Image credit: Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye
On the #LadyBossQuickFive series this week, we sit with Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye, Founder of I.Dare.Not.Dread, a Social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity and enterprise in Nigeria. What started out of identifying her fears and facing them square in the eye has birthed a company whose primary aim is to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth.
In this interview, Amba discusses with LLA about how I.Dare.Not.Dread was birthed, the achievements her business has made, some entrepreneurship myths she’s had to contend with while building a global brand and some resource recommendations for female entrepreneurs. Lean In!
1. What Does Entrepreneurship Mean To You?
Entrepreneurship means many things to me – creating and innovating ideas, recognising opportunities, making decisions, making mistakes, failing, winning, valuing time, focus, discipline, understanding balance, partnership, sometimes losing friends, growing and much more. At times, it can be lonely, but that in itself is a gift that has the capacity to birth the best rewards.
2. Your Business Name Is IDarenotdread. Tell Us How You Came About Your Business Name & How Your Organization Helps Businesses.
iDare.NotDread is a Social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity and enterprise in Nigeria. Our focus is primarily to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth. The name iDare.NotDread was inspired from a point of fear.
In the past, I have been really fearful. Fear crippled me. I would just lock myself in the room, creating content to post weekly on my blog. One night when I was creating a blog post, the name, “I DARE NOT DREAD” popped into my mind. I quickly jotted it down and kept on with my post.
A few years later, I had just returned from completing my Masters in the United Kingdom, and while job searching, I spent some time listening to TED Talks. Then the idea came to me! “Why not create a platform like this to inspire people to do great things?”
I applied for the licence to host a TEDx event, and when the point came to write what I would call the event, I simply filled ‘iDare.NotDread.’ Awaiting a response from the team in 6-8 weeks appeared too long for me; so, I proceeded to set up my own event in Abuja with the same name, creating the platform for people to share the stories and ideas that have made them thrive in spite of fear.
Over time, I realised I needed to do more to help people create their own stories. And that’s where the idea of building capacity came. Now, with my experience with digital marketing, iDare.NotDread’s approach from 2016 turned to contribute to conversations around digital technology and creating a good impact in the digital space.
Since then, our efforts have given birth superbrands taking great steps in spite of fear. In the past 3 years, we have successfully trained over 4,000 entrepreneurs on digital strategies as well as providing opportunities for business visibility. Many thanks to the opportunity Google granted us through the Digital Skills for Africa programme and a host of other partners who has trusted us to work with them.
Currently, we are setting up communities that take people through complete training programs to launch their knowledge, gifts and ideas to the world and solve problems for people globally. One of such programs which are doing really well is our eBook Launch Program which has trained over 200 women to become Authors, establishing themselves as experts in their niche, and exploring the numerous opportunities that comes with such bold step.
Our brand name is more than just a title. It’s a philosophy that has always driven me as well as others to act in spite of fear. We keep making an impact in peoples lives day after day.
Image credit: Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye
3. We Also Noticed That You Run An Ebook Program (with about 99% of the participants as women)? Tell Us More About The Program & The Achievements You’ve Recorded So Far.
Yes, the eBook Launch Program is one of the most rewarding initiatives I began in 2019. It started with me launching my first eBook on the 1st of March 2019, titled, ‘HOW TO WRITE YOUR FIRST EBOOK’. The book was free, and in it, I offered people the opportunity to join me on a 30-days eBook Challenge online, where I would train and guide them for free on how to write and launch their own first eBooks by the 1st of April.
This sparked lots of interest, and as intakes reached the number I thought I could manage, I closed entry and we all got to work. By the end of the month, I was thrilled to see the outcome. The people who joined me 30 days earlier (95% of whom were women), realised the potential they carried and understood the importance of establishing themselves as AUTHORities in their niche!
By April, a good number of them excelled with the challenge and earned the title ‘Author’ – a feat that previously appeared too ambitious for them. The reviews poured out, and by the next batch, intakes increased. Our community of doers grew as more people accepted the challenge to write and launch their ebooks in 30 days. And the feedback has been outstanding!
Some cases, in particular, have blown my mind! One of us, a PhD student abroad, who was in Nigeria on study leave, said she had this strong feeling to publish a book. Next thing, she went on Instagram and my advert was the first thing she saw on her screen. She quickly joined the program but wasn’t too sure about what exactly to write on.
After some interaction back and forth, including attempts to drop out twice, she was encouraged to stay on and complete the challenge. And in her first week of launch, she sold over 50 copies! Next thing, she published her eBook on Kindle (Amazon) and by month-end, she had already earned six figures. Note that this was her first time selling anything online. Her eBook, ‘How to Strip it off’, was exposing her to new audiences and helping people heal from emotional pain. Opportunities began to open for her, including media interviews and invitation to speak and host conferences.
Another outstanding result was from one of our Cohort 5 members who launched her eBook helping food businesses to improve their pricing with clients and eliminate losses. By the end of the first month, she had made over N1 million from her eBook. And not just that, she proceeded to build a Mentorship community, helping Nigerian food vendors to improve their businesses.
I could go on and on about how our program is helping transform so many women’s lives and businesses. Every other month, we release a new cohort of Authors publishing their ideas and solutions online, to the public. Cohort 6 is currently ongoing, and we have begun registration for the next cohort.
4. What “Oh, Shit!” Moments Have You Had Since Establishing Your Business & How Have These mistakes Shaped You To Become Better?
Before now, I ran my business alongside my 9 to 5 job, consulting for international organisations. I knew someday I would leave my job and focus entirely on the business, but I wasn’t quite ready. My ‘Oh, Shit’ moment happened in March 2019 when my consulting job in Kano ended abruptly. The contract was sure to be extended, but the news got to us that the project would be closing sooner than planned and some staff would be retrenched. I was in a team of two and almost certain they wouldn’t reduce our team to one person. But Oops! they did! And I just had 2 days to wrap up and handover. Then for real, I realised “Oh shit! Here we go!”
By the next week, I was back in Abuja, picking up my business full time! I was so glad I had something to pick up.
Image credit: Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye
5. If You Could Have A Lunch Date With One Lady Boss You Admire – Who Would That Be & What Would You Ask Her?
I would like to have a lunch date with Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. I am intrigued by her rise to that point of leadership and would like to ask her how she is able to balance things out as a woman in such a demanding international position, a wife and a mother.
6. Your Top 3 Book Recommendations For Female Entrepreneurs?
My 3 book recommendations for entrepreneurs would be:
i. From Mediocrity to Millions by Jay Abraham, the highest paid marketing consultant in the United States. This book got me screaming in my room and jotting down lots of points when I first read it in January 2019.
ii. Blue Ocean Strategy by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, which will expose anyone to the genius in them to differentiate, take over market space, and make the competition irrelevant. That book is powerful.
iii. Small Business, Big Money by Akin Alabi, for every Nigerian business to gain insight from a Nigerian perspective on how to market and grow our businesses.
The Leading Ladies Lady Boss Quick 5 Series is a weekly interview series 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.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.