The Queen of Representation – From Botswana to the world

“The A-Girls are exceptional, black vinyl dolls that appreciate the African girl of today, with all her versatility and diversity”.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’. According to Bakani, creating the brand was essential in order to excavate and resuscitate what African beauty is. 

Until August 2016, Bakani July Johnson was a Lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB) in the Social Work Department. She holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work and has worked intensively in the psychosocial field since 2004, gaining experience with Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinic as a social welfare case manager.

Prior to that, she worked with the Government of Botswana as a Social Welfare officer. After years of ideating, planning and testing, Bakani left the UB and started her doll-making business.

Bakani is a social entrepreneur and is constantly looking for ways to enhance the lives of others.

She is also a founding trustee of Musani Family Care Foundation, an organization that focusses on the restoration of Botswana’s family unit, and offers accommodation to families in transition, mostly caregivers of hospitalized patients who come from far off villages.

Musani Family Care Foundation seeks to bridge the gap by providing temporary housing and support for these families who need it most, at no cost. 

Connect with Bakani and her business on social media.


Why it is important for me to make the dolls…

I have always loved children. I am forever looking for ways to enhance their wellbeing and this led to the realization that there were no black dolls to use during clinical sessions with my little patients.

As a social worker, dolls are some of the symbolic tools used for communication during sessions. However, more often than not, the dolls that were donated looked nothing like the children I worked with.

This became a query, to manufactures and it was not a pretty feeling as it was seen from the point of exclusion. 

I realized that I could continue with the feeling of being ‘left out’ as a black African girl, or I could do something about it.  The research allowed me to see that I, and others like me, were never a concern for doll-makers; they had their own market and concerns.

Whatever I could find was by sheer luck.  I refused to use divisive story-telling or to accept that it was ‘someone else’s fault’ that as Batswana – and Africans – we don’t have black dolls.

The more I searched, the more I was challenged to create the doll I was looking for. I worked from thought to product, beginning in 2007.

The effect representation has on young Batswana /African girls…

We have for the longest time been portrayed as ugly, and not a representation of beauty.

If you research dolls throughout history, you will not like what you see. We have been ‘caricatured’ through the years and our features ridiculed. Our natural hair is still a full-on debate today.

With the dolls, I am simply excavating and resuscitating a black girl’s beauty.

The idea of the @AGirls15 dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. – Bakani… Click To Tweet

The idea of the dolls was to trigger an emotional response and to ensure that we put African girls faces on beauty, with a clear understanding that it is our responsibility to raise a new, confident African girl. 

The development of The African Girls Dolls is a winning communication tool targeting children.

These are one-of-a-kind vinyl dolls that appreciate the diversity of African girls and were created with the realization of a lack of representation both commercially and in messaging for African children.

Most props and toys used are of girls and boys are not of African descent. Through the African girls’ collection, I am constantly helping organizations to create a unique language of truths, trust, and symbols as part of visual storytelling and visual messaging.

I understand that symbolically, images help us to understand abstract concepts that cannot always be translated into words and dolls have throughout history been symbols to communicate, appreciate and represent.

Dolls are part of a girl’s introduction to what is considered ‘beautiful’, and speaking to that aspect we want to be able to say ‘she is so pretty, just like a doll’ – and actually talk about a doll that looks like her. 

Children are visual beings. They connect to things visually and will remember things seen more than things said. They connect with objects or pictures from memory.

Africa and Botswana are about symbolism, or what things represent and communicate.

By giving girls @AGirls15 dolls that look like them, we are communicating a million things without words. Silent messaging works well with children – Bakani July Johnson Click To Tweet

If you listen in on doll play, your child communicates with what she sees. If her dolly is wearing beads she will have a conversation about that. The idea was to have dolls that are relevant to the children, thus when one looks at the dolls, they will realize that some have tutu skirts and modern symbols which represents a ‘modern girl’ whereas others are dressed in traditional Tswana regalia.

Great dolls bring the thought of history, self, and admiration. Children from different ethnicities benefit from playing with dolls that are a different skin tone, make and versatility.

Though dolls are not photocopies of the individual, we believe that to a small child the most important thing is that her little dolly is beautiful just like her, validating who she is and how she relates to herself.

The role I see my dolls playing in a Motswana girl’s life

This product, created by an African woman for African children is girl-centered for now and is self-esteem/self-efficacy based.

More than play, the dolls are seen as communication tools that instill gender and ethnic pride as a foundation for social skills. What you see and is preached becomes a norm. If everyone talks about ‘light-skinned’ being better, children will want that.

I want parents to hand the dolls to the children without influencing the children’s taste about them. 

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls from those that design the clothes to those that do the hair and packaging.

I am very committed from an economic point of view to create an ecosystem that will hire many people because the project has a lot of potential for growth.

I want a situation where the dolls will have ambassadors so that the young ones can appreciate the mortal presentations of the dolls, just the way they experience the princesses that they see at places like Disneyland.

I will build the momentum and I am open to ideas to help develop the brand even further. I am sending out a call to all African and Botswana girls to join the brand as re-sellers and distributors for their countries.

How I manufacture my dolls…

I have involved a few people in the crafting of the dolls, from those who design the clothes to those who do the hair and packaging.

Unfortunately, in Africa we don’t have companies that work with vinyl for doll making, so we have been forced to outsource.

However, we do have tailors and designers, crochet ladies and shoemakers working on other aspects of the dolls locally.

How the dolls have been recieved by people so far

The success of the dolls has transcended borders and continents, and they have reached international markets.

Botswana has been amazing! The relevance is clearly understood, the need is very apparent and we can only express gratitude for all the support.

Media has been keen at each stage of their development, and young, hopeful Batswana are eagerly working to join the brand and with open arms, we are welcoming ideas and collaborations.

The dolls are currently available across Botswana, as well as re-sellers in Johannesburg, the Netherlands and the United States of America.

We have worked with brands like the Netball World Youth Cup, International Women in Sport, Botswana Tourism Organization and we are currently working on a project with Botswana Netball.

The growth of the business will definitely be stimulated by partnerships.  Partnering at different levels with others is beneficial.

I am working with so many individuals who want to run with certain aspects of the product and I have never been as relieved as the agreements come to fruition. I know now I cannot do it alone! 


Botswana is one of Africa’s success stories, from one of Africa’s poorest countries to a vibrant, developed, middle-income African state.

