A single mother at 13years with no support to Founding the successful business ‘Learntor’, Mercy George-Igbafe is that entrepreneur you want to sit down with and learn from. Learntor is a digital consulting firm, designed to help bridge the digital skill gap for African women between 25 – 55 years old. We had a lovely chat with Mercy George-Igbafe, scroll down to read!
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My business idea was birth from pain, the desperation to win, hard work, grith, resilience and the sheer will to not give up. This is how you would describe me. I got pregnant at the age of 13 years old, with no support from my immediate family after the death of my mother. It was on the street I learnt the core of what made me who I am today. I saw the limited options for a young child who was also a mother, and so I decided that the best option for me was never to give up on school just not to end up an illiterate, I became the 1st to graduate from both parent side just out of the sheer will to succeed despite the mountains of failure, rejection and disappointment.
Learntor is a digital consulting firm, designed to help bridge the digital skill gap for African women between 25 – 55 years old. Developing an effective bespoke digital strategy with a customer-centric approach to increase revenue and customer experience.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be one?
There are not many of us out here, it’s hard being a woman, it’s so much harder when you have to fight for a job you believe you deserve and yet it is given to a man with only half the skills set as the woman or just because he is a man. As a wife, mother of 6 beautiful girls and survivor of life’s harshness, I step up to do the hard work without compromising to change my narrative: today, the future I am helping to shape and create for my girls.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
Mentorship has been around for such a long time, yet, its still a novice idea in Nigeria, especially with my target audience. I mean! these women are so amazing, out of the heart of wanting to care for themselves and their family, they have picked new skills without any support none whatsoever and birth their businesses. My innovation is as simple as offering women a mentorship programme and Internship placement, using digital technology to scale their businesses and reach more customers. Sometimes, don’t you just wish there was someone who has gone through the same challenges as you and came out of it and all you want to know is how they did it. Learntor does not just say how or connect you with mentors, we also walk you through how to achieve your goal.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
God! I really can’t say where I would be without God’s grace and benevolent. I know it’s such a clique but its the only truth I know and leave by. The mere fact that I have great family and friends that love me, seeing my children grow into amazing women, is just breathtaking.
My determination, tenacity, resilience and highly strong-willed personality drive me to achieve the unimaginable goals ahead. As hard as criticisms sound, I’m not afraid to accept my errors, taking ownership of my mistakes. I listen and introspect, identifying what I can improve and how I could make it better.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
As I said earlier, there are not many of us and the resources available to many entrepreneurs in this region is so limited. There is also a lack of sharing culture on how many of us have reached our success.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
Transparency, integrity, honesty, bluntness, hard work, empathy in listening to every woman, just to understand what their unique need is. And sometimes, it’s as simple as learning, unlearning and relearning everything, never afraid to start over.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
Money is one, we live in a world that without money, we cannot do anything, at the level where I need to grow, one of the biggest blockers, is financing. With the right financing, I can get more human resources, technology cost, physical spaces and offer more support.
What’s your five-year plan for Learntor?
To bridge the digital skill gap for 10,000 women empowering and supporting them through our mentorship, and internship placement programme. Learntor currently has a growing community of over 1,000 entrepreneurs 65% are women 35 men within 8 months.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful?
“True greatness is not in being great but in the ability to make others great” – Mercy George-Igbafe
I am driven by the quote despite the challenging times we’re confronted by covid-19 pandemic which I believe it will pass. To succeed women need to Collaborate, seek strategic partnership, join a supportive ecosystem, be ready for mentoring. There are opportunities in Nigeria, we all have to seek it out by identifying where there is problems and start offering solutions, it will not be easy but collective we will make.
The 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.