and save effectively to cater to all her needs?
Most career women who are salary earners oftentimes earn way less than their male counterparts at the same level. Yet most times are the ones doing more of the smart work.
So as a young lady, be diligent and find out if you are long overdue for a salary increase. Arm yourself with facts and go forward to renegotiate your salary.
To be able to cater to all your needs means you have to increase your income and to increase income means you have to increase the money coming from your revenue-generating unit(s)
Like I said before, use a budget tracker it would save you a lot of headaches.
Have at least three bank accounts. One should be your expense account, one your revenue accounts and the last should be your savings account.
Do not spend directly from your revenue account. Separating your account would also help you track your inflow and outflows.
Try as much as possible to save up 40% of your monthly income especially if you are still single and have fewer responsibilities. Saving for rainy days cannot be overemphasized.
20% of your six months income should be able to take you on a holiday trip. If not, it simply means the trip is a way too much above your budget and you are balling above your budget. Find a cheaper option. Trust me, you can have an amazing holiday on a budget.
Apps like Piggy vest are there to help you cater to your personal savings and investment.
Finally, one which most of us ignore. Always negotiate for your pension and health insurance in all your places of employment. Your pension may seem minuscule right now but it compounds and would eventually help to reduce the financial burden when you are old and frail.
Are there useful tools or apps that can support women in dealing with their finances?
Yes, there are. Apps like Expensify, Fudget even Google sheet can help you with planning and managing your finance
What is one thing that you want more women to be aware of when it comes to managing money?
Catherine Lesetedi is a graduate of Statistics from the University of Botswana. She has built a career in the insurance industry since she joined it in 1992. Currently, Catherine is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL).
She has built her career from scratch, and over the years, she has been adamant that adopting a flexible style of leadership is beneficial for leading an organization and getting the best out of her team.
Her career so far…
Looking at Lesetedi’s career, nothing about her story and her leadership principles and philosophies are ‘textbook’. Her style of leadership is pliable and acrobatic. It lends itself to whatever situation she and her team are in.
She’s extremely driven, open and open-minded, preferring to lead from behind, pushing her team forward, encouraging their gifts and honoring their intellect, allowing them to innovate, to grow and give to the business what she cannot.
Catherine maximizes on their strengths and makes sure that wherever there are gaps, there are people who are passionate, willing and able to execute and fill them.
Her journey there…
There is nothing predictable about Catherine Lesetedi. Even her choice of Statistics as a field to study at the University of Botswana (UB) was a bit of a wild card, even for her.
She describes it saying, “when we were making choices about what to study at varsity, we didn’t really know much about careers, to be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about Statistics until I got to the Department of Student Placement at the Ministry of Education.”
“I was late; my father and I had run out of fuel. By the time we arrived, I was out of breath, and I had forgotten my initial course choices. My brother, who I really admired, had studied Public Administration and Political Science, and that’s what I wanted.”
“They said that that weird combination didn’t exist, and told me that I was going to do Statistics and Demography.”
“If you think something is difficult, it becomes really difficult. If you think you can do it, sometimes you even surprise yourself.” – Catherine Lesetedi, CEO, BIHL Group
Her life experiences…
She studied Statistics at the University of Botswana, and even though her journey into that field was incidental, once there, she made the best of her situation, excelled and gleaned many things that she took forward with her into the rest of her life.
Certain experiences and her mindset set the stage for her early career and propelled her forward.
According to her, “in terms of decision-making, logical thinking, the confidence, and aptitude to learn; the program grounded me.”
“I may not use the formulas every day, but there are skills that I gained that I apply on a daily basis, even if I don’t recognize that ‘this is Statistics.”
The mathematical element empowered her to be able to engage with budgets and numbers, and not shy away from that aspect of whichever job she did.
Her philosophies for life…
All of the disciplines in the world are interrelated, so having a good understanding of what is going on across the board is beneficial for one; especially if a young woman wants to build herself up and build her career.
This is something she practices herself because, throughout the course of her career, she has gradually improved upon her leadership skills, attending leadership courses and taking on the responsibility of self-improvement.
