SELF DISCOVERY A PREREQUISITE TO SELF-LEADERSHIP

African Women in Leadership Organisation always has a tasty dish to serve. On Thursday August 14, 2018, another mouth-watery leadership training was held, and this one was a richer moment served on a platter. It was a great time with a woman who is a master of leadership and self-development; Dr. Violet Arene. She is a Certified ‘Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ Trainer, an author of 17 books, a coach and mentor on several platforms and a high achiever who believes that people can attain a great level of leadership and maximize their full potentials. This particular meeting was about self-discovery and discipline, and she did an amazing work by practically taking everyone’s attention and mind to what discipline entails. Everything she mentioned during the training was not something one can hurriedly forget.

[Tweet “In your journey of leadership, you are either your enemy or your asset”]

Dr. Arene enlightened the house that the road to self-discovery is often very smooth but very few drive their wheels down it, and that self-discovery is like the first baby-step to self-leadership. It is a self-leadership prerequisite. In her words, “in your journey of leadership, you are either your enemy or your asset”. It only takes discipline and patience to know who you are, because you cannot do that in a hurry.

The air was filled with so much excitement. Every example and explanation Dr. Arene the facilitator gave was illuminating, practical and quite relatable. One of the attendees at the end of the meeting said “the class was very educational, the facilitator was humorous and she passed across the message of self-leadership and emotional intelligence efficiently and I saw it in a new light”

She went further to tell us that self- regulation thrives on the anatomies of discipline which she broke down to include; food, recreation, work, health and emotions or temperament. These anatomies do not just end here, there is more to it as they were further broken down. In other words, it is when you have gained mastery over these aspects, then you are on your way to really knowing who you are and to effectively leading yourself.

It became more interesting when she illustrated on a projector the anatomy of emotional hijacking, explaining to us the power of our amygdala and our thalamus. The amygdala is the part of our brain that controls our emotions, and times when we find ourselves doing several things which we later regret, we can blame it on our amygdala. While our thalamus on the other hand causes reason behind our actions. In other words, it prompts us to first think before acting. That was the peak of it and it was good to learn practically how to not let your emotions rule over you but rather, you should put it under submission to you and in your control.

Dr. Arene taught that as humans our three basic emotions are; either glad, mad or sad. She also said that bad temperament is a self-sabotage. So we must understand our emotions, and not stop at this alone, but being able to balance our emotional and thinking brain. She also said that discipline gives trust, good leadership and a level head. And when you have mastered the art of discipline and what exactly you should be a master to, that is when you become aware of who you are. That is self-discovery and it is the prerequisite of self-leadership.

The meeting was thrilling and refreshing. At the end of the meeting, everyone had something to say about how much they learnt, how they could relate to every example mentioned by the facilitator and how that they looked forward to putting to work everything they learnt and to future meetings.


In a Leader’s Shoes: Are Women not Leaders?

‘There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in [all] women. It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet.’ -Maya Angelou

It is not a new thing that often times women are undermined when it comes to the sphere of leadership. But women have always been in leadership positions- whether as nurturers, decision makers and multi-taskers. It is only sad that society equates and constraints women with limiting words that do not go beyond the title of ‘wife’ and ‘mother’ and therefore do not capture the overall greatness of women. But, one thing that is certain is that women have always been in the shoes of leadership.

Going back in time to the Judeo-Christian creation story of man and woman. The woman was seen as taking charge and making decisions and even taking responsibility for the husband.

Even up to the life changing efforts of Mary Slessor in Africa, to the scientific input of women like Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, the noteworthy works of women can be felt in the world.

Even up till today books are being written, media outlets are weighing in by hosting forums and producing special reports, and affinity groups in the workplace are engaging and leaning in about the leadership deposit in the woman. What is this about?

LEADERSHIP IS NO GENES

Condoleezza Rice

It has become quite obvious that leadership is not gender specific and qualities of leaders are not genetically inherited.

Vince Lombardi said; ” Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

 

 WOMEN ARE NOT NEW TO LEADERSHIP

Female influence cannot be denied throughout history. Women have been voices. From Sojourner Truth, to Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra VII, Rosa Parks, Mary Slessor, Wangari Maathai, Mary Seacole, Indira Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton.

