Want to map out your own career path? Here’s how!

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Think about a career as a personal journey. How person ‘A’ makes it work, is never the same as how person ‘B’ makes it work. In an industry with hundreds of skilled talent coupled with the rapidly evolving times, how can you craft your own path and remain relevant?

Now more than ever, is the time to be intentional about what you bring to the table; what makes you unforgettable? Case in point- the career journey of popular Nigerian Media Personality, Toke Makinwa – she went from making the big move from banking to being the media star we know today.  The key to her progress has been owning her unique career journey.

How do you map out a career path tailored just for you? The three P’s for writing your script are Purpose, Place, and Plan!


No purpose means no perspective!

career path- I see you gif

The secret to a knock-out career is a personal vision. What is your ‘why’ and how can the world benefit from this? Quickly identifying this helps you to know right where you fit in. Think about it this way: without ‘you’ there is no career. So, authenticity is required to create or find the right opportunities for you.

This is what will enable you to be successful irrespective of the dynamism of your sector. So, what if machines took over your sector, how would you evolve to stand the test of times? The answer is ‘you’.

I have always envisioned a world with more women who are relevant and living their authentic lives. This is my personal vision and it translates to the kind of career choices I have made. Through my various roles as writer, administrator and civil leader, my purpose has not changed.

Knowing your place means there is a vacuum just for you

Career path -Chess gif

What are you able to bring to the table? Remember it is all about you, and how you can make everything work in your favour.

What has kept Ms. Tyra Banks relevant until now, is mapping out a career path that only she can execute. What is your place in the industry you are in? Where can you work or not work? The path becomes even narrower.

It takes consistency to find a niche or establish a track record, but when you can identify what exactly it is you bring to the table as well as where you can function in terms of delivering your personal vision? That’s when you know you are off to a great start.

In my case, after identifying how I could add value to the female audience, I developed my niche as a columnist on a lifestyle blog for women. I created a column for aspirational women; for daily motivation and personal development. This was how I started out, which in turn enabled me to learn a lot about myself, and evolve. I have built my career on this foundation.

Draw up a plan for you or go home when their plan changes

I mentioned Tyra Banks earlier. Actually, Tyra was forced to make sustainable career plans when her industry rejected her. If she took the list of designers who said they couldn’t book her anymore and admitted that she was done, she wouldn’t be who she is today. Instead, she rewrote her narrative by creating opportunities for herself.

Having found a purpose and a place, then there has to be a great plan to keep you relevant. Like a custom-made strategy just for you.

In formulating a plan, ask yourself the following questions: What is the right network for me? Where is the right environment? How can I gain more confidence and experience? What is crucial to remaining relevant? In answering these questions, you will be able to craft a career strategy for yourself.

To wrap this up…

I have been able to identify opportunities that re-enforce my competencies, which in turn have helped me evolve in my career. This consistency has helped me to learn more about myself, and envision where I would like to be in years to come.

I first started out as a content creator for women, but I have evolved to channel my passion of empowering women, into development work and not just media. As a key-employee in an organization for women, I have first-hand experience in helping women stay relevant. 

If you are hoping for a Toke Makinwa or Tyra Banks type of evolution, then you need to put yourself at the centre of your career. Not the money, or being on fleek, or the people you are rolling with. Think hard to make the right decisions. Long-standing personal brands are birthed from consistency.

How have you mapped your career path?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

Busayo Oladiran: Changing the lives of Girls Living in Slums through The Ìgboyà Project

According to UNICEF, 13.2 million children are out of school in Nigeria, 60% of them are girls. This figure puts Nigeria as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

This proverbial gun powder poses a serious danger not only to the present day Nigeria but also the future of the nation. Notably, one patriotic Nigerian is doing her bit to stop this gun powder from exploding. Her name is Busayo Oladiran.

Busayo is a graduate of Microbiology from the University of Ilorin, co-founder of Pep Naija and 2018 YALI fellow. She grew up in an average Nigerian family where she didn’t lack basic needs.

She was, however, treated unfairly at some point because she is a girl child. So she vowed to create opportunities for girls, especially those who are underprivileged.

This was why she founded The Ìgboyà Project to help girls living in slums/underserved communities become role models worthy of emulation. 

In this article SLA contributor, Kofoworola Ayodeji highlights some of her achievements in helping Nigerian girls living in the slum.

 Hope emerges for girls living in Dustbin Estate…

On a bright Saturday morning, Busayo and her team made a triumphant entry into the Dustbin Estate in Ajegunle, Lagos Nigeria.

As they alighted from the car, the four-person team was swarmed by a group of enthusiastic girls who have been waiting eagerly to start a journey that would change the course of their lives in the weeks ahead.

That moment birthed The Ìgboyà Project in Ajegunle.

The journey began. And then the sad moment ensued.

Busayo and her team members arrive at Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle Lagos.

“I heard stories that made me shed tears for days. There’s the story of a girl who was doing well academically on scholarship. Then she was molested, got pregnant and lost her scholarship.