Doing this has encouraged her to take a deeper look at herself; what drives her and pushes her beyond her own limitations. This outlook has put her in good stead as a leader, as someone who encourages others, ensuring that they are able to get the best out of what they need to do.
As a mentor, both personally and professionally, the story that she tells, the example that she sets, is one of “show up and do your best.”
Ms. Lesetedi is big on recognizing talent and putting it to good use within the BIHL Group. These are some of the elements that make her up as a woman, as a leader, and these are some of the things that she has imparted to her mentees.
Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.
Summer or no summer, you MUST live your best life.
You are a boss and keeping up with the trends in the digital world is the major key!
You must have come across the term Hot girl summer over the past month. If you’re not sure what everyone is on about, we’re serving you the tea in this article.
What is #HotGirlSummer???
The phrase #Hotgirlsummer was coined by American rapper, Meghan Thee Stallion. She used the term to tell women (and men) to be unapologetically themselves and fiercely go after their dreams and goals.
It simply means that summer or no summer, you MUST live your best life.
The term first appeared on Twitter after one of her fans posted a photo with the caption “I hear it’s a #HotGirlSummer”. Since then, the term has since caught on like bush fire.
Men and Women around the world are now posting fun and happy photos of themselves on social media with the same caption. The phrase represents women living out their best lives at their own terms, to make it the best thing to ever happen to them.
If you are looking to have your own Hot Girl Summer season like the Motherland Mogul that you are, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Review and Define Your Goals
In order to live life unapologetically, there must be a goal or vision that you are looking to achieve.
It is important that you have a vision of where you are going and come up with a plan of how you will get there. This may involve improving your current skill set or going back to school.
In most cases than not, it will take time to get to your dream job/businesses/bosses and/or clientele.
While you are building towards your goals and dreams, it is essential that you grab every crucial opportunity that comes by. The journey to achieving your dreams is a culmination of all the work and effort that you are putting in now.
Use your current position to build a richer network as this will make your journey much easier.
To achieve anything in life, you must be willing to put in the effort and work required to get where you want to be.
It is also important to ensure that your voice is heard in meetings and in boardrooms. As you put in the work and effort, it is also very important that you are taking credit for your achievements.
You are much more memorable when your voice is heard, therefore, going forward ensure that you are the lady who takes credit for her work, contributes ideas and always have engaging thoughts in any meetings and conferences.
An organization or client will always value someone who adds value. Your work is then to add value.
4. Have Fun While Doing It
Girl, work hard and play hard while you’re at it.
Going after your goals and choosing to be outstanding is definitely not always fun.
There is a lot of unseen hard work and in some cases, you are your own biggest cheerleader.
But, how about making it fun for yourself by having a weekly gratitude list?
Each week, write down something you are grateful for and also tick off a goal that you have accomplished. It is the consistent cumulative effort that eventually pays off and keeps a smile on your face.
5.Take a Selfie and Don’t Forget to Hashtag #HotGirlSummer
Lastly, while putting in the work and securing the bag don’t forget to take a bomb selfie as you live your best life, on your own terms.
It is always relaxing to get the perfect selfie and keep the movement going for all the women who are making it happen for themselves and their communities.
Have yourself a Hot Girl Summer.
Join our Facebook Live on August 22nd to learn how to drive social change through your business/ Career. Click here to sign up.
Curated within the beautiful landscape of Jozi on a peaceful Sunday, She Leads Africa in partnership with The Cut Life and Originals by Africa’s Best held a Boss Brunch and panel with the finest Motherland Mogul influencers of Africa.
The location was a hidden oasis of tranquility, The Gabriela’s Tea Room, perfect for some girl chat, champagne was flowing, the crowd was buzzing. What a beautiful Sunday.
In the era of feminism and self-love, you do find some false prophets that don’t live up to their campaign inside as loudly as they may be online.
What was important about the #IAMORIGINAL panel and brunch was that it focused on the challenges black women struggle through.
