Category

Editor’s Choice

Category

Tessy Ojo is  a multi-award-winning social change advocate, philanthropist, civil society leader, brand ambassador, wife, mother and Chief Executive Officer of The Diana Award, a charity foundation instituted in honour of the Late Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales. At the heart of her work is the belief that, with the right support and investment, young people are the best instigators for achieving real, sustainable change in their lives and communities.

Tessy was recently awarded the Commander of the British Empire (CBE), the biggest national honour in the United Kingdom in recognition of her immense contributions towards empowering and supporting children and young people in the UK.

The  British-Nigerian national who is an inspirational speaker and regular consultant and
commentator on issues around youth participation, charity growth, diversity, women in
leadership and other social issues affecting young people, grows her kitty that already has
other eminent awards including The Precious Award, Inspiring Leader 2015, Women in Business Rising Star 2015 (London Region), Excellence Award from Eva Longoria’s Global Gift

Tessy share her inspiring journey with Esther  Ijewere in this Inspiring Interview.

Childhood Infleunce

Growing up, my parents taught us the value of leadership without a title. It was the principle of ‘if you see something that needed doing, just do it, without waiting on someone else to fix it’. This was pretty much the principle that underpinned my childhood. When you have a diplomat father and a mother who is a headteacher, you’re often drafted in to support one cause or the other, especially through their networks such as The Rotary Club etc. Generally, giving back in any capacity was the norm in our household. I remember at the age of 14, my Mum drafted me in to lead on various children’s clubs in her school. I was running a reading club, dancing club, all afterschool, so being a leader was very much a part of my upbringing.

What Inspired me to work at  The Diana Award

When the Princess of Wales was tragically killed in a car crash in 1997, it was a defining moment in my life as like thousands of others, I placed a note with words of condolence alongside flowers to honour the Princess at Kensington Palace. That note, simply said ‘You rocked my world, I will honour yours too’.

Just two years later, at the time a very successful executive, I had my youngest child and an eureka moment when I realised the vulnerability of childhood and how as a committed mother, I would always champion my children, yet not every child had a champion or an advocate.

That moment was a defining and life changing moment as I made a commitment to devote the rest of my career to advocating and championing young people, building young people’s capacity for leadership and creating social equity that ensures young people can overcome the disadvantage of birth.

A few weeks later, I responded to an ad in the newspaper to help set up a new youth charity being formed. Unaware, at the time, that this was the beginning of The Diana Award, the only charity across the world set up to continue the legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales. I responded to this ad as it was very much in line with my passion.

More about my journey is in a book that I am writing, which will be published next year.

The Journey and It’s impact in Britain

 Twenty years on and with over 100,000 young people who have been supported through this charity, through our three core programmes; many of whom are young leaders across nations, the charity has grown from strength to strength, through a combination of strategic clarity and innovative approaches.

Having said that, our world is changing rapidly with the current Covid-19 pandemic which means that there are significant societal and environmental challenges ahead. It is incredibly important that as we rebuild our communities across the world that young people are at the centre of that work, as they are the long term victims of covid and they must be empowered to help shape the future. I was particularly proud to see the participation and leadership of young people during the #EndSars protest! For us at The Diana Award, we have always believed that young people can change their world, with the right support and we remain committed to building the capacity of young people to be at the heart of this rebuilding work.

Being awarded the commander of the British Empire Award

It was and remains an incredible honour. Twenty years ago when I gave up a promising career and a lucrative pay to join the third sector, it was completely out of the need for service. Twenty years on, to receive the highest honour from Her Majesty, The Queen is just mind blowing!

Your work cuts across Anti-Bullying, mentoring and capacity building, any plan to bring your work to Nigeria?

 You know what, we would love to! With the right level of investment and sponsorship, we would love to do much more across the Commonwealth and of course Nigeria, given my connections to the country! Just find me the right sponsor and we can talk!!

Other projects and activities

You know what, I am involved in so much across the charity sector; I am on the board of Comic Relief and we are making some incredible moves about how we support global communities build capacity. I am also the co-chair of the #iwill Leadership Board, which is a board of funders who are committed to ensuring young people are supported to create the change they want to see.

More about my work will also be in my new book so look out for it!

 Challenges of my work

Pushing for change is never easy. No one likes change, yet it is inevitable. The biggest challenge is always educating on the ‘why’. The other challenge is ensuring that we are well resourced to create the change we are advocating for. Resourcing a charity is a huge challenge but it is one that is so desperately needed. A recent stats in the UK showed that young people are more reliant on the support provided by the youth sector than ever before, yet the sector has less resources than ever before! That is the challenge.

3 women who inspire me to be better and why

  • Firstly, Rosa Parks – her quiet strength inspires me. She saw a need and demonstrated her strength and paved the way for generations to come.
  • Next is Oprah Winfrey, purely because growing up in Europe, I barely saw anyone like me on TV. Oprah made me visible. Watching her on telly allowed me to feel visible and made me realise that impossible is nothing and seeing Oprah day in day out helped me see that.
  • My third is absolutely Michelle Obama. She demonstrates leadership with integrity, authenticity and with grace. To me, she shows the balance between leading with a title yet remaining authentic to who you are. I loved seeing how she brought fun to her role, even as the First Lady. She was unafraid to do things different and that really inspires me. Like going on TV and dancing!!

The Nigerian society and it’s awareness with issues  surrounding bullying and oppression

I think society as a whole needs a lot more education about bullying, oppression and the misuse of power. There are so many historic things that were allowed to happen in the past, that today’s society is rightly saying NO to and that change in attitude needs to be talked about again and again, until we are all on the same page.

