empower women


Determined to help women realise their God-given potentials and live a purpose-driven life, Onyebuchi Madiebo-Solomon, the founder of Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things (OWDET) is touching lives through her non-governmental organisation. With degrees in Law, and International Business and Marketing from Lagos and London respectively, this trained marriage counsellor is also the CEO of BC Madiebo & Company Limited. She sat down with GuardianWoman to talk about what led her into starting a non-profit fighting female mortality in Nigeria, gender equality and how marriages can last in today’s world amongst other issues.


Give us an insight into your background; what led you to start OWDET?

I studied law at the University of Lagos before going on to read international business and marketing at the American Intercontinental University, London. I am the CEO of BC Madiebo & Company Limited, an insurance brokerage firm which I inherited from my father and I run that alongside Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things (OWDET). OWDET, which I started when I was looking for clarity in my own life is basically an organisation dedicated to teaching women to live a life of purpose and one of the things OWDET is focused on doing is building free maternity clinic at grassroots level because Nigeria has the second highest mortality rate in the world. Everyday, babies and mothers die for very trivial reasons like malaria, fake drugs and bad drinking water. We are starting our first clinic, we already have the land to build, which was donated to us and we would soon start the building for the first free maternity clinic.


Why free maternity clinics, what was the inspiration?

It was the Holy Spirit that spoke to me. Initially, when the Holy Spirit spoke about starting something for women, I was going to prisons, doing a prison ministry but the Spirit told me, “this is not what I called you to do. I need you to reach out to women because women do not understand that they have a purpose. I am not calling you to preach or be an evangelist, I am calling you to get women together and help them understand that each of them, whether Christian or Muslim has a purpose.” After this revelation, I started OWDET. We meet four times yearly and talk about living a life of purpose. We also have a book club to encourage women to read as well, we read one book a month and talk about it extensively just to encourage one another.



What type of women do you look out for, who is an OWDET woman?

Every single woman. It doesn’t matter your colour, state, race, tribe or financial standing. Picture a mansion that houses a family with several daughters, amongst them a senator, hairdresser, doctor, teacher and a truant but at the end of every three months, they all come together into this house. As soon as they walk through the doors, the senator sister and the truant are on the same level, calling each other by name and relating freely because they are sisters. I tell all the women, we may not know each other but the moment you walk into our doors, we are all sisters.


Tell us about your growing up years?

I am the last of six children and I think this made me a little stubborn. I grew up as a “single child” because all my siblings were abroad when I arrived and there’s a bit of age difference so I was at home alone with my parents and sort of got away with most things my older siblings would never have dreamt of. Still, my mom was very strict and all I remember is whenever she says “don’t do that,” I would still go ahead and do it and so I was always getting a beating for being mischievous but that didn’t deter me. When I felt I was old enough, I travelled to London on my own and started fending for myself. My parents told me they were going to cut me off if I didn’t come back, but I didn’t mind and insisted on standing on my own feet. I was working on any job that came my way to keep body and soul together. I wasn’t discriminating and was quite hardworking. One time, my friend and I started a car cleaning company; we didn’t have a car to carry our hoover, water and all so we put everything in a bag and drag it to where we need to be. My dad didn’t spoil us and then, the only sure way to get money out of him is to tell him you wanted to buy a book or for your education.

Looking at the country today, would you say Nigerian women have achieved gender equality?

I don’t think we are quite there yet because women are still discriminated against till date in every area in Nigeria. It is a case of what a man can do here, a woman can probably not, but women need to realise that you can do whatever it is you set your mind to do. When I started building, I didn’t know anything about it, all I know was that I wanted to make money from it. So my sister encouraged me because she is good at painting; she would buy paint and paint the inside and outside of our house on her own. Initially I couldn’t read drawings, I would send them to my sister, she would read and teach me and explain; by the time we were finished, I could tell you everything involved in the building. If I can learn it, and I am not the most intelligent woman in the world, if I can then everybody else is capable.

What would you say is the major challenge women of this generation face?

Everybody wants to be somebody without having to do anything. Women today want to drive a Range Rover, go to Dubai, use expensive gadgets and things but they are not ready to put in the work. We want to live a life we can’t afford. You need to put in the work, you need to get rid of certain mindsets, you too can make money and live large, you can do anything you set your mind on doing.

If you were to mentor a woman, what would you tell her?

The first thing I would teach that woman is that she has the ability to be any person or thing she aspires to. Also, you are not better than the next person. My mom used to say you’re not better than the staff that works for you, you are just privileged. Your maid might be smarter than you but you are more privileged. The next step is to learn to believe and not look down on yourself. People look at themselves and say they are poor because their parents are poor. Tell yourself a different story, believe in yourself and start doing the work necessary to break that cycle.

Would you say women have conquered the fear of getting into male-dominated fields?

I personally believe that anything a man can do, a woman can do it better, it is not a cliché. That’s the way I see it. We have not overcome it but I think we are getting there. Women are beginning to understand that they need to make money and are doing what it takes to make it. We are still far from our goal but I think we are getting there. I think to myself, I can do what men normally do and even better than they are doing, this is how I thrive. The average Nigerian woman is a strong woman, God-fearing and takes prides in herself. People look at pride as a bad thing but you have to be proud of yourself for people to take you seriously, believe in you and respect you. African women are so strong; we go through a lot but still get up and keep going.

You have a funny story with regards to how you met your partner…?

(Laughing) Yes, I met my husband through a police officer that I met at the police station when I went to report a case there. My maid stole from me and I went there to report and was attended to by a female officer who is married to my now husband’s uncle. She introduced us and the rest as they say is history. Turns out that incidence was a blessing in disguise. Though it wasn’t love at first sight, spending time with him, doing things together, he grew on me. It also helped that he was very nice and kind and this attracted me to him eventually.