The theme that stood out from the event was the need for women to back each other up and actually mean it.
For the older and younger generation to join minds and create solutions for the Motherland Moguls that follow.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from the bubbly Shanon Stanislaus of Originals by Africa’s Best. She spoke about the benefits of their new Coconut Creme range that has nutrition rich formulas, helping your natural hair with the foundation its needs for hair goals.
We then proceeded into an hour-long networking bingo session, that had our Influencers and Motherland Moguls buzzing through the room, the energy was so lively- It felt like the best girl chat session I’ve been to in ages.
We held bingo cards that had questions such as “Who in the room has three pets, Who is an only child”. These were great ice breakers, especially for an introvert like myself.
Back to our tables, we were served incredible dishes by The Gabriela’s Tea Room patrons, everything delicious and mouthwatering.
“ You don’t know what you want to do until you’ve tried it all”.
This tied in so well with the events hashtag of the day #IAMORIGINAL, when you apply yourself and work on what your secret sauce is, what do you really have to lose ?
All in all, this was an event, unlike any other networking event I have been to, which is saying a lot as I have been to a ton of networking sessions and gone home feeling as though I barely received much value from the speakers.
It could be just how intimate the brunch was or the fact that everyone left their egos at the door and simply wanted to celebrate each other.
I have nothing but praise for what these women aimed to share through the event and I believe that we can all learn from them.
As Motherland Moguls we are constantly inspiring those around us, we may not realize it a lot of the times, the best thing we can do is live an intention-driven life in our goals, decisions, and actions.
Work within the passion and not ego, power or status.
I’m definitely looking forward to more events from these powerhouses.
Have you ever seen a myname.com website and thought “oh that’s so cool but it’s not for me?”
Well let me shock you, if you want to stand out online whether in the corporate or business world as a slay queen in the 21st century, then you best believe it’s for you.
Still in doubt, let me give you 5 reasons why you need to grab your domain name and have a beautiful website designed to suit your goals and personality.
1. Your paper resume is about to go extinct!
A recent study by OfficeTeam shows that more than one-third of companies feel that resumes will be replaced by profiles on social networks. What this means is that prospective employers and clients are and will be searching for you online.
It means that even if all social media platforms crash, there’s still something to your name on the web.
It also means that there’s something to link to when people mention you on the web.
3. Worldwide exposure
Having a personal website allows you to be able to express yourself, your gifts and your thoughts online thereby building thought leadership in your areas of experience and expertise.
This makes you more attractive to people seeking to work with you.
4. Make digital sales
“I don’t want another source of income,” said NO ONE EVER!
Having a personal website makes it easy for you to create and sell virtual products without messing with your job or business.
You can host products such as ebooks, online courses, pre-recorded songs and albums, webinars and so much more on your personal website and make passive income from them.
5. Build your personal brand
Having a personal website helps you get conscious about building your personal brand.
You can retire or resign from a job or business, but you can never resign or retire from being you. So don’t build your career or business and forget to build your personal brand.
If you’d like to learn more about building thought leadership and online visibility for your personal or business brand, please click here to get access to my FREE online visibility checklist on my personal website 😁.
Chioma Ogbudimkpa is a certified project management professional who has served in different capacities and projects across 5 countries and different industries.
She has put in over 9 service years in FMCG, Consulting and Real Estate.
Chioma is also a sustainability advocate and a Green Champion. She has been actively involved in the ‘Going Green’ Initiative from the YALI Network since 2015.
She started her entrepreneurship journey with the launch of her women’s wear label, Redbutton in 2017 to explore her creative side.
Following this, Chioma has received a seat at the table of various local and international platforms; she is a ‘She Leads Africa’ (SLA) Accelerator beneficiary of 2017, a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and the winner, Creative Business Cup Nigeria 2019.
She will be representing Nigeria at the Global Creative Business Cup in Denmark this July. She’s also an alumnus and beneficiary of the Nigeria Creative Enterprise (NICE) program 2019 powered by the British Council.