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Mendy Lusaba: Creating jobs in Zimbabwe through Housekeeping

Mendy Lerato Lusaba is a Social Entrepreneur making changes in the domestic work industry. She is the Founder of Chris and Geo Domestic Placement Agency which recruits, trains and places socio-economically disadvantaged women as domestic workers. The innovative agency also offers unique housekeeping services of weekly maids for those that do not need full time stay in maids hence slowly disrupting the sector. She also founded the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe which is a network of Zimbabwean maids with a focus on capacity building and advocacy work. DWAZ has members in Zimbabwe, South Africa and is growing daily.  In this article, she talks about how she took advantage of her background in HR to create more jobs by starting her own business.
Meet @mendylusaba - a Social Entrepreneur making changes in the domestic work industry and creating jobs in Zimbabwe. Click To Tweet

Tell us about your professional background? 

I have a B.Sc. in Human Resources Management, a Diploma in Labour Law from the Institute of People Management and Post Graduate Diploma in Law from the University of Zimbabwe. I’m also a Mandela Washington Fellow 2018 Alumni and a YALI RLC Southern Africa 2016 Alumni. I have done Entrepreneurship Training with Empretec, ACT in Africa. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Social Entrepreneurship training with the Udugu Institute. So far, I have worked in the energy, mining, catering and hospitality industry in the Human Resources Department holding management positions before going into entrepreneurship full time. I write articles for different publications about domestic work and I run a blog. I have written a handbook for domestic workers. Because of my bubbly nature and being a motivator, I am often invited to speak at various women’s events nationally. 

What led you to start the housekeeping business?

When I had my first child, I struggled with getting the “perfect” maid. In a space of 6 months, I had changed maids four times! I realized that it was very difficult to get the perfect maid when you needed them. Upon further research, I discovered I was not alone. Majority of working women need a maid but struggle to get one on time. I also realized that there were also so many women who needed jobs as domestic workers but did not know where to start. Coupled with my background in Human Resources Management, I realized I could provide a solution. I simply had to bridge the gap between the employers and the employees, hence the birth of Chris and Geo. My work drives me and I have a great passion for what I do. Running my own organization brings me great joy and seeing one woman’s’ life transformed by simply being a maid is enough reward. Seeing a previously disadvantaged child go back to school because her mother can now afford it is enough satisfaction. Business success is a combination and a recipe for many things - @mendylusaba Click To Tweet

Tell us about Chris and Geo

Chris and Geo is an organization that was formed with the family in mind. It recruits, trains and places socially and economically disadvantaged women as domestic workers. It offers fulltime stay-in and stay-out maids and also has contract maids that are available on specific days to the clients. Chris and Geo offer on-the-job training for maids. Through Chris and Geo, I realized there was more that goes in the sector. From working with the maids, I realized they were vulnerable and they also needed capacity building hence establishing the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe. My work is more of a calling than anything else. Domestic workers are very important with almost 70% percent of urban households relying on the help of domestic workers. It is also, amongst one of the oldest professions. Unlike in developed countries, the profession is still informal and not officially recognized. The sector is so behind with both the employers and employees lacking the professionalism required of any profession. This is why I do what I do, I am in it to change the game.

How does a normal working day go in your business?

My work is mostly about societal impact rather than monetary impact. Being your own boss means your workload is never normal! You do what needs to be done whenever it needs to be done. Our business is heavily centered on convenience meaning a client must be able to call us any time when they need a maid. As such, every hour is a working hour for us. Being your own boss means your workload is never normal! You do what needs to be done whenever it needs to be done - @mendylusaba Click To Tweet

In Zimbabwe are people comfortable with strangers coming to their homes to clean? How have you managed client inhibitions?

Actually, in Zimbabwe majority of households have stay in maids. It has been like this for so many years. Families prefer having someone that stay within their homes. Generally, Zimbabweans are open people and the family structure is very important. We have huge families and the extended family is usually a close family. As such, it is not very difficult to have someone join the family. Our private space is so accommodating that we have few inhibitions about having someone in our homes. It is only now that we are beginning to have formal distinctions with domestic work, Otherwise, culturally the maid is part of the family with titles like Aunty or Sister. Now, people are beginning to have stayed out maids that do not stay with the family. This is why the domestic work sector is very huge in the country. It only lacks professionalism and formalization but it has been in existence since independence.

What has been your major challenge on your business journey? What can be done about it?

I know this is going to sound rehearsed and rhetoric but it is the truth. Capital is a challenge for many businesses and mine has not been exempted. I did not start my business with any loan or grant or funding of any sort. As a result, my growth has been steady rather than spontaneous. This has its advantages and disadvantages. It allows me time to refine my business model but it also gives greater room to competition and effluxion by time. I have managed to work around this by using the lean startup approach and also by ensuring I am innovative and relevant. It is about survival after all.

You recently returned from the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), what would you say were and how will this impact your business.

MWF was such a great eye-opener and not only did it help me in my work but also in my personal life. Before leaving for America, I had my whole work plan drawn out and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Imagine my shock upon getting to America when I realized that the playing field is totally different! Whereas in Zimbabwe, almost every urban house has a maid, in America, where I was, it was the opposite. All the people I met and talked to did not have a maid, let alone a stay in maid! I was however very fortunate to meet up with one housekeeping business owner and we shared notes. I’ve also got a few great business ideas and I hope to even have a day-care in the future. I know I’m in the right direction. Before leaving for MWF, I had started on contract housekeeping services which are not so common in the country. I was excited to learn that this is the norm in America and it reinforced the direction I was taking in business. Although they have their own problems, domestic workers in America are heavily covered by legislation making the job a real formal profession. It is this kind of formalization I envision for the Zimbabwean and African domestic work sector.

What do you wish you knew before starting out in business

That passion alone is not enough, that capital alone is not enough, that education alone is not enough, that faith alone is not enough. Business success is a combination and a recipe for many things. You need the right amounts of all these ingredients and strategically used for final success. It is not like what we see on TV or read in novels, they exclude the hard, dirty and painful parts of it all. It is not even that glamorous at times. I wish I had known this all before I started my business.

What advice would you give to young African young women seeking to start businesses

Just do it!
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Agang Ditlhogo – All we wanted was to teach kids and teens how to code

Agang Ditlhogo is passionate about education. She is a co-founder of The Clicking Generation ICT Academy for Kids and Teens. It is a social enterprise that offers computing and technology curriculum to kids and teens.

