I believe in the power of community how it can be the secret to success. In celebration of Women’s Entreprensurship Day, I had the pleasure of giving the Keynote session hosted by Women Will an initiative of Grow with Google.
You can watch the Keynote speech here and see below excerpts of the session below.
How I Built my Community
My name is Yetty Williams, and I am the founder and CEO of LagosMums.
LagosMums is a family and parenting resource for mums, dads and caregivers. What started as an idea as a new mother has become a community that brings women, parents and caregivers together from different parts of the world. When I became a new mum thirteen years ago, I would always go on google to find out about motherhood and parenting.
By the time I had my second child two years later and took time off work, I noticed there were many gaps in the information i needed as a mum here in Lagos and Nigeria. That was when i birthed the idea of LagosMums the first Nigerian blog dedicated to mums to connect and learn from each other.
My Entrepreneurship story
My Entrepreneurship story has definitely been a journey of learnings and stretching which I call my 3 Ps: Passion, to Purpose to Profit.
There are many things I have learnt about being a woman who has embraced technology in entrepreneurship.We cannot ignore that women entrepreneurs are critical to the economy. They are critical to the development of any community, society and the world. However, there are some clear gaps that we identify.
The Challenges Women Entreprenurs Face
Several of the reports and studies point to the same conclusion, women are not contributing at the same level men are for several reasons. In a time of so much financial uncertainty, one thing is clear: when more women build their own businesses, economies grow.
According to a World Bank report, Profiting from Parity, the results show that women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa continue to earn about 34% lower profits than men. In addition, 58% of SMEs in Africa are women-owned but on average, women-owned firms have fewer employees, lower revenues, profits and productivity.
Due to several gender-specific challenges, it is estimated that a $20B financing gap for African women causing the growth of these businesses to suffer.
According to PWCs micro, small, and medium enterprises 2020 Survey, Nigerian women account for about 41% ownership of micro-businesses in the country, placing Nigeria among the highest entrepreneurship rates globally. However, women entrepreneurs are more likely to face challenges in upscaling businesses than their male counterparts.
Other reasons for the lack of growth is a lack of structure in the business, the inability to scale by not incorporating technology and digital tools.
What I have Learnt Through My Community
In my capacity as a Social entrepreneur, running LagosMums and as a Digital media marketing consultant; I have identified that work-life balance challenges and not taking advantage of the several opportunities that technology and digital tools offer – add to the reasons why women-owned businesses continue to lag.
For example, during the current pandemic, many businesses have struggled and I have seen an increase in the number of Businesses that reach out to me to learn how to implement a digital media strategy that works.
Why my Community is the Secret to my Success
Now let me tell you why when it comes to the power of a community, it is the secret to success. There is a popular African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. I believe is still very relevant today though I add, that it takes an E -village to raise a child. The concept here is that we need a community, we need a tribe, we need a support system to raise families and be all that we are meant to be.
Considering that such a large number of women own their own businesses, it is even more critical that we harness the benefits of our community to ensure that we have all the tools, all the resources, and the capabilities available to us today to make sure that our businesses indeed thrive and grow.
Whether you started with an idea or a hobby, or side hustle, growth has to be a critical part of your business. And you need to make sure that you are positioned to scale. scaling is something that is much easier to attain in today’s world, thanks to the advancement of technology, digital tools, and the global nature of all our businesses today.
Having the Right Mindset
As women, we need to start by having the right mindset as women. This means that we need to understand that we can have it all. Having it all is simply determined based on what your having it all looks like and your ability to have everything you need in place to thrive.
The things that are available to everyone whether you’re male or female, and are things that as women, we need to be comfortable trying, implementing and seeing happen in our businesses.
When I started this community 10 years ago, as just an idea to find a solution to being a mother locally in Lagos Nigeria, I could never have imagined the growth that we have seen over the last few years. But it came to life because I was willing to take the step. Confidence comes from doing! and this is what happened, as I stepped out and continued to grow and see the importance of localized content that spoke to the needs of the women in my community, I was able to continue to grow, pivot, try new things and build a thriving business.