As a marriage counsellor, how can couples safeguard their marriage?

Marriage is not a bad thing. I am a very troublesome person and my husband is the complete opposite of me and I think that’s why we get on well because I’m hot-tempered and he’s not. However, marriage is not easy, it’s a union of two very different people born and raised differently and when you bring them together, there are bound to be problems. However, you need to learn to meet yourselves halfway but you must marry the right person to achieve this. A lot of people these days just get married for flimsy reasons and when they enter, they see things they can’t live it and start looking for escape routes. Before I got married, I dated some men I didn’t really like and people were saying, “marry him, later things would change,” and that’s where the problem starts from. You cannot change anything, what you see before marriage will amplify times 10 after marriage. Ask yourself if you can live with it, it’s very important. Whenever my blood is hot and I am boiling, my husband usually calms me down. There was a man I dated with a temper like mine and people told me to marry him because he is rich, but can you imagine what a union like that would have looked like? Two of us angry with nobody to calm the other down, it wouldn’t have worked. These are some of the things you have to keep in mind; it’s not rocket science.

What are the challenges you have faced and how are you overcoming?

So far, I am funding everything myself because in Nigeria, people find it difficult to give money as they believe you’re going to squander it and I don’t blame them because some crooks have given everyone a bad name. When I started, I didn’t even look for funds, whenever I have money, I simply put it in and do what I can. At the last programme we held, people told me they want to donate because they’ve come a couple of times and noticed I wasn’t asking for anything from them. This was how we got land given to us free of charge. I think until people see you’ll spend their money wisely; they won’t donate to your cause. I tell the people that work with us, if you are not going to live your life purposely, you cannot work with us. If you concentrate on the purpose for which you were created, and you’re focusing on it, you won’t spend your time doing things that you shouldn’t be doing. You need to focus on your purpose. Your purpose alone is huge, if you start honing it on time it’s a lifetime journey, you won’t have time for anything else. That is the way God created us.

Would you say women have been treated fairly in terms of political appointments?

Truth be told, I feel the president has not been fair despite all the promises and assurances given before 2015 and in this term. I don’t think it’s out of spite but what he knows and understands but he can do better.

Would you say women are doing enough to support other women?

No and I think it’s because some women can be unnecessarily selfish. I think they see men exhibiting this behaviour and they want to do the same thing. Almost like a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. I keep telling women around me to do the right thing and they are not listening because they are afraid of “losing our or not fitting in.”

What last words do you want to leave for women?

I just want to tell them to believe in themselves. If you want to dream, dream big and live a life of purpose. Whatever you can dream, you can achieve it.

Source: Guardian

Kike Oniwinde is the Founder and CEO of BYP Network, a platform for black young professionals to connect with each other and corporations. She has a BSc (Hons) Economics degree from the University of Nottingham and a MSc Management from the University of Florida. Kike is also a Great Britain javelin thrower who received a full track and field scholarship to study in Florida. Her past work experience includes working in sales in Fintech and front office at major investment banks including Goldman Sachs and Citi.

The idea of BYP Network came after Kike studied abroad and met talented black students. Once back in London, the lack of diversity in the workplace coupled with low opportunities to meet others in the city; prompted the idea. BYP Network has since hosted thousands of black professionals in the past year and a half in London, England with plans of international expansion. The platform has thousands of downloads and has led to Kike winning multiple awards. She has been named as a Sky Woman in Technology Scholar gaining a $33,000 grant and full backing From Sky Corp. She also won the Founders Forum ‘F-Factor’ Competition beating 200 applicants along with winning the New Entrepreneurs Foundation pitch contest. She gained over $50k in funding and was featured in the Sunday Times (A national UK paper).

Kike is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, University of Nottingham Hall of Famer and was once named as one of the top five black students in the UK. She credits her growth mindset, big vision and tenacity for her current successes.

According to her ; “The plan is for BYP Network to be the go to platform for black professionals who want to connect locally and globally to create new businesses, friendships and careers. Representation is important and I believe this platform will empower the black community. I’ve benefitted significantly, as I connected with my American Co-founder, Adrian Claudius-Cole through BYP Network”.

The young entrepreneur whose story went viral globally shares her inspiring journey with me in this exclusive interview.

Childhood Influence

My childhood prepared me for what I do now in many different ways. I’ve only ever known hard work whether through academics or sports. What I’ve mainly learnt is the importance of perseverance as good and bad times are very cyclical. I’ve failed so much but I keep going because I’ve learnt it always pays off.


Meet Kike!

I am 25 years old, I’m from East London, I was born to British-Nigerian parents, I am a Libra and I have a huge desire to change the black narrative. I want to help black people around the world through technology. I am super enthusiastic – borderline naive – but it fuels me to just keep going and to ask the right questions and to stay curious.

Inspiration behind your brand BYP Network

The inspiration is simply from meeting a lot of talented black professionals along my journey, especially whilst I was a student at The University of Florida. There, I had a strong desire to meet as many black professionals as possible and to connect, so we could raise our aspirations and be around future leaders. The hope is to help the black community form the right jobs and new businesses, and just to change the black narrative by being role models to the younger generation and ensuring we don’t get left behind.

Being a  world economic shaper and  recipient of several grants

I’m very humbled that I’ve received these grants and that I’m seen as good enough to be seen as a world economic shaper. Especially when I go to meetings and I’m surrounded by so many incredible young people who all have a desire to make a difference in the world. It makes it feel like I’m on the right path and the universe is aligned with my desires. It’s more a signal that I’m doing the right thing rather than an accolade to myself. I’m just excited to keep going forward and see what I achieve.  


