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  • Startup Spotlight: Sukhiba Connect

    Sukhiba Connect is a Kenyan social commerce startup which was founded in 2021 by Ananth Gudipati (CEO) and Abhinav Solipuram (CTO). The startup developed a B2B conversational commerce tool that lets companies sell to their clients via Meta's messaging service, WhatsApp. Most recently, Sukhiba Connect raised $1.5 million in funding to expand beyond the country's borders. The funding round was led by CRE Venture Capital with participation from Antler, EQ2 Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Chandaria Capital, and several angel investors. The funds will be used to expand beyond Kenya's borders. Initially, Sukhiba Connect was a community commerce platform that combined buyer orders and made it easier for manufacturers to purchase in bulk. However, the asset-heavy and capital-intensive model forced them to switch to conversational commerce in the middle of the previous year. Now, sellers can send notifications, group customers, manage orders, and take local payment options like M-PESA, a mobile money service. Customers can peruse product catalogues, add or remove items from carts, and even complete the checkout process without ever leaving WhatsApp. Sukhiba Connect's B2B conversational commerce tool has enabled businesses to reach out to and sell to their customers via WhatsApp. According to the company, over 30 businesses have used WhatsApp commerce, most of which are large distributors and manufacturers serving nearly 15,000 MSMEs, including retailers. Manufacturers use Sukhiba to help their sales teams expand their customer base and reach new areas as most of their sales teams are offline. Sukhiba has also created several tools that enable manufacturers to customize in-app support based on routes by allocating customers to sales representatives. Sukhiba Connect's innovative approach towards social commerce is commendable. Their B2B conversational commerce tool has enabled businesses to reach out to their customers via WhatsApp. The company's focus on manufacturers and distributors is noteworthy as it helps them streamline their sales process and expand their customer base. The recent funding round will enable Sukhiba Connect to expand beyond Kenya's borders and reach new markets. Source (1) Sukhiba Connect, a social commerce startup, gets $1.5 million funding .... (2) Kenyan Social Commerce Startup, Sukhiba Connect, Secures $1.5 Million .... (3) Sukhiba Connect secures $1.5m investment for expansion. 2 other stories ....

  • What do we know about the new Gabon Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima

    Raymond Ndong Sima is a Gabonese politician who has been the Prime Minister of Gabon since September 2023. He was previously Prime Minister from February 2012 to January 2014. Ndong Sima was born in 1955 and has a degree in economics from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne. He began his career in the Gabonese government in 1982, serving in a variety of positions in the Ministry of Finance. In 1994, he was appointed Director-General of Hévégab, a state-owned rubber company. He returned to government in 2009 as Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Rural Development. In 2012, Ndong Sima was appointed Prime Minister by President Ali Bongo Ondimba. He served in this role until 2014, when he was replaced by Daniel Ona Ondo. After leaving office, Ndong Sima became a critic of Bongo and ran against him in the 2016 and 2023 presidential elections. He lost both elections, obtaining less than 0.5% of the vote each time. Following the 2023 Gabonese coup d'état, Ndong Sima was reappointed by interim president Brice Oligui to become prime minister of a transition government on 7 September. Ndong Sima is a controversial figure in Gabon. He is seen by some as a credible and experienced politician who can help to lead the country through a difficult period. However, others view him as a collaborator with the military junta and a tool of their interests. It remains to be seen how Ndong Sima will perform as prime minister of the transition government. However, his appointment is a sign that the military junta is willing to work with some members of the opposition in order to legitimize its rule.

  • Shaden Gardood: Another victim of Sudan’s war

    Shaden Gardood was a Sudanese singer and activist who was killed in crossfire in the Sudanese city of Omdurman on May 13, 2023. She was 37 years old. Gardood was born in South Kordofan, a war-torn region in Sudan. She began her singing career at a young age, and quickly became known for her powerful voice and her songs of peace and social justice. In 2011, she was forced to flee South Kordofan with her family due to the ongoing conflict. She settled in Khartoum, where she continued to sing and advocate for peace. Gardood was a vocal critic of the Sudanese government, and her songs often spoke out against the country's military dictatorship. She was also a strong supporter of the Sudanese women's movement, and her songs often celebrated the strength and resilience of Sudanese women. Gardood was killed on May 13, 2023, amid clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). She was one of at least 600 civilians who were killed in the violence. Her death was a major blow to the Sudanese people, who had come to see her as a symbol of hope and resistance. Gardood's legacy will live on through her music and her activism. She was a true inspiration to the Sudanese people, and her death is a reminder of the ongoing struggle for peace and justice in Sudan. Here are some additional details about Shaden Gardood's life and career: She was born in 1986 in South Kordofan, Sudan. She began singing at a young age, and her talent was quickly recognized. She released her first album in 2005. Her music often dealt with themes of peace, social justice, and women's empowerment. She was a vocal critic of the Sudanese government, and her songs often spoke out against the country's military dictatorship. She was also a strong supporter of the Sudanese women's movement. She was killed in crossfire in Omdurman, Sudan on May 13, 2023. She was 37 years old. Shaden Gardood was a talented singer and activist who was taken from us too soon. Her music and her activism will continue to inspire people around the world for years to come.

