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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Engaging, Inspiring and Equipping the Next Generation of African Women Leaders

We are so excited to share an interview our founder did via Afroelle Magazine of two amazing women leaders from the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa Chikondi Chabvuta and Marlise Montcho. The Moremi Initiative is one of the leading organizations on the African continent that is creating the next generation of African women leaders. We hope you enjoy the interview link to the full interview is here in  Afroelle April Issue

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Women Mean Business: 5 Things we Walked Away With!

On March 8th 2015, Rhoyalty Concepts held their 2nd Annual Women Mean Business Honors. The focus of the event was to Honor African Women Entrepreneurs &   creates a platform for young aspiring female entrepreneurs to gain practical skills, confidence, and motivation from business women and men in a variety of business fields.  
WMB2015 Virtual Series was very engaging and provided an opportunity for those that attended to learn and be inspired. The event provided great information for women who are interested in starting businesses or are already in business here in the United States and on the African continent. Topics fluctuated from business tips, to balancing a healthy lifestyle whilst running your business, & how to finance your business. As an attendee we walked away with a wealth of information, here are 5 takeaways that we wanted to share with you. 

1.  One of the Honoree’s Lande Sanusi spoke on the importance of a strong team and supportive partnerships. In your business you must surround yourself with people who are critical thinkers, and those that can also provide you with constructive and helpful feedback. If something is not working, chances are that you need to try another strategy, bring together your team of advisers that you have built to help you re-strategize. 

2.  Having God or a spiritual foundation at the center of your business will help in directing the path your business should go. Spirituality was very important for the women who spoke as a means of directing the plans that they put together.

3.  Money is always a hot topic, in the session on “How to Finance your Business”, we learned that when it comes to funding opportunities it is advised to develop a solid understanding of various capital raising alternatives to help plan a suitable funding strategy for your business. For example, competitions and donor funding may not be the best type of funds for a startup, at times these associations have their own interest to benefit their organization and those interest may not align with your business agenda. It’s best if you start with your inner circle of family, friends, angel investors and even your own personal savings. 

4. As the saying goes no man is an Island and the same goes with business. Some people are interested in having a Co-Founder when starting a business; this is something that can be very beneficial. One of the speakers suggested when looking for a Co-Founder think about the skills and resources that you are lacking or need and look for someone who does as this can be a win- win situation for the two parties and save on cost of outsourcing other resources. 

5. When discussing Work Life balance, the biggest takeaway was to never stop starting when it comes to healthy workouts and eating healthily. The idea of small wins was also emphasized by the speakers, that even incremental change is important to celebrate as we continue our life journey of being healthy.

Overall WMB2015 was a great experience. We look forward to see what Rhoyalty Concepts has in store for us for the next Women Mean Business Honors.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Changing the Face of Leadership: Celebrating Joan Dgojo, Politician Suriname


Q: If you were to describe your personality in one word what would it be?

A: A dreamer, however I do not know if one word could describe my personality. I see myself as having a strong will. I care about the welfare of others and love to see people life in dignity.
 I love challenges, if it doesn’t make me scared it is not challenging enough.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, your cultural heritage and what brings you to this work?

A: So, I come from a very rich cultural heritage. In the sense that I am from African decent, oh my goodness I love my people. Back to the question, the Surinamese nation is one of  different ethnic groups, coming from different parts of the world. The people from African decent in Suriname are divided in different sub groups. The history of African people in Suriname was dramatically influenced by slavery, which is the root cause of the division, and so my existence in this country (laughs).  I am from Okanisi, that’s the largest “maroon” group in Suriname. Maroons are the descendants of enslaved Africans who heroically choose a life of freedom in the Surinamese interior where they settled in small groups: the Ndyuka, Saamaka, Matawai, Aluku, Pamaka and Kwinti. The economical and social reality of these groups is one of neglect and marginalization.   At this point in Suriname, we may conclude that there are positive future perspectives.

