For the founder of African Women Power Network, Mary Olushoga, women are the strength of every society, despite the immense roles men play to sustain the family. With this mindset, she believes that women should not lag behind in ensuring that they are well encouraged to live out their dreams.
Olushoga, who dedicates her life to breeding and encouraging women to live out their dreams, says a true reflection of what the individual wants to be will assist women in the society to make exploits.
She says, “More women can truly live out their dreams, when they take the time to know who they are, and what they want out of life. When we, as women, take the time to find out who we truly are, and what we want out of life, then we have undergone a transformational experience.
“It is simple to do the easy things: go to school, get married, and have kids. That’s easy. But it’s hard taking the time to figure out who you are, how you would like to make a difference, or change in this world, and what you are going to do to achieve those goals that you have set for yourself.
This takes time, and introspection is required. So here’s what I have to say: be fearless, be bold, do your research, ask questions when you don’t know, and more importantly, don’t forget to live your own life. Don’t sweat the small things, forgive, let go, and move on. Last, but not least, dream big.”
On the challenges she usually encounters in pursuit of her calling, Olushoga notes, “One major challenge has been redefining our place in the market.
How do we overcome this? We overcome this by being open to change, asking the right questions, and satisfying our customers.”
She further explains that her dream would have remained a mirage, but for the education she was privileged to have acquired. “Education is very important. A major aspect of what we do has to do with business education and trainings.
Education is very important. A major aspect of what we do has to do with business education and trainings. We share content and information with an audience. We certainly have to be open to engaging people in different ways
We share content and information with an audience. We certainly have to be open to engaging people in different ways. “For example, when we engaged women farmers in Taraba State, Nigeria – language inclusion was very important to our work, because many of the women did not speak English.
So we worked with instructors, who were bilingual in their local language,” she declares. On what motivates her she drew her, Olushoga, says, “I draw inspiration from various aspects of my life. Different people have inspired me at different times in my life.
Songs and movies inspire me. I love the arts, but my favorite movie is ‘A Beautiful Mind’, and my favorite artist is Fela. Get these two in the room and I always get inspired.”
Speaking on her foundation, the AWPN, Olushoga notes, “It powers small business success for African entrepreneurs, through training and support.
“Our goal is to empower African women and girl entrepreneurs, using marketing and public relation tools, technology, community engagement and support, business resources, and entrepreneurial training programs. Ultimately, we focus on the development, growth, and sustainability of African-owned small businesses.”
She adds, “I launched the AWPN as a solution to the unemployment issue facing Africa, especially, Nigeria as the most populous coun – try on the continent. The idea is that if we are able to provide a supportive community to African entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, they would be sustainable and in turn create jobs and hire, thereby reducing unemployment.
At the AWPN, we see entrepreneurship as a solution. “This idea came after a number of years working in the economic development space. I saw, firsthand, how the resources provided helped entrepreneurs become more successful in their endeavors.
I saw how access to resources, education, and financing helped to transform the lives of women entrepreneurs. I launched AWPN shortly after a BBC interview in 2012.”