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Nigerian businesswoman, philanthropist and founder of Flourish AfricaApostle Folorunso Alakija, has announced the launch of a N1 billion fund to promote female-owned businesses in Africa.

Flourish Africa is a female empowerment platform designed to help women achieve their full potential. It is a place for both female millennials and adults to access information and the right networks that will enable them grow in their chosen careers and businesses while prioritizing health and wellness.

According to the statement announcing the fund, Apostle Alakija disclosed that the initiative would focus on supporting the entrepreneurial activities of at least 2500 female-owned businesses through funding and structured training over a period of 5 years.

In her announcement, she said

“I’m happy to launch the Flourish Africa 1 billion Naira fund on my 70th birthday as a gift to hardworking and enterprising women. This initiative will focus on empowering women economically and socially for the benefit of
their immediate families and the society.”

She further explained that a minimum of 500 female micro-entrepreneurs would be trained annually. After the training, 100 audacious entrepreneurs from the pool will be able to access grants to the tune of N2 million each for their businesses from an annual fund of 200 million Naira.

While expressing her enthusiasm about the initiative, she explained that she looks forward to empowering one woman at a time as she strongly believes that women are a crucial part of Africa’s development. She restated her commitment to empowering as many women as possible in Africa as one of the things she would want to be remembered for.

She added that the main objective of Flourish Africa is to create an enabling platform that provides skill development, mentoring, access to marketplace for female entrepreneurs.

This concept of empowerment stems from Apostle Alakija’s assertion that women have the potential to flourish if a community of like-minded individuals who share a common goal and purpose pool together and make an impact in every community they find themselves in.

Also earlier this week, read here     

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) announced Yemisi Edun as its MD/CEO. On the 1st of January 2021, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assumed office as the MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc.

Check out the list below:

Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya

With over 23 years experience, Miriam Olusanya has a diverse background in banking, including Transaction Services, Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Investment Banking, and Investor Relations.

She graduated from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria with a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom with a Master of Business Administration (Finance and Accounting).  Read more about her here

Yemisi Edun

Yemisi Edun graduated from the University of Ife in Ile-Ife with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

She is a CFA® Charter holder and a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a CFA® Charter holder. She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

She began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987, with main focus in Corporate Finance activities. She was also involved in audit of Banks and Other Financial Institutions. She joined FCMB in year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

She is now the Managing Director of FCMB. Click here to read more.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe

In the last six years, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe has been a key member of Fidelity Bank’s transformation team. She was previously Executive Director, Lagos and South West, where she was in charge of the bank’s operations in the six states that make up the bank’s South West region. She oversaw the Directorate’s turnaround to profitability and continued its outstanding year-over-year growth in key metrics including contributing over 28% of the Bank’s PBT, Deposits and Loans.

She is a consummate professional of over 30 years’ experience across various banks including Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Citizens International Bank Limited, where she held several management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking, Corporate Banking. She has been involved in the structuring of transactions in various sectors including oil & gas, manufacturing, aviation, real estate and exports.

As an Executive Director at Enterprise Bank Plc, she received formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) as a member of the management team that successfully turned around Enterprise Bank Plc.

Onyeali-Ikpe holds Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Kings College, London, respectively. She has attended executive training programs at Harvard Business School, The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania, INSEAD School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business, London Business School and IMD amongst others.

She is also an Honorary Senior Member (HCIB) of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu

In August 2020, Citigroup announced Ireti Samuel-Ogbu as its first female Country Officer for Nigeria i.e MD/CEO Citibank Nigeria. Prior to assuming office in Nigeria, she served as managing director of payments and receivables, treasury and trade solutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa at the group’s office in London.

She had been on the Board of Citibank Nigeria Limited since 2015 as a non-Executive Director.

In the last 32 years, Samuel-Ogbu has held various roles across Citi’s businesses in the UK, Nigeria and South Africa, having worked in each of these countries twice. Previous roles have included Relationship Management with Global Subsidiaries Group and the Public Sector Banking Team, as well as TTS Sales, Corporate Finance and leading Citi’s TTS business in two of the largest markets in Africa.

As a champion of diversity and inclusion, Samuel-Ogbu co-founded two impactful mentorship initiatives within Citi – the Sapphire Leadership Program for Middle East and Africa, and the Momentum Program in the UK. She is currently the EMEA co-Chair for Citi Women’s Affinity group and represents EMEA on the Global Affinity Steering Committee at Citi.

