“I LEFT THE USA TO PURSUE MY PASSION IN NIGERIA.” MEET UGOCHI NWOSU, FOUNDER OF RELIANCE CLINICS

ugochi

Not everyone owns up to their purpose especially when it takes you from one continent to another. Ugochi left the United States to pursue purpose in Nigeria.

Ugochi is the founder of Reliance Clinics. She’ll be sharing insights into her life as a medical practitioner, health tips, the numerous challenges she faced and how she was able to overcome them. 


Who is Ugochi Nwosu?

I was born in Nigeria and lived there until I was 7 before my family immigrated to the United States. That was where I did all my schooling. After my undergraduate degree, I did my residency training in the States also until I returned back to Nigeria in 2019. This kick-started my goal to start a business that provided quality private healthcare services. 

What are you passionate about?

Healthcare! I really want to live in a world where everyone has full access to adequate healthcare. In Nigeria, the rate at which people in their early 40s and 50s die is really alarming. All of these can be avoided. 

I just want to help people live healthy and productive lives where they get to see their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Although this would be beautiful, it’s not easy. If people want to live till their late 80s, it starts from now. So, I want to keep educating people about this. 

What ignited the spark to start Reliance Clinics?

For me, the inclination to work in healthcare came since my undergraduate studies. I learnt about the possible challenges, the requirements and mapped out the areas to make an impact. It was important to be properly grounded in what I was planning to do to avoid making any silly mistakes.

I also worked with a whole lot of NGOs to ensure I had a feel of what I was about getting myself into. I didn’t really plan to start a business for myself. The decision to do that came after I kept searching for an NGO to work with but couldn’t find any at that point. This made me start looking for other possible opportunities

During my residency training, I met people who were interested in digital healthcare services and connected with them. They encourage me to just do what I need to do because no one makes actual change by talking and observing. It was great for me because I didn’t see myself as someone that could take up that level of responsibility upon myself. The plan had always been to work for someone who was already doing the things I needed to do. That’s basically how the business came alive. 

How was the startup phase of your business?

I’m not going to deny the fact that everything was new to me. Firstly, we had to scout for a suitable location, then we had to figure out a way to get supplies for the clinic and basically test these supplies yourself because everything had to be reliable 100%. 

For funding, I met the founders of a health insurance company during my residency training so things sort of worked out for me in the sense that they needed a trusted clinic that they could send patients to so they kind of gave me the initial funding for the clinic. 

What business challenges have you faced and how have those challenges shaped your mindset?

One major challenge has been hiring and training staff. For those in healthcare, the quality of services offered has to be nothing but excellent. Most times, doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc expect some things to be done in some certain way based on what they’ve seen before or something which might not necessarily be the right thing. 

When you tell this category of people that there’s a standard that should be met and we’re not going to overlook that standard just because we’re operating in Nigeria, it turns into a situation where it feels like you’re telling them that they’re not properly trained or something so that was a major challenge for me. 

Another challenge we had, in the beginning, was dealing with patients and staff who were used to things being done in certain ways and then we do them in totally different ways. For instance, most patients that come to our clinic are used to being given so many drugs even for not so serious cases. When we give them just 1-2 drugs, they feel like we’re not treating them the right way or we don’t really care about their wellbeing which is why we’re given them little amounts of drugs and that’s not the situation at all. 

What have you learned so far from running this business?

When it comes to hiring, you have to ensure that those people actually have the skills they claim to possess. It’s mandatory that you do. I’ve learnt over time that you have to be very intentional when deciding who to bring on board, how to evaluate their skills and how to train them so that from day 1, they can actually deliver. 

 

Ugochi is a participant in the High Growth Coaching Program 2020. Catch up on her business journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Why your business strategy needs to include women by design – Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Marketing & Comms, Mastercard (MEA)

Beatrice Cornacchia is Mastercard’s Head of Marketing and Communication for the Middle East and Africa and the creative force leading the company’s brand strategy across the region’s 69 markets.

In this op-ed, she shares her expert opinion on the benefits of a woman-centric approach to business strategy.


As a marketer, I appreciate when creativity meets great insights and data to deliver an approach that achieves its objectives. As a woman, I also especially love seeing these kinds of successful activities share commentary on the way our world interacts with women, or shed essential light on how much of our world was designed without women in mind.

From Ariel’s powerful #ShareTheLoad campaign to Dove’s inclusivity campaigns, there are some fantastic examples of brands actively shifting the conversation to include women and expand on their contributions to the world we live in. But it’s not just about recognizing changing times or joining a social impact drive, it’s about much more than that.

