Ololade Ibrahim is a professional fashion model with Agencies in Milan, Barcelona, London, Paris, Greece, Denmark and Nigeria. She is a graduate of Mass Communication, from the Yaba College of Technology. Things you will find her doing are writing, designing and mentoring when she is not modeling.

Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Instgram
Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Instagram

She shares her journey in this interview with Women of Rubies.

Childhood Influence 

Yes, my childhood prepared me for whatever I’m doing now. My childhood taught me to be strong as a woman, bold, confident, stand up for myself and others, face my fear without fidgeting.
Growing up in a family where everything was fine at first and all of a sudden things changed for my parent. a home where my mum raised four kids without complaining, gave us the best education she can afford and yet we never go hungry.

B- Little about my growing up-
I went to a private primary school, got a scholarship for one year in a private junior secondary school then later move to public junior and senior secondary school before attending the high institution.
While I was at public junior secondary school some of my colleagues will bully me because I’m so skinny but graduating to senior secondary class I am able to fight back. So I don’t get much pain by those words any more.
Finishing SSCE I was small, then I started working in an envelope company where I glued envelope papers. I get extra cash there to get things for myself, without waiting for my mum or anyone to buy me this or that.
In those moment while working in an envelope company, people kept telling me how skinny I was, making statements like did my mum ever feed me? I got lots of body shame and bullying which made me stop going to work. At a point, I stopped telling my mum about it because she has warned me not to work at first.
When I stopped working at the envelope company, I started teaching children ( home lesson ) in my dad’s compound where I collect 30 naira  on each child per day. However, I stopped teaching when I got a GCE form to prepare for the exam.

So after I took the exam I got admitted into LASU ( Lagos State University ) to study Theater Arts but there was no money to push my admission so I missed it. That year a friend told me about a job at the ministry of environment in Lekki, eti osa branch. I put in for the job and I was employed as a secretary. Literally, I start the job.
Before getting the job I never thought of the challenges attached to it and the distance. I stayed in Agbada Ijaye and I worked at Ozumba Mbadiwe road, every day I left home by 4:30 am just to avoid traffic and to get to the office before resumption time 7:30 am or 7:45 am max. Doing this for 8months gave me another view of life, I met awesome people who shaped my life, build my confidence, make me believe more in myself, push me to do awesome things. All these experience prepared and shaped me to who I am today.

Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Instagram
Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Instagram

Inspiration behind modeling, and the journey so far

In this journey, I met a friend who introduced me to modelling because she really like modelling but she’s not that tall so she got a ‘no’ so many times. She convinced me about it because of my height, then I developed interest and I started watching fashion Tv, watching the likes of Noami Campbell, Trya Banks and others in the modeling industry.

Meanwhile, there was a program; American Next Top Model which was hot on tv then, people watched it. We were watching that program that night, So I told my mum about modelling she was like ‘ha everybody will be seeing your body,’ My dad must not hear about this. I knew that my dad must not know about it!.
However, I have tried many things which my dad was against, so I begged her to keep it a secret because once my dad knows about it I’m definitely getting a NO on it. So we kept it a secret, no one knew in the family that I wanted to go into modelling.

So, this friend of mine, introduced me to a man, named MR Yusuf. MR Yusuf gives catwalk lesson and coach models towards pageant and runway. He basically wanted me to go into pageants like MBGN, MISS UNIVERSE and the likes, he will always say that I will do well in pageants because of my beauty and how outspoken I am.
On the long run I put in for miss global Nigeria after I passed through the audition and got to camp it was a different game, 60% of what I heard and could see, the way the setting was, I wasn’t pleased with it. I told Mr Yusuf he said I could pull out. I remember after three days I talked to Mr Yusuf about it, the chaperone in the house gave us a task and I challenged her, that night she sent me packing. Few housemates were begging for me but instead, I just focused on my packing. That night I called my mum that I was coming home, and she asked why, I said nothing that I just wanted to come home, that I didn’t like the place. I couldn’t explain it all till I got home.I took a taxi late in the night and got home. For a week I avoided talking to my mum or even getting close just not to talk about it. My mum will figure out what happened and there will be an issue.
After all these, I didn’t stop pushing, I tried some pageant and failed.

I was in school one afternoon when they called me to come to represent my local Govt in Lagos pageant (Miss Lagos Carnival) 2014 . In the pageant, I won Miss Amity. This time I was in 1st-semester Yabatech studying mass communication. After Lagos pageant, I tried Nigeria next supermodel 1st time I had to pull out because of school. So the second year I got the form and tried again, I made it to the top 10.
So the game kept going and at a point, I got tired and stopped because everything wasn’t working the way I wanted it.

Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Victoria Beckham's Capsule Launch, Instagram
Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Victoria Beckham’s Capsule Launch, Instagram

International breakthrough
This lovely afternoon I was going to school to submit my project when this young scout from Raw model management walked up to me saying do you know you can make money with your height, immediately I rolled my eyes like this guy is trying to talk to me about modelling. I said to him I’m not interested in modelling I have tried it many times but it is not working. He said I should just give him two months and I will be surprised by the outcome. He collected my contact and sent me a message two days after, I was invited to Raw Model office in Bariga which was close to my school. I did some shoot, no one asked for money. I got a call back two weeks after to do another shoot, this time I was placed on proper diet, I had to cut my hair, change my style just to suit the international market. Within 5 or 6weeks an agency in Milan signed me, that’s how everything changed, I did my first international show (Milan fashion week) in September 2017. Since then the journey has been smooth and rough. But in all, I give God all the glory.At some point, I had to take a break, because modelling is a crazy world. In the process, I lost my dad, the break now took so long, I was mentally and spiritually down. Missed a whole fashion season.

Photo Credit: Ololade Ibrahim, Instagram

You recently walked the runway for Emporio Armani at the Paris fashion week, tell us more about it.

Literally, this is not my first time walking the show.

Back in 2018, I was the first Nigerian model to walk Emporio and Giorgio Armani in the same season no one else from Nigeria has walked the two shows in the same season until 2020 again when I walked the two shows again in the same season making me the first Nigerian model to walk both shows the same season, twice ( February 2018 & February 2020).

However, I will say God’s grace just speaks for me in the midst of the thousands. Because during the first and second casting I just do my things normally like I do which is walk. And two days after my booker in Milan told me I have a fitting for Emporio Armani I was so happy. I wasn’t even looking at Giorgio Armani show when they gave me another call to go for Giorgio Armani fittings. So after both fittings I still kept the faith tight maybe I will do the two shows; so that evening I got a confirmation that I will be walking the two shows, I was extremely happy that God did it again 👏🏾🙏. All thanks to MR Armani and the team 🙌🏿.

Other brands modelled for
I have worked for many major brands all over the world, I can’t even remember all their names but here are few of them; Off-White, Adidas, Jasper Conran, Vogue Magazine Italy, Toga, Aigner, The Times Magazine UK, Cristiano Burani, Harper’s Bazaar Germany, Lurve Magazine, Liberty Beauty, Kiko Kostadinov, Emporio Armani, Giorgio Armani, Victoria Beckham in London, Sportmax, Sergio Rossi, iceberg in Milan, thome brown, Comme Des Garçon, Ysl beauty in Paris, Lampoon Magazine, Schön Magazine, Talbot Runhof, Rahul Mishra, Issey Miyake, lefties in Barcelona and many more.

Photo Credit: Ololade, Instagram

Aspirations as a Model

Some of my aspirations as a model is to work for more top brands, use this platform to help myself grow, my family and also give back to society in every way I can.

In our world of today where creativity is a big deal, I’ve embarked on a Journey to rebrand my personal identity OLOLADE IBRAHIM which has a Logo to it already and I’m working towards getting more out of this brand.

Though, I already have a fashion brand in place awaiting finish and a launch. It’s called DENIM by OI ( Ololade Ibrahim ) and I have started the branding process already by first adding a befitting Logo to represent the brand and there’s a lot coming on it.

DENIM by OI is a fashion brand for all shades of human, race and gender.