I do not believe this is exclusive to Nigeria because there are people in the UK who still brush bullying off as ‘banter’ or ‘character building’ which is absolutely wrong. We define bullying as any behaviour, either verbal, physical, cyber or indirect, that deliberately and repetitively undermines another, makes them uncomfortable, upset and unsafe is bullying.

Mondays are always an interesting day to write about. I have previously touched on the Monday Blues. Those of us who have to get going and get it done at work. It is difficult, but our hard work is what makes America great. Keep it up and keep going.

If you are reading this, you made it to another beginning of the week. The reset button has been pressed. You have your coffee, energy drink, juice, tea, or if you’re like me, just a glass of water. You log onto to read a blog and find an article with the title of Monday Motivation.

I am a believer in living your dreams. I was not always like that, but I am now. I learned that you need to at least try to do something that you enjoy doing. If you try and fail, well, at least you tried. If you succeed and are able to make money doing what you love, then you will always be happy in my experience.

We all know that it does not always happen that way, does it? Life can be tough and unmerciful. As you work at it, you might find that doing what you love can be very difficult.

Sometimes, you try, but it just does not work out no matter what you do, who you know, or where you study. You do not get the break you need and you end up stuck in a job that seems completely mindless. Maybe not even mindless, but it could seem like something you do not want to do at all.

Where does that lead you? You get stuck sweeping floors, in a windowless cubicle, a basement, or working up one too many beads of sweat. Hey, if you dreamed of any of those things, that is great. Those are just examples.

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that it is no fun when you do not love what you do, especially if you have at one time you did.

It can feel like every day is the same thing over and over again. The annoying coworker, the harsh boss, the too friendly receptionist, and of course the HR director who thinks they are a prison warden. You see and hear all of these things and at times you call in sick just to get away. Believe me, I have done it before.

As each minute, hour, day, week, month, year, and for some, decade pass by, you feel like there is no end in sight. You just want to keep on keeping on, but you also want to pull your hair out when it seems like everything is going wrong. Trust me, things will go wrong. Sad, but it’s true.

Am I striking a nerve with anyone?

I bet you are starting to wonder where the motivation is? Do not worry, that is up next.

I will give you some advice: find something you love and just do it. It sounds so simple that it is almost cliché.

 

You might be wondering, “Wait, what happened to all of that “life is tough” talk?” It is true, but what I am talking about is during your “me time.” If you do not have any, make some. You need it.

During this time, do not just sit around and watch TV or do nothing on the computer, do something you love.

If you are an artisan: write, make music, sculpt, sew, draw, paint, or whatever. If you are a cook: try out new recipes as often as you can. If you are into computers: program, invent games, or create an app. If you are into sports: join a gym, ride a bike, learn to skate, learn karate, or take up shooting. If like to read: try a new genre, subscribe to a magazine, or read a long old fashioned novel like War and Peace. Of course, all of these suggestions are just examples. There is no shortage of fun things to love or to learn to love.

Whatever it is, you need that time to yourself to recharge and rejuvenate. I honestly think that more people are unhappy in their work because they do not take that special time for them. It is something that is so important.

I honestly hope that this did motivate you. If you find yourself in a job that is not your first choice, do something you love no matter what.

By : Jacob Airey 

Imiesor Ojo is a fifth year pharmacy student at the university of Benin. She’s a peer educator and a SRH(Sexual and Reproductive Health) advocate.

She volunteers at The Medvocacy Initiative (TMI), where she’s the programs director. She is also a volunteer with the Girls’ In Charge foundation(GIC).

She shares her story with the Ruby Girls team.

1. Let’s meet you. Who is Imiesor Ojo?

Imiesor Ojo is a young female entrepreneur with a passion for gender eqality and SRH advocacy. She is also a Pharmacy student at the prestigious University of Benin. In a bid to gain further knowledge and competency in sexual and reproductive health advocacy, she has participated in several certification programs. One of which is the prevention of campus sexual violence program courtesy the EU-UN spotlight initiative and WARIF (Women At Risk Foundation). She also volunteers with The Medvocacy Initiative and Girls In Charge Foundation, which serves as outlets to effecting positive changes around her immediate environment and beyond.

2. What inspired you to choose a career in pharmacy?

My love for chemistry at the time (back in secondary school) made me choose Pharmacy as my course of study despite the fact that my siblings wanted me to opt for Medicine.

*3. What is the greatest challenge for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria?*

The inability to properly manage finances. As much as people credit a lack of substantial capital as a major challenge, the fundamental problem lies with the management of funds. Poor financial management will most certainly lead to the ruin of any business.

4. Did your field of study motivate you to become a sexual reproductive health advocate?

Yes it did, although not entirely. I was also partly motivated by the negative impact that misinformation regarding sexual and reproductive health had on young people. Especially when a host of these consequences, which stems from uninformed choices, can be avoided by being privy to the right information.

5. Most people are still ignorant of the fundamentals of sexual and reproductive health, how can you address this?

The cure for ignorance is knowledge (education). Educating the masses, especially young adult, is my duty as a peer educator and a Sexual and Reproductive Health advocate. By using every platform available, I’ll be able to reach out to as many persons as possible and educate them on the subject matter.

6. Your greatest fear?

Not being able to harness all of my potentials.

7. What are some challenges you face as an advocate of sexual and reproductive health?

Lack of policy formation, review and implementation on the part of the government.

8. What was growing up in a Nigerian home like for you? Did it in anyway contribute to everything you do now?

Growing up in a family like mine hasn’t been the sweetest experience. Amidst all the disciplinary actions and strict upbringing I can gladly say it has contributed to who I am and what I do now.

9. If you were to be the President of Nigeria for a day, what would you change?

Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if I were the president of Nigeria I would love to make changes to the educational sector of the country. The implications of poor/lack of education is devasting for self and the nation and it’s economy.

