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.


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.


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”]


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.


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).


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.


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.

Extraordinary Voices: Meet Angelique Kidjo; Voice of Africa’s music

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain
-Bob Marley

Today in our series of Extraordinary Voices, AWLO celebrates Angélique Kidjo; an amazing amazon whose music and blends of African style speaks volume in Africa and the world.


Angelique Kidjo is a powerful, African singer and tireless performer, Angelique Kidjo has been one of the most successful performers to emerge on world music stages in the 1990s and 2000s. Her music not only draws from African traditions but also interprets the ways those traditions developed after Africans were seized and taken to the New World. Thus elements of American soul, funk, rap, and jazz, Brazilian samba, Jamaican reggae, and Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa all show up on her recordings, along with various African styles. She evolved into one of the international music scene’s most popular concert attractions, she accumulated a large fan base that happily came on stage and danced with her.

[Tweet “Voodoo is seen as something negative, but it’s not. It’s based on anima and on respect for a human being’s life.””]


Angelique Kidjo is a native of Benin, on Africa’s Atlantic coast adjacent to Nigeria. She was born in the coastal city of Ouidah on July 14th, 1960, to government postal official Franck Kidjo (an enthusiastic photographer and banjo player on the side) and his choreographer wife Yvonne. Her parents were her first influence in music with whom she enjoyed great support in her musical career.

Among her eight siblings were several brothers who started a band when she was young, inspired by James Brown and other American stars who flooded Benin’s airwaves. Kidjo was musically eclectic from the start, listening avidly to juju sounds from neighboring Nigeria, to pop music from other African countries, to Cuban salsa music.


Kidjo made her stage debut at age six with her mother’s dance troupe, and in the late 1970s she formed a band of her own and recorded an album that featured a cover version of a song by one ofher idols, South African singer Miriam Makeba. In 1980, however, Kidjo found her musical activities restricted by a New Leftist regime that took power in Benin and tried to force her to record political anthems. Kidjo fled to Paris in 1983 with the intent of studying law there and becoming a human rights lawyer. But of course her passion has always been music and she made the decision to touch people with her music.

Her partner in this enterprise was French bassist and composer Jean Hebrail, whom Kidjo married and with whom she has written much of her music; the pair has a daughter, Naima Laura, born in 1993. For several years Kidjo played in a French African jazz band called Pili Pili, led by pianist Jasper van t’Hof, but in 1989 she struck out on her own, forming a band and releasing the album Parakou. That debut had its intended effect: it attracted the attention of the biggest name in world music at the time, Chris Blackwell of Britain’s Island Records. He signed Kidjo to the label’s Mango subdivision, and her second album, Logozo, was released in 1991.

That album gained Kidjo a faithful core of fans that could be counted on to attend her highly participatory live shows. Her unusual image contributed to her success; in place of the expansive look of other African female vocalists, Kidjo sported a lean dancer’s body clad in denim pants, and she cut her hair very close to her head.


Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, human rights and gender activist.

She is a powerful singer and tireless performer. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”

Angelique Kidjo has been one of the most successful performers to emerge on world music stages in the 1990s and 2000s. She draws her musical inspiration from African traditions but not only that, she also interprets them to emphasize on the development of Africa after the years of slavery.

Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yorùbá and English, and sings in all four languages.

Kidjo has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She is the recipient of the 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum of Davos in Switzerland and has received the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International in 2016.

Kidjo founded The Batonga Foundation, which gives support to girls in secondary school and higher education so that they can take the lead in changing Africa.

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 Angelique Kidjo.

Extraordinary Voices: Waris Dirie is a Voice Against Female Genital Mutilation   

Waris Dirie was born in 1965 at Gallacaio desert, Somalia. She is one of twelve children born to a nomad family. She was a model, currently a writer and a social activist.
Waris’ journey through life has been inspiring. She shows that the leadership journey is sometimes filled with bumps but with determination and courage, you can succeed. Here are things we found about Waris Dirie and how they have made her one of our extraordinary voices.