These women have lit up the world from their little corners. Who can deny the ripple effect of the simple act by Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat and how it begun a revolution. There are countless of instance that point to the outstanding leadership of women.

Perhaps the relatively small number of women executives in our organizations breeds the perception of women in leadership as twenty-first century concept of bossiness and misogyny whereas records show the indelible impact made by women. In reality leadership is not by virtue of position but impact.

WOMEN HAVE CAPACITY TO FUNCTION AT ALL FRONTS

Michelle Obama so aptly fit the role of First lady while playing Wife and Mum

Women possess the innate capacity to function on many fronts. At the boardroom, as wife, and mother, and they also advocate well for peace. Some women define having all this as the balance of a successful career and a successful family life. Women can obviously multi-task.

This multi-tasking ability has made them to effectively and efficiently lead in their careers and at the same time take charge of their personal and family life.

Women like Michelle Obama, and Hilary Clinton have proven that women can succeed at juggling career and nurturing family.

That balance is a personal choice because the dynamics of the workplace will have an impact on one’s personal life. How women manage it well to become successful at both makes them effective at multi-tasking.

WOMEN HAVE COMPETENCIES

Research has shown that leadership is about competencies, not necessarily about wearing a traditional Leadership hat at the office alone, but at all relevant situations.

Competencies such as demonstrating communication and social skills, utilizing creativity and innovation, problem solving, demonstrating judgment and team leadership, resourcefulness among others.

Even women within the home, as leadership is not just leading in the boardroom but the embodiment of who you are, and a reflection of self-leadership.

So, if this is the case, why do we not have more women leaders? The answer is not only in possessing these competencies but in bringing them to bear in the workplace and in relevant situations.

THE TAKEAWAY FOR WOMEN IS OWN YOUR COMPETENCIES

The take-away for women in leadership is to walk in their truth. If you are great at strategy or leading teams, networking or analysis, own it.

Represent your skills and competencies. The diversity of experiences, perspective and values that women bring to executive decision-making, yields competitive advantage and creative team dynamics. So, for women, leading can be easy if you do what you have honed.

Thanks to the awareness that makes girls to be given equal opportunities as the male child, so they can shine on time.

Here, is to the strength, perseverance, grit, tenacity, and wit- that the woman continues to bring to the table.

 


In a Leader’s Shoes: Is Nurturing a Word for Women or Leadership?

When the word ‘nurture’ comes to mind, words like cultivate, growth, development and not ‘women’ come to mind. Many times, women are termed nurturers; a term meant to relegate them to just raising a home-front. But in fact, nurturing is a key leadership skill.

According to John Maxwell nurturing is a Leadership Attribute. This important ingredient is a factor in determining how you can ‘influence’ as a leader. Since it turns out women are great at these (as you have all concluded), then we should make a case for them in Leadership.

Let’s Change the Narrative

Being Nurturers has been a known disadvantage for a longtime now; that women are occupied with raising a home-front and consequently are not able to match the effectiveness of men at the workplace.

Many times, women who have aced at the work are seen as over-ambitious or had to not show the family-side of them. Women have had to prove the point to Superiors…to be promoted.

Questions like ‘Can a woman have it all?’ have arisen. And the phrase ‘We women have to work twice as hard’ is embraced. I don’t think driving women to the wall makes a case for them in leadership.

Yes women can have it all. In fact being a natural at nurturing is an added advantage, as there are many takeaways from it, and we must make the most of this transferable skill.

nurturing

Left: Ursula Burns who made history in 2009 by becoming the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company as CEO of Xerox. She originally joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and will now serve as chairman of the Xerox board. – Reported by Yahoo

What Does Nurturing Entail

Taking Responsibility for Something

Nurturing is a show of responsibility. Beyond the act of ‘raising’, it is filling a real need.

It takes ‘taking responsibility’, to nurture. Be it an individual, the future, a brilliant idea. Not only for personal benefits. Many people fail to take responsibility, because they are consumed by personal benefits.