Starting a business is very difficult, it poses a lot of different challenges. There are a lot more lows than highs but when the highs happen, they’re amazing. It’s not for the faint-hearted and my years of being an athlete have helped me as sports and business are very similar. Both take dedication and resilience, especially bouncing back from multiple failures. The challenges are yet to come but I’m excited by them, because once I overcome them, something amazing will come from this.   

Leaving the banking sector for Tech

The tech industry is the future. Tech is so exciting and I can use my creativity and my economist skillset to drive change within the industry. Tech connects people on a grand scale, and I’m so happy to be in this area. I hope it inspires others to join the industry, even if they don’t have a tech background.

Greatest Reward

I’m pleased with everything that happens along the journey. The reward is understanding I’m on the right path – whether that’s winning a pitch competition, or people downloading the app, or getting media attention. That’s the greatest award. My greatest award was finding a Co-Founder through the BYP Network platform – that showed me that my idea  behind setting up the platform was right, you really can find other talented black professionals and it works! 

BYP  in 5 years

Being as big as LinkedIn! We’re known as the ‘Black LinkedIn’ and I believe it will be a billion dollar company. It’s a new vertical, we’re targeting the black professional, and there are millions of us who aren’t catered to. We want to cater to them, we want to help them develop, and we want to show them that we’re a body who cares about their development , and through the use of mentorships and corporations, it could prove a world solution. It’s not exclusivity, but inclusion by combining so many elements. It’s a billion dollar company, but also one which makes a positive impact. I’m excited for the hard work and looking back and thinking “wow, here we are at 5 years old”.

Not giving up

I never feel like giving up but whenever things get hard, I have this funny saying where I say “I quit”. I say it in business and sport almost every day.  But, the truth is, I’ll never quit and I always keep going.

My Inspiration

I was inspired by some of the stories I heard from people in the tech industry.  Lots of social platform stories inspired me.  I felt like I had great ideas for the black community that nobody had tapped into. I thought, “why can’t I be as successful?” . In the black community, we don’t see many role models who inspire us to aspire higher so I looked to tech company founders who motivated me to want to do well. 

Reception since we started

The reception has been amazing from the get-go. When we launched our first ever event it sold out with barely any social media. Since then we’ve grown to a global community with a lot of interest from corporates for diversity and inclusion. The reception has shown me that BYP Network is needed and has already helped make thousands of connections. I look forward to our growth and the continue support from the community. 


I am a woman of Rubies

I have the ability to build something from scratch, to be bold, strong and confident, and to walk forward in my pursuit and purpose. I understand that I can break boundaries and there’s no reason why BYP can’t be great, or why I can’t be great. I want to change the black narrative. I feel compelled to go forward with this mindset and this business. 

Due recognition for women in Tech

I think that one thing I’ve learnt is, we know there’s not enough women in tech (or many male-dominated industries), and there aren’t many black people. We, as women, have to go in. We have to be strong and face the knockbacks, and people saying horrible things. You have to build yourself up and keep going. One thing I’ve learnt from my experience of working in tech is people will only give you recognition if they want to. As long as you’re satisfied with yourself and you’re achieving, it doesn’t matter. Keep breaking down barriers even when people are closing doors on you.

 Advice to young women who want to go into tech

Just do it! Don’t be afraid. Use your creativity,  and hire someone to do development if that’s not your field. We need more women in technology, and technology is the future!  



In its bid to change the perception of African women and expose them to technologies that can help promote their careers, a women-oriented organisation, She Leads Africa, says it is organising a one-day event tagged, “SLAY Festival.”

According to a statement by the co-founders of the organisation, Afua Osei and Yasmin Belo-Osagie, the festival — open to female entrepreneurs — will help spur deeper thinking and ambition while creating an interactive and unforgettable experience among women in Africa.

In order to create awareness about solar energy and eco-friendly waste disposal, the co-founders also said the event, which would take place in Lagos, would partner with Solar Shop and Recycle Points.


The statement said, “The festival is a one-day celebration of innovation, culture, technology, music, arts, food and all things entrepreneurial.

“SLAY Festival is a fun way to celebrate everything that makes the African woman great by equipping attendees with tools, resources and connections that will enhance their careers and achieve their goals.

With a membership of over 200,000 female entrepreneurs in over 30 countries, Osei and Bello-Osagie said the community had been able to supply business and career advice through in-person workshops and digital training on their worldwide city tours, called SheHive

Growing up
My childhood did in a way. Throughout my primary and secondary education, I was not necessarily the best student in my class, in fact I was always in the bottom pile in class. I thought I was dull and would never amount to anything good in life, since the notion we always had was that your life is doomed if you don’t do well in school. Things changed when I moved to the UK to further my education. As usual I struggled in the first two years of my A-levels, but I guessed I was still trying to adapt to the system. As soon as I entered the university, everything changed, I became among the top five in my class, I excelled so well and regained my confidence back. I felt I was now where I ought to be in life. Looking back, I realised what happened to me. The standard of education I received was nothing to write home about. My teachers should have done more to identify the subjects I was excelling in and help me build up in that line, but then you can’t blame them because they had more than a 100 pupils to cater to and naturally won’t have time and ability to cater to each person. This is one of the reasons my focus is on education, I believe the standard of education in Nigeria can be better.

Meet Me
I am the Founder and Executive Director of a vibrant NGO, Egunec Education Support Foundation (EESF), a foundation dedicated to creating a better Nigeria through Education and Community Development. I am a self-motivated writer and entrepreneur who enjoys the challenges of creativity. Increasing an individual’s capacity and potential has always been of interest for me, sparking my research to deepen my understanding and knowledge in this area. In doing so I have participated in capability trainings in the United Kingdom, focusing on Customer Service, increasing Job Interview skills, and writing the excellent Resume.

