Chiedza Museredza: Making the move from Zimbabwe to Canada

Moving to a whole new country, a whole new continent may seem like the scariest choice you could ever make. Will you like your job, will the move be worth it, or what if you never manage to settle in?

These are just a few questions you may ask yourself. On the upside, what if it becomes the best decision you will ever make, what if you find a great group of friends and your job is the best career choice you could have made?

Chiedza has previously detailed her experience on immigrating to Canada to be a lawyer. Starting as a Masters student, she got an internship at one of the biggest law firms in the country and currently is completing her articles at McMillan LLP. She details below her experiences moving countries to kickstart her career

There are various ways you could immigrate to a new country – as a student or as a professional. The choice may lie with your experience and qualifications.

Professionals who qualify have the option of applying for an Express Entry Visa into Canada whilst students have the opportunity to qualify for a post-graduate work permit. Consider what your best option could be.

Making the move…

Going in blind when making such a seismic change to your life requires preparation. Moving to a new country takes a lot of research, time and money.

Plan what you need to do to, how you’ll do it, then take the huge leap and DO IT! Sometimes it means finding new ways to create opportunities for yourself and opening doors through your own initiative.

Chiedza describes the experience of moving to another country as challenging. In particular, moving to a country where she did not know anyone. It felt like starting all over again.

“To prepare for my move I connected with people on LinkedIn who had made the same move as I wanted to make. They, in turn, connected me to other people. I was very lucky to connect with helpful people.”

The power of networking…

Qualification and experience from back home may not always be recognized by potential employers. Some may prefer someone with Canadian experience and those with prestigious work experience or attended Ivy League or Oxbridge universities may fare better on the job market but not everyone has this experience.

Networking has a major impact on the impression you could make to your future employer. Before approaching someone to discuss opportunities it is definitely worth it to research the company and anything else you can find out about the person off LinkedIn (i.e. Google them).

This helps you determine how to approach them- what do you have in common and more importantly what do you specifically need help with.

“I found the best way was to network with someone in the company/firm/organization and they would recommend me.

Most companies trust recommendations from their employees. I have noticed that broadly worded networking emails are not very helpful.

Being specific with emails always shows that you know what you want So in essence what makes one the best candidate as a foreigner is effective networking that will result in getting recommended for the job you want.”

Be mentally prepared…

The job hunt is one of the hardest processes you could go through, but remember, perseverance is key.

“You have to have a thick skin and be resilient. You will be told “no” more than “yes”. Don’t take it personally – just keep going until you achieve your goal.”

Nobody deals with rejection well, but one small setback does not necessarily mean you should give up.

“I believe that what is meant for me will be for me and that rejection is not a denial of my dreams. So, I keep it moving. In terms of managing my expectations, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.”

Managing the corporate world has been extremely busy. “I struggled with impostor syndrome the first days. I had to remind myself that I worked very hard to get where I am so I deserved to be at the firm just like everyone else.”

Chiedza shares the key lessons she has learned from her immigration to Canada:

  • Failure is the best form of feedback because it forces you to change and grow – so failure works for you and not against you;
  • Don’t let your achievements set you back. It is very easy to relax after getting successful at something; and
  • Be grateful. Each time you want to complain (even when the complaint is valid) – just think of what you’re thankful for. This is one of the best ways to deal with stress.

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The Deep Rations of a Mental War: How It Affects You and Your Career

 Triggers are not always pulled, some are attended to by planting seeds where the soil has no intention to grow or build - @go_itse. Click To Tweet

As a content creator or simply a writer, you would think that the only thing that one has to deal with is pen and paper. The conception of an idea and putting it to paper, and then once you’re done, it defines you.

However, we tend to forget that our career or business is a journey.

If at any point you find yourself thinking of quitting, changing the name/industry of your business or switching careers and starting afresh, remember these points coined from The Art of War.

Discovering

The author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu, would say,

Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security, open ground and narrow passes, the chances of life and death.”

Mental health, depression as most would relate to, takes us to the depths of fighting between small and great distances, vis-à-vis, that we would want to take ourselves to, especially with our business and career goals, with the same breath try to balance it all with the personal ones.