Many Years ago Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white person in the bus. The impact of her actions didn’t just trigger a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, but a ripple effect forever. It raised concerns on racial segregation and many years later things are a lot better.

She didn’t stand up only for herself, but for many generations coming after her. She has changed a narrative, by taking responsibility for the change she wanted to see.

Showing Dedication by Being Sold Out

Leadership means being ‘sold out’. And as in nurturing roles, it requires being deliberate, and out-rightly invested.

As a leader you are being entrusted with teams, projects, ideas, and you must be deliberate in nurturing it to attend its fullest potential.

This is usually required during motherhood. To nurture a fetus to adulthood; to be a significant part of someone’s growth journey, nurse their talents and ambitions, and to raise them. To get the best of what is being nurtured, there has to be maximum dedication.

In leadership, nurturing is required to harness the potential, and grow the people we are leading. Also, leaders can influence people they are dedicated to.

Tara Fela-Durotoye once narrated how. “A team member lost their child early hours of the morning and I was the first he called”. As a leader, a show of dedication is that you are invested in your team members’ well-being, and in return earn their trust.

Not just with people, everything we do. They become a reflection of how much we are dedicated to making it work. They are either up to full potential or not.

nurturing

Tara Fela-Durotoye; CEO House of Tara. House of Tara recently made the list of top 100 best places to work in Nigeria by Jobberman.

[Tweet “Not just that Rome wasn’t built in a day…a brick was laid ‘every day’.”]

Being Patient to get the best out of a Something

Patience is a skill needed even in nurturing our personal growth. To be masters and leaders of our journey, we have to be given to patience. It’s not just that Rome wasn’t built in a day, it is that a brick was laid ‘every day’.

Jim Kwik narrates how he had a brain injury that didn’t leave him the same. He grew up with learning difficulties, and literally had to throw away his dreams.

At some point, he found succor in stories like Einstein’s who was this genius that was dyslexic. He was also really fascinated by the super heroes; X-Men and the fact that the school of superheroes (in X-Men) was in his neighborhood.

Jim turned his life around by learning how to master his own brain to make it work for him and is now sharing his learning techniques to help people who are slow at learning to learn fast.

One of the most important lessons from his story was that he had to be patient, to nurture himself, to get the best of himself. Interestingly, he eventually had his encounter with the school of superheroes when the Chairman of 20th Century Fox later invited him to the set of X-Men.

He says “A super-hero for me is somebody who is on the path of discovering and developing their superpowers; their strengths, their unique ability, their unique talent…”

We are Masters in our own uniqueness. Leaders are people who are patient with themselves, and with others, to unravel their full potential. Like Einstein; it takes one thousand times to discover a light bulb.

[Tweet “Nurturing is about transforming nothing into something.”]

Belief

It is like planting a seed and believing that it will become a Tree. This becomes the fuel of dedication and patience, because our faith will become our reality eventually.

Linda Ikeji broke grounds for blogging in Nigeria. It hadn’t been popularized at the time. Even when a client reached out to advertise, she had no idea how much to charge.

Linda Ikeji Blog is now the go-to place for gossip in Nigeria, and has become a thriving business, even currently expanding – the fruit of her initial toiling. She says she had to work from home at a time, when she couldn’t afford an office space anymore.

Nurturing is about keeping the faith, rising above the tides, and transforming nothing into something. Faith is about going beyond ideas, and mustering up grit to transform our brainchildren into reality.

The reason for Women’s Leadership

Want to make a case for women in leadership? Then utilize their nurturing potential who are not only able capable of grooming the home front but nurturing careers, ideas, businesses, but because they have invaluable experience from the former.

They have been nurturing the future; a role we have come to stereotype them for. What the society fails to do is deploy the dedication, responsibility, patience, affection and other leadership attributes that they bear as a result of being nurturers.