Talk of giving back to the society; I already began that journey when I joined Black Diamonds Support Foundation ( an NGO aimed at giving back to the society).

I participated in their recent campaign in which we together fed 5000 Kids in Lagos just like Jesus Christ did back then. I must say, it was an awesome feeling seeing children smile and go home happy.

There’s so much more to come and I can only hope for the best of all

3 women of inspiration in the modeling world (Personal)

You see I believe every woman is a role model, in one way or the other. My mum as an example is a great role model. With all that she has been through, and pulled through she is still alive standing strong.

There are some icons out there who don’t belong to the industry but are doing well in their lines of duty and fighting for other women as well.

Someone like Michelle Obama, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bethlehem Alemu, Ilhan Omar, Naomi Campbell, etc these are a few women I have read and know about and how they’ve inspired young girls are amazing.

Naomi Campbell- aside from the fact that she’s a black woman and also make ways for we young black girls of today in the industry. Fam she’s a legend keeping it tight in the modelling industry till this moment which makes me respect her more, I grew up knowing her, watching her on tv. And she’s still rocking it, she’s a legend and icon.

Ilhan Omar- is a young woman from Somalia who lived in Kenya refuse for four years. She is the first naturalized African and Somali-American elected to the United States Congress. Before her political position, she has been a fierce campaigner for affordable housing, healthcare, and a living wage. In 2017, she was one of the 46 women to feature in Time’s Magazine’s report, “Firsts: Women who are changing the world.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Feminist, Novelist, and an Author from Nigeria here, I know her to be a fierce woman who wants equal gender rights and women empowerment. She also speaks against sexual violence including the #metoo movement.
In 2012, she gave a powerful speech at TEDxEuston in London titled “we should all be feminists”

There are many more women out there doing great things has I have said but people don’t hear or know about them.

Challenges faced as a model

Firstly being a black model is a challenge, I don’t know why some people see this our skin colour as a problem for them. Without even knowing you as a person they just develop hatred.
I have once been to casting in Paris at this recent concluded Paris fashion week, the casting director doesn’t even know me at all. We were like four or five who walked in together, She collected everyone’s comp card and put mine separately, she asked her assistant to take our pictures, after the pictures she said I can go, I said everyone or just me. She said only me. I said wouldn’t you even allow me to walk? She just ignored me. You know when you go somewhere and you can feel it that your energy is not welcome there.
Some even fake it, they give people outside a better version of them. (to impress the society) Trying to tell a story that they welcome diversity in their collection, meanwhile it’s all a lie, they only allow one or two black models on their set or runway and use them as props.

I have lived in the midst of some girls who are Russians. It was a terrible experience, I was like a kid in the midst of a lion. The funniest part is they didn’t even know each other from anywhere, they came in separately but because they speak the same language, they became friends easily and ganged up against me. They made the apartment terrible and difficult for me. Returning home sometimes I would some of my things in the trash can.
One lovely morning I had a job and the call time was 9 am, wanting to have my bath that morning, coming out of my room one of the girls rushed into the bathroom stayed in the bath for 1hrs 20 mins without coming out, I had to go for the job without having my bath that morning. Getting back home, I went to her told her to be fast in the bathroom next time, she pretends as if she did not understand English which I knew she was lying because she spoke to me with English when she first moved in introducing herself.

That night my roommate came to confront me why would I talk to her friend like that, that next time If I challenged any of her friends I will meet my bag outside. I was so shocked because we were all paying for the room. Before I knew what was happening she moved close to me with her hair straightener on her hand, that night I beat her so badly without evening thinking of what will happen the next moment.
Till I left the apartment the girls avoided getting close to me or my things they couldn’t even report what happened to the Agency. Because they knew what they were doing to me was bad.
Since then I don’t run away from my fear, I face it and I make sure I overcome it.

A Woman of Rubies

Firstly; Rubies are rare gem, considered to be the stone of love, energy, passion, power, tough, and of high value, beautiful and so am I. 😂.
I have represented and still representing Nigeria internationally in the modelling industry, making the world know we have good features, women of value and quantity in my country.
I have participated in many programs in giving back to the less privileged.
I have volunteered myself for community service for the betterment of my neighbourhood and community.

I am still and will keep doing more as long as I live.

Final word for young women who want to go into modelling but are scared

I will like to tell them to brace up. Modelling is not something you sit down somewhere and it will come to meet you. Not everyone will be lucky to be scouted on the road or somewhere. I know some people who pushed themselves to the top where they are now.

If you want something, you go for it; even if the world keeps challenging you, You stand your ground. Go for that thing you want.

Believe in God, he’s the only one who can do it.

Lastly, every young girl wants the big name agencies to sign them on but the truth is, it’s not about how big the agency is that will determine your career or limelight. You can be signed to a small agency as that of a hole and still shine pass so many.

What you should look for is; will this agency represent me well?. A lot of models are in big name agencies that I know of and are yet to do anything.

Be contented wherever you are, put God first and don’t stop pushing hard.

Add up- I’m an actor (featured in one movie already) a Journalist also. I’m open to movie roles if there may be any available in the nearest future.

Thank you.

Christina Soname is an amazing woman with an exceptional training skill and knowledge. A first class graduate of economics she heads the consulting team at LYD Consulting Limited, and has
deployed training interventions for organizations like Google, Lagos Business School, GTBank, First Bank,amongst others.

Sharing with Women of Rubies, she relates her journey;

Childhood Influence
I can say my childhood played a key role in shaping my interests and preparing me for the things I do now. First, the values my parents instilled in my siblings and I are the kind that makes us stand out all the time. Values including love, integrity, faithfulness, kindness, mutual respect, etc. I was that child that converted my mum’s flowers to my pupils. I will hold a cane in my hand and start to teach ‘my pupils’ just the way my own school teacher taught me that day. My mum will scold me for flogging her flowers, and I will insist that they didn’t do their assignment that’s why I flogged them (lol). Watching my mum’s exceptional delivery as a teacher really made me proud of her. My dad himself was great at impacting knowledge. He taught in church periodically and I was so absorbed by his methods. My exposure to my amazing knowledge impacting parents has had a great influence on me and what I do today.

Christina Olusile


A number of things actually. My interests, my skill set, and my understanding of the future of work and the role my industry will play in that future. I think that an organization’s most valuable assets is its people and the best that people can do is hinged on what they know. Helping organization’s equip their people to perform at their optimum is one of the things that inspired my choice of career. Moreso, a lot of valuable impact will be driven by the knowledge economy, in the coming days.

Major principle                                        One major principle that guides me is ‘whatever your hand finds to do, do well’. I believe that if a thing can be done, it can be done well. Consequently, my how is to give my best. I allow my value system override my emotions. Regardless of how I am feeling, my actions are driven by what I believe to be right, based on the values I live by. For example, I wake up on some days and just feel like staying in bed. Maybe because it’s been a demanding week or just a desire to sleep some more. Whichever the case, my value for faithfulness and my respect for my employer will fuel my next course of action.

Another major thing for me is constantly developing my skill set. It positions me to deliver great work. I place a lot of value on knowledge, including learning from others. For me it’s not just about the formality of learning, but how that knowledge can impact on the value I add to my clients, and my world at large.

Work Based Challenge

Speaking of corporate training, one major challenge is organisation’s not giving priority to learning & development. Staff Training is usually the first thing some organisation’s cut back on in a lean budget system. It’s a challenge when employers do not understand the importance of training their staff and how a more knowledgeable staff will produce better results leading to the achievement of the organization’s goals in the short& long run. Some employers’ concern is ‘what if the staff leave after being trained?’ In response I ask ‘what if they stay?’ 

If given a role to help other women 

I have a passion to see women become the best versions of themselves. Every woman’s dream is valid. I will be involved in women advocacy, formulating & driving empowerment policies starting from the grass root that seek to educate the girl-child and engage women in communities on sustainable & transformational models of empowering them to reach their highest potential.
I will also partner with agencies and organisations with similar vision in ensuring that women receive all round development.

