Effective Goal-Setting: Keeping Your new year Resolutions All Year Round

Each year in January, entrepreneurs, and moguls around the world make new year resolutions to help them reach their business goals.

Common resolutions include personal and professional goals like starting a business, building financial capacity, and even improving health and wellness.

As an entrepreneur, your first responsibility is to plan ahead. Not just for your personal agenda, but for the growth of your company.

Your second responsibility is to avoid being a part of the status quo.  A recent study by the University of Scranton suggests that only 8% of people actually achieve their goals.

To avoid being part of the 92%, here are four tips to help you achieve your goals in 2018.

Create an accountability system

Research shows that when it comes to health and wellness goals, having a partner could mean the difference between success and failure.

The primary reason for this is that having a partner creates a built-in accountability and motivational system. The same is true for your business goals.

Practical accountability systems may include creating visual reminders of your goals, scheduling check-ups on your progress throughout the year, and designating key team members that are responsible for monitoring your goals.

Being intentional about holding yourself and your team members accountable using these tools will ensure that your resolutions will not be an afterthought by the middle of the year.

Be S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Click To Tweet

Be S.M.A.R.T

I often encourage entrepreneurs to use the S.M.A.R.T. method when setting professional goals.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific goals break down your general goals into manageable bite-size pieces. A great example of this might be to increase your annual revenue.

“Increase revenue in 2018” is a decent general goal. An even better goal is to “increase revenue in 2018 by identifying profit leaks, and creating monthly marketing campaigns in order to obtain new clients.”

Even that specific goal can be further developed as you think about other factors that will affect the outcome. By ensuring that your goals are S.M.A.R.T., you set yourself up to experience the thrill of achievement that will become motivation for future success.

Be Flexible

Life happens, which means that despite your best efforts, some things will still go awry. Part of good goal planning is recognizing that and planning accordingly.

Having flexibility in your approach and expectations relieves everyone involved of the pressure that comes with perfectionism. By recognizing that things may not always go as planned, you open the door for creativity to flow, and for discussion about alternative approaches to the goal.

Achieving your goals is as much a matter of timing, as it is a matter of consistency.- @Andrena_Sawyer Click To Tweet

Create Rewards

Rewards are good for morale, which is good for productivity. As you set your business goals, a rewards system is as important as any other piece of the process.

Whether big or small, rewards that highlight performance, collaboration and other values that are important to you and any team members could be the extra motivation for your overall success.

If you find that, in years past, you have been among the 92% of people that don’t achieve their goals, there’s no better time to change that pattern than now.

Achieving your goals is as much a matter of timing, as it is a matter of consistency. No matter where you are in the process, continue to forge ahead using these tips for success in 2018, and in the years to come.

In conversation with creative agency JamJar about their website relaunch

JamJar was created in 2013 out of frustration with the way corporate and creative events were organised in Ghana. Many events felt poorly organised and were identical. As a result JamJars’ founding partner, Frances Quarcoopome, found the need to put her skills to work and provide the industry with a creative alternative.

JamJar continues to be recognised for its innovative and forward thinking design concepts and exceptional event planning services.

Their vision is to be the top African creative agency, fueled with passion, innovation and the desire to make every client happy.  


Tell us about Jam Jar

JamJar is a creative agency dedicated to providing clients across Africa with innovative, affordable and locally relevant concepts in events, design and pr.

You recently decided to rebrand and relaunch your website, why?

Our website got hacked. Although this was unfortunate, we saw it as an opportunity to review the layout of our website and the elements which needed to improve; and making sure potential clients have all the information they need.

 

Key steps to rebranding and relaunching a website

  1.  Assess what you want to achieve/ goals
  2. Ensure that your website development team is on board and understands your vision
  3. Decide on your layout
  4. Create or gather all the relevant content
  5. Proof read it,
  6. and send it to your development team
  7. Launch a demo site to see how everything looks
  8. Eliminate any kinks
  9. Make any changes necessary and then you’re good to go.

 

Why do organisations need to rebrand or relaunch?

I think it’s really important for organisations to rebrand or relaunch because it gives them an opportunity to reach a new audience; and to also look at how far they’ve come, and to ensure that this is reflected in the company branding and website.

Our main goal was to make it much easier for potential clients and partners to look through our portfolio and understand who we are as an agency. Hopefully creating a good enough impression that they want to hire us.

 

What tips do you have for someone looking to relaunch their website?

(1) Make sure you give yourself a deadline; (2) that your content is organized; (3) your images are high quality; (4) and remember to have fun.

 

You need a team that can provide you with all the support to make those things come to life. Our A-team is Ronin Africa. They’ve supported us from the beginning; they understand our vision as JamJar and allow us to be creative. They are flexible and open to new ideas; therefore we can create something truly unique to JamJar.