And what I’ve learned and still I’m still learning is that it brings great danger than security. Allowing narrow passes over open grounds, bringing about confusion and a high risk of certain aspects of your career lying dormant.

In Point 21 of Laying Plans, Tzu explains,If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.”

In as much as we take the detriment of mental health as sickness, it is more psychological as it is. The more we allow the elements to grow greater than our will to succeed, the more we are aligned to derail.

 

To evade is an individual mystery, which is aligned as to how we got there in the first place. As we go through this state in a unique way that in some cases, no mantras can maintain let alone anti-depressants.

It is more like trying to evade the police in Need For Speed Most Wanted. Wherein this matter, we are trying to evade the state of being “less wanted” by the essence of life and you’re either marching, running or sinking in the art of war with your mind.

The best thing about knowing and acknowledging the state of our own mental health is through self-mastery - @Go_Itse Click To Tweet

Uncovering

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away.”

Waging War, The Art of War.

Defining what we go through as a mental illness whereas it’s a result of unattended life aspects that stack up, cause friction and then the heat goes to the head.

That’s when we start to wonder why life sucks and then the idea of being stuck sucks life away from that which we love. From managing people, careers to a detrimental state of not being able to manage the major key to all, ourselves.

 

A high price to pay that I learned by the means of losing a job, as you couldn’t talk to anyone.

You see yourself as the go-to person and the happy-go-lucky person with a great beautiful smile. Failing to deliver on time and lack of communication were the failures derived from this state.

We define what we go through as a mental illness whereas it’s a result of unattended life aspects that stack up, cause friction and then the heat goes to the head - @go_itse Click To Tweet

Recovery

”If equally matched, we can offer battle, if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy, if quite an equal in every way, we can flee from him”

Attack by Stratagem, The Art of War.

Triggers are not always pulled, some are attended to by planting seeds where the soil has no intention to grow or build.

The energy it takes for an attack or a relapse to occur, (as some deal with it well enough to know the triggers and some don’t), requires one to have an equal or greater strength as the infirmity.

Be it consistency in therapy (talking, writing etc.), yoga, meditation or exercising. Trying to avoid such a state can be easy at an early stage by doing the most with therapy and other forms of it, from someone who discovered at a very early age.

Mastery

”One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.”

– Tactical Disposition, The Art of War.

We may read all the self-help books to gain knowledge on how to break through an anxiety/depression state. But the will of the author of the book and of another individual may not correspond.

The best thing about knowing and acknowledging the state of our own mental health is through self-mastery. From that point of perspective and execution will we be able to master other things, even when there are triggers.

Then we can become effective motherland moguls and not be faint-hearted.

5 Take Home Points from The Art of War on Mental Health

  1. “Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow. A decision, to the releasing of a trigger.” – Energy
  2.  “Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something that the enemy may snatch at it.” – Energy
  3. “By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy must be divided.” – The Weak Point and Strong
  4.  ”So in war, the way to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.” – The Weak Points and Strong.
  5.  ”In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available. The material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness.” – Attack By Fire

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Kene Rapu: Find something that makes your brand different from everyone else

Kene Rapu is the founder and CEO of ‘Kene Rapu’, the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, established in 2011.

Her brand has played a significant role in changing the face of ‘Made in Nigeria’ footwear. Kene is a fully qualified lawyer with an LLB law degree from the University of Bristol, UK and a Masters Degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship from the London College of Fashion, UK.

In 2016 she was selected by the Tony Elumelu Foundation as one of 1000 African Entrepreneurs who’s idea could “change Africa”, in 2017 as one of 100 ‘Most Influential’ women in Nigeria by Leading Ladies Africa and most recently listed in the prestigious Forbes Africa ’30 under 30’ class of 2018, in the business category.

All Kene Rapu slippers are proudly made in Nigeria for the global community.


Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible - @KeneRapu Click To Tweet

What vision did you have when you started out, is it different from what you are experiencing now?

Our vision was to be the No.1 Nigerian footwear brand championing local production, and it has
remained the same.

We are excited about the progress we have made so far, and are looking forward to getting the nations wearing KR.

What is it like making it to Forbes 30 under 30 lists?