[Tweet “Waris’ journey through life has been inspiring. She shows that the leadership journey is sometimes filled with bumps but with determination and courage, you can succeed”]

Outstanding Courage

[Tweet “Waris Dirie ran barefooted for several days across the desert to Mogadishu at 13 to avoid her arranged marriage to a man of over 60 years”]

From an early age, she has shown outstanding courage. In an interview, she described herself as being strong-willed and determined and not the type of child her traditional parents wanted.

She showed how courageous and strong willed she was when she ran barefooted for several days across the desert to Mogadishu at 13 to avoid her arranged marriage to a man of over 60 years.

[Tweet “I knew there was so much I could do with my life, but on my terms – @Waris_Dirie”]

In an interview with the guardian she said “I knew [most married women in her community] put up with everything and anything. Any abuse, hopelessness, and I thought, was I here to be used and be abused? I knew there was so much I could do with my life, but on my terms.” The thought of her being more than a child bride pushed her to make the courageous decision to run away from home and become more.

Her fight Against Female Genital Mutilation

At the age of 5, she underwent the gruesome ordeal of female genital mutilation, she was left in a makeshift shelter under a tree for several days to recover. Due to the physical and emotional turmoil she went through after being mutilated, she has spent her time fighting against FGM.

In 1997, she abandoned her modeling job to focus on her work against FGM. She said in an interview with ventures Africa; “…I was meant to survive everything I did so that one day I could speak out about this torture and fight for little girls out there who are not able to fight on their own!” Her fight led her to start the Desert Flower Foundation which advocates for the abolition of FGM. Still in an interview, she highlights; “…No innocent little girl should go through this kind of unnecessary cruel pain.”

She also started a medical centre in Berlin which is solely to offer reconstructive surgery to women who have gone through FGM and even with that, she says; “I don’t want to put too much focus on it, because the whole point is to stop this mutilation in the first place. We don’t have to have special hospitals to reconstruct a God-given thing”

[Tweet “I would like the world to remember me for my fight against FGM and as a survivor who never gave up… – @Waris_Dirie”]

Advocacy Through Writing

Waris is not only an activist against FGM, a former model, but she’s also an author. She has written several books such as Desert Flower, Desert Dawn, Letters to My Mother, Desert Children. Her books highlight her ordeal and also sets out to educate people on the dangers of female genital mutilation to young girls. She hopes that through her books, the world can become aware of the fact that FGM still exist and that thousands of women and girls go through it. Hence, why she said; “ I wanted to reach people through my story; I wanted them to know about the pain and suffering that thousands of girls and women have to go through every day…”

Her journey has not been easy. From a young girl who suffered mutilation, to a teen who for several days had to run barefooted to avoid child marriage, working as a maid, her story is inspiring as the bumps didn’t stop her from doing what she says is her mission. About bringing an end to FGM, she has this to say; “I can’t turn back, not now I’m almost there. You just have to keep going until one day it will come to an end.”

She also inspires us to never give up on our dreams “I would like the world to remember me for my fight against FGM and for the women of Africa, and then I would like to be remembered as a survivor who never gave up…as I wish the people in this world would never give up on their dreams, their hopes and their life happiness.”

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 Waris Dirie.

Extraordinary Voices: Proscovia Alengot – Africa’s Youngest Legislator

Proscovia Alengot Oromait was born on the 1st of January 1993 in Katawaki District, Uganda. She is the second of ten children, a Ugandan politician;where she served as a member of parliament for her district from 2012 -2016.

She is Extraordinary Because:

She set the pace for not just women but young women to realize that you can aspire for greatness even at an early age. We also explore what makes her inspiring.

[Tweet “Proscovia is inspiring because she defied all odds and proved to both young and older women especially young women that age is not a determining factor for leadership”]


Proscovia has defied all odds and proved to both young and older women especially young women that age is not a determining factor for leadership. After the death of her father at the young age of 19, Proscovia contested in elections to be a member of parliament for the Usuk County, Katakwi District from 2012-2016 in Uganda and won 54.2% of the vote. She became the youngest member of parliament in Uganda and Africa.

