Cynthia M. Wright, author of “The Purposeful Leader- 10 Steps to success.”
Ambition and motivation are an essential driving force for success. For Australia Day Ambassador, Organisational strategist, Social Entrepreneur and Global Purpose Leader Cynthia Musafili Wright, this internal drive spearheaded her career from nursing in Aged Car to a well-known consultant in the field. Like a renaissance woman, Cynthia spread her interests and with a healthy dose of enthusiasm became a successful keynote speaker, career and business mentor, global purpose leader as well as an organizational strategist.
Alaba: Tell us about yourself and what you do?
Cynthia: Cynthia Musafili Wright is a leader. Finding a better way was always one of my qualities since I arrived in Australia. I started as an assistant in nursing in Aged Care, and in a couple of years; I became a registered nurse and then a clinical nurse manager, then a clinical consultant. I tried to broaden my areas of expertise and got familiar with healthcare management, regulation compliance, and Meditech fields. All this opened the gate for Aged Care business model consultant career.
Alaba: What sparked your interest and passion for aged care and mental health?
Cynthia: Understanding the challenges of Aged Care business from top to bottom in developed countries helped me turn-around several facilities that failed to achieve Outcomes of the Aged Care National Standards successfully. My experience in organizing clinical management teams came to fruition and helped in restructuring. In all my actions, I try to have a positive impact.
Being around Aged Care organisations naturally led me further in that direction, and as for mental health, I recognized in many ways the importance of mental wellbeing and decided to make it my cause also. I go by the motto, if we don’t feel right in the heard, we can’t function well physically. As officially defined by the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Alaba: How has it being as an African Diaspora based in Australia with Africa in your heart?
Cynthia: I was born in Zambia and migrated to study in Australia at age 19. Being in Australia didn’t make me forget about my African roots. That is why I founded my social enterprise – Regions International once my career took off. The organization provides mentorship and advice for startups and SME who want to scale up into the African market.
Regions International collaborates with global organisations to host meaningful events to foster dialogue and discussion about investments, capacity building and socio-economic development for the African Continent. Another vital role for Regions is fostering sustainable corporate social responsibility projects in Africa and Australia.
Alaba: How are you using your influence and connecting to attract investment to Africa?
Cynthia: I’m a Country leader for Australia for organization called Innovative Africa. In this role, my team and I connect the tissue between the two continents. We aim to help incubate and birth real success stories of innovations that will touch the lives of Africans by providing an African Market Entry Solution and growth structures that will help drive prosperity into the African continent.
The innovate Africa global team lead by Founder and Global CEO Dotun Adeoye and Paulo Mukooza – Global Commercial Director, continues to work across many countries as a support framework for entrepreneurs looking to bring their market-creating innovation to life and companies looking to expand into the African continent. More on what we do visit Innovate Africa
Alaba: Kindly share your leadership journey.
Cynthia: One thing is sure, Cynthia Wright won’t be outspoken. I think I’m dynamic, try to be educational, and above all, inspiring in my work. My leadership journey goes beyond the titles I wear, it is quantifiable. As a leader, the main aim should always be moving forward that which has been given to you. If you are not moving things forward, then you cannot quantify your impact.
I do a lot of speaking and I am privileged to speak to crowds on topics that have been strongly influenced by my path. Topics such as Leadership and Purpose, I strive to inspire personal growth and build leadership qualities. Social issues are also part of my most inspiring speeches, where I have talked about migration, inclusion and diversity. Creating leaders is something I’m passionate about.
Alaba: What have you learned along the way that has helped shape you in your journey?
Cynthia: The key to my success both in career and business is centered on the ability to maintain partnerships and collaborations. Creating connections and understanding that it’s a give and take relationship contributed to success in so many fields. That social component, as well as constant learning and hard work, shaped me into the person that I am today.
I’m an Australia Day Ambassador, where I participate in awarding new Australian citizens, providing support in understanding civics and citizenship, active citizenship and promoting the Australian brand. On these occasions, I am honored with the role of a keynote speaker where I talk about Resilience, Skilled Migration, Leadership, Active Citizenship, and other relevant topics.
I am also work with the global brand of Tedx. I am the TEDx Perth partnership manager. This role allows me to create partnerships and collaborative approaches to achieving excellent goals and outcomes for our global viewership. I have many other roles that I am fully engaged in. more can be found on my website www.cynthiawright.org
Alaba: What are your projects for Africa and how are you engaging Africans in the continent to achieve them?
