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viSHEbility: Releasing Aspiration And Shaping Narratives One Story At A Time – Mary Mosope Adeyemi

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Mary Mosope Adeyemi, Founder & Host at viSHEbility.

viSHEbility began as a simple idea in Dec 2017; a solution to the perceived lack of visibility of the amazing and positive work that women of colour – in particular black women – are engaged with in the marketplace. These women we found, have not been equally empowered to share their stories on visible platforms. Consequently, this community suffers; firstly from a lack of support for their ideas; and secondly, from a lack of representation in seats and corridors of power and influence.

There have been a number of clarion calls for a platform of this nature. In the 2018 race at work report by Business in the Community, race equality director Sandra Kerr (OBE) stressed the importance of having role models from diverse ethnic minority backgrounds and made a call to create forums to share these stories. In their book, Slay in your Lane (2018), authors YomiAdegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene, using stories of a host of trailblazing black women, put words to the essence of viSHEbility as they stressed the importance of visible role models & representation for black young women ‘to help navigate the inevitable hurdles that do exist; providing valuable advice, encouragement and support’.

viSHEbility has inadvertently become a direct response to these calls. 

It is a talk show and social initiative that seeks to shine a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa. In amplifying the voices of such a wealth of talent, we aim to attract much deserved sponsorship in the broader market by uncovering the beauty, courage and grit within these women as they relentlessly pursue their passions and purpose.

On viSHEbility, we showcase smart, successful, talented, dynamic, beautiful black women from a wide range of academic, career and business backgrounds, whose stories are inspiring and will show the breadth of what black women are and can be. viSHEbility places value on their collective experiences in a diverse marketplace as they navigate their career and business pursuits. Through intimate sofa conversations, they share what they have learnt with a world desperately in need of enlightenment.

As a by product, we will positively contribute to improved diversity in our media so that our culture, history and narrative is fairly represented in the various stories being told.

Whilst we have started with a talk show, the vision for viSHEbility is far broader which includes hosting learning & networking conferences, a mentorship program and a niche recruitment service all tailored to serve this unique community.

Also Read Black Space App CEO, April Jefferson on entrepreneurship and connecting black travelers to their culture

We hope that by creating this uniquely exclusive platform, we can both generate greater sponsorship for their ideas and unlock aspiration in other women who are seeking real life super heroes who look just like them.

We truly believe that if she sees it, she can be it.

Some Featured Guests

Mary and Bukola Adisa, Managing Director, Barclays UK Chief Controls Office

Mary with Ifedayo Durosinmi Etti, Serial Entrepreneur – Founder of Parliamo Bambini, Philos & Zoe & the AGS Trib

Mary and Adesuwa Okunbo, Managing Director & Partner, Syntaxis Capital Africa

 

B I O G R A P H Y

Mosope Mary Adeyemi is an experienced investment professional with 12 years’ experience supporting organisations in the risk focused deployment of financial capital to debt products across a number of sectors and regions. She has worked for global investment banks – Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.

Alongside a busy corporate career, Mary has championed social causes that matter to her in particular those that serve to empower women and ethnic minorities. To this end, she has led various projects and served on a number of steering committees. Most notable of these were co-chairing the Alumni Advisory Board of SEO London, a UK charity that creates professional opportunities for ethnic minorities, and serving as a volunteer consultant with Grow Movement, providing East African Entrepreneurs with bare bones business advice. This demonstration of passion and drive across disciplines earned Mary a WATC Rising Stars in Banking Award in 2017 for leadership, excellence and high value add in her field and also for her role in creating opportunities for diverse candidates in her various spheres of influence.

In 2019, Mary launched viSHEbility, a talk show and social initiative that shines a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa with the 2 key objectives – 1. Toencourage, educate and empower others and 2. to create a more positive narrative of Black females in the media. Mary Mosope’s mission is to support women who look like her to successfully navigate the sometimes muddy terrain of career and business by making herself accessible, and creating a platform that encourages learning, sharing and growing.

Mary Mosope holds a 1st class BA in Accounting & Finance from Lancaster University, an MSc in Management from Imperial College and is a qualified Chartered Accountant with the ACCA.

