Having being involved in a car crash, what impact did this have your life and business?
The car crash turned my whole life around. I had two fractures in one leg and also a cranial injury. As if that’s not enough, I had to carry my pregnancy to term on crutches and a cane.
The biggest blow was that I lost the use of one eye – imagine having to be very careful when applying eyeliner because you only have one eye!
This accident taught me that life and business are always full of twists and turns. Sometimes, you lose almost everything (like I almost lost my life) and you are left with deciding either to remain conquered or rise up to fight the storm. For me, I chose to live and live well. I charge you to do same.
From your experience, how can young women maximize their locations?
On July 16, 2017, I changed the narration of the events and wedding industry in the Southwest of Nigeria. My team and I planned and hosted a beauty and bride exhibition, and this event has created so much ripple effect within and outside the many states in Nigeria.
The interesting thing about launching out from your location is that you are probably one of the few people with that idea and boom, you are in the limelight. In the last year too, I created Nigeria’s first events budgeting app on the Google play store (Eftinzz Events and Budget Planner).
All this taught me that your location should not be a hindrance to your dreams. The internet has made life easy. Make your dream clear enough and your location will be your Launchpad.
How do you create a balance between your day job and your business?
I must confess that this has not been a box of chocolate. I had to identify my support system and carry them along with my plans. They are a part of life.
On my part, I had to make some sacrifices which include reducing my social life. Unfortunately, I lost some few friends who couldn’t understand the new direction I was going but we are now on the same page.
What are some key lessons from your journey you’d like others to learn from?
I could never have imagined that I would go through some of the things that I have been through. However, through every experience I learned the following lessons:
Your scars are your strength
Your dreams are valid
You must be crazy enough to believe in your craze
You are human – it’s okay to ask for help
What advice can you give young ladies building their careers or businesses?
I won’t tell you it will be easy because it won’t be. But the good thing is, even if it is easy, you can do it. Be true to yourself. Never be scared to dream and make sure you live an enjoyable life because your dreams are valid.
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From Tinsel to Technology. Kelechi is changing the narrative of African women in the tech world.
Kelechi Udoagwu is an Accra-based Nigerian tech entrepreneur/consultant, presenter, advocate, student, and writer. Up until 2017, she was the full-time communications director at MEST Africa. She is also the co-founder of Skrife and produces and hosts the web series- Tech Roundup with Bitnode.
Her work revolves around empowering through mentorship, edutainment, speaking engagements, multimedia content, and connecting to new opportunities.
In this interview, she talks to us about her growing passion for technology and the need to empower more women and girls to venture into the tech industry.
You’ve switched your career many times. What inspired your journey?
It’s always interesting to be reminded of how varied my career has been. For me, it’s all been work, work, work – the different ways I earn money and contribute to the world. I started modeling while I was in the university. It was just for fun at first, then I graduated and focused on it full-time.
That was when I got the Tinsel gig and I was fortunate to work with other big brands as well – Samsung, MTN, Haier Thermocool, Lipton, Vitafoam, and others. These early experiences prepared me for “adulting” as I learned to manage my money, deal with people from all walks of life and build a professional persona.
After NYSC, I got my first 9-5 job as a Fashion Brand Manager but resigned after six months because it wasn’t very fulfilling. I then decided to explore a new industry. I was fascinated with tech entrepreneurship because it seemed like an easy way to make quick bucks.
I got into tech in 2014. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life yet. I love the industry, I love the variety and I love the fast pace. I worked as Head of Communications at MEST and founded my startup, Skrife in 2016. I also started creating multimedia – video and written – content – for brands, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
What part do African girls play in the next generation of technology, and how can they harness these potentials?
It’s time, however, that we stop limiting ourselves to manual labor and start working smarter. It’s time we leave what we’re used to and conquer new mountains.
They say “when you educate a woman, you educate a whole community,”. Imagine what we can do for Africa if we join in the global progression and conversation around technology. We don’t all have to be programmers but we can all be a part of the industry.
There are branding, marketing, HR, design, community management roles available.If we do this, the next generation of African women will have role models who look like them and they can build on what we started instead of starting from scratch like we are.
How has your journey been moving into the tech space?
My journey has been interesting. I’ve never been one to ask for permission to make a move and that has helped me navigate the various industries I’ve been in, especially tech where “move fast and break things” is a mantra.
Now is the best time for us to be involved. The industry is welcoming and there are a lot of opportunities directed at women specifically. It’s not always going to be like this so it’s wise to take advantage now.
What principles and work ethics have played a role in propelling you further in your career?
My ability shake off rejection easily greatly helped my career. Believe me, I’ve been rejected a lot of times. I believe getting ahead is a numbers game and for every 100 no’s, there’s one yes that makes it all worth it.
My entire life, not just career, revolves around keeping my word. If I say I’ll do it, I do it. If I’m not sure, I say I’ll get back to you and think about it some more. This has helped me a lot at work – keeps my mind clear, keeps me happy with the people I work with and also keeps them happy with me.
Tell us about your new book ‘Living Everyday like its Saturday’.
I’m super excited about it! I have had so many ideas for books to write but this is the most relevant to me and my audience at this time.
The book will chronicle the lessons I’ve learned being a freelancer from Africa – how I structure my day, deal with clients around the world, brand myself, use technology, etc.
I can promise everyone in advance there will be no fluff in this book; only hardcore, real life, actionable advice.
As a creative, what impact does quality content have in telling the African story for mainstream media?
When we started Skrife, our goal was to build a platform and writers’ community that is synonymous with quality. If a client ever complains about a job done via Skrife, we refund their money or rewrite it at no extra charge.
Creating content is like real-time documentation of our everyday experiences and it can be the difference between an economy that prospers and one that fails. Every time you read a book that was written ages ago, you step into the mind of that person.
With technology changing everything around us, it is very important that we document these early days so the next generation continues from where we stopped instead of starting all over. “To forget is to throw away.”
Also by creating more positive content, we can change the narrative of Africa. We can stop close-minded and sheltered foreigners from thinking we don’t read books or use the internet. Chimamanda Adichie was recently asked if there are libraries in her country.
Isolated from the rest of the world, headphones on, what’s your jam for days?
Haha, I love this question. I’m one of those people who can’t get anything done without earphones on. That one song that never gets old is All Things Go by Chiddy Bang. Go listen to it and think of me 🙂
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, International transportation network company, Taxify brought together women driver-partners and invited guests across Lagos Nigeria, as they celebrated International Women’s Day on Sunday, the 18th of March 2018 at the Backyard Grill and Bar, Lagos.
The event was attended by women driver-partners, celebrity influencers, media and members of the Taxify team.
Guests listened to a passionate speech by ex-Big Brother Nigeria housemate, actress and music artist, Uriel Oputa, while broadcaster Adenike Oyetunde also spoke about the value of Women Entrepreneurs in the press for progress.
Taxify has created work opportunities for hundreds of women since launching in Nigeria and is looking into creating thousands more in the next few years.
With Taxify, women can drive whenever they can or whenever they want. Driver-partners can set their own schedules while maintaining a steady, independent source of income.
Taxify’s Brand Manager, Terver Bendega also addressed the women present at the function.
“This women’s month we decided to pay tribute to all the women across Nigeria who have shown an extraordinary drive. There is no harder working woman as the Nigerian woman. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked Nigerians to nominate inspiring women who have shown drive in various fields for a chance to win a Kickstarter package. Within this package is N100,000 cash, N50,000 in Taxify credit and access to a network of women across various fields,” she said.
“At Taxify, we believe in empowering women to become small business owners and equipping them with the network and finances they need to scale these businesses. We also want to show our appreciation to the amazing women partner drivers, working on the Taxify platform, who go out of their way every day to move thousands of people across their cities whilst providing for their families,” Terver continued.
At the event, driver-partners and guests engaged in speed networking where they were asked to share what they were driven by, including their passions, dreams, and goals.
The event ended with a presentation of cheques to 5 winners of the Taxify Kickstarter package. Winners were young women with businesses ranging from consulting to confectionary, fashion design, and art. Top female driver-partners were also rewarded with cash prizes.
The Taxify app operates in over 35 cities across Europe and Africa is available for download on the Apple IOS store and the Google play store.
The most common jobs in Nigeria right now are ones gotten from a third-party company that is signed to provide employees for various employers.
While I worked at one, I found that the reason employer companies choose the option of contract staffs is to reduce its expenses and improve profitability.
A full-time employee may get a 50% raise from your salary, including HMO(Health) benefits. This is even more annoying for contract staffs because they do more of the work but have fewer benefits, up until the length of days to go on leave.
However, there’s always a way to have the life you want regardless of the situation presented to you.
This is nothing about your desires or visions – at least not for the purpose of this article.
What makes you tick? Deep down your heart, what’s the core of your strength? The real test to enjoying your job, and your life, is to know who you are.
Although the search of identity may be an ongoing process, there’s a core of you that reveals your truth in whatever situation you find yourself. Everything you believe yourself to be should not be dependent on anything else but you.
Once you can identify who you are, it would facilitate the emergence of what you’d like to experience.
The natural cognitive of man is attracted to negative situations that appeal to his senses.
So for example, you get to find out the extra benefits due to full-time staffs in your company and it freaks you out (it should), it is only normal that you begin to take it out on your daily routine, colleagues and even your line managers.
Two years after my experience as a contract staff in a financial institution, I was appraised and suggested to be converted into a full-time staff.
I was excited when my line manager hinted me on this new development and was waiting for the big announcement. To my greatest disappointment, when my appraisal form got to the office in charge, my group head was summoned and asked, “Who would you like to be retrenched in order to approve Adesewa’s conversion?” Confused, she responded, “nobody”.
“Well, because the company cannot afford the cost for another full-time employee,” they disclosed. It was a great consolation to have known that the reason for the default was a lack of the company’s capacity, not mine.
If this happened to you, I know you would freak out, and probably drop your resignation notice to go somewhere you’ll be ‘celebrated, not tolerated’.
Just calm down! LOL!
The quality of the delivery of your duties should be influenced by positivity. Contract jobs hardly come with motivations. Thus, you must always find a way around it. While you have a plan to quit, be deliberately positive about your daily dealings.
The more positivity you exude, the greater the attraction for more. If it doesn’t happen for you in this job, it would somewhere else.
Create value for your personality
One of the many reasons people want to be in the full-staff cadre is so that the company can place value on them. The true value of your job is not dependent on your position, but your personality.
Quit thinking the reason you’re not doing well right now is that you don’t get so much pay. Your pay may not equal your plan, but it does not necessarily influence the core of you, except you want it to.
So, during a knowledge sharing session at your company or a proposal pitch, you have the platform to ‘show yourself’. Yes! Flaunt the stuff you’re made of! This is not PRIDE; it is PURPOSE-ON-DELIVERY.
Always look for opportunities to reveal who you are asides from being the “front desk officer” or “cashier”. Profer solutions to problems. That’s what employers want to see.
Even though it may likely not buy your conversion as a staff, it would increase your value as a person. You are first a person before being someone’s staff. Work at it!
Work experience is in phases, enjoy this one
A young entrepreneur who also works as an employee reached out to me one day. She shared all her frustrations as to how she was not getting fulfilments with her job. She mentioned how she knew this was not what she signed up for her life and all.
The truth is, at every point in life, we get bored. This is not just a contract thing, stop blaming it on the job. Because guess what, even if you were full time, you would still get bored.
All days are not the same, and all work experiences are in phases. You have to learn the art of enjoying the phases by creating systems that work for you.
At the financial job experience I told you about, every week became annoying because there had to be something new to do – things that were way out of the initial job description(JD).
Whichever way I felt did not matter to the company, the job had to be done anyway. And the only way to be happy with your job is to be happy with you, knowing that this is only a phase. You would get involved in better things and greater opportunities, so if you want to make your life count, you have to do it right.
Always work with the end in view
You know, many times, we are motivated in the present by having a vision of what’s to come. Doing your job with the end in mind is one sure way to enjoy what you’re doing currently.
So, pending the time you find something more ‘ghen-ghen’ (out of this world), let that ‘ghen-ghen’ thing inspire the not-so ‘ghen-ghen’ one.
The vision you have for yourself should drive your passion for what you do now. You may not like what you do now, but when you look at the experience later from the inside in, you’ll see it was necessary for your journey.
See the end in mind, Live the present, Create your future.
You know how some women profess to never having felt that maternal urge or instinct and they just know being a mum isn’t for them? Well, not everyone should be an entrepreneur either. I believe more women need to hear this. In this day and age, it almost seems like if you’re not thinking of running your own business, with the whole uncertainty in the job market bit, then something is off with you. Maybe not. At the end of the day, if you see yourself as more of a technocrat for instance, that’s fine. There are certainly other ways to make your mark in the world.
Let’s be real. Being an entrepreneur is a lot. It starts with having a clearly-defined vision of what you are looking to accomplish, and then requires working tirelessly to achieve that. It really is okay if you are one to help others build their dreams. Some people are leaders, some are builders, some are followers, some are supporters. Being able to identify who you are at all the different stages of your life is gold.
Besides all that, there actually is a difference between being self-employed and being an entrepreneur. Think about it. Some people prefer to work for themselves because of benefits such as flexibility and independence. However, it does not necessarily mean you are cut out for taking on huge risks that come with starting a business.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s focus on what you can do to continue Slaying:
Discover Your Strengths
If you’re not entirely sure what you’re good at, you could ask people who work closely with you to point out some of your strengths. What are those things that come naturally to you? It could be things like negotiating or communicating, or maybe you’re good with numbers or mediating issues. As soon as you discover your strengths, you should capitalize on them to help you stand out and propel yourself in your career.
Acquire the hottest skills on the job market
Keep on top of your game by updating your work skills. Make sure you’re marketable and an asset in whatever capacity you operate in.
Make wise investments
Your youthful years are a great time to make investments that you can fall back on in the future. We know Instagram and Snapchat are brimming with what might seem like the good life, but remember it’s more important to spend your income wisely rather than try to keep up with the Kardashians.
Look out for a great savings plan which offers good returns. You could begin looking at taking out a mortgage or investing in real estate, stocks, bonds and so on. Be sure to do your research and speak to a financial adviser before you get your feet wet.
Moral of this story? You’re a hot commodity all on your own, so don’t let people tell you any different. It’s so okay, being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone.
Do you have an interesting career story to share with us?
Let’s be real, sometimes you just hit a rut. You could be at a job for 1 year going on what feels likes a 100 years; or all of a sudden your boss is no longer easy to work with; or the dynamics are no longer favorable for your growth and bills still have to be paid. As a Motherland Mogul, this should not get you down for too long, there are creative ways to help you better manage a job you don’t like.
Focus on what you like
Not everyone enjoys writing reports and paperwork. So instead of focusing on the areas of your job that do not interest you, put energy and focus on areas which do. It’s likely that your perspective is solely focused on parts of the job you hate, instead of the aspects of the work you enjoy.
Make a list of the work tasks you actually like. This won’t be easy and your tendency will be to look at your work with negativity. However, you brain cannot think of the positive and negative at the same time, so commit to actually looking for positives and focusing on that instead. In doing this, you will bring a more positive out look to your work.
Challenge yourself to have a gratitude mindset and in no time you will find more things to be grateful for.
Bring “you” to work
We bring our Slay queen characters to other areas of our lives like fashion, our hair or clap backs on twitter. Bringing the same enthusiasm and energy to your work could help you do your work more creatively, and change the dynamic and approach you currently have.
For example, if outside your 9-5 work you happen to be a blogger, you could add value to your work by working with the social media team and on the company website- with their blogging platform. These are ways you can bring yourself and character to your work, instead of separating yourself from your work.
Work towards your goal
While waiting for the next big move, commit to actually working towards your ultimate goal. So you are not enjoying your job? When was the last time you worked on your CV, sent an application or took up a course?
Nothing changes unless you apply your energy to it, and align yourself with the work you see yourself doing. If it means taking up classes, or reading up on what it takes to move up the career ladder, it takes effort and consistency. Look at at your job as a pit stop towards your final destination.
SLA has amazing resources to get you started, so keep working at it until it manifests.
Invest in your relationships with your work peers
Work can be stressful and your boss might be Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
Your peers at work might be the wealth of support that you have been missing out on. Invest in your relationships, as these are the people you spend majority of your time at work with. Identify people you can learn from, who are not negative, and can encourage each other to do better at work whilst still sharing memes as well.
Your job does not complete you
Just like when we realized that Tom Cruise saying “You complete me” might not have been as romantic as we thought, it’s also very likely that sometimes we put unreal expectations on our jobs.
Whilst you are supposed to derive some happiness from your work, it is not the end all and be all of your joy. There are passions and interests outside of work which you might have neglected because you have put the pressure on your work.
Go back to those interests outside of the 8 to 5; like, exercising, writing, art, dance, poetry or giving back to your community. Investing in those interests might give you the fuel to keep going at work, even on days when it feels like you can’t.
Stay slaying, you are doing a great job!
What tips do you have for making the most out of a job you don’t like?
Jacqueline Nwobu is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Munaluchi Bride Magazine, the leading and nationally distributed wedding magazine and online wedding marketplace; which caters to multicultural couples and serves the $200 billion wedding and events industry.
Since the launch of Munaluchi in 2010, Jacqueline has grown the brand into an industry leader with a robust multi-cultural marketplace and social media influence of over 600,000 followers worldwide.
With a strong and focused vision to champion diversity, Jacqueline has successfully disrupted the industry to influence positive change and inclusiveness. Her TEDx talk on “Reshaping an Industry, One Like at a Time” has received rave reviews.
Jacqueline obtained her B.S. degree in Medical Technology and has worked for major pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, including Johnson and Johnson. The rapid success of her magazine has landed her interviews on NBC, ABC and WPIX NY.
Jacqueline resides in New Jersey with her husband and three children.
Why choose to start a bridal magazine publication?
I initially started out as a photographer shooting alongside my husband. In the first year that we began shooting weddings, we noticed a void in the wedding industry. Weddings, like the ones I was attending and shooting, were not being featured in mainstream magazines or blogs.
From that point, it became my mission to launch the first nationally distributed wedding magazine, catering to women of color, and that was how Munaluchi Bride Magazine was born. I did a TEDxtalk in 2013 describing in more detail how we got started.
Did you acquire any training to help run your business?
My background is in Science, specifically Medical Technology. I worked as a QA Scientist at Johnson and Johnson, and then a Technical Specialist for a major Diagnostics Company, so publishing a magazine was not something I studied or had any training in.
In fact, it took me 6 months to tell my proud Naija parents that I had quit my very well paying job, to launch a bridal magazine while we were in the middle of a recession in the United States.
When my husband and I decided to launch the magazine, I taught myself InDesign and Photoshop via the awesome website Lynda.com. I used my newly acquired InDesign and Photoshop skills to layout the magazine and build our first website.
Everything I learned in business was truly through trial and error – and a heavy dose of faith! Truthfully, Google was my BFF. There is nothing you can’t learn online. You just have to put in the work and be committed to it.
Were there times you doubted your business decision? How did you snap out of it?
Of course! Leaving a great career in the middle of a recession (with two children under the age of two, and pregnant with my 3rd) to launch a bridal magazine, when print was being considered “dead”, was not a seemingly logical decision.
So there were times when I would wonder if my decision was the right one. Those thoughts, nevertheless, were very short lived because I had an extremely strong belief that what I was doing was necessary and important.
I knew that it was going to be hard work, because nothing good comes easy. But I was faithful to God that this idea and blessing wasn’t given to Chike and I haphazardly.
Moreover, it was given to us because He knew we could handle it. At the end of the day, there was no opportunity for failure, because every action deemed as a “failure” by many, was instead an educational component for us. It was an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and grow a stronger brand.
Your co-founder is your husband; can you share three (3) points to note before starting a business with your spouse?
1. Ensure that the marriage is on a solid foundation
The last thing you want to do is get started in business, without understanding the sacrifice that a solid marriage takes. If your marriage is suffering, a new business will not necessarily bring you together. On the other hand, a new business can cause strain in your marriage if you aren’t discussing openly the number one thing that causes the strain, money. Have the “money talk” regularly and openly with your spouse.
2. Understand your strengths
If you want to succeed as a team, you’ll need to recognize what your strong points are, and those of your spouse. Make sure your roles are defined and you both have an understanding of who’s responsible for what.
You both will be wearing many hats when starting out, so you’ll need to know what those hats are, to avoid conflicts along the way. I’m involved in the Editorial, Marketing, Content creation and visualization; while Chike focuses on Partnerships, Advertising and large-scale growth. It works out beautifully because we aren’t blocking each other’s lanes.
3. Have respect for your spouse and a little time for fun
When you run a business with your spouse, you never stop working. It goes from the office, back to your home and the business becomes front and center. Remember to respect one another at work and try to keep your personal life at home.
Take some time out bonding time. This is where you do something that doesn’t involve the business, or where work isn’t allowed. For Chike and I, we love to stay home and watch movies. It’s simple, but it works for us and gets us away from talking about work, even if it’s only for a few hours.
Wow. I can’t say there is a “proudest moment” because I am genuinely proud of what Chike and I have built. Every.single.day!
I am proud of how far we have come. I am proud of the changes we have sparked in the wedding industry, totally transforming the way multicultural weddings are viewed and admired.
I am proud of the team we have in place, that help propel the brand to greater heights.
What do you love most about weddings?
I love the ceremonies; the walks down the aisle, the vows, the facial expressions, the tears, and the joy; all of it.
Do you see yourself ever returning to the field of medical science?
I miss and still love Science, but I most likely wouldn’t return. Things have changed so much since I was in the field of Medical Technology. It’s great to have it as a backup plan, but we won’t need that because answer #3.
What is the first luxury item you would buy if you got a million dollars now?
This is a hard one! I live a very simple life. Can I pick a luxury service instead? If someone was to give me a million dollars right now, I would put it back into my business.
But, in the spirit of this question, I would use it on a new house for my parents- fully equipped with rooms for each of their grandchildren, extra rooms for future grandchildren, a basketball court, a grand dining room (cause my mom loves to cook and entertain and we love her okro soup!).
Creating family memories is so important to me. After all is said and done, family will always be there for you, so it’s important to enjoy your family as much as you can.