I am currently the CEO of 618Consulting; providing training for fresh graduates and equipping job seekers with the right skills for interviews and structuring CVs for their desired jobs. I authored the book Get your dream job without struggles which is aimed at providing solutions to the challenges job seekers face during interviews.

I am also an event coordinator. I am also the country representative for MasterPeace Nigeria chapter, an award-winning global grassroots non-profit and non-governmental peace movement, currently existing in more than 40 countries across the world. I studied economics from the University of East London and also hold an MSc. in International Money Finance and Investment from Brunel University, both in the United Kingdom..

Inspiration behind Egunec Education Support Foundation?
The inspiration behind EESF is the dream I have that one day, the quality of our educational system can stand side by side that of our counterparts in other countries; affecting lives in very large magnitude.

Being a writer, entrepreneur and a trained economist
I believe that God installed in us so many skills and abilities, focusing on just one aspect of your skills will just be a waste of time. Just like a mobile phone can be used to make calls, browse, chat and do many other things, we also can do same. This philosophy has helped me a lot because so many opportunities present themselves in life. If you don’t take advantage of the different skills that you have, you will lose out much. But to crown it all, it’s just the grace of God at work in my life.

Our projects are structured to deal with critical issues such as poverty, gender imbalance, child labour, trauma, youth neglect and underdevelopment. We are firm that people can be empowered through education and that could mean freedom!

The young people involved in the project usually learn different entrepreneurial skills such as tailoring, bakery, fish farming, soap making, bead making, carpentry, event management, etcetera and eventually start up their own businesses, earning incomes for themselves as well as supporting their families. This goes a long way to reduce unemployment and crime in the society.

Achievement so far…
We have empowered over 40 youths in Nyanya Zaimi, Nyanya village Hausa Gwandara, Gbagalape, Kugbo (1 & 2, Pyape (1&2), and Guduwa. They acquired skills in baking, fish farming, soap making, bead making, weaving, driving and in ICT, in which we partnered with New Horizon, an ICT firm in Nyanya-Maraba axis. The participants also received mentoring for three months, to ensure they perfect the skills and since then they have been able to train others. No doubt, this project significantly reduced the rate of unemployment in the aforementioned vicinities and can contribute to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

My Reward…
Seeing that lives have been improved and changed through EESF. Another is knowing that I am living my dream and in the area of my calling.

My keen interest in economic empowerment and poverty alleviation
Personally I believe quality education should be the bedrock. Women should be taught the importance of education so that they can encourage their kids to go to school. Many of the problems we face as a country could have been avoided if only the government concentrated on ensuring the educational sector is well funded and administered. I believe if this foundational level is good, it will go a long way in empowering children and the girl child especially.

Lack of funds is the major challenge. Unfortunately, Nigerians have not really embraced charity as such, everyone seems to want from you but finds it hard to give. Also, there is wide misconception in these climes that once you are into charity, then you have more than enough. But that is not always the case with people who do charity work.

Managing the home front and work
God blessed me with a supportive husband who makes my job easy. The help I get from him makes joggling the two possible.

Advice for young women in the development and advocacy sector?
Never ever give up no matter what life might throw at you. What is needful is finding out the social entrepreneurship angle of what you do. This will help the sustainability of your organisation.

I am a Woman of Rubies
Women of Rubies are those who impact lives in one way or the other, I believe the work that I do has impacted various lives that qualify me to be a woman of Rubies.

Final words
You can become what you want in life, you don’t need anybody’s approval to launch out there. God has installed so much in you, don’t waste it. The world is waiting for you.

Fatima Askira is the founder of Borno Women Development Initiative; a Maiduguri-based NGO working with women victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in Internally Displaced Persons camps and host communities in Borno state. In a chat with with Women of Rubies , the 26 year old graduate of Botany speaks about her efforts of alleviating the sufferings of the women, most of whom have lost their husbands

Growing up with a Passion
Actually no. I grew up with an ambition to be a medical doctor, unfortunately, growing up, I find things changing and I start to develop passion through looking at how people live, from their day to day activities especially from the poor perspectives. I really do not have an idea of how or what I want to do with that, but I feel I should do something.

Meet Fatima
Fatima Askira was born and brought up in Maiduguri, I attended my primary education in Maiduguri, Secondary school at F.G.G.C Potiskum, Yobe state and University of Maiduguri, where i studied Biological science, Botany. She single living with her family in Maiduguri. From this little background, you will understand that my childhood didn’t in anyway prepare for the work I am currently doing now. But growing up, life changes its faces and then, one has to make a choice of being who is.

Inspiration Behind Borno Women Development Initiative
Borno Women Development Initiative was inspired by my passion to protect/support women and make them independent. As a result of insurgency, people from surrounding towns and villages of Maiduguri found themselves fleeing from their homes, into the state capital (Maiduguri). My observation at the time was, the majority of the people coming in were women and children, and they come in half covered, because they had to run for their lives. This situation made posed for a second to think of a way I can be of help to these vulnerable women. Then, IDPs mostly lived in an under-resourced camp, before the camps become official. I started to collect clothes from family and friends to donate to some of the displaced women and their children. With the help of a social media campaign, my charity drive took a turn from a small-scale local collection into a national volunteer network which brought about many people reaching out to me to donate clothes, toiletries and food to the internally displaced persons from across Nigeria. As a result of the network I was building, I felt the need to formalize the process, so that people will feel safe, and through the process access wider network of support. Then I started an organization “Borno Women Development Initiative’ (BOWDI).