Cynthia: Through the Regions Foundations, I work with local Zambian hospitals to improve and enhance the best clinical practice. We also support rural Zambian hospitals with necessary clinical supplies and connect them with Australian clinical and hospital stakeholders. Regions also provide hospital-grade linen, wheelchairs, hospital beds and surgical supplies to rural hospitals and orphanages in Zambia.
Apart from my philanthropist projects, I have recently been engaging African talents in IT and graphic designing for all my upcoming projects and I am so excited to share this with my tribe in the next coming months. Without revealing too much information, I am also working on an infrastructure project for Ghana – where we intend to build a city for the future. More on this to come in the following months. Watch this space.
Alaba: Describe yourself in one word, and why?
Cynthia: Fearless. Most of us know what to do, but don’t take the actions to follow through on our goals. We tell ourselves that we are not smart enough, not strong enough or brave enough. What hold us back are not our capabilities – it’s the fear of failure. It’s okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to let fear stop you. I have learnt to set goals, identify what was holding me back, and learn to move past fear.
Alaba: How are you changing the negative narratives of African migrants in the Diaspora?
Cynthia: By owning my African heritage story and telling it loud and clear in my own works and through my work time and time again. We are our own best media, if we don’t tell our stories the way they should be told, no one will. That is why I founded Africa writes Australia – a platform focused on promoting positive narratives through story telling. More about Africa Writes Australia
Alaba: If you could make one remarkable change in the world by 2020, what would it is?
Cynthia: 2020 is in four months. I think the change I would make is to use my voice to speak more about Love and honour for each other as human beings. Without love, all this is meaningless.
Alaba: What’s your advice for African governments, Africans, and investors?
Cynthia: Invest in the African people. They are your best and only asset. Collaborate and engage with the African diaspora, they are a great addition to the needed skills and knowledge to foster economic development and help implement strategies for future growth. For investors, you would be crazy not to consider the African market for scaling up your business.
B I O G R A P H Y
Cynthia Musafili Wright is a Social Care Corporate Executive. She is currently the 2019 & 2020 Australia Day Ambassador and Australia Ambassador for Global Organisation Female Wave of Change and Founder/CEO of the Social Enterprise Regions International. Cynthia is currently a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the TedxPerth Manager of Partnerships. She is also a publisher of various articles on Resilience, Migration, International Education, and Aged Care and a recent author of books on International Education, Purpose and Mental Health.
She is an active international student alumnus in Australia. Having attended one of the best universities in the world, Cynthia describes her international student experience as an experience that helped shape her into the leader that she is today. In addition to her leadership and career success, the international exposure and opportunities that presented as a result of her studies have contributed to positioning her on a global platform for work and business.
Cynthia is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world by creating leaders. Her success in her Career and Business comes down to her ability to build and maintain partnerships and collaborations; Her success in life is attributed by the connections she creates with others and the extent to which she can give and receive. She has created success in her roles as Clinical Consultant in Corporate Australia, with thirteen years’ experience in the Aged care industry and leadership roles.
Looking Back, Moving On: My little entrepreneurship journey in Africa
Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)
When I concluded my Masters from IE Business School in Spain, I flirted with the thought of moving back to Africa. I wanted to work in an impactful and growing sector. I was drawn to the Tech industry, mostly because its impact is felt across other sectors. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. Hence, when I was offered a position at an Ivorian AgTech company, WeFly Agri, I packed my bags and moved to Abidjan.
My time in Ivory Coast came to an end when I had gathered enough to begin the entrepreneurship journey. While researching the African AgTech ecosystem, I found out about Complete Farmer, a crowd-farming platform based in Ghana. I was mesmerized by the concept of involving everyday people in African agriculture.
Coincidentally, I met one of the co-founders at DEMO Africa in October last year, where I got to learn more about the company and the team. I wanted to be part of that journey and contribute to the vision. Joining this venture felt right so within a few days of meeting the co-founder, I moved to Accra, Ghana to assume the role of Chief Marketing Officer at Complete Farmer.
During my time in Ghana, I got to meet and build a strong network of players across the food industry/agricultural value chain — from commercial farmers to commodities traders, supermarkets and agro-processing firms. A major new player I got to deal with is the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX), the first ever regulated market linking buyers and sellers of agricultural products in West Africa.