Women in Leadership: Dr. Remi Duyile is an Accomplished Nigerian Born International Leader

Dr. Remi Duyile is a Nigerian born and accomplished author, International Speaker, Empowerment Coach, Business & Influence Strategist. She has served at different governmental bodies both in Nigeria and in the United States

Her Work as a Corporate Strategist in USA

Dr. Duyile immigrated to the United States and through hard work and perseverance has climbed the corporate ladder of one of the nation’s most revered banking institutions, Bank of America. It was there that she shattered glass ceilings; being appointed Vice President of Retail, Premier, and Mortgage Banking.

Dr. Duyile served in this role managing over 600 financial portfolios of high net-worth clients for 17 years, until she decided that it was time to step into her true calling of helping others as a serial entrepreneur.

Dr. Remi Duyile as a Humanitarian

Good success is when others benefit from what you do, and stand as testimonials to your good deeds. Dr. Duyile is passionate about seeing others succeed, it’s no doubt she was honored by the Governor of Maryland in the United States of America for her matchless efforts to better humanity. She has made it her life’s purpose to empower others to recognize their own strength and abilities.

Dr. Duyile has since validated her status as a speaker, gaining numerous certifications with The John Maxwell Group, Jim Rohn, and under the mentorship of renowned motivational influencer Les Brown.

As a certified speaker, trainer, and entrepreneur, Dr. Duyile has made ‘others’ the focus of her life and business. In the years since leaving corporate America, she has established various foundations in support of this vision including: her own mortgage company; Premier Mortgage Solutions, an International consulting firm; Image Consulting Group, and a non-profit providing mentorship and financial literacy for women and girls called Legacy Premier Foundation.

Under the umbrella of her companies she has become an Empowerment Mentor, Community Mobilizer, Certified Trainer, as well as an International Key Note speaker.

More About Her Career

Remi Served for five years in Akure, Nigeria as Senior Adviser and International Relations liaison for Diaspora affairs to the Ondo State Governor.

Remi has attended many high-profile events such as dinners at the White House with former US President Barack Obama and congressional events for the community in support of the legislatures.

Remi Duyile’s knowledge and leadership, is sought after and well respected. Given her savoir faire, Dr. Duyile has become a liaison working with various global agencies to connect the continent of Africa with the world. She has spoken throughout Africa, Europe, and extensively within North America (Canada and the US) teaching financial literacy, offering entrepreneurial development, and encouraging millennials to engage in the Diaspora, among other things.

Dr. Remi Duyile is an Author


In her commitment to inspire others, in 2016 Dr. Duyile added the title of author to her ever-expanding list of accomplishments. Her book, Perseverance: Winning Key to Destiny was published in the US and is sold internationally.

She Has it All

While it is quite evident that Dr. Remi Duyile wears many hats, the one that she wears very proudly is being a devoted wife, and mother to three awesome children. Juggling one’s own talents and passions (while uplifting and polishing those of others) is a difficult task for anyone— but Dr. Duyile credits all of her success to God, and the support of her best friend and loving husband of 28 years.

A New Appointment to Serve in the Governor’s Cabinet

Presently, she has been appointed as member of the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs in Maryland U.S.A by the Governor of Maryland- Lawren J, Hogan, Jr. Governor of Maryland. The Governor commended her saying “Thank you for making this strong personal and professional commitment to serve the best interest of our citizens”. Here is to four years of remarkable service.

[Tweet “Influence is an… attempt to make positive impact for the benefit of others” – @RemyDuyile]”]


Leading through Financial Independence: It’s a Woman’s World Too

Leading as a woman entails bearing financial burdens, and consequently it entails Financial Independence. What this does is a lot more than just helping to meet expenses. Women are also bearing responsibilities of their families and keeping pace with Men.

In this age of women empowerment, there has been an eye-opener, and women are effectively winning at employment and are working hard to be financially independent. So financial independence is another one to have in the bag, to compete favorably and live your full potential as a woman.

 

Why is it Important to be Financially Independent?

It is a Woman and A Man’s World

A lot of times I realize it’s a ‘man’s world’, where women are not really able to level up with the men.  Finances become a measure of capacity and women must show capacity as well.