One of my passion that has come out of running the LagosMums community is that I found that I do love what technology affords us, as individuals and just being alive at a time like this, during the fourth industrial revolution is very exciting. The future is really about using these tools in a creative way, being able to think out of the box, developing and harnessing emotional intelligence, globalization.
Success Stories and wins
Some of our wins as a Company and community include holding annual parenting conferences that bring parents and experts together where we focus on raising children who will thrive in the world. In fact this year we held our first virtual edition as a result of the pandemic. LagosMums has a community of over 100,000 followers across social media and have a thriving website that brings thousands of visitors to the site; and we have trained families and children on the importance of online safety and digital wellbeing.
We believe in empowerment and skills development and as such through LagosMums Academy we have been able to train hundreds of women when it comes to their ability to use technology to grow their businesses.
To this end we recently completed a 5-day virtual training as a partnership between LagosMums, the Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) Initiative and U.S.Consulate Lagos supported by Google. Over 700 women applied for this program! I and several other facilitators taught the Women how to use technology as an enabler to grow their business.
The feedback has been phenomenal and why? because women learn and thrive when they have a community to support them. A lot of these programs could not have been available if we did not embrace technology.
I am proud of some of the things that the LagosMums community has been able to achieve to date, which includes the thousands of families that we’ve been able to touch because of the information, content and programs we run.
Women Learn Better from Each Other and Through a Community
I have also seen in my experience that women learn better from each other. There’s something very powerful about seeing another woman who does something that you thought you couldn’t do. And you find out that you know what, I can also do it, it’s very important that we have representation because that makes all the difference between a wish and reality that it can be done.
Women do support each other. The stereotype that says women don’t support each other is just that a stereotype! The right woman in the right setting, with the right capabilities, is going to help another woman to rise. Real queens help other queens to straighten their crown!
Lessons from My Entrepreneurship Journey
I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts; as somebody who started a local community that has now gone global.
First of all, as women Let’s think big. Know that there is nothing that stops us from taking advantage of all the tools, capacity building programs and funding opportunities that are available to every entrepreneur and especially women.
It is never a bad idea to start from wherever you start from. You can start small but don’t stay small, out of fear. Every good idea can be a great idea, when you focus on your goals. It is important that you take action daily, show up and are flexible enough to pivot when you need to. Then you will realise that confidence comes from doing.
Put a structure in place from day one. These include using tools that will help you work smarter not harder! work life harmony is crticial to a womans success. As such you need to find out the right support system for you and your family. It is also important to optimize your business to your advantage.
Be bold and never ever feel that any question is stupid. The people that grow are those who are hungry for knowledge, who continue to learn and who surround themselves by a network that takes them further. You know what they say about your network. So find a community, find a mastermind group that would provide a safe space to grow and show up.
Understand your audience because that is how you connect. LagosMums offers content that is relevant to a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a business owner, as an employee, employer. These are all the various hats that she wears and she then feels loved, heard, and safe.
Now imagine if each and every one of us took that same feeling to our own various communities, locally and globally. And the more we connect, the stronger we are, and the more positive effect we have on the whole world. So don’t put yourself in a box that you create! with technology at your fingertips. You can go as far and as wide as you want to.
Find your Community
Find women who break it down and make it easy for you to implement strategies that will grow your business. In our community, we are not scared to talk about our vulnerabilities. Some of these include managing work-life balance, taking care of children and running homes; because it is all part of who we are. We don’t have to be like men, we are women, fully women and we can thrive without making apologies.
I am excited to announce that Women will through a network of partners & organizations across Africa working with women SMBs, will be holding online training on business tools and facilitating workshops on self-promotion & leadership. Throughout the month of November, there will be discussions around challenges women face in business in the midst of COVID 19. You certainly want to take advantage of all the tools, the training, skill acquisition and capacity building. Follow @womenwillafrica on Instagram.
It’s been great sharing with you. My name again is Yetty Williams and I can proudly say that my community has been my secret to my success. To all of you women out there. I wish you all the success in your lives, in your families, and your businesses. Let’s take our ideas to the world. Thank you