This article is sponsored by the FCMB SheVentures proposition. FCMB SheVenturesis empowering female entrepreneurs, helping them build their businesses, and improving the overall success rate of businesses owned or run by women. Please click hereto learn more about how FCMB SheVentures can support you and your business.
We’ve seen time and time again that we are only going to be able to move forward as a community, if we all use our skills and talents to support each other.
Over the past three months, several incredible women served as mentors for the FCMB SheVentures Program. These experts shared, connected, and bonded with the fourth cohort of this mentorship program supporting women-led businesses in Nigeria.
Some of the feedback from the mentees, shows how impactful this program was to entrepreneurs across Nigeria.
To learn more about how SheVentures supports the growth and aspirations of Nigerian women in business, visit www.fcmb.com/she-ventures.
Every person struggles with how to deal with people better. In business especially, the struggle is even more challenging as you not only need to win customers over but also make profits.
Dale Carnegie observes in his book How to win friends and influence people that…
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
This is to mean that we are more likely to win people over by treating them better. Instead of criticizing, the legendary writer, Carnegie, says that the only way to get people to do anything is by giving them what they want.
With this background, business people should thus ensure they provide what their clients and employees need.
Here are three ways to increase your likability among your employees and clients.
Don’t kick over the beehive
Do not be obsessed with getting what only benefits you alone. As an entrepreneur, it is very rewarding if you shift out of focusing absorbedlyon yourself and what you can gain from others.
Instead, be genuinely concerned about those you are in contact with irrespective of their rank or background. Be open to other people and listen to what they say keenly and with curiosity.
To be a good listener, try slowing down and look into your employees or colleagues eyes, and be truly concerned about them and what they are saying. It will not do you any good if you are the kind of person who only focuses on the goal without paying attention to the process of goal achievement.
As a leader, drop the ‘just get it done’ approach. It leaves those you socialize with feeling drained and used. Additionally, the ‘expert’ role among entrepreneurs breaks the line of communication between them and their employees/colleagues.
Playing an expert makes you big headed and closed minded to other people’s opinions, thereby stealing from you the opportunity to grow your business to the next level.
We cannot all be the same. It would be unexciting to work or socialize with clones of yourself. Embrace diversity and differences, as it is through them that you learn who you are and what you want to become in the future.
Engaging with those that are different from you sets you to becoming a better person, stronger and richer in knowledge and skills.
By being open to diversity, business owners can be more tolerant, understanding and respectful of other people’s perceptions, practices and who they are.
Running a small business has its pros and cons, the same as running a large corporation.
Large corporations may have endless resources to implement and execute elaborate and detailed strategies as they have hundreds of great minds constantly devising new ways to grow their business.
Whereas in a small company, you have to keep overheads lean, hence, there is no massive budget for strategy sessions with great minds from Ivy league schools. In a small business, the entrepreneur is the great mind and the world is your Ivy league degree, you have to make do with what you have.
But how exactly can you do that? I highlighted some solid, foolproof strategies that big corporations employ to achieve massive results and successes, which can be applied to your small business on a lean budget.
Enterprises spend millions annually on research to find out what market segment their products are best suited to. Market segmentation is important in every business as knowing your customer is the key to finding your market, which consequently leads to sales.
You need to know who your customers are, where to find them and how to reach them.
For small businesses, market segmentation helps you focus on a particular demographic or geographical area, thereby allowing you focus efforts on being the market champion in that market segment.
To figure out your market, small business owners should ask questions like who is your ideal customer? Which customers are you avoiding? What markets are the most profitable?
Answering these questions would help entrepreneurs prioritize and apportion resources to market segments that have the highest returns.
A marketing funnel is basically a fancy term for all the points in your customer acquisition strategy where you contact prospective clients.
As a prospective customer moves down the funnel, the better your chances of converting them into a paying client. Big businesses have a large team and budget to automate and implement this process, with small businesses on a lean budget, you can adapt this technique by being intuitive to your customer’s buying pattern.
Ask yourself, how does a customer find out about your service? How often do they come to your page? When do they buy?
What motivates this purchase? Asking yourself these questions gives you a clearer understanding of how to move your customer from being aware of your product to become paying clients.
Partnerships That Work
Large corporations usually cut deals with their counterparts that their customers can benefit from, small businesses should employ this tactic.
By bundling your services with another that complements you and your customers, you rake up good points with your clients.
For instance, if you sell hair extensions, you can offer your clients free hair care products, this would cause clients to be more inclined to your products, or event decorators could team up with an event space to offer a bundled service to customers.