Being a Compere and finding balance
Oh yes, this is one fun thing about me. I have been compering events since my teenage years. I have very commendable communication and engagement skills which I have further developed, over the years. There’s a side of me that shows up when I compere events. It’s a fine blend of skill and humor. I have a bias for formal and semi-formal events, but I sometimes host informal events like bridal showers, baby showers, etc.
I balance things out by taking on just as much jobs as my schedule can handle. I don’t try to be everywhere. When I receive a brief for a job that I can’t handle because of my schedule, I recommend a colleague. I encourage my clients to give me advance notice.
Keeping a detailed calendar of events helps me a lot in balancing things out. I record things that have to do with my family time, study time, etc. in my calendar. The overall impact is I am able to give time to most of the things that matter, in sufficient proportions.

Voluntary works

Yes I place a lot of value on charitable work. Asides what I learned from my parents in that regard, one of my internship placements at the start of my career really influenced my interest in voluntary service.
My volunteer experience, teaching for 1 hour a week at a state owned secondary school was really transformational for me. I feel like I learned more from the students than I taught them. I had a lot of sober reflections in that season of my life that helped me take defining decisions with regards my own life and how I use my resources.
I have been a part of a number of projects with different NGO’s who deliver value in my interest areas. I also serve on the advisory board of an NGO. One major thing volunteering does for me is help me to be a more grateful human being.

Personal projects and activities
My husband and I are very interested in raising a godly home, and helping our contemporaries do same. To this end, we carry out a number of personal projects including hosting periodic meet ups where we have practical discussions about relationships and marriage. We encourage some level of accountability in these hubs.
Through my weekly publication on Instagram tagged ‘#dearyoungprofessional’ I share practical tips which help professionals and business leaders win at their daily endeavours. I am able to reach hundreds of young professionals weekly, through this platform.

Source of inspiration 
The life of Jesus Christ challenges me the most. I am challenged by the fact that living is not necessarily in the length of years but in the quality of impact.
I have had different people I look up to, depending on the season I am. In my current season, I really look up to Mr. Bankole Williams and General Debola Deji-Kurunmi. These 2 outstanding global leaders have the most impact on me in my current season.

On being a Woman of rubies 
I am a nurturer of my God-given abilities and an inspiration to other young women. It is great to know that just by being about my father’s business and living by the values I have come to adopt, others find some kind of inspiration in me and give themselves permission to let their light shine.

Advice to women aspiring to be in this field
I will say that the first task for any woman is to ensure that her heart believes what her head is saying. Whatever it is you desire to be, ensure that your beliefs about yourself and about life support your desires. It is possible to be saying you want something but you don’t even believe you can have it. Everyone’s belief system (i.e. their mindsets) eventually shapes their outcomes in life, whether they consciously realize it or not. Your beliefs are a product of a number of things like your upbringing, your experiences, your environment, etc. You must ensure that what you belief about yourself and about life, align with what you consciously desire to be or have.
For the person interested in consulting and corporate training, I suggest you take time to do some research on these fields of work. Understand what the trends are on a global scale, so you can take informed decisions that will position you appropriately in (for example) the choice of what aspect of consulting to go into, or what aspect of trainings to tap into.
Also take note of the required technical and soft skills and get them. The technical skills required will depend on the aspect of consulting or training you decide to go into. Some of the needed soft skills include excellent communication & presentation, people engagement and emotional intelligence.
If you can identify an internship opportunity to further enhance your skill gathering process, this will be very useful.

Job seekers everywhere like to be prepared before they step into any interview room. Whether you are new to the job seeking pool or you are an experienced hire, the aim is always to get the interviewer to like you and believe you are the best fit for the job. This is where people begin to wish they could tell the future or at least read minds. Well, there might be a way to help.

A study of interviewers from different businesses shows some sort of pattern in what the person(s) at the other end of the table hope to learn about you before they let you join their firm or client’s firm. Although most of the questions are now being asked on the application form, we have put together 8 of them which are still frequently asked, along with simple tips on what your interviewer expects to hear.

Can we know more about you?
Actually, this doesn’t come as a question. You will most likely be asked to say something that they can’t already see on the resume with the cue “tell me about yourself”. As much as you might want to give a biography, employers expect something simple and precise. There isn’t much time to go over some family history and what you have been doing for the past decade or half of it. Practicing a personal pitch helps a great deal with this question. A good pitch will focus on your professional self and achievements you’ve made. Achievements related to the role you are seeking are the best to put forward.

Why do you want to this role?
This question gives you an opportunity to show enthusiasm about the job you have applied for. Employers want to hire someone that loves what they do. Having passion for a role and the dynamics of the job are strong points you are ready for the job. Also, if the question didn’t come separately, it is also a nice opportunity to mention why you want the job at their firm particularly – maybe they are building something revolutionary or you just like the company culture.

What is your greatest strength/weakness?
In responding to this, it is important to share job relevant skills that you actually have, as most times you will be asked how you have demonstrated them in previous roles or general life situations. In speaking about weaknesses, your potential employer expects you to show honesty by expressing something (again, relevant to the job) that you are not great at. They also expect to hear how you are working to get better at it.

What is your biggest professional achievement?
This is another opportunity to pitch yourself. Most interviewers take the response to this question as a reason to hire you. Interviewers expect specificity. They want to hear about real and measurable accomplishments, especially ones that you could replicate if you were hired by their firm. It is best to choose milestones that are not just specific to your previous role but something most businesses can relate to such as sales milestones in record time, setting up a new supply chain strategy or project management excellence.

  Describe a time you showed leadership.

People talk about this as the ‘when’ question. Most interviewers are specific with what form of leadership skills they are looking out for and proceed with questions to discover if you possess those skills. The question usually comes in the line of; “can you tell me about a time when you…?” Most times, employers want to know about conflict resolution skills, team management, time management and more. This question can showcase your leadership style. In responding, give enough details but not too much to bore the interviewer and then proceed to state in clear terms what you did, the outcome and what it meant for your team or the business generally.

Why are you leaving your current employment?
Employers want to be sure they are hiring the right person. This question helps them understand a bit about what your professional life is about. Are you in the process of changing career paths? Were you sacked? Are you looking for a new challenge? Do you feel they are offering a bigger pay? Be honest and positive. Do not go ahead to say how you think your previous employer was terrible or lie about being laid off. Saying you were laid off might be the right thing to do because you don’t want this new employer finding out on their own. In expressing reason for leaving, your career growth is always a strong point.

What is your salary expectation?
This is not a blank cheque. It is not. People have missed opportunities despite impressing with every response just because a potential employer felt they couldn’t pay them. To be prepared for this question, know what people in similar or exact roles earn, give your potential employer a range and be open to reasonable negotiation. It’s okay to measure your worth against your experience and skills but try not to come off as being too focused on the pay.

Do you have a question for me?
An interview is a discussion not an interrogation. Interviewers understand this which is why they focus on making interviews interactive and even give you the opportunity to ask them questions. This question is an opportunity to understand more about the company or ask questions that help you know how things are around the company. Asking your interviewer what he enjoys most about his role might throw more light about life at the company, even helping you know the business from the inside.

These questions are very likely questions at your next interview. Preparing for them gives you an edge. The job market is becoming more competitive on a daily basis. Your ability to convince an interviewer that you have the skills they need is very important. Understanding what is expected and giving great responses brings you closer to your dream job and firsthand shows you have good communication skills. Stay confident with your responses and keep a smart smile. Best wishes at the next interview.

P.S: Always be prepared for a brainteaser too. If you think I missed anything, please let me know in the comment section below.
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Virginie Lemay-Vriesde is a Leadership Development Coach who helps experts and professionals in international organizations optimize their potential. Her venture into coaching was borne out of her passion to share knowledge and help people.

Over the last 20 years, Virginie Lemay-Vriesde has coached and/or mentored people, men, and women, from different cultures and nationalities. She has helped them overcome the challenges they were facing. She has hired great people, contributed to their personal development, and in some cases, to their promotions.
The celebrated coach who believes in leading by example shares her inspiring story with us in this interview.