Also, she is currently National Expert for UN-World Summit Award Organization, Ambassador-ITU Young Innovator Competition, Ambassador-Africa Code Week and PR Officer – Internet Society (ISOC) local chapter.

Agang forms part of the prestigious Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program. She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow 2016, an initiative by U.S. State Department.

She was selected as OkayAfrica Magazine publication top 100 women in 2017. Agang is an Atlas Corps Fellow currently working at Tetra Tech as an International Energy and Internet Fellow.


 What led you to choose ICT as the path you wanted to work in?

When I first saw the computer back in Junior School I was beyond fascinated. I envisioned what I had previously seen in sci-fi movies and I wanted to learn more. Interestingly, I didn’t know then that I’ll be in a related career and I just forgot all about it.

I had always known I wanted an engineering related career and when I found out about computer science I got excited.

After a one year BSc program, I joined the Computer Information Systems stream. I have since evolved and I now have a focus on ICT4Development as an emerging field of focus.

You co-founded your social enterprise, The Clicking Generation, what has that journey been like?

The Clicking Generation (TCG) is an ICT Academy for kids and teens. We offer age-appropriate, fun and explorative learning of ICT and computing concepts for boys and girls in both rural and urban Botswana. We are loud, colorful and fun!

The mandate is simple, we want to contribute to the education system of Botswana. Our programs are designed to expose learners to tools and resources that will not only enhance their logic and creative thinking but encourage them to become innovators of socially relevant technology solutions.

It has been an interesting journey thus far. Imagine this, two ‘naïve’ techies Tsaone Gaborone and myself with zero experience in curriculum design, financial management principles, and many other elements.

All we knew was we wanted to teach kids and teens how to code. We have since come a long way and through professional and self-development efforts continue to embrace the principles of social change and all the related technical factors.

What prompted your decision not to work a full-time job?

I had worked in an Academic Institution for seven years both on the academic and IT technical aspects. Crazy notion! I left a permanent and pensionable job for a dream, who does that? The intention was to focus on business strategy for the social enterprise.

I quickly realized what it takes to be an entrepreneur, it is a specialized field that requires bravery and a distinct DNA. I remain a devoted social- entrepreneur and believe in change maker ideals that foster change.

Fast forward a couple of years, I decided to take up working as a local United Nations volunteer and continued technical development work. It has been an interesting career journey and I currently serve as International Energy & Internet Fellow with Tetra Tech based in Washington, DC through the Atlas Corps Fellowship.You were a Tony Elumelu Fund Recipient and have been selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, and Atlas Corps Fellowship, how has this shaped your journey?
It has been a blessing being selected for these leadership opportunities. The technical takeaways of these programs have positioned both my personal and professional outlook.

I have had moments to self-reflect which have allowed me to apply servant leadership strategies and principles to my current efforts.

However, I continue to meet inspirational young leaders across the world whose bravery is depicted in their various efforts to contribute to their communities. These moments are treasured and I’ll continue to be encouraged and validated.

I would encourage young changemakers to seek these opportunities, apply and be ready to teach and learn.

Why did you think is philanthropy important for your career or personal growth?

I have in the past volunteered with both local and international organizations. There is power in willingness to learn, genuine willingness always reveals limitless possibilities. It is a simple principle really but may as well be the opportunity that announces you to your next level.

I have realized that there is something that you have that the next person needs big or small you have something to offer, this has been a great lesson.

What has been your greatest achievement, and what disappointments have you dealt with since you started your journey?

One of my highlights in recent months has been part of the coordinating team with SIMI Movement (She.Is.My.Inspiration). This is a mentorship program for young women matched with industry’s influential women from various sectors.

The interaction has brought several personal AHA! moments that I was in much need of. I also treasure time spent on implementing GirlsInICT and #eSkills4Girls programs.

Far too many disappointments! They come in sometimes being unsure of this journey, constantly requiring personal validation and income statements that make you question WHY?

Why do I continue to do this? I will testify of God’s goodness during these times because amidst many reasons to give up there is always assurance unexplainable.

What’s your advice for Motherland Moguls interested in starting a social enterprise? Where should they start?

  •  Be intentional! Identify your value-add and be deliberate about your personal and professional branding. It is all about character and discipline in the journey to ‘becoming’. Genuine work and effort have the ability to introduce you to your targeted audience.

 

  •  Be teachable in the Potter’s hands! God is the revealer of destiny and if you complement your journey with hard work and faith you will be well on your way.

What passions do you explore outside of your business?

I love poetry. Although I do not write as often as I used to, poetry has been a fulfilling passion of mine. I also aim to keep up with reading current opinion media pieces.


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Kagiso Madibana: Our generation desperately needs hope

Our SLA community knows Kagiso Madibana as the founder/ chairperson of Nayang Association, a social venture that she founded in 2014. She is also an entrepreneur who owns a communications company called MD Africa Communications.

Kagiso is also a self-published author of the book ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’. She is currently working on finishing her second book which will be centered on her traveling adventures and actual journey to self-discovery.

Her passion for telling stories has also pushed her to seek partners in the theatre world to try and turn her first novel into a play. In this chat, we look into Kagiso’s writing journey, and the successes she has encountered. 


What influenced your decision to become a writer?

Over the years, I have learned that I can communicate and express myself better through writing. I also have an obsession with sharing and creating stories about experiences that could change lives or make an impact.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’?

I grew up reading a lot of books and I learned a lot about the world these books. However, I never found characters that I could relate to. None of them sounded like my story or that of my neighbor.

So, I wanted to write a book that the ordinary Motswana/African could relate to. I also wanted to write inspirational stories about hope because our generation desperately needs it.

Your book examines relatable topics. Why was it important for you to write about these issues? 

The work we do at Nayang Association exposes us to a lot of poverty and people who give up on life because they have no hope for the future.

Through our mantra of “community building“, we want to change the mindset that one has to rich in order to help build their communities. We seek to inspire kids and help them believe that they can become whoever they want to be and also be involved in community building.

Through the book, I was able to bring to life characters that have the same challenges that people in our country face and show how they were able to overcome their obstacles despite their environment.

How did your debut novel end up being adopted for the Botswana standard four class syllabus? 

From the early age of 8, children begin discovering things that develop their personalities and form who they will be. When I wrote the book, I made the decision to use English in its simplest form so that anybody from the ages of 8-60 could read the story. 

My breakthrough came a year after I had traveled to different government schools (primary to senior). During these trips, I would give talks and donate books to outstanding students at prize-giving ceremonies.

I would also be reaching out to different schools to see if the novel would be a suitable read for the children.

Bathoen I House in Orapa, a Debswana private school was the first school to order the book as part of their syllabus for standard fours. Thereafter, other schools and Bridge Books Bookstore,  in Maboneng and Commissioner Street in Johannesburg, bought the novel for their libraries.

How did you get nominated for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the Africa Youth Awards? What did you gain from this experience? 

I believe in sharing the activities of Nayang Association with our network because it helps us remain relevant. Through our Facebook page, we update our network and reach out to more people to help us attain our goal of touching lives. 

One day, I received an email from the Africa Youth Awards Committee, notifying me that 5 social entrepreneurs from across Africa along with members of the Committee had nominated us.

The process was then open to public voting. Competing against very deserving and inspirational individuals was quite an honor. In the end, I didn’t lose anything, I gained a continental network.

How was your journey as a Batswana literary artist/creative? 

Leaving an 8-5 job to focus on writing in a country that doesn’t have much of a reading culture was a gamble. However, I knew I had to take this path. 

My challenging journey often made me think of giving up. There is a popular saying that “passion doesn’t pay the bills”. However, faith and the confidence in what I was doing guided my experience. Eventually, doors started to open.

During my journey, I had nobody to look up to or guide me. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing writers in this country but I didn’t know their story. I choose to share mine to aspire young writers and help them learn and improve from what I did.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Search for entrepreneurship workshops in your area and online but most importantly NETWORK.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Timipre Wolo: My goal is to build a legacy that would transcend my lifetime

Timipre Wolo is that proud Elder Sister who has risen from depths and is paving the way for the ones coming after her.

She is a former Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) management staff, who has now moved on to pursue ‘her calling’ as she puts it – through Centre for Gender Equality, Education, and Empowerment (CGEEE).

Her empowerment initiative for vulnerable girls and women, and her energy company; TFN Energy. She attributes discovering her passion to working at PTDF, where she has created opportunities for about 400 young people.


To start out, and stay relevant in your career, identify your purpose - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet

The Humble Beginnings

Ms Timipre Wolo lost her mother at age 12. She recalls filling the mom gap for her family by taking a night shift job at age 16 while juggling her law diploma, and many other daring opportunities she created for herself.

In her determination to bring the light home to her people in Niger Delta, Nigeria, and make her mum proud, she maximized every open door. Working at PTDF was one of them. Timi recalls initially not being well-placed but she excelled when she changed her focus to delivering.

“When I joined the PTDF Legal Department, it was also the Management Secretariat. In addition to my schedule of duties at the department, I was the assigned the responsibility of attending Management meetings to take minutes.

I was always fascinated by these boardroom meetings and looked forward to it because it was a great opportunity to learn more about the organization. I could only be seen but not heard because I didn’t have a seat on the table. Everyone seemed pleased with my drafting skills and I was subsequently deployed as special assistant to the Executive Secretary with increased responsibilities.

Timipre Wolo and PTDF Management with the former Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria

Despite the stress that came with my new portfolio, I counted it a privilege to be developing so many skills at the same time.

In 2012, the Industry Collaboration Unit was established to formulate strategies for capacity development under the Fund’s Post Amnesty policy and to foster collaborations between the PTDF and relevant stakeholders. An Oil and Gas lawyer was needed to lead the team and by providence, I became the youngest member of management by at least 10years,” she explains.

One tool for a woman to have a seat at the table is education - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet

Her role in Mentorship and Female Education

Timipre’s leadership at the Fund’s Industry Collaboration Unit, led to the actualization of scholarship awards to about 400 young people from across Nigeria, to study at various institutions overseas.

She also led the first-ever Helicopter pilot training for the petroleum industry in Nigeria which discovered Ruqayat Suleiman – the first female helicopter pilot from Katsina state, along with 3 other young women from Ondo, Rivers and Bayelsa States.

For Timipre Wolo, one tool for a woman to have a seat at the table is education.

“I have assisted several young women in facilitating educational scholarships at undergraduate, Masters and PhD levels. I assisted a young lady from eastern Nigeria who walked into my office frustrated from trying to get a scholarship to study in UK.

She was told in confidence by the security at the PTDF gate ‘if only you can meet Aunty Timi, she would do everything within her power to assist you.’ I have made a conscious effort to ensure that women were given priority placement, to bridge the gender gap.”

I have the most amazing relationship with my mentees! I remember when the pilots were still in training school, I would personally take them out for dinner or we would visit a game reserve or amusement park with them. However, for obvious reasons, I created more time for the girls. On one visit, I got a hair stylist to come over to my hotel to get their hair done, then we went to see a movie together.”

“When it came flying with them, I was the only member of staff who dared to even before they obtained their Commercial Pilot Licenses. I knew it would mean a lot to them because if we didn’t show them that we believed in them, then how did we expect them to get hired by others?

That singular act boosted their confidence. I see the success of my mentees as my success too because they are a part of my journey just as much as I am part of theirs. That is the sort of unique relationship I have with the young women and girls I am privileged to mentor.

It makes it very easy for them to relate to some level of trust and mutual respect, knowing that even when I’m tough on them, it is because I want them to succeed. For me, mentorship is truly about laying the groundwork for others to succeed and then standing back and letting them soar and shine.

My goal is to build a legacy that would transcend my lifetime - @timiprewolo Click To Tweet

What does a legacy mean to Timipre Wolo?

The CGEEE is committed to ensuring that internally displaced girls have access to education, whilst also empowering women through skills development and entrepreneurship.

Through Timipre Wolo’s organizations; CGEEE and TFN Energy, 5 girls from an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) have been awarded scholarships to cover fees, school supplies, feeding and living stipend in 2017.

“At CGEEE we actually go beyond just sponsoring them to school to actually taking care of their welfare and mentoring them so we can get the best out of them. I know this is part of my calling because of the kind of joy and satisfaction I derive from seeing the eyes of these young girls light up with hope! This is not a one-time thing, it is a life-long commitment.

Timipre Wolo and her Girls at the IDP Camp

There is so much to be done, not only in northern Nigeria but also in every other part of the country, including the Niger Delta region where I come from.

I left PTDF to start my own company because most of the scholarship programs I initiated were discontinued in 2016 due to the economic recession. I figured that if I had the courage to pursue my dream of owning an energy company, I would someday be able to fund my passion.