She obtained a BA Hons Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK and has an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

Tomi Somefun

Prior to her appointment as MD/CEO in August 2015, Tomi Somefun served as the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division and Treasury Department of the Bank. She is a Member of the Board Finance & General Purpose Committee, Board Risk Management Committee, Board Credit Committee, amongst others.

She a career professional with 35 years post qualification experience, over 26 of which were in the banking sector, spanning key segments including Treasury & Investment Banking, Corporate Banking, Retail, and Commercial Banking Operations. Tomi had a distinguished career with UBA group where she led 2 major subsidiaries of UBA as MD/CEO including a start-up company, UBA Pensions Custodian where she was the pioneer Managing Director.

Prior to UBA, Tomi worked with two leading consulting firms: KPMG and Arthur Andersen (now KPMG). A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), she graduated with a Second Class Upper degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife) in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English Language. She was recently conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (D.BA) by the Redeemer’s University Nigeria (RUN).

Tomi has extensive Executive Education in leading change and organization renewal, strategy formulation & execution, business analytics and development, and financial management from various esteemed business schools. She is an alumnus of the Columbia Business School, United States of America, and INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and holds a Certificate of Management Excellence from Harvard Business School (HBS). She is a member of various professional bodies including the Institute of Directors (IOD), Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). In addition, she has served on the board of several quoted and unquoted companies, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

Halima Buba

Halima is a seasoned Banker with over 20 years cognate experience obtained from working in Allstates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri and an MBA from the same University.

Halima is an Alumnus of the Lagos Business School Senior management programme. She is a senior Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants.

She sits on the Board of several reputable Institutions, including those of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) as a Non-Executive Director and Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited.

Halima is a Champion of youth and women empowerment, and consistently makes philanthropic contributions towards the girl child Education.

Kafilat Araoye

Kafilat Araoye

Kafilat Araoye is the managing director of Lotus Bank, a financial institution which was granted a non-interest banking licence by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2021.

The bank describes itself as a non-interest Nigerian bank deeply rooted in ethical banking and committed to deepening financial inclusion and broadening the array of non-interest products available to the banked, unbanked, and under-banked population.

With over 25 years commercial banking experience, Araoye has expertise in virtually all areas of core banking, with emphasis on international and domestic operations, payments, general management, business development, risk management, human resources and strategy.

Other women leading affairs at commercial banks in Nigeria include: Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank Nigeria), Halima Buba (SunTrust Bank), and Tomi Somefun (Unity Bank).

 

Kulukaya Sadiki is a Malawai-based sustainable fashion designer, humanitarian, and marketer.

For her business talents, she was chosen as a Young African Leader for the ‘Leadership in Business’ cohort by the Mandela Washington Fellowship, a USA program in 2020.

Kulukaya is also the Founder and Chairperson of ‘Ladies of Influence,’ a recognized non-profit organization that focuses on sustainable development in Malawi through humanitarian efforts, with a particular focus on the female child.

Glo-Ray Designs Sustainable Studio, her clothing line, uses recycled and rejected fabric to create timeless trends, delaying disposal and reducing fabric pollution. She works with female fabric providers in the market, encouraging and empowering them with business skills.

She talks about her journey with Women of Rubies in this interview.

Did your childhood prepare you in any way for what you do now , tell us more about your upbringing?

I was born in 1987 and raised in Blantyre, Malawi and I am a Christian.  My father was a creative entrepreneur, sadly he passed away when I was 12. From there on, we were raised by my mom who did the best she could under the circumstances (Bless her always). Both of my sisters are business women so you see, the entrepreneurial route was inevitable for me. I grew up with and around strong women who taught me how to prepare for the world and survive in it. My childhood was normal, I easily made friends and played a lot. The grown up me is naturally an introvert so you will mostly find me at home, if am out am likely surrounded by nature, having one on one deep discussions or simply writing my heart out. My sisters are extroverts so I guess someone had to be the introverted one and that is me. I have an amazing, creative and intelligent daughter who is literally my world, I thank God for her. We are an inseparable team. When my dad was alive, it was great and normal…well close to perfect like every other family. When he passed away, my mom had to take care of everything and that was not easy but she did her best and was strong through it for all of us. I am forever grateful to her for being both parents to us for the past 21 years. I knew I grew up the way I did to make a difference in the world. I knew it but I did not know how I would do it.

