The year 2021 was filled with many highs as well as lows – aren’t they all? Life is always like this. And for some, it was a whole lot better than the other year that should not be mentioned…2020 (sshhhh!!!) Thinking back now, there is one highlight that still sweets my belle [makes me feel really happy] whenever I think about it. It was a research study that I worked on with a great team including Jennifer Dumle Daniel.
The topic of this research project was Resilience through International Networks (link to brief description). So, imagine being in a room with a selected group of people that you could spend hours talking with. Who would they be? Are they likely to be people from different parts of your life or would they have things in common?
During the project, I met ten people who were in different areas of endeavour, yet are similar in their outlook and aspirations. They are young, visionary entrepreneurs starting new businesses in the South-East of Nigeria. We shared a variety of fresh ideas and our conversations were both serious and fun. And these eight women and two men are such an inspiration!
Now, think about these questions. Do you:
- seek a clean and green environment devoid of pollution?
- have a sweet tooth but prefer cakes made from healthy ingredients?
- regularly get sick and tired of chasing your nice but unreliable tailor?
- know a busy nursing mother that needs to quickly prepare a bowl of pap [corn flour]?
- (as a woman) yearn to feel beautiful, wholesome and comfortable in your own skin, regardless of your size, skin colour or shape?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then these are the people you have been searching for.
Their businesses are creative, social and, more importantly, sustainable! These young entrepreneurs are skilled in food, agriculture and catering, waste management and recycling, fashion design and tailoring, media and graphics, cosmetology, bakery and confectionary production, women’s only fitness centre and food processing and packaging.
Successful businesses are set up for the bottom line – to make money. Of course they must! But I’m also glad to report that there are other important reasons that underpin the journeys of our entrepreneurs, for example, their desire to create social and economic impact through their core values and individual identities. This is how they described themselves and each other:
“My ability to find out what a problem is within the society and finding possible ways to solve that problem and earn from it at the end of the day.”
“I have a dynamic solution to an existing issue to make it better…”
“Looking at… the way she is smiling, I can see that she had an interest in doing this. She delivered it with her full chest*.”
[*confidently and without hesitation]
Then there’s the power of coming together as a network, a community, a collective force to encourage and support each other to achieve great things. To me, it is this cohesive action that captures the essence of the research project through the feedback from one of the young entrepreneurs:
“It was educating and inspiring. And it also shows I’m not the only one hustling to escape poverty.”
If you are interested in finding out more, do read Resilience: Doing her business with her full chest, an insightful blog post written by the entrepreneurs on their experiences of our research project. The full project report is also available, please contact me for a copy or post your comments below. And of course, if you would like to patronise any of their products or services, get in touch NOW!