From the observer

Proscovia being sworn in


Proscovia has leadership qualities that make people believe in her enough to elect her. She was termed by her teachers as being determined, organized, creative and respectful. Even when her father was a member of parliament she was his greatest campaigner to the youth. When she openly came out to contest her teacher said; “…. when i heard that she was contesting, i didn’t doubt that she would convince voters.”

Even when she won and faced backlash from older men in the parliament, she still stood tall and didn’t let it scare her. she said in an interview “….I will stand. As Obama said, yes I can. I said, Proscovia, I can”

[Tweet “”It’s just been my dream to become a leader of Uganda. And here I am, the youngest MP, and I’m so proud of what I am.””]


Her courage and confidence was also a well-known fact amongst family and friends. One of her friends said this about her; “she has a great vision in life. she would say she would be a great lady no matter how many times she failed.” . In an interview with the independent online newspaper she can be quoted  “It’s just been my dream to become a leader in Uganda. And here I am, the youngest MP, and I’m so proud of what I am.”  This courage and confidence is what we believe helped her achieve this great feat of becoming the youngest member of parliament in Africa. She has shown that with determination and courage, you can achieve your dreams

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 Proscovia Alengot.


The Time Is Now

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

[Tweet “Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world. -UN Secretary-General, António Guterres”]

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized, and celebrated for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. 

It is a day that the searchlight is beamed on women’s resource building, equality issues, and advocacy rights. 

Based on this year’s theme, “International Women’ Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” – Antonio Guterres

All over the world, we find the girl-child and women homeless, friendless, and powerless. 

They are homeless due to wars; victims of natural disasters, poverty discrimination, fallouts of inheritance claim, domestic and sexual abuse, widowhood rites, trafficking and migration – displaced from their origins. 

They are friendless because of the harmful practices inflicted upon them, by a world that seems too weighed down by the enormity of the problems they face. 

They are powerless, simply because the environment places certain hurdles against them, and society is slow or reluctant in effecting the enabling measures that would place women in the mainstream of decision making and taking. 

Making their way as best they can on the cruel edges of the world; women have stories to tell, changes to make, lives to touch, and dreams to build. 

I believe that the world should partner with women, on this noble cause. 

More than ever, the time is now to keep pressing on the advancements made in correcting the wrongs of the past, in initiating and consolidating changes for the present, and in establishing core values for the future. 

It is not the time to rest on our oars; but with every handshake of acknowledgment, there should be a corresponding double back-slap of encouragement. 

The goals are clearly spelt out in the UN charter, and the targets are achievable. The discourse is focused on women’s rights, equality and justice. 

It is a sad reality of our times that increasing cases of child molestation and abuse, sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public awareness, and fueled a rising determination for change.

As we utilize this yearly opportunity to transform this momentum into action, let us also make the resolve to keep our promise. 

We all agree that it is time for change. 

It is time to develop, train and empower all women and the girl-child in all communities, both rural and urban. 

It is time to celebrate the activists who are working tirelessly, relentlessly, most often quietly, to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential. 

It is time to deal with deep-seated gender inequalities, exploitation and discrimination. 

It is the time for empowering women for acquisition, and enhancement of their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

It is time to put an end to the abduction of our young girls for whatever reasons. Our daughters are not commodities, they are not bargaining chips. They are not merchandise to be traded for by faceless tribal agitators, and certainly not for auction. 

It is time to transform women’s lives everywhere. 

We shall not forget the sacrosanct place of human dignity as the core of our national identity, in shaping, guiding, and effecting our resolve. 

Let us with tact and wisdom, shove aside what clearly no longer serves us. The unfair burdens of culture, the bias of stereotypes, and the unwholesome limitations of tradition.  

The woman deserves, and has earned a place of honor, respect and protection. 

It is time for the needful to be done, for the sake of the future generations.

The girl-child is a blossoming asset for humanity. Let us educate her. Let us protect her.

The time to press for progress is NOW!


Written by Uboho Bassey

The Woman Leader’s Healthy Relationships Checklist

 “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
– Anais Nin

The very life we live in is an embodiment of relationships. The connections between us and our environment are signs that we are not beings of isolation. Isolation in itself is required to help us determine what works and what doesn’t, but it’s only momentary because relationships are integral.