Rehabilitating the women
Rehabilitation and Reintegration is quite a difficult program to run, especially looking at it critically from challenges of stigmatization and fear in our communities today, but if you hold to your mission, gradually you get to a point where you convince people to accept reality. In some cases, it has been successful as some of the women were reintegrated into camps, and those who are successfully returned back to their communities. But in other cases, some of these women are still being kept safe in isolation, until further arrangements are made for reintegration.

Activities of BOWDI
BOWDI is currently running many projects like; 1. mitigating and preventing Sexual and Gender Based Violence(SGBV) within camps and communities around MMC, Jere, Konduga and Mafa Local Government Areas of Borno State. The consequences of every war has its negative effects on the society, as a result, young girls, boys and women are vulnerable to all acts of violence . Child labour, rape, exploitation, domestic violence and many more are few to mention among many other effects. Therefore, BOWDI felt the need to protect the vulnerable groups through sensitization and educating these groups by conducting interactive sessions focusing on effects and ways to protect themselves from falling victims of abuses, we also provide them with the referral pathways to report all cases and get medical and all forms of support for victims. After every Session, we provide them with basic materials for their immediate needs. 2. BOWDI is running 24 non-formal learning centers in Konduga Local Government Area, under education intervention, providing access to education for children, Adolescent girls and youth. From this particular project, I believe that it is not the people who do not want to go to school, but it is lack of access, or necessary teaching and learning facilities. 3. BOWDI is also economically empowering 833 women with business startups as Small Loan Associations across Mafa LGA.

Like every organization, BOWDI apply for funds through call for proposals and expression of interest by donor agencies, Previously, when the capacity of the organization was very low, we solicit for donations from individuals, philanthropists, etc. through fund raising activities and distribution of fliers in various communities, within and outside Maiduguri, and with my personal income to sustain the organization.

Award and Recognition
Over the years, the smile on the faces of those I helped had been my greatest reward. Until recently when I was awarded a peace award by the 2face foundation together with couple of other peace workers across Nigeria.

Being a Young Woman from the Northeast
Some of the challenges I have faced through this work was how to start and moving forward, especially being a young woman from the Northeast, it was very difficult for me trying to get people support the process, as most people initially thought it will not work out. I had to prove that determination leads to success by trying and trying harder until I was successful. Another Challenge is in trying to finance some of the organization’s activities at the beginning.

If I have an Audience with the President
If I have an opportunity to ask the President one thing on behalf of these women, I will request on their behalf for a social investment platform created specifically for their benefits, a project that is sustainable which would exist from gov’t to gov’t. Some of these women are young girls that happened to be victims of early marriage, some of them have a bright future, some can be enrolled back to schools, some are business oriented, they can be supported with startups, some have already existing skills, they can be supported with basic equipment for support. Such platform I am requesting on their behalf will serve both as empowerment and a method to prevent violent extremism in our communities, especially now that we have thousands of unaccompanied children, roaming on our streets because their female parents cannot afford to cater for all their needs.

Support from Nigerians
To be honest, Nigerians have been supportive to our people, but to be precise about the women, there haven’t been specificity in looking at their situation. I can say this may have happened because of the overwhelming situation of insurgency in the region, which left everyone in need of support. But, for these women, i personally feel there is need for a special intervention and support from everyone, especially our women representatives both in government and private entities. I was hoping to see a movement from women all over the country standing out to bring smiles and hope to the faces of these broken women. I am still yearning to see such and optimistic that women all over the world would realize the need to assist.

I am a Woman of Rubies Inside Out
I grew up looking at successful women and hoping to be like them somedays, but in a way I define my success as the ability to touch the lives of the less privileged in a way no matter how little, put a smile on a woman’s face. Even though, I am not only inclined to women, BUT I give them a priority because I see them as a backbone of development that are always neglected or sidelined, and therefore, the society suffered from the consequences of leaving them idle. My work to inspire women and build them into independent/resourceful women, and also a role model to most young women makes me a ‘woman of rubies’.

Advice to Women
I would love to close by telling all women around the world that, we all are responsible for our growth, We are responsible in making our societies prosperous and violent free by empowering and supporting each other through our little different ways. Also, we have to form a bond of sharing our innovations and ideas which i believe will help us transform each other and build more on our individual work in our various fields and communities. And lastly, for our elderly women to consider young girl’s contributions and carry them along as we may have great ideas to share.

Oluwatoyin Onigbanjo is a journalist, teacher, food artist, and baby food blogger, the founder of August secrets, a baby/kid friendly Nigerian food blog, aimed at making kids’ meals fun, simple, and healthy. Toyin Onigbanjo was also the 2nd runner up at Samsung Food art Competition in May. Read her inspiring interview with Women of Rubies.

I think my childhood prepared me for this I am doing today because I have always loved to draw cartoons and tell stories. Everyone in Federal Government Staff School Sokoto knew my sister and I for drawing cartoons, writing stories and also leading at cooking sessions. I have always loved the art of cooking.

Meet me
My name is Oluwatoyin Onigbanjo, a wife, a mother, a journalist, a recipe developer and a children food blogger. I have a B.A in English and Literature, and Masters in Public and International Affairs, but my passion and purpose in life is anything that has to do with the welfare of children and the family. As a single lady, I used to run a club, Treasures Kiddies Club just for children in my neighbourhood.

Inspiration behind August Secrets
As a new mother, I bought 3 full bags of jar purees for my son, but he refused to eat them until I made local foods like Ground Rice with carrots. I realise there are so many mothers going through the same problems of feeding their children the appropriate complementary foods. This is my inspiration for August Secrets.

Like I said earlier, I have always loved to draw and do art with food. I just had to incorporate art into my child’s food to make it more attractive for him, and it has been working. I also do food-art with other adult-related foods

Projects and activities
I am working on having my mini food manufacturing company/outlet in future. My greatest short term dream for now is to be able to advocate and raise funds to take food to children in the IDP camps and other war-prone zones.