Her education stopped. She lost her dad in the process and had to sleep in an uncompleted building with pregnancy for months.” -Busayo said in a low voice.

“Another of the girls lost her two parents and had to stop going to school because her guardians couldn’t send her. It was such an emotional moment for me, for all of us. They broke down in tears while telling their story. They cried. I cried too.

I couldn’t help it. But I’m happy that with our coaching and investment in them, they have braced up to get the best out of life.” She continued.

The Ìgboyà girls during a class session.

Why it was called -The Ìgboyà Project…

“The name ‘Ìgboyà’ is a powerful word in my native language, Yoruba. It simply means courage, confidence, or boldness.” says Busayo as she thrusts her fists into the air with so much passion.

“The Ìgboyà Project was created to help girls living in slums or remote communities. Basically, we’re working to help them build their self-confidence, self-esteem and communication skills. They are also trained in public speaking, branding, sexual and reproductive health.

I really want our girls to be bold, and to believe in themselves - @OladiranBusayo Click To Tweet

The project has so far empowered a lot of girls currently living in Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle Lagos. The Ìgboyà girls, as the participants are called, get trained over a period of six weeks with intensive classes, class exercises and simulation.

After that, they were organized into a brainstorming session during which they analyzed and highlighted some of the key problems facing their local community. They are then mentored and supported by the Ìgboyà team to solve these problems.

A cross-section of the panel of judges on the grand finale of The Ìgboyà Debate

“When we arrived at Dustbin Estate in Ajegunle, my eyes were welled up with tears. It was unbelievable that some people live in this kind of environment. I began to think about the girls who grow up in a place like this.

I knew we had no choice but to rewrite the story of some girls living around here. Thank God for LOTS charity that has been doing so much to groom the kids in that community, ” says Busayo

“After six weeks of rigorous training sessions, I knew the change had finally come. Our girls have now become so bold that they can take on anyone on any issue about their community or nation.

They are now doing their community project and we will continue to mentor and expose them to life-changing opportunities. I recently went with four of the girls to #TLC2018, a speaking event which held at the American Corner, Yaba Lagos.

This inspired them and exposed them to many more opportunities. Our next stop is Mushin in Lagos and we look forward to having a great experience there.”

Busayo with some of the Ìgboyà Girls at #TLC2018 held at The American Corner CcHub Yaba Lagos.

My dream is for the @igboyaproject to reach millions of girls living in slums/underserved communities across Africa - @OladiranBusayo Click To Tweet

That you were born a girl child in a particular community should not limit your potentials in life. Every single girl in the world deserves to live a fulfilling life of purpose.

Dear Motherland Mogul, make your life a story worth telling. Within every person lies an extraordinary story waiting to be told.

 How are you making a difference in your community? Click here to share your story.

Michelle Ndiaye: Driving the Peace and Security Agenda in Africa

Michelle Ndiaye is the Director of the Africa Peace and Security Programme (a joint programme with the African Union Commission) at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Ethiopia.

Ms. Ndiaye started her career in 1995 as a program officer at the African Institute for Democracy (IAD), a UNDP project based in Dakar, Senegal that promotes democracy and governance in Africa and particularly in 15 West African Countries.

She is also the Head of the Tana Forum Secretariat, an annual high-level gathering of African decision makers in peace and security in Africa.

She has worked on a variety of projects with local and international organizations in the fields of peace and security, democratic and local governance, post-conflict and community recovery, sustainable development and environmental issues, transitional justice, communication for development and research.

Before joining IPSS, she was the Managing Director of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) in South Africa.

Prior to joining MINDS, between 1999 and 2011, she consecutively headed several African and international organizations as Executive Director of Greenpeace Africa, CEO of the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC), Founder and Manager of Africa Projects for Akena Research and Consulting.

Having implemented projects in 48 countries in Africa made me wonder what a waste it is that Africans do not know Africa - @MichelleNdiaye1 Click To Tweet

You play a leading role in peace and security, a field normally perceived to be a preserve for men. What is your take on this?


The area of peace and security has for a long time, been considered as an area where only men have a say. However, in recent times this perception is changing because of the initiative and role played by women.

Whether at a community level (grassroots level) or international level, women are voicing their concerns. There is evidence that shows that women play an important role as drivers of change in achieving sustainable peace and development.

For instance, women have been involved in peace negotiations in many African countries as well as led development efforts at the grassroots level. The Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 is one example.

I believe now is the right time for women empowerment and the right time to prove ourselves. Every woman should be able to reach the forefront in any field.

What would you have been if you had not pursued this career path?


Perhaps a diplomat. However, my work today involves socio-economic, human rights, socio-political and developmental aspects of society so I have no regrets.

Who influenced you the most in your professional life?


Aside from my family, my largest influence was my first supervisor at the African Institute for Democracy (IAD) in Senegal.

Professor Babacar Sine, a brilliant Senegalese intellectual, taught me that leadership can only have an impact when it is a leadership of service.

What would you say is Africa’s greatest strength?


