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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TOP TIPS ON HUMAN RESOURCES FROM TWO SIERRA LEONEAN EXPERTS



Eldeen Elba
The Sierra Leonean economy is in dire need of a streamlined and engaging workforce. Edleen B. Elba and Fullah Musu Conteh are two professionals in the Human Resource field helping to develop, recruit and retain talent in various sectors for the Sierra Leonean workforce. Edleen is a Chartered Human Resources Analyst who owns JobSearch, a human resources management company while Fullah is co-founder and managing human capital consultant at human capital solutions firm TV-PG.
In this article by Moiyattu Banya caught up with both ladies and got them to share some tips on building human capital for any business.

It is a known but sad fact that the average job seeker in Africa is a young person. Add to this the African Development Bank’s prediction of a youth bulge on the continent. This just begs the question, how will African countries cope with the increase of young people who will far outweigh available opportunities? In post-conflict countries like Sierra Leone, that rate is even higher. According to the 2013 Status of Youth Report released in Sierra Leone, over 70 percent of young people live under a dollar a day. The country’s unemployment rate is at 60 percent and is one of the highest in West Africa.

Ladies, how important is setting up an efficient team? What key attributes should young women possess for business?

Edleen: Your team is critical.
Hire employees with the right attitude. They may not be the most qualified or experienced but you can always train them.  People with integrity and those who care about their personal development and business growth are likely to be more committed and therefore, more productive.
Fullah: Be professional at all times with your team.
When it comes to your team and standards, be professional. Culturally in Sierra Leone, the lines tend to blur between professional and personal relationships. This situation, if not well-handled, can diminish one’s image as a leader. Case in point, as a start-up, you may have set systems in place and your policies may be top-notch. However, consistent adherence can be a challenge when clear-cut boundaries are not set. Evaluate your leadership style, and ensure your  team is in agreement with your expectations.  Always check for non-compliance to policies and structures, address the culprits and help them improve on compliance. However, if they still don’t fit in, let them go, irrespective of who they are.

What would you consider critical for a young woman setting up a business?

Fullah : Understand your business market.
Understand your competitors, know what the market needs, lacks or has in abundance – then strategically come in. To this end,  you can create a niche that caters to your passion and also the market. Use that knowledge to find mentors who can help you reach your goals and potential customers/clients. Know when to take a step back and when to aggressively push with a service or product. While at it, align with international best practices and contribute to Africa’s consistent growth. It’s best to do away with the standard TIA aka “This is Africa’s way” by ensuring that you adapt to best business practices for your clients’ sake and personal prestige. The bar should be raised, always.
Fullah Musu Conteh

Let’s talk about the dream team. How can one effectively manage a team without breaking it?

Edleen:  Share your vision!
I would say, share your vision with your employees and give them responsibilities. If they are actively involved in the decision-making process, they are more likely to believe they are a vital part of the business.
Also, it is important to have open communication channels. This is essential to any relationship.  Be fair, give regular and effective feedback.

How do we maintain personal control in the face of business expansion?

Fullah: Know and understand your strengths and weakness.
Once you do, find ways or people who can help close that gap. For example, I am a transformational person and monotony bores me to distraction. Owing to this, I  do not consider myself a sales person as I am terrible at selling my organization’s new products and services. To address this weakness, I have a strong team consisting of a competent operations person and a passionate business development individual. I design products and services while the operations person follows through with implementation. The role of the business development individual is to get clients while I work quietly behind the scenes to make us all happy.

This article was originally posted on she leads Africa: visit http://sheleadsafrica.org/sierra-leonean-human-resources/

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Your Dream Team will Lead you to Your Next Level

A few weeks back I attended She Leads Africa She Hive NYC. I learnt a lot in being in the space and I am grateful for having the opportunity to be surrounded by so many amazing African women. One of the things I took away from the event was the importance of having the right people on your team. This month we will focus on some of the key elements of having the right team and how do you actually build the right team. For purposes of our discussions this month let us keep in mind that Teams are defined very loosely. A  team can be a group of people you bring together for a short term project, or for something much longer term being for e.g. your business or your organization. A team can also be your network of people who are in your inner circle that you can count on to move and shake things to move you to the next level of your career, business or organization.