10. Mention 3 women who inspire you and why?

Mrs Florunsho Alakija inspires me a great deal. Albeit her status as a wealthy and prominent woman, she’s a symbol of sheer doggedness and hard work, and most importantly, she’s a woman of God. She’s a breathing evidence that women can achieve whatever they set their minds to, despite the odds.

Prof. Dora Akinyuli stands tall in that regard. she’s a symbol of intergrity, courage and passion in the Pharmacy profession.

Miss Chioma Uzoma, even though she’s a colleague of mine, has been a huge part of my success story so far. She’s purpose-driven, likes to carry everyone along and also she’s fearless (whatever she sets out to do, nothing stops her) and that motivates me.

11. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

As a well-established pharmacist, SRH and gender equality advocate. A woman that has come to the complete knowledge of herself, a woman of influence and power.

12. How do you juggle being a student, reproductive health advocate and running a hair business?

Time management cannot be over emphasized. Knowing how to share/manage my time has made my life a lot easier because quite honestly, school can be quite demanding.

13. If you were given the opportunity to address a group of young females five years younger than you, what will be your advice to them?

Whatever it is in life you want to do never relegate your education and the ministry of you to the background. Also, do not let people’s opinion of you validate/define who you are. And whatever it is you are called to do, do it, whether you’re scared, unsure, or inexperienced, do it anyway because there is no better time to do it than now.

A 15-year-old Brooklyn chess champion was just awarded a $40,000 college scholarship as she aims to become the first Black woman chess master in the world, CBS New York reports.

Jessica Hyatt is one of the top 10 Black women chess players in the nation, dedicating five to seven hours a day playing the game. At just 15-years-old, she is very close to making history as the first Black woman chess master and was recently awarded the Daniel Feinberg Success in Chess Award, a $40,000 college scholarship. She joins other young Black chess champions like Nigerian refugee, Tanitoluwa “Tani” Adewumi and Cahree Myrick, in courting greatness before they were old enough to drive.

“I play whenever I get the chance, like in my free time, like during my classes, like sometimes during classes,” Jessica said. 

She’s currently a sophomore at Success Academy, a school known for its elite chess program. Just five years ago she met her coaches, Tyrell Harriott and David Mbonu, both National Masters, who took a liking to her immediately. 

“The first thing she did right around when class was over is she walked up to me, and she was like, ‘Can I play you?’ and I remember, I was like, ‘oh.’ There has never been a Black woman player to break the master ranking and that’s what Jessica is going for,” Mbonu said. 

To become a chess master, Jessica has to earn a ranking of at least 2,200; she’s already at 1,950.

“I learned the game when I was 15, so for Jessica to be at 1,950, that’s a huge edge,” Harriott said.

As a result of the pandemic, Jessica is spending most of her time playing online. Her mom, Loy Allen, said she hopes Jessica’s story will inspire other young children of color.

“If your kid’s passionate enough about it, have them go for it because the sky’s the limit, right?” Allen said.

Jessica plans to reach her goal of chess master first, followed by applying to college at MIT with the hopes of teaching chess to children in her community.

Congratulations, Jessica! We can’t wait to cheer you on to your rightful title!

Over the last few years, crowdfunding has proven itself to be one of the most popular routes to take when it comes to starting a business. Friends, family, investors and those alike can support your entrepreneurial dreams with just the click of a button. Today, $34 billion has been raised globally through crowdfunding. According to Startups, the average successful crowdfunding campaign is around $7,000. However, Dawn Dickson has raised a much more substantial amount of money and has shown us what it truly means to be a BAUCE in the world of crowdfunding.

Dawn is the founder of Flat Out of Heels, comfortable and rollable flats small enough to fit in your new Telfar, and the CEO of her software company, PopCom. She has done the work to place herself in a position to pull others up as she sails to the top. In 2019, Dawn became the first black woman founder to raise over $2 million via crowdfunding. Her go-getter spirit, love for business, and desire to create generational wealth amongst the black community has driven her to make history.

What made you decide to take the crowdfunding route?

Dawn: I learned about the JOBS Act in 2013, which allowed people to raise money from the public. After we raised our first round, we raised $1 million dollars from venture capitalists and angel investors, but I wasn’t a fan of the process. I wanted to be able to give my friends, family, and people close to me an opportunity to invest in my company. Many of them were not accredited investors but in order to invest in the company, you have to be accredited but under crowdfunding, you can raise money from anyone. I am really passionate about building and helping to create generational wealth. I feel like this was a great opportunity to do that.”

How long did it take you to raise enough money to get your businesses started?

Dawn: For Flat Out of Heels, I raised $100,000 from friends and family within the first 4-6 months, and then I raised the other $150,000 after that, so $250,000. Pop com is a tech and software company, so I’ve raised about $3.3 million since 2017.

Building and maintaining strong relationships within your network is one of the most important things to keep in mind when entering the business world. For those who may just be starting out and don’t necessarily have a network of others to turn to, what would you suggest they do?

Dawn: I wasn’t born with a network, it wasn’t inherited by a family member or anything. I had to go out and build it and I did that mainly by attending conferences and events, really networking online, doing everything possible to put myself in rooms. I was very, very, very active, going to every tech conference I could find!

COVID-19 has put a pause on large gatherings, so networking events are on hold until further notice. What tips do you have when it comes to networking virtually?

Dawn: Well, the great thing about the pivot from COVID is that all the conferences are virtual. Now is the best time. Previously, people weren’t open to networking over the computer as much, they wanted to meet in person – that’s the culture. Everything is virtual, I’ve spoken at six conferences over the past two months. I thought my speaking career was going to be put on hold, but I’ve been getting booked constantly for virtual conferences. I’m really grateful because this has been one of the best times for me financially. I’ve started to make more time for other things and started to do more coaching with founders. There’s been a lot of new income streams happening during this time!”

