This week on the Lady Boss series with LLA, we chat with Funmilola Awosanya, a social entrepreneur and CEO of ‘Opportunities World’, an online platform that bridges the gap between opportunities seekers and opportunities providers by projecting various local and international opportunities- scholarship, conference, seminars, grants, internship that youths can maximize and engage with in leading more productive lives. In this interview, she discusses the values and principles that have helped her so far and the relevance of innovation to her business. Enjoy!
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
Funmilola Awosanya has over five years of experience as an insurance broker, advocate for women and girls development, and business development in the nonprofit sector. She earned a Higher National Diploma in Insurance from Lagos State Polytechnic in Nigeria. Being the founder of an online one stop forum, she trained youths on vocational skills, entrepreneurial skills and business development, and also advocated for quality education. As the Founder of oppourtunities.com, she led entrepreneurship programs that equipped young women and men on hand skills and empowered them through entrepreneurship, business, career, leadership and advocacy.
Funmilola has volunteered as a lecturing and overseeing committee, youth advocate, and agent of change, for diverse organizations including Young African Leadership Initiative West Africa Region, Makoko Dream Project and Young Transformation Initiative. My social enterprise is an online platform that bridges the gap between opportunity providers and seekers thereby enabling youths from different part of the world have access to timely and life changing opportunities. The enterprise also advocates for quality education and ensure that youths are adequately empowered so as to create innovative entrepreneurs for a sustainable future.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose to be one?
Being a female entrepreneur in a competitive world is highly tasking. The journey has been a life changing one as I have been able to create a platform where both male and female can cohabit thereby balancing their genders without discriminating against either of the two. Being an entrepreneur started right from when I completed my high school education in 2007. I was enrolled in YETKEM Catering and Hotel Management where I earned a certificate in Catering and Hotel Management in which I also earned the award for the best graduating student of my set.
On completion, my grannies decided to enroll me again in a fashion school to learn the rudiments of being a fashion designer, little did I know I was preparing for the future. So prior to the completion of my HND program at Lagos State Polytechnic and already having multiple skills made me realize I have a lot to offer the society which opened my eyes to ways I can help the youths as most youths are always at home with nothing to do. Hence, I made up my mind to be an entrepreneur so as to create an avenue for my co-youths and generation to come.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
To make my business different and innovative, I introduced different sides to it. In the sense that I incorporate different sections I know are most needed in the world today. I introduced mentoring session into my business and go as far as doing a follow up ensuring that the goals of my participants are achieved. I also ensure my business lend a helping out to the less privileged by providing schooling materials and school uniforms at no cost to them.
We offer free essay proofreading, university application and business facilitating session to our existing customers which has enabled them refer us to others. We also introduced empowerment trainings which are free to youths so we can empower more people who will be productive thereby adding value to themselves and helping to improve the economic situation of the country.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
God is responsible for my success this far as I ensure I commit my ways to Him and He has been surprising me. My friends- AjomaleTaiwo and Kehinde (who are also my partners), Olotu Oluwanisola, Seun Boriowo, Helen Asimegbe, Dare Awosanya, Phirdy Mortala, my family, the youths of WMAC, AWEC participants and my mentors have all contributed one way or the other to my success till date. When you have a network of people who believe in what you do, then success is guaranteed.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
Accessing funds, acceptance and collaboration are the challenges I feel female entrepreneurs are facing. It’s easier for the male counterpart to have access to funds but thank God for the actions taken up by different organizations like the United Nations, United Nation Women, She Leads Africa, SparkNg by Guardian Newspaper and the UK government to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment in relation to SDGS Goal 5, the female species are now getting the full attention they deserve and it has been easier for them to access the necessary tools and grants needed for them to scale up their business.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
Persistence, resilience, passion and a never giving up spirit are the key principles and value that have kept me this far. Even in the face of criticism and challenges, I look back at what I have planned and look ahead of what I want to achieve and take a bold step into the future. Michele Ruiz said‘ if people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore’ which is what I do.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
It is the only way I know I can reach a wide number of people. The avenue is also the right channel for people all over the world to access my business services and benefit from it without physically being in Nigeria. It is what I have passion for.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
When I started in 2016, it was very challenging as I was faced with how to pass my information to prospective customers, how I can make people believe in what I do and how I can be different from existing business who are my competitors. What kept me going was the passion I have and my never giving up spirit. I am not one lady who backs down easily. Now I have been able to gain the confidence of people within and outside Nigeria.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
Five years from now, I hope to have created my entrepreneurship hub in Lagos State where I will be able to train, mentor and create safe spaces for local start-ups and entrepreneurs both within and outside Nigeria. The hub will also serve as a platform where youths can find their bearing, trained and empowered to build their skills and grow their business.
I also hope to have empowered more local start-ups through collaboration and partnership with entrepreneurial organizations like Tony Elumelu foundation, Spark by Business Day, Leap Africa, StyleMark Enterprise and other entrepreneurial organizations.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
They need to be proactive and they must have passion for anything they want to do because it will help them on the long run. Take more entrepreneurial and business courses to help brush up their skills. Be innovative, volunteer and have friends who will support them all the way.
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.