What Inspired you to start Gloray-designs?

I know it is ironic but the moment my daughter was born, something was ignited inside of me and I knew I was created for more. I decided right then and there that I would make a difference in everything I do and I decided to pursue only business for purpose. As stated by the Wikipedia, the fashion industry is one of the major water, air and soil polluting industries of the world and the environmental damages increase as the industry grows. Small businesses are the least supported globally and the women entrepreneurs that sell recycled fabric are not recognized and are easily exploited. Fast fashion promotes discarding usable left over, recycled and rejected fabric and almost new clothes which pollutes the earth and it encourages rapid clothes making. This consumes natural resources at production and contributes to taking from nature. The problems associated with the fashion industry and my passion for women empowerment inspired me to open my sustainable studio and to dedicate my life to helping other people in all aspects of my life.

Kulukaya Sadiki

You also founded “Ladies of Influence”, what is the inspiration behind it?

Ladies of Influence(LOI) is a female managed Non-Profit Organization founded in 2017 whose main objective is to contribute to sustainable development in Malawi through humanitarian effort. The organization’s primary focus is to make a difference in the education and health sectors mainly targeting women and the girl child linked to Sustainable Development Goals in order to achieve women empowerment considering that this is a pivotal area in relation to global development. Growing up, I read a lot about organizations like UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, European Union and more on what they did to help humanity. I admired them from a distance but how was I, a young girl from Malawi, Blantyre ever going to make a difference in anyone’s life? That question haunted me through the years and it never let me go until I started to act on it. Purpose literally hunts you down. Ladies of Influence chose me and it is a part of me. I found amazing partners who work with me in the organization to make sure that all objectives are achieved. They dedicate their time and resources to make sure that we succeed. There would be no LOI without these women so I am thankful to each one of them for volunteering to work with me.

 

What makes Gloray designs unique and a stand out brand in Malawi?

We are a fashion brand that is not only focused on financial performance but also making a positive impact in society by using an important aspect of human existence which is clothes. This is done by reducing wastage in our production, working with marginalized groups and using the three pillars of sustainability in all our supply chain. Our Values are transparency, authenticity, women empowerment, environmental protection, Inclusive employment and attention to detail.

 

You are an advocate, and fashion designer, how do you manage it all?

Focus, discipline, determination and resilience are the four words that best describe me. When I commit to a project, I don’t stop until I see it through. I don’t sleep at the normal times, I jog to think and find inspiration, I partner and delegate. I could put it down to a lot but I think the most important aspect of it is God’s grace really. I am no superwoman but when you walk in purpose and aim to serve, God equips you with what you need through the race.

 

How have your ventures impacted women in Malawi, kindly share some testimonies?

Through ladies of influence we have managed to donate hospital equipment to 2 public hospitals that is helping people up to now. In 2017 we donated food and cash items to an orphanage and disability center owned by a woman in one of the townships in the country. We have a sponsorship and mentorship program currently sponsoring 8 girl children with all important educational needs because we believe in the saying that; ‘when you educate a girl child, you educate a village’.

Through Glo-Ray Designs we have managed to work with a few women who sell fabric at the markets and by becoming friends with them we have been able to share business ideas and I have helped to contribute to their businesses by being a referral and buying from them. My aim is to bring them with me throughout my growth and the chain would not be complete without them.

The clothes that I make bring out the confidence in a woman or a man. I make things that make the personality and authenticity shine through the people wearing them. I want people to be comfortable being themselves and not anybody else. I have received a lot of great reviews for my work and this is how I know that we are on the right track. My contribution to body image, acceptance and satisfaction is what makes me happy.

 

What are some of the challenges of your work?

My own fear of failure was my greatest challenge but with every step I took and the realization that fear is nothing but a feeling I can control, it grew smaller and smaller. Getting my clients, suppliers and customers to understand my sustainable business model is a work in progress but we are slowly getting there. Getting everyone to understand why we should help the less privileged in the society is still a process that is getting better each day. Patience, acceptance, resilience and understanding helps me to get by.

 

Tell us about your other projects and activities?

