Women have been urged to wake up to the myriad of opportunities presented by a rapidly evolving 21st Century and take their rightful places in the highly competitive business environment, while making their voices heard.
The call came from a host of renowned female business leaders, seasoned speakers and resource persons as TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading distributor of technology, services and lifestyle products, formally flagged off The HERwakening, an initiative aimed at empowering female entrepreneurs.
Held on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, the well-attended session was hosted physically at the impressive Yudala Heights located at 13 Idowu Martins, Victoria Island, Lagos and online via YouTube. The event, which witnessed a gathering of women entrepreneurs and aspiring ones, provided a fitting opportunity for TD Africa to engage this critical segment and inspire women-owned businesses.
Speaking at the event hosted in partnership with Microsoft and Access Bank, Founder, Wholesome Inspirations, Dr. Ebere Njoku urged participants to take charge and own their space. Njoku, who was one of the keynote speakers at the event, disclosed that women have come a long way, adding that their voices must be heard. According to her, “Own Your Space” means giving yourself permission to show up as your authentic self, to be present, to be important and to define your boundaries. She defined elements of self-discovery to include, confidence, acceptance, responsibility, love, and ownership.
Earlier, in her address, Country Manager (Nigeria & Ghana) Microsoft, Ola Williams traced the evolution of technological development from the 4th Industrial Revolution, Steam and Water, Electricity, Electronics and IT, through Digital, Cyber, Internet and Networking. Williams, who spoke on the topic, “Staying Ahead in the Digital Age”, revealed that humanity uses one form of technology or the other as it touches every aspect of life.
Asking the women if they are prepared, the speaker said by 2026, demand for digital skills such as Web Development, Computer and Information Research Science, Data Science and Software Development, among others, will grow by 13 percent. Further, she described Nigeria as the highest ICT investment destination by volume and deals.
Adducing fear of failure, lack of network and mentors, poor IT background and perception of the field as stressful, etc. among reasons women avoid careers in Information Technology, Williams identified key action areas for interested females to include regular use of technology, keeping abreast of technological advancement, getting mentors, mentoring other women and joining relevant communities.
On her part, Managing Director (Nigeria) Apple Inc., Teju Ajani, who counselled participants on the principles of thriving in a competitive environment, disclosed that the most important thing is to train and focus on one’s goal. According to her, healthy competition can push one to success, even as she delivered tips to survive the competition.
Among these are need to understand your industry, studying the culture around you, paying attention to your environment, need to observe things, learn yourself, set your goal, dream big, work smart, lesser focus on other things, developing yourself and your team, learn more every day, adapt to changing times, unique value estimation, being ready for opportunities, changing your mood, learning to walk away and being bold, adaptable, strong and willing to reflect yourself.
Another keynote speaker and Founder, Wardrobe Merchant, Obis Oragwu bared her thoughts on the place of a woman in the 21st Century. In her view, the evolution of technology, innovation, economic challenges and societal change have brought more jobs requiring additional skilled manpower into the workspace. This, she said, brought about the need for ambitious women with special skills to take roles that were previously dominated by men. She listed core areas where a woman who wants to succeed in the 21st century must focus on to include, finance, family time, career, networking, self-care, health and fitness, fashion, one’s goal, ethics & value and structure. She submitted that these factors must be balanced for a successful career.
Equally important, a representative of Access Bank and Group Head, Women Banking, Abiodun Olubitan spoke on the bank’s The ‘W’ initiative. This initiative, according to her, is a platform by Access Bank for the empowerment of women in business with financial & lifestyle solutions and advisory facilities for investments. Olubitan revealed that the focus segments include W in Business, W Young Professionals, W and Family, Millennials & Gen Z and W Quintessential. Value propositions include access to finance such as loans, access to network and mentoring, access to capacity and career development and access to market. She identified the benefits of “The “W” Power Loan” to include flexible repayment plans, relaxed collateral requirement and competitive interest rates.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Managing Director, TD Africa, Chioma Chimere revealed that one of the value propositions of the HERwakening is to make it an initiative for vulnerable, voiceless and less privileged women. She averred that TD Africa, born in 1999, is a child of necessity to sanitize the ICT industry, noting that it had become a big giant leading the trade revolution across Africa.
Chimere disclosed that the majority of the Board of TD Africa are women who have been in business for over 25 years. These women, according to her, have been empowered and are empowering other women. She praised the untiring efforts of the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, for inspiring and promoting women to top management cadre positions, adding that Ekeh represents a new breed of entrepreneurs who value the contributions of women.
The icing on the cake was the enduring words of Chioma Ekeh, CEO, TD Africa.
While recounting the agonies women go through in raising new generations, she described the modern-day woman as a trailblazer, a hard-working home builder, and a compassionate companion. She, nevertheless, admonished the women to see their roles as not only divine but as a reward. Expressing gratitude to her husband, Ekeh, for finding women worthy to head companies in the Zinox Group, she equally thanked the staff of TD Africa, the organizers of the event and the guest speakers.
Notably, Ekeh, Chairman, Zinox Group, who addressed the audience briefly, also reiterated the key advantages enjoyed by womenfolk, including their concentration power, financial prudence, humility, as well as their natural status of being better counsellors, less prone to fraud and spiritual soundness, among others. Ekeh restated his prediction that from 2026, women will take over in major spheres of endeavour. He also promised to sow a seed to support the women-owned businesses selected for partnerships at the end of the event.