It’s about leveraging what you’re good at, not trying to be everything to everyone and giving your customer a more wholesome and rewarding experience.
Chief Sales Officer
Enterprises can afford to pay several people bucket loads of money. Especially people who work just to think about how to execute more sales every day. These people have access to real-time data and analytics.
The data is what helps them make sensible insights, that make executing a large number of sales a reality.
On the other hand, for small businesses, it is usually hard to have more than one person in this role. It is of utmost importance to have someone who is constantly thinking of ways the company can generate revenue.
You must always know who your customers are, where they are and know what they want.
As you scale, have more people in sales and segment each section of the market the person should be handling.
By focusing on the customer and how to make them advocates, generating sales and loyalty. Most businesses have grown to become big businesses.
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71 years old Ambassador Kema Chikwe is a woman whose drive for inclusion and results earned her notable career opportunities in Nigeria. She has successfully held positions as the Minister for Transport, for Aviation and Chairman of Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB).
Amb. Chikwe gracefully held the office of the National Woman Leader where she created opportunities for other young women to achieve career and political ambitions.
In all of this, she remains optimistic about the future of women in leadership and is the founder and chairperson for Women in Leadership Institute (WLI).
Talking with Amb Kema has no dull moment. Añuli Ola-Olaniyi, an SLA contributor, sat through an interview with this remarkable woman and shares with all the deets with us.
How did you begin your career?
I finished my secondary education at age of 17 and I got a job at the Pay Section, Ministry of Education, Nigeria.
How did you become an Ambassador?
I challenged myself to take the position. It was an appointment actually which I believe was given to me based on merit and results from my previous appointments.
I served as the Minister for Transport and Aviation. Later I became the Chairman of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Also, I contested for the office of the Governor, Imo State.
Hard work, commitment to public service, and my result-oriented attitude have always propelled me.
What would you say is your proudest achievement today
I am very grateful for all my accomplishments to date, some of which are my exposure to many years of public service and strong legacies.
A notable accomplishment was the reformation of the Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport -MM2. As the Minister for Transport and Aviation, the reform projects spoke for themselves. As Transport Minister, we achieved 48 hours turnaround and 24 hours of port operations.
While I was the Chairman of JAMB we embarked on the automation of the system and some of the results from this are the use of scratch cards for examinations.
However, as a National Woman Leader, the adoption of the bill to mainstream disability in political parties was achieved. The office of the National Woman Leader was institutionalized, a Gender audit was conducted and we developed programmes for women running for office.
We created and ran the E-Women Network for young women and we have to date, women who have benefitted and done well.
What’s the boldest thing you’ve done?
My boldest move was to contest for Governor of Imo State, Nigeria. I was the only woman campaigning in an era where the mindsets weren’t particularly ready for a female Governor.
Did you encounter any setbacks, and how did you get past it?
My biggest setback was not winning my governorship and Senate elections. When you invest a lot in something and it doesn’t end up the way you envisioned, it can be difficult to comprehend sometimes.
I overcame it by understanding thatfailure is a challenge, you rise and fall. My dad (who was also my mentor) had a rhyme he used to encourage us and it says
“If at first, you don’t succeed, always try and try again”
After losing the election, I had tremendous support from people like President Yaradua and Baba Kingibe with the Ambassadorial posting.
Please understand that when you work very hard, people support you and anything you do will eventually go well because people will recognize your efforts based on the legacies and results you have shown.
Once you focus on your career, work, job or assignments and perform well, the recognition comes.
I must add that there must be a virtue of hard work in Nigeria amongst young men and women. A person qualified for a role or position should get that role/position. No shortcuts.
One piece of advice to your 20-year-old self would be…
Be more adventurous and courageous. I was nervous about stepping out of my comfort zone.
Moving forward, I realized that life outside my comfort zone wasn’t as scary as I thought. With focus, determination and positive support. I was able to achieve my goals. Look at me now; many young women can be me or even greater.
What would you advise people starting a career or going into politics?
My best advice is this – convince yourself that it is what you want to do. Let it also be that you are meeting or creating solutions for the needs of people.
I also encourage young women to know that you can have it all. Career, marriage, children, business, all of it. Raising a family is possible with a thriving career.
There are many benefits of marriage. I understand that not every woman is lucky, but note that it is an important institution.
The future excites me because the rate at which innovative ideas are quickly changing our lifestyles and the way we view the world gets me really excited to see what next is in store.
Imagine some people who do not speak a word of English, operating a mobile phone with such dexterity. The internet culture has made this world a smaller place by bringing a better understanding of life.