The journey so far makes me more excited for the road ahead. I’m passionate about what I do, and it is humbling and encouraging to know that something I started 7 years ago, has morphed into a business that is recognized globally.

How has this exposure impacted your brand?

Having a world renown brand highlight your business as one of 30 emerging brands in Africa, is definitely gratifying for a business owner, increases consumer trust and opens you up to a new network of professionals and investors.

How can an entrepreneur build a solid brand?

 

In whatever area you want to go into, do your market research. Find a unique selling point, find something that makes your brand different from everyone else in that market.

Know your customer, define him or her, have a clear vision of where you want your brand to go; stay focused and remember why you started.

Having come this far starting out in 2011, what important lesson can aspiring entrepreneurs take from your journey?

Dream big but start small, grow as organically as possible.

Understand that there is no such thing as an overnight success. Hard work pays. Consistency and integrity are important. Provide value; a quality product will market itself.

How do you deal with gender biases you encounter as a woman running an enterprise?

As a female in business, sometimes there are unnecessary issues you have to deal with, that
should not be the case. However, challenges make you stronger, whether gender-related or
otherwise; deal with them head on and move on.

When you jump past hurdles, it is a testament that indeed you are a survivor. I also believe surrounding yourself with the right company is helpful. I have female friends in the business, and we spend time discussing how to resolve our common challenges. Having strong ladies in your corner certainly makes the journey easier.

What message do you have for women who need the courage to follow their passion?

Go for it. The road is not easy, in fact, it is difficult, but it is certainly gratifying when you begin to break through. Seize the moment and start now.


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Smangele Nicolette Ngwenya: I am Enough

Born in the east of Johannesburg in Ekurhuleni, Smangele Nicolette Ngwenya is a self-motivated, systematic and confident woman.

Having grown up in her grandmother’s green shack, she sums up her background as colorful and supportive. 

This background inspired her to start the WomenYouAreEnough organization. Through her organization, Smangele hopes to empower and inspire women. 


What was the motivation behind your organization? 

I’ve always wanted to be involved in meaningful & fruitful things. My prayer has always been, God helps me to give more than I can receive. Being raised by a giving grandmother made it natural to me.

When the organization started, I only wanted to help take a disadvantaged girl child to school. Then suddenly, I also wanted to collect sanitary towels so that no girl child could miss class because of something that occurs involuntarily.

The organization has since become a movement with a hashtag #WomanYouAreEnough which reminds all women that it’s okay to be imperfect, that it’s okay to help other women without taking the glory once they reach to the top. WomanYouAreEnough means that when Queens(Women) gather, wonderful things happen.

What does confidence mean to you?

Personally, confidence means complimenting another woman’s beauty & understating that their beauty is not in the absence of mine. It means recognizing the strength of another woman & knowing but also knowing that I too am enough.

So confidence is about being happy in my own skin and also appreciating the strength of those around me. 

Has your confidence ever been compromised? 

Women have often compromised my confidence every now and then. I have had a very strong personality which has often mistaken for being a miss know it all.

I was teased for my body weight and facial features. However, despite all these negative comments, I have never felt any less confident. In fact, I have been fortunate enough to attract confident women who see each other as Queens and not threats.

What is your mantra?

My daily mantra is reminding myself that I am enough. Even on my worst day, I wake up and dress up knowing that without any reasonable doubt, I am enough. I don’t have to force what’s meant for me as it will find me.

Are women empowered today?

I have to say that women empowerment is definitely on the rise. Especially with the use of social media, we are seeing more women in the corporate world holding higher positions. Different organizations and movements are making sure that women empowerment is on the rise.

WomanYouAreEnough is one of those. We have different empowerment programs such as the matric dance campaign where we dress up disadvantaged girls for their big day. We also host seminars and share personal struggles to continue encouraging women. Therefore, females are inspired by everything we’ve done.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

My late grandmother Salamina Mafoka Molakeng Mimi truly inspires me. Though life has dealt with her, she has remained hopeful. My mother NoNhlanhla Ngwenya who from the age 18 has worked double shifts at various restaurants so that we can have a normal childhood also inspires me.

Finally, every other female who decided to go for it even though their background didn’t allow them also greatly inspires me.  