 

What goals do you aim to achieve through your website?

With our new website we hope to reach new clients, particularly international clients. We also want to provide our existing clients with a reference point, and to use our blog to share knowledge and events.

 

How has your new website positively impacted business?

So far the website has allowed us to confidently market our services, knowing our product is represented clearly. Our plans are to expand to the rest of Africa in the next 5 years, and the website provides a great launch pad for accessing these markets. It also ensures that we keep ourselves dynamic and fresh.

 

Website: jamjargh.com

Instagram: @jamjargh


Do you have an insightful story to share about your company rebrand/relaunch?

Let us know here.

Basirat Razaq-Shuaib: You must be able to establish yourself as an authority in your chosen field

Basirat Razaq-Shuaib is a Chartered Accountant, Business Strategist and Social Entrepreneur. She started her career at Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Nigeria, as an Executive Trainee in Financial Control back in 2004 and, until recently, was the Deputy CFO at UBL UK- A UK retail bank.

She now runs her own firm – Actify Consulting Limited where she helps small businesses move from emerging to established, by developing their business and financial plans; and implementing business processes.

Basirat Razaq-Shuaib is also the  founder of The Winford Centre for Children and Women- a charity supporting children with developmental challenges both in Nigeria and the UK. She shares on how to excel in a male dominated sector.


How were you able to cope in a male-dominated sector?

Firstly, I was assertive and very resolved about what I wanted to achieve by working in the first place. I was able to learn very early in my career to speak for myself, and speak to the ears that matter. This means you can’t afford to be intimidated by anything or anyone.

Secondly, I supported my assertiveness with technical competence and that helped me to stand out. You have to be so good at what you do that your name precedes you. You must be able to establish yourself as an authority in your chosen field; but without sound knowledge or a genuine interest in the business, this is going to be very difficult.

Thirdly, I ensured I was personable. It is important that people are able to connect with you emotionally and not just see you as a work machine with no feelings. You cannot do  all the work by yourself, and without the support of others, you will end up being frustrated. Lastly, I had female mentors at work. These are people who have walked the path before me and were positioned to guide me on my own journey.

What do you think young women are doing wrong in this area?

There are three things I see happening a lot:

  1. The first one is that young ladies just starting out tend to not have a definite goal, and therefore do not have a strategy. This makes it difficult to position yourself rightly so that your achievements can be noticed.
  2. The second one is underestimating the power of standing together with other women especially those who are higher up on the career ladder.
  3. The last one is not adding value to your life outside of the workplace.

 

What are your tips for them?

  1. Have a plan- a game plan, a strategic plan, whatever name you choose to give it, but have a plan- a realistic one. Never take your eyes off the ball. When you have a plan for your life and career, it will be easier to spot opportunities and take advantage of them. I always say to people, “You can’t get where you are going if you don’t know where you are going”.
  2. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Learn to speak clearly and dress appropriately. Your look also matters.
  3. Learn from other women who are senior to you. Women pull other women up.
  4. Don’t expect things to be handed to you on a platter of gold because you are a woman- NO. You will have to go and claim your spot in the limelight.
  5. Add value to yourself at all times. Always remember that your technical competence alone will not take you to the top. As you start to rise, your social and leadership skills will become important factors as well.

What has been your most significant career achievement?

My most significant achievement would be Heading and Managing an entire  finance department in a UK  bank successfully just 6 years into my career. The regulations are a lot stiffer in the UK and it was a huge responsibility. Besides, there were only a couple of us (women) holding senior positions.

 

A lot of focus seems to be on entrepreneurs these days. What would you advise a confused career woman?

Don’t just join the bandwagon. First, know where your destination in life is and then assess your current journey. If where you are now is not on the way to where you ultimately want to be in life, then you don’t have any business being where you are now.

There is a price to pay for everything in life, success inclusive, and when your current journey is not in sync with your final destination, you will never be able to justify the price you are paying. Remember that not everyone is going to be an entrepreneur and being an entrepreneur is not just a walk in the park.

Being an entrepreneur is not just a walk in the park Click To Tweet

What is your tip to live a balanced life as women in the workplace?

You must always remember that if you pass away today, the business will run very well without you, so it is not a do or die affair. However, to ensure that you live as close to a balanced life as possible, you need to:

1. Prioritise the things that matter to you in life and assign your time accordingly. Family, friends, spirituality, health etc. are areas of our life that should not be neglected.
2. Be disciplined with your time. Plan your time and practice the art of sticking to your time allocation. It is not easy but with practice, it gets better.
3. Delegate tasks that are not critical for you to do by yourself.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered as the person who overhauled the provisions for children with special needs in Nigeria. I think this is an area that is currently not receiving the right level of attention and I would love to change that story.