There is a clear business rationale for brands that adapt their business strategies to include women by design. – Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Mastercard MEA Click To Tweet

By incorporating the diverse perspectives that women bring, championing female role models as ambassadors, designing fit-for-purpose products that meet women’s needs, and creating content that encourages women to pursue their passions, brands can effectively tap into the spending power and influence of women.

Take sportswear apparel for example.

We took note when Nike put the spotlight on tennis star Serena Williams through its ‘Dream Crazier’ ad encouraging women to dream big and aired a TV spot calling for acceptance and respect, featuring the tenacious South African Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya. These are just some of the prominent and provocative content from multiple brands that put women at the center of the conversation. The sports industry clearly understands the business growth opportunity that exists when we incorporate the true – not imagined – perspectives of women.

By drawing attention to the strength, unique shapes, and differentiated athleticism of women, and showcasing real role models in better designed active-wear clothing, the women’s sports apparel industry has done just that – tapped into a significant consumer base: women. How significant? According to the ‘African Women’ Ipsos Study, women represent the most significant consumer base — 89% of African women are the decision-makers or co-decisionmakers for household purchases.

When we design products, services, experiences and solutions for women, we need to envision them through the viewpoints of women – Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Mastercard MEA Click To Tweet

When it comes to products and services, are we meeting the actual needs of women? Do we have insights that can help us incorporate women’s experiences into the design and innovation process? We must consider the functionality and practicalities of women’s interaction. In short, we have to help design and develop a world with both women and men in mind.

To do this, we need women to be part of the design and innovation process, especially in this age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to inspire young girls to consider and pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through initiatives like Girls4Tech. As part of this program, Mastercard has committed to reaching one million girls globally by 2025, including thousands in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

So, what exactly is the value of a world that includes women by design?

In addition to the humanitarian benefits, it’s a considerable amount. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank estimates the loss in global wealth from gender inequality at $2.5 trillion. And while five Sub-Saharan countries feature in the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs’ global top 10 countries with the highest number of women entrepreneurs, the IFC says that more than half of SMEs in Sub Saharan Africa with one or more women owners lack access to finance and puts the financing gap at $42 billion. Clearly, there are huge opportunities for finance.

Global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman agrees. It estimates a global revenue opportunity of $700 billion is currently being left on the table by the financial services industry not fully meeting the needs of women consumers.

Think of the increased speed in which we can close the gender gap in terms of financial inclusion if we design better, more helpful digital financial products for women – Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Mastercard MEA Click To Tweet

As a payment technology leader with global insights, Mastercard has invested significantly in understanding women’s financial priorities, and mapping out those priorities across different life stages. After all, a specific position in time often influences our need for specialised support and ingenious innovations – in sportswear as much as financial solutions. 

Just think of the more than 10,000 female unbanked informal traders, street-side vendors, and township salon owners who can safely accept payments through QR code as a result of Mastercard’s partnership with uKheshe, a financial inclusion platform in South Africa.

Indeed, for the large population of excluded women, financial inclusion is about more than getting access to a bank account. It also means helping level the playing field for the women farmers who are growing Africa’s food, by providing access to buyers, pricing and speedier payments. It’s about hope for the future through financial payment solutions such as Kupaa – which facilitates school fee payments in budgeted amounts – increasing the ability of remote families to keep girls in school.

By making a conscious decision to integrate women’s perspectives into our business, marketing and innovation strategies, more women will benefit from solutions specifically designed for their needs. More companies will see revenues climb. More societies will experience elevated productivity. More economies will grow and thrive. 

After all, a world that works better for women, creates limitless possibilities for us all. 


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SHEAMOISTURE SPOTLIGHT ON HEALTHY LIVING QUEEN: LYNDA ODOH – CEO HEALTHIFY AFRICA

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skincare innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model.

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

Meet Lynda Odoh

Lynda Odoh-Anikwe is the CEO and founder of Healthify Africa.

She is a Medical Doctor from the University of Nigeria and started Healthify Africa. Healthify Africa is an enterprise that strives to tackle the dietary risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

In the course of her daily interactions with patients, she realized that people were most driven by convenience and availability when making healthy lifestyle choices.

Lynda decided to start a fruit delivery service. She hopes this will create an enabling system for busy urban dwellers, to conveniently meet the World Health Organization’s daily fruit recommendation for a healthy life.