Does overconfidence cause more problems than under-confidence?

There’s nothing like being overconfident according to me. So, I’d say there are more problems caused by being under confident. Society still tries to tame females.

They tell us we are too old, too confident or too much. At the end of the day, these things make us doubt ourselves & we end up in a certain box hating each other as females.


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Nothabo Ncube: You are bigger than your surroundings

When Nothabo Ncube was only 14 years years old, her mother died in a tragic road accident. Before she died, Nothabo had made a promise that she would become a doctor. 15 years later, Nothabo is not only a doctor, but she is also a consciousness speaker and entrepreneur featured on TEDx. 

Her journey to becoming a doctor was not easy. After joining her dad in Canada, Nothabo lived in the projects which were subjected to high crime rates, prostitution, and drug dealing.

In order to survive, Nothabo had to listen to a deep voice within herself that told her she was more than her environment and she will rise through it. 

Looking back at her journey, Nothabo concludes that every moment was important as it revealed to her what her purpose was. Now she lives her life inspiring and helping other women find themselves. 

In this interview, Nothabo talks about her mentorship program – Esther.


What projects are you involved in at the moment

In August 2017, I launched an online mentorship program for young women. The program called Esther’s Mentorship aims to assist women to win back their power, settles into their true selves, realize their potential and be the best of who God created them to be.

I use my personal experiences and testimonies to empower and assist women to realize that it doesn’t matter where one has been. That through their broken pieces, there is hope at the end of the tunnel and God can use their pain.

Before I always played victim to my journey and it took time to get to a place where I started seeing things differently. Now I understand that some of the things that happened were launching me into my purpose. Therefore it is my intention to be a medium, a voice, a source of guidance to enable the mentees to see through their pain.

Why did you name it Esther?

While speaking at an event in South Africa, one of the speakers took an interest in me. We began talking about my life’s journey, my vision and plan for the future. I told her about the mentorship program and she suggested that I call it Esther.

Upon return, during a conversation with my spiritual mother, she said I reminded her of Esther. As if this was not confirmation enough, I then decided to name it Esther because we are raising queens.

How is the mentorship structured?

The mentorship runs every Sunday for 30 minutes, in one on one sessions. As we have women from different parts such as Zimbabwe, USA, Canada and South Africa, we needed a day where everyone would be easily available.

During the mentoring session, I help women structure their goals and create guidelines on how best to move on their journey. I aim to empower the young women and open them up to a different sphere of who they are.

What are your 5-year plans for the Esther Program?

Currently, we have one on one mentorship sessions. However, in the future, I would want the girls in Zimbabwe to have meet up sessions at least once a month. This will help them in creating a platform where sisters come together and support each other.

I also intend on having centers especially in the big cities and branching to the rural areas where I feel those in the rural areas need it the most. My intention is to build a community of sisterhood that reaches every girl that needs it.

Tell us more about your TEDx Talks

My friends have been very instrumental in my TEDx journey. My friend instigated my first TED talk in Canada. She submitted my story to the TEDx recruiters. They then interviewed me and asked me to share my story on their platform. My talk was titled: A inspirational Story of Hope, Faith, and Grace.

Then again in Zimbabwe, another friend also submitted my name for the Bulawayo TEDx Talk. This talk was very historical as it what it the first time TEDx was being launched in Bulawayo. However, my first talk was what opened the door for other speaking engagements.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I think my inspiration stems from my own pain of not having had a mother figure. Growing up, I yearned for that backbone from someone I trusted. This wasn’t always the case but I had a few people that I was led to along my journey who have guided me. Driven by this,  I would want to be that person to someone else.

Which women have been the most influential in your life?

Oprah Winfrey was very influential in my life. In 2011, I was looking for money to go to school and a friend of mine suggested I go on her site. There was nothing on scholarships or bursaries but what popped up was a box that said tell us your story –“you become what you believe”.

I typed my story and put my cousin’s number as my contact details. They called her three times and she kept hanging up on them thinking it was a prank call. She eventually asked me about it and of course, I was shocked, “How does one hang up on Oprah? When Oprah calls, you answer!”