What are your future plans for the Women in Leadership Institute?
Getting addicted to TED is a habit that would not only spur you to greatness but would keep your mind bubbling with ideas. If you only watch TED videos once in a blue moon, it’s time to make a switch and come to the winning team. TED seeks to share great ideas with the entire world through storytelling and sharing insights.
With the many TED Talks I’ve watched, it’s been hard to choose my favorite. However, those I liked were by women who have ignited my passion and encouraged me to chase my dreams.
The following videos have left me sprawling with laughter, and I must tell you, they are the top TED Talks that every Motherland Mogul should watch.
1. Natasha Case and Freya Estreller –Female and Millennial Entrepreneurship
If you think you’ve reached the peak of your entrepreneurial journey, this video is definitely for you. In this TED Talk, two co-partner entrepreneurs talk about their journey starting a distinct ice cream brand – Cool Haus.
With over four thousand stores in the United States alone, Natasha and Freya are making a huge impact and taking a fair slice of the market. In this talk, they talk about their experiences navigating the business world as female CEO’s and the changing trends of women in business.
Though a lot of data shows that there is still work to be done in bringing more women to the top of the corporate ladder, some women such as Natasha and Freya are already slaying!
3. Sara Nuru -Finding your Identity
Do we get to choose what we do without existence? In this TED Talk, Sara presents a strong message of an identity of how we can make a choice on positive living. As a model and an Ethiopian activist, Sara has spent her life bringing impact to young children in Ethiopia.
Her talk is both insightful and inspiring. She shows us that nothing stops us from being who we truly are if we dare to believe.
No one can achieve much without a healthy self-esteem. Having self-confidence and loving yourself should be something we strive for every day.
Whitney is bold, powerful and very unlike any other speaker you have heard before. She spares no ground in sharing her experience of Obesity and it’s grappling effect in her life.
She dealt with shame, something we all have experience in one way or the other. Using emotional intelligence, Whitney keeps you captivated with her story of self-confidence.
At the end of the Talk, you are left with one lesson: learn to love yourself because nothing changes until you do!
4. Yvonne Orji – The Wait is Sexy
You may not agree with everything Yvonne says but this girl knows how to work her space! She knows how to knead her dough. Yvonne is audacious in her choice of waiting until marriage and she explains her reasons for staying true to her stand.
According to Yvonne, we all have to sacrifice short-term comfort to get a long-term quality relationship. This principle can be applied to everything including business and personality.
When making decisions, we should consider principles such as compromise, purpose and taking a stand for what you believe in. Whatever you’re working towards will definitely be worth it.
5. Courtney Ferrell – Girl Up! The Secret to the Extraordinary Life
This has to be my absolute best video! From the moment she walks on stage, Courtney keeps you wanting more. She cleverly engages the audience through picking one random person who she delivers her message through.
Courtney’s intimate yet personal talk carried a strong message for women and girls. She believes these are the key to development in every society. Sometimes, all we need is to be who we are and say what we believe in.
Though these are just a collection of some of my favorite talks. There are many more TED Talks that will inspire you, challenge you and expose you to many more great ideas.
From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to film director Wanuri Kahiu, there are a lot of Motherland Moguls who will definitely set you on the path to slaying.
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CloudCover – the pioneer of multi-network mobile data services, brought together women from a broad cross-section of industries to discuss solutions and ways to build successful businesses in Nigeria, on Wednesday, April 11th.
The event which took place at Browns Cafe & Restaurant, Victoria Island, Lagos Nigeria, sought to promote open conversations between leading women in business such as Co-Founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei and Director of CloudCover, Uchenna Agbo who shared their experiences with other career-focused individuals or entrepreneurs with budding businesses.
It was an insightful event as guests who shared similar hurdles in their different lines of work went home with one or more ideas on how to tackle these issues. There were also networking sessions that encouraged women to connect and find ways to help each other out.
Nigerian entrepreneurs such as Ore Onile-Ere of Lagos Talks, Tobi Jaiyesimi of The Book Banque, Atim Ukoh of Afrolems, Bola Awosika Adelaja were among the guests who attended the event.
Group Chief Operating Officer of CloudCover, Eleanor Potter made remarks on the success of Women in Business 2018, which happens to be the maiden event.
“The goal of this event was to empower business women in a shared community, with their shared stories and we believe that we were able to achieve that.
We are aware of the harsh realities of running a business in Nigeria, this is why CloudCover set up this event to ensure that women are consistently supporting each other, by helping to address the barriers to building businesses that women face today. Our vision is to provide Nigerians both men and women – with constant connectivity, enabling business productivity and growth.”