When we launched love and sisterhood campaign it was a very intentional approach to assure women that indeed we can work together and most importantly it is critical for women to work together as we believe we can do so much if we do.

So as we take the journey this month to talk about teams, we look forward to sharing some gems with you all and also learning from you all on your experiences on working on highly effective teams as well as building those teams.




Cheers,
 photo mooiSIGFINAL_zpsc16114fb.jpg


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Designing, Creativity and Sustainability: Introducing BOSSCHIQUE Margaret Kadi of Pangea, Sierra Leone




This month I am so pleased to be featuring Margaret Kadi. I met Margaret through my social enterprise organization Girls Empowerment Summit Sierra Leone. Margaret served as a mentor for our annual summit that takes place every year in the organization. After the summit ended I took a visit to Margaret's store Pangea and was blown away. Pangea is a Made in Sierra Leone lifestyle brand that celebrates the creative side of Sierra Leone. Pangea specialises in Custom Furniture, Home Decor and Fashion Accessories. Their Custom Furniture product range includes Doors, Beds, Wardrobes, Office Furniture and much more. With regards to the Home Decor and Fashion Accessories, the company caters to the well-travelled discerning customer who appreciates the value of handmade. Some of these handmade products include woven blankets, woven table runners, clothing for women, men and children. If you are looking for some of the most quality eco-friendly and beautifully made goods and products Pangea is your place to visit and Margaret is one of the people to do business with.

This woman is one of the powerful, entrepreneurs in Freetown and I am so blessed to have met her. She exudes such a positive spirit, whilst commanding a presence of confidence with her work. I walked away with a few amazing items and was treated with such respect, love and care as a customer. If you are ever in Freetown you must head over to Pangea.  I am so happy to have interviewed her and her story will truly inspire you.

Margaret Kadi Owner of Pangea


ON  MARGARET THE WOMAN

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

A: Determined – I will have a go at anything because nothing really scares me. My determination and stamina has taken me to places beyond my wildest dreams

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, your cultural heritage and background, where you grew up and what brings you to the work?

A: I was born in Sierra Leone and lived and studied there up until 1993 when I went to further my studies in the UK. I was raised by my father as sadly I lost my mother when I was 5years old. Having two older brothers and a successful father definitely shaped me in being a very strong woman.  I wanted to do everything the boys did – I was into breakdancing and football - I am still into football bigtime!
My father was my role model and I wanted to achieve as much as he did. I got my degree in Business Administration as I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after I graduated. I had to do a year’s placement in my third year at University so I was offered a placement in the Finance Department at MTV Networks Europe. Whilst there, I figured out this was the opportunity of a lifetime and I wanted to know how other aspects of a multinational company worked. At the weekends I would go to the studios and watch the live shows being filmed and I fell in love with the world of television. I did that for about 2 months and I got to know the crew very well. To my surprise I was asked to help them out at the weekends which I did voluntarily as I could not believe my luck. I worked 7 days a week for a whole year, but it paid off, because I was asked to stay on in Production as a Floor Manager for 2 live shows whilst in my final year and worked for them full time after I graduated.  I later on worked for Sky Sports (British Sky Broadcasting) and Discovery Channel before my husband convinced me to visit Sierra Leone after being away for more than 15 years. This was when my love affair for Sierra Leonean made products started and I decided to start my own business called Project Sierra Leone, making quality handmade home d├ęcor and fashion accessories. We had a store for two years and we have a display of our goods at Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Freetown. Just before the lease ran out on my store, my husband and I decided to collaborate and open a new Lifestyle Store called Pangea. We specialize in locally made Hard-wood Furniture, Interior Decoration, Home and Fashion Accessories.