Other highlights of the event include a question-and-answer session, a memorable rendition of Beyonce’s Drop Challenge by some of the participants and high-level networking.
Youth Council Honours NCC Director, Muhammed Babajika
The Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has honoured the Director, Licensing and Authorisation at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Muhammed Babajika, with the titled of ‘’Garkuwan Matasan Arewa (literally translated as icon of societal transformation). This award is in appreciation of Babajika’s dedication to his duties which has contributed to opening up spaces to engender youth development and a better Nigeria.
Presenting the award to Babajika in Abuja recently, the Vice-President of NYCN, Yahya Garba, who led the Youth Council’s delegation, said the conferment of the title on the honoree was based on his selfless service and his immense contributions that have enhanced youth development.
“Babajika was chosen for this award ‘based on his immense contributions to youth development, empowerment, training, job creation and others through training of our members to appreciate the significance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in development,” Garba said.
In his acceptance speech, Babajika commended the youth organisation for promoting the youths of northern extraction, urging NYCN Executives to use their connections and network with the governments across the country to carry out more awareness on skills acquisition and functional education.
The recognition by youth council gives credence to the important role being played by Babajika, through the department he oversees at NCC, to deliver one of the Commission’s important functions of issuing operating licenses to all telecommunications service providers in Nigeria to fast-track the creation of ICT and training hubs that have benefitted young people and ultimately driving socio-economic development of Nigeria.
The NYCN is an umbrella body of youths in the 19 northern states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja (FCT). One of the objectives of NYCN is the promotion of national integration and enhancement of investment in Northern Nigeria for sustainable development.
MTN Nigeria Rewards 23 Trade Partners
MTN Nigeria has rewarded 23 awardees were recognised across various categories including customer acquisition partner of the year, data trade partner of the year, best sales and trade delivery manager of the year among others.
The Fortune 100 category recognises teams who exceed sales targets in their territories. Five winners in silver and gold categories received a brand new seven-seater and fifteen-seater bus respectively.
The three-day event to celebrate its sales associates and partners across the country started with the Annual Sales Conference themed “Excellerate – the Future of Sales & Distribution” to equip the team for challenges of the new year.
The award ceremony to recognize staff and trade partners with exceptional performance in the past year held at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos was attended by customer acquisition partners and sales associates from across the country.
Golad Telecoms Limited emerged the National Winner in Fortune 100 category with special recognition from Tobechukwu Okigbo, Chief Corporate Services Officer, MTN Nigeria, who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Olutokun Toriola at the event.
Congratulating the recipients, Tobechukwu Okigbo thanked the ecosystem of MTN’s Sales and Distribution partners, noting that the company’s tremendous results can be attributed to their dedication and commitment while assuring them of a stronger relationship in the year 2022.
He added that, “It was exciting to observe that all the Fortune 100 winners were led by women. As an organisation passionate about creating equal opportunities, it’s my pleasure to recognise these women and look forward to greater rewards as we continue to surpass targets.”
Speaking on behalf of the Managing Director, Olalekan Idowu, General Manager, Golad Telecoms said, “Our partnership with MTN has been instrumental to the growth of our organisation and we remain committed to achieving the collective goals we have mapped out for the year. Golad Telecoms and MTN are good together.”
MTN Nigeria recently announced its transition from a telecommunication company to a full technology company. Full details of its refreshed brand identity was unveiled on February 27th with a new logo and simpler tagline.
Bolt Brings Back Internship Programme to Encourage Women to #BreakTheBias
As part of its international women’s day month celebrations, leading mobility platform Bolt has brought back Drive for Women in Tech (#Drive4WITech) initiative. The aim is to provide equal opportunities for women in technology and improve overall gender equality in the mobility sector. The initiative includes an internship programme for young women who choose to start a career in technology regardless of their existing educational background.
The Bolt #Drive4WITech internship offers opportunities in operations, public relations, marketing, and engineering with access to excellent learning from top Bolt executives to young women across Africa. The immersive program was first launched in 2021 and recorded great success with massive participation. At the end of the programme, some of the interns were retained in full-time positions by the company. The 2022 internship program aims to extend the achievement of the Bolt initiative and further bridge the gender gap in the technology sector.
Commenting on the initiative, Country Manager for Bolt, Oludele Dare, said, “At Bolt, we understand the importance of a diverse and inclusive society for development. We provide equal opportunity to members of our community and recognise some of the barriers limiting young women from breaking into tech. Hence, we created the #Drive4WITech programme to ensure capacity building for young women and create a gender balance for impact in the technology industry. The internship programme provides young women with little to no experience in tech but a desire to break into the sector a rare opportunity thrive in the field.”
For young women to be part of the internship programme, they must fill out an online form and send a short video pitching themselves to be selected. The #Drive4WITech application will be open throughout March, while recruitment will be in April. Successful candidates will be announced in May, and the internship will run through May and June.
Tech is key to development in Nigeria and Africa. Initiatives like the Drive4WI Tech initiative will, in the long term, boost Nigeria’s economy while encouraging an environment of inclusivity. The journey into tech for women in Africa is an ongoing conversation, primarily influenced by cultural norms and societal expectations regarding gender. The lack of diversity & inclusion and female participation in technology is still very topical. Bolt, an inclusive tech company, recognises this and fulfils its commitments to include more women in tech.
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