I am one of the Mandela Washington Fellows of 2021 and through this program, I am learning a lot to do with leadership. We are currently working on forming a fashion council in Malawi and I am the chairperson of the grouping. I am a marketer and one of the shareholders of a housing cooperative in Malawi making sure that people have access to housing facilities and I am a member of the Global Women’s Network. I love to write and motivate so I usually do that in my free time.

 

Mention 3 women who inspire you and why

Dr. Joyce Banda who was the first female president of Malawi for her bravery, she is an educator and a grassroots women’s rights activist. I admire her confidence and sense of purpose in her work.

 

Michelle Obama for her women and girl child empowerment.

 

Maya Angelou for using her wisdom and voice to reach out to people.

 

Could you share some nuggets on how to be a successful fashion designer & humanitarian?

As a fashion designer you have to be authentic in all you do, what you make and in your connection with customers, suppliers and employees.  Be crystal clear about what success means to you and draw your personal mission statement so you do not chase other peoples dreams. because when things get hard, you will go back to why you started in the first place and focus on the goal.

To be a humanitarian, you have to search within yourself and find what makes you happy at the core… for me it was the discovery that making a difference in the world and my community gives me a sense of satisfaction that I don’t feel doing anything else. It is service leadership and this requires a lot of sacrifice and looking beyond yourself and one’s immediate circle. One must have a sense of Ubuntu in them to take on such a humbling role.

 

What makes you a Woman of Rubies?

I am me, I am different from anyone else and they are different from me. My ability to love beyond pain, to work through distractions and to hold on to my values makes me me.

Damilola Olokesusi is impacting lives by making commuting a productive part of one’s day. It is no wonder she was included in the 2019 Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 list in the technology category.

Damilola Olokesusi is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Shuttlers, Nigeria’s leading, scheduled ride-sharing platform that allows professionals to access comfortable, safe, and affordable transportation in Lagos whilst providing learning and networking opportunities. Shuttlers recently launched SHE-MOVES, (Strengthen Her: Mobilizing Ventures for Social Innovation) an initiative designed to provide Whole-Person Leadership development. The initiative is supported by the Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford Motor Company in partnership with Global Water Challenge (GWC).

Read Also: Funmi Iyanda

Alongside other Co-founders – Busola Majekodunmi and Damilola Quadry, Damilola Olokesusi is on a mission to provide smart mobility solutions in metropolitan cities in Africa.

Damilola Olokesusi
Damilola Olokesusi

Damilola has an impressive educational background. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the prestigious University of Lagos. She was a member of the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance for the 2018 cohort; a team of highly educated young African entrepreneurs attending leading universities in Asia, Europe and North America.

Before Shuttlers, Damilola worked as a Member of Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance and as a Trainee Engineer at Marine Professionals Limited. Alongside Shuttlers, Damilola also works as a Business Mentor at Impact Hub Network.

The techpreneur has received several awards and accolades for her impacts on the technology scene. She is a recipient of the Digital and Tech award at the Women in Africa Contest which held in Morocco and won an award for the Best Idea at the Aso Villa Demo Day. Damilola is also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum where she leads the Entrepreneurship and Innovation team and was the Vice-Curator,  Lagos hub of Global Shapers for the 2019/2020 edition. Also in 2019, she was included in Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30 list in the tech category.

Damilola Olokesusi is committed to positively impacting Africa through building efficient systems and creating tech-focused solutions. We applaud Damilola for redesigning the way professionals commute in Lagos by providing a comfortable, efficient and affordable ride-sharing service to and from work.

Check out www.shuttlers.ng to learn more about her amazing initiative.

The Board of Directors of FCMB Group Plc has appointed Yemisi Edun as the Managing Director of First City Monument Bank Limited.

Yemisi Edun holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and a master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

With experience spanning almost 35 years, Yemisi Edun has contributed significantly to the development of various organizations having held various leadership positions.

Yemisi started her career as an Auditor with Akintola Williams & Co (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987, rising to the position of Senior Manager before joining FCMB in 2000.

Before she was appointed Managing Director of FCMB, Yemisi was the Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer of the bank and previously served in the capacity of Acting Managing Director.

Yemisi is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and a Certified Financial Analyst, CFA Charter holder.