A famous lyricist by the name of Two Chainz once said, “they ask me what I do and who I do it for?” Tell us more about your ‘why’.

Dawn: I love solving problems, building businesses, working with teams, being innovative. I’m definitely driven by creating generational wealth and changing the trajectory of my family. I have a daughter, I have nephews. Creating wealth for them, making sure that they have something, and I have something to pass down…it continues from here. Historically, we weren’t even allowed legally to own property, make investments, and have wealth. It’s so important to start to shift that pattern.

What do the next 10 years look like for you? Are there any major things you’d like to cross off your bucket list?

Within the next 10 years, Dawn plans to sell her companies and move to Nigeria, where her husband is from. She would also like to start working with startups around the world and create a global network. As far as her bucket list goes, “I travel a lot but, that was put on hold because of COVID, but I definitely want to go to Machu Picchu, and then I want to go to South Africa. I’ve been a lot of places but I just want to continue to travel the world. I would love to visit as many countries as possible, I was trying to visit one every other month but things got halted!” Real BAUCE goals!

Source: Bauce Mag

When you first made the decision to become a business owner, you knew you had to come up with a budget, devise marketing strategies, and focus on customer needs… it never occurred to you what it would take to build a strong team behind your brand.

As important as employees are to every business, hiring them is oftentimes the last thing on an entrepreneur’s to-do list up until they actually need them.

The thing to understand about entrepreneurship is that there’s not one business owner who completely did everything by themselves… they had help along the way.

Employees are the foundation of many businesses, and in order to get the most out of your team and for your business to be successful, you’re going to have to invest in them. Investing in your employees can be done in many different ways. But whether you have a team of 10 or 30, it’s not going to be an easy feat.

When you group different people with different personalities together, there will eventually be some clashings of personalities, miscommunications, and differences of opinions…this are to be expected. But as the owner of the business, it’s up to you to have measures in place so that when conflicts do arise you can handle it with grace and it doesn’t affect the overall efficiency and productivity of the workday.

Nonetheless, whether conflict arises or not, the key to success is to be proactive in minimizing conflict in the workplace before it even happens. To build an effective and productive team, here are some efforts you need to make as a business owner managing your team.

Create a Healthy and Positive Work Environment

Many people don’t realize it but the environment you work in plays a significant role in just how productive you are. If your office area and desk is full of clutter, it can be a huge hindrance to the psyche.

Papers laying around, food, TV, and music are all potential distractions to your employees. But then again, you have to gauge your employees to see what type of office environment plays to their productivity. Maybe providing coffee and snacks in the breakroom adds to their productivity; Maybe lightly playing classical music is something that makes them work more efficiently…

Ultimately, creating a healthy and positive work environment for your team is going to require you getting to know them as well as their likes and dislikes.

Incorporate Team Building Exercises

Productivity within your team is going to rely heavily on camaraderie among the employees. Do your employees get along with each other? If not, it’s typically because they don’t know each other too well. This is when it’s important to incorporate various team building activities.

Team building is an excellent way to help employees get to know their co-workers and boost the overall office environment… plus it’s fun! You can do these exercises outside of the office and at the office as well, but the overall purpose and goal of it is to eliminate any grudges or judgments among team members to create a harmonious and productive work environment.

Understand the Strengths and Weaknesses of Your Team

In being the owner of a business, you hired each individual member of your team because they had certain strengths you were looking for. But in hiring them for their strengths, you don’t always find out during the hiring process what their weaknesses are, and because of that, you have to become a mentor to your team and find out their strengths and weaknesses.

By finding out the strengths and weaknesses of your employees, it’s going to help you better divvy responsibilities. Maybe you hired an employee for accounting but discover she’s not good at drafting contracts. This may force you to get creative in your thinking. Maybe you just let her stick to numbers and then let your other team member handle drafting contracts for you…

It’s all very doable, especially if you have a solid team; you just have to have a clear understanding of your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to run your business more efficiently. Having the wrong people handling the wrong responsibilities will only slow productivity down.

Invest in Project Management Software

Project management software is going to be key in ensuring all employees are on the same page, which, in turn, boosts productivity and efficiency. It also allows you to track productivity and efficiency as well. Everything from sales projections to group chats, this type of software is the complete solution for workplace miscommunications.

Source: Baucemag

The past few days, protests have been happening in every state, city and town in Nigeria, and Nigerians in the diaspora are also joining in the fight for change.

To show solidarity, various celebrities have joined protests or voiced their support for protestors on their online platforms.

Celebrities from Kanye West, Naomi Campbell, Viola Davis and Trey Songz are speaking up, taking action against the #EndSars and police brutality movement happening in Nigeria and across the world. These stars that we know and love have shown that they’re willing to stand up for what’s right and that the future of Nigeria and all of its citizens matters to them.

The horrifying story of Nigerians, especially the youths in the hands of SARS is sparking protests around, and other countries around the world. Many stars are using their social media platforms to speak out and share their emotions about the ongoing movement.

This is evidence that your voice is being heard all over the world.

Scroll down to view your faves joining the protests.

Yvonne Orji

 

Jidenna

 

Jackie Aina

 

Naomi Campbell

 

Viola Davis

 

Ms Tina Lawson (Beyoncé’s Mum)

 

Kirk Franklin

 

Diddy

 

Stef London

 

 

 

 

Kanye West

 

Trey Songz

 

 

Chance the Rapper

 

Nasty C

 

City Girls

 

Estelle

 

Cardi B

 

Jennie Jenkins

Source: Bellanaija

Mrs. Zouera Youssoufou is the Managing Director/CEO, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF). Fluent in English, French, Spanish and Hausa, She holds an MBA in Finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a BBA in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Isenberg School of Business.