Do you have any career tips for working in a male- dominated field?

Let us know here.

3 Awesome tools that can transform your company culture

“Culture is the organization’s immune system.” — Michael Watkins

Every entrepreneur’s dream is to grow a company that outlives them; every existing organisation’s hope is that their vision comes alive. One of the key factors in creating successful organisations, is that we must create an atmosphere that generates a love for what we do.

Over time, as society, we have come to accept that people enjoy doing what they are passionate about, they will take risks for things that speak to their hearts. Understanding this innate desire in every human being is essential to stimulating welcomed behaviours.

Our company culture is a way of doing things, what we do and how we do it repeatedly over time.

We must first of all determine the essence of who we are as a company and why we do what we do. We must understand what our vision and mission represents and how we can play roles in sustaining both.

A good work culture sets the standard for every occurrence, the way employees are hired, the daily interactions, incentives and opportunities that are offered. Our culture is reflected in how we treat ourselves internally and how we handle our customers, services and products.

Our way of doing work successfully is the practice that we must maintain. Clever CEO’s and team leader’s factor in the 3 C’s into their company’s mantra, these are the building blocks needed to create and establish patterns that build successful brands.

Communication

From the first day of work employees must adopt your way of communicating, how you manage crisis, how to receive and give feedback; also, how you analyze information, and how you want to be perceived by your customers and the public. For example, you can be known for the best after- sales care; while practicing these traits needs to be deliberate, it sets into motion after some time.Culture does not have to be big or overly dramatic.

 

Clarity

What makes the organisation? What drives your system? What attributes do you look for in an employee? How can you further develop those attributes? and how can employees be rewarded  when they adopt the attributes and values which help the organisation progress?

 

Consistency

This word cannot be over emphasized; good management practice implores us that good practice makes perfect. The one recipe to injecting a new or an existing culture is by maintaining and repeating the processes over and over again.

A good employee by default looks at the teammate that performs excellently and copies the behaviour of that person; humans desire to be the first. This awesome competitive streak can be beneficial to growth. It is more likely that people will emulate the ways of a high performing staff; especially the one who finds favour with customers or management.

 

good management practice implores us that good practice makes perfect Click To Tweet

 

Your company culture is your way of making best friends out of your processes and your people. According to Lazlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google: ”People operations are where science and human resources intersect. And it’s what keeps Google a top performing company”.

After making the list of best companies to work for, in Fortune Magazine’s annual list, Dan Satterthwaite, Head of Human Resources at the company Dream Works Animation said “We’ve been at it for over a decade in terms of really trying to create a unique and special place for people to come and do work; Any creative enterprise needs an environment where people can explore and feel valued and you can’t create that in a dungeon.”

Creating a winning organisational lifestyle involves a lot of work, finding the right people who add the finishing touch to what you want to establish, and providing the environment necessary for change. Cultures are not stagnant they are living beings who flow freely in time and space.

‘An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage’- Jack Welch


Do you have tips on how to build an amazing company culture?

Let us know more here.

Take Stock of Your 2017 Goals

December is around the corner. The last few months of the year seem to fly by and we seem to have that looming anxiety about the 2017 goals we made at the start of the year. So, have you managed to tick off all the boxes next to the goals? Or an even better question, do you still have the list? Should we still be making year long goals that we seem to forget by mid- January or should we go with the flow?

Having goals and ambitions is not a bad thing at all. It empowers you and drives you more when you know what you are working towards. There is nothing like that feeling when you finally achieve that dream you’ve had for a long time, whether it’s buying that car or getting a promotion at work.

Goals are great and accomplishing them is even better. But what happens when you fall short of your own expectations, or even completely forgot what you wanted to do at the beginning of the year? Does this render the whole year meaningless? I don’t think so!

Right now is actually a great time to take stock of the last 10 months. We always drive ourselves to the ground worrying about what we should have done or could have done, but actually fail to realize what we have actually done. Take a step back and account for your last few months.

 

 wendy williams how you doin wendy williams show GIF

 

Remember the small wins

Remember that amazing project you got to be a part of from start to finish, remember that park- run your friend forced you to join? Our goals don’t have to be these large, wonderful sky- high achievements.

It’s the little things that actually show that you haven’t been chilling all year doing nothing. It was the ability to send out all those job applications, it was standing up for yourself in that meeting, it was the ability to ‘do’ when the world said you couldn’t.

 

Take stock of what you have managed to achieve

There is definitely nothing wrong in having the grandest dreams about where we should be. However, it is wise to take stock of what you have managed to achieve. This balance is necessary.

Write down a list of your accomplishments so far and stick them up on your fridge or office cubicle. Look at where you have been and how amazing it was. How does this help your mindset for the rest of the year? Well for starters your track record shows that you have accomplishments worthy to be proud of.