Our resilience and our capacity to absorb shocks. We face so many societal and developmental challenges in our nation-building processes that we have developed the ability to find solutions even in situations where we are threatened.

Have you encountered any challenges in your role as a peace and security professional? 


Penetrating and making an impact in a male-dominated field has various challenges, from changing people’s perceptions to taking decisions and standing by them.

You have to focus on demonstrating strong leadership and rigor in whatever you do.

What would you tell a young person seeking a meaningful and successful career?


Have a vision, believe in it and share it with others.  I also believe in ethics and professionalism at all levels of my work.

What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement to date?


I have worked on a variety of continental programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa with both local and international organizations in the fields of peace and security, democratic and local governance, post-conflict and community recovery, sustainable development and environmental issues, transitional justice, communication for development and research.

But I must say, having implemented projects in 48 countries in Africa made me wonder what a waste it is that Africans do not know Africa!

Have you ever received a painful rejection in your career? How did you handle it?


I face painful rejections all the time. It’s part of how you build yourself into a strong leader. I handle it by having clear objectives, relying on my team, and being driven by professionalism and ethics at all times.

Do you have any regrets? Looking back, what would you have done differently?


I have no regrets when it comes to my professional career. I believe I embraced the right career path and I also feel that I have achieved most of my objectives in my field of work. As a lesson to any young person starting a career, I would say be focused, be professional, be rigorous and allow yourself to dream big.

What have you learned in your career about women in leadership? Any advice for women who aspire to leadership positions?


As a woman in a leadership position, you are expected to deliver 10 times as much as a man and be able to sustain it. No failure is allowed. You have to be resilient and strong.

Women are increasingly facing burn out trying to juggle career and home lives. What can they do to prevent burning out?


Have clear boundaries between your home and work life. It’s impossible to do both. Deal with one expectation at a time.

As we live in a digital world, what is the one website that you must visit daily?


IPSS and Tana Forum websites. I also visit the African Union website almost daily.

Do you have a must-visit destination list?


Too many! Ile du Saloum, Senegal; Lake Malawi shores, Malawi; Gorée Island, Senegal; Drakensberg and Paris (North West), South Africa; and Bahir Dar and Hawassa, Ethiopia.

Which book is currently on your reading list?


Winnie Mandela, A life!

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MALEBOGO MARUMOAGAE: It is not about being your own boss, it is about finding a solution to a problem

This is a woman rooted in love. Love for her mother, work and for others. She is love. She is Malebogo  Marumoagae.

We were first introduced to Malebogo as a beauty queen when she was crowned Miss Botswana in 2006. Today, she still wears that crown, now as the belle of Belle Larissa. A consultancy company she founded in 2009 and went on to win a Woman in Business Award for, under the category of Young Female Entrepreneur of The Year in 2016.

Belle Larissa slayed at the end of 2017 when it hosted what would become the inaugural International Women in Mining conference (IWiM).  

Malebogo not only has a good business and a few awards to her name, she holds a degree in Economics and Population Studies, and an MBA from the University of Botswana.

I had a chat with her and this is her inspirational story.

Tell us about yourself.

I am Malebogo Marumoagae. I was born and bred in Tonota by one of the strongest women I know, Diteko Marumoagae. My mother has taught me how to be confident in my own skin, to respect others and myself and most importantly to know that I am nothing without God.

I believe in the law of attraction. That whatever you think, eventually becomes your reality. Even the Bible says in the book of Proverbs ‘above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”.

I love reading, in fact, I have learned so much from the books I read and I am always encouraging anyone who wants to be a leader to make reading a habit and not a hobby.

Tell us more about Belle Larissa.

Belle Larissa is a BQA registered and accredited institution providing training on personal branding, professional image, and etiquette.

Our main aim is to assist individuals, young and old to be the best that they can possibly be especially in today’s world where there is competition in almost every opportunity that arises. For organizations, we assist their employees to align their personal brands with their corporate brand.

How would you define etiquette? Are we a people that care for it, especially locally?

Etiquette is simply a set of rules that govern socially accepted behavior. It is about showing respect and making others feel comfortable and at ease when they are around you.

The word may be new to some, however, etiquette is not a new thing. In our Setswana culture, we call it Botho. It is behaving graciously in any given situation. It is not an issue of whether people care for it or not, Etiquette is a requirement for civilization.

I wish I could confidently say our services have gained the attention they deserve. We have done our bit, but I still believe there is still much to be done.

Winning the Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, how significant was that moment for you?

That was a very surreal moment. I felt really proud of my team and I. As you may know, our business is relatively new in Botswana so to have that recognition was a great confidence booster.  

However, we also understand that it means we need to keep working hard to ensure that we stay on top of our game.

In 2017, Belle Larissa hosted the first ever International Women in Mining (IWiN) Conference in Botswana. What inspired the initiative?

Yes, together with Brandneue Media, we hosted the first-ever Women in Mining Conference in Botswana in 2017.  This initiative was inspired by the need to promote greater participation of women in the mining industry.