Fortunately, they called again and I got to talk to Oprah. While I did not get money to go to her school, she told me of her journey from her childhood to where she was today. This truly encouraged me and made me change the way I perceived my journey.

I started seeing my pain through a different lens. I started understanding that purpose was birthed by my pain. That’s when I knew I was called to speak.

What advice would you give other young people in a context like Zimbabwe?

Never allow your circumstances to define who you are, you are bigger than your surroundings. God is bigger than the current reality of what Zimbabwe is going through. When you tap into that higher source of power it’s inevitable that things will work in your favor.

Hold on to hope, tap into your truth, and continue fighting things will eventually change. Listen to your God’s voice, the voice that is kind and brings you peace is where your true power lies. It’s leading you right where you belong.


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Elom Ayayee: Photography for me was a fortunate accident

Elom Ayayee never thought photography would be a part of her life. Her career path was in international relations, policy, linguistics, and publishing. But her love for beautiful images in magazines ignited her desire to pursue a career in photography.

She wanted to recreate these looks which seemed limited to only models for the everyday woman who could be a wife, mother, entrepreneur / employee, believer, citizen and role model.

Elom started with no knowledge of photography. She didn’t know how to take photos and had no clients. But with time, constant practice and determination, she opened her photo studio Elom Ayayee Portraiture where she takes magazine-worthy images of women to remember for the rest of their lives.


How did you start your photography career?

Photography was a very fortunate accident and I fall in love with it more and more every day. It’s all about meeting someone for the first time and finally creating a timeless piece of art that speaks to the essence of who they are or who they want to be in the moment it was created.

To me, that is the amazing power of portraiture. Photography for me is the power to exist in time. It’s a way to say “I was here. I lived, I loved, I hurt, I suffered, I rejoiced, I was silent, I was loud. I held this space”.

Why do you focus on women?

I started photographing family and friends and before I knew it I had a client base. My move to photograph women was not just a great business plan. But, it was also a way to highlight these women who are sometimes invisible in the roles they play. Women often get lost in their responsibilities and forget to appreciate themselves.

My initial desire was to give women just one day off. A day to get pampered and remember and document who she is outside of all the hustle.

To get her hair and makeup done and the most beautiful images of herself that would be loved and cherished and appreciated for all time.

What were some of the hurdles you encountered and how did you solve them?

Marketing has been the biggest hurdle. I’m naturally a very private person and 90% of my client base is from referrals. Putting myself out there is still a very uncomfortable experience for me.

That being said, my target market is small and very specific so that tends to minimize the effort I would otherwise have to make in marketing myself. It’s a lazy way of marketing I guess; give great service and let happy clients do the talking for you.

How do you get your photographs to spread your messages?

I don’t create my photographs for the general public. I create images for my clients to hang on their walls in their homes – this is very intimate and private. Images that hopefully their great great great grandchildren will see and talk about.

My images are about time, legacy and emotion. All of my images say different things in the different homes they live in. I can usually tell by spending enough time with a woman who she wants to see when she looks at an image of herself. I pull on every resource within me during a shoot to be able to give her that.

Click To Tweet

How do you improve your photography and get inspired? 

I do this every way that I can. I enjoy constructive criticism from people I look up to in the industry and my clients. I’m always on the internet trying to figure out how to get what I see in my head right.

My clients are all the inspiration I need. I’ve met such incredible people. Every woman has a story, every child has incredible potential. One day what I create for this person will be a timeless treasure to someone else.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?

Yes! I’m doing a series for women that I’m very excited about. It’s easy to promise to take the most amazing picture a woman has ever seen of herself when she’s been pampered and dolled up and looks like the jackpot.

Can I take the most beautiful picture of a woman make-up free? This is my challenge to myself and all my clients. So far, it’s been amazing. Women are so deep and they carry so much behind their eyes.

Each of my clients who have trusted me enough to put themselves in this vulnerable place has been won over. It’s literally the most powerful image you could ever take.

What photography gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best?

I started with a Nikon D3300 and I’ve always used natural light. My first studio was robbed and all my gear was stolen, that’s when I switched to Canon. I’m now shooting on a 5DMark iii.