  • Interview with Jani Landman | Founder and CEO of nobuk

    Jani Landman is an Entrepreneur and a Cofounder at nobuk, a software company that provides a mobile-first solution, which enables the consolidation and overview of financial, and business transactions, for micro and small businesses. nobuk was created by Jani Landman and Elvis Bando under the Antler Venture Building Programme for East Africa. In our interview with Jani, we explore her entrepreneurial journey and the value proposition of nobuk. Hello Jani. Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Before delving into your entrepreneurial journey, please give us an overview of your background prior to becoming an Entrepreneur? Jani: Hi there, thank you so much for inviting me to share my journey! My educational background is in Politics, Philosophy and English. I completed my undergrad at the university of Stellenbosch. My experience spans from Project Management in Marketing Agencies, Client services in the financial sector, and most recently I spent 4 years focusing on Entrepreneurship Development for a philanthropic investment fund in South Africa. I have always been very keenly focused on working on impactful projects. This has, and remains to be a driver for my career goals. nobuk offers automated transaction tracking through mobile money provider, Mpesa, as well as a few bank providers. nobuk uses this data to provide value back to the customer with insightful reports, as well as a customer engagement solution that allows businesses to manage debt, and upsell their already existing clients. - Jani Landman Why did you become an Entrepreneur? Jani: Entrepreneurship has always been part of my life growing up, and my father was my first entrepreneurial role model. He ran his own businesses with great success, and has been teaching us since we were young that there is always something you can do to generate value with the skills you have. I started my first business when I was only 11 years old, with the help of my dad. Since then my journey has been dotted with side hustles, businesses and finding ways to connect the dots, and create value. It was not until I started with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, that I actually saw this as a way to solve problems, and understood the power that entrepreneurship has to fundamentally change the status quo. It was such a powerful experience seeing many young South Africans go though the program and develop game changing businesses solutions. After 4 years of working alongside some of these businesses, I decided that It was my turn to get my hands dirty, so I set my sights on joining an accelerator program to give me the space to ideate, and to find a Cofounder. With this in mind I joined the Antler East Africa Venture building program. My goals were simple, I wanted to build a commercially successful business, using technology to provide solutions which have the ability to address a social or environmental need. Additionally, I needed a Cofounder to partner and walk this journey with. What’s the origin story behind your software company nobuk? We would like to know where the idea came from and what value proposition it offers to its customers? Jani: Elvis Bando and I, founded nobuk in our time at Antler East Africa. In our discovery phase we started at personal finance and thought that individuals didn’t have an overview of their finances, and wanted to make sense of what they were doing with their finances. However, when we were interviewing people, we noticed that this problem was painful for the individual customer, but it was much more a pain and necessity for businesses. We decided to shift our focus to businesses, and found that, not only did they not have a full view of their finances, they found the process of understanding their finances through traditional bookkeeping, time consuming. It was at this point we delved deeper into the bookkeeping process to understand what the problem was and how we could resolve it. To really understand the problems, we spent about 5 months and interviewed around 500 businesses. Our research found these businesses didn't have a good grip on their finances, and record keeping was tough, but what we also learnt that record keeping was not an end in itself. These businesses were keeping record for more than the purpose of running a good business. They wanted to keep track of who owed them, how much inventory they had sold, and who their clients were. What we also learnt was that due to a lack of overview and proper bookkeeping records, a lot of these businesses were excluded from accessing a business loan to grow their businesses. With this in mind, we founded nobuk, a mobile-first solution that enables the consolidation and overview of financial and business records, for micro and small businesses. nobuk offers automated transaction tracking through mobile money provider, Mpesa, as well as a few bank providers. nobuk uses this data to provide value back to the customer with insightful reports, as well as a customer engagement solution that allows businesses to manage debt, and upsell their already existing clients. All this information is used to build the digital financial records that they can use to access credit. The name, ‘no book’, is a statement of our vision for the future, where these small businesses no longer have to rely on piles of manual receipts and record books. It is also an assertion of the current reality that small businesses prefer not to have books for the sake of it. Rather, they prefer to find ways to increase their sales, better retain their customers, and of course access much-needed credit to grow. We have brought together our commercial, marketing, technical, and credit scoring skills to build a game-changing solution that leverages best-in-practices UX design, process automation, and AI, to help small businesses in Kenya, grow. nobuk allows customers to make sense of their finances by understanding how money flows in and out of their businesses. Customers can easily identify clients and products that drive revenue. They can also map out their expenses to see where they spend the most, and what percentage of their revenue they are spending. - Jani Landman Why did you launch nobuk in Kenya? Jani: I met my Cofounder in Kenya and we spent a lot of time researching Kenyan businesses. Our solution was heavily focused on mobile money transactions, and we automated as much as possible with this type of payment system. We were also attracted to the incredible entrepreneurial spirit that exist in Kenya. Almost everyone in Kenya is, has or will soon be running a business as their main source of income, or as a side hustle. Lastly, smartphone penetration and digital savviness in Kenya is fantastic. This is key for an app-based start-up. That said, for expansion we are setting our eyes to other neighbouring countries that also have greater mobile money penetration. We hope to make this our key differentiator. What benefits do customers get from using nobuk to track their transactions? Jani: nobuk allows customers to make sense of their finances by understanding how money flows in and out of their businesses. Customers can easily identify clients and products that drive revenue. They can also map out their expenses to see where they spend the most, and what percentage of their revenue they are spending. Furthermore, nobuk assists customers in managing client reminders, for those who owe them. This is done triggering automated reminders for those clients to settle their debts. Lastly, all this information is transformed into pseudo credit scoring data, which we can use to accurately assess our clients and propose loans based on their ability and willingness to pay. What part does artificial intelligence play in the services offered by nobuk to their customers? Jani: As mentioned earlier, process automation is key for us, as we know these businesses don’t have the time to go through long user flows, to get to what they want. So, implementing our smart AI to make this process as simple as possible is key for our customer. The robust parsing of sms messages enables us to automatically categorise payments as either income or expenses. It also allows us to match payments to past sales, invoices, and debts. We are also able to assist with forecasting sales, expenses, and auto suggest messages to send to certain customers. You are a resident Entrepreneur with Antler, a Venture Capital company. Did you raise your seed funding from them, and what other support have they provided you? Jani: Yes, nobuk africa is a portfolio company of Antler East Africa and we raised our initial pre-seed round though the venture builder program. However, the support received from the Antler East Africa is much more than just financial. The support is tailored to each startup's needs. They provided us with hands on consulting support during product development. The network of advisors we have had access to, has been most valuable. Before concluding this interview what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa? Jani: Be kind to yourself! Building a business is tough and even lonely at times. It is very easy to get caught up in the big goals that will inevitability take time. Whilst it's important to work towards a larger plan, be sure to celebrate the small steps in the right direction! Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Jani: Thank you so much for the opportunity! Be kind to yourself! Building a business is tough and even lonely at times. It is very easy to get caught up in the big goals that will inevitability take time. Whilst it's important to work towards a larger plan, be sure to celebrate the small steps in the right direction! - Jani Landman

  • Interview with Zana Masombuka | Creative Director | Ndebele Superhero | Visionary African Artist