[Tweet “relationships elevate, energize, inspire and validate us.”]

Healthy relationships make us better. They elevate, energize, inspire and validate us. They lift us up and validate our joy. Those relationships enhance our lives, and places us on a pedestal; to live our dreams, be who we are, confident, and lacking nothing. As women in leadership, filled with aspirations and goals, we need these kinds of relationships to motivate us. Here are five Signs to know if you have healthy relationships:


[Tweet “Community gives you perspective; it enables you look out of yourself and connect you with people who will help you succeed.”]

Mutual connection is when two people feel the same way towards each other, as well as share similar life goals which helps them connect effortlessly. This kind of connection can otherwise be referred to as a community. Having people around you who share the same ideologies as you, who believe in you, and want to see you succeed. Community gives you perspective, it enables you look out of yourself and connects you with people who will help you succeed.


[Tweet “You respect one another when you don’t let obstacles become more important to you than the relationship.”]

Respect is the most important sign of a healthy relationship. It is a pattern of behavior that is found in most healthy relationships where mutual connection over the weeks, months and years builds up to where individuals feel and know that they are valued. You have to give respect in order to get it.

People who respect each other, trust and support each other, and value each other’s independence. They also have the freedom to be themselves, talk honestly and freely, and make decisions and compromises together. The truth is, respect is built on difficult grounds. You respect one another when you don’t let obstacles become more important to you than the relationship.  When you are in a relationship where the other person perseveres despite pressure and struggles, to protect your relationship, then you have earned the respect your relationship deserves.


[Tweet “when two people find shared meaning, they are willing to support one another’s dreams, even when there is little to gain from doing so.”]

Going through a significant experience with another person creates mutual bond. Similarly, shared experience gives us the opportunity to connect deeper with friends, family, colleagues, social groups and community. Shared experience according to Gottman, a notable relationship expert, can help us find shared meaning, build connection, helps settle conflicts to collectively pursue the goals that matter, and when two people find meaning, they are willing to support one another’s dreams, even when there is little to gain from doing so. He states that recognizing another person’s values, goals and dreams, and talking about it, can be a tremendously helpful way to build emotional connections. These shared experiences could take different forms, like working on a project together, skiing, travelling, group meetings, dinners and so on.


“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” ― Maya Angelou

You must have confidence in yourself to build lasting relationships as well as come out of a bad one to embrace and build a good relationship. Ralph Wardo wrote “The glory of friendship is not in outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is in the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when she discovers that someone else believes in her and is willing to trust her.”

[Tweet “Trust is the wheel that puts in motion any worthwhile and fruitful relationship”]

Trust helps us build healthier relationship, it is both the joy of relationships and a necessary component and foundation of any relationship. It is the bedrock of any relationship, if you do not have trust, you don’t have much of a relationship. Trust is the wheel that puts in motion any worthwhile and fruitful relationship- trust in self and the other person is a great way to experience the best in any given relationship especially relationships that are necessary for successful attainments in life.


[Tweet “Friendships are like bank accounts you cannot continue to withdraw from them without making deposits”]

Relationships are built on mutual grounds; reciprocity and cooperation are so valuable precisely because we do have various strengths and weaknesses. All relationships experience ebb and flow. Sometimes one person is the primary giver.  Reciprocity will be difficult or impossible to develop and maintain if one party in the relationship believes that they are and must be superior or in control. Relationships that continue to be one-sided will not remain healthy. When they continue to be out of balance, they become unstable and often unhealthy. Friendships are like bank accounts you cannot continue to withdraw from them without making deposits. Healthy relationships must be beneficial to both parties. Each person has got to put the other first. It has to be mutual and must experience a win-win.


How Can AWLO Help in Creating Intentional Relationships?

Jack Canfield said: “make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing and uplifting people. people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams and applaud your victories”

As individuals, it is very important to be aware of how the different choices we make affect us. How intentional are you with your choices? The relationships you build? Do they serve a purpose? There is power in intentional relationships.

What is an intentional relationship? The word intentional means something done consciously or something done with a purpose in mind. That being said, we can deduce that intentional relationships mean consciously connecting with people or a group of people for a purpose.

