One of my goals for this year is to read more books with practical life lessons I can apply to my everyday life. Thinking back, I used to read a lot of books ranging from romance (oh, I loved romance novels, Nora Robert was my favourite author) to friction, magazines, school materials and the likes as a secondary school and university student but for a while now, I haven’t been able to get my mojo back on.
This explains why March 14 I just finished reading my first book of the year, “The Girl Entrepreneurs”. I should mention it took me a month to finish, thank God for the amazing individual who I borrowed it from, he is patient. A quick back story on how I got the book.
The amazing individual who borrowed me the book is my boss, apparently, he bought the book to read himself which was surprising to me given that the book had ‘girl’ in it. But in his words, “success has no gender restrictions”, he just wanted to learn, guess we can call him a feminist, lol.
Anyway, I got to the office that faithful day, I remember it was Valentine’s day, February 14, 2020, he had bought some books to give out as gifts, while sorting, he brought out the Girl Entrepreneurs, showed me and said, “I think you would like this”, the moment I saw the book, my eyes lit, but I was definitely surprised how he knew I would like the book, so I asked him and he said, “I saw you talk about some women you admire, they are the kind in this book”.
Two things to note here, first, it took me exactly a month to finish reading, second, people are watching. Reminded me of when I asked a friend for a ticket to a party. In her words “this is not your kind of event”. I was taken aback, so I have a kind of event? We have never had such discussion, so how did you arrive at that conclusion I asked and she said: “I have seen the type of events you attend and talk about, this party is sponsored by an alcohol brand, and from my perspective, it is not your crowd”.
She wasn’t lying and even when she added me to the guest list, I didn’t attend. Goes to show communication happens even when you aren’t necessarily talking, perspectives and brands are being formed every day without words.
Anyways I proceeded to ask him for the book which he borrowed me but mentioned while giving me it would take me months to finish and though I hate to admit it, he was right. I deserve pardon, the book had over 500 pages and I needed to take my time soaking in the information.
Into the book, ‘The Girl Entrepreneurs’ by Mrs Ibukun Awosika takes us through the journey of successful women entrepreneurs, more like a mini-biography of these women with an emphasis on how they built their businesses. I mice no word when I say successful because, by every standard, the women in this book were/are successful.
So successful that while reading I caught myself being jealous, let me explain that. While I understand that these women had built businesses from nothing to something, I couldn’t help but feel like they had it good for them, like, the part they had was set up for them to succeed.
Take, for instance, most of these women schooled abroad, had parents who schooled abroad too or held significant positions in their community, thinking of this now I doubt any of the women mentioned was the child of a poor man or a nobody. So I wondered, if they didn’t succeed, who would?
It would have been nice to read about a nobody, with no background or affluent attaining the same heights.
Not only that, reading about the times they were born, I also felt they had it easier with the country just gaining independence, little or no corruption, the economy was great, they also had quality education as most of their teachers were British and they went to school with whites too.
How do we compare that to what the country is today? How do I achieve all these things they achieved when I do not enjoy the same opportunities they enjoyed? Sincerely, I almost didn’t want to continue reading especially because they called out my generation so much in the book.
Talking about how Nigerian graduates today are half baked, how we didn’t have work ethics, we didn’t know anything about working and lacked integrity. At that moment if I was close any of them, I would have asked, how is this our fault?
Was it my generation that made the country bad? Who taught us all we know now? So many questions ran through my mind, luckily, I was able to put myself in check. I reminded myself that there are women who had the same opportunities but still built nothing or own nothing.
Again I reminded myself that the aim of reading the book wasn’t to judge which generation was better or to be defensive but rather I was reading to learn. So I focused on learning and learning I did. The woman’s story I enjoyed reading the most was that of Filmmaker Amaka Igwe, of blessed memory. I am being biased here because she built a business in an industry I hope to explore.
Amaka Igwe was a writer, filmmaker, broadcaster, communication expert and more, to crown it all, she was from the Eastern part of Nigeria, now you know why I am biased? she is an icon in the line I currently admire. But those aside, she told her story with such openness, detailing her wins and challenges.
She wasn’t the only media person in the book, Mo’Abudu of Ebony Life was also mentioned but for some reason, I felt like Mo didn’t give the whole detail of her journey. So it didn’t gel with me as much as Amaka’s did. I should mention Amaka is the brain behind Fuji House of Commotion, she was indeed an amazing creator.
One notable thing I took from her, she was asked in the book, what do you want to be remembered for, and she replied “nothing”, she isn’t living her life for anyone but God. She was less concerned about what the society or people said, she just wanted to make heaven.
Now the general lessons I learnt from the book;
1. A woman can have it all. When the society said a woman couldn’t have a career, husband and children at the same time, they were definitely not talking about the women in this book. I mean these women in my definition had it all, so next time I hear that phrase, I am just going to say, watch me! Because without a doubt if they could do it, so can I.
2. Put God first. These women in all their stories told about how amazing God is. Every one of them referenced God as their source, I should mention that this goes beyond religion, Christian or Muslims, they walked with God and He made all things beautiful for them.
3. Every woman needs a supporting partner. I mentioned earlier that these women had it all, and while talking about their journey, they all made mention of how amazing their spouse was. Most said they would never have gotten far in their careers without the support of the men in their lives.
4. Family is important. Remember I mentioned most seem to come from well to do family? Well outside that, they had a supportive family, while reading about this women, at one point or the other while setting up their businesses, they needed help or support from family and they got it.
5. Hard work is important, every woman in the book had to work times two the average person to get work done and build a business they are proud of today.
6. Don’t leave your life based on what people will say; just as I mentioned from Amaka Igwe’s story, do you and please God, that all that matters. I also remember the story of Oyinade Ajee, founder of Satin & Lace, a business she built for 20 years and closed after she felt it was time to explore other passion. She did this regardless of what people thought or said.
7. Pay attention to your passion. From the stories I read, it was obvious these women were able to build long-lasting businesses because they followed their passion.
Sincerely, I would never be able to exhaust all that I learnt from this beautiful book, but I hope the little I have written so far inspires you in some way as it inspired me.
Dear Twenty-somethings, remember how I mentioned the booked called out our generation so much? I wasn’t joking, it really did. From feeling jealous, I moved to feel guilty, especially when our attitude to work was mentioned repeatedly. When each of these businesswomen was asked about the challenges their businesses faced, 99.9% mentioned the lack of credible employees, not one, not two women, every woman said it.
I know we all hope to build our own empires someday, please let’s put in the same energy we would hope to get in future. I am guilty too but since reading this book, I am being more intentional and carrying every job I currently have as a baby.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I got a job since this, actually, jobs. Don’t worry, I will tell you all about them soon.
I hope you learnt something from this, hopefully, I get to read more books and share them here.
Bye for now!