“I believe women should rise up and own themselves” LLA Meets Aramide Abe, Founder- NaijaStartups

Aramide Abe is an entrepreneur and the Executive Director of Naija Startups an entrepreneurship hub of 65,000+ member startups in Africa. Under her leadership, Naija Startups has collaborated with organisations such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft to deliver digital marketing training to millions of African entrepreneurs.

She has an MBA from the prestigious INSEAD and from the Kellogg School of Management with a focus on marketing and strategy. She also has an Upper Second Class degree in Computer Science from the University of Nottingham. During the course of her 15 -year professional career, she has worked in technology consulting in the United Kingdom as well as marketing and strategy in Africa – three functional areas she is passionate about. She is a Cherie Blair, Google LaunchPad and Microsoft Africa mentor where she mentors youths and entrepreneurs alike. Aramide recently founded Business Sense with Aramide, a YouTube series that equips entrepreneurs with practical insights on running and navigating business related issues peculiar to startups in Nigeria.

Aramide has our LLA Interview spotlight as the Leading Lady of the week.

It’s great to have you on LLA. Can you tell us a bit about Aramide Abe (we love the goofy stuff too lol)

Hiya! Thanks so much 🙂 I’m a woman who is passionate about God, business, technology- digital technology and empowering others. I am a closet techie who loves marketing and connecting people. I have an MBA from INSEAD and studied Computer Science at Nottingham University. I founded Naija Startups in 2015 though I was a bit one leg in one leg out initially as I tried to figure out the strategy to achieve this mission to build sustainable businesses across Africa, but went in full throttle in 2017. Prior to this, I worked at Ecobank Transnational Incorporated working out of Lome, Togo and led strategy implementation across 36 of Ecobank’s countries. Because I speak French, this was greatly beneficial in the role and since, I have been able to form strong partnerships across the African continent.

What was growing up like and how did your childhood experiences, impact on the woman you have become today?

I grew up in a disciplined household. In a home of girls, we were brought up to be respectful, well-behaved and most of all, to be the best we could possibly be. We had no gender filters and never saw things as male or female when it came to achievement. This helped us when it came to ambition or dreaming big.

Can you share 2 experiences you have had in your adult life that you consider really life-defining? 

Losing a few people around me, though unfortunate, forced me into a mindset of living like it is your last day and giving it your all. Second would be becoming an entrepreneur full-time, after fighting all those fears and realising that I can make it, no matter where I am. It is what is inside of me that brings opportunities, wealth, etc. So I have indeed become fearless.

Let’s talk about Naija Startups; did you ever foresee it being birthed and especially on a scale as large as this? How did this entrepreneurship journey begin and what has been the most rewarding aspect of it so far? 

I did not envisage what it is now though my vision from day one was always large/pan-African but I did not know how. I launched Naija Startups in 2015 as a business directory and in 2017, after actively listening to the business’s audience on and off social media, the strategy to democratise information for entrepreneurs via a directory morphed into building a hub and community to achieve the same goal to empower entrepreneurs for business sustainability.

And the downsides- moments you want to run back to the ‘safety’ of paid employment- what keeps you going on those days? 

Yes – every two weeks or so lol! Remembering why I started (cliché as it sounds) and also the lives that are benefiting from what I do/my contribution.

Would you in anyway say life armed you with requisite experiences for what you do right now especially with Naija Startups? 

I would say the challenges I have had and fears that I overcame are what particularly helped me for what I do now and I have no regrets 🙂

As an entrepreneur, what is your take on collaboration and competition? Is collaboration a business commandment, is competition inevitable? 

Collaboration is a strong enabler in business, however there are times you have to go things alone, particularly in the early stages of business, to avoid distraction or confusion of what your strategy or mandate really is. But yes, collaboration is good for business when it is equitable and strategic.

As a CEO, what is your advice to other CEO’s on recruitment and building a functional& progressive team? 

Develop your ideal structure such that you hire futuristically in terms of the kind of organisation you want to to build. Now I do not mean in terms of salaries but at least if you know that your logistics business requires x,y,z resources – create your structure with that in mind from now.

Away from entrepreneurship, what’s your take on Female Empowerment and Feminism, do you really think the impact of both ideologies are being felt in Nigeria?

I believe women should be empowered to begin to rise up and own who they are or were made to be. I am a strong women empowerment advocate. Feminist, I am not. I do believe people confuse the two and some men I have interacted with are getting a bit irritable with the women’s narrative, because to be honest, how about the men? They also need support.

Have you ever experienced gender discrimination- or found yourself in situations where you were denied access to something/an opportunity because of your gender? How did you deal with it?

I haven’t consciously experienced anything at work in relation to my gender (both in Africa and in Europe), it may be that it could have happened without my knowing e.g. passed up for opportunities but not that I have any recollection of. If we were to talk about race, then maybe I have a few examples.

3 books you recommend for entrepreneurs?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss

3 websites you recommend for entrepreneurs?

www.Quartz.com(Great for facts and useful information)

www.entrepreneur.com(undoubtedly)

www.hbr.org(Harvard Business Review)

3 things we will always find in your bag? 😁Glasses, Bank tokens and powder (my phone is always in my hand lol)

What is your greatest pet-peeve? 

Disrespect

What would you say to your 25-year-old younger self? 

Haha how do you know I’m not 25 at the moment?? Okay, my advice is Live a little, go for it!

The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.


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