Her vision is to see an African continent where adopting a healthy lifestyle is easy, practical and sustainable.

You can connect with Lynda and her business on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Tell us how you started Healthify Africa.

When I began to practice as a medical doctor, I saw that there were so many instances of non-communicable diseases that could have been avoided by a simple dietary change.

I started Healthify Africa because I wanted to create a solution to the problem of non-communicable diseases. My goal with Healthify Africa is to address dietary risk factors.

I do this by providing a service that helps busy people adopt healthy eating habits. This is done through a simplified system and healthy lifestyle advocacy.

At Healthify Africa our focus is on increasing the consumption of fruits for busy urban dwellers through a delivery platform. By providing affordable fruit boxes, fruit cups, fruit and dip platter to school children, homes and offices, we’re building a healthier Africa one person at a time.

SheaMoisture

What was your motivation for finally starting your business?

For me, it was because I had been in similar situations and I understood the challenges people face in trying to adopt and sustain healthy dietary habits.

I grew up in a health-conscious family and I grew accustomed to having a very healthy diet. However, when I became a young adult and my schedule became tighter especially during my internship, it became extremely difficult to eat the right things.

It was a situation of knowing the right thing to do, but being unable to do it. I knew then that there must be other busy young people like me, men, women and even mothers who wanted their children eating fruits but were pressed for time as I was.

"I realized that just like myself, people were most empowered by convenience and availability rather than just knowledge." – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

That for me was a huge community need that I passionately wanted to see addressed. So I made the decision to become the change I desired by creating an enabling platform. A platform that supports healthy food choices so as to help myself and others with the same challenge.

What makes your brand stand out?

Healthify Africa is not just another food company, that caters to only satisfying hunger. Instead, my brand is particularly focused on ensuring that everyone has access to the daily consumption of 400g of fruits, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


The vision is to create a world where healthy eating is most practical and the dietary risks of non-communicable diseases reduced to the barest minimum.

That, as well as our commitment to healthy lifestyle advocacy, has been a huge attraction for our clients because they can see it.

SheaMoisture

What are three things you struggled with when your business kicked off and how did you overcome them?

When I first started my business, a lot of people did not understand what we were trying to do and that equated to zero orders. We had to create a lot of awareness about the health benefits of patronizing our convenience-based service.

Also, through our follow-up and feedback system, we tried to encourage our clients to make referrals and this has continued to help our brand.

Secondly, being a fruit delivery service, food hygiene, presentation and safety during transit were some of my topmost priorities. It was a challenge finding the ideal packaging that met all the criteria and would still fit into our production cost.

I did my online research and eventually was able to find a reliable supplier that we now work with.

SheaMoisture

Finally, it was important that our fruit packs get delivered in a cold temperature range for a great client experience. This was a challenge when we had to deliver long-distance orders. This was an issue because there is currently no thermostat equipped delivery services operating in Abuja where we operate from.

To overcome this, we currently partner with a reliable express delivery service and improvise with ice packs in the chillers for long-distance deliveries. Hopefully, in the near future, we can have our very own thermostat equipped delivery bikes.

How do you stay above the noise in your industry?

We made sure to implement a system of receiving and acting on feedback, from early on in the business so that we know what exactly our clients want and tweak our approach to offer them that.

This has been really helpful in building a business that our clients love and customer retention as well.

Did you have any personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

Before I started my business, I had a few unpleasant experiences with logistics. On one occasion, I was to make a trip and I had made an earlier arrangement with a cab driver. However, on the morning of the trip, he was a no show, which made me have to find another one. To cut the long story short, I ended missing the bus I was to get on.

When I began my business, I took that experience with me and created a better delivery structure. I ensure that all delivery arrangements are made on time to avoid communication-related challenges. As a second step, I also make backup plans to ensure that I don’t disappoint my clients.

SheaMoisture

Can you tell us of any impact have you made in your community since you started your business?

As a medical doctor, I am really passionate about helping people live healthier lives and I made sure to infuse this into my business.

Through my brand, I have been able to raise awareness about the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Also, we have encouraged people to sustain a healthy lifestyle by organizing health and fitness challenges.

Most recently, we actively participated in the 2019 global week for action against Non-Communicable diseases. We engaged in a social media awareness campaign (#enoughNCDs #healthifyafrica) and an educational video series with a team of Doctors.

It is of great value to me that my clients are enlightened and empowered to make the right decisions for their health. – dr_lyndah Click To Tweet

Can you share your 2019 goals with us and what you’ve done so far to achieve them?