    Zana Masombuka, a.k.a, Ndebele Superhero, is a young Johannesburg based creative director who draws inspiration from her upbringing in rural KwaNdebele, in a small town called Siyabuswa. She is a graduate of International Studies at Stellenbosch University, where she learnt the art of critical thinking, as well as the importance of globalization and how it continues to impact Africa. Her art expresses much more than beauty. Zana describes it as art which speaks to Africa’s active role in the next wave of a new global phenomena, where African artists aim to pioneer the stories being written about their continent and its people, which is fundamental to the preservation of their heritage. The overarching theme of her work explores the convergence of the human experience with the modern world, and how this impacts culture and tradition; especially in Africa. Her work is inspired by the emotive vibrancy of the Ndebele people as well as the Ndebele culture. It is deep rooted in the recreation of the African identity, with a focus on the Ndebele culture. It explores how Africans from all industries are paving the way for themselves as well as future generations. Zana Masombuka has showcased her work with the Julie Miller Art Institute for their Winter Art Collective’18 and the Spring Art Collective’18 exhibitions; as well at the J&B Hive Braamfontein, as a part of the “Friends Of King Zimela” exhibition in 2018. She has also exhibited with Inaugural Edition of the Underline Show’19 at the Museum Of African Design. She was invited to speak at the 2019 Antenna Festival as part of the top 20 Antenna Global graduates; hosted by Dutch Design Week and Design Indaba in Eindhoven, Netherlands. You can view her work at She also sells her art on Artsy. In our interview with Zana, we explore her origin story and passion for the Ndebele culture. Hello Zana and thank you for participating in this Q&A Session. We would like to start by exploring your cultural background. What was it like growing up in Siyabuswa, South Africa? Zana: Growing up in Siyabuswa was quite an exciting experience. Imagination and creativity played a huge part in my overall upbringing. My friends and I spent most of our time outdoors, playing, exploring and creating. If I wasn't playing with my friends, I was in the garden with either one of my grandparents, learning, experimenting, observing stillness and simply BEING. What was your first experience with art and why have you chosen to become an Artist. Zana: The Ndebele culture is a very expressive and artistic culture. Art is an extension of our essence. Therefore I can't necessarily single out a moment when I decided to "become an Artist" because art and expression were embedded into the essence of my being, way before the manifestation of my birth. How much influence does your cultural roots have on the type of art you create? Zana: My culture has a very important role in the type of art that I create. Art in my culture also functions as a conversational tool to all other living beings that we share this planet with. Therefore, I'm constantly drawing from the essence of the value system in the work I create, and in my interpretation of the world I live in. You are called the Ndebele Superhero. What’s the origin story of this name? Zana: The origin of the name "Ndebele Superhero" came after my brother's initiation, which I decided to document. I liked the idea of superhero, which is usually someone who is an outsider and decides to pave their own path, and write their own stories. There is so much power in being anchored in yourself, and choosing to exist loudly, in a space where your people are made to exist on the margins. What message or story does your artwork aim to tell? Zana: My works aims to explore the evolutionary process of a living culture, through the perspective of a young 21st century Ndebele woman. In general what impact can art have in modern Africa, and at the same time in preserving African culture for the future generation? Zana: I believe that art acts as a bridge between the known and unknown. I believe that its essence exists beyond the time/space quantum. It is an energy that artists channel to propel not only their experience, but the stories of their lineages. I believe that modern Africa is a springboard for where we see ourselves in the collective futures that we are building. Before concluding this interview what advice do you have for new and aspiring female artists in Africa? Zana: My advice for new and aspiring female artists in Africa is this: "The art has awakened, freedom can be created". Thank you Zana for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best. Zana: Thank you for having me. Akwande! (English Translation: Let it be abundant)

  • The Business Anecdote: A startup publishing company owned by a British Nigerian

    One of the biggest problems facing startups at the moment is publicity. Getting the attention of the Forbes, Business Insider and Entrepreneur Magazine is quite difficult. In most cases these companies are only interested in publishing stories about you if you’ve just gone through a funding round or sold your company for millions of dollars. A publishing startup called The Business Anecdote has set out to change this. Founded by Hubert Nomamiukor, a British Engineer and Social Activist, The Business Anecdote was launched a year ago and has already featured names such as Kara Goldin, Arlene Dickinson, Wes Hall, Kim Perell, Heather Monahan, Hala Taha, Shay Rowbottom and several other top Business leaders on its magazine cover. Sticking to its founding principles, The Business Anecdote features the 1% on its cover but the 99% within its magazine. The 1% usually consist of high profile Business leaders and Entrepreneurs who run million dollar companies. While the 99% are mostly new startups or up and coming Entrepreneurs that need free press and are desperate to get their story out there. The goal being for the 1% to drive traffic to the magazine and give the 99% the exposure they require. In the span of one year The Business Anecdote has built a high performing SEO driving platform. 90% of the articles which are published on their website, rank on the first page of Google and Bing. This ensures that small businesses and entrepreneurs they write about get organic traffic on search engines, which is more powerful than any social media post can do for them. While social media is a great platform to provide media exposure, it is only as effective as the number of people that read that post. On the other hand, ranking for a keyword on search engine ensures that people will always find you on Google or Bing, not just one social media post. This has been The Business Anecdote’s core strategy for providing small businesses and Entrepreneurs free organic press. In addition to their SEO strategy, The Business Anecdote has a growing presence on Social media platform such as Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Like most startups, The Business Anecdote was self funded by Hubert Nomamiukor. He build their website himself and initially did the designs for the magazine until he got a number of volunteers in to help. Hubert has built a sustainable growing publishing business that operates at a low cost. His vision is to compete with the likes of Forbes and Business Insider but is happy with the progress he has made so far, especially with the limited resources he has access to. To learn more about The Business Anecdote visit their website at If you have a great startup story and you need free press or you would like to sponsor one of their magazine Issue, please contact them at It gets better, The Business Anecdote magazines are for free. You can get the latest digital copy of their magazine by subscribing at

  • Interview with Kovini Moodley | Founder of Boss Babes of South Africa | Change Activist