My grand parents moved from the interior to the urban city of Suriname, Paramaribo,  when my mother was a teenager. I was born in 1982, I turned 32 last December 19th.  Coming from marginalized group I was very determined to succeed in education. My mother used to tell me that I shouldn’t become a teen mom, and that she wanted me to stay in school as long as possible. Having said that she and my father did their utmost for me and my siblings to attend school.

Being the dreamer that I am, when I was in secondary school I used to watch a yearly African Heritage Pageant. And every year as a young girl I see myself walking that stage. I promised myself that once I entered university I would participate. It was called the Miss Alida Pageant, an empowerment program for young women of African descent.

 In 2002 I was admitted to the Anton de Kom University and was supported by my mother, siblings and friends to participate in that pageant. In 2003 I was crowned the new Miss Alida of Suriname, which became a life changing experience for a then 20 year old me.

Once being the new Miss I got engaged in different social initiatives focusing on youth leadership and empowerment. I began to work in my community, empowering youth, especially young women. During these interactions I became aware of the major inequalities that my people had to bear as it relates economically and access to quality education. I knew that Suriname, my country will be developed once all people in the country had the opportunities in life. Determined as I could be, I participated in the elections for the youth parliament and became elected with the majority of votes in our capital city. It was painful to see and to bear that my country, the government didn’t initiate a housing plan for more than 20 years. The poverty, I could not life knowing that we were impoverished.

Q: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning to do what you do? 
A: Seeing my parents proud!!
I would also say the next generation is what motivates me to get out of that warm bed. I want to work to better my country so that the children of today have good opportunities tomorrow so they can live in dignity. Suriname was colonized by western powers. They treated my country for their own well being,  to build their own , I do not want the next generation to suffer the consequences. Past generations has suffered a lot for Suriname to be at the point at which it is now. Suriname is endowed with enough for everyone of us. In order to ensure that everyone gets their fair share we the people , including me, must participate in the development process.

Q: As busy as you are, how do you unwind and what to you enjoy doing to take time for yourself outside of work?

A: What’s that?? I would love to spend more time with family.  Usually when I take time for myself I have to do the other important task; being a mother, partner, sister, once again sister from other parents lol. Honestly I love doing what I do…. I would love to read and cook more. Between you and me, I love to dance but in private settings with family. (smiles)


Q: So you are a female politician and work in government, tell us more about your work and the purpose for getting involved in this realm of leadership?

A: In Suriname there is a popular saying  that politics is nasty; on the contrary I believe that politics is an important vehicle to bring sustainable development in areas where there is none. I really want to see positive change in my country that no matter where you are the personal opportunities are the same. A lot of big things that change the world where done by those who had the conditions to unleash there creativity.  You cannot think about innovation or be creative or  about a new world on an hungry stomach, when these are the demands for our generation to excel. So my purpose is to fight poverty in all its forms.

I am the youngest member in the current constellation of The National Assembly. I also work as policy official at the office of the president focusing on youth and women. I believe it is my commitment to do all in my capacity to contribute to the eradication of poverty that brought me to this point. Especially coming from a certain background. Democracy focusses on "we the people", so I believe by being there myself, being part of the people I can be a voice.

Q:  As the elections are coming up in Suriname, what do you hope to achieve through your work? And what have you achieved in the past working in government?  

A:  On a personal level I wouldn't say that I have achieve enough for my people. However the current government is very committed in ensuring a more equal division of the economic growth of Suriname by implementing a comprehensive social agenda that focus on the well being of the elderly and children. Especially the initiatives on the access education are applaudable; suspension of the tuition fee for elementary and secondary school. Furthermore, making clean water accessible to women in areas that were neglected. There are several occasions during this term that policy initiatives where referred to as historical. The current Government is closer to the public than any other government.

I would love to see a more comprehensive focus on Public housing. For the past 15 years prior to this government Suriname did not have a proper Public housing plan, resulting in crowded homes with all its challenges. The implemented housing policy is not sufficient to adequately alleviate the demand.

Q: Tell us about a challenge you have faced in being a young female politician and how you overcame it?