After passing the certification, I was able to start trading at the GCX. This move allowed Complete Farmer to gain access to a wide range of market actors, thereby creating opportunities for the company to increase its revenue streams.
Ghana taught me that a conducive ecosystem can make the tough entrepreneurship journey an enjoyable one. In fact, Complete Farmer was incubated by Pan-African incubator MEST, meaning my team and I were working out of the incubator’s office space alongside other entrepreneurs. I loved the MEST environment. As entrepreneurs, we received practical advice, got introduced to ecosystem partners and most importantly, I truly valued the guidance I got from the fellows and entrepreneurs.
My time at Complete Farmer illustrated the not-so-obvious benefits to having competitors. Of course, every entrepreneur should pay some attention to their competitors, as they’re an important part of business. Understanding how our competitors operate allows us to avoid making their own mistakes while giving us ideas to expand our market.
Being an entrepreneur in Africa also means collaborating with other startups. With Complete Farmer, I got to partner with Jetstream for logistics services, Qualitrace for agro chemicals and Stanbest for irrigation systems and this was exciting working with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
On a personal note, I have also learned from many challenging and enlightening experiences through my journey. The first lesson has been to master my thoughts and emotions. Most lessons come from failures and setbacks. Although painful experiences, they develop the self-awareness to grow. They forced me to spend time on mastering my thoughts and emotions. As entrepreneurs, our cool is often tested.
Not being able to resist these frazzled emotions can lead an individual to react the wrong way, thereby causing setbacks and more failures. I learned that being clear-headed before making a decision gives me an edge when handling challenging situations.
My experience in Ghana showed the importance of building a network. As an entrepreneur, I quickly realized the importance of building relationships with other key players of the ecosystem — entrepreneurs, influencers, media platforms, investors and international organizations. You never know when an opportunity to collaborate may come!
Being an entrepreneur in Africa also taught me to stay curious and not stick to what I know. I had to learn to do my research on other industries, companies, and business models; to always be prepared to welcome new ideas and opportunities. All in all, I learned to embrace the challenges for personal growth and to find true joy in my entrepreneurship journey.
More so, I have come to appreciate researching about the vision and values of the organizations you work with. We get excited about new ventures, the prospects of building something new and having our names on a business card that I am a Co-Founder too. However, my experience over time, has taught me that doing your due diligence on the industry and your team while having a common goal and clear vision with your colleagues will get any start-up off the ground and running at a phenomenal pace.
So, in this light, I am stepping down from my role at Complete Farmer to pursue new and exciting opportunities in Lagos, Nigeria. I am grateful for my experience, the lows, the highs, the blessings and the lessons learned.
While I will remain in AgTech, I am exploring the personal care and beauty industry, a sector I believe technology can help redefine in Africa. I look forward to bringing my creativity and experience into this industry, from the economical heart of Africa — Lagos.
By Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)
Afripreneur Profile: Dayo Adedayo, The Man Behind The Lens
‘dayo Adedayo was born in Nigeria in 1964 and trained as a photographer at the Westminster College and the University of Westminster, both in the United Kingdom.
His major breakthrough came when he worked as a freelance photojournalist with Ovation International, the Number 1 celebrity magazine in Africa. Several of his work adorns the front cover of the magazine for over a 4 year period and the best selling eAfdition, ‘See Dubai and Die’ in 2002 was by him.
He is the author of eleven books; Nigeria 2.0, Nigeria, Enchanting Nigeria, Nigeria The Magical, Lagos State- The Centre of Excellence and Ogun State – The Gateway State, Owe Yoruba, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – Tourism is Life, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation 37 Years in Pictures, Rivers State – Our Proud Heritage, Tour Nigeria and Lagos State – The Centre of Excellence (A Visual Portrait).
His book, Nigeria, was the first of its kind since the creation of Nigeria since 1914. No wonder it became a sort after book by Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria.It was given out to the visiting Heads of State when Nigeria turned 50 in 2010, United Nations General Assembly in New York, 2013, Africa Union Summit on HIV/AIDS, 2013 and the West African Heads of State Security Summit in Abuja 2016 .
His work also adorned the pages of the E-Passport of Nigeria, the One Hundred Naira note to mark the centenary of Nigeria, the walls of the International Airports of Lagos, Abuja and several institutions and homes across Nigeria,and a member on the committee of setting up photography as a course in Nigeria Polytechnics.