    Kovini Moodley is a change activist, philanthropist, women empowerment advocate and the founder of Boss Babes South Africa. She was born in Durban and now lives in Johannesburg where she continues to promote wellness, self-love and self-confidence in everything she does. Additionally, Kovini is a Chartered Accountant by trade. Her company Boss Babes of South Africa is a leading, philanthropic and skill sharing platform, that provides a safe space for women to share their stories of overcoming struggles to achieve success. In this interview we explore her origin story and entrepreneurial journey in South Africa. We also look at the value proposition of her company Boss Babes of South Africa. Hello Kovini and thank you for participating in this Q&A Session. Please give us an overview of your background and career to date? Kovini: Hi My name is Kovini, I'm the founder of Boss Babes of South Africa and a change Activist in South Africa. I'm a qualified Chartered Accountant who is passionate about women upliftment. I love inspiring the future and younger generations. Growing up in a little town south of Durban, self belief, resilience and hard work have been key pillars towards my success today. What’s the origin story behind your company ‘Boss Babes of South Africa’. We would like to know why you built this community and what this community offers its subscribers? Kovini: I've always wanted to impact causes greater than myself and this is the perfect platform to effect change in South Africa. Women need to own their spaces, take up spaces and be the very best versions of themselves in the world. There is power when we choose to collaborate instead of compete with each other. I created this platform as a safe space for women to share their stories of overcoming struggles to achieve success. Women need to own their spaces, take up spaces and be the very best versions of themselves in the world. - Kovini Moodley What impact has the Boss Babes community made in South Africa since its inception? Kovini: We are a leading philanthropic and skill sharing platform. Boss Babes of South Africa has become a leading name in South Africa when it comes to celebrating and uplifting women on a daily basis. They do this through: 1. Daily motivation and inspiration. 2. Mentorship programmes for young professionals. 3. Interviews with inspirational women in South Africa who share their tips of overcoming struggle to achieve success. 4.Collaborative campaigns with large leading brands where members of the community lend their voices to critical topics such as inclusion and diversity, gender based violence and other societal topics. You can visit us at, it's free to register. There is power when we choose to collaborate instead of compete with each other. - Kovini Moodley What would you say are the key challenges facing female leaders in Africa and do you have any suggestions on how to address these? Kovini: I believe it’s limited confidence and this is closely linked to imposter syndrome as well. The imposter syndrome is a phenomenon whereby top performing individuals are overcome with doubt and believe that they are not deserving of the roles that they hold, AKA "the fraudster" mentality. It is therefore important that senior leadership roles are inclusive and diverse so that all females can aspire to towards growth and success. Before concluding this interview what advice do you have for new and aspiring female leaders? Kovini: Absolutely, know yourself and own your power. Make sure that you spend time understanding yourself, your strengths and talents. Understanding your natural talents is key to embracing your authentic power and purpose. Thank you Kovini for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best. Kovini: Thank you. Make sure that you spend time understanding yourself, your strengths and talents. - Kovini Moodley 👉Follow us on Instagram @changeinafricamagazine

  • Interview with Christabel Ikpen - Founder and CEO of Christabel Ikpen Consulting

    Christabel Ikpen is a Nigerian entrepreneur, International Speaker, Life Coach, Influencer and Mental Health advocate. She is the Founder and CEO of Christabel Ikpen Consulting, a company that provides management services to help both individuals and organizations improve their performance and efficiency. In our interview with Christabel we discussed her entrepreneurial journey and work as a mental health advocate. Hello Christabel, and thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We would like to start this interview by exploring your origin story. Please give us an overview of your background and career journey to date? Christabel: Thank you for having me. My name is Christabel Ikpen and I run a management consultancy that provides management services to help both individuals and organizations improve their performance and efficiency. I am also a certified Life-coach, Brand expert, LinkedIn influencer, Global Speaker, Mental Health Advocate, and Author of a self-help book on Mental health awareness titled “FREEDOM”, which addresses possible ways of dealing with depression based on my experiences. I’ve collaborated with Vijona Africa, YMCA - Nigeria chapter, NGO – We Listen (India) to mention a few, and have been blessed to grace a lot of corporate stages. I have a knack for Personal Development that’s why I decided to be a Personal development coach. I’ve been featured by StratoCure India, Leading Ladies Africa, and Africa Fortune Magazine, where I talked about my struggles with depression, managing my business, and also breaking barriers. I’m value-oriented because I believe by so doing a lot of lives could be transformed. I’d love to see myself as a source of inspiration to many people and I genuinely feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to do what I enjoy doing best - impacting lives. I’m also an advocate for reading, education, women's rights and I enjoy traveling the world – seeing new places, experiencing different cultures. Has your career journey been influenced by any past or present business leaders? Christabel: Absolutely! I've been fascinated with P.T Barnum and Walt Disney. I mean, these were people that showed great courage even in the face of adversity. Take for example P.T Barnum, he was a genius. I know a lot of people might not agree because over the years he has been called a con man. However, you can't dispute his creativity. He is known as the Shakespeare of advertising. Reading about him and of course, watching the greatest showman movie, just showed a man who was willing to make things happen, and not only that, he knew how to get his desired audience's attention! That's world-class if you'd ask me. The other business leader that continues to have a great influence on me, especially as an entrepreneur, is Walt Disney. I am a storyteller, so it's easy to see why I admire him. His work has shown the value of heart and creativity in business. These are the two people that continue to have a great influence on me as a business owner myself. Why did you become an Influencer? Christabel: To make money!! haha! Okay, apart from making money, the joy that comes with being part of something great, being the brand that pushes out exciting business ideas or openings, is just amazing! Most importantly, it's the ability to use your influence for the greater good that is most rewarding. The fact that you inspire people that you probably haven't met, is a good feeling. That to me is the best part of influencing, using your space or name for something good! Why did you choose LinkedIn as your preferred platform for content creation? Christabel: Choosing LinkedIn as my preferred platform was a no-brainer. For one, the algorithm-reach of content is better than other social media platforms. Secondly, that's where my target audiences are. I am a personal development coach, Speaker, and Trainer. LinkedIn is the best platform for me to reach out to my target audience. As a content creator, please tell us what process you go through to ensure the content you post online is ethical and doesn’t cause harm? Christabel: This is a very valid question because if you aren't careful as a content creator, your articles could be misinterpreted, and that can be disastrous to you and your brand. There are several rules I follow when creating content, these are: 1. I avoid controversial issues like politics, religion, etc. 2. I try not to impose my ideas on people. So, you can't read an article or content from me urging you to do a particular thing. I leave the decision-making to the audience. 3. I am an empathetic writer. I choose my words carefully and I write or create my content with almost everyone in mind. I'm not self-absorbed. 4. I also tell a joke or two. This helps to make the readers feel at ease. 5. I write more uplifting content or share life hack secrets. People want to be encouraged. Life can be hard, so I prefer to uplift with my content and not make people feel miserable. What’s the story behind your passion for Mental Health advocacy? Christabel: I struggled with depression for a very long time. I even got suicidal at a point, and as I always say, that was the darkest phase of my life. The most difficult part for me during this ordeal was not having people to confide in. Almost everyone I met dismissed me, I don't blame them. In Nigeria, mental health issues aren't taken seriously and I think that is a cultural thing. It's good to know that we have a lot of people advocating for mental health now. I knew that I had to share my experience with people, especially those that are confused and feel alone. It prompted me to write my book - Freedom, which was just like a handbook for overcoming depression based on my battle with mental health illness. Mental health is still a taboo topic in most parts of Africa, what can be done to change this? Christabel: According to the Vanguard (2019), Nigeria ranked 15th in the world for suicide and it's projected to rise. This is very alarming! I believe what can be done to change this narrative especially in Africa is for people to be properly educated on what mental health illnesses are. In some parts of Africa, they consider people with mental health challenges as being demonic. Some cultures go as far as stigmatizing people with mental health challenges. When I was writing my book on depression, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to talk about my struggles with depression. He was scared that I won't get married. He felt that I would be stigmatized for sharing my story. Now, can you imagine how many people are keeping quiet about their struggles because of the fear of being stigmatized? We need to get to that point as a continent where people won't be judged for feeling a certain way, and that can only happen if we truly understand what mental health illnesses are. Being depressed doesn't mean a person is condemned or damned. With the proper support and care, they will be fine. In a nutshell, we all have a part to play. Let's have more of these conversations, teach them in schools, stop stigmatization, Invest in mental health awareness programs or workshops, let's be our neighbor's keeper, let's be empathetic and kind. Please tell us what your book ‘Freedom’ is about, and who the target audience is? Christabel: “Freedom- My Journey on Overcoming Depression” is based on my journey on overcoming depression and the practical steps I took that helped me get past that terrible phase of my life. It's packed with powerful insights, real stories that would speak to the reader and cause a positive shift in their thinking. The book will help readers: Understand what depression is; Prepare them on the journey and give insights on what to expect; It identifies the possible causes of depression; It suggests practical ways of dealing with depression. The book is for everyone. Be you an adolescent, teenager, or an adult. We have come to the end of the interview, and would like to thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Christabel: Thank you Never miss and articles from Subscribe to our free publication at