Since we had already introduced our business, our 2019 goal was to broaden our client base. Our method was to strictly implement feedback from clients. Also, we started building partnerships that will ensure quality product delivery and unforgettable customer experience.

After doing this for some time this year, we have recorded an increase in the number of clients that have requested for our service. This is something we are going to keep doing since it’s bringing positive results.

We believe it has laid a great foundation for more successes with so many growth possibilities ahead and we are optimistic about that.

What are three interesting things about you?

The first is that I love DIY’s. I have actually painted my room from start to finish on two different occasions just for the fun of it. The last is that I love the power bikes but I’m too scared to get one yet.

SheaMoisture

What’s your favorite self-care routine?

I like to get soaked in a warm bath after a stressful day. I simply light my candles and toss in some petals. After that, I take a mental trip to wherever the CALM Meditation App takes me to, preferably the waterside.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA, sponsored by SheaMoisture?

I feel absolutely ecstatic! When I first saw the email from SLA and SheaMoisture, I was so excited. I had to read it over and over again to make sure it was really for me. Thank you so much She Leads Africa and SheaMoisture for this opportunity.

What is one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/ services?

Authentic!

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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Nobuntu Webster: I let go of the parts of my business that were not aligned with my purpose and values

Nobuntu Webster is Director of African Pursuit, a social enterprise using media and story for economic and social development and Avad Media, a content production, content distribution, and content marketing company.

She has extensive leadership experience in development organizations such as the International Women’s Forum, Businesswomen’s Association of SA and KZN Youth Chamber of Commerce.

She holds a BPhil Honours degree and postgraduate qualifications in Strategic Leadership and International Trade Management.

Nobuntu Webster expresses her joy of living out her purpose through her business and career and contributing to meaningful work on the continent.

In this interview, we asked her how other aspiring Motherland Moguls can use their businesses and careers to do work that fulfills them and impacts lives.


 What is your purpose and how are you using your career and business to fulfill it?

I’m a storyteller and I am moved by injustice. I want to see economic justice, economic equality, and social justice.

You’ll find me using stories to create narratives for justice and to bring in new thinking and ideas. I develop Media strategies and content for social justice and economic inclusion through African Pursuit.

I am also perturbed by distorted narratives. With Avad Media, we create content that challenges people to question the narratives that we have been taught.

My heart is for Africa, so we create platforms and content to engage, grow and build Africa.

We are building towards an Africa that has enough for its people - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

What steps did you take to turn your career and business to fulfill a purpose?

My faith drove me to pursue purpose. The first step was looking to God and growing my faith.

The second step was to sacrifice. I had to let go of the parts of my business that were not aligned with my purpose and values.

The next step was going for it! I discovered that where my purpose would be fulfilled is in Media. I had to make the bold, courageous steps towards Media.

Go boldly into what and where your purpose is. Be humble and willing to learn from others if you’re getting into a new craft.

Learn the technicalities of the craft, and know what your specialty is. Also, know what the business model looks like in that craft and then think about how you turn that craft into a profitable business.

Using business for a purpose is a long journey, you have to be willing to be in it for the long-haul. It is going to unravel layer by layer, you just have to keep taking the steps as you discover them.

Learn the technicalities of your craft, and know what your specialty is - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

What meaningful work on the continent have you been able to contribute to and which have you found most fulfilling? 

One of the projects I am working on currently is Abundant Africa. We are building a narrative for a restorative economy in Africa; saying, ‘how do we create an economy that is influenced by our own unique African values?

How do we go back to Ubuntu and create an economy that is good for people; to making sure that the poor are given opportunities to pull out of poverty?’

I am part of building teams that create content that moves from policy ideas to stories that people can relate to. We are building towards an Africa that has enough for its people and that protects its environment.

How does one discover their purpose and identify meaningful work they can contribute to, as a business?

The clues to knowing your purpose are in the things that you do without trying hard; things that you would be willing to do for free.

To identify meaningful work you can contribute to, you have to know your calling. Ask yourself, ‘what moves me?’ What can you not ignore? What do you want to change?

There is so much need on the continent and that need is an opportunity - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

How do we grow from a survival and profit mindset to a service and purpose mindset?

There is so much need on the continent and that need is an opportunity, and you can still have a profitable business. Every entrepreneur should have a service and purpose mindset.

As Africans, we are people of ‘Ubuntu’. If we go back to who we are and we go back to the need around us, we easily move to a service and purpose mindset and build sustainable businesses that contribute to the continent.