You have done some pretty amazing things this year. Appreciate what you have done, appreciate yourself and use it to propel your success even further.

 

 married to medicine married2med pat on the back mariah huq self congratulatory GIF

 

Evaluate your January goals

If you still have your list of January resolutions and none of the items have been crossed off, this may be a good time to consider why you haven’t done the things you promised to do.

Look at what has changed, where were circumstances out of your control? You also have to hold yourself accountable, why did you not go for that promotion or not save for that trip you wanted to take? I don’t recommend this to make you feel bad, Motherland Mogul, but if we do not ask ourselves the hard questions who will?

It’s also about considering the shifting priorities and incentives. If the year did not go how you thought it would, how did you respond to that? What did you have to change to accommodate your different reality? This will help you re-evaluate your goals for the rest of the year based on what you know, as well as help you manage your expectations.

 

 reaction her wife think tonight GIF

 

Consider how you can add to what you have already accomplished earlier in the year

Looking back is an amazing way to create motivation for what feels like both the longest  and shortest year. Also, your achievements so far can help you plan for the last 2 months of the year. Consider how you can complement what you have already done earlier in the year.

Maybe you could come up with another project that takes the previous one to another level. Maybe you could motivate a friend to join you for that park- run. Look at where you have been and where you want to go, what could you do to bridge that gap? Create new goals for these last two months, what do you want to do that could make the last part of the year exciting and different for you?

 

Create weekly and monthly goals for these last 2 months

One of the great ways to avoid this looming anxiety about not achieving your big goals, is to actually create weekly or monthly goals. This helps you create goals for the reality you actually are in, not what you thought the year would be like.

This is important because achieving and celebrating the small things can really motivate you to push for the bigger goals. Writing down and shaping smaller goals is more realistic. You are holding yourself to attainable goals, founded on what’s happening here and now.

 

 kenya michaels charo its not what you say its what you do GIF


So, what have you done this year to be proud about?

Let us know more about you and your story  here.

Patricia Majule: Saving the Environment With Beautiful Paper Gifts

Patricia Majule started the business of manufacturing and supplying of custom party supplies, box packages, favors & gifts in 2014 and has recorded tremendous growth since then.

Her idea was born when she noticed that most people in Tanzania were importing paper supplies from abroad, instead of investing in machines becoming manufacturers. Through her business, she has been able to provide quality products made in Tanzania, at lower prices.

She takes us through her journey so far and how she’s changing the face of the Tanzanian manufacturing industry, whilst protecting the environment.


Tell us about your business and the idea behind it

My business trades as Unique Favors Tz,; we make products and provide services ranging from décor ware, gifting and gift supplies. Our products are used for parties, functions, events and can be customized for non- celebration uses, such as, business advertising and branding.

The company began in 2013 as Unique Gifts Tz, and at the time we were specialising in gifts. But, we  expanded our product line and changed the name officially, and registered as “Unique Favors Tz” in 2014.

patricia-majule

 

What ways are you contributing to the protection of the environment through your product type?

One of the products we make at Unique Favors Tz is uniquely designed cardboard, made by using the leftover egg shells from chicken eggs (maganda ya mayai in Kiswahili language).

Egg shells help curb environmental waste by reducing the waste that would have probably been increased by throwing away eggshells right after usage.

In Tanzania , eggs are consumed in large quantities due to the existence of many small scale entrepreneurs selling them in kiosks and bars, and also due to the fact that chicken livestock farming is popular in Tanzania.

Secondly, we use paper products to package gifts, as opposed to plastic.

Plastic bags are known to be a form of waste which cannot decay; which is why there has been a movement by the government to reduce and completely ban the use of plastic packaging in Tanzania. In five to ten years, my products will have contributed significantly to curbing environmental pollution.

What strategies have helped your business grow these past few years?

Very good & friendly customer care.

Continuous research and product quality improvement.

Customer feedback and follow up’s.

Great staff and business partner training.

The uniqueness of our products.

Those are just few of our strategies.

Patricia Majule: Saving the Environment With Beautiful Paper Gifts Click To Tweet

What opportunities lie in Africa and how much are young people tapping into them?

I’ve always believed that Africa is full of opportunities and many of them are hidden in industrial operations. Firstly the industrial sector is one of the most untapped sectors in Africa, especially by local natives, yet the most rewarding sector.

Majority of the youth dare to start a business with a focus on the retail phase, but they lack the courage and resilience to grow their businesses to an industrial level. Many other youth reach the idea level and fail to proceed to the implementation level.