Barely 1 year after, we have awarded 5 full scholarships already. A lot of the teenage girls in the IDP camps are either impregnated, married off as child brides and most recently, taken to work in farms for a fee of 400 Naira per day just so they can survive. That is why giving them scholarships is not enough.

They must be taken care of in terms of providing welfare packages; showing them love and mentoring them because of the traumatic experience they had been exposed to.

My goal is to build a legacy that would transcend my lifetime and that is only achievable through strategic partnerships. We are setting up a trust fund and as TFN Energy grows by God’s special grace, the broader the opportunities we would be able to make available for women and girls in Nigeria and across the sub-Saharan African region.

We are structuring the scholarships in such a way that it will be sustainable, recession or no recession. My dream is for every girl to have access to education and to see more women in leadership in Nigeria and across the sub-Saharan African region.

Three takeaways from Timipre:

  • To start out, and stay relevant in your career, identify your purpose. Then this should be followed by a plan
  • As a woman, define what success means to you and don’t live your life by the standards set by others, then and only then, can you be undefined by societal norms and expectations.
  • From my climbing the ladder experience, I have learnt that no matter what task or responsibility you are assigned, go the extra mile to ensure that you surpass expectations, you never know who is watching you.”

Makalela Mositsa: I am on a journey to create a powerful legacy through leadership empowerment

Makalela Mositsa, simply known to some as Kay, is an author, model and social entrepreneur with a passion for helping women realize their true essence.

She helps young women make the transition from being ordinary women to becoming future leaders with real impact and deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still maintaining a healthy home.

Makalela started writing for She Leads Africa in early 2016. This year, she ventured into leadership empowerment where she coaches high school youth on topics like becoming leaders and starting their own businesses.

Makalela offers a wide range of programs and services – from individual coaching to seminars and keynote addresses.

Fellow SLAy queen Jeanette Nkwana had a chat with her and got to know a little more about this multi-faceted woman.


 

How did you go from social entrepreneurship to the runway?

Modeling has always been a passion for me. When I heard Miss Eagle SA was modeling and empowerment all wrapped in one, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing contest.

Miss Eagle SA is a great platform for me to reach out to and motivate as many individuals as I can. Women empowerment has always been my first love and modelling is just fantastic.

Getting to do the two simultaneously has been an exciting journey for me. I believe doing what you love is freedom but having everything in one package is indeed a blessing.

 

Why leadership empowerment?

Leadership empowerment is synonymous to transformation. Click To Tweet

It is the art of bringing out the best in others and encouraging them to lead and pay it forward by empowering others.

Realising that though a lot of people have dreams and great ideas but still need to be empowered so that they can fulfill their desires is what ultimately led me to this path.

Without empowerment, motivation, and encouragement, dreams of world change will remain just that, dreams.

 

What are the top 3 qualities you believe any leader should have?

  • Passion for what you do
  • Full of motivation
  • Aspiration to make a difference

 

You help young women transition into leaders, what is your approach to this?

A good coaching process sets the way forward, holds people accountable, enables them to take responsibility for their own direction, opens up the way for greater communication, increases competency, and expands innovative opportunities. 

These are all ingredients of leader-empowering behaviors, which has been shown to increase psychological empowerment also. 

 

If you could, would you travel back in time or into the future? 

Back in time. What I know now leads me to believe I could’ve been better and done more in the past. I don’t regret the past, but I do feel I could have made a better difference than I did.

 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from within. The intense passion that is burning within me always pushes me to reach for my dreams.

It inspires me to be limitless and driven, and ultimately be a better person than I was yesterday.

What are your top 3 hacks for dealing with school, entrepreneurship and work/family life?

  • Set time for each task- prepare a schedule at night for the tasks I’ll be doing the             following day.
  • Attend to tasks in accordance with their priority.
  • No matter how swamped I am with school work and meeting deadlines, I never take for granted the time I need to spend with my family.

 

How do you explain the complexity of entrepreneurship?

Everything originates from a thought, what you think you become. Click To Tweet

Many entrepreneurs who have achieved phenomenal things did it without being in possession of formal qualifications. They observed what was happening and lacking in society and thought implemented ideas that could eradicate such problems.

Entrepreneurs believe in their own thoughts and work hard to bring them to life, but they also never forget the importance of education, in whichever form.

When you are in business you need to understand the market, comprehend the business language and most importantly make others see and understand your brand narrative so they can invest their time and money in it. 

 

If you had to describe your life right now using a movie title, which would it be and why?

Journey. I’m on a journey to create a powerful legacy that will forever continue to empower others and have a positive impact on the society.

 

Has your age or gender ever been a problem for some of your clients or anyone in general? How did you deal with it?

I’m a simple person, just a young lady with big dreams and a strong desire to realize them. People are different, some arrive at their own conclusions about you before getting to know you and others get to know you before judging you or your capabilities.

I had moments where I was looked down on because of my gender, age, and appearance, but I always let my work speak for me, I’m confident in my abilities. 

What has been the greatest lesson you learned building your different careers?

If you can think it then you have the ability to breathe life into it. Our imagination is boundless and that on its own makes us limitless beings.

We all have greatness within, whether you make it count is your own prerogative.

 

What advice will you give to young women who want to go into social entrepreneurship and women empowerment?

Firstly, believe in yourself and in your dreams. Do it because you love it. Never let the fact that people don’t see and believe in your vision hinder you.

Finally, be the change you want to see.

Webinar with Aisha Addo: How to start a non-profit organization (Jun 20)

Aisha Addo is the founder of Power to Girls Foundation, an organization that helps girls identify their true purpose and calling. Join us for a webinar with her on June. 20th, as she shares with us some of her tips on social entrepreneurship.


Entrepreneurship isn’t just one thing. You can be an entrepreneur in a small business, startup, large company etc.

But if you’re interested in making the world a better place, you’re on your way to becoming a social entrepreneur.

You need to ask yourself – What type entrepreneur do I want to become?

Aisha Addo is a social entrepreneur, who has dedicated her life to empowering women and young girls with her initiative – Power To Girls Foundation.

She offers them the mentorship, guidance and the resources they need to achieve their dreams and excel.

Join us for a 45-minute webinar with Aisha Addo on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017. We’ll be discussing what it takes to become a social entrepreneur, and starting a non-profit organization.

Register below to get the exclusive link to the webinar.

Join @AishaAfua for a webinar on Tue June 20th to learn how to start a non-profit organization Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Starting a non-profit organization
  • Risk taking in social entrepreneurship
  • Having confidence in your idea
  • How to live your most authentic life doing what you love.