On giving up
Yes, because it is not easy at all. I have cried many times to sleep. The only thing that keeps me is the joy I derive from moms who use my recipes and their child eats better.

Greatest reward
The greatest reward I have received is the prayers of mothers who consult me for recipes and foods. I get heartfelt prayers on my mail everyday! After the doctor/nutritionist have prescribed foods for their babies, the next issue is how to cook the foods, and that is where I come in.

Samsung Food art Competition experience
It was a great experience because I dined with great people in the food and art industry. I thank God for those who encouraged me to put in my entry for the competition.

The greatest challenge has been getting people to assist you with information and the next step to take, I had to source for everything myself. Nobody sees the background work that goes into a successful venture. Another challenge also is combining my day’s job with my passion to help mothers. It is really a tough one.

To aspiring bloggers
Find what you love. Work hard. Follow the process, don’t look for shortcuts or try to out rightly copy someone who has been toiling long before you. Seek counsel. Always be open to learning. Let your success be a journey to make impact, and not a journey to perfection. Be yourself. Put God first.

Words of advice to women
I ask for help. Everyone around me now, know this is what I want with my life, and they joyfully support me in my various responsibilities. I enjoy a great support from my husband, in laws and extended family. I also delegate my duties, and plan ahead for my day. Women need a lot of support.

I Am a Woman Of Rubies
A woman of rubies is someone who knows that God has deposited something great inside her, and it can be unleashed with prayers, hardwork and continuous learning. I think I am a woman of rubies because this describes me.

Final word
There is a reason God made you a woman, enjoy your womanhood. Find your purpose in life and seek to fulfil it. Let love be your guide. Do all these quickly when you can, for life is short. Thank you very much.

Anthonia Ojenagbon, Survivor & Ceo Silton African Kitchen

Anthonia Ojenagbon is rising from the ashes of adversity and inspiring others to do so through her story. Her dream is to help victims of sexual abuse find a voice by encouraging them to speak up and break the silence. She has turned her lemon to lemonade by speaking publicly about her experience and how she was able to go through the healing process after her uncle abused her as a young girl. She shares the story of her rise from the ashes to glory and how her business took her to Aso rock to meet the Former President of Nigeria in this interview.

Early Beginning
My mum was a full-time housewife while we were growing up and my father was in the military. Things were tight and we could hardly make ends meet. Having three square meals a day was such a big deal. Then I grew up and got married with a firm decision to contribute to the home by assisting my husband as best as I could. I really wanted to be useful to myself and my generation. I wanted to be able to feed people because l understood while growing up what it meant to be hungry.

Meet Me
My name is Anthonia Ojenagbon, the first of nine children. I am a product of Wavecrest College of Hospitality and the Pan Atlantic University. I am the lead chef at Silton African Kitchen.

Somehow a friend took me to a church and the pastor counselled on how to make my uncle stop what he was doing to me. The night after the pastor spoke to me, my uncle came again but this time l shouted with everything inside of me, pretending I was having a nightmare. I kept shouting until everyone in the house woke up, trying to find out what was wrong. Although I did not tell them what the problem was, that was the last time he tried to touch me. But by then a lot of damage and emotional harm had already been done. I became a shadow of myself because l felt l had offended God and that was why He allowed this evil to befall me. l lost every sense of self worth and my mind was in turmoil. I became very bitter towards men and hated them until l met my husband who is a complete gentleman. Since we got married, he has never ever made reference to my past and has never judged me.

Healing Process
The trauma and psychological effects of sexual abuse and rape are grievous was filled with hatred and bitterness. I was ashamed and felt guilty because l could not understand why this happened to me despite of the fact that l was brought up by Christian parents. I battled severe depression for a long time and eventually checked myself into a depression facility to seek professional help.
The healing process was not easy. l had difficulty making lifesaving decisions. L had sleep problems. l got to a point where l knew l needed help but did not know where and how to get that help.

Then one day l watched Funmi lyanda on New Dawn on NTA where a survivor of rape was interviewed. There and then l knew it was called child sexual abuse and the first step to healing was to talk to a trusted person. The guilt of sexual abuse and rape is such a heavy burden that must be broken, so I looked for an aunty to talk to. Luckily, l found two ladies who were not professional counsellors but were willing to hear my story and not judge me because we live in a very judgemental society where sexual abuse and rape is considered a taboo and victims are blamed or treated with disdain. I learnt to forgive myself because l always thought it was my fault. Thank God for social media, l decided to tell my story and the comments and responses have been phenomenal. l am now a trained emotional intelligence coach and a counsellor of traumatic and troubled children.

As l searched my mind, l just heard peppered snails; So during lunch break l started telling my colleagues that apart from making hats, l also sell peppered snails. That was how the business started. Now we make peppered snails for bigs events and offer office and home delivery services. We now also fry yam and plantain in addition to peppered snails and guinea fowls for events. The snail business won me the federal government of Nigeria YouWin grant for women and I was also one of the 1000 entrepreneurs selected from all over Africa by the Tony Elumelu Foundation for a grant and mentorship. We also run the breakfast canteen of the Central Bank of Nigeria Lagos Office. We actually provide full-fledged indoor and outdoor catering services now and run or manage corporate canteens.

Giving Up
When l first started the snail business, l was selling because my colleagues in class and members of staff were buying. l did not however think about what would happen after the course at the Pan Atlantic University. But after the course, getting customers became very difficult. l tried all the traditional methods of marketing l knew, but at the time nothing seemed to work. With time I started using social media. Before then, it was really frustrating and I even became severely discouraged and almost gave up.