At ADF, she leads the Foundation’s efforts to improve the health, nutrition, education and economic empowerment outcomes for the needy, primarily in Nigeria and in Africa. She’s responsible for the Foundation’s short, medium and long-term strategies, provides overall management oversight for the Foundation, and provides support on Social Investments to the Corporate Dangote Group. She also sits on several Boards, including SE4All, Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, ONE Global Leadership Circle, Center for the Strategic Studies on Africa, and ABC Health. As of March 2020, Zouera coordinates the Secretariat of CACOVID, the Nigerian Private sector coalition against Covid-19.

Prior to joining ADF, Zouera was the World Bank Country Manager for Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé and Principe. As such, she was the front-line person in the relationship with all three governments and conducted day-to-day dialogue with all levels of government, donors and civil society. Zouera spent six years at the International Finance Corporation, IFC (private sector arm of the World Bank Group), where she led the Global Women in Business Program (WIN). In that role, she was responsible for creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the developing world, specifically in access to finance. She joined the World Bank Group in 2005 from Citigroup’s Smith Barney unit in New York and Atlanta where she covered emerging markets and 13 industry sectors as an Equity Research Analyst. Her previous experiences include working with the European Union on private sector development issues, and management consulting with Deloitte in Ghana.

In this interview with KEHINDE OLATUNJI, she shares her career experiences, highlighting the need for women to prepare themselves for top positions and responsibilities.

Looking at your background and places you’ve worked so far, what really influenced your choice of career?
The biggest influence in my life, obviously, is my parents who always said things like, ‘you have to do your best at school, and there is nothing you cannot achieve.’ I grew up in Niger and that is a country where we are still struggling with female education. My dad was very clear that he wanted us to go to school and was very supportive and today, we are all doing well in our careers. The success of any girl in life isn’t to be a housewife; we all went to school, and grew up in an environment where this was not normal to do. Also, my dad had opportunities to travel to different places, and he took us along so that we could see different models of how people could learn; that has been the biggest influence.

There are lots of women who have influenced my life and career. Women like Okonjo-Iweala; I met her when I was working on my first project with Access Bank in Nigeria. She was Minister of Finance at that time, and I was working at International Finance Corporation (IFC). I had a conference in London and we were both on the panel; I was shocked when I saw her on the same platform with me. After the event, we got talking and she asked me to give her a call whenever I’m in Nigeria; I never thought she was serious.

I came to Nigeria and told my friends that I was going to Abuja to see her, everyone was like, ‘how do you think you’re going to meet her?’ When I eventually met her, she was the nicest, most supportive person I ever met; I didn’t even think she was going to end up being a mentor to me. Since then, we have had an amazing relationship.

Also, I’ve had mentors that are men. My first boss who taught me about asset management was an African-American man who was pro-African kind of a person. Even now, somebody who I realised has influence in my life is my boss, Alhaji Dangote. What I get from him is just humility; I have never met anybody as humble as Dangote. I have met other rich people, but nobody was as simple and humble; he doesn’t take people for granted. He reminds me of how we all need to behave. Working in his foundation help us to live with these values and show people you don’t have to be nasty and look down on others because you are better than them. On the contrary, we need to lend helping hands to people, and think of how the world can be a better place for all.

Considering the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the masses, what have you done so far as Chief Executive Officer of CACOVID? 
CACOVID is a coalition of private sector people led by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the Managing Director of the Access Bank Group, Herbert Wigwe. They came together mid-March, when they saw how the pandemic was shaping the world. They decided that the private sectors in Nigeria needed to do something instead of everybody doing their own thing; that efforts should be put together and have one big private sector coalition. So, that was how CACOVID was birth.

Before then, Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) had been working with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in responding to the crisis. The first person that was diagnosed with Coronavirus came into the country in February 27, 2020. So, the very next day, the NCDC put out an incident action plan and said N16 billion was needed right away to address the issues. Different donors came in and everybody committed money; ADF gave N200 million; we bought ambulances and other things relating to surveillance system to gather information on people diagnosed with COVID-19. We bought four ambulances, which we donated to the Lagos State Government. So, we fulfilled the N200 million pledges, and while we were in the middle of doing this, Alhaji Dangote said we needed to step it up a notch and CACOVID came to being.

We know that money is needed; we also put our technical committee in place because none of us are doctors or laboratory scientists. It’s very important to have a technical committee that would drive CACOVID in making the right investments that makes sense for Nigeria. In the technical committee, we have people like Dr. Sani Aliyu, who’s the coordinator of Presidential Tax Force, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who’s the head of the NCDC, Prof. Christian Happi, who’s the scientist that decoded the COVID-19 genome in Nigeria. We also have World Health Organisation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations. We have people like these to help drive the thinking about what it is that CACOVID should do.

The two things that came up was the need to increase testing and our isolation center capacity. So, the first two things we did was to ensure that Nigeria got enough testing supplies and also set up isolation centers in every single state and the Federal Capital Territory; that effort cost billions of naira. For instance, we wanted a hundred bed isolation centre capacities in every state, so we did that. We bought over 4,000 beds, the monitors, the thermometers, basically everything that you need to set up an isolation centre. We delivered them to the 36 states and the FCT. So, that was the first expense, and testing was the second.

As time goes on, lockdown happened, and the idea of palliatives came up. If you tell people to stay at home, it means no traffic and the people who sell by the roadside wouldn’t have a means of livelihood anymore. People who have to get up and go to work are not doing that anymore, so what happens to them? The drivers and people who have to go out everyday to make a living? So, that was when the idea of the palliatives came up.