  • Interview with Awa k. Ndukwe - Brand Strategist at Optivity Now

    We recently caught up with Awa K. Ndukwe, a Brand Strategist and Coach, based in Nigeria. Awa talked about how his career in Branding kicked off. He also explained the role of a Brand Strategist, and how to create engaging content on social media. Awa has found alot of success on LinkedIn as a Brand Influencer and he currently works as a Brand Strategist at Optivity Now. Hello Awa, and thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We would like to start this interview by exploring your origin story. Please give us an overview of your background and career journey to date? Awa: My name is Awa k. Ndukwe. I am a Nigerian by birth. I graduated from the University of Lagos, Nigeria 🇳🇬 in the year 2011. I have always loved colours, writing, fashion, standing out in the crowd, and most especially business. I started my first business in High school, where I first started selling watches, and I have since then built and gone through lots of businesses ranging from Agriculture to restaurants, to dredging, haulage, transportation and many more. Branding has always been a part of me, and as I grew, the passion for it kept increasing. Today, I have worked with several brands and teams globally, gotten several awards and recognitions, and also taught branding in various gatherings. Branding is a necessity for any business to be successful in today's business ecosystem. What initially attracted you to Branding as an area of specialisation? Awa: I had various businesses running at the time, which included farming, dredging and a restaurant, but I couldn't market them productively, even after paying several media and marketing officials, to do so. After so many failures and losses, I went on google and that was when I first saw the word "Branding". I thought I had done all that with fancy fliers, websites, logos, and all that. But then I realized it was much more than that. Branding is about making a promise and keeping the promise consistently over a given period of time. It was about my team, it was about building a perception and positioning. It is about how my clients feel and think of my business. All of this, opened my eyes into the deeper world of Branding. Has your entrepreneurial journey been influenced by any past or present business leaders? Awa: I am a very big fan of Jay Z. His contagious entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and commitment turned him into the billion dollar mogul he is today. As his rap career prospered over the ensuing decades, he also began an insatiable pursuit of new business opportunities, including the founding of several companies and making several other shrewd investments that extended beyond the rap world. He founded among other ventures, a clothing company, a restaurant chain, a sports management firm, two record labels, and the streaming service Tidal. His personal brand is a mix of creativity, black excellence, a perception of being the best at what he does, and staying focused. He’s been able to infuse this into opening successful businesses and making a positive impact on society today. All of these are due to his consistency, creativity, and understanding of the essence of Branding. This is why he is one of my greatest influences. Please describe the roles of a Brand Coach and a Brand Strategist within the startup ecosystem? Awa: A Brand Strategist is the magician behind the growth of Brands. They build the skeletons and gives them life to move from point A to point B. Brand Strategists are responsible for creating the right strategy necessary for a brand to attain it's vision and visibility, while a Brand coach teaches all about branding. What are the top Branding issues clients come to you with? Awa: 1️⃣ They have an idea but don't know how to go about achieving it. 2️⃣ They have a business but now they need to build it's brand, to create awareness and connect to their audience. 3️⃣ They have a brand/business and want to penetrate Africa or Nigeria. 4️⃣ They have a branding team that isn't meeting key performance indicators. So, they need a Team lead or Brand coach, to help build, teach and manage their branding team. 5️⃣ Lastly, they need a Brand strategist to create an effective brand strategy. As a Content Creator, how do you create engaging content on social media? Awa: The first thing I do, is make sure the content is relatable to my audience. Next, is connecting with the content from my inside. Then I make sure the content has the right tone that expresses my true personality. Creating content isn't just about writing, it is the voice of your personality. I make sure it's easily readable and then I proof read to check for errors or find ways to make it shorter and precise. Before we end the interview, please tell us what you do to ensure the content you post online is ethical and considerate? Awa: I make sure my content doesn't cause harm by ensuring that it's positive and valuable to my audience. I also avoid making political, and religious content. I focus more on giving out positivity to my audience and providing content about branding. We have come to the end of the interview, and would like to thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Ewa: Thank you. To contact Awa about any Branding enquiries, use the contact details below. He offers global branding services. Linkedin link 🔗 - Whatsapp - +2348082198311

  • Interview with Temitope Omotolani - CEO of Crowdyvest

    Temitope Omotolani is the Co-founder and CEO of Crowdyvest, an impact driven platform focused on connecting its members to multiple sponsorship opportunities that are aligned with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The main focus of Crowdyvest is to raise funds for businesses in different sectors through crowdfunding, and to provide impact driven opportunities for people to increase their finances and contribute to economic growth. In our interview with Temitope, we explored her entrepreneurial journey and the challenges she overcame to become the successful serial entrepreneur she is today. Please tell us a little about yourself, your initial career aspirations and what drew you to entrepreneurship? Temitope: My name is Temitope Omotolani. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Crowdyvest. I have a B.Sc in Economics from the University of Lagos and I am an alumni of Lagos Business School (LBS) & FATE Foundation Aspiring Entrepreneurship Program. Initially, I wanted to be an Architect growing up because that was what my mom thought would fetch me good money, but realistically I had to take many detours 😄. The word “Entrepreneurship” has so much to do with “SELF”. Self actualization comes from my experiences as a kid up until this moment, so I would say that my realities drew me to entrepreneurship. I wanted to create solutions that will add value and still be good enough to make me money. This led me to creating businesses that solved problems in my community and that was how I started my first start-up when I was 16, called ‘Gifted Hands’, a make-up business that ran for 10 years. At age 19, I founded a cleaning services company known as Fínífíní enterprises (which means “thoroughly clean”). It catered to houses, offices and the likes, and eventually had over 20 staff working with me. In 2012, I launched another company that focused on the buying and selling of agricultural produce from the rural areas and sold to the urban parts of the city of Lagos through offline crowdfunding, and also set up a local market in Lekki (Lagos) every last Saturday of the month. It was called ‘Ojawara’. The business grew to the point where I had to partner with farmers in the Northern part of Nigeria to grow crops for me to distribute across different markets in the country. I later became one of the co-founders and COO of Farmcrowdy, where I coordinated all farm operations of over 25,000 farmers across 14 states in Nigeria for over 3 years before moving on to launch Crowdyvest in January 2020. How much of your upbringing, surroundings and environment influenced your entrepreneurial journey? Temitope: Well, I would say a lot. I grew up learning to be self-reliant and independent, making decisions for and on behalf of myself. I lost my dad at a very young age, and as the only child of a single mom who wasn’t always around, I had to grow up fast. I had to fend for myself, so I had to work, save and pay my way through school, hence the aforementioned businesses. Speaking of my environment, I grew up in Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria and anyone who knows that area might have an idea how it was and probably still is. I am forever thankful that I got a chance to get out of that life even after the difficulties, pain and abuse I was subjected to. Seeing how a lot of people around me got caught up in the “life'' there, I knew I wanted a different path. I did not want to be just another victim of circumstance. I wanted to someday look back on my life and marvel at how much grace I have enjoyed regardless of the impossibilities. A major event in my life I like to reference is when I was about 17, where a friend invited me to an event where I saw a lot of young ladies hopping into their cars and driving off. I observed their seeming accomplishments, though I did not know them or what they did for a living, but I thought to myself, if they can have that, so can I. That jolted me, and I have been more driven ever since never to let my background put my back to the ground. As an entrepreneur, what criteria do you use to define success? Temitope: One of my favorite sayings is “Success is a moving target. Today’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity”, so the moment you start to think you have arrived, you are planning to fail. So in my own words, I would say success is a continuous tense. It is doing what makes you happy, adding value to lives and making positive impacts. What would you say is your most valuable attribute as an entrepreneur? Temitope: Being teachable! I have worked across different industries in the last 17 years; from being the makeup artist, to being the cleaning lady, to being the market woman, to being the farmer, and now leading a financial services company in the tech space. A lot of these businesses are in spaces I had no prior knowledge about but one constant has always been the fact that “I am teachable” no matter what. I studied Economics at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and I officially do not have any background in technology, but I learn, relearn and unlearn everyday from my amazing team and people I surround myself with. Lagosians say that “if you know how to ask for directions, you can never get lost”, so that applies in business. Simply put, if you do not know something and you are passionate about it, just ask questions, be willing to learn because someone always knows more than you do. What key challenges have you faced in your entrepreneurial journey, and how have you navigated these? Temitope: I think any entrepreneur worth something has gone through the stages of self-doubt, weariness and uncertainty. Entrepreneurship is a journey of faith travelled by crazy people😄. I have had many dark days and considered paid employment, but what has kept me going is my belief and passion for the solutions my businesses create. Knowing that someone’s life is better because of the work I put in everyday is a huge motivation for me to get going when it is tough. I also try to take time to rest, travel, eat good food and have fun, that helps me rejuvenate. I surround myself with positive people that can help me push along the tough paths. What advice do you have for women aspiring to become business leaders and entrepreneurs, especially in Africa? Temitope: I know a lot of women have different realities and society has neither been fair nor enabling in most cases, but I would say “Do Not Limit Yourself!” It is all in the mindset. If you believe you can do something, then you can. However, nothing good comes easy or from wishing, so put in the work, be yourself, take responsibility, surround yourself with the right people, strike when the iron is hot and if you believe in God, pray. Please give us an overview of Crowdyvest’s origin story? Temitope: Crowdyvest was born out of the need to address impact and funding opportunities in different sectors of the economy. We first started from Agriculture, helping thousands of farmers across Nigeria access finance, put together by different individuals. We have since expanded into Real Estate, Transportation, Healthcare, Telecommunications, and many more, helping SMEs raise capital to fund their projects while our members make good returns on their investment. We started as a team of 8 who sat around just one table and did all the operations. Things were a bit rocky in the early stages of the start-up, but as time went on, we gained more structure, definition, unified vision and mission. Now, we have grown to a staff strength of 27 with over 101,000 members from across the world and a range of 7 major product offerings within 18months. We have been able to help more than 10 businesses across different sectors achieve many of their project targets. What value proposition is offered by Crowdyvest and how is it different from other investment platforms in Africa? Temitope: We hinge our values on the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which makes us distinct. This simply means that we care about our members and the society at large beyond their wallet balances or the amount of money that they can trust us with. Our message says “Making more possible” and we mean that in any sense there is. A lot of people do not understand how much they can achieve with the right tools or do not believe in starting small. We are proof that hunger and poverty can be alleviated gradually. With the right savings and investment culture, coupled with viable opportunities, we can access to better education with proper planning, good health and ultimately improve their quality of life long term. That is why we are sensitizing people on more productive ways to improve. It is everyone’s social responsibility to tackle those issues that are not as prominent or do not make the news. We believe our work helps tackle these goals in one way or another, and we have only just scratched the surface. What is the target market and reach of Crowdyvest? Crowdyvest is made for everyone living and breathing; school pupils, university students, civil servants, market vendors, artisans, entrepreneurs, investors and anyone in-between, across all ages. So, I would say the size of our target market is 7 billion plus people, and with our range of products, there is something for everyone while we work on even bigger expansions. Therefore, everyone that aims to achieve their financial goals or other goals in any area of life is our target market. What key challenges has Crowdyvest faced since its launch, and how have you navigated these? Well, like the 17th SDG says, “Partnerships for the Goals”, but this can be tricky. Finding businesses that share your vision or can help achieve that vision is not a walk in the park. We have to make sure we do our due diligence, know their track record and also ensure that these entities can pay us back when the time comes. The economic reality of the nation affects our business greatly as well. There is also the issue of regulations; trying to model your business a certain way but at the same time, in compliance with regulatory bodies. Having to pivot or adjust to new regulations when these bodies update their policies can take a toll on the business. Before ending the interview please tell us what Crowdyvest’s future plans are for expansion in Africa? Temitope: Our vision reads, “To be the leading impact-focused financial solution driven by digital technology with a community of over 5 million members by 2025”. We have our work cut out for us in achieving all-in-one financial solutions for all these individuals, businesses, and for their short or long term goals. This ensures that we make more possible for them, in order to attain financial freedom. Expansion into other countries within and outside Africa is also a major part of our growth strategy, leveraging on deliberate partnerships. Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We wish you all the best. Temitope: Thank you.