 

patricia-majule

Tell us the setbacks you’ve faced in the course of establishing your business and your survival method(s)

 

  • Most of our product line and service offering is very new and unique to our community. Therefore, we have spent a lot of our time educating them in order to get buy-in.
  • At times raw materials which are needed for production are scarce; coupled with price fluctuations, this tends to be a challenge.
  • In our society it is not normal for people to see you developing a product and being in industrial, especially at a young age like mine, so there is a belief that somebody else could do my job better, and hence there is little support and a lot of bad-mouthing.

But ,at the end of the day our survival methods are to: be courageous, patient, and resilient and know that as long as we are being ethical and legal, everything is fine. Society will catch-up later.

 

Be courageous, patient, and resilient Click To Tweet

What great success has your business recorded in the past few years?

Our business has been successful in so many ways. Firstly, by introducing new unique products to the market, we got a very positive response from customers, which lead to significant company growth. Also we have been able to create temporary and permanent jobs to majority of the natives in Tanzania.

 

patricia-majule

What makes your business unique?

The products we manufacture in- country, the paper party supplies and the egg shell cardboards, are customised and very unique because everything is made from scratch. Most of the party supplies in our country are fully imported from China, so they tend to have common styles and lack that unique style.

Have clear and positive priorities, be consistent in pursuing your goals Click To Tweet

What are your top 3 books?

Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin graham

Getting Things Done by David Allen

 What’s the one business mantra you’d want every business owner to know?

Have clear and positive priorities and stick to them, be consistent in pursuing your goals.


What is your company doing to protect the environment?

Let us know more  here.

Increasing your target audience

Although there are countless ways of achieving business success, I will focus on one specific element. The process  of increasing your target audience. This process requires regular and continuous management and review.

Here are a few guidelines to grow your target audience as an organisation:

 

Studying- as a foundation for increasing your target audience

Knowledge of the current audience is the foundation for increasing your target audience.

Knowledge of the current audience is essential as it will serve as a starting point for where you intend to be. The success of growing your target audience will be determined by your knowledge of the current audience. I like the way Peter Drucker put it by saying “what gets measured, gets managed”.

Once you know, in terms of the services or products you provide, which one most people are interested in, and which one resonates the least with people, you will be able to set a clear target market strategy. It is important to  find out why your audience does or does not have a specific preference.

 

Build relationships not clients

On the basis of what is known about the current audience, the focus must be on building relationships rather than clients. Establishing a meaningful relationship with the current audience will build their trust. It will be of great benefit to you to if once in a while you have a small chat, to review. This can be achieved by follow-up informal interviews . It is import to be able  to show that you are not only concerned about what you receive from them, but also the quality you give to them.

 

Be SMART in order to achieve results

Okonjo Okonjo-Lweala the former Nigeria Finance Minister and World Bank Managing Director.

The difference between people who say something and the one’s who actually DO IT is one word, “action”. SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic and time bound) goals are essential in increasing your target audience.

 

Position yourself for the intended targeted audience

Right positioning gives results.
Right positioning gives results (Serena Williams).

Look at what you are contributing now and ask yourself what will be needed, in order to achieve the intended target audience numbers? Like Serena Williams, you need to position yourself during the’ game’, in order to ensure that the intended target is achieved.

 

Summary,

By taking the above steps, you will be able to assess where you stand with your current target audience and which direction you ought to take.


 

Do you have any tips on how to growing a target audience?

Let us know here.

From MIT to Harvard to McKinsey, Carolyne Njeri Gathinji Credits Her Success to God and to Going after her Goals with Undivided Attention

“God’s fingerprints are evident in the people He put on my path” says Carolyne Njeri Gathinji.

Carolyne is an MIT and Harvard graduate who currently works at McKinsey & Company. Njeri has excelled through life, whether it was at the Alliance High School in Kenya, a prestigious all-women boarding school, or at UBS after MIT. She is a consultant who loves traveling the world. Her best self-care tips? Same as Kerry Washington’s: getting her nails did. No wonder she is such a gladiator!


 

Who is Carolyne Njeri Gathinji and what gets you out of bed every day? Give us a brief tour of your life.

She is a simple, light hearted lady who is living a life she had never envisioned for herself. An optimist with a disproportionate share of joy, seeking positivity and positive energy. She is an extroverted introvert who enjoys bringing people together and forging connections. She is a Kenyan (from Nakuru) living in Boston and working as a management consultant.

Many people have been part of my journey. I could not get to where I am by walking alone. I am motivated by their belief in my strengths, their support along the way and the ability to inspire others. Secondly, my job gives me the opportunity to work with brilliant, ambitious and interesting people to solve clients’ problems. Getting to the solution becomes fun when surrounded by great teammates and clients.