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Tuesday, June 20th
  • Time: 11am Toronto / 3pm Accra / 4pm Lagos

Watch here:

 About Aisha Addo

Aisha Addo is a graduate in Business Administration Accounting, but her true passion and dedication lies in ensuring girls around the world are provided with the guidance and resources that’ll help them to reach their full potential.

Aisha founded Power To Girls Foundation, a non-profit organization to offer young girls the mentors and role models that were absent during her own youth.

She is a recipient of the Young Black and Gifted Award for Community Service, was named a Black Diversity Group Role Model and One of 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, and also among the 150 Black Women making history in Toronto.

Her latest initiative is DriveHER, the ride-sharing service for women by women.

Best Ayiorwoth: Most communities have remained ignorant of women’s potential

I just focus on my goal and that really encourages me to continue with my work - Best Ayiorwoth Click To Tweet

Best Ayiorwoth is the founder of Girls Power Micro-Lending Organisation (GIPOMO), an establishment that supports girl child education in Uganda, by giving microloans to women who make a commitment to grow businesses while keeping their girl children in school.

Founded in 2011 when Best was only 19 years old, today GIPOMO has helped put more than 170 girl children in school and counting. We recently did an interview with Best to find out more about her story and the future of her remarkable organisation, GIPOMO.


Tell us about yourself and your story that led to the creation of GIPOMO

My names are Ayiorwoth Best, I am from the Northern part of Uganda (West Nile) Nebbi District. I come from a family of seven (four sisters and two brothers) but lost both my parents when I was between the ages of 8-13 years. That incident pushed me hard to become a social entrepreneur promoting girl child education by financially empowering mothers of girl children. With the purpose of starting or expanding existing businesses so as to provide a girl child’s educational needs efficiently.

Hence I am the founder and CEO of Girl Power Micro-Lending Organization (GIPOMO). After the death of my dad, my mother had all the seven of us going to school. But as a single mother, she wasn’t able to pay for all of us and provide all the necessary needs for us at the same time. Unfortunately, she passed on when I was still in primary school and that decreased my chances of getting a higher education. Even though my elder sisters and brother tried hard to support me in reaching a certain level of education, they could only do so much despite their best efforts.

I then joined a vocational institution and did a certificate in catering and started working in a restaurant. With the in-held pain I had about my education, I used my first salary to start up the above organization.

Why do you value education and what does it mean to you?

I value girl-child education especially because most communities have remained ignorant of women’s potential and women are often not given a chance to prove their capabilities.

Granting girls a chance to receive adequate education gives them an opportunity to realize their potential to develop the country or transform the world. If a girl is taken to school, she will also take her daughter to school and together they will be able to contribute to the transformation of the nation. This way, the world will end up knowing the great potential in a woman.

Have you been able to replicate the GIPOMO model in other regions?

I would have really loved to do that but unfortunately that requires additional finance and currently, GIPOMO doesn’t receive any external funding.

We haven’t been able to replicate it in other regions yet, but it is in our five-year plan. In the meantime, I have tried to sell this idea to people in other regions hoping they can implement it for broader results.

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What challenges have you faced as a young female social entrepreneur?

Well, at first people in my community didn’t take me seriously, they looked down at me because of my age, young as I was.
I’ve also struggled to secure funding for the organization being a sole founder with very limited funds.

My determination and sincerity strengthened me during those difficult times otherwise I would’ve tumbled under the pressure of having to work doubly hard, taking a stand to convince men, local government and others about my ability as a young woman to start an organization like GIPOMO.

At first people in my community didn't take me seriously because of my age Click To Tweet

What gives you strength to do the work that you do every day?

I just focus on my goal and that really encourages me to continue with my work even when things aren’t going so well.

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What do you enjoy most about your work?

Conversing with my clients (community) and having sessions with the girls where we discuss their challenges and achievements among other issues.

Tell us about the Girl on Skills program and how it’s going so far.

The Girl on Skills program is an additional project specifically rendered for the girl-child drop outs. We came to learn that we have many girls who would have loved to study but because of certain conditions are not in school. We register those girls, take them to vocational training schools and pay their full tuition. Their parents get to pay us back by installments with zero interest.

This can enable a girl to be self-reliant or even take herself back to school with the money she is earning if she is still willing. This program is really going well, however, we do not have enough funds for it so we are just limited to a small number of girls every year. Right now, that number is 10 per year.

What are your future plans for GIPOMO?

We are planning to open up a vocational training institute so as to support the girls on skills program.

Also, we plan to open a Sacco so that we can lend funds to parents who need to urgently clear their child’s school fees and this would then be paid back at a later. We have learnt that it is difficult sometimes for mothers to get immediate cash from their businesses to pay for their child’s schools fees, so this is a way to make that available to them in times of need.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time to unwind?

Write story books.
Sit and share with friends
I love swimming
Singing and playing Keyboard

Wow, what a touching story. You are a remarkably strong woman Best. And we’re truly honoured here to be able to share your story with the world. You are amazing.

Thank you.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Bwalya Maketo: You have the innate ability to actualize all that you can envision for yourself

bwalya maketo
As a woman, you are capable of achieving all your dreams no matter the hurdles Click To Tweet

An English teacher based in Lusaka, Zambia, Bwalya Maketo is also the founder of the NGO, Zambian Women With Skills. ZWWS has a primary focus on equipping Zambian women with the necessary tools and resources needed to identify and harness practical skills and talents, thereby effectively translating them into sustainable streams of income.

Bwalya holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts with Education from the University of Zambia and is passionate about women empowerment and entrepreneurship at various levels. She hopes that her efforts can contribute to mitigating the effects of rising unemployment in Zambia.

SLA contributing writer Uloma Ogba caught up with Bwalya to learn more about her NGO and her plans for the future.


In August 2016, you launched your NGO Zambian Women With Skills. Can you share with the readers what your organization’s mission is all about?

When I initially set out to form this organisation, the underlying reason was the urgent need for the creation of a platform where local Zambian women could access the relevant resources needed to hone their God-given talents and practical skills. Through ZWWS, some of the skills women have chosen to harness include: baking, hairdressing, basket weaving, knitting, beading, public speaking, cosmetology, home management, home and event décor, flower arrangements, etc., which they can then use as vehicles of wealth creation.