The numbers show that the mining industry is one of the most male-dominated industries in the world and Botswana is no exception. We wanted to play our part by bringing together women, who are already in the mining industry, those with aspirations of getting in the industry, policymakers, and financial institutions under one roof, to discuss the challenges as well as come up with solutions to increase the participation of women in this industry.

What does it mean for you as an African woman being in business?

African women have from time been in business to feed, educate and take care of their children. It means so much to me that I am part of a group of phenomenal women who have either by choice or default found themselves in business.  

Being a woman and in business has never been an easy thing.  I hope I am able to inspire other upcoming business women to follow their dreams the same way I have been inspired by hard-working, women who came before me.

How do you suppose one can recognize themselves as an empowered woman?

For me, an empowered woman is one who has a choice to be whatever she wants to be.  She knows her worth, is confident in her own skin and is not intimidated by the success of other women.

An empowered woman stands for herself, speaks for herself and is the voice to the voiceless.  As she goes up, she pulls others with her.

What three principles would you say drives your business?

Our business is driven by the love to see other people excel and become the best versions of themselves. We believe in team-work as everyone has their own unique abilities which can contribute towards ensuring that our clients get quality service.


What advice would you give to young women who want to be their own boss?

For me, it is not about being your own boss, it is about finding a solution to a problem or problems facing our society and then putting together a team that shares your vision and working together towards achieving that vision.  

For anyone who wants to take that path, I would say, it is not an easy road to take but if you want it so bad, you need to put in the effort, develop yourself, read extensively and have a never-give-up attitude.

Kim Windvogel: I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty

Kim Windvogel is an online writer who writes under the name Blazing Non-Binary. Being Non-Binary means that you are fluid in your gender.

Kim believes that they can be masculine, feminine and all the other energies present on the gender spectrum.

Their writing focuses on breaking the taboos of sex, of being fat, of loving yourself, of questioning identity and the experience called life.

As a Non-Binary, they do a lot of panel discussion on representation and access. Kim who graduated with a degree in classical singing from the University of Cape Town is also the co-founder of a non- profit company called FemmeProjects NPC.

In this article, the controversially inspirational, versatile creative, Kim Windvogel shares their story to becoming a gender activist and advocate for body positivism, among other things.

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in a home that supported me in my journey to form my own opinions about life and I think that is why I am as opinionated as I am.

I went to predominantly white schools and this shaped a lot of my understanding when it comes to my experience of race relations in a post-apartheid country such as South Africa.


What you do

I co-founded a Non-Profit Company called FemmeProjects NPC. We go into schools and facilitate feminist sexual and menstrual health workshops to teenagers going through puberty.

We help them understand what is going on with their bodies and allow them to ask the burning questions they are afraid to ask their parents for fear of judgment.

Currently, I am working in collaboration with Women’s Net South Africa, Coloured Mentality and Soul City to create an online campaign around the 16 Days of activism.

We are creating a #16waysfor16days campaign, calling on online users to showcase what they are doing to change the way they and the world treat gender marginalized people, calling on people to discuss this in their online and offline circles.

As there is a big digital divide we have provided workshops to explain how social media works with various organizations in the weeks leading up to 16 days of activism. 

I have a lot of feelings about the world and I knew that I needed to share that with people Click To Tweet

What inspired you to become a polygonal creative and what challenges have you faced in the creative industry? 

I had a lot to say and a lot of feelings about the world which needs to be shared with people. Specifically people in my country and my continent.

I love posting pictures of my body that is not the standardized idea of beauty. Another passion of mine is writing about masturbation, self-love and being colored.

Creating workshops for young women is my passion, the type of workshops I hoped to have had access to as a kid.

If you are creative,  you should have a responsibility to create and then to share that with the world so that others can go through the same stream of consciousness you went through.

I have been fat-shamed, body-shamed, and shamed for having bodily hair - @Blazingnonbinry Click To Tweet

I have faced challenges like being fat-shamed, body-shamed, shamed for having bodily hair. Other and more dominant challenges include being silenced in spaces I thought were safe enough to talk about the issues that gender non-binary people experience daily.

Representation for genderfluid people is lacking and therefore, I decided to take my power and to write my own story. That is the power of social media. We should all seize that power.

Tell us more about FEMME and all about the work the organization is involved in

Femme is a rough acronym that stands for Freedom of Education Motivates Empowerment. We create workshops for young people about puberty, mentorship, and their potential career paths.

We hand out menstrual cup which is a sustainable sanitary product that is made out of medical grade silicone and lasts for 5 years. This means that learners do not have to miss school due to lack of resources.

We train other facilitators to go out into their own communities and to do the same empowerment we do with them. Femme is my baby and I co-direct it with two wonderful partners, Loren Loubster and Kelly Koopman of coloured mentality

What do you enjoy most about the path that you have chosen?

I get to live the type of life I always wanted to lead, speak my mind and manage my own time (which is a very difficult thing if you are not disciplined!).

I get to meet the most amazing people who are on the same journey to try and change the world in their own way. 


What are you most proud of in all that you’ve achieved so far?