How do you turn your business to fulfill purpose without losing profitability and your current clients?

I had to let go of clients whose work did not align with my values. There is always a risk in these kinds of bold and courageous steps. The greatest rewards in life come with sacrifice. There are things that you are likely to lose.

How do you secure your team’s buy-in into the new purpose and vision of your business?

A great leader is someone who is able to bring the people that they lead with them on the journey and get them to buy into the vision and own it.

People though are also on their own journey. Give them the option to come along on the journey or not. The new direction of the business might not feed into their purpose and career.

I had to relocate anyway so I had to start new teams that are passionate and that buy into the new vision.

Go boldly into what and where your purpose is - @NobuntuSA Click To Tweet

“I have the blessing of living my childhood dream… It looks completely different than I thought it would but it is so much more meaningful!” – Nobuntu Webster 


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Living Life with a Full-Time Job and multiple Side Gigs: 4 Commandments to adopt

6 months ago, I decided I needed to get a day job.

The decision came after I had run my fashion design business and realized I needed firsthand experience running the kind of business I wanted. I got a job as a Personal Assistant in a big manufacturing company. The role is combined with several other unofficial roles.

6 months down the line, I can safely say I am not so over my head as was 2 months ago.

Between this full-time job, running my fashion design business on a small scale and freelance writing, it is safe to say I had no “me” time. I had no life outside of work.

I had finally done two things I dreaded: living for the weekend and working hard without being productive.

Two months ago, I told myself that this had to stop.

I finally came up with a routine that helped me do all I wanted realistically and still have a life.

Here are my four quick tips for having a life with a full job and side gigs.

Balancing two or more responsibilities with self-care is hard but not impossible. Here are the 4 commandments to follow: Click To Tweet

1. Thou shall keep a To-Do list and use it.

I found out that having a to-do list keeps me organized. With so much to do at work and in my side jobs, I find myself running around a lot and doing nothing much.

My daily To-do list is organized the night before. I factor prayer, working out, my main job, my writing, my sewing in the evening into the list.

I make sure I leave blocks of time to accommodate the unforeseen jobs that will come up at work. This is a daily occurrence.

The To-Do list increased my productivity by 50%.

2. Thou shall set realistic targets

3 months into the job I developed stress belly and added weight. My face broke out and I started to wear wigs, leaving my natural hair matted under the wigs. Forget mani-pedi.  That was gone.

When I took the decision to get my life together, the first thing I did was set goals.

Safe to say the targets were pretty high and I gave up.

I went back to the board and re-drew the plan.

Work out thrice a week as opposed to every day. Drink water, get my nails done bi-monthly. Braid my hair once a month and wear wigs for the other days of the month.

2 months in, my stress belly has reduced and I still maintain my hair and nails routine.

3. Thou shall factor in “You” time

I love going to the movies, green tea, and red wines. One of the first things I stopped doing was going to the movies. Weekends were tight. No more tea time and wine time.

I now find time on Sundays to savor a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Most importantly I fix movie dates so I will have to make time for them. This means I must close out official work by Friday and put extra time into the writing.  It is worth it.

Relate each work experience to your business. This way your work and life is balanced emotionally. Click To Tweet

4. Thou shall find a purpose in what you do.

If your job pays a bit low like mine, you might grow resentful over time. This will definitely affect your work-life balance. For someone who wants the experience, this will make a terrible experience.

One way I have managed to balance myself emotionally is to relate each work experience to my business.

One thing I have learned to do is to be grateful and positive. It gives more light to the work I do. I make the choice to cut back when I can.

Balancing two or more responsibilities with self-care is hard but not impossible and we are getting there.

Till next time. For now, drink a glass of wine or cradle a cup of tea and take care of you!


 Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Eva Warigia: Be mindful of your network, it is the base of your success

Eva Warigia is a jack of many trades with a passion for Africans and their economic advancement.

As one half of the executive directing team of the East Africa Venture Capitalists Association, representing over sixty firms, she uses her knowledge of finance and strategy to position East Africa as a thriving investment hub.

In this interview, she talks about her leadership position, and how she’s working with stakeholders to promote investment in East Africa.


 At what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work and what drew you to it?

I probably came across private equity in 2011. At the time I worked for a technology and corporate advisory firm as a strategy analyst focusing on helping businesses fundraise.

It was there that I got to interact with the different structures of funding.