We currently have 30 officially registered affiliate members, of which 9 are serving as board members and two as provincial coordinators for Lusaka and Copperbelt province respectively. Our main service is the provision of skills identification and training to 3 kinds of women:

(i) The educated/semi-educated woman who has a skill and is in formal employment but with no job fulfillment and would like a smooth transition into the business world by capitalising on her skill. She may also seek to create a balance between her formal job and a skills-based business on the side.
(ii)The uneducated/semi-educated woman that has a tangible skill but no proper knowledge (technical or other) of how to translate that skill into a sustainable stream of income.
(iii)The educated/ uneducated woman that has no idea what skill she has or which skill to harness.

I like the idea of a subscription-based organization. In this day and age, it’s sometimes difficult to convince people to realize the benefit of and pay for services they may feel they should be able to access for free.

How have you been able to hack this process and build a reliable membership base?

At ZWWS, my role has been to make them understand this entire concept; it’s not so much about me, but about how each individual woman that seeks to join the organisation can capitalise on what we are proposing. The idea has been to make each woman see the platform as a stepping stone to actualising her own individual dreams and goals.

We have two particular programs running which are specifically designed to benefit registered members. The first one is an in-house Legal Aid Clinic which gives members access to free legal advice except for court representation from our in-house lawyers as well as those that come through as volunteers. The second program is the Continuous Skills Development Program, which is specifically designed for affiliate members to stay abreast of changing trends in business (etiquette, advertising, customer care, personal/ business branding etc.). It also provides free knowledge intended for their benefit.

The second program is the Continuous Skills Development Program, which is specifically designed for affiliate members to stay abreast of changing trends in business (etiquette, advertising, customer care, personal/ business branding etc.). It also provides free knowledge intended for their benefit.

Basically, the idea has been to provide a range of enticing benefits that the women can only access by becoming registered members of ZWWS and so far that has worked in our favour.

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Can you tell us a bit more about the specific programs that Zambian Women With Skills offers and what level of impact you have achieved with these programs so far?

In total, we have 8 active Programs running for the year 2017, namely: The Learn a Skill Program, The Learners Hub Program, The Mentorship Placement Program, Continuous Skills Development Program, Legal Aid Clinic, The Red Flame Initiative, The Fundraising Program as well as our Community Works Program.

One of our most popular programs is, of course, the Learn a Skill Program. This program was specifically designed to offer a 3-4 weeks course on learning a specific skill which is designed to lean more on the practical aspect of the skill in question. The course also includes some theoretic components of the following: basic financial literacy, marketing, social media/general business branding, compliance, sources of capital etc.

The practical information is usually concentrated within the last week of the training after the theoretic part of the course has been tackled. The overall objective is to accord an opportunity for learning to the vulnerable/poor woman who cannot afford to pay for a fully structured course.

Facilitators are volunteers and “friends of the organisation” who work on a pro bono basis. So far we have had 20 women in Lusaka, that have successfully gone through this training with specific focus on cosmetology.

You mentioned a mentorship program. Now, I personally think that mentorship should be a core part of every young woman’s life. There is so much we can gain from being mentors and from being mentored.

Could you share with us how your mentorship program is organized, what types of issues you address and what the reception has been like among the target audience?

Ok, so we have two mentorship programs that we are currently running. One is called the Mentorship Placement Program which has been designed in such a way that affiliate members, can access either short or long term mentorship to help them harness their specific skills.

Our second mentorship program is our recently launched Red Flame Initiative which has been designed specially to help mentor, inspire and motivate young secondary school girls within the 13 to 18 years age bracket. Our goal is to effect positive change among these young girls through mentorship, networking and skills training.

Given my teaching background, I realised that of the many young girls that passed through my hands as pupils, not so many were privileged to have positive role models within their various communities. The platform was thus created to help them find their true purpose in life and help them ably understand the immense role they have to play in shaping a better Zambia and the world at large.

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Still on the subject of mentoring, who are your role models and the biggest influencers in your life that you look to for guidance and direction, especially when it comes to running an NGO successfully?

I am a very spiritual person and have a deep rooted belief in the Christian faith and particularly the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I would have to say, He is definitely at the top of my list of those from whom I draw strength and guidance when it comes to running the organisation.

I also draw lots of inspiration and counsel from my mentor, Charity Limula. As one of the local life coaches here in Zambia, Charity is the one person I know I can also run to for sound advice and direction. And then, of course, there is my mum, who happens to be my biggest cheerleader. My mother is a source of upliftment and counsel during those times that I get too overwhelmed and feel like giving up.

Sometimes, it’s easy to fall into the trap of glamorizing social entrepreneurship, but the truth is for most people who choose this path, it’s a bumpy ride.

What sort of challenges have you encountered while trying to establish and grow your organization? And what have you done to address these challenges?

Indeed, if I was to sit here and paint an amazing tapestry of silver plate achievements and hustle free chains of accolades as they relate to my organisation, I will be lying. It has not been an easy ride. It does get overwhelmingly lonely at times, and the only thing that sometimes keeps me afloat is my unwavering passion for women empowerment and entrepreneurship at various levels.

One of the major hurdles we have had to work our way through is resource availability. I started off this social enterprise without the slightest idea of where I would draw my monetary resources from. And because currently, we are not receiving any funding from donors, the little resources we have are mostly sourced from affiliate member subscriptions, fundraising ventures, as well as my own personal salary from my formal job. Because of this lack of resources, we are unable to reach out to as many women as we wish to.

I started off with very little knowledge and information of what it takes to run a successful NGO. I have had to learn and unlearn so many things along the way and had to humble myself so many time to get the relevant information needed to stay afloat. I am very thankful for my exposure to the YALI network through its online resources, which has helped to give my ideas some solid grounding. The amount of knowledge I have been able to acquire just through this network alone is something that I am eternally grateful for.

It gets lonely at times & the only thing that keeps me afloat is my passion Click To Tweet

You were recently nominated as a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow and will be traveling to the United States in June to participate in the 6-week program. This must be so exciting for you.

Can you share with us what this program is all about and what you hope to gain from this experience, personally and professionally?

It is an exciting feeling given the competitive nature of the application and selection process. I consider it a privilege to have been selected as one of the 1000 fellows that will be part of the program this year. More so, this year alone saw an estimated 64,000 applications sent through for consideration. So briefly, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African Leaders, which began in 2014, is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). It empowers aspiring young African leaders with academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities in civic leadership, public management and business and entrepreneurship.