Not at all. I was born and grew up in a small town in northern France. My parents, who were not wealthy and who started to work when they were 14 and 16, always did their utmost to provide me with the best education there was, and taught me to work hard, to make sure I could take care of myself, no matter what the circumstances would be. They always listened and supported me to the best of their abilities. They got divorced when I was 18. My brother and I then moved with my mom to the town where I was born, and we had to start everything from scratch.
I went and studied at the university and went as far as I could (I have a Master’s degree in foreign languages – English and German – and did another year to get a French diploma (called DESS, which is slightly below an MBA) in trilingual negotiation for international trade). I managed to get subsidies for my studies and was working in the weekend to get some money. I then went to Germany for a training period and was offered a job.

I never really knew what I exactly wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work internationally, as I love to speak different languages and communicate with other cultures. However, I never really had anyone around me with some ‘business knowledge’ who I could speak to, to ask for advice, guidance or to brainstorm my ideas.

Meet Me
I’ve been an expatriate for more than 24 years now. I’ve lived in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Italy and now in Luxembourg. I speak fluently 5 languages.
I’ve always worked in big international companies. After Germany, I went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and was hired as a technical support representative for English-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking customers. I then evolved quickly and became mentor, then team manager, then EMEA Quality Program Manager. In 2007, I got the opportunity to go and work in Italy as Quality and Training Manager. I came back to the Netherlands in 2008 and started to work for a big international bank to set up a team in India. End 2012, my whole department was laid off and I started to look for another job. I was then hired by Amazon as EU Customer Service Senior Quality Manager and 2 years later, I became the EU Customer Service Senior Learning and Development Manager. I resigned in 2017 to travel with my husband.
At the beginning of 2018, I decided to start on my own as a Leadership Development Coach, helping expats and professionals in international organization optimize their potential.

Next to my professional experience, I also had a life-changing experience 20 years ago. I had a serious car accident that took a total of 9 months of my life. Doctors thought I would be paralysed. Then they told me I would probably limp. Fortunately for me, nothing like that happened. However, I’m grateful I had this experience as it completely changed my perspective on life (I even wrote a book about it: ‘My revenge on life’).

What inspired me to be a leadership Coach
When we came back from our travels end of last year, I started to look for another job but could not find anything that fitted my skills or experience. So at the beginning of 2018, I coached myself and spent time thinking of what I really wanted to do, what I liked and what my strengths were. I also re-read some feedback I had received from my previous colleagues, and every time, they had written that I was very good at mentoring, coaching and developing people. This is when I realized that, even though I never had the official title of ‘Coach’, I had indeed always developed, coached and mentored people, team members or colleagues, men and women from different countries and cultures, to help them move forward and become a better version of themselves. I have always been passionate about helping people and did everything I could to lead by example, to be a good listener, to provide guidance, to challenge and inspire people. By realizing this, I had found my life purpose!
More than 20 years of global experience in customer service, specializing in training, coaching, learning and development, leadership development as well as process improvement are the reasons why I want to help and support people to the best of my abilities so that they can move forward quicker and become a better version of themselves.

My experience as a Coach.
It all started with my brother. I had been living in Amsterdam for 2 years and my brother was struggling in France (he is 6 years younger than me). He did not know what to do and was ‘stuck’. I told him to come and live with me in Amsterdam. At that time, he was not speaking one word of English (nor Dutch). I coached him and mentored him. I also helped him learn English. After one month, he was hired in the company where I was working, and he continued developing himself. He is now an IT architect in the UK, traveling a lot.
During all my professional career, I have helped my direct reports, peers or other colleagues. I have coached them, mentored them so that they could move forward. Some got other jobs, some got promoted. Some now even have very successful careers.
I now coach people as an ‘independent’ coach. I also give speeches to inspire and motivate people.

The biggest challenge I am currently facing is visibility. Since I recently started as an independent coach, I have to show what I can do. People may be looking for someone like me, but if they do not know I exist, nor what I can offer, they will not come to me.
That is why I’ve been posting on Linkedin and Facebook on a regular basis to show people who I am and where I can help. I write posts, I comment and I also make videos so that people can get to know better ‘the real me’. I also attend different networking events, and do some speaking events as well to get my name out there.

Project and activities..

Even though French is my mother tongue, I’ve given my first real speech in French a few weeks ago in France! It was a great experience.
I have developed 2 packages to help people:
– The True Global Leader or How to build trust and become a respected leader in an international environment.
– The ‘iamazing’ package for women or How to ignite the powerful and confident goddess in you to achieve your true potential.
I am also in the process of launching some webinars to help people and at the same time show what I can do.
Next to that, I have also been asked to go to Benin and Ivory Coast to deliver some speeches and workshops together with one of the rising coaches over there, Samson Capko.

Greatest reward…

Being nominated as a ‘Woman of Rubies’ is probably one of, if not the greatest reward I have ever received for what I do. So thank you very much! I am truly humbled and honoured…
Having been asked to go to Benin and Ivory Coast to talk and deliver some workshops has also been an incredible honour and I’m really looking forward to being able to help the African people further.
I also often receive very nice comments, messages, encouragements from people all over the world; people telling me they love what I do, that I am an inspiration and that I need to keep on doing what I do.
All of these are the best rewards someone can wish for. I am certainly grateful every single day for all the support I am getting globally.

My organisation in 5 years time..

My personal goal is to be able to travel 6-9 months per year and to be able to continue doing what I do.
So I’d love to see that professionally, I would deliver training, workshops, speeches globally, in all the languages I speak and that I would continue coaching and helping people online and face-to-face, no matter where they are in the world.

As a non-native English speaker, I would love to be known in the ‘English speaking business world’, to be used as a reference for anyone who thinks that, even though English is not their native language, they can still be successful globally and they can still help and inspire people. Since I have found my life purpose, it’s like the universe has been sending me signs helping move forward to achieve my goal. I work long hours, every single day and in the weekend and yet, I’m full of energy.

I love what I do. I learn so much about lots of things (how to become an entrepreneur, how to be present online, which social media platform to use, etc.). I meet people (on and offline) that I would have never dreamt to meet. I have been truly overwhelmed by the support people want to provide to help you. I know that when I’m struggling with something, I can reach out to people here in Luxembourg or people that I met via Linkedin or Facebook and there will always be several people who will be there for me (and likewise, they know they can reach out to me if they need help). And of course, all the encouragements, messages, kind words I get from people around the world are the best motivation I can get. They mean so much to me…
All of these reasons explain that I cannot imagine giving up. I am enjoying so much what I do and I have absolutely nothing to lose.


I do not have any one specific person in mind. There are many people who inspire me and who I admire: anyone who has faced adversity (they had a life changing experience, they’re facing difficult situations, or lost everything they had, etc.) and came up even stronger and wiser. Whether they are famous people or ‘normal’ people like me, everybody who has their own challenging story inspires me. Without knowing, they encourage me to share mine, they comfort me in knowing that I am not the only one who had to face certain challenges, they reassure me as they prove that failure is part of the journey and that is what actually helps you become a better version of yourself.
I am inspired by people who stay positive, no matter what; people who work hard and do not give up; people who do not take anything or anyone for granted and who are grateful for what they have.

The reception so far…

Outstanding! When I told my friends and former colleagues I decided to start on my own as a coach, everyone told me ‘that’s the perfect job for you!’ Some of my good friends and ex-colleagues even told me they admired me for taking the plunge to start on my own, and are stunned by the content I put on social media.
Since I started to post regularly on Linkedin and Facebook at the end of May, I’ve been amazed at the support and encouragements I received from people. People from countries such as UK, US, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Australia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Romania, etc. who send me messages telling me I inspire them or that they want to connect with me because they like what I do. Every time I get such messages, I am truly touched. I had never expected to make an impact on so many people in such a short period of time.