In a patriarchal world men may tend to be richer than women, they continue to stand up for themselves , and attain their full potential. Most women may have ambitions such as political ambitions, but cannot pursue it because they are not financially able to sustain such ambitions. For instance, Politics is one of the areas where men have dominated in time past because of their financial capacity.

It is important for women to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their counterparts in any field, especially because they are being judged based on the same criterion as the men.

 

Take Charge of Your Life

Money is not a luxury, it affords you your needs, and opportunities.

Recently a man ranted on social media about women wanting to be paid for being in a relationship. This was to throw shade on women overly relying on men for their needs. In other words, men are being put in the place of paying  women for not necessarily adding value. Well, that is not to say that we should utterly let go of support.

First and foremost, it is very important to be able to offer value to oneself before another person can. Take charge of your life. Financial independence means adding value to your life, being in control, and it invariably affects your self-esteem.

Money will Buy You Confidence

Financial independence doesn’t put anybody in the place of having a say over you, but you. And you can brag on yourself when you don’t depend on anybody for your expenses. It further inspires confidence when others know that you are capable of bringing something to the table.

Take Responsibility

You are an asset when you are financially independent. It enables you to take responsibility. There will be a tremendous increase in female participation in adding value to the society when there are empowered women in the society. Through paying taxes women will contribute to revenue generation, they’ll be increased productivity too, and they’ll also be able to give back.

The family can also use the huge support of women. With a high inflation rate, It becomes tough when for instance one person  has to take care of all the expenses. When there can use the help of a financially stable support, this means a lot to the family. Money empowers women to rise to responsibility.

 

Final takeaway; Become Empowered by Empowering Yourself

Your value in money is dependent on your earning power. You increase your earning power when you are constantly working on your skills and improving yourself. Once you start earning you have the resources. And there you go; financial independence


Extraordinary Voices; Fatoumata Ba, Entrepreneur and the Brain behind Jumia Ivory Coast

Fatoumata Ba is an entrepreneur from Senegal who at the young age of 30 has achieved quite a lot. She is one of AWLO’s extraordinary voices and we gain insightful news about Fatoumata and what impact she has made in Africa.

HER STORY

Fatoumata Ba is the brain behind Jumia Ivory Coast an online retail platform supported by Africa Internet Group. She served as founder and CEO of Jumia Ivory Coast then served as the Managing Director, Jumia Nigeria. But before that, Fatoumata worked at Orange for a year in France and later worked as a Senior Consultant in strategy and innovation in Atos. Fatoumata has from a young age shown a creative and innovative mind. At the age of 9, she hacked her father’s computer, created her first email at 11 and built her first website at 16.

She has a master’s degree in Management, Strategy, Marketing and Finance. She was able to not only start Jumia Ivory Coast but also turn it into a successful venture which started with 13 employees in 2013 to more than 300 in 2015. She was able to turn it into the fastest growing e-commerce site with over 500,000 monthly site visitors and selling over 50,000 products.

Fatoumata was able to partner with over 30,000 vendors like Apple, L’Oréal and New Look. She is a member of Jumia Executive Committee. She not only founded Jumia Ivory Coast but is also the brain behind the Rocket Internet. The Rocket internet is the largest, fastest and most successful online venture builder. Rocket internet has built over 100 companies in about 43 countries.

Fatoumata’s successful career hasn’t gone unnoticed. She has been featured by CNN and listed by Forbes in Forbes Africa 30 entrepreneurs Under 30. She has also been awarded Choiseul 100 Africa Economic Leaders of Tomorrow. She is passionate about women’s entrepreneurship & empowerment, as well as tackling health and education issues through technology in Africa.

Fatoumata is an inspiration to young women to realize that you can make global impact even at a young age if only you put your mind and hard work into it.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Fatoumata Ba.


Extraordinary Voices: Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe;The Queen of Furniture

Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe, born 6th of December, 1978 is a Tanzanian entrepreneur who is paving the way for herself in the furniture industry. She is one of AWLO’s extraordinary voices and we look at how she has been able to create a name for herself in an industry that is thought to be dominated by only men.

HER STORY

Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe is an interior designer and the founder and principal designer of Molocaho by Amorette, a furniture company that designs and manufactures quality made furniture. Jacqueline highlights how she has always loved designing and creating. She cites how even at a young age, she was always drawing and sketching things;

“I’m a creative at heart. For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for interior and furniture design, fine art and fashion – and I have been an ardent student of design trends and history. As a kid, I was always drawing and sketching things. It’s one of the things I enjoyed doing the most.”

But of course, she wasn’t always into furniture design and manufacturing. She had a musical career and was also one-time Miss Tanzania. She highlights how when her musical career was at a standstill she decided to move forward and take a step towards her passion. She then eventually went to school in the UK to hone her creative skill.

Jacqueline has always loved furniture and could always been seen sketching furniture. She explains how she believes that an individual’s choice of furniture tells a lot about who that person is;

“I love furniture, maybe it’s because of my work in interior design, but also because I believe a person’s furniture tells a lot about who they are… “

She also talks about how she used to only sketch furniture just for the sake of it and also highlights her husband as her biggest supporter who pushed her to take her creativity more seriously and make something out of it;

“…At first, I would just sketch furniture ideas for the sake of it, but quite often, my husband would see some of my sketches and complement me. He’d say I was wasting a gift. He always asked me to take my artistry more seriously and create a company out of it.”

Her company has been able to make use of traditional craft techniques with a contemporary twist to create innovative and challenging pieces of furniture which are usually simple yet beautiful and profound. Her hopes for Molocaho is to make it a globally known company;

“Our plan is to build a globally-recognizable furniture brand right from Tanzania. It’ll definitely take some time to get there, but we are resolute”

EMPOWERING LOCAL ARTISTS

While she is designing and making furniture, Jacqueline recognizes the need to give back to the society and in this effect, she set up a mentorship program for the artisan community in Tanzania through her interior design company- Amorette. The mentorship program involves exposing the local artists to international workmanship by putting the trainees under the supervision of internationally recognized crafts persons. Its objective is to transfer technology and knowledge to the artists.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL CAUSE

Her company is also geared towards protecting and conserving the environment. Hence, Molocaho’s processes are geared towards reducing consumption and avoiding waste. The company reuses wood from various sources, recycles, and actively supports tree planting initiatives across Tanzania;

[Tweet “At the end of the day, businesses must not only be commercially viable, they must also be socially responsible to the communities in which they do business @JNtuyabaliwe”]

” At the end of the day, businesses must not only be commercially viable, they must also be socially responsible to the communities in which they do business”

Jacqueline isn’t just invested in the go green initiative, she is also the founder of the Dr Ntuyabaliwe foundation which is a charity organization that provides books and set up libraries for local primary schools. Jacqueline is a model of inspiration as she shows you can create and make a name for yourself in an industry that undermines women. As to her company and her future plans for it she says humorously in an interview;

“We’ve only just begun, but we’re going to build this baby into an empire someday. Just watch”

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Jacqueline Ntuyabaliwe.

 


Extraordinary Voices: Selassie Atadika; Africa’s Innovative Chef

Selassie Atakida is a Ghanaian culinary chef who has made waves in the world of fine cuisine. She is one of our extraordinary voices in this month. One thing that is very noticeable in our extraordinary series is how these women have been able to make impact in their various professions and create a niche for themselves. We explore how Selassie has made a name for herself by mastering the art of cooking.

HER STORY

Selassie Atadika has always been interested in cooking since she was about four or five years old and it is pretty much not a surprise to anyone that she is invested in the art of food. But it’s quite shocking to know that she wasn’t always a chef. Selassie dreamt of going to culinary school but alas, due to objections from her father, she ended up in a successful career with the United Nations. Even at that, she never stopped cooking. She never forgot her passion. She says;

“But I still kept cooking,”

Selassie’s career in the United Nations first started with her working as a civilian in UN peace keeping missions in Angola and Kosovo before she eventually started work with the UNICEF on humanitarian projects all over Africa. She cites how her career with the UN gave her the opportunity to experience the different traditional foods in different countries in Africa;

“I would explore the local cuisine and then try to figure out how those ingredients could be played around with,” she says.

Selassie eventually resigned from the UN to focus on her cooking. She and two of her friends started a pop-up restaurant in Dakar, Senegal where they served food once a month at different locations in the city.

She founded the Midunu- a company with its name derived from the Ewe language which means “let us eat.” The company is centered on catering for private parties and corporate events, but the company also throws monthly nomadic dinners in different locations in Accra. She speaks on how she wants the world to see African food and for the world to take notice of the beauty that is African cuisine. She highlights how with globalization; a lot of African cuisine is being forgotten;

“With globalization and urbanization, a lot of things are getting lost”

[Tweet ““Beyond celebrating Africa’s culinary heritage, I want to look at preserving Africa’s culinary heritage””]

She uses ingredients from different places in Africa to celebrate our diverse culinary heritage and also to preserve it;

“Beyond celebrating Africa’s culinary heritage, I want to look at preserving Africa’s culinary heritage”

She not only cooks but uses the different spices in Africa to produce chocolate. She says it’s like telling the story in a simple way when people taste chocolate and taste a spice or flavor that is African. A connection of people and culture;

“It’s telling the African story through chocolate”

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Selassie Atadika.

 


Extraordinary Voices: Ernestina Appiah; Inspiring and Creating Young Leaders Through Tech

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
– Colin Powell

Ernestina Edem Appiah, born in 1977 is a Ghanaian virtual assistant by profession and a social entrepreneur. She is an inspiring lady and AWLO recognizes her this month as one of our extraordinary voices. We get to explore how inspiring and awesome she is.

Ernestina is inspiring for a number of reasons. Her story highlights a determined and focused lady who was able to shape her life to be something she wanted it to be,and give back to society in what little way she could.

HER DETERMINATION

Ernestina Appiah is the founder of the Ghana code club but before that she worked as a secretary for a Ghanian IT consultancy firm. Ernestina has always wanted a career in IT and when she saw the work the only lady in the consultancy firm did, it inspired her to take the bold step to learn all about HTML and all things relating to IT. She can be quoted as saying;

“I have always desired to have a career in IT, after starting working as a secretary for a Ghanaian IT consultancy firm in Accra in 2000. I admired the consultants as they carried along with their work, especially the only lady in their midst”

Even with her determination to learn, she says how she found the price of going to school to learn very expensive. But that didn’t stop her from learning. She was so determined that she found a way to get what she wanted;

“…I opted to hire a web designer to teach me the fundamentals of programming using HTML. This was how I got introduced into the IT industry. I then started practicing on my own, day-in and day-out to perfect my skills…”

Ernestina’s determination made it possible for her to have her career in the IT industry but did she stop there, no! she decided to give back to society by creating an NGO geared called the Healthy Career Initiative and also consequently founded the Ghana Code Club.

THE HEALTHY CAREER INITIATIVE AND THE GHANA CODE CLUB

Ernestina’s Healthy Career Initiative is a not for profit geared towards teaching and mentoring girls in the field of information, communication and technology. She cites how her life story influenced her to do this in order to help young girls.

“…I was so happy and overly excited about the paradigm shift in my life that I yearned to share my story and mentor girls into the field of information, communication and technology”

Not only did she start this, Enestina realized that there was a need for children to be taught at an early age about technology, coding etc. This occurred to her when she was trying to teach her son the basics of programming;

“One day as my son turned 5 years, I was looking for a platform to train him on the basics of programming when I came across a group of children from the UK using the Makey Technology kits to create digital content and fun activities, which picked my interest…”

She cites how this made her transition from the Healthy Career Initiative to the Ghana Code Club which is geared towards youth digital literacy. She believes children shouldn’t only know how to use technology but should also know how it works. Hence, the organization teaches children basic programming skills with projects from Scratch, HTML+ CSS and python.

The club gives children the chance to learn how to create and design games, animation etc. When asked in an interview why she’s teaching children coding, she had this to say;

[Tweet ““Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.””]

“Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.”

Not only is the club for children, they also train ICT teachers to be more proficient and updated.

Although she faces struggles such as funding, it doesn’t stop her and her team of volunteers from doing what little they can and to influence the world and that alone makes Ernestina an inspiration.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Ernestina Appiah.


Extraordinary Voices: Creative and Innovative Mind; Adaora Mbelu-Dania

Adaora Mbelu-Dania is a creative industrialist with a passion for creating and innovating. She believes that every individual has something valuable to add to this world, and thus, she started Ahdora.com; a community to share inspiration and help build dreams. She is one of AWLO’s extraordinary voices and we get to explore this great and innovative mind.

[Tweet “Creativity is Key… Adaora Mbelu-Dania”]

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Adaora is a young creator, born into a multiracial family background, to a Nigerian father and a Sri Lankan mother. Adaora however, considers herself a world citizen. Born in Colombo, Srilanka, and raised in Lagos, Adaora’s journey in creativity and leadership started as a child, when she represented her primary school at the Lagos State Debate competition in the early 90’s and often appeared on the then popular children’s TV program “Speak Out” and “Children’s Variety”. Adaora was also vice president of the music club and health prefect of her primary school, where she coordinated the music band, and represented the school at various music competitions. At age 9, she wrote her first book, when she was 16, she represented Nigeria at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York, joining about 350 outstanding scholars from various countries to attend the program; at 19, she was working at CITI group in the United States, and by the time she was 29, she was already running a million dollar enterprise – A2 Creative.

HER EARLY BEGINNING

Adaora Mbelu started her career as a credit risk analyst at Citigroup, USA, before moving back to Nigeria in 2008. At 23 years old, Adaora was the Corporate Communications manager for OSMI, and managed the company’s marketing communications for the 2010 World Cup. She then became the Assistant Project Manager for Nigerian Idol, and Project Manager for the Television show, Nigeria’s Got Talent where she was responsible for managing all aspects of the show – business and production. Since then Adaora has worked on projects across various industries, either as a Project Manager, Media Manager, or Content Director/Developer. Some of these projects include: Copa Lagos, X Factor Nigeria, The United Nations World Tourism Organization conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards 2014, Presidential Democracy Day event with former President Goodluck Jonathan, and International Conference on Peace and Security (with 28 World Leaders in attendance).

CAREER PROFILE

Adaora is currently Head of Innovation at A2 Creative – a Trellis Company that specializes in brand development,, marketing and creative strategy through the use of innovative strategy and experiential marketing.

She has worked as content director for the United Nations World Tourism Conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards, and International Conference On Peace & Security which had 28 world leaders in attendance.

Adaora was also project manager – business and production – for TV shows Nigerian Idol and Nigeria’s Got Talent. She was also the Corporate Communications Manager for OSMI during the 2010 World Cup where she managed all communications on the broadcast rights for Nigeria.

She also led the ideation and brand development team that launched Guinness Africa Special into the Nigerian market. She was also involved in the planning and research for the launch of Ebony Life TV.

Adaora was the President of the African Students Association, and Vice President of the International Students union while studying Economics and Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University.

Adaora operates a blog where she shares career and life insights as well as lessons learned in her entrepreneurial journey.

AWARDS AND HONOREES

In 2011 she was named ‘Promising Young Entrepreneur’ in the MTV/MTN Meets Project.

She was also named in the ‘Top 30 Under 30’ list by FAB Magazine.

At the 2012 The Future Awards Africa, Adaora was nominated in the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category. She was nominated again in the “Media Enterprise” Category at the same award show in 2016.

Nominated Outstanding Freshman at NKU, Outstanding Sophomore at NKU, Outstanding Junior at NKU
Member of National Scholars Honor Society, USA
Entrepreneurship Institute Honors Committee, USA
Represented Nigeria at The Global Young Leaders Conference New York, USA
Citigroup Excellence Award
First Black Recipient of “The Spirit Of Entrepreneurship” Scholarship by The Castellini Foundation

In 2017, Adaora was mentioned in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “11 Africans that are changing the business landscape in Africa.”

She is the founder of Socially Africa, a platform working to build a generation of leaders and problem solvers that transcends entrepreneurship and professional success.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Adaora Mbelu-Dania.


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