Yemisi is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS); an associate member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Congratulations Yemisi Edun on your new appointment.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc – GTB has announced the appointment of Miriam Olusanya as Managing Director following a restructuring that made the institution a subsidiary. This appointment was disclosed in a statement signed by the company’s secretary, Erhi Obebeduo and sent to the Nigerian Exchange Group Limited (NGX).

Miriam’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Ibadan in 1995, a Master of Business Administration (Finance and Accounting) from the University of Liverpool in 2011 and a certificate in General Management obtained from Cranfield School of Management in 2021.

Miriam has over 20 years of banking experience spanning Transaction Services, Treasury, Assets and Liability Management, Corporate Finance and Wholesale Banking and Investor Relations.

The newly appointed joined GTBank as an Executive Trainee in 1998 and rose to the position of General Manager, handling the bank’s Naira and Foreign Currency Balance Sheet, Asset and Liability Position, Money Market, Foreign Currency and Bonds Trading. Until her appointment, she was an Executive Director at the bank.

The bank also announced the successful completion of its re-organization into a Holding Company Structure, in a bid to strengthen its long-term competitiveness and growth prospects. Under the terms of the re-organization, a new operating company has been established and amendments have been made to the articles of incorporation for a corporate name change. The corporate name of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc and GTCO Plc would be used by the newly established operating company.

According to a statement,

“The banking subsidiary, Guaranty Trust Bank Limited will be governed by a Board of Directors comprising, Mr Ibrahim Hassan as Chairman of the Board, Mrs Miriam Olusanya as Managing Director, Mr Jide Okuntola as Deputy Managing Director, Mr Haruna Musa as Executive Director, Mr Olabode Agusto as Independent Non-Executive Director, Ms Imoni Akpofure and Mrs Victoria Adefala as Independent Non-Executive Directors.”

“Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc would be governed by a Board of Directors comprising of Mr Sola Oyinlola as Chairman of the Board, Mr Segun Agbaje as the Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Adebanji Adeniyi as Executive Director, Mrs Cathy Echeozo as Non-Executive Director, Mr Suleiman Barau and Mrs Helen Bouygues as Independent Non-Executive Directors.”

All the appointments have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria and disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nigerian Exchange Group.

For all those cooks who want to bring extra flavour into their meals, mi butter, founded by entrepreneur Vhongani Shumba in South Africa has the answer in a jar.

Vhongani is the founder and CEO of mi butter SA, founded in 2016, a proudly local woman-led company introducing the market to the world of flavoured butters.

She is a marketing and brand manager by day and small business developer by night. Vhongani has brought her company to life by her own hard work and tenacity, and today is involved in the daily operations of the business, providing strategic insights and ensuring that the quality of mi butter meets customers’ expectations.

MI Butter blends butter with herbs, spices, extra virgin oil, roasted garlic and other flavourings.

One of the great things about the butters is that they make your meal preparation easier. The seasoning has already been done for you; it’s all in the butter so you can keep your dishes simple.

Vhongani uses glass bottles that are recyclable to package the products as her own way of assisting in the reduction of SA’s carbon footprint. For every empty mi butter bottle returned, their customers get R2.00 off their next purchase of mi butter.

For Vhongani who describes herself as “an entrepreneur at heart”, her greatest satisfaction as an entrepreneur doesn’t come from the profits generated from the sales of her products but rather, the joy that comes from doing that which makes her happy and doesn’t feel like work. That’s how she explains her feelings when she is blending her butters.

This is why she advises all intending women entrepreneurs to find that which makes them happy because they will sleep less, earn less money, and work very hard. She implores them to have deep love for whatever business they decide to do.

Whether they choose to admit it or not, the goal of every business or product owner is to be noticed and patronised by people outside the shores of their country.

One problem business owners have faced for years is making their products noticed by other consumers apart from those within their vicinity.
Getting products noticed by global consumers is always difficult for Africa’s creative women entrepreneurs, but this challenge represented an opportunity for Bukky Asehinde, founder of Bellafricana. Her platform is giving visibility to Nigeria’s creative business owners and their quality products.

Bellafricana, is a platform that empowers, supports and connects quality, talented and creative indigenous businesses to their local and global consumers.
Starting with Nigeria, their goal is to take it one African Country at a time.

Bukky created a platform to enable creative MSMEs to thrive, whilst doing all it takes to bring the quality products to the forefront of the market. She believes very much that a support group/community for these businesses will enhance the non-oil export in the African economy.