We made sure the 36 states and FCT received their allocations according to the proportional number of families. That is about 1.7 million families, and a total of 10 million people. These 1.7 million families each received 10kg of rice, 2 cartons of noodles, a carton of Spaghetti, 5 kilos of sugar, 1 kilo of salt, and either 5 kg bag of Maize, Semo or Garri, depending on where they live in the country.

As a career woman, do you think enough is being done to promote women representation in work places?
I think there is still a glass ceiling, although we have made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot that needs to be done. How many women do we have on the board of companies in Nigeria? How many do we have as CEOs of organistions? How many women do we have as head of states? The reality is that we don’t have a proportional number of women in charge in the society.

For instance, in the medical profession, both genders can be doctors, but how many ends up being Chief Medical Director (CMD)? How many women are in charge of the health sector? These are examples of glass ceiling. There are some things that are perceived hampering women in the course of doing their job. For instance, when a woman is married and begins to have children, it does something to her career. The two times I had my children, my colleagues who were performing less than me at my work place, got promoted over me because I took four months of maternity leave. It proves that there is a glass ceiling. If everybody just goes to work, without raising a family, how do we sustain humanity? Women need support. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is the first Minister of Finance that is a woman, and that was in the year 2000; other women were minister of women affairs, or social issues. If you look at the Stock Exchange, how many women are running the companies there and how many women are Chair of the Board of Companies? But I think the attitude is changing; when I look at my daughter, I wonder at her expectations because they are totally different from mine. She completely believes that nothing is going to stand on her way to do whatever she decides.

Some companies are trying, but I think it has to be discussed and promoted; women should not be seen as a threat because they are not. It shouldn’t be such a big deal that we are still talking about how we don’t have enough women on our corporate board. Surprisingly, it is the same everywhere, however, Nigeria is not really doing badly. In Africa, the only example we can point to where they have half male and female parliament is Rwanda, and that’s because of the genocide experience. Sometimes, we don’t need such a horrible history to get there, but nowhere so far in the world do we have disparities the way we have it in some countries. So, we still have a long way to go and I do think that a lot of conversations are happening around this. I think efforts are going on in different parts of the world, but we are definitely not where we need to be yet.

How can organisations, professional bodies and government help to improve the situation?
We have never had a female governor in Nigeria yet; we’ve had deputy governors who are female. I really think corporate organisations are trying; the Nigeria Bar Association last year did a lot of discussion on gender issues, women lawyers, women judges and how to get more women into the profession. I spoke at the event and it was really good, because it was like a realisation for everybody. Men are used to working with women, not that they are shock that there is a woman in the office, but a situation where we don’t make it to the peak, is a challenge. I believe this is because of the networks we don’t have.

For instance, if you were not in the conversations when the bosses are discussing something, how would they be thinking of bringing you in? The stereotypical example in developed countries is the weekend golf games.

Few women play golf, so, when the boys are out there playing golf, hanging out at the weekend, if you’re a mother, that is the time you have to take care of the children. So, how do you get into the conversation of promotion? A lot of people support, encourage, nurture, and promote the people that they see in their comfort zone everyday, and so, if you’re not in that comfort level path, then organisation has to make an extra effort to think of you for promotion as a woman.

What should be done is to actively and deliberately promote women. If the government decides that in Civil Service, we need to have some level of clarity and everybody who is a permanent secretary cannot be a man, then, we are actively looking to promote women. Things like this have to be done deliberately, otherwise, everybody just stays in their comfort zones and women are not necessarily part of it.

What role do you think women can play in bridging the gap?
I actually don’t agree with the idea that women don’t like to work with themselves. I think it is true that some women are like ‘I have to fight my way to the top, I have to struggle to do it, and now that I have made it, this other little girls who just want to quickly climb the ladder, have to struggle too just like I did.’ Some women really feel that way. But what I find out is that, we also are part of the stereotype thing. If you give me two CVs of a boy and a girl and they have the same qualification, it is most likely that I will pick the girl; that is because I am a woman. So, I don’t think it is true that women don’t want their counterpart to succeed; that is a narrative that men promote.

Women are way supportive of each other; we discuss things that pertain to us. You can’t discuss breast-feeding with a man in the office; different women and different ways though. Some are supportive and some are not; some wants to work with women, and others would rather not.

So, what is your advise to women?
Women need to be ready for these top positions and responsibilities. Women need confidence and self-development to get to top positions. They should not expect that because they are women, and it is their turn, they should get it.

They should be prepared. Just like everybody is getting to do extra courses and certification, they should be doing that too. There is no excuse for you not to get things done like the male gender. We should never have a sense of entitlement; we are not entitled, nobody owes us. We have to work just as hard as men to get to where we need to be.

We also need to self-assurance. What I found out as one of the biggest obstacles for women in the workplace is, lets say there is a job that is advertised and 10 criteria are listed to get the job, a woman will have eight of the criteria, but will be discouraged because of the remaining two that she doesn’t have. Meanwhile, a man with just three will apply, and get the job. So, the woman will be wondering how did he have it? So, women need to put themselves forward; get all the knowledge, training, and the most education that we can, get the assignment that nobody wants to do. Then, when it is time for promotion, you will be recommended.

Although certain social and economic situations for women have improved, but when it comes to personal finances, a lot of women still have hurdles.