She is of Nigerian Descent, an amateur weightlifter and fitness enthusiast, an avid traveller and a fashion enthusiast.

 

Visit – viSHEbility

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEGs5m183nhuQa97oMyluOQ

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn- @vishebility

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NGOs - SDGs

Sahara Group Supports Gender Equality At OECD Summit In Paris

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Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Governance & Sustainability, Sahara Group, speaking at the panel discussion on ‘Private finance for gender equality and women’s empowerment’ at the 2020 OECD Summit in Paris(Source: Sahara Group).

Paris, France– Ensuring equal access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender is essential for promoting sustainable development across the globe, Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group has said.

Uzokwe who spoke in Paris at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Private Finance for Sustainable Development Conference said galvanizing private finance alongside other sources of finance  for gender equality was not only urgent but critical for sustained wealth creation, especially in developing countries.

Uzokwe said Sahara Group had consistently led the cause of equal access and opportunities in the private sector through support for gender related projects and policies that supports employment and growth within the organization which is free of any gender-based considerations. “Sahara Group is passionate about the issue of gender equality and we continue to promote and invest in projects that empower men and women to pursue economic prosperity. We are also entrenching gender diversity at the board level of the organization in line with global trends in corporate governance,” she said.

Noting the need for women empowerment as a precursor to achieving gender equality, Uzokwe said governments and businesses need to be “more deliberate and committed” in their support for activities that will connect girls and women to transformative economic opportunities. She said strengthening the private sector and ensuring well-defined and unbiased entry pathways are available at all levels.

“Sahara Group aligns with the position that empowering women and eliminating the hurdles to success for women in both the formal and informal sectors has the potential to set the tone for attaining several sustainable development goals, with special emphasis on goal 5 that speaks to gender equality,” she affirmed.

The OECD conference noted that a collaborative approach involving the government, business, civil society and development agencies will be required to achieve the task as raising private finance towards promoting gender equality.

Also Read: Building Sustainable and Profitable Enterprises: An Interview with David Owumi, Founder of VisionCTRL Africa

Participants called for an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and support female entrants, adding that diversity remained the most potent driver of innovation that is required to make businesses thrive and prosper. They also noted that since women provide 50 percent of that innovation ratio, ignoring their unique needs and offerings would be a cost too high for any organisation and country.

Sahara Group

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NGOs - SDGs

Interview: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls Executive Director, Gugulethu Ndebele On Girls And Leadership

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Gugulethu Ndebele, Executive Director of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG)

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) is a non-profit organisation based in South Africa that provides a nurturing educational environment for academically gifted girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Gugulethu Ndebele in this interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, talks about her background, the Academy, its impact, empowering and positioning girls for leadership, challenges and more. Excerpt

Alaba: Could you give a brief background of yourself?

Gugulethu: I was born in Soweto, Johannesburg one of the largest townships in the world and is also the home of two of South Africa’s global icons and Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela and Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu. My family is originally from KwaZulu Natal Province and moved to Johannesburg as a result of the Migrant Labour System.  Even though both my parents and sibling have passed on, I feel blessed to have three amazing children.

In 1983 when my college, the University of Zululand was invaded by Zulu Warriors (Impis) many of my fellow students lost their lives and am fortunate to be alive even though I lost sight in one of my eyes. Despite all these challenges, I never gave up on learning. I have an MSc in Organisational Development and Change from the University of Manchester, UK and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Wits Business School. 

I am passionate about Children’s Rights and Girls Education.

Alaba: What sparked your interest in the non-profit career path?

Gugulethu: I have always been an activist and growing up under the apartheid in South Africa created a passion and a desire in me to stand up and advocate for the rights of disadvantaged people. As a student, I fought for the banishing of Bantu Education and my first work experience was with an Education NGO, SACHED, which drafted the first post-apartheid education policy document. This document was used in the production of the Education White Paper. And so I have always known that change will not come from government alone.  Change will come from the vast skills and knowledge that also resides outside of government.

Alaba: Kindly tell us about the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls SA (OWLAG) and the gap its filling?

Gugulethu: The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was established by Ms Winfrey as a gift to Madiba. She opted to build a school for girls because she wanted to contribute to the growth of SA.  She is on record that she believes change in SA will come from women.  And so she built a school that will develop and nurture young women to be leaders, not only of South Africa but the World.