I am proud of my self-published anthology: Resist: The Paradox of Love and Other Societal Disorders. I wrote and curated it, but had someone who assisted with the layout and an amazing illustrator who did the cover illustration.

The work that is included in this collection was written over a period of three years. Some of the pieces are old and some I wrote two days before going to print.

I organized my own launch and was surrounded by people who enjoy poetry and who listened intently as I shared my story. I am proud that an introvert like me (someone who writes predominantly online) brought people together and shared their work in person.

It took so much out of me and I didn’t know that I had the courage, but just when you think you cannot do something out of fear, it is that same fear that drives you towards success.

I am also proud that in 3 years of running Femme we have facilitated 4000 learners, registered our own Non-Profit, opened a business bank account, and that we are all people of color blazing the trail for those who come after us.


What future plans do you have for your career as a creative and for the work you do at FEMME?

I want to write a novel. I have many ideas as to what my topic will be, and this might happen sooner than later.

As for Femme, we want to create sustainable sanitary products through innovative technology. Watch this space.

How do you unwind?

I write about my day and find the poem between the lines and spend time alone to think how I can better on what I did yesterday. 

Also, I speak to friends and ask for advice. Advice does not mean you are going to take it, advice means you want to know all possible avenues before you make your decision. 

I surround myself with people who inspire me and spend a lot of time online, reading Everyday Feminism or any online platform that speaks on gender politics, whether that is internationally or locally. Recently, I stopped drinking and I must say it feels amazing.

Give us your top five tips for aspiring creatives.

  • You do not have to be perfect to be a creative.
  • In the same breath, engage with your own content and those of others critically.
  • Practice your craft and do not be ashamed of it.
  • Spend time alone.
  • Have just enough fun to still always be prepared when an opportunity comes along.

Emma Mogaka: We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives

Emma Mogaka is the Executive Director of a grassroots organization called Rural Women Peace Link.

She is also an all-around superwoman fighting for local women from various counties in Kenya to have an equal opportunity to participate in governance and development.

The organization, run by an all-women team, mobilizes the participation of local women in peacebuilding, governance, and development. 

Their main focus is women from the rural area because these are the women who are marginalized the most.

Tell us about Rural Women Peace Link. How did it come about?

Rural Women Peace Link (RWPL) was founded in the early 1990’s by a group of women peace builders.

The significance of its name was to capture the critical issues the Community Based Organization (CBO) was addressing, namely rural women who had a passion to promote peace.

Their vision then was to help rural women to network, gain self-esteem, be empowered and promote and maintain peace in their respective areas of origin.


Our main thematic areas are:

  • Women’s human rights pillar: This pillar seeks to advance recognition and appreciation of women’s human rights in their communities against socio-cultural restrictions and negative perceptions. RWPL achieves this through training rural based women and girls on their rights through community education on legal education, human rights reproductive health and issues of bodily integrity and increasing access to justice.


  • Peace building and conflict mitigation pillar: We strengthen the role of rural women and youth groups in mitigating violence in the community, monitoring conflict through early warning indicators and mediating conflicts.


  • Women’s economic empowerment pillar: the focus is on grassroots women and women survivors of conflict and gender-based violence to promote sustainable livelihood management through offering life skills and entrepreneurship trainings. We also provide seed grant to facilitate start-up activities as well as linkages to financial institutions, partners and donors.


  • Education support and mentorship pillar: RWPL supports and encourages beneficiaries, mostly bright promising girls from vulnerable backgrounds, to take up opportunities offered through formal education in schools and colleges.


  • Leadership and governance pillar: RWPL mentors women leaders through capacity building training and exposure enabling them to participate in leadership effectively in different areas and also to vie for electable positions.


What led you to join this organization?

RWPL resonates with my passion for women and girls. I joined RWPL in January 2015 as a program coordinator for the leadership and governance program and became the executive director in January 2016.

RWPL provides a platform for me to reach women and girls at the grassroots level. I have had an opportunity to meet amazing women doing remarkable things in their communities.

RWPL works with 11 women network leaders whose stories shook me to the core. They have grown from ordinary rural women to women leaders. One of the women was nominated to the County Assembly of West Pokot after the just concluded 2017 elections.

Through teamwork, I have seen RWPL staff grow and together we are actualizing the vision of the organization through the support of our board members and technical advisor.

We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives or parents. Click To Tweet

Why is empowering women important to you?

Empowering women and girls is important to me because it enables them to become aware of who they are and what makes them authentic.

They become aware of their capabilities, their likes and dislikes, their boundaries, their options and opportunities and all these enable them to develop into authentic human beings.

It is important that the girls and women I empower live a healthy life. We need to allow girls to be children first before they become wives or parents.

I empower girls so as to give them the opportunity to get an education and pursue their dreams. This way, they too get to help in breaking the cycle of poverty and strengthening our economy.

I am a mentor first and foremost because my experiences and knowledge positively influence the development of women and girls in their limiting environment. They do not always have to learn from mistakes because they get guidance.

Do you feel like this revolutionary work you’re doing for women is your life’s purpose?

Yes! In 2012 I attended a leadership training and I remember doing the passion test. We were required to complete this statement: When I am living my ideal life, I am…

We had to write 10 things we would be doing if we were living our ideal lives, then prioritize them. Mentorship was number 1 on my list.

Then it hit me that I actually talked to women and girls every chance I got. Totally unstructured mentorship!

I cannot support another woman if I’m drained and empty - Emma Mogaka Click To Tweet

Who are your top three women role models and why?

My mum is my most real role model! She perfectly demonstrates work-life balance – she worked full time and raised five children.

Her passion for women inspired me and I have watched her support women and encourage them wherever she is and whenever she has an opportunity.

Selline Korir. Founder of RWPL, Selline has worked in several international organizations where she has touched the lives of women and youth. I met her in 2014 when I was looking for Women Human Rights Defenders to profile.

As I was interviewing her I knew this is one woman I would love to learn and develop under. I approached her for mentorship and I have been growing under her wing since then. She gives selflessly to causes she believes in.

Leymah Gbowee – The first time I watched ‘Pray The Devil Back To Hell’ I was amazed, impressed and awakened. Leymah demonstrated movement building in Liberia.

She, together with other Liberian women, mobilized women for a cause (Peace) – religion and social standing notwithstanding. The results speak for themselves.


Facebook Live with Deliwe Makata: How to run a startup while completing your studies (Sept 13)

Getting an education should not be a barrier to pursuing your dreams early in life.

Com’on, we’ve gone past that time where we had to wait for graduation to start a business, master a new skill, or even start making trips to the bank…

Deliwe Makata is a living example. Currently an undergraduate, she founded Women Inspire, an empowerment and capacity building network for young women and girls in Malawi.

Deliwe has trained over 250 Malawian girls and conducted over 50 face to face mentoring sessions with girls, about issues relating to personal development.

You can start your career or business while in school. Learn how. Click To Tweet

Join us on Wednesday, 13th September, as we host a Facebook Live Chat with Deliwe, who will be sharing her advice on starting a company and pursuing her passion while completing her studies.

Register below to have access to this opportunity.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Founding a company while in school
  • How early self-development has helped Deliwe to train young girls in Malawi
  • 3 keys to balancing your studies and side hustle

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Time: Lagos 1pm // Lilongwe 2pm // Nairobi 3pm

Where: facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

Watch here:

“She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Deliwe makata – Founder of Women Inspire, Malawi. How to run a startup while completing your studies. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join!”

Posted by She Leads Africa on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Watch the first part of this video on our Facebook page.

About Deliwe

Deliwe Makata is a writer, speaker, and highly ambitious leader, with aspirations of getting into international public policy-making. She is the founder and executive director of a women empowerment organization called Women Inspire.

Women Inspire is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, both locally and internationally. Through training & mentoring women and girls in the areas of education, human right advocacy, capacity building, leadership and decision-making positions.

As a speaker, Deliwe has inspired many through her motivational appearances with international organizations, such as AGE Africa.

Deliwe is also an exceptional final year student currently pursuing her undergraduate degree with the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, studying Arts in Humanities.

Juggling post-grad studies, family, a briefcase and the world

You need a tribe of humans who will be there when you need some downtime and rebooting Click To Tweet

What exactly does this mean for us when juggling work, studies, and the world? It is a universal assumption and truth that women are the backbone of every family. We are inherently prepared for a purpose. Prepared on purpose.

What does this entail and do we have any choice in what we allow to take up space in our lives? How can we better channel our energies into affirming our loved ones, building empires and pursuing our innermost desires and dreams?

I am a Womxn. What is your superpower?

Firstly, a solid support system is necessary. You need a tribe of humans who will be there to listen, extend a helping hand and generally hold you down when you need some down time and rebooting.

It is imperative that we know where to go or when to refuel so that we can do the things we are equipped to do. Contrary to popular belief; this is not at all selfish, this is a reminder to oneself that you are a soft thing and that you should breathe. Inasmuch as life is often a juggling act, one needs to attend to the body, mind, and soul.

With a consistent circle of support, it is easy for one to focus and achieve the objectives you have set out for yourself. A great way to stay on the ball is to write up a set of goals and hold yourself accountable to them.


A human being actually…

How does one strike the work-life-balance? Is this even an attainable feat?

This would undoubtedly be a pertinent question for working mothers as one would want to be there for the kids’ milestones whilst breaking new ground on the work front. There have been ongoing studies regarding how one can achieve all this and then some.

Ultimately, you should live a life that doesn’t require that you need a vacation from your day to day existence. Sometimes all it requires is doing the things that really get you going, like reading a book, going cycling, having tea with your mother or just having a night out with the girls and/or date night with your partner. Down time is really necessary.

You should live a life that doesn’t require that you need a vacation from your day to day existence Click To Tweet

Sometimes the lemonade may taste like medicine

It is not the end of the world, some experiences are lessons that need to be learned along the way. At the end of it all we need to make decisions about the kind of partners, colleagues and parents we want to be and stop self-sabotaging ourselves.