A: The political culture of my country is quite demanding, in the sense that apart from the parliamentary work in office you also have to be visible at the “grassroots” especially since I represent a grassroots party and also the management of a “young household”. So, you have to manage time. Politics in its essence is a challenge itself. But the circumstance that often put me in a dillema is balancing work and family. I am a Mother of two year old Ngheiny Sontea. God blessed me with a caring Mother and siblings with whom I can leave her when duty calls. If I could buy more time in a day I would. Because often when I am finished and get her to go home, she is asleep. So we have litle playtime together. But I am working on improving that.


Q:  As a woman living in the African diaspora what do you think the key important way women in the diaspora can contribute to the development of women around you in Suriname here and on the continent?

A:I would say that there should be more communication and connection. There is something positive in the cooperation of “black” women. Together we can move mountains. When looking at women of African descend here in Suriname and on the soil of Mother Africa I would say that there has been some improvement in raising awareness about our heritage. We relate more to each other. A few years ago we did not have that connection but with the export of Nollywood and the Ghanian movie industry we got to understand some things about pop culture in Africa. I look forward to a structured mechanism to connect women from Africa with the diaspora. In the past I was thinking maybe a Miss Universe African Pageant would be a friendly way to break the ice.  But whatever the choice of vehicle it should focus on young people--young women. I believe that young people are the key drivers of change. We should build each other, reaching out to each other. When one of us have reach a certain point in the ladder of success, we must make sure that the hand behind you is holding at least one younger one!

You see like what you are doing now, you dared to dream about “Women change Africa”, and now you are giving me a stage to present other women. You rock!!

Q:  Do you have any advice to offer to other young women looking to go into government? What would you advice them to do?

A: Being a Young women in your reproductive years, in a committed relationship puts much more pressure on you because at that stage in life you are investing in your "nest". Especially if you started to build a Family after your 30's, like my case. Your partner might not understand your priorities. Which might lead to conflicts. Be prepared to handle it with care.

In general women are taught to be submissive, and men (also the ones in the arena) expect that behaviour. I would say be your bold self and be sober-minded  in all your steps.

Q: 10 years from now where do you see yourself? 

A: By the grace of the Lord: serving my people. I believe that all is possible and I should want it!

Q: Finish the sentence  “Women Change Africa because”

A: We are builders. When women move the whole nation moves. We should build upon that synergy and contribute to the development of Africa. I pray for Africa.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

10 Female Owned Brands we celebrate for International Women's Day

In celebrating all things innovative and entrepreneurial for International Women's Day this year we wanted to take the time to celebrate women and all the great things they are doing. This post is dedicated to the African women who are running their various brands and running it well. Here is a list of our Favorite Women Brands for IWD 

1. Re-Connect Ghana

Founded by Ghanaian women  Maame Boakye and Stephanie Dei in 2011 while in Ghana conducting research for their graduate dissertations. With a vision of strengthening ties and deepening engagement between young professionals in Ghana and the diaspora, both ladies organized the first Re-Connect GH networking mixer on December 28, 2011

Visit their site 
Recconect Ghana

2. Cecret Candles, Liberia-USA

Cecret Candles 

Founded by Sesima Kamara, this brand is sure to be the future home brand line for sure. The owner describes her brand as home-made soy candles handcrafted with the finest ingredients in GRADE A unrefined shea-butter, eco-soy vegetable wax and premium fragrance oils.

Visit their site 
Cecret Candles

3. Fitclique Africa Uganda

Founded by Mildred Apenyo, Fitclique Africa is the first female gym in Uganda, Fitclique Africa is passionate about wellness and safety. They offer self-defense, strength training, dance and yoga classes.  

Visit their site 
FitClique Africa

4. Besharp Events California USA

 Rugie Bhonopha of Sierra Leonean American heritage and her team take pride in their event planning company. Her and her colleagues are sure to plan your event into stylish sophisticated event for either private or corporate purposes. 