My docket as one half of the leadership of EAVCA is in leading the advocacy and intelligence - @eva_hawa Click To Tweet

You are one of the two executive directors of the East African Venture Capitalists Association (EAVCA) what exactly do you do?

EAVCA is a member association for private equity and venture capital firms who are interested in deploying capital in East Africa.

As a trade organization, we represent the interests of member firms deploying private capital in the region, which constitutes Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

We are the interface between the region’s stakeholders, the general public and the investors.

Our activities largely involve advocacy for the private capital sector, research, and intelligence for investors considering the region for investment.

Being the foremost networking platform for East Africa to advance thought leadership in the PE and VC space, and finally, conducting training for the sector. We also nurture the local professionals, as well as building awareness with the sector stakeholders.

My docket as one half of the leadership of EAVCA is in leading the advocacy and intelligence. This entails working with the sector stakeholders to create partnerships that promote investment inflows in East Africa.Internationally, less than 10% of venture capital funds go to female entrepreneurs. Is this situation just as bleak in East Africa?

This is also the case in East Africa.

There was a time when female-led enterprises were not as visible as they are now, especially on the funding front. Emerging trends for conscious investment (particularly gender lens investing) mean that the tide is slowly turning to acknowledge that female-led enterprises are equally lucrative.

Furthermore, women are more deliberate in their business planning and less likely to take investment capital for personal use.

What does EAVCA do to ensure that besides women-owned businesses there is diversity in general in businesses being considered for funding?

From 2018, EAVCA became more deliberate in local engagement by working with trade associations, incubators and accelerators to grow local awareness of PE and VC as alternative sources of capital. We are also ensuring we carry out industry-specific research showcasing opportunities that exist in East Africa.

One such research was on the opportunities available for fin-tech investing in East Africa, which we launched in March this year. This allows investors deeper access to sectors that have probably been on their radar but whose information may be hard to come by.

I think it is important for technical entrepreneurs to find partners who will help them with the business side of their enterprise or product - @eva_hawa Click To Tweet

What are some of the mistakes you have seen female entrepreneurs make while interacting with venture capitalists, and what can they do to better pitch their businesses to investors?

While I would not categorize this as a mistake, I think it is important for technical entrepreneurs to find partners who will help them with the business side of their enterprise or product.

Far too many entrepreneurs are struggling to raise capital by themselves without the tools or skills to approach this. Thankfully, there are programmes and incubators that equip entrepreneurs with the skills needed to begin thinking of their vision as a commercial venture.

There is quite an array of accelerators available for African entrepreneurs such as MEST Africa which is available in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Cote d’ Ivoire or Growth Africa for East Africans.

There are also institution backed programmes like the Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) by USAID, which is available in East, West and South Africa, or the Stanford Seed Transformation Programme in Ghana and Kenya.

Finally, we have philanthropy backed incubators also committing to support the initiative by Africa’s entrepreneurs such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation or Africa Netpreneur Prize by the Jack Ma Foundation.

 EAVCA has been led by women from its inception.  Can we interpret that to mean Africa doesn’t share the same discouraging international statistics when it comes to women’s leadership in VC firms?

As an association, we are privileged to have women as the champions of the industry in East Africa. For the VC and PE funds, the bulk of fund managers are still led by men although we have a growing number of women taking up that space.

I believe it is important for women to support each other in male-dominated industries such as ours and share their journeys so that we can all learn from each other.

How has working at EAVCA changed your perception of Africa’s potential to be an economic and innovation hub in the future?

I have always been an Afro-optimist and firmly believe in Africa’s value and ability to influence the future! Working with EAVCA has furthered my confidence in our potential as a continent.

 I interact each day with people who are as passionate about Africa as I am and who are effecting positive change within their different spheres.

I am able to see how it is all shaping out from my bird’s eye view at the Association and it just fuels me to want to do more!

 

What is the favorite part of your job?

Every day, I meet people that are clear about how they want to change the global narrative of Africa. Also, building a pension fund that will channel its funds towards a transformative development agenda, there are also regulators who are removing trade barriers and entrepreneurs that are innovating solutions to unique problems.

There are so many people who refuse to be distracted by the noise and get up every day determined to leave a mark, and it is an absolute honor to interact and work with them!

 What is the first thing you do every day to start your day right?

Introspect. I Remind myself of what my dreams are, what my values are and commit to applying the most truthful version of myself that day.

Also, I listen to and recite the Desiderata every morning as a reminder that I am part of something greater than myself.

 What do you tell yourself when you are afraid?

“It could have been worse”

What advice would you give other women that are interested in pursuing venture capital as a career?

Be patient and be ready to put in the work. It will be hard, but it will be worth it. Also, do not be afraid to speak up.

What are your tips for someone just joining the professional world looking to start an investment portfolio?

My advice would be to identify individuals with whom one shares goals and interests and pool funds which they can then use for their investment per the group’s shared objective.

In Kenya for instance, this has really taken off with the pooled funds “chamas” investing in real estate, equities, treasury bills etc.

I also know of a group of young university ladies who pooled funds and started lending these funds to their fellow students while charging interest, as an investment.

Be mindful of your network as it is the base of your success.

Spend more time listening to others in a similar position and take notes.

There will be hard days, but do not lose sight of what matters to you.

Above all and to the extent possible, try to have a purpose that is greater than yourself; therein lies true success.

We all have our unique fingerprint for the world and yours is equally important!

When all is said and done how will you know you’ve achieved your dreams?

When people are confident enough to pursue their vision due to the service I provided.

It would be a place where my work for Africa grows beyond personal responsibility when other people buy into my optimism and are able to stand for and contribute to the development of an inspiring Africa.


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“Grit, Tenacity, Humility, No Posing”: Toyin Odulate’s 7 Keys to Superior Product Positioning

When it comes to making lemonade out of life’s lemons, Toyin Odulate got the recipe down. Thanks to an unfortunate accident with her hair, she was able to turn that mishap into gold through her mama’s secret recipe (yes mama knows best), which led to the birth of Olori Cosmetics.

However, if you have been in the entrepreneurship game, it does not take you long to realize that just because you have a magic product that works, people will automatically want to buy.

Let’s face it, ladies, if your product was a dude who wants to take you out on a date, won’t you want him to some serious swag before he can get your digits?

As the Country MD of Danone Nutricia and over a decade of managing international brands like Loreal, Toyin was able to get her kitchen start-up cosmetic brand to become a renown brand revolutionizing the cosmetic industry across key Sub-Saharan markets.

Here are her top 7 to-dos to get customers to notice your products and fall in love (by choice or by force lol).

Be Bodacious

You can only have what you can imagine, so dream big. Make an ideal list of things you want your product or service to offer; the names of people you want using it and where you want your products sold.

Harrods anyone???

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

If your goal is to go to the emerald city, you need a plan to get you there. This is where parts of your business plan or ideal list start to come to life.

A strategy forms the basis for a product roadmap and it also helps you focus on a specific target market instead of being everything to everyone.

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

If you want them coming back for more, you have to keep things interesting. The content of the product can remain the same but you can experiment with different packaging.

A perfect example is Body Shop; they are constantly updating their packaging making it more attractive and dynamic.

Become a Conqueror

You need to plan to dominate the shelf space at the stores you product is stocked. A strong shelf visibility ensures your product is seen and boosts buyer’s confidence.

You may not have the liquid to execute a separate gondola for your brand like Coca-Cola but you can be creative with colors that will instantly attract the customer’s eye.

Strive to get your products placed on eye-level and horizontally. Category captainship is your ultimate goal.

Label Me

Make sure you create a label that centers on your core information which include the name, what it does/purpose and what’s in it. You have to make sure that your products are positioned with the labels facing the consumer.

This makes it easier for customers to decide within a second to pick your product. So ensure you conduct routine visits to shops that stock your products.  

Play the Incentive Game and Stay in the Game:

When you do business, you have to always keep in mind that people want to know what’s in it for them. Stores hardly stock your products based on the brilliance of it, they want to make money at the end of the day.

So how much of your margins are you willing to give in order to make sure your products are visible. Make margins work for you. The same goes for customers, reward their purchase with incentives. However, avoid being too generous so you don’t ruin the market.  

LinkedIn isn’t for show:

Networks are meant to be leveraged, they are not meant to sit in your LinkedIn contacts list. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no but then again what if they say yes.

So go for it, pitch your product/business, arrange a meet up, send free samples and basically do all you can to make your business succeed.

Don’t be afraid to dream big, let is scare you then get over it and get to work.


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Master the art of Hunting for Opportunities: Adeng Leek

Many people believe that getting opportunities is just about luck. This is true to a large extent. But most times, getting opportunities is about hard work.

You cannot afford to be lazy when searching for opportunities. In life, it is your responsibility to develop yourself first before others do.

Adeng Leek, a passionate young African from Sudan and founder of Opportunities for South Sudanese Initiative shares a few steps on hunting for opportunities.