We should be able to ask and answer certain questions like; are the relationships we have productive? Are we able to gain values that are essential to us? How does it help our leadership journey?  The ability to ‘intentionally’ surround ourselves with individuals who add value to our life is very important. In this era, valuable and productive friendships are important as people do not have time for frivolities. The world is moving in a direction where people connect based on productivity and values.

So, we have to be conscious in building relationships. Can person X influence our life positively? What is the gain in connecting with group Y? These are questions to ask ourselves in connecting with people. As leaders, it is important to know that we can no longer afford to have trivial and mundane relationships for insignificant talk, and rather be intentional, knowing that every person or group that we connect with, our personal growth is foremost. You have to be able to tell yourself that you want to gain something positive out of that relationship. Your time is too precious.

Leveraging AWLO for Intentional Relationships

What is AWLO?

AWLO brings together female professionals, executives and leaders to further advance their leadership status.

Being a member of AWLO

This gives women the opportunity to experience leadership, connect with like-minds and have relationships with focused and goal-oriented women. It is aimed at women attaining their highest potential and making an impact in the society.

AWLO Forums

Through yearly conferences women get to meet and network. One of AWLO’s objectives is to create a platform for unity, solidarity, cohesion, dialogue and networking among women. It is at this time that resolutions are formed to change the narrative of women-leadership for women of African Descent.

AWLO is for Self-Development

This is why AWLO is great for intentional relationships, because it networks women who are geared in the same direction. Through our Chapters, AWLO gives women the chance to set and achieve goals together. It also enables women to form networks which are useful to their personal ambitions.

The Power of Intentional Relationships

As a leader, being surrounded by people who match your level of ambition is important. You can’t expect to be surrounded by mediocre people, and be great. Remember, great minds think alike! Intentionally create relationships to inspire and push you to be your absolute best.  Individuals who can support you, people who encourage you when the chips are low, people that in general create positive impact in your life. Let your relationships offer value, and serve a purpose.

Adrienne Westman’s Notes to Women in Leadership

Adrienne Westman has directly impacted the lives of people from over 30 countries. What began as a young person’s desire to help individuals transform the quality of their lives has grown into Adrienne’s lifelong crusade as she is called on by leaders from every walk of life: political leaders, advocates for humanity, CEOs of multinational corporations, investors, world-class entertainers, business forums, and educational institutions. Over the past few years, Adrienne has spoken around the world at some prestigious events. Now considered to be one of South Africa’s top female speakers, Adrienne has shared the stage with many international speaking legends.
Here is Adrienne Westman’s Notes to Women in Leadership

Two Habits that Keep me Grounded as a Leader

[Tweet “Everyone is important, special and worthy to be seen and heard – @AdiLovesLife”]

1. I love exercising and spending time in nature appreciating the beautiful world that we live in. Taking time out of my busy schedule to absorb all of the beautiful sights, sounds, scents.

2. I enjoy inspiring and empowering people from all walks of life. Everyone is important, special and worthy to be seen and heard.

One Experience that Shaped my Leadership journey

[Tweet “A voice said to me; Stop being a Victim, Rise Up & Be the Woman I have called you to be!- @AdiLovesLife”]

Some time ago, I became “stuck!” I reached a stage in my life where it felt like I was constantly swinging at curve balls flying in my direction. I was tired, exhausted and I lost focus. I became consumed by all that was happening around me rather than keeping my eye on of the prize! I was bombarded with negative thoughts, feelings of disappointment at where I was in my life. Without realizing it, I started over analyzing everything and became increasingly more and more self critical.
One night I walked outside onto the deck whilst everyone was still asleep and I felt like a voice said to me:
Stop being a Victim, Rise Up & Be the Woman I have called you to be!
This was a life changing moment for me. I came to the realization that the way I felt about myself, set the tone to what happened to me on a day to day basis. I found that the longer it took me to know what I wanted, the more confused and depressed I became.  I had to understand that my negative thoughts, kept me away from all the good things which were presenting themselves to me on a daily basis. When I focused on positive thoughts and I knew what I WANTED it gave me the POWER, CONFIDENCE, and MOMENTUM to achieve my goals!