Visit their site 

Besharp Signature Events

Be Sharp Events 

5. Wanjo Foods, Ghana

Founded by Yaganoma Wanjo Foods processes indigenous crops into food products. Wanjo producers create, juices, syrups, jams, preserves and sauces out of indigenous spice, herbs and veggies. Wanjo Foods' mission is to promote natural healthy African beverages made from fruits and vegetation that are found withing the continent.

Visit their site 

Wanjo Foods

6. Sophie Zinga, Senegal

Founded by Senegalese Afropolitan Sophie Nzinga, this brand  has wow-ed us all over the few years the brand has launched and been a success, she works hard to ensure her customers are satisfied. Sophie also launched her own flagship store in Dakar Senegal. She describes her brand as sophisticated and born from a unique vision of modern style, the Sophie Zinga line is marked by a new approach to design where luxury meets sensuality.

Visit their site
 Sophie Zinga

7. Bims Flavors, Nigeria USA 

Cupcake owner Oby provides the most creative and tasty cakes, cupcakes and desserts for your event to be made special. She takes pride in all of her customers and ensures they receive individualized service for their occasion

Visit their site 
Bim Cakes

Bim's Flavors 

8. Afroelle Magazine, Kenya-Worldwide

Founder Patricia from Kenya has truly made tremendous strides with her magazine Afroelle! AfroElle is a digital magazine celebrating women of African heritage. AfroElle exists to encourage, empower and elevate our readers through highlighting the plight of women of African heritage and celebrating their achievements and contributions to their communities. Our magazine features
editorials on book, film & music, technology, business, travel, lifestyle, health, art, culture, home d├ęcor, fashion

Visit their site 
9. Mui Pr- Nigeria, Nigeria-USA
MuiPr featured in Applause Africa 

Founder Ijeoma from Nigeria based in New York is taking the PR world by storm with her company MuiPR. The Public Relations Company is the first independent strategic public relations and promotions agency in NYC for Pan-African businesses and leaders in entertainment, fashion, politics, media, non-profit and urban development sectors.

Visit their site 

10. Maame Afon Musician, Ghana-USA 

Musician Maame Afong found a way to blend social justice with music and voila what do you have amazing talent.  Maame also does gospel music and has released an album as well in this arena. Her voice is sure to inspire, and uplift you. Her album titled Ekome is one you definitely want to download and give a listen.

Visit her site 
Maame Afon
Maame Afon

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Celebrating Ajara Bomah CEO of Rhoyalty Concepts, Sierra Leone


To Kick off Our Bosschique(ism) series we chat with Ajara Bomah of Rhoyalty Concepts. Ajara Bomah is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rhoyalty Concepts.  She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychotherapy from Smith College School of Social Work and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology & African Studies from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst USA.  
She had worked under the Office of the President as the Logistics Manager for the Office of Diaspora Affairs making significant contributions to capacity building and Diaspora relations between the Government and people of Sierra Leone.  She has also held leadership positions where  she managed the DSTV brand and played a pivotal part of the team responsible for marketing, communications and creative leadership with Fasiedon Media and Transnational SL Ltd.


Q: Describe yourselves in 1 word and tell us why you chose that word?

A: Visionary- I am able to see things in everything and where others can’t. I am also very determined to make a difference and leave a legacy.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourselves your cultural heritage and background and what brings you to this work?
A: I was born and raised in the US to Sierra Leonean parents. As an African born and raised in America, my desire was to always go back to my roots and contribute to Africa’s development. Throughout my childhood there was this passion, this yearning to move to Sierra Leone, due to certain unforeseen incidents our family was unable to visit as we wanted and then war broke out.  I was tired of hearing about the Sierra Leone experience from friends and family. I wanted to get firsthand experience and learn more about the Yoruba’s of Fourah Bay, the chiefs of the Mende Chiefdoms, I wanted to perfect my Krio, learn how to cook the my favorite “Egusi soup” from my grandmother, dance to the mix African and Caribbean beats that makes Sierra Leonean music unique, and most of all I wanted to know where I came from, I knew that my past will determine my future and what better place to learn about this rich history, nowhere but sweet Salone. With peace, stability; I finally got my first visit as an adult in 2007 I fell in love right away with Sierra Leone.
In the fall of 2008, I packed my bags and moved to Sierra Leone to play my part in the development of the New Sierra Leone. While learning about my heritage, I realize there was a gap in the events industry, since I have always had a passion for this, I decided to follow my dreams and turn my passion into business.  