Facebook COO and author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg shares, “If more women lean in, we can change the power structure of our world and expand opportunities.” She further states, “Shared experience forms the basis of empathy and, in turn, can spark the institutional changes we need. More female leadership will lead to fairer treatment for all women.”

Whenever in doubt, or when we question if we can lean in; we ought to remind ourselves that we are the magic and the medicine; and most importantly, we were born for such a time as this.


We can be selfless whilst putting ourselves first, it is possible Click To Tweet

The world was never ready for your juggling prowess

We can be selfless whilst putting ourselves first, it is possible. We can be there for our humans – juggling our itinerary, to-do lists and still have an endless reservoir of love and sustenance for ourselves.We have the power to be whomever we want to be and with the assistance of a steady routine, consistency and positive affirmation, anything is within our reach.

Thus, one cannot stress enough the importance of engaging with activities which reaffirm your calling or destiny. It’s also important amidst the juggling to remember that self-care also means giving yourself permission to go through the ups and downs of life and get within your feels.

Inasmuch as it takes more than nights away or hours lost in a book; but you can certainly be assured that any dose of self-care can and will go a long way for the spirit, body, and mind. Go out there and SLAy!

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.

Minna Salami: I’m impatient with the idea that the reason we should empower women is to grow the economy

Minna Salami

Like all ideologies, feminism is an always changing one - Minna Salami Click To Tweet

Listed by ELLE Magazine as one of “12 women changing the world”, Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finnish writer, blogger and commentator who has contributed to the popularisation of African feminism through her blog, MsAfropolitan

Her writing appears in the UK Guardian, Al Jazeera and The Independent. She is a columnist for the Huffington Post and The Guardian Nigeria, where she writes a bi-monthly column. Salami is a member of Duke University’s Global Educator Network and the Guardian Books and Africa Networks. 

Salami is a frequent speaker at international universities and featured on the BBC, SVT, Deutsche Welle, as well as TEDx Talks. She holds an MA (Distinction) in Gender Studies from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and a BA (Distinction) in Political Science from the University of Lund, Sweden. 

She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, in a multi-racial and inter-faith household where four languages were spoken, and has since lived in Sweden, Spain, New York and London. 

As a blogger who has written about feminist issues for many years, can you define in three words who a feminist is? Why does the word frighten some?

I’d like to first say that like all ideologies, feminism is an always changing one. So anything I say is simply my contribution to the forever changing landscape of what it means to be a feminist.

In that vein, here’s what I think. A feminist is a person who believes that feminism is the best tool (movement, framework, ideology) for the cultural, political, sexual and psychological liberation of women, men and all genders. By the way, I believe that although men, through manipulation, violence and force, now inhabit the top position in the gender pyramid, they are also imprisoned by our current forms of social relations, even if their “prison” has golden bars.

Anyway, in defining a feminist this way, I’m simultaneously suggesting that a feminist is not merely a strong woman who happens to be a politician, a single mother of three, a sassy seductress, a successful entrepreneur etc. as many seem to think. While such women may be living their lives in a feminist way, a feminist is ultimately one who at least has an awareness of the political philosophy of feminism.

That said, if the choice was between a great number of women living feminist lives but not referring to themselves as feminists –or– between a small number of women referring to themselves as feminist and living feminist lives, the former would be my clear preference.

The reason that I nevertheless formulate it the way I do is because I think that the canon of feminist philosophy is a treasure. Just like anyone who calls themselves a Marxist, would engage with economic systems, workers, the bourgeoisie etc., feminists benefit from engaging with feminist theory.

Sorry, that was more than three words. I really can’t define a feminist in three words!

Who is the empowered woman, and what’s your opinion on the use of the word ’empowered’ as a marketing tool?

At the risk of sounding too spiritual, or something, let me first say that I believe that if there is a purpose to life, then it is self-actualisation. Some might call this “becoming the highest version of yourself”.

Now, there are two types of obstacles to self-actualisation. The first are psychological obstacles, e.g. fear, family abuse, depression etc. The second are socially constructed obstacles. These can, depending on your gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class or race, follow similar patterns. To use an academic term – these obstacles form ‘institutionalised oppression’ – meaning that they are obstacles that are systematic and reinforced by established laws, customs, and practices.

I believe that if there is a purpose to life, then it is self-actualisation - @MsAfropolitan Click To Tweet

Bearing those two types of obstacles in mind, I would say that an empowered woman is one who is able to identify and subsequently transcend the obstacles that stand in the way of her self-actualisation. It’s not the same process for everyone, and it’s not an easy process for anyone, but society sets it up especially difficult for certain groups.

As for the business of empowerment, yes everyone from Coca-Cola to Ariel to H&M is now in the business of empowering women. The problem is that their formula is to cater to the first types of psychological obstacles I mentioned above while ignoring the institutionalised oppressions caused by traditions, social attitudes, sexual norms, the institution of family, international politics, the legal system, higher education, religions, professional spaces etc. This makes most so-called feminist marketing campaigns not only hypocritical but counterproductive.