The schools fills an important gap.  Firstly, it is a fact that even though girls are in the majority in schools in formative years, few of them finish Matric and succeed.  Secondly, the economy of the country is still skewed towards males, especially in critical skills areas.  So as a schools, we support the development of a new generation of women leaders who, by virtue of their education and service, will lead the charge to transform themselves, their communities, and the larger world around them

Finally, the narrative of a South African girl at the moment is dominated by abuse, violence and trauma.  And so as a school, we intent to change the narrative of the South African girl to be that of empowerment, success and victory. As the only Trauma Informed School in Africa, we are trained to help girls deal with trauma so they can benefit from the education that is provided.

Alaba: How does OWLAG drive inclusion and position girls for Leadership?

Gugulethu: At the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls leadership is integrated in everything we do.  All our programmes are learner driven (with the support of adults). As a school we believe in the importance of empowering young women to lead.  Our education programs are also designed to support the development of our girl’s skills and to enable them to provide leadership on every aspect of their lives. 

We offer engaging and dynamic activities to motivate and enable our girls to believe in their abilities to catalyse change and to mobilise others to do the same. We continuously challenge them to engage and lead, ethically.

Alaba: As an organization, how do you measure impacts?

Gugulethu: Each area of our work at OWLAG is underpinned by Monitoring and Evaluation.  In each area we have indicators for success which we monitor o an ongoing basis.  Educationally, we measure impact from Grade 8 because we believe success in Grade 12 depends on the foundational work we do in Grade 8.  And so the progress of our girls is measured from Grade 8 and throughout the system.

Grade 8 2019 Founder’s day

Alaba: What have been your achievements since your appointment?

Gugulethu: Our results this year were the best since 2013.  We were able to not only exceed the IEB aggregate in all subjects, but also overall.  We increased the number of our distinctions substantially (we had 197 distinctions, 49 more than last year) and all our girls are registered in University, as we speak.  Off course this is not because of me alone, it is because of the amazing work of OWLAG staff, especially teachers and our Support Services.  My role is to create an enabling environment for them to do their work and I believe I did that.

In addition, we just had our % year Strategy Approved by the Board.  This Strategy will move OWLAG into another level and will position us not just to be the best in SA but in Africa.  My dream is to have versions of OWLAG in Africa

Alaba: What challenges have you encountered working with non-profit? How are you overcoming them?

Gugulethu: The challenges are relentless. The biggest challenge is resources.  Too many good NGOs have closed because of lack of funding. But some of the challenges are self-inflicted.As NGOs, we are always in competition with one another.  This is in part due to the limited resources so segmenting your non-profit and identifying your unique selling proposition becomes the focus as it is key to your success.

Secondly, NGOs are sometimes not seen in a positive light by governments.  They are seen as competition and at worst as political entities.  This makes it difficult to work with government to ensure lasting change. Working together in partnership with other like-minded non-profits and is key in this sector.

Finally, I think as a sector we need to ensure that our work is credible and evidenced based.  We need to be accountable to the people that support and fund our work. And therefore collecting and using credible data for reporting is key.  People have to trust that what we say works indeed works.

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

Alaba: How would you describe your leadership style?

Gugulethu: I am an engaged leader. I believe everyone in the organisation has a role to play and that I need to create an environment for them to thrive. I lead by example and challenge my team to strive for excellence.

Alaba: What is your advice for women in leadership position or aspiring women?

Gugulethu: My advice to women is that we need to use our own strengths to lead.  We do not need to behave like men to be great leaders.  As women, we are nurturers, we are builders, and we are motivators. Let us use those strengths rather than try to be what we are not.

Secondly, it is important that we fix each other’s crowns. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed.  So let us not pull each other down.  Let us be the big shoulders for other women to stand on.

Alaba: What inspires you and how do you relax out of work?

Gugulethu: I am greatly inspired by the potential of young people, especially girls. At the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls we recruit girls from desperate situations and have experienced multiple traumas in their young lives. Watching them blossom and thrive gets me leaping out of bed every day.