  • Interview with Talifhani Banks - Founder and CEO of Analytics Advertising

    Talifhani Banks is the Founder and CEO of Analytics Advertising, a multi-disciplinary advertising, marketing, and brand building agency. He originally established himself in the actuarial and econometrics sphere, and then reinvented himself in the analytics industry by launching Analytics Advertising. We spoke to Talifhani about his entrepreneurial journey and the value proposition of his company Analytics Advertising. Hello Talifhani and thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Please give us an overview of your background, career milestones, and most importantly, how you got into entrepreneurship? Talifhani: I originally come from Louis Trichardt, A small town in Limpopo. Growing up, I had ambitions to be an entrepreneur, I fell in love with education and excelled in it. So, I decided to find my way to the top through education. I studied Statistics at the University of Pretoria and specialised in Econometrics. When I graduated, I just needed to kickstart my career, so I applied for jobs as an Intern Data Analyst. It wasn't long after graduating that I got my first job as an Intern Data Analyst at a US Consulting firm. I learned a lot there and I believe that's where my love for entrepreneurship arose. Again, I knew I couldn't make a business out of that knowledge alone. While working in my first job, I noticed I was undermined a lot and shown no respect. I learned that no matter how much you do, they just don't respect you. So, I tried to start an analytics business in 2014, but it didn't work because I only just started figuring things out. In 2015, I moved to one of the largest retailer in SA as a Pricing Analyst. I had some money to invest myself in media production, and I used my analytics knowledge to assist some personal brands. I saw people becoming successful through my knowledge in 2016, I knew then that this can be a powerful business. I was signing huge partnership deals for some personal brands. This is what led me to create Analytics Advertising, which incorporated Analytics and Media together. How much of your background and environment has influenced your entrepreneurial journey? Talifhani: My background has been the backbone to my entrepreneurial journey. I started selling at a train station, I had to sell to assist at home. I learned a lot about people from that time, and I learned that selling was a skill that came natural to me. I didn't enjoy that type of selling though, but I loved counting profit. It even got to the point I had to sell at school. I never smoked or hung out with people who didn't take life serious, my life has been serious and intentional. What key challenges have you faced through your entrepreneurial journey to date? Talifhani: One of my biggest challenges was the mindset needed to change. Sometimes we have this different consumer mentality that we don't want to admit. To adjust and think like a producer comes with its own challenges. Learning how to think like a producer, and be patience or faithful like a farmer, is what I would say was the biggest challenge. Many people want things now, they are not consistent and they just assume things should come to them fast. It is not always the case, great things take time and they require patience, more work and enough sleep. Consistency is key and I had to adapt to this. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders that are looking to launch a business in Africa? Talifhani: Africa is rich and wealthy, but our mindset of wanting things quickly, wanting things to be given to us, dependency, and not working hard should change. We are dependent people and that mindset is what holds us back. To become a thought leader in something, you have to have walked the road. Reading things and talking about them, doesn't mean you understand them. We are educated mainly with theories from a text book but now we need or should seek practical knowledge. Nothing will be given to you. Be consistent and intentional, mind your surroundings and people you are talking to, because your words create. When you spend time with people who don't believe in you, what do you think happens? It's all about living in the realm, creating things In your imagination that connects with the higher power. Learn as you act and be patient. Where did the idea for “Analytics Advertising” come from, and what problem or opportunity is it addressing? Talifhani: I had a vision to build a consulting company that would not only become successful but solve complex data analytics problems to create amazing campaigns for brands. I knew that I would need guys with coding skills, analytics skills and creatives. The Idea came from consulting, working with big retailers, and also getting involved Into media projects. We are a digital transformation partner for emerging and large enterprises. We build digital products for large enterprises. We clean and build models that would assist large enterprises to understand their customers better. We create target campaigns that are influenced by internal and market Analytics. What makes the value proposition of “Analytics Advertising” unique when compared to other advertising agencies in Africa? Talifhani: Other advertising agencies are creatives that create amazing campaigns. We are a Data Science company that uses Analytics to understand customer behaviour. We build systems internally that help corporates understand their customers better. We create targeted campaigns that are influenced by Analytics. Why does “Analytics Advertising” call itself Africa’s Silicon Valley? Talifhani: We want to become Africa's digital transformation hub, assisting large enterprises to grow digitally. We are also building a product that will solve some of our problems including mobile money. Who is the target market of “Analytics Advertising” and what is your current geographical reach? Talifhani: We are targeting large enterprises that are big in Africa. We are starting to employ a team in each country that our clients operate in. In the future we should be dominating in Africa. Before we end the interview, please tell us what the expansion plans are for "Analytics Advertising"? Talifhani: We plan to build Systems that will solve some of Africa's problems, and this means we will continue growing exponentially in Africa .We are also looking at opening offices in New York and London. We have come to the end of the interview, and would like to thank you for participating in this Q&A session. Talifhani: Thank you for the opportunity. I plan to create a platform for the African Economy. Data is the new Diamond and I am running a Data Science company from Africa in Africa.