The centenary edition of ‘MONOPOLY NIGERIA ’ by Bestman Games contains his work, so also were the pictures on display at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi International Airport, Abuja.
Also between 2005 and 2007 he was the official photographer for ‘NIGERIA – THE HEART OF AFRICA’, a project that precipitated a lot of travelling all around the world, exhibiting Nigeria to the world in pictures.
Adedayo hopes that his work will add to the growing canon of contemporary African photography that seeks to challenge perceptions, broaden audiences and show the world the beauty of Nigeria like never before.
Some of his works;
Prioritizing A Traditionally Underserved Somaliland Population Over Profit – Adan Abbey
Adan Abbey is the President of Horn of Africa Insurance, an insurance company based in Hargeisa, Somaliland and providing international standard insurance services to a traditionally underserved Somaliland and Somalia market. A region that lacks the presence of insurance services and access to a robust financial services sector. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Adan explains his company’s strategy to take insurance to the grassroot, change the mind of people to be more proactive with their finance. And most importantly, impact his community by creating more jobs for the youth. Excerpt.
Alaba: Tell us about Horn of Africa Insurance and the gap its filling?
Adan: Horn of Africa Insurance is a general insurance company headquartered in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Our main product offerings include Auto, Property, Medical, and Cargo insurance coverage. Our goal is to be an international standard insurer that provides high quality insurance services tailored to our local and regional context. We are achieving this by providing much needed insurance services to a traditionally underserved population. This is a market that in general has not had access to a robust financial services sector, so we are helping to fill that gap.
Whether it’s by insuring a high value asset for an international investor, or by providing medical insurance to someone who maybe has never had it before, our job is to protect you and your assets while at the same time providing you with peace of mind.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?
Adan: One of our biggest challenges right now is the lack of understanding about what insurance actually is. In the absence of formal insurance, the majority of the population here participates in a sort of tribal insurance scheme, one that has existed for generations. You can think of it as risk pooling whereby you contribute to a pool of funds and in the event of a major incident (a car accident for example), your tribe will take money from that pool to help cover the cost of injuries and/or death.
While that has worked to a certain extent, there are many challenges associated with it, so we spend a lot of time educating people on the benefits of formal insurance. We’re out in the field having one on one interactions with people, understanding their needs, and explaining how insurance can be a solution. We can also point to many examples where businesses lost massive sums of money because their goods were uninsured.
Another challenge we face is the lack of insurance specific laws and regulations, which are important to the development of the overall industry and also help spur economic development. We expect that this will change in the not too distant future, so our focus has been on building a strong brand and customer base.
Alaba: Why is your brand different from other insurance brands in terms of your unique selling point?
Adan: As a management team we have over 10 years of direct insurance experience at global insurance companies and even more years in the broader financial services industry. It’s not only the experience that we are bringing to the market, but also a level of quality and service. When you insure with Horn of Africa Insurance you know you’re getting great coverage and a company that will go the extra mile for you. For example if one of our customers is involved in a car accident we try to send the nearest representative to the scene.
An accident can be very stressful so we try to be there whenever we can to help, whether it’s helping with the paperwork, towing, etc. It’s an example of how we try to go above and beyond for our customers. We also work with top international reinsurers, and this allows us to service almost any client need, while providing an extra layer of protection.
Alaba: How is your brand contributing to the development of the insurance industry?
Adan: We are essentially developing a market from the ground up. We are spending time and money to educate people at all levels about the benefits of insurance. We are trying to shift the mindsets of people to think more proactively about their finances rather than reactively. Oftentimes people only understand the benefit of insurance when the experience a significant loss. They have to deal with the financial burdens either alone or if they are lucky with help from their family or community.
Our message to people is that insurance is there to help you in those times of need. To me insurance is deeper than just asset protection, it contributes to wealth creation, and it helps to drive economies. By mitigating your financial risks you allow yourself the opportunity to continue to save and invest in building wealth. And on a national level most investors wouldn’t consider making large investments in a country without insurance.
Insurers also create jobs and are some of the largest institutional investors. So we believe that we are making a significant contribution in the work that we are doing.
Alaba: What markets are you operating in, currently? Any plans for expansion?
Adan: We are currently only operating in Somaliland. Our current focus is to continue our expansion within the country first, as we believe there is great potential to make a positive impact here.