Bukky was inspired to start this up when she noticed a rise in the number of creative indigenous (made in Nigeria, Africa) brands that have great quality, yet are struggling to grow their business with little or no financing from both the government and bigger institutions.
She wondered for a long time, “Why should we wait on financial backing from the government and big institutions to help this industry, when we can create a platform to connect these Indigenous businesses who are maximising raw materials in Nigeria (Africa), providing employment for local talents within the country and creating wealth for the Nation?”. And so she conducted a research, which made her realize that one of the major challenges these businesses were facing majorly has to do with marketing and understanding the trade, which is the heart of any business.
This birthed Bellafricana, a community that showcases the products of local entrepreneurs to a wider audience, both locally and globally.

Bukky finds satisfaction as an entrepreneur because she is able to contribute to the growth of the economy, making an impact that will outlive her, and touching lives.

Bukky Asehinde

Her counsel to women who are trying to start a business is simple:

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH WISE & POSITIVE PEOPLE: This is so vital especially when you know your personality type. I am an extrovert and a positive person, so having negative people around me was a no no. This I know has certainly helped my journey. Another key one is surrounding yourself with wise people, as the bible says also “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”.

GET MENTORS: It’s important to have mentors who key into the vision of what you do and are thought leaders in their various sectors not necessarily celebrities. How? (you might ask) by keeping a relationship with them and striking a mutually beneficial balance of what they do, they will give you more than their time when you show you care.”

Bellafricana is that “support system” every creative business owner needs to be globally accessible.

Social media has opened u​s to ​ a whole new world of content and skit creators. Anytime you need a quick laugh throughout the day, you can check your timeline to see silly skits, dances, and voiceovers.

There is an abundance of hilarious men and women on social media making us smile, thereby improving the mental health of a lot of people. While there are so many well known and upcoming content creatives out there, some stand out because of their aura and mode of delivery. One of such people is the incredibly talented and beautiful Ope Keshinro,​ popularly known as SwitOpe.

Ope is an on-air personality, a voiceover artist, and an actress. As a lover of arts from a young age, she honed her talents in secondary school, where she was always either in dance or drama groups.

She then went on to further refine her budding talent at the prestigious University of Lagos where she graduated with a B.A degree in Creative Arts (Theatre Major). She currently works with HotFM Lagos 93.3 as a radio host where she hosts the midday show.

More recently, SwitOpe has harnessed the power of social media to gain widespread popularity with her comedic skits where she portrays several characters to hilarious effect. She was recently featured on CNN alongside other content creators.

Ope is currently expanding her talents to the big screen and will be featuring in several upcoming movies.

She shares her Inspiring story in this exclusive interview with Esther Ijewere

Growing Up

I was born and brought up in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up was fun for me because I have four siblings: 2 sisters and 2 brothers, so I had playmates.

My dad still tells stories of how I used to mimic any and everything that happened at home or in school while he was away, and immediately he gets back I would describe and act it out to him.

I was also always in all the plays, dance groups and choir groups in school. Because of my interests in the arts, I went on to study Creative Arts (Theatre major) at Unilag where things started becoming a bit more serious for me and I started thinking about doing this as a career. So yes, my childhood played a big part in preparing me for what I do now.

Inspiration behind “Switope” platform

I have always had the ‘Switope’ handle across all my social media platforms and I got the name from one of my sister’s roommates in university that year, Sonia.

She asked me to help her with something and I did without hesitating and she went on and on about how sweet I was and then called me ‘Sweet Ope’, I liked it and changed my Facebook name to that, and the rest is history. I also did not start out thinking I will use social media to showcase my talents. However, as you know, I have always had the passion for entertaining people and during the pandemic and lockdown, I felt that I could entertain and help put some smiles on people’s faces and things took off from there.

The journey so far

It has been a long and interesting journey. I tend to look at an artist’s journey in 3 phases, learning, growth, and established phases. Looking back now my learning phase started from my acting and dancing in primary school. Without learning those basics, I would not have had the skill and confidence to go down this path. However, In the past year, I have moved into early stages of the growth phase, I’ve added more dimension to my performances, and I’ve matured a lot as an entertainer. I expect to continue this growth phase over the next few years and increase my versatility. Following that, I am looking forward to getting into the established phase and there is still a long way to go so watch this space.