CloudCover launched in Nigeria in 2017 with its flagship 4G/LTE device called the CC1 MiFi that allows its users to stay connected regardless of where you are and what network is available, using just one device.
Owing to its ground-breaking virtual SIM technology, CloudCover has been able to provide this multi-network service in Nigeria as well as in over 100 other countries including United Kingdom, US, Kenya, and South Africa.
Pioneer of the revolutionary multi-network mobile data services, CloudCover Limited, is hosting Women entrepreneurs and career persons on Wednesday, April 11th at an event in Lagos tagged Women in Business.
Women in Business is an interactive session that brings together women from diverse industries and organizations in order to help address issues specific to women in all areas of economic endeavors. The event also aims to encourage networking amongst businesswomen.
Set to speak at the event is the co-founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei who will be sharing insights on Building a Successful Business in Nigeria.
Speaking about Women in Business, Group Chief Operating Officer of Cloudcover Limited, Eleanor Potter explained the essence of the event.
“Women in Nigeria face a host of cultural and institutional hurdles. Despite these obstacles, they still continue to thrive because they are learning each other’s lessons and listening to voices of those who have gone before them” she said.
“Cloudcover’s goal is to open up and connect people in business to increase productivity and ensure our users keep moving up the ladder of success” Eleanor continued.
Launched in 2016, CloudCover has been providing multi-network mobile data services in Nigeria and over 100 other countries using its revolutionary virtual SIM technology that enables users to connect to the most reliable network available.
Women in Business will feature top female executives, entrepreneurs, startup owners and other prominent women in society.
The event will also be hosted by Actress and On-Air Personality, Omotunde Adebowale David popularly known as Ore Onile-Ere.
Join Supriya Sharma, on Thursday, 19th April, as she teaches us how to take your brand’s success to the next level with digital marketing.
Supriya Sharma is the Managing Director of SAS Business Solutions, a global service provider catering to big business houses, SMEs and educational institutions.
She has spoken at some international events of repute on topics that include Leadership & Women, Time Management, Effective Business Communication, Being beautiful, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, Digital Marketing (take charge of your business) and Entrepreneurship.
Supriya Sharma, is a certified corporate trainer, coach and motivational speaker who began her academic journey as a scholar (gold medalist) in aerospace engineering. She was offered full scholarships at renowned US and UK universities and further developed her skill set to be an astute management professional gaining valuable experience in HR, corporate communications, sales and marketing.
Seeing the current status of the world’s economy, Supriya decided to pursue a course in entrepreneurship from one of India’s Ivy League business schools, where the idea of SAS was born.
In 2014, Supriya represented Nigeria in the Dreamforce Conference which was held in San Francisco, USA. To add, she has conferred the title of Ms Intelligent – Lagos & Ms Talented – Lagos in the Beauty Pageant organised by ICA in 2017.
Supriya strongly believes in giving back to the society as a part of her responsibility. In this view, she actively volunteers her time to develop employability skills among the Nigerian youth and is closely associated with women empowerment missions across Asia and Africa.
Digital platforms are taking the world by storm and as a digipreneur, leveraging these platforms can help you to connect with your audiences in a natural and personal way.
So since digital storytelling has become a popular channel for curating various narratives, how best can you, as a digipreneur and Motherland Mogul, maximize on platforms like YouTube to tell amazing stories?
We’ll be chatting with Hodan Nalayeh, on Thursday, 5th April, who will be sharing strategies on how to successfully build a digital community using platforms like YouTube – through storytelling.
Hodan has over thirteen years of experience in client management, sales and production in radio and television. Before founding Integration TV, she also worked on a number of TV shows, including the popular TV shows American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
She has changed the society with refreshing content that uplifts the spirit and shares pioneering stories of success.
Building a community with the power of storytelling
Tips for innovative storytelling using YouTube
Building your confidence as a digital entrepreneur and African woman
Register below to get access to this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Hodan to answer.
Date: Thursday, April 5th, 2018
Time: Toronto 5am // Lagos 10am // Johannesburg 11am
Hodan Nalayeh is a media entrepreneur, a social media powerhouse and the Founder of Integration TV, which reaches millions of viewers across the globe.
Known for her commitment to self-empowerment, entrepreneurship, and Somali communities, Nalayeh has changed the society with refreshing content that uplifts the spirit and shares pioneering stories of success. As a trained journalist, she is captivated by the power of stories to change lives.