I spend most of my time in Boston with one or two trips to Kenya every year to visit my family. I love traveling so I’ve also established a tradition for a week-long summer vacation trip. During the rest of the year when I am at work, Monday – Thursday are spent at the client site, working with them to solve the problem. Given most of my clients are not in Boston, I find myself away from home most of the week. I get back to Boston most weekends and spend the weekend relaxing and catching up with friends. I am also currently helping a local Boston business think about its growth strategy.

 

You are incredibly achieved – Alliance, MIT, UBS, Harvard, McKinsey- what’s your secret?

Is there really a secret? If someone has discovered one please share…

As I said earlier, it really has taken a village! I wish I could say all this was part of a master plan that I worked on, crossing one thing off the list after another. The only one of these institutions I really thought of for years was probably Alliance. I had that dream growing up, probably from the age of seven; given the caliber of strong women I knew who had attended the school.

MIT only became an option in 12th grade when my physics teacher prompted me to apply to American colleges, and about a year later, I was packing my bags and leaving my family at 18 and taking my first flight of the country to Cambridge.

 

Having said that, when I decided to go for any of the opportunities, I worked with undivided attention on the goals I had set and tried to leave no stone unturned.

In the moment, it was a lot of hard work and a matter of sacrifice, but if your eyes are on the prize, you barely feel it. In The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho talks about the fact that when you want something so bad, the universe conspires to make it happen. I believe this, but for me, it misses one crucial piece – the work you and the universe have to put in.

What I have found is that if you decide you will pursue something and put in the work, and make sure the relevant people in the universe are aware, they will work with you to make it come true. Of course, this presupposes that these relevant people are bought into your success and want to be helpful.

Although, I didn’t have the master plan, I believe someone did, and if I reflect on my entire journey, God’s fingerprints are evident in the people he put on my path, the strength and resources He provided and the favor upon my life. Steve Jobs said you can only connect the dots looking backwards, and even in my short life so far, I have had to trust that the dots will connect in the future and given my all to what is happening in the moment.

 

You travel a lot. What’s the best place you’ve ever visited?

Each place is different and I find that there are always unique experiences to enjoy and cultures to learn from. If forced to pick, I would say Thailand is at the top, because of the breadth of experiences it offers.

You studied Mathematics and Management Science in undergrad, do you apply what you learned in Math in consulting? Any advice for younger women looking to study in the field?

Even though I do not use most of the complex Math that I learned, logical and critical thinking skills gained are very applicable in consulting. Inherently, we are solving a client’s problem, which is what a Math major does daily. You need to break the problem into structured bit-sized pieces that lead to the final answer. You need to apply certain known theorems and assumptions along the way. That is what consulting is about. Additionally, we do a lot of quantitative analyses for which a love for manipulation of numbers fits well.

Advice: First, let no one tell you that you cannot pursue or do math…refer them to Hidden Figures! Secondly, think of how you want to use your Math degree. There are many ways you could directly use it; as a professor, statistician, actuary etc. However, there are many other professions that would value a math degree and you have to figure out if you need to pair the degree with another to pursue a career in that field.

I combined my Math degree with Management Science since I wanted to go into Finance. Once you decide to study Math, realize that some classes will be easier than others, seek professors’ help as needed and do not despair along the way.

I loved math, and it came naturally to me, until I went to MIT where everyone was a math whizz and things were moving too fast. I failed my first math exam at MIT and had to take a makeup test to at least get a C on that exam. I ended up getting an A- in that class but again, lots of hard work involved.

 

How do you thrive in a foreign land? What hurdles have you had to overcome?

It’s not easy, especially if you’re from most African countries with a strong sense of community. I have had to create my little pockets of community as I’ve gone through the different phases. Whether it was the African students clubs, advisers, co-workers, friends and families in the area, I had groups of people I could rely on.

I also got reconnected with my distant cousins in Virginia who I would visit for the main US holidays like Thanksgiving Day. As part of the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund, my fellow Zawadi sisters became my family away from home given we shared similar experiences.

Talking to family often was, and still is, my way of keeping in touch with what is happening back home. Technology has definitely made it better over the years.

Additionally, I had to deal with the reality of America, which Chimamanda Ngozi -Adichie so aptly describes in Americanah. The fact that race, a construct I had not thought much about growing up in Kenya, was one I needed to be conscious about. The fact that my hair would be difficult to take care of and be the subject of so many conversations.

 

Who is your role model and why? What books, or blogs keep you inspired?

I don’t have one single one. Generally, I find myself inspired by women who are pioneers, legends in their own right, who formed their own unique identities, having to withstand a lot of challenges to succeed. Wangari Maathai is one example.

I recently read a book on Sonia Sotomayor’s life (My Beloved World) and I am now reading Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s My Own Words, and I would include them in that list. In their own ways, these women are a big source of inspiration to young women and girls around the world. that they can go

Apart from biographies and autobiographies, I love good storytelling, and will get lost in anything that Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie and  Bikozulu (Kenyan blogger) write.