I am a Woman of Rubies

I guess it’s because I’ve been and am an inspiration to many people, especially women. I have been described as a motivating and inspiring leader, always positive and full of energy. I believe in empowering women. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been going outside of my comfort zone. Like that, I’m not only growing as a person but I am showing that if I can do it, anybody can too! We, women, often suffer from the ‘imposter syndrome’. However, we are just as good, if not sometimes even better, than men!

In addition, I am a huge fan of cultural diversity. I’ve worked with many different nationalities and cultures when I was working in a corporate environment (US, Europe, India, China, Japan, central America). The best surprise though came via Linkedin, when I came in contact with people from Africa! I have followers from Senegal, Benin, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo, etc., I had never really thought of it but I am so happy this is happening. I know Africa is rising with many brilliant people over there. I hope I can contribute and help the African people by sharing my experience and skills.

Finally, the package I developed for women (‘iamazing’) has been designed based on my experience, as a woman, as a senior manager and leader, to make women aware of certain things they may do or say that prevent them from moving forward, to help them improve their skills and confidence as well as to empower them so that they can become the best version of themselves. Women rock! They just sometimes need someone to remind them…

Female coaches & appreciation 

I think women are appreciated as they are (in general) better listeners, more empathetic and more nurturers. However, I feel there are not enough ‘big female names’ out there.
When you look for motivational speakers or coaches, you mostly get men. There are many big names out there such as Anthony Robbins, John Maxwell, Jack Canfield, just to name a few, but there are not so many famous women.I’d love to see many more. You do have women who inspire, such as Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, or women who have paved the way for other women, such as Coco Chanel and Amelia Earhart. However, they are a minority compared to the number of men. There are so many great women out there everywhere in the world, I really hope we’re going to start seeing more of them.

Additional information:
– My website: https://vlv.coach
– I can be reached at: virginie@vlv.coach
– Linkedin: Virginie Lemay-Vriesde (www.linkedin.com/in/virginielemay1)
– Facebook: Virginie Lemay-Vriesde
– Compilation of the videos I’ve done on Linkedin: https://virginielemay.fyi.to/10tips10days/view
– My book ‘My revenge on life’ is available on all amazon marketplaces (on amazon.com and on amazon.co.uk, etc.) as paperback and eBook

ChinyereDistinguished Lydia Anoke is a certified NLP Practitioner and the author of the fast-selling book, “SINGLE, FRUITFUL, FULFILLED”, a book that addresses most of the challenges/questions in the heart of Singles, and empowers them to live whole and productive lives.

She is the Steward of the SFF COMMUNITY – a Community with the mandate to raise a generation of whole and productive youths who live fruitful and fulfilled lives in all spheres of life.

She is also the Founder of Kompendia Concepts, a one-stop company for copy-writing, ghost writing, editing and publishing of books and articles.

ChinyereDistinguished is an intentional young lady with a burning desire to live out all that God has deposited in her for the benefit of mankind and ultimately for His Glory. Through her numerous write-ups on different platforms – blogs, social media and books, she is able to fulfil her passion of helping young adults to overcome self-limiting doubts, take full responsibility for their decisions, and hence, live a life of Excellence without limits.

She is a sought-after Speaker especially on topics relating to Singlehood, Self and purpose discovery, personal development, writing.

Read her exclusive interview with Women Of Rubies below:


My dad always gave us books and compelled us to read them. Most of the things I learned and do today are things I read from books or magazines or other forms of written materials.

These books exposed me to different cultures, lifestyles and mindsets beyond that of my immediate environment.

Also, being a Pastor’s child put me and all my siblings in the spotlight from the word go. It wasn’t something I was comfortable with while growing up, but it prepared me to know that there are always eyes watching my every move. That made me very conscious and helped me deliberately cultivate integrity as a lifestyle; so my life in secret is congruent with my life in the public.

I didn’t understand how important that was until more recently when I started sharing my story on social media and even in my books. Now I have people who I didn’t know were watching, leave comments that collaborate my story.


My name is Chinyere Distinguished Lydia Anoke and I come from a family of 9; 2 parents and 6 siblings. My parents are clergy – my dad is a Bishop and my mum is a Pastor. From the above description, you can tell that I was raised in a Christian home and that forms the core of my beliefs and values.

Professionally, I am a Content developer and an Editor even though I studied Computer Science in the University of Nigeria Nsukka. In fact, I spent 5 long years studying the 4 year course, and eventually graduated with a 2’1.

However, I left the ICT field when it fully dawned on me that I was struggling to comprehend basic programming concepts. At this time, I was working as a Software Test Analyst with Wema Bank. My job role was to detect potential bugs in systems starting from the document stage, but I ended up detecting more grammatical errors in the Business documents that I was given. I advised myself and left before my ‘poor ICT sense’ caused some havoc. Fortunately at that same time, I got a Content Development job offer from Mavis Computel Limited, so I gladly resigned.

Afterwards, I took some online courses aligned with my interest and natural flair for writing and editing. Today, I run my own Content development and editing firm – Kompendia Concepts, where we help writers and authors refine their writings to be precise, concise and professional, to enable them communicate better and connect easier with their audience.

Socially, I am passionate about helping young adults overcome self-limiting doubts, take full responsibility for their decisions and actions and ultimately, live a life of excellence without limits. Gradually, I am achieving this one step at a time through my numerous write-ups on blogs, books and the social media.


My book, “SINGLE, FRUITFUL, FULFILLED”, popularly known as the SFF Book, is a detailed guide on how to make the most of Singlehood. We live in a society that is so marriage-oriented that a lot of times, children, especially female children, are made to believe that their sole purpose in life is to marry and give birth; or at least, have a man in their lives, even if she is the side-chick or 4th wife.

The SFF book is divided into four major parts.

I: Who is a Single? – This explains what is means to be Single; not just an unmarried adult.

II: Why do you want to get married? – Marriage of course is a good thing and a God-ordained institution. However, this section of the SFF book compels the reader to pause and question why he/she wants to get married… the motive, the mindset and the preparedness for marriage.

III: What to do before “I Do” – This section enlightens and empowers the reader with the four critical things to do before marriage.

IV: Dealing with SFF Challenges (loneliness, anxiety, pressure, etc.) – Just like every other phase in life, Singlehood has its unique challenges, so this section of the book addresses some of these challenges. Beyond addressing them, it also equips the reader with the right tools with which to handle and overcome their own peculiar SFF challenge(s) which may not be written in the book.

The SFF book is an easy and essential-read for all Singles. It is also highly recommended for anyone who desires to live a fruitful and fulfilled life, and as well support others to do same, regardless of their marital status.
You can find some testimonials about the SFF book on http://bit.ly/SFFfreeDownload You can also download the first two chapters for FREE with that link.


Even though I had always fantasized and desired to write a book, I never imagined that I’d write a book for Singles. But as they say, God takes your mess and turns it into a message; that it exactly what happened with the SFF book and the entire SFF Vision.

I was engaged to be married in 2015. Traditional and white weddings were scheduled for 5th and 12th December, respectively; unfortunately that never came to be. At this time I was already desperate for marriage because we were (un)consciously groomed by both our immediate families and the society at large, to believe that the deadline for ladies to get married is age 25. So I was determined to marry at that age, even though there were so many red flags in my relationship.

I had turned 25 in October 2015, so when my wedding couldn’t hold in December, my anxiety skyrocketed. I had already told most of my close friends about my wedding plans, plus we had already booked some vendors. Imagine my embarrassment each time my friends called to ask “how far?” I felt worse when 2016 came and some of my friends who weren’t even in relationships when I was planning my wedding, started getting married.

Fast-forward to October 2016 when I was going to turn 26 and my plans were still falling more apart rather than coming together, I cried desperately to God: “Father, it seems you have forsaken me. Another Christmas is approaching and I’m still single!” And He replied, “Chinyere, I see you.” Then He started showing me so many things that were wrong with both my relationship and my mindset about marriage. I had stopped desiring marriage; I was desperate for it to obtain the idol status of MRS.