Do you have a career or business in the wedding industry?
Event management is a fast growing industry, especially in Nigeria with the rise of many event planners these days. CEO of YDA Creations, Yemi Adewale, shares with us how she is able to distinguish her brand and service in such a clustered market.
Having lived most of her life abroad in the UK, Yemi finally moved back to Nigeria. With the desire to be her own boss, she ditched her law degree and followed her passion for interior design and party planning.
Four years and counting, YDA creations has grown into a successful event management and design company. It has been featured in several media platforms such as; Creme De La Bride, Wed Daily, Nigerian Wedding Blog, Love Weddings Ng and The knot & beyond.
As a returnee, what were some of the challenges you faced when trying to start a business in Nigeria?
When I got back and wanted to set up my own business, it wasn’t the easiest thing for many reasons. I realized quickly that in Nigeria it’s not about your skills or passion, it all boils down to the people you know and the connections you can get.
With the help of my family and some good friends I met along the way, I was able to gain the courage to keep pushing. I must say I have done well for myself, for someone who came into the industry knowing no one and having no “connection”. My drive, passion and good reference from clients is what keeps me going.
How do you multi-task when you plan or manage multiple events?
To me planning is like a natural high or rush, the more pressure I’m under the better I tend to work. Having multiple events on same day or around the same time is not a task we can’t handle.
I trust my team leaders to manage the event well on occasions where I can’t physically be present, such as if two events are on the same date, but in two different states.
What do you enjoy the most about event management and what is the major challenge you face when coordinating events?
I enjoy putting things together, right from when I was young. I like to bring something new and fresh to each event, I’m constantly raising the creative bar for myself. Being entrusted with the management of an occasion is not something I take for granted. It is a sacred responsibility and a passion because I enjoy bringing ideas and visions to reality.
When family members get involved and do not like the idea of a planner, they most likely would not abide by the desires of the couple who are getting married and end up taking over. The challenge would then be how to satisfy your clients while trying to ensure you don’t start a family war.
Which do you think is the most important factor in events planning, creativity or structure?
To be honest both are essential. The passion for the job comes creativity, this drives one to research more for new ideas and ensure you are always up to date with trends.
That being said you also need a good team behind you; a group of hard working individuals who take pride in and love what they do. This would help in the execution of the overall planning once its event day.
In your experience, what are the three things that should always be on point in an event?
Well for me, the ambiance must be just right, this sets the tone for the day. Thus decor is key, it should be attractive enough to draw the crowd in and leave them excited as to what the rest of the day would bring.
Secondly, I believe music is important. People come to events to escape whatever they have been dealing with all week. It’s their one time to relax and have a good time. Nothing gets people more relaxed than good ole music.
Finally, I believe food is essential. You can’t deny the fact that many people come to events to eat. It would be the greatest disappointment when a guest comes to your event and hears “food has finished” and even worse when they realize you had an event planner. The goal is for guests to leave saying they over ate and even had to decline food. This means we had a successful event.
There are more than a few event planners now in Nigeria. How are you able to distinguish your brand from others?
Every event planner has a different style and what they bring to the table. For me it’s my creativity and my connection with my clients. I believe when working with someone, the only way to perfectly execute the job is to get to know your client on a more personal level. This would ultimately guide you and help direct your ideas towards what best suits that individual. I also believe in constant feedback and updates.
You are a lawyer by profession and now practice event management. Is there any other field of business you would like to explore?
Eventually, I may expand my business to include other interests, and it may not even be related to events. However, there is power in focus and I don’t want to be a Jack of All Trades.
My focus at this time is becoming the best event planner I can be. I do hope one day to have a chain of successful businesses and be known as a business mogul.
Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa is a Brand Manager turned Writer, Blogger, Brand/Social Media Consultant, Content creator, and founder of Lifestyle Hues; a fun, lifestyle and inspirational platform where she shares inspiring personality interviews/stories and today’s issues from a slightly eccentric perspective.
She has built 8 years worth of experience in Brand Building, Strategy, and Events for international brands across Nigeria and parts of West Africa. Ayodotun holds a BSc in Mass Communication and MSc in Marketing from the University of Lagos.
What inspired your decision to start a lifestyle blog?
I wanted to able to talk about and showcase matters I’m passionate about, which happened to be a myriad of things. I wanted to lend my voice to subjects like life and lifestyle choices, money, fashion, marriage, faith and more. I also wanted to curate material to add value to readers at all times.
The material on the blog is guaranteed to inspire, motivate, inform, educate, remind or entertain readers. I conduct personal interviews with achievers from all walks of life. Blogging isn’t all I do though. I run an SME Brand consultancy to help small businesses build their brands from scratch; on social media, websites and offline.
What are the three key things you consider while trying to promote your brand online?
I remind myself at all times that Social Media is my PR Machine and every post, article or whatever I put out there, is a seed towards building my image and my credibility. Content Marketing is everything.
How has social media helped to increase your productivity?
It has generated inquiries towards the brand and consulting arm of my business. It is the mainstay of my blog’s promotional activities. A huge percentage of my readers have found me via social media
What was the major social media campaign or experience which put you into the limelight?
For my blog, I would say it was the Nathaniel Bassey interview that I conducted at the height of the Hallelujah Challenge. I wanted to tell his story to encourage people, he hasn’t always been in the spotlight, but had been hard at work for decades.
The blog was inundated with so many visits that it shut down for some minutes and I had to work frantically with my website administrator to fix that. I’m just glad people were inspired. A lot of interviews have with people such as Timi Dakolo, Lanre Olusola, Lala Akindoju, Adenike Oyetunde etc, have drawn people to the site.
On the social media consulting part, we are still evolving, as most of my clients are small businesses. I simply manage their social media and website content.
How have you been able to cope with social media fraud?
To be honest, I haven’t had any issue in that area because I always seek to put a face to the clients and prospects I meet on social media. I am not unaware that it has its dark side and I will urge everyone to embrace the verification checks provided by the different platforms like: phone number verifications on Facebook etc, 2-factor verification on Instagram etc.
Wave Academies is a vocational training platform which aims to empower millions of disadvantaged West African youth. With skills that transform their mindset and employment opportunities that enhance their social mobility.
Misan Rewan is the founder of WAVE Academy. Born and raised in Nigeria, Misan plays a vital role in the transformation of Nigeria’s education and skill development sectors. She has worked in management consulting with The Monitor Group on a wide spectrum of projects in both the private and public sector. She also supported aspiring Ivoirian entrepreneurs through, TechnoServe’s Business Plan Competition; and developed a scholarship administration model as a consultant with the Center for Public Policy Alternatives in Nigeria. Misan supported Bridge International Academies’ international expansion strategy, and is a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur.
Noella Moshi is the Programs Lead at WAVE. She was on the founding team of African Leadership University (ALU) Education where she directed Marketing, and worked on the curriculum. Noella co-developed Goodbye Malaria, a social impact venture that works with private and non-profit organisations to eliminate malaria. She is a Mandela-Rhodes scholar, and a Praxis Fellow.
Ifeanyi Okafor grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about helping young people discover themselves.
Aissatou Gaye is a Senegalese citizen who works as a Finance Coordinator at WAVE. She is currently helping the organization draft its way towards financial sustainability through various revenue diversification and cost reduction strategies. Aissatou is also the co-founder of YAWcamp, a summer camp that focuses on developing critical, creative and proactive thinking among Senegalese youth.
Amina Lawal is the training operations coordinator at WAVE. She is skilled in communication, research and creative writing. She firmly believes that having the balanced 360 degrees life is possible and steadily strives to have such balance. When she is not working, Amina writes for various blogs.
We share the amazing story of these great women and how their awesome work at WAVE is creating the next generation of change drivers.
What was the driving force that lead to creating WAVE?
Lifting John Stott’s definition of vision as: a deep dissatisfaction with what is and a clear grasp of what could be, I’d say the driving force behind starting WAVE was a deep dissatisfaction with the state of affairs for West African youth.
There are over 40 million unemployed youth in West Africa, but beyond the statistics are real faces, people like you and I, whose reality is chronic unemployment, disillusioned poverty and a loss of dignity that leads to growing levels of frustration across the region.
WAVE was an attempt to stop complaining and to do something about it. So a few friends got together in a room and started designing a solution. Enter WAVE – an attempt to level the playing field for hardworking young people by teaching them the skills required to get a good job, increase their incomes and build a brighter future
What has been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve faced and how have you crossed each hurdle?
Biggest challenge faced has probably just been me dealing with my own insecurities (imagined and real) and coaching has been helpful in crossing the hurdle. I don’t hear enough leaders in this part of the world talk about their shortcomings and how they’ve built support networks to deal with them, and I’m no different.
So overcoming has been through everything, from having a coach who helps bring self-awareness to my “automaticities” (my default way of responding) and helps me generate my best self, to family and friends who “hold the space” for me to JUST BE (rather than DO), to the serenity prayer that helps me discern where to focus my brain cells, effort and anxiety. I could give you a laundry list of other challenges faced but the critical challenge/hurdle is dealing with me first so I can see most other challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.
What values have been crucial to your success in the business world?
Inclusiveness – Most of what drives me comes from a simple notion I’ve had since I was a kid, of not wanting poor people to be poor.
At WAVE today, this value translates as “Putting People First” – from the people we exist to serve, to our team who does the serving to our partners who support our service. Our clients see how we have designed our model, service delivery and feedback culture to put them first and so are able to be very forgiving when we slip up, give us feedback and grant us a second chance to make it right.
What principles and skills are necessary for young people to possess in order to excel in today’s world?
There are three things I think are important for success: Knowing your “why”: Understand what motivates you, and connect it to whatever work you are doing. For example, I care about learning for the sake of personal growth. That’s my “why”. As long as I am doing work that pushes me to stretch beyond my current capabilities, my “why” is being fulfilled.
Learning from everyone: Everyone has something to teach us, and if at any point we aren’t learning, then we need to look harder for the lessons. One of my favourite things about working at WAVE is that each person brings insights from their unique experiences; from the driver to an intern, to the people we serve.
Trusting yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Take advice from everyone, but at the end of the day, whatever decision you make must come from you, so that you can stand by it. That way you avoid regret, and you avoid living someone else’s life.
What innovations have helped in achieving the set goal at WAVE, and how exciting is it to train young people of diverse background and see them become more equipped Africans?
Our goal at WAVE is to increase income for unemployed youth. We do this by screening youth for attitude and motivation, training them on employability skills, and then matching them to job opportunities, where they can earn while they learn.
Our most powerful innovation has been to integrate “paradigm change” throughout our process. End to end, we focus on helping youth to mentally connect the dots from where they are, to where they want to be. After WAVE, youth who had dreams but no belief that they could achieve them, can now see how their current efforts will lead them to the next step of the ladder to wherever they want to go. Their self-image also changes: After WAVE, they no longer say “I can’t do this”. Instead they say: “I can’t do this yet”. And that mindset shift makes all the difference.
What mechanism are necessary for facilitating trainings at the Academy?
A trainee must be between 18 and 35 years old, they must agree to the terms and conditions of the training. The trainer and the training operations coordinator must be physically and mentally ready. We make sure each training cycle runs at it’s optimum best.
What tools and support are relevant for young people in the course of their advancement and what kind of partnership would be vital to this?
We provide absolute in-house trainers and also external facilitators who are experts in their fields to train these young people. We also provide ”on the job” support for them, by arranging workshops, alumni panel and counselling.
A partnership with Google could help with the ICT angle, covering the fundamentals of computer skills and basic software they need to know about. Also, the social media angle, most of the jobs we get are evolving, so many of our employers want people with computer skills, or those who can use social media.
What support system has been relevant in helping WAVE thrive over the years?
The success of WAVE over the past three four years has been a combination of multiple factors. The level of engagement and passion from our staff to deliver a rigorous and excellent model. To make access to economic opportunities easier for young underprivileged youth, the financial support we receive from our funders and their commitment to the vision that we are after, and last but not least our employer partner network who are willing to hire based on soft skills, instead of proxies like degrees.
How impactful have the programs at WAVE been over the years, and what kind of investors are you looking to work with in the future?
WAVE’ s reach has grown a lot over the past four years. Since our inception in 2013, we were able to train over 1600 youth on employability skills and place over 800 of them on jobs in the hospitality and retail industries, of which a good number was able to double their income after a year on the job.
We however still have a long way to go to reach the numerous unemployed youth in Nigeria and across West Africa; we cannot do the job alone. We are currently codifying our magic to share with different stakeholders that could effectively reach our target market and bring about the change we want to see: a world where every young person is equipped enough to move up the economic ladder.
What’s the one phrase that resonates for WAVE and why?
The resonating phrase at WAVE is “Start small, Learn fast and Grow big”. The reason behind this is that we believe and understand that the soft skills we train on are vital to the achievement of career goals. Success is not achieve overnight, but it takes consistent conscious steps towards the achievement of success. WAVE is one of those conscious steps to career growth.
What recent achievements have re-echoed the growing impact of WAVE?
One of the recent achievements that re-echoes at WAVE is the increment of our Alums average Salary to N33,000. It is an achievement for us because this is what we set out to do; increasing the income of youth who do not stand a fighting chance in our economy today.
Tell us your favourite destination country?
My dream destination country is America because of the limitless career growth opportunities available.
Are you doing any impactful work to empower unemployed youth?