 

To go back home or stay in the U.S.? How do you keep engaged with Kenya/the continent?

I have thought about this a lot, especially recently, because on my maiden trip to the US, I had it in mind that I was going to stay for a maximum of ten years, which would be this August. At this point in my career, I think the breadth of experiences in the US offer the best learning opportunities for me.

However, I do believe the level of impact to be had on the continent outweighs what could do here, so I see myself making the jump at some point. How many years really? I’m not sure.

I visit Kenya at least once a year. When not in the country, I read a lot from local Kenyan newspapers and follow prominent Kenyans to understand the pulse of the country, I also ask about what’s happening on the ground whenever I talk to family and friends. Here in Boston, I also have a group of African friends who get together every so often and we discuss what is going on in the continent.

 

What’s your best self-care secret?

Physically, I would say mani-pedis do it for me. Sometimes you can even tell how I feel by looking at my nails.

But more importantly, I think it is what we feed our mind that really matters, especially today where most of what we are exposed to is negative.

Feed your mind and soul with what you want to grow. I personally watch comedy and have started a habit of writing at least two good things that happen every day. It could be different for every person, but still important to figure out what keeps your spirits up!


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5 top e-commerce platforms in Africa

Growth of e-commerce Gives Rise to Sophisticated African Digital Consumer

After scouring the store for a new pair of sneakers, Paballo Molahlehi finally lands on the one that catches her attention. She stares at it excitedly, swooning over the fresh pair of purple Reeboks. “It’s precisely the one I was looking for, I knew I was going to find it here” she nods as she adds the shoes to her shopping basket.

Thrilled with her latest addition to her growing sneaker collection, she navigates her way to the pay point. Molahlehi is doing all this while reclining comfortably on her couch, enjoying the convenience of online shopping. “I stopped going in-store after discovering online shopping. It makes more sense because my purchases get delivered to me for free, and I usually get discounts.”

Molahlehi is among Africa’s growing middle class who have money to spend and whose shopping habits have changed. With the surge of internet penetration on the continent, many Africans are easing into the habit of shopping online. According to a McKinsey’s Lions go digital report, online shopping could account for up to 10% of retails sales (with a value of around US $75 billion) by 2025, as more Africans gain access to the internet.

The increasing access to the internet is seeing a rapid emergence of e-commerce sites eager to tap into the continent’s growing online consumerism. The likes of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are at the forefront of this evolution. Companies such as Jumia, a Lagos-based online retailer, are dipping their finger in almost all major markets on the continent, cutting themselves an enviable piece of every pie. Jumia is also among Africa’s best-funded e-commerce sites, having raised US $150 million in funding in 2014.

As more people take to the internet to do their shopping, the demand for devices such as smartphones also increases. The 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey finds that in countries such as South Africa, smartphone acquisition increased from 52% in 2016 and 63% in 2017. Some of the more technologically advanced nations like Kenya and Nigeria boast a smartphone uptake of more than 44% and 30% respectively. Across the continent, the number of smartphone users saw a nearly twofold increase, reaching more than 226 million. This spike in smartphone penetration is steering a digital revolution on the continent, exposing users to the endless opportunities the internet provides.

Here are some of the top e-commerce platforms in Africa that are reaping the benefits of the booming internet penetration on the continent.

JUMIA

 

With a mission statement and ethos for connecting African consumers and entrepreneurs to do better business together, Jumia is blazing the trail of e-commerce sites in Africa.

The company is creating a platform where small, medium and large African companies link with their potential market, thus creating a new-age ecosystem that bypasses the middle man.

Launched in 2012 in Nigeria, the site has solidified a footprint in over 23 African countries, with a network of over half a million sellers since its inception. Jumia has managed to create a stellar reputation for being a hub for products and services spanning across the retail, food and hospitality, talent recruitment, concierge and the hotel and catering industries. Apart from servicing the needs of consumers and businesses, Jumia has also been upskilling and aiding employment for many Africans who are qualified in areas such as Engineering, IT and online marketing and web development.

 

TAKEALOT

South Africa’s Takealot is the go-to online retailer for the shopper that seeks a convenient and simplified online buying and user experience. The site has been around for over a decade, having been established in the year 2002. Its broad catalogue and variety of products in entertainment gives it an impressionable edge. Customers can shop anything from books to games, computers and TVs.

Part of what makes Takealot an e-commerce success story is that the online retailer strives to provide its customers with the very latest products in the market, coupled with up-to-date product specification.

In April 2017, Takealot scored a significant investment of over US $69 million from Naspers, one of Africa’s biggest digital companies. This came after the online retailer received US $100 million investment from investment firm Tiger Global Management in 2014. Naspers boasts a 53,5% stake in Takealot, while Tiger Global owns about 34%.