Born in Somalia and raised in Canada from the age of 6, Hodan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Windsor and a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Seneca College. Nalayeh is also a strong advocate for education, but more importantly, life education.
She’s also a mom of two boys and believes changing society starts with changing our narrative of success for Africans.
Samah Zingran is one of those rare women often spoken of but rarely encountered in these modern times, kind of like a unicorn! Maya Angelou once described this type of woman as, “a woman in harmony with her own spirit”.
This Khartoum born entrepreneur, who aspires to learn 7 languages- Russian being one of them, is interested in history, anthropology studies and psychology and is currently working on obtaining a masters in Folklore from the University of Khartoum.
Samah is the founder of the eponymous brand, Zingran, which creates gorgeous handcrafted leather accessories and bags.
What led you to start your own business?
I launched my business on two separate occasions. The first was as a result of what I call “a graduate rush”. I wanted to start making a living as an independent fashion designer as soon as possible. Sadly, my business failed to grow. I was doing it part-time and had just begun my postgraduate studies.
During this time, I volunteered many times to do other artist’s projects from different fields, theatre, music bands, fine art exhibitions…I was even once a translator! I never said no to a job, and rarely considered the financial gain.
My second chance at business came in 2017. At this point, it hit me that I must depend on myself and do what I’m passionate about.
I quit my job at the Embassy of Venezuela in Sudan and with the help of a friend who became my retailer in Juba, I got the boost I needed.
This year, God awarded me generously by giving me the opportunity to attend a training given to selected creative entrepreneurs working in the East Africa region by the British council in Kampala and Nesta.
It exceeded my expectations and allowed me to connect with wonderful and enthusiastic teachers as well as students, build an essential network and learn many lessons- my greatest lesson being, “its okay if you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, you plan it anyway.”
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while running your business so far?
The most valuable lesson I learned was first taught by a friend, a very successful businesswoman in Sudan. She said to me:
I must say, from my personal experience, this has proven to be very true.
What drives you to achieve the goals you set for yourself?
Love to create, and my passion to create new things has kept me going. I also find myself continually motivated by my Father- the first supporter of my work, my friends with all their great insights.
I love the look on people’s faces when they see what I’ve made for them, it’s a wonderful feeling when I see they like my work. It’s also incredibly humbling and it’s where I get my satisfaction from.
What is the business environment like for young female entrepreneurs in Sudan?
I’ve struggled to be an entrepreneur in Sudan simply because I am a woman. People ruin professional relationships by harassing girls or making them uncomfortable. Many don’t believe in the possibility that a woman can actually make great achievements in business.
However, the few times I overcame these challenges resulted in great networking opportunities with suppliers, retailers, and buyers. The experience has taught me to expect to be treated unfairly, to be undermined, not just because I am female but mostly because I am a female artist.
Through it all, the conviction instilled in me by my father, that I am no less than any other man kept my heart solid to these challenges.
Do you think being a female entrepreneur in a country like Sudan is an advantage or disadvantage?
I think it’s a huge advantage since recent studies show young women in our generation are more advanced both in higher education and work. Traditionally, in Sudan, women often times overtake the responsibility to provide- even if this particular fact is openly overlooked.
Therefore, despite the obstacles they go through, women in my country like all African women, are strong and thrive to work, invent, create and provide.
What I’d love to inspire them to do is to dream. To get inspired by recalling the heritage we have from ancient Feroh–queens (Kandake) who led wars and led nations, whose biggest dream wasn’t to simply provide for their families.
What has been your greatest challenge so far? How did you overcome it?
While a student in art school in 2017, I fell sick of Myasthenia Gravis. My desire to overcome this pushed me to work hard in school and I completed with flying colors.
However, when business pressures rushed in, I struggled, being a solopreneur and working 14 -16 hours a day to deliver took its toll on me. I eventually had to scale back on my business.
To support myself, I started working part-time with other artists temporarily which exposed me to some of their struggles. Eventually, I also educated myself on the disease I had and trained someone close to me so that I wasn’t alone in my journey.
If you could be mentored by anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
I admire Meryl Streep, a well-known actress. I believe she is strong and has a great body of work- she has been nominated several times for the Oscars and various other awards.
She is a living embodiment of pure talent and is clear about her political and social opinions.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs both in Sudan and across the African Continent?
Remember that dream of yours you once had when you were a little girl? Draw out its details and bring it to life.
You will struggle one way or another, you will meet pessimists and those who have given up on their own dreams-but never ever give up, keep feeding your passion because you are your own knight in shining armor.