She has a Bachelors in Project Management Technology and a PGD in Strategic Management & Leadership. Chioma loves to cycle and play scrabble at her leisure time.
What led you to fashion at the beginning and what led to the switch to sustainable fashion
My mum owned a fashion house back in the 90s, that’s where and when I started to sew, sketch and play with fabrics.
I found that I was always stitching something (till date..lol), my mum’s tailors were tired of me because nothing they make for me stays the same. I loved to experiment and add my own touch here and there.
It was fun and engaging so I continued on this path up until I started working in the corporate space. I made my work clothes and sometimes, people wanted me to make clothes for them when they realized I made the dresses myself.
It was extracurricular until 2016 when I decided to start the business properly. I enrolled in Martwayne fashion school while I was still working, just to get a professional grasp of fashion designing and the business of fashion. Following that, I launched Redbutton in 2017.
Because I am a Green Champion, it was only natural for me to incorporate sustainability into my fashion brand. I started to research ways I can be green, while still maintaining fundamental design principles.
There are several ways I have built in ethical fashion principles in my processes, including using recyclable paper packaging, ensuring minimal waste, ethical production processes and fusing sustainable materials.
What are the possible career options here?
It’s quite evident that the Africa fashion space is experiencing the highest rave she has ever had, and doesn’t seem like it will decline anytime soon.
The demand and interest in the over $50bn industry have been incredibly progressive which also implies that there are tons of career opportunities, even in a sustainable fashion.
Some common ones are textile producers (in knitting, weaving, dyeing, etc). Even here in Nigeria, we are yet to scratch the surface in exploring our indigenous woven fabrics from different tribes.
We also have fashion designers, illustrators, machinists, thought leaders in ethical fashion (not very popular in Africa but there are) who are consultants, show curators, editors, etc.
Where do you see this line of business taking you?
Building a strong ethical fashion brand that promotes African craftsmanship and design innovation, and of course, a profitable fashion business that will birth several other ethical fashion advocates and workers is my overarching goal.
Our zest for color, patterns and the intricacy in our embroideries are phenomenal and it appears we are not exploring what we have enough.
This is what I want to project to Africa and the world by exploring eco-friendly materials and African art.
What are the challenges in the fashion business, and how do you manage them?
Production is slow and expensive. But I have realized through this journey that the process and result are far more important than the speed.
It’s also more expensive to run, because eco-friendly materials are not exactly cheap (more expensive than regular fabrics), meaning that your pieces will not be cheap.
But once you can properly project your value and find your target market, you will be just fine
You use water hyacinths for some of your products, why water hyacinths? What was the reception like at the UN?
It was just an experiment, to be honest, I didn’t expect that it will be this serious o..lol!
I was researching on sustainable fabrics, something different from our woven fabrics, I bumped into this social innovation enterprise who also up-cycles waste for furniture and home decor pieces.
I found that water hyacinths can be dried and woven into panels like our Aso-oke.
I said, ‘I never saw anyone try this out in fashion, is it even possible?”
The fact that it wasn’t popular in Africa drew me further into the research. I tested it and realized it could work but the dress will be dry clean only, no machine wash.
We are constantly exploring more eco-friendly materials we can fuse into our designs to create statement pieces.
Some of the water hyacinth pieces we fused with Adire were showcased at the 4th UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi and received resounding acclaim from assembly members and delegates.
We were published in the Kenyan dailies and featured on the UN Environment news updates. Between April and today, we have shipped over 50 pieces to the US and UK, following the contacts made from the UN event.
This is a testament to the fact that, even though our designs have the African aesthetic, they are also globally appealing.
Got any advice for younger fashion entrepreneurs?
Some say the industry is saturated, well maybe in some context. But also remember it is growing incredibly and the demand is looming.
There are several ways to stand out. Look around you, look inside of you, talk to people that have the capacity to help you discover new territories.
You can tweak your strategy, innovate, and position your brand for opportunities that are strategic to helping you grow. Not just for fashion entrepreneurs, the journey is HARD, trust yourself and trust the process.