Tuesday, November 17, 2015 6:18 pm
Torera Abiola, the late Chief MKO Abiola’s niece, is an ambassador on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) organisation, a group supported by the United Nations. WED is a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed and discussed on the 19 November of each year.
The mission of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organisation is, according to its website, “to celebrate, support, and empower women entrepreneurs world-wide, daily.” WED accomplishes this with its Student and Worldwide Ambassador program, educating both men and women about the importance of supporting women and women-owned businesses and causes.
The organisation was launched last year, through the United Nations and its founder is Wendy Diamond. The head office event is going to take place in New York at the United Nations office and Minister of Women Affairs , Amina Mohammed, is expected to attend. Each country has an ambassador that will represent it. Torera Abiola was the ambassador last year and she is still the ambassador in 2015.
She is not actually a stranger to such events. She has been running the Women of West Africa Entrepreneur Network (designed to motivate and inspire young women entrepreneurs) for the past three and half years, working with Eco bank, Access bank, First Bank and others. She is an entrepreneur herself and she has worked for the Chartered Institute of Accountants in England. She spoke to ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE, FUNSHO BALOGUN and DANIELS EKUGO on this year’s event, how her organisation has been inspiring, mentoring and encouraging women entrepreneurs.
Q: November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, what is your organisation doing to mark it?
A: We are running a social media campaign. It is quite a big one. I think one of the major reasons is to get general awareness especially young women and girls and many of them like to be on the Internet, many of them like to use social media. We have so many famous celebrities, business women, politicians, role models, supporting the day. So many of them are giving their face to the women entrepreneurship day.
We have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, and we are posting quotes; inspiring quotes. Other things we are doing are, many of the women that have established businesses and that have been running successfully, as the business is growing, they have an issue on how the business will grow, and you know they want to go to the next level. People approach them to say I want to be an investor, here is N1m or here’s N2m, and you find out that just the person putting his money down, they don’t really get anything, they don’t get much value, it is actually not about money but it is actually about expertise.
So we are running a special private equity, private capital scheme which is going to be run by three private equity specialists. Ngozi Edozie who was behind the growth and rebranding of Ikeja Shopping Mall and bringing that mall here, worked with Actis West Africa, one of the leading private equity firms globally. She is going to be dealing with the women and we also have two other female equity specialists that would be advising the women on how to negotiate private capital and to make sure you are getting a good deal as a business woman.
You know sometimes people think that if you just put the money that is all, they leave you, and people ask question on how to value their business, what is my real worth? What is my assets worth? All those questions will be run in the scheme.
We are also doing an inspirational brunch, so we are having a panel section with a keynote, talking about what makes a successful entrepreneur. How do you build the foundation? How do you go about envisioning your ideals, your strategy, how you do you locate your people, your project, your system? How do you collaborate, a lot of businesses are done without partnership and collaboration, how do you do that respectively?
And then we close off on social media and the art of selling. A lot of things will be in the teaching, how do you sell yourself, so the way they are going to mark the day is to get as many Nigeria celebrities as possible to lend their face and their voice to the day on social media and then to run a specialist investment master craft established for women and then a general brunch with a key note section and networking for the women with more established entrepreneurs, that is what we are going to do.
Q: Talking about raising capital for women, are there mechanisms you have put in place, so that people will not run away with money?
A. Let me start by giving you a background of my organisation. The organisation was launched last year, through the United Nations. Our founder is Wendy Diamond when we launched the day. Now the head office event is going to take place in New York at the United Nations office where Honourable Minister Amina Mohammed will also be in attendance. Each country has an ambassador that will represent it which I was last year and I am again this year. And it is my responsibility to harness my network, my resources, make sure they do happen.
I don’t really get any funding from the UN, all I have is a licence agreement to run the day but because I have been running the women of West Africa Entrepreneur Network for the past three and half years working with Eco bank, Access bank, First Bank, a lot of the top women entrepreneurs have spoken in our event. I have been able to build a network and a resource base to make it happen.
The way that we make sure that people don’t run away with our money is another issue for us, because most of the courses we offer are free and then we partner with people, we partner with banks, they usually fund us, we partner with them, they give us a free venue. Why, because they believe in our vision (what we are doing). If you empower a woman entrepreneur, you empower a nation, the statistics has shown that when you invest in a woman, 90 per cent of the money that she receives, she will put it back into the family, into the home, into the society. With all due respect to you gentlemen, when you invest in a man, it goes to other things!