Q: 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 bit of a workaholic so I don’t have too much time outside work but I am working on it! I had one month were I worked every single day without  a break and my husband had to be stern with me about working too much – I got the message after that. Now I make Sundays ‘my day’. I literally have my phone off and do nothing work related, go to the beach with my husband and chill, eat and read a book.  When I don’t get the chance to go to the beach I am perfectly happy staying in bed watching a movie or football. This totally relaxes me and gets me ready for what’s ahead.

I am a bit of a social butterfly so I also love spending time with my awesome girlfriends who are equally as crazy as I am and always know what to do to make me relax.

ON  PANGEA AND CREATIVITY


Q: Tell us a bit about Pangea, where does the name come from? and Why did you decide to enter into business within this specific market?

A: Pangea is a Latin word and it means ‘Supercontinent’ and is a reference to ‘One World’, before the continents split into Africa, Asia, America etc. It also relates to Mother Gaia/Mother Nature, hence our affinity for naturally made products. I have also always loved Interiors and Soft Furnishings – growing up I had books, video tapes of home improvements shows and my husband and I must have literally watched a thousand documentaries on home improvement, renovations and construction projects. We had always hoped to be doing what we do today so we feel so blessed it came to fruition.


Handmade Chair from Pangea Store 
 



Q: Tell us about challenges you face doing business in Africa particularly Sierra Leone? How have you overcome these challenges?

A: We face a lot of challenges doing business in Sierra Leone which range from logistics, shortages/lack of materials, timekeeping, electricity, lack of education etc. The list is endless but we do the best we can to overcome them.

Part of the way we cope with these challenges include amending the designs of some of our furniture. We don’t use handles on any of our pieces because all we have here are cheap imports so we have kept our styles simple.



Q: What do you love about Pangea? And what do you believe has contributed to the growth of your business?

A: I absolutely love everything because I am involved in every aspect of the business - from sourcing fabrics to designing a dress for a client. I think the passion my husband and I have for what we do is quite evident when you come into our store. We really love what we do because we have a lot of repeat custom and I think that says it all. The drawback with having a lot of repeat custom is the fact that we always have to be creative so that the store is fresh with new products all the time.

We pretty much have most of the pieces we have in the store in our home so it’s very easy to sell what you love. With regards to the furniture we sell, our customers are locals but we have a lot of travelling customers for everything else. Our customers are like an extension of our family as they will always come back to tell us how well received the products were and suggest some items we should make – listening to what the customer wants always helps. We customize everything sold in our store so it’s greatly appreciated when a customer can have something made to their specifications.


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

A: 10 years from now I see Pangea as one of the leading brands in Sierra Leone. On the international stage, we hope to have a presence in Africa either by having another store somewhere in West Africa or exporting our goods to other markets around the world.


LOVE + SISTERHOOD


Q:  Tell us 3 most important characteristics one must have to be successful in your field of work?

A:  The 3 most important characteristics I think one must have to be successful in my field of work are;

1.    Belief – try not to lose this even when no one around you trusts what you are doing
2.    Always uphold standards – never compromise on it. Nothing makes it to the shop floor if it hasn’t been approved by me or my husband. We do all our quality controls and if it does not meet our standards we have to start again. I am a bit of a stickler which I am sure frustrates the artisans sometimes but they get it now when they see the admiration for our work.

3.    Innovate – We do a lot of research with regards to our products. We have a lot of travelling customers so I am always looking at how to make things that are small, lightweight, stylish and most of all functional.


Q: What does Sisterhood mean to you and why is it critical to our success as African women?  

A: Sisterhood is everything to me, nothing makes me more happy than to see another woman succeed. I believe in my own abilities and I know that I can do anything I want to do if I put my mind to it so I applaud other people’s success. We need to support each other through the good and the bad times in-order for us all to win.


Q: Please complete the sentence  “Women Change Africa because…?”

A: Women change Africa because we are not scared to stick our necks on the line for what we believe in.



Cushion Covers from Pangea Store

FOLLOW THEM 
Instagram – www.Instagram.com/shoppangea

Facebook – www.facebook.com/pangea

Read Margaret's recent feature in Guardian Nigeria  5 women to conduct business with in Sierra Leone curated by Women Change Africa. 



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