I own a 50mm lens which I shoot 80% of my shots with and a 70-200 for my outdoor portraits. I use Adobe Photoshop for my editing.

What advice would you give young photographers who want to make it in this industry?

I really don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak for the whole industry, but I would say you need solid people skills and know the basic fundamentals of how to run a business. There’s a huge difference between a business and a hustle.

Also, advise often depends on what area of photography you venture in. So, the first thing I would say is, find your niche, and contrary to popular belief, the smaller your niche the better. Too many photographers are doing too many things. You can’t have it all.  Give great service. Master your craft.


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Babalwa Fatyi: Serving my Purpose with my many hats on

Meet Babalwa Fatyi the South African Environmental Scientist who is a wife, mother, poet, author. She is also the managing director for Myezo Environmental Management Services Consulting company, Myezo growth and development institute, and co-owner of the ZenQ fashion line.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution towards the development of the economy, Babalwa has been awarded various accolades.

She won the Standard Bank 2016 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015, and in 2016, she won the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Award. 


 

What factors have helped you achieve as much as you have?

The biggest factor that has contributed towards my success is not contradicting who I am. I aim to produce outputs that are authentic. My outputs should be aligned with my inner being and bring me peace.

To ensure this, I’ve made sure that I understand my purpose and that I align my goals with that purpose. That way when I’m faced with challenges, I am strengthened by focusing on my purpose which God revealed to me. Therefore, when I feel out of tune with what I need to do, I talk to friends and to God. They remind me of purpose and keep me on track.

Secondly, I am driven by serving others. I see my gifts and talents as a means to achieve greatness.

You wear many hats, tell us your secret ingredient for achieving it all.

The things that I do revolve around my core and serve my purpose. My responsibility revolves around showing gratitude and taking care of the environment that has been entrusted unto us. Poetry allows me to respect and feed my soul, by nourishing it.

My ZenQ clothing line in an expression of my artistic creativity through clothes. I believe clothes can reflect the essence of who we are. They can show how we feel as well as how we wish to be viewed.

A dress designed by Babalwa from ZenQ clothing line.

All these different things are just a tangible expression of who I am. My gifts and talents, which are given to me, to fulfill my role as an environmental ambassador and a steward. So I do not wear many hats but I wear one hat: I wear me.

What led you publishing your poetry book “Greetings from My Core”?

Poetry to me is an expression of who I am and a conduit through which I could find my voice and reach out to others and request them to engage with me on some of the matters that affect our society.

Through poetry, I could share my authenticity, experiences and love my surroundings, including its beautiful diverse people I encounter, who inspire me or bring life to those experiences.

This enables me to be more conscious and is also an opportunity for me to give reverence to God.

Babalwa with African Fashion Pioneer Vanya Magaliso

What can you tell us about your company – Myezo Environmental Management Services consulting? 

At Myezo, we seek to serve the environment, communities, and developers through guidance on how to best take care of the land we have. We help developers with regulations and assessing the impact of developments on both the land and the communities.

Through our work, we learn’t that our solutions must be tested by our clients who are our partners. As respect, empathy and listening to others are key in what we do, we must incorporate all the diverse views we face.

How has Myezo developed in terms of creating jobs?

Our greatest strength is our heart for youth and solidarity to the challenges our country face in terms of unemployment and poverty alleviation. We aim to bring to life the National Development Plan goals by playing a role within our areas of influence and capacity.

Through providing a platform, we’ve helped youth penetrate into the job market and therefore provided them with the needed resources to improve their lives and their families.

The youth were not only exposed to scientific knowledge but also to self-awareness, project management, and organizational skills among others.

Captured with the colleques.

What does the Myezo Growth and Development Institute do?

At this institute, we do coaching and mentoring through our collaborations with some universities. We contribute to ensuring that there are no wide gaps between what is taught at schools and what industries expect from graduates.

Our other collaborations with other organizations include projects such as the Princess D Menstrual Cup. Through this, we hope to put girls back to school and not miss out on learning due to natural biological processes.

This is aligned with our environmental stewardship role as this cup reduces the sanitary pads that go to the landfill or medical waste disposal sites.