I intend to make good on this generous investment in me, by fully acquiring the relevant and academic practical experience needed to help grow my organisation, and in turn, reach out to more women. Personally, I hope to meet new people and possibly make new friends from other parts of the continent, learning about different cultures and new ways of life in the process.

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You have a lot going on for you professionally, how are you able to stay grounded and remain focused? What do you do when you just need to take a break and rebalance?

Well, I cannot say it’s been a walk in the park. I do have days when I feel utterly worn out and almost off balance. But like I said earlier, my passion for women empowerment tends to override all the hurdles that spring up along the way. I strongly believe in the emancipating power of discovered and harnessed potential. Personal fulfillment often springs from one pursuing that which they are passionate about.

I believe my platform has the potential to help women harness skills that they can not only draw an income from but also find immense fulfillment from. Also, when I do feel the need to recalibrate, I turn to the Bible for some alone time with God. This is just so I can refuel and gain fresh insight on what direction to take.

My husband is also a great source of strength as he fully supports my work. He not only gives me time to fully focus on this venture by getting our three children off my shoulders sometimes but also helps provide material and emotional support whenever I need it.

My platform has the potential to help women harness skills they can draw income from - Bwalya Maketo Click To Tweet

If there is one key message you could use the She Leads Africa platform to share with millions of readers, what would that message be?

As a woman, you are capable of achieving all your dreams no matter what hurdles you may face along the way. You have the innate ability to actualize all that you can envision for yourself. The key is to fix your eyes on the goal, then begin to slowly work your way through the process of getting to where you want to be.

And to re-echo the sentiments of Zambia’s former First Lady, Dr. Maureen Mwanawasa, who said,  “Let us sing from the song sheet of our own resources. Our ability to multi-task as women should always be considered as a strength that should be utilized at any given opportunity.

As women, we have the ability to grow any skill we get exposed to, simply because we are “nurturers’ and are able to grow any skill to commercial levels. A woman can turn any idea or skill into a sustainable income generating tool, the most important thing is to allow yourself to take on any opportunity of learning presented to you.”


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Bamisaye Folasade: I want to promote menstrual hygiene for girls and women

I realised that I can impact my community without being rich - Bamisaye Folasade Click To Tweet

Meet Bamisaye Folasade, a social entrepreneur who is passionate about menstrual hygiene for girls and women of reproductive age. She is an example that you can effectively do business while solving social problems. Bamisaye has over 8 years experience improving psycho-social wellbeing of girls and women at the grassroots.

She is the founder of Young Women Arise an organisation with the goal to give power to girls and women. It’s meant for them to be able to make right and informed decision about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR). Through this project, Bamisaye has trained over 1600 girls and young women at the grassroots.

She is also the curator of Ablaze Ladies Camp which provides participants with the needed skills for them to make informed decision about their SRHR.  Bamisaye is also the brain behind MyPeriod Kit, an innovative product that aims to increase access to menstrual hygiene and help keep girls in school during their periods.


How did you get involved in women health advocacy?

I am driven by my passion for community and human development, as well as a strong desire to make a positive change. Right from childhood, I have always wanted to be a philanthropist so I can help the vulnerable people in the area of education, health, and poverty. But I reasoned that I could only do so when I get wealthy.

As I grew older I began to gather information on how I can start impacting my community without being rich. I then began to understand what volunteerism is all about. In 2009 I became a full-time volunteer, working on issues of women and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. My first major experience was on PACT/USAID supported REACH project in Ekiti State.

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You recently launched a new product, MyPeriod Kit, tell us about it?

Yes… that is MyPeriod Kit and I am so excited about it.

MyPeriod Kit is the first product with a compilation of sanitary materials for young girls and women of reproductive age in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region. The product aims to promote menstrual hygiene and healthy transition into womanhood for girls and women of reproductive age especially those residing in under-served communities.

The justification for having MyPeriod Kit is that girls and women residing in under-served areas around Nigeria are faced with huge challenge of coping with their menstrual period hygienically. Women and girls’ capacity to manage their periods is affected by factors, including limited access to affordable hygienic sanitary materials and disposal options. This has led many girls and women to manage their periods ineffectively, uncomfortably and unhygienically.

Young girls and women in rural areas tend to opt for natural materials such as mud, leaves, dung or animal skins to manage the menstrual flow due to inadequate knowledge about puberty education, access to affordable sanitary materials as well as poor menstrual hygiene management. This is in addition to insufficient access to safe and private toilets and lack of clean water and soap for personal hygiene. As a result, menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed.

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How have you been able to manage entrepreneurship and advocacy efficiently?

My sister, I will say it has not been an easy task. This is especially when coupled with the fact that I am also an employee.

But you know what happens when determination meets passion and grace, then you can consider challenges as a piece of cake. My passion for girls and women’s general well-being keeps me going.

When determination meets passion and grace, challenges are a piece of cake Click To Tweet

Can you share a story on your toughest day/period?

Hmmm… the life of a development worker coupled with being an entrepreneur cannot always be a bed of roses. Each day comes with its own unique toughness in different forms. So it is really difficult for me to isolate a day out as my toughest day.

However, if we say period then I can say the toughest period in my life was between 2014/2015. I was running my Masters degree full-time, working full-time and also setting up a new NGO in a new environment in that period. I only had a few staff to work with, so the work was so enormous. And I still had to study hard to have good grades. That period was so challenging but grace and passion were at work in my life.

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What do you recommend to other women based on your experiences?

It is never too late to start being productive and resourceful. Whatever positive things you dream of doing, believe me, you can achieve it.

Seize the moment now that international organizations are advocating for huge investment to be made in girls and women. Try to make something meaningful out of life, invest in yourself and in others.

What are the misconceptions/myth on women’s health you’d like to debunk?

That menstruating is a taboo or a dirty process. This myth has for long put girls and women in a position of being discriminated against to the extent that in some society menstruating girls and women are barred from participating in religious exercises.

Also, girls in school are forced to stay at home while their male counterparts stay in school to learn. Menstruation is a biological process that girls must undergo. It is the onset of womanhood and thus must be appreciated and treated with dignity and the highest level of hygiene.  Menstruation in itself is not dirty, but the process must be undergone hygienically.

What are your plans for your product/business?

MyPeriod Kit is a work in progress. In the coming years, we plan to reach more girls and women of reproductive age with menstrual hygiene supplies that are hygienically packed to meet their specific needs at an affordable rate.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here