Being a voiceover artist, actor, content creator, and managing it all

With such a busy schedule, I must be focused and extremely organised. I have a well thought out schedule that helps to compartmentalise and deliver in all aspects of my life. For example, I have set times for my radio show which do not change, so I can plan around it. Outside of those set times, I search for new content and practice my acting lines. I then ensure that I give myself enough time to record and edit any videos I need to post. My days can be long but because I’m doing what I love, it is very fulfilling. 

My CNN feature

it has only been a few days so it is hard to say how it has affected my journey so far.  But one thing is for certain, it made me realize that indeed, people are watching.

Challenges of my work

As a creative and a content creator, you need to ensure that you are constantly keeping things fresh and ensuring you are hitting the right notes with the intended audience. In the world that we are in nowadays, a lot of people are one-hit wonders, and it is very challenging to ensure that I don’t fall into that trap. So, I have to always keep my content fresh and engaging.

Other Projects and Activities

I am a radio host and a certified voiceover artist and you probably must have heard my voice on an advert/jingle or on my radio show. I am also an actress and I have featured in a few acting roles. Most recently I featured in a sitcom which will be out soon. I am very keen on getting more prominent acting roles and I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities in this area.

3 Women who Inspire me

Genevieve Nnaji, because growing up, I watched her and really wanted to be like her some day and seeing that after many years she’s still very relevant in Nollywood is something huge.

Funke Akindele Bello, also because I grew up watching her and people say women are not funny, but she is one of those that have changed that narrative.

Beyonce, because I admire her work ethics, I haven’t worked with her yet but It’s not easy being a mom and an entertainer and she pulls it off effortlessly.

Nuggets on to become a good content creator

Be creative and always think of ways to stand out. Someone has probably already done what you want to do but yours can be more creative or more Inspiring or even funnier. You need to constantly think of what makes your craft unique.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I am a woman of Rubies because I am inspiring, and in my own little way, I try to make the world a better place by putting smiles on people’s faces.

You can connect with Ope via her social media platforms below;

Instagram : @Switope

Twitter : @Switope

Tiktok : @switope

Facebook : Swit Ope Keshinro

 

Every woman wants to feel and look good, and finding the right stylish clothing for any occasion plays such an important part in that process.

In Nigeria, entrepreneur Ijeoma Onuoha, founder of fashion business Asoebigirl Limited and creator of the brand, Touchbyasoebigirl, is bringing her stylish designs within reach of every discerning woman. 

Ijeoma Onuoha is the founder and head creative designer at TouchbyAsoebigirl, a female fashion brand founded in 2017 under the parent company Asoebigirl Limited. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Technology from the University of Port Harcourt and a certificate in the Essentials of Entrepreneurship from Harvard Business School.

Your dreams are valid regardless of what your present situation looks like. Just start!

Touchbyasoebigirl is a female fashion brand (parent company Asoebigirl Limited) created to meet the fashion needs of women through affordable but stylish clothing.

Their customers are fondly called “Touch Woman”. A Touch Woman is a woman that stays stylish regardless of what time or day or occasion it is, and to this end, Touchbyasoebigirl caters to different events; corporate look, casual, events and weddings, swim wear, lounge wear etc.


Their pieces are tailored uniquely to cater to individual styles and personality and their customer base currently extends beyond Nigeria into other African countries (Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon), UK, Europe and the US/Canada.
They recently launched a collection called the Touch Executive Woman which offers finely tailored pants suits that show the sexy, confident and powerful sides of the women that wear them.

She was inspired to be a fashion entrepreneur by her mother who has been a fashion designer for more than three decades. What she picked up as means of unwinding from work stress has now become a major source of income for her.

In her words, “Every time I walk into a room, I start to look for where there are needs (in some situations, I create the needs), and then find ways to meet these needs. You can say I have always been a sales woman. I started my first business at 19 years old while in University, I sold make-up products for a couple of years, sold thrift jackets from the UK and even lifestyle products like BP machines. The idea of multiple streams of income forever appeals to me and this explains why today I have a business running in fashion while I maintain a 9-5 job in the Healthcare industry. I guess we can say entrepreneurship comes naturally for me.”

Ijeoma Onuoha has over 7 years of work experience in Business development, relationship management and sales across different industries including Telecommunications, Media and most recently, healthcare.