Given your experience, how do you think women can overcome these challenges?
When I was working in City bank, the company had something called Women and co; it’s like an investment for women. I was wondering that why do we have separate investment for women? But it was clear that women were not making the most of their financial capacity and investment; they wouldn’t take the same risk as men. A very clear thing is that women and men have a very different perception of risk. It is not that women are risk averse, is just that we don’t assess risk the same way men do. My husband will be ready to mortgage our house for a business venture, and

I’ll be like what if something goes wrong with the business?
So, women don’t look at their finances the same way men do. We have a lot of social issues; there are lots of things that hinder women from being all that they want to be. Financial services for women are a huge opportunity to get women to invest their money in the best possible way. I believe in being independent; I think women needs to be independent. Where they can take care of themselves, they should. When women are overly dependent on men for their livelihood, they give their power away. There is a part of you that has to be responsible for you. You cannot give your entire life to a man; you can be married and respect your husband as an independent woman. I have been married for 25 years, so its not like I don’t know what I am talking about. Being in a relationship comes with some level of submission, compromise and trying to make things work, but I think it is important to remember that we are individuals and God made us two. It is important for women to understand finance and make decisions. You cannot be 100 per cent dependent on somebody else once you are an adult.

Are you in support of a joint account for married couple?
My husband and I have three accounts; we have a joint account and separate accounts. The reason I have my own account is that we don’t want to have conversation about how I need to buy a pair of shoe. There is a part of our money that is jointly owed because we have a joint life, and joint responsibilities. He has his money and he can do what he wants and I have my own money, and I can do what I want with it; we decided this when we were getting married.

Our church has a mandatory counseling session for intending couples and so we had to discuss with our pastor how we wanted our lives to be. They ask very difficult questions, like ‘what happens if you don’t have children? What happens if you have a disable kid? How do you see your financial life and how are you going to manage it?’ So, these three things works for me, but some people don’t know how much their spouse earns. Everybody should do whatever works for them.

Picking a mate is the most important decision a woman ever makes; men too, but I think for a woman, picking a mate who supports you, who will be there for you, who will be a good father for your kids, who will let you be all that you can be, that is really important.

When it comes to choosing career path for children, what is your advice for parents?
My advice as a parent is to look at what your children are good at and encourages them to do it. Too often, we have a specific career we want our children to do, because we think that is what they should do. But, I think it’s important to let children do what they actually are interested in.

What do you do at your leisure time?
My favorite thing to do is read; read and write.

Source: Guardian

When life breaks  you that it seems impossible to ever be healed. However, you were made to overcome and conquer. Here are eight  ways you can find hope when your world gets dark.

  1. Find hope in letting go

Sometimes you need to realize the thing making you feel hopeless really is hopeless. Much of the circumstances of this world are out of your control. When this is the case, the most helpful thing to do is to realize that you can’t change the situation and teach yourself to accept it and let go.

2. Find hope in charity

This one is my best therapy. Serving others works in two ways to help you redevelop hope. First, it gets you outside of yourself and your hopeless feelings by focusing you entirely on someone else and their needs. Second, serving helps you see the world from the perspective of someone less fortunate than yourself, elevating your perspective on your issues.

3. Find hope in prayer

Connecting with a power greater than yourself is key to redeveloping faith. You can find so much peace from the assurance that there is someone greater than you.

4. Find hope in gratitude

Reflecting on all the amazing things in your life makes all the difference when attempting to rediscover hope. When you are desperately hopeless, this can be an enormous challenge. However, with effort, you can discover meaningful and valuable pieces of your life. Make a habit of taking inventory of all your blessings and use it as a way to redevelop hope.

5. Find hope in people

Sometimes you need to lean on other people and that’s fine. Let your friends and family know that you’re struggling and look to them for that light in your life. You will feel better.

6. Find hope in stories

Engaging with uplifting stories does everything to build your hope. Seeing examples of people who were able to make their way out of hard times is an inspiring and powerful tool to redeveloping hope.This is my niche and one of the reasons the women of rubies platform came into existence.

7. Find hope in fun

Sometimes you need to separate yourself from everything that’s bringing you down. Reinvent your life by doing things that make you happy.

8.  Find hope in change

Sometimes the smallest change can make the biggest difference in restoring hope. Make a new friend, take a different route to work or try a new diet. Small changes, even though they may not be related to the source of your hopelessness, make all the difference when rediscovering hope.

 

About Esther

Esther is the  Editor-in-chief of women of rubies, a social  activist, PR expert, Writer, Author and columnist with the Guardian Newspaper.

Twitter & IG : @estherijewere

Facebook: Esther Ijewere

Email: admin@womenofrubies.com

 

 

 

 

One of the most powerful communication tools in the world today is “Media”, from print, electronic to social media. We can’t downplay the role of the Media Industry in anyway. It has always been , and will continue to be the major tool of visibility in the world. Elsie Godwin is using her voice as a media girl to add value and contribute to Nation building.

Elsie Godwin is a Versatile Media Personality – Television Presenter/Producer, Social media Strategist, Influencer, Content Creator/Curator, Voice Over artist and Blogger behind the award-winning Literary, Lifestyle and Relationship blog ELSiEiSY.COM.

She is currently a Lead TV Show Anchor & Programs Producer at PlusTV Africa.  She has interviewed over 150 successful business men and women in Nigeria and Africa. She is passionate about telling stories of and having conversations with successful people in order to help mentor the younger generation.

She hails from Abia state, a graduate of Computer Science from the Lagos State University (LASU) and an alumnus of FATE Foundation. She was one of the inaugural members and the first welfare Officer of the Digital Media Practitioners of Nigeria (DMPN).

Elsie Godwin has won awards for her personality and her Blog. Her online activity is playful, easy going with principles. She is passionate about blogging, content creation and New Media. As an influencer who is a google partner, She currently works with various agencies to help share stories of great personalities and brands. She lends her voice in raising awareness on the fight against Rape, Domestic Violence, Mental Health Issues, struggles of Orphanages, unnecessary stigma and so much more. She share her inspiring journey with Esther Ijewere in this motivating and insightful Interview.