Finally, together with the Tsogang Re Direng Youth Foundation, we empower girls with career selection decisions and also help connect them to skills development opportunities. These include skills such as events management of vintage recycling where they learn practical environment-friendly skills that generate income.

What do you do to relax?

I’m a very outdoor kind of person. So for fun, I take walks at the nature reserves around my neighborhood. This helps me find peace and tranquility in just giving my self-time to be alone at times and just recharge.

I also believe in being spiritually fed and therefore fellowship with other believers. Other than this, I spend time with my husband, family, friends. Listening to the sound of my kid’s laughter and running around brings joy to my life.

Francisca Ogunlade: My Scars are My Strength

Francisca Onyinye Ogunlade is a car crash survivor who decided to make her second chance at life very impactful and interesting.

She is also known as the “Side Business Queen” because she helps corporate employees leverage their strength to start and grow a profitable side business in 90 days or less.

She is a banker with 12 years experience, a founder of an event tech company and a business coach.

In this interview with Francisca, she talks about surviving a car crash, and how she got into the business of event planning and management.


Your location should not be a hindrance to your dreams. The internet has made life easy Click To Tweet

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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Vivian Atenaga: The Gospel isn’t Enough Without Impact

Vivian Atenaga is a pastor, conference speaker, and an educationist. As a preacher, Vivian believes that the message of the gospel is not complete without making a physical impact on peoples lives. 
Driven by this, Vivian co-founded a project named Smile Naija. Smila Naija is a platform that is used to reach out to the indigent in the society. In this article, Vivian tells us more about her passion. 

What inspired the Smile Naija Project?

Seeing the sufferings of people in our society has truly touched me. I thought to myself that though I was encouraging people through preaching the gospel, this was not enough. So, with a team of other passionate people, we began collecting food items, furniture, and kitchen utensils to donate to those who needed them through Smile Naija.
Through our diverse team of professionals, we offer free legal counseling and medical checkups from experts. After the medical checkups, patients are given free drugs also. The services we offer are open to any member of the society and so far we have reached a number of people.

What is your plan for the project in the future?

By the end of this year, we are hoping to feed and clothe at least five thousand families. It sounds ambitious but we strongly believe that we can achieve these goals. When looking at the future, we hope to have empowerment programs. Through these programs, we hope to give startups the training and funding they need to be able to start their businesses.
We also plan to establish scholarship programs that will especially benefit children in the Northern part of Nigeria as it holds a larger population of children that are out of school. All in all, we have many plans for Smile Naija and hope to make it more impactful.

Can you tell us more about your mentoring program?

I have often heard about this phenomenon that the younger people will outlive the older generation. Therefore, I believe that impacting the youth is a deliberate effort to designing the desired future that we want.
Through our program, we look into all the aspects of life that affect young people. We then deal with these aspects through teachings and dialogues. I’ve realized that the reason we keep having challenges in society today is that young people usually lack the requisite skills and tools to deal with challenges as they face them.
Therefore, I hope through mentor-ship, young people can get the help they need to face challenges.

How do you stay motivated with your various projects?

I understand that I am here on an assignment, and mediocrity is not one of the kingdom traits, which means that excellence is a basic mark I must meet. I keep setting new standards based on the vision God has given me for my life.
I know my purpose, and I ensure I stick to it through prioritizing my life, whether it is focusing on the home front, pastoring or even running my business. However, I have prioritized my life in a way that my home comes first, ministry second and my business third. With this order, I give to Caesar what belongs to him.
There is life after your wedding day, you are more than you think you are. - Vivian Atenaga Click To Tweet

What will your legacy be?

 At the end of the day, I hope that my legacy will be that I served God through everything that I did. I also want to have impacted humanity without any reservations.

Any inspiring messages for women seeking to start pursuing their dreams and fulfilling their purpose?

 You only live once here in this world. I know the period of giving birth and raising the kids are quite challenging, but I also believe that you can find time to document your ideas and sketch your plan to execute them once the kids are a bit older.
Don’t ever allow being married to be your life’s last dream.There is life after the wedding day and you are more than you think you are.

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Rukky Esharegharan: I am redefining education in Nigeria

Rukky Esharegharan is an early childhood education expert and founder of The Teachers Hub and South Pacific Teachers Academy. This is an initiative she founded to help deal with the lack of skilled teachers in the Nigerian education sector.

In less than two years since founding The Teachers hub, Rukky has grown its membership from 1 to 7500 members. She talks to us about her journey building the Nigerian education sector. 


How did your journey as an educator begin?

I first began my journey 16 years ago as a nursery teaching assistant while I awaited my university admission. Initially, I wanted to be a doctor and later a writer. For my degree, I studied English and later published a series of short stories, wrote a novel and started a blog.

Teaching was just something I did during the holidays to pass time. Our society does not promote teaching as a lucrative profession for high achievers, so even though I was great at teaching, I never thought of it as a prospective career.

Two things changed me.

Firstly, my quest to play an active role in my children’s lives led me to study more about early childhood care and education. Secondly, my teaching experience in a government secondary school in Warri, Delta State, opened my eyes to the decay in our education sector.

When I met the children, something stirred up within me. Each day I would go home upset and worried about how unmotivated the senior secondary students were.

I wanted to help these children but a 40-minute English lesson three times a week was not enough. Therefore, I decided to fully immerse myself in education.

I am redefining education in Nigeria, one teacher, one school owner, one parent at a time - Rukky Esharegharan Click To Tweet

Tell us about The Teachers Hub and the impact it is making

I started ‘The Teachers’ Hub in December 2016 with a singular vision ”to equip parents and educators with 21st-century teaching skills.” Though we have schools for education, we lack skilled teachers.

The Teacher’s Hub community was founded with the aim to network with, and helping other educators. In the past 8 months, I have trained over 350 educators (teachers, parents, school owners and consultants).

The many testimonials have inspired me to keep going. A parent from one of my courses called me to say she had decided to become a full-time teacher after the training with me and I cried with joy. I am redefining education in Nigeria: one teacher, one school owner, one parent at a time.

How has social media enabled you to grow The Teachers Hub brand and what makes it stand out?

The Teachers’ Hub started as a Facebook group a while back, and we’ll be hosting our first of many Early Childhood Education Conference in April and May across 4 states (Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Delta).

Without social media, I won’t have come this far. I have people contact me from different parts of the world and that’s because of the power of social media.

What makes The Teachers’ Hub stand out is that I give of myself so freely. When I first started, I had a dear friend call me to say ” Why are you sharing so much for free in your group?” She could not understand when I tried to tell her that I just wanted to help other educators find their way.

Without social media, I won't have come this far - Rukky Esharegharan Click To Tweet

What advice can you give aspiring teacher being held back by the poor remuneration in Nigeria’s education sector?

I like to say that ”teaching is a work of the heart.” Do it, not for the money, but for the love of our children, the love and future of our country. Only quality education can liberate us from the mess we face in our country. Make that sacrifice today so that our children will get a better future.

Money is important because we all have needs. However, money is often the after effect of hard work, passion, dedication, personal development. Be the best teacher you possibly can be and the money will come.

What difference did working with UNICEF make in your journey as an educationist?

My current work with UNICEF has opened my eyes even more to the realities of the Nigerian education sector. When one is a teacher or even a school owner or consultant, they don’t fully grasp the decay or damage in the system, unless you have someone show you a bigger picture.

UNICEF helped me look beyond the symptoms of our dysfunctional educational system to the root cause. And our team’s solution will address the root cause and not just the symptoms. It’s a very big project that would have a national impact.

What lessons have you garnered from your entrepreneurial journey?

I have learned that to be a successful entrepreneur, one must be passionate, committed, focused, hardworking, highly self-motivated and be a lifelong learner.

Don’t be too quick to say I have arrived, no matter how good you are, because there is always something more to add, to learn, to be.

There is this saying that a teacher’s reward is in heaven, what is your take on that?

Yes, I believe the saying to be partly true because great teachers are like mothers: our love and commitment to the children can never be adequately compensated with material gains.

While I will say yes we have a very big reward waiting for us in heaven, we can and should experience wealth in financial terms, also good health, peace, and satisfaction here on earth. All we need to do is work consistently on being the best versions of ourselves.

Don't be too quick to say I have arrived, no matter how good you are Click To Tweet

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