Sunday, October 14, 2012

Women of the Motherland

Admittedly, I could gush and reflect about the past seventy-two hours or so but that would be a no-brainer. There is plenty of material for me to write about my first set of business school visits. What I left with is an even stronger desire to eat, or rather, devour business news, trends, mover and shakers and women leaders. Where did that lead me? Google! I did a quick news search of women entrepreneurs and I was very pleased with what I found.

The first story line that appeared at the top of the results page was a New York Times article from October 10, "Women Entrepreneurs Drive Growth in Africa". Go figure. The article is great because it highlights important, exciting information about Africa. And guess what?? It's not about AIDS or a disease!  Certainly, the African continent has its issues, but what part of the world doesn't.

One of the woman entrepreneurs that is prominently featured is Bethelem Tilhaun, founder of SoleRebels, a eco-friendly shoe company that reached $2 million in sales in 2011. All their products are handmade which is such a unique selling point and characteristic of the company's brand. Love it!

There was one statistic that blew my mind and is surely not making headlines in the Western world. The article states that based on a recent World Bank report, "more than 20 sub-Saharan African countries, totaling more than 400 million people, have gained middle-income status." The perception that Africans are living on a dollar a day is not the entire truth. There are emerging markets throughout Africa and women are going to be the driving force of entrepreneurship. I think this will have major implications as companies, particularly multinational and global brands, look to get a piece of the pie in Africa. First, they need to truly subscribe to the notion that Africa is growing and will continue to grow. It's as if the continent is a sleeping giant as the world continues to overlook the possibilities of technology, commerce and business.

As a Nigerian-American these type of stories warm my heart and inspire me. I hope I see and hear more stories like these in the very near future.
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