I am also a passionate reader. I love books and my wish is to have books in every household. I believe books open the world to people. So reading is one way of relaxing. I also love travelling and I think my first travelling experience was through books.

B I O G R A P H Y

Gugulethu “Gugu” Ndebele is currently the Executive Director of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Institute for Girls (OWLAG). She joined the organisation after a long and distinguished career as the CEO of Save the Children South Africa, one of the leading child rights organizations in the world, operating in 120 countries.

Previously, she worked at the Department of Basic Education as the Deputy Director-General primarily responsible for Social Mobilisation and Support Services. Gugu was also one of the pioneers of the biggest Adult Literacy Campaign in SA (Kha ri Gude), the Recapitalisation of Vocational Colleges and the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP).

Gugu holds an MSc in Organisational Change and Development (Manchester University, UK), a Post Graduate Diploma in Adult Education (Wits) and a Management Advancement Progamme Certificate (With Business School).

In 2016 she was appointed Vice- Chair of the UNESCO Bureau of the Global Alliance for Literacy. And in 2017, she was appointed by the Minister of Basic Education as the Literacy Ambassador for the Read to Lead Campaign. She is a Member of the South African Human Rights Commission’s Children’s Rights Advisory Committee (Section 11). Appointed into the Council of Rhodes University by the Minister of Higher Education. A member of the Institute of Directors Southern Africa.

Visit: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls

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NGOs - SDGs

Promoting Governance And Anti-Corruption In The Energy Sector

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Lagos, NigeriaDecember 10, 2019: According to the United Nations, every year $1 trillion is paid in bribes while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP. In developing countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

December 9 every year, the world commemorates anti-corruption day to take a stand against corruption as a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.

As a leading private sector company in the energy space, we understand that corruption is a complex phenomenon that slows economic development because it discourages foreign direct investments and small businesses often find it difficult to overcome the start-up costs required because of corruption.

Over the last years, Sahara has been involved in initiatives, alliances and activities aimed at developing and strengthening its corporate governance and compliance systems. Some of these alliances include our partnership with the World Economic Forum – Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI).

Sahara was inducted into the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) Community in 2015 to reflect the organization’s commitment to eliminating corruption from the business environment.  In 2016, Sahara as a PACI member has contributed to series of dialogues including the conference on Building Transparency and Integrity in Business as well as the role of Youth Engagement in stamping out corruption – using Nigeria and Mexico as the model countries to drive the agenda.

In a similar vein, Sahara partnered with Deloitte to organize whistleblowing workshop for staff company wide to raise awareness on how corruption hampers business growth and how staff can work together to help stop corruption in the work place and also build trust. Sahara Group also enacted a whistle blowing policy that will help improve transparency of business across her entities. This is a third party operated technology driven whistleblowing platform launched in 2019.

In 2016, Sahara Group in partnership with the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) business leaders from the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) and the Penn Law, University of Pennsylvania law School  published a report titled ‘Business and SDG 16- contributing to Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies’ to analyze why SDG 16 is relevant the private sector and how businesses can contribute to anti-corruption, peace and justice.

Some of the recommendations include private sector companies enhancing their compliance capabilities, while establishing strong and credible internal processes to curb corruption.

Sahara Group and/or its affiliates hold corporate ethical values and its brand in the highest esteem and passionately conducts business in a corrupt- free, anti-fraud and highly ethical manner that promotes free enterprise, excellence and competitiveness. In view of this, we are determined to maintain our reputation as a corporate entity which will not tolerate fraud, bribery, corruption or the abuse of position for personal gain. Our other policies that speak to the anti-corruption cause include:

  • Third party non- solicitation policy
  • Business transaction and relations character
  • Anti- corruption and anti-bribery policy
  • Whistle blowing policy
  • Gift and hospitality policy

This year’s anti-corruption day theme ‘Time to Work Against Corruption and the Climate Crisis’ calls for mobilization for ambitious climate action and inspiring governments,  businesses, civil society organizations  and individuals to step up efforts towards transparency, accountability and integrity.

Also Read: Fostering jobs, entrepreneurship, and capacity development for African youth

At Sahara, we remain committed to our tenets of integrity and ethical behavior by ensuring a zero tolerance for corruption.

Sahara Group

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