 

KILIMALL

 

Kenya’s largest online shopping mall, Kilimall is relatively new in the e-commerce space but has remarkably managed to create an inter-continental mark since its launch in 2014. The site, now established in other countries such as Nigeria and Uganda, has a retail customer base that continues to boom.

Kilimall is known for providing electronics such as phones, computers and gadgets, stocking top brands such Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, and Phillips. The site also offers other products such as home appliances, clothes, books, health and beauty products, and more. All its services are accompanied by a 7-day free return policy on their premium range of goods, making it an attractive choice for consumers.

 

KONGA

 

Konga has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2012 as a Lagos-only e-commerce site that specialised in baby and beauty care. The online platform has morphed into a major online retailer, often dubbed “The Amazon of Africa.” In 2015, Konga joined forces with leading Nigerian banks to launch KongaPay, a safe and convenient online payment method to tackle the issue of trust in Africa when it came to online payments.

The online marketplace was one of the first in Africa to create a system of payment that was integrated with world banks – an innovation that uses click system that eliminated the sharing of sensitive information during payments.

With a backing from the South African media giant, Naspers, Konga is now a major player in the e-commerce space. In 2014, Naspers, which has a 50% stake in Konga, invested US $50 million in the online store.

 

BIDORBUY

 

Established in 1999, South Africa’s online store Bidorbuy is one of the oldest online marketplaces in Africa. What makes the site unique is that buyers don’t only get to purchase what they want, but they can also make a bid for products, functioning as an online auction. The site provides a platform to facilitate trade between buyers and sellers. Previously owned items such as antiques and collectables are some of the most popular on Bidorbuy, making up 40% of all items sold. Other second-hand products shoppers prefer include high-end DSLR cameras and lenses, laptops, books, as well as video games.

Over the years, Bidorbuy has made several acquisitions of South African online businesses. These include popular sites such as online jobs portal, Jobs.co.za and e-commerce company uAfrica.com.

6 steps to quit your current job for your dream job

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” Click To Tweet

A little while ago, I got a text from a good friend to ask for my advice. She wanted to quit her current job to go pursue something she was passionate about. But, she was having trouble mapping out a plan.

Thinking through how I’ve handled similar situations in the past. Here is a summary of the advice I gave to my friend on how to quit her job in 6 steps.

Pick a date and plan your exit strategy

It all starts with having a plan. Decide for yourself what is the absolute last day you can see yourself being in your current job. It can be 3, 6 or 12 months from now. Write it down somewhere you can easily refer back and be reminded of the commitment that you’ve set.

Once you’ve picked an “I’m outta here by X” date, then you need to come up with a specific and detailed plan of all the things you need to do in that time-frame. This plan will map out priorities which will enable you to leave conveniently and support your transition into your dream job.

 

Know exactly where you want to go

What is your dream job? What are the profiles of people in the positions you aspire to? Identify 5 of these scenarios. How do you stack up against the competition? Are there any common threads across these profiles and are these things that you see in your own profile? If yes, great, if not, then you have to get serious about acquiring those skills, attributes, qualifications.

 

Focus on building your brand

In this age of social media, it’s all about perception. Sometimes you get that next job not because you’ve been the best at your current job, but because you’ve learnt how to get better at promoting yourself and your work.

These days, its not enough to just “stay in your own lane”. You have to find a way to strategically be seen and heard, while remaining authentic and true to yourself. Think about your long-term goals and ask yourself whether the things you’re doing now are in line with that vision.

 

Network, network, network

Like it or not, you have to put yourself out there, be it virtually or in person. Attend more events where the people who have the job you aspire to, will be present. Challenge yourself to talk to these people, ask them questions, get their contact details and be proactive about following up with them.

Approach people, not with the intention of showing off, but rather to find out what they are interested in and see how your interests align with theirs. Be purposeful and intentional about networking and watch it pay off.

Put in work behind the scenes

At the end of the day, when the right offer comes your way, you’re still going to have to back it up with experience. So whether you need to go back to school; take a course online; spend more time at your local bookstore; or schedule coffee dates with your mentors; the reality is that you are going to have to put in work.

Turn the job hunt process into a fun experience. Give your CV a makeover and add new certifications to your LinkedIn profile. Talk to people you look up to and realize that all of your goals are within your reach. You must be willing to work hard for the life you want!

 

Be your biggest cheerleader

Finally, learn to be your biggest cheerleader. But also surround yourself with a tribe of people that are committed to your success, both personally and professionally. Keep working towards your goals. Know that when you cross that line, all the people who love and care about you will be right there cheering you on.


Have you ever left a job for your dream job? What steps did you take?

Let us know more about you and your story here.