It was for young women like her that we created Empowering African Women. Some years ago, I considered the plight of girls in my country, Nigeria, who, though hard-working and diligent, could not free themselves of the constraints that society placed on them due to limited education and other opportunities.
I would watch as these young women delicately set down their wares on a busy street of Lagos, looking for prospective buyers of their merchandise, ranging from biscuits to plantain chips. I would watch them sit down wearily and gaze through life’s lenses, perhaps to the woman they could have been if economically empowered.
I had a vision of providing skills training for young women. As Serena Williams said: “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” It was a ‘eureka’ moment: I saw that this could remove a major barrier to women’s empowerment in Africa.
As a graduate of the Alliance Manchester Business School, I heard about its Ignition Award, which is provided to graduates who have innovative ideas for positive social and economic change. I put in my application in January 2017: my pitch was an online platform designed to enable the young African woman to unlock her potential and provide the opportunity and incentive for her to become more economically empowered via digital tutelage.
I was awarded a seed fund of £500, which boosted my confidence, knowing someone believes in my dreams. With the Ignition Award and my personal funds, by the end of the year I had invited a few friends to form the board of a non-profit organisation, Digital Business Tutelage for Women Empowerment in Africa Initiative, and its digital platform, Empowering African Women.Print