Q: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning to do what you do? 

A: Knowing that I was given the opportunity to see another day is my biggest motivator. After that I would say my vision to work towards my legacy.  That is very important to me and more so now more than ever. I have a little girl now and when she grows up I want her to have a foundation to build upon. If she sees the work mommy has done, she will want to follow my path and add to the  legacy.

Q: As busy as you are, how do you take care of yourself and what to you enjoy doing to take time for yourself outside of work?

A: I am a believer in work hard and play hard. At times I do get caught up more in the working hard aspect, but I have learned that you need a balance in order to be healthy and achieve your goals.  I love traveling, dancing and reading a good book. So going to the beach enjoying the day with a good book is a perfect way to unwind and relax. I have also learned that spending time with family and friends is important and that brings me joy also. So being around family and friends is something I make sure I find time for.


Q: Tell us a bit more about how Women Mean Business and what do you hope to achieve this year?

A: As you already know Women Mean Business is a unique and intimate educational and inspirational session created by myself and Roselynn Lewis for young and emerging female entrepreneurs in all business fields. We felt that young and emerging business women needed a platform where they could glean from one another and more specific other women in business. We also wanted to honor business women and recognize Africa Women entrepreneurs.

This year we want to spread out wings and widen the audience for WMB2015. It is a virtual event so that means women from all over the world can be a part of it. I am also excited about the panel of balancing your Business and Life, without a healthy lifestyle, one cannot maintain a sustainable business.

Q: Since we know the event is virtual this year which is highly innovative congratulations! Tell us what we can expect and look forward to a this year’s event?

A: We are looking for a wider audience and to inspire more women to take the next steps towards moving their dreams into reality. I am also looking forward to giving young African Women on the continent some of the tools they can use to help them to be able to compete within the international business markets. They will be encouraged by the stories from our Honorees and Speakers.

Q:  What is your long term goal with Women Mean Business brand and how do you hope to cultivate women in various business sectors?

A: As a brand we want to take Women Mean Business on the road. We want to host the event in other countries and cities and continue to encourage African women to choose business as a career choice.  As the backbone of our communities and the continent’s greatest potential to unlocking economic growth African women provide the majority of labor with the least amount of resources. So we want to use Women Mean Business as a platform to impart practical skills, confidence, and ambition among young women entrepreneurs giving them the tools to help them partake in economic inclusion and competiveness.

Q: Tell us about a personal challenge you overcame as a leader in this capacity and how did you overcome it?

A: I am someone who likes to be fully hands on in my work.  I needed to learn how to let go. Don’t get me wrong I am a great team player, however when it came to Rhoyalty Concepts, it was hard for me to delegate and give responsibilities to others thinking they would not be able to pull through the way I wanted things to look. I have thus learned that I need to let the team see  my vision from the beginning giving them the opportunity to add to that vision, I have also realized that I need to know the strengths and weaknesses of my team players and  as long as I have champion players on my team, I can  delegate and trust that we will all work towards bringing that dream into reality.


Q:  What advice do you provide to young women who are interested in going into this industry?

A: Dream and Dream big, don’t let anyone stop you from dreaming. The sky is more than the limit, if the sky was the limit how could man walk on the moon.   

Q: 10 years from now where do you see your brand?

A: I see my brand being one of the leading international brands with a focus on encouraging social entrepreneurship. We would be known as the brand that came, saw, gave back and conquered!  We are going to keep pushing to put Sierra Leone  on the map as a place where Women are making a difference.

Q: Finish the sentence “Women Change Africa because…..?”

A: We are Africa, without us there would be now Africa.

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