That said, there are also brand campaigns that get it right and address both types of oppression in creative and innovative ways. Goldieblox had a pretty cool campaign some years ago. I’m not saying that using empowerment as a marketing tool is in itself an issue. What matters is that consumers discern genuine from faux empowerment.

What are the two biggest challenges facing professional women in Nigeria, and how can they be solved?

I would say, firstly, the absence of adequate constitutional rights. And secondly, the absence of a robust civil society fighting for adequate constitutional rights. The absence of both disturbs the smooth flow of a woman’s professional life. This is because there are no clear parameters for dealing with challenges that women are bound to encounter in professional life such as sexual harassment, maternity leave, domestic life-work balance, insurance policies, minimum wages, equal pay, and so on.

Feminist civil society groups are needed for various reasons. They educate women about their rights (or lack of rights) in the workplace through workshops, conferences etc. They formulate gender-sensitive policies and push for constitutional reform. Civil society groups teach women about feminism and how it can help them achieve real empowerment. They gather statistics and equip women with practical tools such as how to obtain bank loans or how to use technology to their advantage. They encourage women to become journalists, activists and to enter politics.

Organisations such as yours, She Leads Africa, are crucial for solving challenges in business. Other examples of vital organisations are the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) for funding initiatives, Women’s Rights and Health for health concerns and KIND for girls and leadership. At the end of the day, it is up to women to use and change the law to effect change.

The law is our best weapon against patriarchy.

A lot of women have been conditioned to see other women as the enemy. They refuse to collaborate with, amplify or help female colleagues, even though doing so benefits them. Why do you think that is? And what’s your advice for women working in male-dominated fields?

I guess there is a logic to the fact that when a group of people are marginalised they are bound to become competitive over the scraps left for them. But I would like to also consider the personal internal environment in which unhealthy competitiveness resides. It seems to me that our culture conditions women to feel a sense of lack within themselves.

In our society, there is always something a woman lacks —a husband, a boy child, a slim body, youth, wisdom, confidence, humbleness etc. Her internal world therefore becomes a milieu of confusion, one day she’s being asked to be this, the next day the opposite… So because she is constantly feeling that something is missing, she becomes bothered when she perceives another woman is in possession of it.

To end this, we need to cultivate a culture where women feel the opposite of lack, namely a sense of wholeness. Women working in male dominant fields, as most women are, need to cultivate a sense of inner acceptance that they are enough just as they are, which will enable them to want the same for others.

Minna Salami: We need to cultivate a culture where women feel the opposite of lack Click To Tweet

How to do that? I could write a book about it, but let me just say for now that it has to with placing female-centric values at the centre of our world view. Women will often evaluate themselves from a male-centric viewpoint which is never going to make them feel whole and complete.

There’s been a lot of discourse about empowering women for the sake of economic growth. Do you think it’s dangerous for policy makers to focus on achieving gender equality for economic reasons rather than because it’s a human right?

Yes, I’m impatient with the idea that the reason we should empower women is to grow the economy. Not because economic growth isn’t important, although I do think we focus on it excessively as the planet cannot handle continuous growth. Nor is it because economic growth does not benefit women, it certainly has the potential to.

However, equality should evidently be driven by other reasons than capitalism. It should be driven by visions of a holistic and prosperous society in which people of all genders gain satisfaction/value from their work. The more there is work satisfaction, the more the economy will become self-sufficient as people will spend money on local products, services, leisure activities etc.

Furthermore, the statistics raise a few questions. After all, more women are contributing to our economy and yet Nigeria is in a recession.

The question women should be asking is: How is the money they are contributing to the economy benefiting women? The system should work for us and not vice versa. Put it this way, gender equality is indeed necessary for economic growth, but economic growth is not the only reason we want gender equality.

You’ve given speeches around the world on feminism, what misconceptions do people have about African women with relation to gender equality and feminism?

The main misconception that people have is that African feminism is a “different” feminism in the sense that it is more lenient, that it lets men get away with still being the head of the family while the woman is the neck. That kind of thinking.

There is some truth to this presumption – that the type of feminist activism that revolutionises society at its core, as happened in much of the west in the 70s and that’s happening in Eastern Europe and some parts if Latin America now, is yet to change the status quo in the African continent.

However, it is in Africa that I have encountered women with the most dedication to the feminist revolution; women who do not pander to patriarchal narratives, and women who inject a deep humanism and criticism to the global feminist discussion.

What’s does the future hold for your award-winning blog, MsAfropolitan?

Hopefully more of the same. As well as new types of discussion and awareness-raising. At the moment, I’m developing an essay/concept titled “Oyalogy”, which is based on the Yoruba goddess [of winds, lightening, rebirth and death] Oya; and is a mythopoetic approach to African feminism.

I’m planning to turn it into a performance piece. The project is still in the early stages but my aim is to share it with women in different parts of the continent in order to encourage a dialogue around the issues raised in it.

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