Long story short, that relationship had to end the following month. Then God gave me the SFF Vision – to enlighten, encourage and empower Singles with the right mindset about singlehood and marriage. It started with an SFF interview Series on my blog. The second part is the SFF book. Now we have an SFF Community where we groom Singles. We also have the MFS (Married, Fruitful and Satisfied) part of the SFF Vision which is focused on married folks; this part is still in the pipeline for now.



The SFF Community is an online platform where we are raising a generation of whole and productive Singles. Singles who are committed to:

– Make the most of Singlehood.
– Take full responsibility for their lives – where they are today and how they want the rest of their lives to play out.
– Be people of influence wherever they find themselves.
– Change the negative narrative about Singlehood.
– Re-write the negative marriage stories we have today with their power and exemplary marriages when they get married.

It is basically designed to help and support Singles to live fruitful and fulfilled lives before and after “I Do”. Every month we work with a theme, and then discuss sub-topics aligned with that theme throughout the month. We also bring in expert facilitators for each topic of discourse, if we don’t have any capable facilitator within the community.

For instance, our theme for April was “Understanding singlehood”. In May and June, our theme was, “The Single and his Emotions.” And in this month of October, we are discussing “The Single and his finances.” We also read a book or see a movie aligned with the theme for each month.

The SFF Community is currently run on whatsapp and we take in new members at the beginning of each month.


First, SFF is not a female thing, it’s for both males and females. This is why when we launched the first part of the SFF Vision – the interview series; we got 5 males and 5 females to share their thoughts on the topic: Is it possible to be single, fruitful and fulfilled? This is also why the SFF community is for both males and females, because at the end of the day an SFF lady needs to marry an SFF man for both of them to successfully graduate into the MFS life – the Married, Fruitful and Satisfied life.

So while waiting for marriage, both the lady and the gent need to practice Part 3 of the SFF book – what to do before “I do”:

– Explicitly define what being Single means to them. Until you define a thing rightly, you cannot treat it right, even if that thing is yourself. This is the first step to being single, fruitful and fulfilled.

– Take responsibility for their individual lives. You cannot effectively take responsibility for others – a future spouse or kids, if you are not responsibly taking care of yourself as a single.

– Manage their relationships. You cannot effectively manage a lifelong relationship with a future spouse and in-laws, if you are not currently managing your (in)formal relationships well.

– Find fulfillment. This is the most interesting part. A lot of people suspend fulfillment, waiting for marriage to happen first. Then marriage happens, and it’s still not there so they wait for the kids to arrive, and so on. Truth is marriage does not give fulfillment neither is fulfillment tied to any one or any achievement. It’s something you find and cultivate NOW.

All these are explained with practical steps on how to achieve them in the SFF book.


Initially when I started the SFF Series and the SFF book, some people accused me of preaching against marriage and all. So the initial challenge was resistance to the message. But with consistent sharing and more details, a lot more people now understand what it is about and are buying into the vision.

The second challenge which I am still facing is getting the SFF book into more hands. Some people complain about the cost is high, which I believe is affordable. The SFF hardcopy is N2,000, while the SFF e-book is available in 2 options: buy from okadabooks at N1,000 or have the PDF sent to your email at N1,500.

So I’m praying to have sponsors who will buy in bulk and distribute; and also for opportunity to speak on bigger platforms from which I can reach more Singles and share the SFF good news with them. So far, I’ve mostly spoken to the youth arm of different churches and some online youth platforms where I am invited to speak.



Most of my other projects are still in the pipeline. First, I’m planning an SFF hangout for Singles within Lagos where we can have a relaxed fun meeting to gist and learn. Proposed date is last week of November, though I haven’t made a public announcement yet.

I’m also working on my new book – Turning 28: My journey to true Singlehood, which will be launched in December.

I’m also working on an online course for Singles – Single, Fruitful, Sought-after (SFS); and an online course for writers and authors – The Profitable Author. I have noticed that a lot of writers publish their books/articles and then keep mute about them. Every article is an asset that can generate social and financial capital for the writer, so I’m putting together how to exploit this revenue option in an online course for writers.



The testimonials! My God! Nothing brings me more joy than when someone sends a message or puts a call across to express how my book or posts have helped them make a positive decision, take a bold step or just see things in an entirely new light.

One typical example is a Facebook friend, Blessing Best. We connected last year via Facebook when I was doing my book pre-launch campaign; she was one of the first people to pre-order. Once in a while, she’d ask me for some advice or the other. Then late last year, she sent me a message that the SFF Book gave her clarity on her own calling and today she runs a community for Singles with focus on Love and Relationships. Each time I see her progress and success, it makes me smile.

Some others have started their businesses, some have published their own books, which they’d been afraid to publish, some have left relationships which were not helping their destinies and so many other testimonies.


In 5 years time, I see the SFF Vision as a Global mindset. I see a scenario where people will organize SFF groups and clubs using the SFF book as guide. I see my Team and I being invited to different nations across the globe to speak on how to live a whole and productive life before and after marriage.

I see organizations and individuals sponsoring their staff and loved ones to take the SFS course and other SFF materials.

As an Editor and writer, I see Kompendia Concepts as a sought-after brand for the elite, to handle all their content, editing and publishing works.


Yes, especially in running the SFF Community. I’ve never wanted to be at the forefront of any movement. So sometimes when people are not active in the group, leave the group or it appears that all my efforts are not bearing any fruits, I feel really discouraged.

Mercifully, God always inspires one or more persons at that instant to send a heart-warming message or call to express how the SFF Community has been a blessing to them even though they’ve been ghost members.

These days, such hardly gets to me. I have learned that God is the Founder of the SFF Community and I am just the Steward, so I daily pray over what He has given to me and trust Him to bring the results and increase.


My parents; when I look at how much they have invested in me, I am fired up to be better and help them to enjoy their old age.

Jesus Christ; when I reflect on how He loves me shamelessly and desperately looks out for me to help me be all He wants me to be, I’m fired up to make Him proud of me.

My younger siblings – Mmeso, Victor and Chisom; I’m challenged to be the best I can be in order to help them reach their individual Zeniths faster, so they don’t waste as much time as I did, trying to figure out a lot of things.



A Woman of Rubies is a treasure and an asset, I believe. She is one who lights up her environment with love and her commitment to help others become better. I am all these and more, so I am a Woman of Rubies.



The theme for this year’s International day of the Girl is – With her: A skilled girlforce. And what I’ll like to share with every girlchild is this:

You are complete.

God has given you all the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, psychological and social capacity that you need to excel in life.

Develop your skills, deploy your potentials, read, read, read, believe in God and believe in yourself, cultivate a personal relationship with God early, surround yourself with positive-minded people and finally, take small steps of faith towards achieving the dreams in your heart; clarity comes from doing, not from over-analyzing.

You can get my book, “Single, Fruitful, Fulfilled” from the following platforms:
1. Okadabooks – bit.ly/SFFonOkadabooks
2. RovingHeights – http://bit.ly/SFFonRH
3. Konga – http://bit.ly/SFFonKonga

Blog: www.distinguishedlives.wordpress.com
Instagram: @chinyeredistinguished | @kompendiaconcepts
Facebook: ChinyereDistinguished Anoke | Kompendia Concepts
Twitter: @CDistinguished
Email: chinyeredistinguished@gmail.com | kompendiaconcepts@gmail.com

Angel Wanjiru was born with a congenital disorder called hydrocephalus which affected the shape of her head. Speaking to BBC Africa in an interview,  Angel said, several doctors told her mother, she wouldn’t survive but she did.

In 2016, at the age of 14, Angel released her first song, which was inspired by the discrimination she faced with people around her. She said the only way she has survived so far was ignoring people’s perception about her.

Angel encouraged everyone to accept themselves just the way they are. Watch this video for more details on her interview with BBC Africa.

