Fab Five women amongst the numerous who are making waves and reaching for the stars in their various industries
By Ayandola Ayanleke and Sharon-Ann Adaigbe
Youth empowerment is at the heart of The Spark by BusinessDay. While there are many forms of youth empowerment, entrepreneurship is arguably the most prevalent because ultimately, it has a ripple effect. It ends up empowering not just the individual but family and it also creates jobs.
For many years, women have shown their knack for entrepreneurship just as their male counterparts. And they are beginning to get recognised for it. In light of the International Women’s Day on March 8, The Spark is joining the world to celebrate the Visionary Woman. There’s no better way to celebrate the Visionary Woman than by placing a spotlight on women making bold moves in the areas of their passion and changing lives in the process.
These fab five women, among many others, are female entrepreneurs to watch out for.
Affiong Osuchukwu and Foluke Oyeleye
Oh So Nutrition is a lifestyle company focused on promoting wellness by providing food & beverage options and programs that help the whole family adopt healthier living habits. Oh So Nutrition started in Co-Founder Affiong’s kitchen in 2014 due to a personal need for convenient access to food options that catered to her personal health issues. Foluke, Oh So’s very first paying customer, who was also dealing with her own health issues, joined as Co-Founder in 2015. At the time the company was founded, made-to-order or pre-packaged gluten-free, dairy free, plant-based food options in Lagos were pretty much non-existent. Together, we have grown Oh So from a small smoothie company based in a Lekki home kitchen to a fully established Lagos-based, proudly Nigerian wellness brand that provides primarily plant-based options. We believe that achieving wellness should be convenient and achievable. We also believe it is important to cater to the growing number of people with health related dietary restrictions. These are the reasons why we have developed a portfolio of grab-n-go products and wellness services to help our customers achieve their goals and have the options they deserve. Our business philosophy is Simple | Healthy | Wholesome. Our product philosophy is Local | Open | Honest. IG: @ohsonutrition
Piggybank.ng (now PiggyVest) started specifically because we realized that Nigerians were saving in actual wooden boxes, ‘kolo’. That told us that Nigerians wanted to save, especially because most of our payments are in bulk and upfront, but the infrastructure available was not quite right. So, we built and launched the platform to give people a viable, sustainable alternative to that, while also encouraging them to save more. We exist to help people better manage their finances, flexibly, conveniently and with discipline. And we have seen results that prove that the platform does indeed help people save up for their responsibilities (rent, fees, etc) and dreams without interruption in their daily lives and routines. We launched in 2016, and in that year, we saved 21 million naira. Today, Piggybank.ng (now PiggyVest) is the largest online savings & investment platform in Nigeria.@piggybankng
Zoomabar started with me looking for a convenient on the go healthy Granola bar that had no sugar and no preservatives. All I could find was granola cereal and not a granola bar. I couldn’t find any affordable bars and the only one that came close to what I wanted cost N3,400 for a bar. And then I had a light-bulb moment. I literally said to myself Olayinka you can do this!!! How to do it became the challenge because I had never ever baked before but I did not let that deter me and here are we today. The goal was creating an innovative Made in Nigeria Granola Bar that is, healthy, affordable, convenient and on the go. Zoomabar filled the identified gap perfectly. Our slogan is Yummy, Healthy Goodness. Zoomabar is very healthy, tastes good, has no preservatives or added sugars and is registered with NAFDAC. Today, we are currently in various Supermarkets, Gyms, Health Cafes and Pharmacies across Lagos. IG: @zoomabar
In 2016, I founded Kindle Africa Empowerment Initiative aimed at eradicating poverty through the provision of education and welfare for women and children in slums. In 2017, We built the Center for Women’s Integrated Education in Makoko to provide women with vocational, life skills and adult education in their indigenous languages. We put pictures of iconic women like Dr Dora Akunyili, Leymah Gbowee, Dr Adadevoh etc on the walls and tell stories to inspire our students.. We have 25 sewing machines and have partnered with various other organisations to provide other skills, community campaigns and welfare. Our target audience was women but we had to redefine the word ‘women’ when we started enrolling 14 year olds with children. In 2018 alone, we reached out to over 1,500 women and children through our various educational and health initiatives. Specifically, in partnership with Iranwo foundation, we trained 331 women in tailoring, soap making and adire production and were actively involved in the lives of these women, providing them with mentoring, internships and start-up tools for their businesses. We also established a community adult education center on the Makoko water front where people are being taught English Language with Egun and French languages. As part of our strategic impact plan, Kindle Africa will be establishing Men’s Vocational Centers. WE also intend to expand beyond Makoko and establish more vocational and adult education centers. IG: @kindleafrica
I started Nula’s Kitchen while still in the UK and initially, it was a sort of like an Instagram hobby which was inspired by two things. Firstly, the “foodie” culture that exploded on Instagram. It inspired me to want to create food that not only seemed like it tasted great but also, looked quite appealing to the eyes. I believe that we eat with our eyes first. Consequently, when really appealing pictures of food began popping up everywhere and it became, quite literally, part of pop culture to capture beautiful images of food, it became important to me to show that it’s not just burgers dripping with melted cheese that can look beautiful but Nigerian food can look beautiful in images as well. A major issue I had with Nigerian caterers in the UK was the way they presented our food. So I wanted to make and present Nigerian food that looked like Gordon Ramsay or David Chang plated it. Secondly, I wanted to show millennial men and women like me, especially women; i.e, women with careers, how to make quick but absolutely delicious meals. So when Instagram initially started their 15-second video format, I thought, this would be a brilliant way to show that it’s very possible for young people like me to make well prepared dishes in a very short and non-stressful amount of time. My biggest accomplishment with my culinary passion so far definitely has to be opening up my chicken wings restaurant, Byrd, in Lagos, which was such a passion project of mine and to see it come to fruition is just phenomenal. Additionally, my cooking special on Accelerate TV, Off The Menu, just premiered on January 25th and it’s been quite a roller coaster ride since then. I have also been dancing professionally for about 10 years. Performing on global stages with incredible artists like Rihanna, Sean Paul, D’Banj and Fuse ODG and by far the coolest thing, going on tour with Drake on the U.S leg of his Summer Sixteen tour in 2016 are the highlights of my dancing career. IG: @soliatmsbada @nulaskitchen
This list is by no means exhaustive as we have a lot more female entrepreneurs to watch out. That is the beauty really; that there are so many you can relate with as a young entrepreneur. We’re excited by what these women are doing and we’ll keep watching out to see the great initiatives they come up with.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.