  • Interview with Claire Alexander: Cofounder of Africa Scotland Business Network

    In recent times the term "Ally" has been given a lot of definitions by scholars, the media, and everyone who is given the opportunity to have a go at it. I don't have a definition for you, or a description, I just have an example, and that is Claire Alexander. Born in Scotland, Claire moved to South Africa 14 years ago, and within that time she has Cofounded three successful businesses, one of which is a business network called the "Africa Scotland Business Network (ASBN) ". ASBN originally started with the purpose of facilitating trade between Africa and Scotland. Since then, it has grown into a network connecting the western world to Africa. I am proud to say I am a member of this network. We had the opportunity to undertake a Q&A session with Claire and she shared her entrepreneurial journey with us. Please tell us a little about yourself, your initial career aspirations and what drew you to entrepreneurship? Claire: I always knew I was destined to do big things but I believed I would achieve this through sport. When my swimming career was tragically cut short by a head on car crash in my home town of Stirling, Scotland, I had to start again and carve a new path. This took lots of courage and grit and I often found myself feeling lost, trying to navigate life without everything I was ever good at – swimming. Now that I’m 38 and a little wiser, I now know that the bumps in my journey were meant to redirect me 6000 miles away to South Africa to build a legacy through entrepreneurship instead. In South Africa, I literally started at the bottom. Dish washing to be precise. I was then given an opportunity in the event management industry and decided to leverage from it wholeheartedly. After self-teaching myself everything there was to know about event management in the NGO and corporate sector over 5 years, I co-founded my first company Firecracker Marketing & Events with corporate marketing expert Nicola Probyn in 2012. Although myself and Nicola share a personal value system, a star sign and a ridiculous sense of humour, we come from very different backgrounds (which is partly what makes us work). Therefore, our motivations, at the time, for starting Firecracker were not similar. I was in a ‘do or die’ situation. I had nothing to lose, quite literally. I either start a business and throw everything I have into making this work on my own in South Africa or I’m making the call to my parents to put me on the next flight. The first option seemed the most interesting, character building (and challenging). Firecracker celebrated it’s 9th birthday this year. How much of your upbringing, surroundings and environment influenced your entrepreneurial journey? Claire: I’m the daughter of a pest controller turned self-made entrepreneur and a champion swimmer turned swimming coach. My upbringing in sport and watching my parents start their own business when they were 40 was undoubtedly a massive influence on my own career. I also grew up in a family with a grandmother matriarch who loved me to bits as her first of six granddaughters. She thought I could do anything, so I did too. Growing up in competitive sport meant that I had few good friends but those friends are still in my life 35 years later. I’m loyal and committed to my friends in the same way I was to sports, and now have the most fantastic friendships and support network north and south of the equator. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur on your own. Sports built essential qualities that would guide me throughout life and business, such as, discipline, work ethics, understanding wins, losses and being driven to be the best. At 5’2 in stature and not having a typical swimmers’ physique, the odds were stacked against me in the pool. It taught me so much about resilience and pushing my own boundaries, and whenever I’m challenged in business, that’s all the fuel I need to rev the engines. I’m very competitive and determined. As an entrepreneur, what criteria do you use to define success? Claire: Living and working in two very different countries – Scotland and South Africa, my definition of success can be interchangeable: Success is having ‘enough’ to ensure my family’s wellbeing and financial security is intact for a long time. What is considered ‘enough’ by me is a matter of my own perspective; Optimum mental and physical health is part of my holistic success. These are components of life that must be nurtured every day and are extremely valid to entrepreneurs. The business counts on you to be healthy in body and mind to make sound decisions on a daily basis. I’ve always wanted to build businesses in different countries, which is a tough feat. Anyone can start a business, but not everyone can grow one, nor take it across borders successfully. Firecracker has clients on 3 continents and my second business Africa Scotland Business Network has members in 11 countries, so far. We are extremely proud of these achievements but complacency isn’t in our language. Success in business should never stand still. I count my reputation more than my pennies. My legacy matters to me a great deal, especially climbing the ranks and then launching businesses in one of the most unequal countries in the world. Success comes with a huge responsibility to do the right thing in South Africa. I view it as my duty to give back regularly, whether that’s in the form of donations to NGOs, employing young people and mentoring the next gen of entrepreneurs. I’m not interested in people knowing what my bank balance is but I am interested in people responding to me as someone that inspired them or gave them a hand up to go on and unleash themselves as successful, responsible citizens. What would you say is your must valuable attribute as an entrepreneur? Claire: Authenticity. In business, life is a lot more fluid and less complicated if you move through it as your true self. I am driven by a huge sense of purpose to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to benefit more than just myself and my immediate friends and family. I genuinely want others to succeed in life and that’s my truth. One of the reasons I decided to start an international business network was to build prosperity and connections amongst a large community of businesses, so lots of businesses can thrive, as opposed to investing in one tech start up! I might not become as wealthy but I’m happier creating businesses based on what sets my heart on fire. What key challenges has there been to your entrepreneurial journey, and how have you navigated these? Claire: Be compelling. Understanding what you are known for is equally valuable to entrepreneurs than simply being a specialist or being passionate about something. Being a business expert is one thing but understanding what sets you apart and how you communicate that is key to your success. We were selling our ‘passion’ for our jobs and not what makes us different. It took us about 5 years to realise this and use our compelling stories and competences to our advantage. It comes with personal growth and confidence, not just as subject experts but as business leaders too. Claire: Business is about trust between two parties. In the early years, myself and Nicola placed far too much trust in others, especially in those big brands that everyone aspired to work for. We were thankful to gain those accounts and even more thankful for what a couple of them taught us. Little did we know, that trust was being abused as small business owners who wouldn’t stop at anything to get the job done for clients. We were walked all over and we paid the price for it, not just in a financial capacity, but our health suffered too. Today, boundaries, contracts and the power to say ‘no’ to people we don’t want to work with are all firmly in place. Claire: Business partnerships. I have a really successful business partnership with Nicola and the world knows there’s not much that will get between us. About half way into our business journey together, we realised that we weren’t aligned in what we wanted for Firecracker and that’s why we kept bashing against brick walls. People also change and evolve over the years, hence the dynamics of a long term business partnership is bound to shift and for that reason, open communication with one another is essential. Sometimes it’s wise to pull in a strategic consultant in these times, which we did. It was the one of the best investments we’ve made for ourselves and Firecracker and hence a new vision and set of goals were born. What advice do you have for women aspiring to become business leaders and entrepreneurs, especially in Africa? Claire: Write down your big, scary lifetime ambition or ultimate purpose. Remember there is a difference between ‘passion’ and ‘purpose’. No matter how passionate or purposeful your ambition is, if you want the term ‘entrepreneur’ to feature in it, you need to be able to sell it. Break down your purpose into manageable goals over a period of time and figure out how you’re going to achieve those goals through an effective business model. You might need the help of other people – call them. You might need to read certain books – buy them or borrow them. You might need some cash to invest in your dream – borrow it sensibly or save it. You might need to learn about strategies or finance or marketing – find mentors, join a trusted network or if you’re driven by digital learning, watch YouTube tutorials. Mother Africa provides so much help through people and life when you actively look for it. Living in this great continent for the past 14 years has been a great honour as well as an experienced that has shaped my being for the best. I’ve embraced, befriended and been welcomed by African women from across this land for most of my adult life and what I’ve observed is the unique strength, resilience and incredible spirit of the divine African feminine.

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