Watch below:


Bunmi Solabi is a Trained Female Mechanic and the CEO of Ladymek  Stores. She studied Science Lab Tech( Microbiology option) and Biology at the  universities of Ilorin and Lagos respectively. She’s  a mother of two who started her career as a Banker and resigned to follow her passion for Cars. She was a Participant at the German-Nigeria Business Forum 2018 and she has been a guest speaker at women conferences across the Nation and beyond. The beautiful Lady Mechanic, Bunmi Solabi  shares her story with Esther Ijewere   in this exclusive interview

Childhood Influence 

My childhood did not prepare me in anyway to be a Female Mechanic. My childhood dream was to be Medical Doctor, But while growing up, I have always loved cars.

Read Also: My Dream Is For Every State In Nigeria To Have Facility For Special Needs Children

Meet Me

I am Bunmi Solabi CEO of Ladymek Stores, a mother of two adorable children, Biologist and a trained Mechanic. I started my career as banker, I resigned after a while and later joined a pharmaceutical company where I  worked for over five years to later pursue my passion for cars.

What made me quit my job to become a mechanic…

My inspiration comes first from my passion for cars and also the need to
make an impact and difference  in the society. I just wanted to make a difference and pitch my tent in a sector where you hardly find women.

The reception so far

Because it’s a male dominated terrain the reception and reactions from
people especially the men have not been encouraging even some ladies, the attitude is beyond horrendous especially when I was a trainee. But I soldier on because I know I can’t afford that distractions from my dream.

Challenges faced

Right now my major challenge is setting up a standard workshop. I will like Ladymek stores to be in at least Five States in five years time.

Read Also: How Chioma Ogamba Is Helping People Achieve Their Dream Of Relocating To Canada

Other projects and activities

Apart from being a mechanic, I am also a public speaker especially on women/Girl empowerment. I have been opportune to speak at Women conferences organised by First Ladies, Organizations, and women in Technical Education. I am also an advocate for Girl Child Education.

Greatest reward

The greatest reward so far is being able to impact my knowledge to women, girls and boys who are my trainees.

Ladymek in five years 

I see my brand Ladymek Stores in five states in Nigeria. I will like to have a Standard workshop in at least five States across the nation where we can offer Premium Services and train more Youths and unemployed Graduates to be certified Mechanics.

On giving up

First of all, I will like to say I have never regretted quiting my 8-5 job. However, I must say, there are times I have felt like running back to it because of the on and off challenges I face in this profession. What keeps me going is that I always remember why I started this journey in the first place. There are a lot of ladies that I am mentoring in this Profession who I cannot afford to let down.

My inspiration
My Mother inspires me a lot to be a better version of myself everyday. I also get inspiration from circumstances around me everyday.

I am a Woman Of Rubies
I am a Woman of Rubies because I have dared to break limitations place on women in my profession. I have made the society believe that a woman can do more.

Advice for aspiring female mechanics
My advice for aspiring female mechanics are three words: Determination, Patience and Honesty. Sometimes Comfort Makes us complacent your oars and keep rowing. #findyourself

Veteran actress and director, Genevieve Nnaji, spoke on CNN as a guest of Richard Quest on his Tuesday night show. She explained how difficult it was for her to get funding for the production of her directorial debut movie ‘Lion Heart’ which was acquired by Netflix.


She said:

“For money, we had to self-fund unfortunately, she says, we don’t have adequate funding for movies that we actually intend to go global, there isn’t that provision yet.”

She also mentioned the reason the movie made history as the first one to be acquired by Netflix.

In her words,

“I think the authenticity of the story, which is what I loved about it. It provided an environment which showcases things that makes me proud of our culture, talents, values and the story speaks for itself plus, we focused on the quality this time.”

Genevieve also shared her thought about Nollywood going global. She said,

“What I discovered was that everyone was able to relate to the story at the cinema. I”ve realized that language was the only barrier that we have. We can all identify with culture, pain and love. Our stories are very similar and I think its important that we stay true to ourselves. It was amazing. We had a very diverse crowd and everybody was able to relate to it. It was remarkable, the kind of accolades I got for the film.”

Watch full video below:



Credit: fabwoman.ng

Esther Ijewere is an enterprising social activist, youth advocate, Columnist, author, mother of two and the Executive Director of Rubies Ink Initiative- a social enterprise outfit devoted to youth advocacy, public relations and social enterprise solutions among others. An Olabisi Onabanjo University-trained Sociologist, as a social advocate, she is the brain behind W.A.R- Walk Against Rape, an advocacy initiative created to lend a voice for the victims of rape and demand justice for the perpetrator’s, an initiative endorsed by the Lagos State Ministry Of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. She is also a columnist with The Guardian newspaper with her page Women of Rubies, a platform used to celebrate exceptional women with inspiring stories. The page is a sequel to her award-winning blog www.womenofrubies.com, which is fast becoming the one stop blog for the everyday woman. In this interview with NIKE SOTADE, she talks about the strides she has made in her passion to fight against rape in the society

Tell us about yourself, education, growing up etc.
I am Esther Ijewere, the Founder of Rubies Ink Initiative for Women and Children, Convener of the Walk Against Rape Campaign and also, Editor-In-Chief of Women of Rubies, a blog aimed at celebrating exceptional women with inspiring stories. I sit on the board of The African Development Imperative (TADI) and also, a fellow with Hillary Clinton’s founded Vital Voices Global Leadership. I have been into advocacy and development work since 2010. I am the recipient of many awards – notable among them are the ‘Wise Woman in Media Award’ I received last year and my recent recognition as one of the ‘100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria’ by Leading Ladies Africa. I had my Primary and Secondary education in Lagos and graduated from the Olabisi Onabanjo University with a BSc in Sociology and Diploma in Marketing. I am also a certified ‘On Air Personality’ but that’s one of the many caps I am yet to explore. I believe in learning and acquiring knowledge as much as one can in any field of interest – if you can think it, then you can do it.

Any experiences in life that propelled you into sexual violence or anti-rape advocacy? You’re a mother of two girls, are they your inspiration too?
At the time I started the anti-rape campaign, I realised a lot of people were scared of reporting cases of rape out of fear of being stigmatised and judged. The number of reported cases was very low. This propelled me to start the sensitization awareness and lend my voice while complementing the work of the Government in curbing rape and other forms of sexual violence. Being a mother of two girls also deepened my passion for the cause, as I can’t imagine any of them having to go through such ordeal in life.

You’ve been working with government agencies in what capacity? Do you think Lagos State government is doing enough in its anti-rape campaign?
I have been working with the Lagos State Government through its Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation since 2010; we partner with them annually to organise our Walk Against Rape Campaign and also refer cases of rape and domestic abuse to them, while we follow it up to a justifiable end. As such, I’d emphatically say that Lagos State is the only State that has shown the most concern on issues that affect women, particularly rape. The Governor, for example, has a zero tolerance policy for all forms of violence against women, and he works hand in hand with the necessary government agencies to make sure offenders are prosecuted. The Lagos State Government is doing enough at the moment; I just hope they can create more Help Centres in every local council across the State to help victims get help faster. This is one thing I have been advocating for since 2010.

Have they prosecuted any offenders? Kindly give figures if you have them.
In 2016, 4, 035 cases ranging from rape, child abuse, sexual assault, sexual abuse to defilement, were handled by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice; this, being a cumulative figure alongside the previous year. The number of unreported cases is obviously higher than that as 140 offenders were prosecuted last year. I believe the figure will increase as time goes by.

What kind of advocacy do you take to the schools?
Sensitisation and Awareness through our College Acquaintance Rape Education workshop (C.A.R.E) where we educate these young kids on how to identify an abuse and the need to report such cases to the necessary authority. I also wrote an information Handbook on Rape called “Breaking the Silence.” We use it as a toolkit to sensitize them – a book that contains all the necessary information they need; from help lines to help centres across Lagos. The feedbacks from the kids in the last few years have been great; we have more kids reporting such cases in confidentiality now.

Who are the potential or likely rapists?
Undisciplined men, who do not have self-control, are potential rapist.

Kindly share with us some of the tips you’ve offered school children on defending themselves against predators.
I have a personal code I teach them with called L.I.E.S: L stands for ‘Learn to say NO’, I – ‘Identify the situation’, E – ‘Expose the perpetrator’, S – ‘Say it as it is without conceding information’. I encourage them to write this in their exercise books or we give them stick on papers they can paste on their wardrobes.

More rape cases are being reported in the news nowadays. What do you think could be responsible?
It’s still indiscipline and lack of self control. There is no justification for rape or any form of sexual abuse. Some have argued that the economy is one of the reasons but I beg to differ: how will raping or defiling a child change your financial status? It’s also good we have more reported cases lately – this goes to show we have not been lending our voice in vain.

Do you counsel rape victims, too? What advice do you have for them to move on with their lives?
Yes, I do. First, I take them through a healing process; the biggest stage of healing is ‘breaking your silence’ and I also encourage them not to ever blame themselves for getting raped or dwell on it.

You’re also a blogger and columnist with the popular Women of Rubies interviews. How do you go out of your way to get these exceptional women?
Blogging, through the Women of Rubies Platform, has been very interesting. It avails me the opportunity to be more inspired and challenges me to even do more. We often have people nominate women they feel are worthy of being celebrated; we get nominations weekly for a ‘deserving woman’ whose story deserves to be brought to the front-burner.

What’s relaxation for you?
Sadly, I hardly relax but lately, I’m beginning to learn how to have some time for myself. I go out to see an interesting movie or just stay indoors and watch one – zero-attention to social media; just that alone-movie time to relax the head.

Who are your role models?
My mum, because she had every reason under the sun not to bring me to the world, but against all odds she did and made sure I become the woman I am today. Another person is Kate Henshaw. She is one of the very first people who believed in me, she made sure I got more tutelage from more experienced women in my line of work and she also became a mentor in the process. Aunty Kate as I fondly call her is one of my biggest support systems in the industry. Her selflessness and humility inspire me a lot. I also admire Remi Shonaiya, the presidential candidate for KOWA Party for daring to be different and standing up tall, for showing that a woman can contest and one day sit at the highest level of authority in this country. I am inspired by her courage and the way she has positioned herself even after losing the election. I also admire Ini onuk and Betty Irabor. On the International scene it’s Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton.

You’re the daughter of a renowned accountant in the country, why didn’t you follow daddy’s career? What life’s lessons have you learned from your dad?
For me, this is what God wants me to do; this is the path He wants me to toe – I am living my own purpose. My dad’s purpose is in accounting and other fields he has excelled in; he respects my vision and is very supportive of my aspirations in life. One life lesson he taught me is to always stay and think positive, no matter what life throws at me.

What’s your philosophy of life?
I am not scared of lifting other women up; I am not afraid to help other women and see them succeed. My thing is: “as long as I wear the crown, no one can take my throne”. You can’t boldly say you have succeeded in life till you help someone who can never pay you back.

Advice for young women out there
Women, stand up! Go out there and be all you want to be. Be strong and bold, do all you can to have a voice and an identity. Let your name be the solution to a problem you solve.

Interview originally published by Guardian

At the age of 20, Adenike had one of her limbs amputated as a result of cancer , but the survivor continues to live her life like it’s golden,inspiring people daily through her story and touching lives, . The founder of “Amputees United Intiative” plans to provide support to amputees and create awareness through her organisation. Adenike shares her inspiring story with us and also reveals how she survived the dark phase in her life and her plans for her organisation.

The beginning

February 4 2006, started me on the life changing journey I have embarked on, these few years. It’s been a roller coaster ride, with its ups and downs. A journey very less traveled, and so, the outcomes are highly uncertain, as with similar trips. A journey where the destination remains unclear, can only be traveled with God. It’s has made me get close to him, been lukewarm, getting back to knowing him; and realizing undoubtedly, the only thing else that makes sense, would be to be on His team. It’s crazy, especially in a society like ours. We don’t even know how many persons living with disabilities we have, and I suggest wonder why some folks are surprised we can’t care for them. We don’t even know the forms of disabilities, how do we care for them? I didn’t have anything handed down to me, so far on this journey. I have had to kneel before God especially for the biggest things men once thought were obviously impossible to get. I have had to wonder if it may have been a little different, only if I didn’t have to lose the use of my right natural limb.

People somehow just expect you to be high and fly, almost at every point in time; and when you’re not, they know it’s most definitely because one has a special need. It’s been a crazy journey, but an evidently worthwhile one.

Losing her limbs

Nothing ever prepares you for a life of limb loss. I was hardly ever prepared, or so it seemed. In hindsight sometimes, I think I was prepared, but had no idea, it was a training process. I can be so annoying. I hang up the phone so easily, and I have been working on that. I am a trustworthy person, if I do say so myself. Can be very loquacious, but I definitely, know the limits.

My driving force

The reasons I am alive drives me. My visions, purpose of course are embedded in these reasons and it’s systematic and progressive unveiling will only happen through God

State of mind when I was told my leg would be amputated

Amazingly, I wasn’t destabilized this was because from the date of my diagnosis, till the eventual amputation, I knew time was running out, and I had no choice, save to amputate my limb. I was way mentally prepared for the procedure, but of course, not the new realities I was to face. I needed to jump start’ my life, and I knew the amputation was the first step. I needed to go face it.

Passion for broadcasting

Truthfully, I looked for a job as a lawyer, but wasn’t successful, because I hadn’t been pushy about it.Then came the season to re-discover myself, and broadcasting was where my passion also lied. Of course, my dad’s influence wouldn’t be undermined, as I remember growing up around news studios, and on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria ground. My dad retired from the FRCN, as a manager News and Current Affairs.

Greatest influence on my life

Sometimes when I mention Jesus as my greatest life influence it just gets me emotional. Another person who has continued to impact me is a dear friend, Udy. Udy Ntia is my pastor, mentor and most importantly friend. He has been able to help me to rediscover who I am and my journey of purpose.

Tempted to quit

I have not been tempted to be suicidal .I have only been tempted to give up. A number of times, I get so frustrated at the turn out of events in life, and I begin to ask myself if the story may have changed, only if I had both natural limbs. I hardly ever stay in this sort of mood for so long, so I get back and keep moving.


Greatest Reward

My greatest reward has been the joy that fills my heart when people unbeknownst to me, have gotten inspired by my story and become more appreciative of their own situation.

Greatest Reward

My greatest reward has been the joy that fills my heart when people unbeknownst to me, have gotten inspired by my story and become more appreciative of their own situation.

Compassion and empathy are not the same

Nigerians are compassionate towards amputees. Unfortunately, compassion and empathy are two very distinct, yet closely related terms. It’s fine to show compassion, but there’s a very thin line, and that’s where I usually have an issue. We are amputates, we understand you simply are concerned about our wellbeing, but we need you to let us ‘fall and stand again. One would have thought the compassion would have translated to so much, as better care for we amputees, or persons living with disabilities, but that’s not the case. Those in the position to effect the changes we need, to live a better quality of life, do not do so.

Inspiration behind Amputees United

It was born out of my passion for fellow Amputees, I look back at my journey in 11years and sincerely I wouldn’t want them to go on this mental journey alone. I will love to help them wage through the storm, because honestly, I went through this, that I may help them on their journey.

Message to other Amputees

We at the AMPUTEES UNITED INITIATIVE would love that you allow us hold hands together. Let’s hold hands till you come to terms with your new reality. Let’s hold hands, so you don’t have to suffer depression. Let’s hold hands to inspire one another. Let’s hold hands, so they know we can, despite our journeys.

Advice to women living with disabilities

Get up, yes you can. Please get up, move on. You can, and will do it. Your hair will grow again, your love life will re-ignite, your finance will stabilize, and your health will be restored.

Final words

The notion of the Nigerian woman we once had, has evolved. She has grown in leaps and bounds. She has learnt to handle her home, career and God, very well.So, everyone must discover, and as quickly as she can, who she is, what she stands for, what she’s here for, and get to work.