Mentoring Young Nigerian Women for Better Future


Rebecca Ejifoma

An embodiment of knowledge with a blend of refined prestige is the quality of these young Nigerian women: Jaiyeoba Adepeju, Kemi Onabanjo, Ogunwale Bukola, Adeyinka Oladepo, Bunmi and the only man standing, Owolabi Isaiah. These are young successful Nigerians who have decided to throw down the ladder for younger Nigerians to also climb up to the top. Because according to them when you get to the top, you realise that it is lone up there; hence, the reason to bring others.

It was on the heels of this that Peju alongside her friends and experts in various industry breathed life into her imagination. That concept is the African Women Mentoring Network (AWMN) held at the Barack Obama American Corner in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Jaiyeoba is the Chief Executive Director of Mother’s Delivery Kit; Oladepo is an Auditor with Stanbic IBTC in Lagos; Ogunwale is the Executive Director of fitness and ED of Yesmobile; Onabanjo is the Engagement Manager at McKinsey and Company and Owolabi is the Project Coordinator, Hacey Health Initiative.

“One major thing that has informed this programme is a deeper reflection of my past. I think about where I was two, three years ago, where I am now and I also think about where I am going. But I know that I am not where I used to be,” she said.

Jaiyeoba continued: “I question myself and try to ask what changed and what moved me to be here. I discovered it’s about opportunities, about people giving that opportunity to you. Youths to first find their purposes. Stop writing it all down for decades without implementing it. As you plan, carry out that plan and ensure you achieve something.” On her choice of training women, especially between ages 18 and 35, the mother of one and convener of the AWMN enthused that women can get carried away and be buried in a lot of challenges. “It takes conscious efforts for you to be able to achieve as a woman. Most times, women have dreams but after marriage those dreams come to an end. Although some keep pushing even after marriage, once a child comes that ends it all.”

Jaiyeoba further urged that when a woman gets married that should be the beginning of her dreams. “Getting married or having a child should never be the end of your dreams; it should be the beginning.” Ultimately, after finding purpose, the next important thing, according to Peju, is who you marry. She adds that a woman must get married to a man who will be able to support all her business plans and ideas. “He should be able to constructively criticise you, does not see you as a competitor but as being in a collaborative relationship.

AWMN is a biannual programme that seeks to go beyond the usual speeches. The programme focuses particularly on mentoring the first set of 12 top-notch outstanding entrepreneurs for fashioned planning and execution. Its quest is to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused, and on a wide range of subjects, foster learning, inspiration and knowledge sharing to an audience of exceptional young female entrepreneurs that have demonstrated potential for entrepreneurial success. Participants were trained on understanding their financial responsibilities as entrepreneurs, how to deal with challenges in business, building a strong business brand and understanding the legal aspects of their business among other topics.