Alaba: What’s the future for your brand and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?
Adan: We believe the future of our brand is to be synonymous with quality insurance at a great price throughout the Horn of Africa region and beyond. Our goal is to be a Pan African insurer and No. 1 in the Horn of Africa region. We are taking it one customer at a time, as success is the result of consistent hard work and execution of a strong vision.
Alaba: What’s your view on the evolution of the insurance ecosystem in Africa?
Adan: Insurance penetration in Africa is roughly 2.8%, which is low but it is not only an African phenomenon. Global insurance penetration is roughly 6%. I do however think that Africa has the chance to be a global leader in this market. This is a continent that is just beginning its journey towards accelerated growth. We have some of the fastest growing economies on earth.
Imagine what the continent can transform into once we see things like stronger infrastructure, increased trade between African countries, and a growing middle class. The beauty of insurance is that the industry plays a part in all of that. We insure construction projects, cargo, and the assets of individuals. We can also become a global leader through innovation. Look at what has been done with mobile money in Africa.
Here in Somaliland for example, I do not carry a wallet. Virtually every transaction I make is on my mobile phone. So it just shows you that innovation can come from Africa and that the continent can be a model of success if we put in place measures that encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and good governance.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Adan: It feels exciting and rewarding. I’m proud that we have been able to create employment, particularly for young people who have graduated without access to quality jobs. It may sound cliché to say, but I really do believe that Africa’s time is now. We all have something to contribute, an area of expertise, a passion. I believe we owe it to ourselves to build this continent into something incredible. When the movie Black Panther came out, it created a lot of emotion in people because here was Africa essentially being portrayed as the most advanced place in the world by far, and it made people proud. There’s no reason why that cannot become a reality.
Africans are excelling in every single field imaginable and at the highest levels. Not to mention the brilliance of youth that who if given an opportunity could reach unimaginable heights. I’d encourage people to consider entrepreneurship, particularly if you feel that you are only operating at a fraction of your true potential.
Alaba: What is your advice for African entrepreneurs and investors?
Adan: What I’m learning is that to be successful, no matter what your definition is of success, you have to win the battle against your own mind. You will experience rejection, people will tell you that what you’re doing will never work; they may even try to bring you down. These will be the same people who will chase after you during the good times. So your vision has to be strong in your mind, you have to see exactly where you will be and believe it.
That is what will help you get through the daily roller coaster ride that is entrepreneurship. You also have to be willing to take calculated risks and be patient enough to see things through.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Adan: I exercise at least 5 days a week, I find it energizing but also a time where I can decompress. I also practice visualization; I often have my vision board next to me on my desk. I try to read one book a month, typically a different genre each time. I’m currently reading “Connectivity” by Parag Khanna which explores how political borders become less relevant as the world is becoming more connected.
Alaba: Teach us one word in your local language. What is your favourite local dish and holiday spot within Africa?
Adan: The word for “car” in Somali is “gaari”. It comes from the Hindi language, and it’s actually the same word in Swahili. It’s an illustration as to how the historical Red Sea and Indian Ocean trading routes had an influence on language and culture.
My favorite local dish is “sabaayad”, similar to chapatti, golden brown, flaky, and typically served with a goat stew or can be eaten alone with some honey and tea. Not the best for the waistline, but great for the soul.
I enjoy visiting Malindi, a beach town along the Kenyan coast. A destination that I have not yet visited but would love to is Mauritius.
B I O G R A P H Y
Adan Abbey is Co-Founder and President of Horn of Africa Insurance headquartered in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The company offers Auto, Property, Medical, and Marine Cargo coverage in Somaliland & Somalia. Adanbegan his career at Liberty Mutual Insurance in Boston, where he served as a Senior Financial Analyst in the Personal Markets Division as well as with Liberty International Underwriters (LIU), Liberty’s multi-billion dollar specialty lines division reporting directly to the Chief Financial Officer. His experience includes managing large insurance portfolios, accounting, developing risk mitigation measures, and corporate strategy.
Mr. Abbey also has experience in the Pharmaceutical & Nutrition industries. At Abbott Laboratories, he served as an Associate Brand Manager, responsible for the $100MM+ Glucerna brand in the United States. This included managing multi-million dollar marketing budgets and executing strategies that increased revenue and brand equity.
Adan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Connecticut and MBA in Marketing & Management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.
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