You need to make sure opportunities are running behind you and you are not running behind them - @adengmalual Click To Tweet

But what does it take to find opportunities?


1. Know who you are and what you want

It is very easy to say I know who I am. But the truth is, it takes ages to discover yourself. Knowing yourself is a process that requires you to sit down and answer a few important questions. You need to ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is my purpose?
  • What are my goals and objectives?
  • How will I bring them to reality?

Once you have answered these questions, then it will be much easier to execute your goals. It will also ensure that when you get distracted or sidetracked, you will still have a way of getting on track.  

2. Read, Read and Read

I don’t think I can emphasize the importance of reading enough. How many times do we ignore reading articles, stories, and other material because we don’t have the time or are not interested?

Reading is quite important as it can widen your experience. Many people such as bloggers share inspirational stories and tips that if you read, they can help impact your life.

Through reading these articles, you may find solutions to help you overcome any obstacles and challenges you’ve faced in your journey. 

3. Network

Networking is very essential. From meeting people in the same field you are interested in or meeting other diverse people, it is important to widen your sphere of influence. These different people can help and mentor you towards achieving your goal.

On the other hand, networking is not only about getting but also about giving. If you can, it is important to also be of help to others.

Perhaps you have a connection that can help a friend or a networking event that you could invite someone to. 

4. Share the opportunities you receive

When we get opportunities and succeed, it is often quite easy to forget that others are searching for the same opportunities. Once you see an opportunity that others would benefit from, always try and share them with as many people as possible.

This is what inspired the creation of my blog ‘Opportunities for South Sudanese Initiative’. Through this blog, I share opportunities from different websites. These opportunities not only benefit me, but they benefit a wider group that will eventually impact the whole nation.


[bctt tweet=”No matter how old you are now. You are never too young or too old for success or going after what you want – Pablo” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”

This article was written by Adeng Leek.


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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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FACEBOOK LIVE WITH TAFADZWA BETE SASA: DEVELOPING AN ACTION PLAN FOR YOUR 2018 GOALS (May 3)

Its quarter past 2018 – let’s talk about the goals you set at the beginning of this year!

Have you slayed any of them?

If you have, a big SLA kudos to you! If you haven’t, don’t panic – you still have enough time to smash them and end the year strong like a bawse!

In the spirit of Q2, join us on Thursday, 3rd May, as we host a Facebook Live Chat with Tafadzwa Bete Sasa, who will be sharing practical tips on developing an action plan for your 2018 goals.

If you’ve read the I wanted to get more things done and be a goalgetter feature or watched her webinar on creating routines to maximize productivity, then you know Tafadzwa is not a stranger to our SLA community.

Smash your 2018 goals with actionable tips from @taffybete on May 3rd at 12pm WAT. Visit http://bit.ly/TaffyBete to sign up! Click To Tweet

Tafadzwa has several accolades under her name and has also been named a Global Shaper by the Lusaka Hub – an initiative of the World Economic Forum.

She has also designed numerous trainings that focus on various efficiency skills, which include creating routines & schedules for productivity, as well as creating & nurturing tribes for productivity, including this goal getters guide to creating a schedule for your productivity.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • The process: steps to smashing a goal
  • The price: what you should sacrifice to achieve your goals.
  • The people: ways to overcome negativity from naysayers
  • Strategies to overcome discouragement and setbacks when the going gets tough

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Time: 12pm Lagos // 1pm Lusaka // 2pm Nairobi

Watch here:

She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Tafadzwa Bete – Sasa, Managing Consultant of GoalGetter Consultancy who is practical steps to developing an action plan for your 2018 goals. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join!

Posted by She Leads Africa on Thursday, May 3, 2018

About Tafadzwa

Tafadzwa Bete Sasa is a productivity trainer, consultant and speaker specialising in personal efficiency and team performance.

She is also the managing consultant of GoalGetter Consultancy and the creator of the organisation’s flagship product – the GoalGetter Planner, a customized daily organizer that helps users translate their dreams and resolutions into SMART goals and develop action plans to achieve these goals.

Outside of her professional work, Tafadzwa is involved in community service as a member of Junior Chamber International (JCI)  where she is currently serving as the JCI Zambia Executive Vice President.
Tafadzwa has been recognised for her outstanding service and leadership as a Global Shaper and as one of Africa’s most outstanding emerging women leaders by the Moremi Initiative. In all her roles though, Tafadzwa is all about building the capacity for people to get things done.