My biggest reward so far was when l was invited to the Aso Rock State House to exhibit my snails. lt was such a dream come true for me. Again, I am also able to support my family in whatever little way I can and also a few other people who need help. But nothing compares to the excitement of hearing that I am an inspiration.

Challenges of Running my Business
In my catering business one the major challenges we faced initially was brand acceptance. It was difficult convincing our target audience to believe in our brand, but now the story is a lot different. Then in my social work it is difficult to convince people that I am speaking out because l want to be a beacon of hope to other survivors who have never spoken about their abuse and rape before.

Sexual abuse and rape is a cankerworm. Society still does not understand that survivors suffer a lot of emotional pain, loss of every sense of self worth, are severely depressed as a result of the abuse and rape. Society still is not sensitised enough to know that a lot of survivors are suicidal and are becoming more violent towards the opposite sex. Society still does not know all hands should be on deck to fight sexual abuse and rape and minimize it to the barest minimum. Parents should begin to talk to their children from an early age, victim should no more be blamed or shamed, survivors should not be judged because already they have suffered and are still suffering psychologically. We need more counsellors; in government hospitals they should be trained to attend to survivors when they come in. Survivors should not be stigmatized. Sometimes people disallow their children from marrying someone who has been sexually abused and raped before. All that has to stop.

Being a Woman of Rubies
OK, l think am a woman of ruby because l have excelled in both business and life generally inspite of what life has thrown to me. l have not allowed the abuse l suffered to keep me down. I have turned my lemon to lemonade by speaking publicly about my abuse so as to bring healing and hope to others who have also gone through similar experiences. I have not allowed my background and experience in life to keep my back on the ground.

Raufu Aishat, Female Shoemaker
Raufu Ayowunmi Aishat is a young, focused female shoemaker. After graduating from the university and was jobless, she went to acquire skills in shoe making. Ever since, she hasn’t looked back, and she is proud of her profession and waxing strong. Aishat is the CEO and Creative Director of Aeesha Shoes, her shoe-making company.In this interview with Women Of Rubies, Aishat talks about some of the challenges she has faced, as a female shoemaker.

As a kid, I always wanted to become a professional banker, but while growing up, I wasn’t pleased with the profession anymore. Being a shoemaker was developed out of joblessness. While on long holiday from school, I had always wanted to learn a skill and make-up artistry was what I loved and wanted to do, but my cousin advised that I did something else. So, I went through the skill acquisition list and ticked shoe making, considering the fact that I love shoes. And that was how I went from basic to advance, and from advance to being a shoemaker.

Meet Me
I am from a family of six. I’m from Irepolodun Local Government Area in Kwara State, but born and bred in Lagos. I am 24 years old. I studied Public Administration in the university. I started my business, Aeesha Shoes, five and half years ago.

Hmmm, joblessness inspired me to be a shoemaker. I never would have thought I would ever become a shoemaker, if I were not jobless. More so, my love for shoes kept me in the business. At first, I was doing it for the money, but I got to realise my love for shoes was more than the money I was making from the business.

Clients, individuals, friends, and family’s words of encouragement motivate me to do more. My love for leather also does. Whenever I see a piece of leather in the market, the next thing that comes to my mind is what I can produce with it.

Other projects and activities
Very soon, I intend training school kids on how to make shoes. It’s going to be conducted during the summer class and it’s going to be few days training on the basics of shoe making. Also, I’m looking at bringing in machines from Italy and China to further assist the brand in the production of shoes.

The industry is daily growing wider, and we are still making shoes with our hands. I think we should have gone further than that. If we had machines, we would be able to perfect what we do and be able to produce more, in terms of quality, quantity, and perfection.

On giving up
I had given up several times, but salary jobs usually pushed me back. In between running the business, I did some salary jobs. But anytime my boss messed me up at work, I would resign and pick up my business again. It happened like thrice before I finally settled down to my business.

One of the major challenges is getting an investor. It amazes me that in this generation of ours, some people will tell you that they don’t or cannot invest in a shoemaker because she is a woman or they cannot invest in you because you refuse to sleep with them. Another major challenge is clients. There are some understanding clients and there are some that choose not to understand.

Greatest reward
Encouragement and positive clients’ feed backs. Those are my greatest reward in the business. I love seeing my clients smile and happy after collecting their products.

Nigerians reactions to women in male-dominated fields. Nigerians are now accepting and respecting women in male dominated fields. You needed to see the way people hold me in high esteem, when I showcase what I produce or when I introduce myself as a female shoemaker, at a gathering. That is the part of the profession that I love the most (laughs)

I Am A Woman Of Rubies
I am young, creative, and I inspire people.

Final words of advice
Be consistent in everything you do and be your best because that is what will take you places.

Mary Okagbare, popularly known as Mama Esther, is a food seller at Nepa Bush Akangba, Adelabu, Surulere, Lagos. She became the sole breadwinner of her family after her husband got sick and moved down to the village. While struggling hard to provide for her three children and husband, that didn’t stop her from taking in her sibling’s child into her home and take care of him. Even when her shop got demolished by the government, she didn’t give up; she forged on. Today, Mama Esther has succeeded in training two of her children to the university level and they are now graduates; one of her children studied Accountancy, while the other studied Physics. Even though they are yet to be employed, Mama Esther still keeps an optimistic spirit that things will soon be better for her children, and she is still working hard to take care of them.
In this interview with Women of Rubies, Mama Esther talk about how life has been for her as a sole breadwinner, and her prayers for her children.