One Lesson for a Woman in Leadership From Me


You need to understand that where you are right now reading this, you are having thoughts and your thoughts are causing you to have a relationship WITH YOU KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT! So many people believe that God created them and now it is up them to work things out on their own!? Meanwhile, you are being sent messages and opportunities and signals from above to help you and guide you to achieve everything that you want! Can you imagine the feelings of gratitude when you accept that you are in the right place at the right time? Can you feel the grace, peace and love that God has for you? Can you feel the clarity and focus that has been given to you?

Rather than focusing on the absence of what you don’t have, focus on the wonderful feelings knowing that everything is working out 100% according to your highest good/plan/purpose.
Ladies, we need to enjoy our process of the becoming. We are all in the process of transformation and the things that we want are also in the process of becoming. Whilst knowing what you want, I would like to encourage you to love where you are, and embrace the laughs and joyful moments along the way. You are Worthy! You are Wonderful! Choose to be kind and have grace with yourself today and most importantly have fun!

The Type of association crucial to Personal Growth

Adrienne Westman with the AWLO Team: Opral Benson; AWLO BOT Chairperson, H.E. Alanyingi Sylva; AWLO 1Mother1Child Project Director and Doraine Maraire; AWLO Board Member, at African Women in Leadership Conference 2016 at South Africa

[Tweet “AWLO is a lot more than just an association but more importantly it is a network, a community, a sisterhood of extraordinary women.”]

A woman leader needs an association where she can receive words of wisdom, encouragement and identify with the stories and experiences of women from across the globe. When I spoke at the AWLO conference held in Sandton I was in awe at how the AWLO women connected and respected each other whilst feeling safe enough to be authentic. I quickly realized that AWLO was a lot more than just an association but more importantly it is a network, a community, a sisterhood of extraordinary women.
[Tweet “The truth is that we don’t know, what we don’t know. -@AdiLovesLife”]

One Mistake that Every Leader Must not Make

Believing that we know everything. The truth is that we don’t know, what we don’t know.

Peer Mentoring: Reliable for Leveraging Experiences Among Women in Leadership

There is no one-size-fits-all in mentorship. Some are formal within organizations or mentors in the field. Others are informal relationships that are unique but reliable in fostering personal growth.
Peer mentoring is a form of mentorship between a person with a specific relevant experience – the mentor, and a person new to that experience – the mentee, within the same peer group. The mentor provides support, coaching, and refers relevant opportunities to the mentee.

For instance, I find that my relationship with my sister is useful to my career experience. Using Transferable knowledge in one career for the other is a product of mentoring from a supportive sister.

This kind of informal mentorship is also useful in making health and life style changes. For instance, AWLO creates an opportunity for like minds to meet, and foster supportive relationships. Making yourself accountable to a supportive peer, is powerful in influencing your decisions. They can help you reach your goals, and challenge you with new ideas. They encourage you to move beyond comfort zones. Peer mentors are picked for their sensitivity, confidence, social skills and reliability.


When You are Picking a Peer-Mentor:

Know yourself

[Tweet “Don’t let another person’s opinion define you.”]

Defining yourself sets the tone for the relationship already. Who are you? What are your views? What are your interests? Set the tone already. Don’t let another person’s opinion define you. Know who you are, and let the people in your life support you to bring out the best in you.

Consider your Options

[Tweet “When there is conflict of values, relationships become draining”]

A peer mentor must have experience and knowledge relevant to you. You want to find shared goals, and mindset. When there is conflict of values, such relationships become draining. You must find it inspiring, and let it allow you to be free. Be free to air your opinions, and make honest mistakes. Let it become the ground for you to grow, and learn in a supportive environment.

Making a decision

[Tweet “Position people in your life who can stand up for who you are.”]

Writing down the options in mentors, whom you are considering, will allow you to examine the possibilities simultaneously and also judge the values and condition of each options potential. Relationships among peers have the most potential in influencing an individual’s core values and essence. Don’t allow yourself be pulled down or shadowed by other’s shine. Stand up for who you are, and be able to position people in your life who can stand up for who you are.

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