Growing Up

Yes, it sure did. I believe our life’s journey starts from the second we are birthed. Our decisions and trajectory will be influenced by our surroundings and orientation. My outlook on life and how I relate with people is largely influenced by my upbringing and the relationship I had with my mother. She was that woman who defiled societal standards. She was pretty open to me in a way that helped me draw wisdom from her wealth of experience. Also, I would say life has prepared me for today and is constantly shaping me for a tomorrow.

My blogging Inspiration

My personal journey inspired this. I needed to share my story, innocently. I just wanted to be open to an audience  that could learn from me and I from them in return. When this urge to share my ‘heartbreak’ story and my opinions started, I knew nothing about blogging. The blog space at the time drove the conversations on twitter (unlike now) and I wanted to add more to that conversation. I was constantly looking at things from a different angle. I realized that my perspectives weren’t really novel but entertained behind closed doors. I got a lot of – “You cannot talk about this”, either because you are a woman or it just doesn’t sit right on the moral compass of some individuals. I constantly battled the idea of me having to experience something but not having the right to talk about it. From my emotions, to interactions’ with people, my expectations, my dreams and even natural occurrences. There were just too many “can’t say” flying around and I wasn’t ready to conform. So I created my space to offload. This space has however, continued evolving as I do as a person and mirrors areas I am particularly interested in. More of Relationship, General Lifestyle and Opinions.

The Journey so far

Its been rewarding. Starting the blog was all the exposure and push I needed. Regardless of how many people do not fully understand the concept and many layers of blogging, I always tell people I was a blogger first, before radio, television, production, influencer marketing and whatnot. Blogging has helped me learn better than education in Nigeria has helped me. I am aware of the choices that are available to me and the right to making those choices or not. Above all, actively knowing that you own a space on the world wide web that can help shape the life of another is a rewarding responsibility that I do not take for granted.

Being a TV  anchor, producer and influencer, and managing it all

Its time consuming but amazing. It is easy for me because I have identified how all that I do connect with my passion. I love helping people foster beautiful relationships and making better decisions through conversations. Know your right, know the facts and choose your poison. And all I do, in one way or the other, help me achieve my passion, albeit in a much broader sense.

My Work at  Plus TV Africa

At surface level I am a television anchor. I am the Lead Anchor/Producer for Tea Time  -a lifestyle and entertainment news analysis program and the anchor and producer for One on One – a show that features no-holds-barred conversation with notable men and woman in Africa. But beyond the surface, I am actively involved in production and programming at Plus TV Africa. From programs ideation, to ensuring quality conversation and standard control. I am part of the programs review committee and we work closely with the Managing Director, Mr. Kayode Akintemi, to ensure that the vision of Plus TV Africa of being objective, fair and balanced is achieved. Producing is a lot of work and its never about you as a person. It is always about the content. You have to be selfless to be an amazing producer and that’s a journey on its own.

The  society and appreciation of  social media influencers 

I think the term ‘social media influencers’ has been watered down in Nigeria. Personally, I loved the idea of what influencers use to be. Influencers never use to set out to become influencers. They just lived their lives and with time you begin to see the impact of their lifestyle and their communication style. But I guess everything evolves and we have to as well. People now deliberately want to be influencers and it makes me wonder what the quality of their influence is. Are you only interested in numbers, thereby being a channel to disseminate information or is your thought process and lifestyle worth emulating and shaping the narrative? I cannot focus on what the society think of influencers without the so called influencers answering the above question for themselves.

Challenges of being a Social Entrepreneur

Attention span for good content keeps reducing daily and its worrisome. Take for example, Big brother Naija reality TV show – I love the show, it is great content and I think its an empowering platform as well. However, compare the attention society gives to platforms like BBNaija and other reality TV shows that can be argued to be more rewarding based on impact on SMEs, employment and the country’s GDP, It’s a far cry. Don’t get me wrong, big brother naija is not Nigeria’s problem and also not the cause of our low attention span but we can be better. And frankly speaking, this is not solely about the youths, its about everybody, old and young. The amount of sponsors a show like The Next Titan can boast of, even in the corporate world, cannot be compared to that of BBNaija and of course, the key decision makers in those organizations cannot be categorized as too youthful. I truly wish we would pay more attention to quality contents and have better conversations.

 Women who inspire you to be better and why

I could mention Ava Duverney, Oprah Winfrey, Maupe Ogun, Tope Oshin,…the list is endless for me. These women have got one thing in common, they are using their platforms and influence to change the narrative. They understand they influence they wield and they are dangerously using it. But then, the everyday woman inspires me, women I have encountered and worked with, Kelechi Okoro of the healthertainer brand, Dr. Iyewande Dada of Mentally Aware Nigeria, Fausiat Balogun of DEVCOMS, Tosin Ajibade of Olorisupergal, Esther Ijewere, Jane Egerton Idehen, Ized Uanikhehi, Sally Kenneth Dadzie, women in my circle and so much more

Every woman is worth more than Ruby, but what makes you a woman of rubies and more

I guess responding to your questions makes me one. LOL. But yea, I personalize everything to make sense of life. So for me, I am a woman of rubies because I am still here, I am a survivor, a warrior, a queen among queens, and I am consciously living a life of impact. I am a woman who supports people. Having interviewed about 200 successful individual in the space of 16months, I am helping tell the stories of success in Africa. I am being the voice of the people and I am helping change narratives and mold opinions for better decisions. I am Elsie Godwin and I am leaving my mark.

What advice would you give a young woman who wants to be a social media influencer

Find purpose and live it while documenting your journey on social media.

A lot of negativity has been linked to Twitter in recent times, as a social media influencer, how do you think we can correct this ?

What do we pay attention to? A lot of positivity is also going on as well on twitter. Our media platforms can help amplify positivity. We just need to stop paying attention to irrelevant sources.