The Beginning
I started selling rice twenty years ago , two years after I had my last child. I became the breadwinner of my family a year after my marriage in1987 after I had my first child, with the way things were very hard and difficult I realized my husband cannot do it alone, I mean he cannot give our children a better future with the way he changes job almost every month with no good income coming in because he was a driver, So I started hawking plantain which I stopped after I had my second child. Then, I looked for a small space where I started selling Garri, Groundnut, Sugar and Ice-water in nylon. I fully became the sole breadwinner of the family after my husband got sick and had to move down to the village.

It was never easy, there were times I felt so down and tired but then, the good dreams and better future I wanted for my children kept me going. I will say my children motivate me, all I ever wanted was for them to be better than me and have bright future, and I won’t rest until I help them achieve their dreams. May God help me.

Demolished Shop
It was like the world was crushing down on me, it was as if I was sinking, my heart almost stopped beating, I cried all night to the extent I lost my voice I couldn’t speak for days, my children were so worried and scared thinking they will lost me.
It was also the year my second child got admission into Lagos State University, so because of that I put myself together and went to the company where I was selling right in front of their building, before the demolition took place. I pleaded with them and God used two security men, they gave me a space at the back inside the company it was like a bush I don’t really know how to describe the place but I cleared the bush and put a canopy and started managing the place till now.

On giving up
Oh yes, I felt like giving up on several occasions. I knew my children depend on me and I know God is counting on me to take care of them, so I forge on. Like I said earlier, the place I was given to manage was so difficult to describe and hard for customers to notice. I lost most of my old customers and so it was so hard for me to sell even a Derica cup of rice a day because the place was so inside and no new customers were coming in. It was really hard and I really felt like giving up because I seriously needed money for my son’s school fee but the Grace and Mercy of God saw me through.

Being a mother of graduates
I give God all the glory; I am so happy and thankful to Him. My main prayer for them right now, is for them to get good jobs. I am sad because they are still unemployed but I won’t stop working hard to provide for their needs until they get jobs. I won’t stop crying and praying to God to provide jobs for them because they are wonderful children.
I’m also praying for them to be happy and to have bright future. I don’t want them to go through difficulties and hardships in life anymore so I’m earnestly praying to God to make them comfortable so they don’t suffer anymore.

There have been lots of challenges but the grace and mercy of God has been there for me.
There was a time that I was seriously sick for two years and I had to be taken to my village for special care but to the Glory and Mercy of God, I am still alive today.

I Am A Woman Of Rubies
Believing in myself as a woman and a mother,that I have to be strong, hardworking, resourceful, tolerant, patient, reliable and confident, makes me a woman of Rubies.

Words of advice for mothers and women
My advice to women and mothers out there is to believe in their selves. Move closer to God, work hard and don’t ever give up. God blessed you with your children because he trusts you to take care of them. Take care of them because it is your responsibility, and not because you are expecting rewards from them. Thank you Women of Rubies for wanting to hear my story. May God help you to continue the good work.

Solarin Yetunde is a Painter and an Interior decorator. Despite the fact that she is a graduate with a second-class upper degree in Business Administration, She decided to turn her childhood hobby- painting and wall decoration, into a career. She started Yetoonz Touch, and is currently making a living as a painter.
She talks about how she cope in a male-dominated profession, with Women of rubies in this Interview

I remembered that when i was a little younger than this, I used to trace and cut out colourful pictures from books, magazines, newspaper and display them on the walls. I also did cut out different shapes from card boards, paper craft and also drew pictures and made story with them. However, I still do them now but in a professional manner.

Meet Me
My name is Solarin Yetunde. I hail from Ogun State, Sagamu local government precisely and I am the last born of Solarin family. I attended Charlton nursery and primary school and did my secondary academics at Topmost College while my first degree in Business Administration was attained in Olabisi Onabanjo University Ogun state. I graduated with second class upper division. I observed my NYSC with Oyo State Ministry of Trade Investment and Cooperative in 2015. I am a certified member of Project management, I hold a certificate of Association of Accounting Technician and I am a student of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

How I discovered my passion for painting and interior decoration
I discovered it during my NYSC days as an extension of my childhood adventure.Every time that I was bored I decorated the four walls of my room and I got lots of encomium from friends and loved ones. From then, I knew I could be better and blossom professionally.

Inspiration behind Yetoonz Touch Paintings
The inspiration behind Yetoonz Touch Paintings is solely from GOD with the confidence that I have in myself that I can do anything through JESUS that strengthens me.

Other projects and activities
Apart from the fact that we paint houses, we also design schools, children rooms, studios, hotels, hostels and shops. Others projects are wall canvas designs which will soon be displayed all over as well as pending training for intending painters .

Challenges faced
There is no person that has gotten to the top without trials. There are times I thought I could not survive on the job largely dominated by men, and when there are no jobs to be done I feel frustrated and bored. Also, I was largely frustrated with my search for white collar job too. Nevertheless, encouragement from my family and friends has kept me stronger as the day go by. They are the best gifts in my life. In all, I have learn through it and came out with the conclusion that when GOD is for me nothing, and no man can be against me.

Reward(s) for what I do
To be truthful, there are no great rewards with man. Only GOD can bless one indeed. No matter, the cash or materials one receives for an activity one will never be satisfied. Nevertheless, the encouragement that I have received from my family and fiancé has kept me stronger as the day goes by. They are the best gifts i have ever received.

My view on gender inequality in men-dominated workforceI believe, Nigerians are growing and showing compassion to women in men-dominated works. Apart from the quality of my job, which speaks volume. I get a lot of patronage because of the fact that I am a woman thriving in the job designed for men.

I Am A Woman Of Rubies
The extra-ordinary passion, hard-work and doggedness to take up a men-dominated profession is more than being a Woman of Rubies.

Words of advice to women
My words to women are that; in this present age, women have a lot of scripts to write therefore, don’t fold your arms. The book of Ecclesiastes 9 verse 10 says, whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest.