Mrs Ndidi Nwuneli is the Founder of LEAP Africa, the Co-founder of Sahel Consulting, the C0-founder of AACE FOODs. Mrs Nwuneli is on the Board of LEAP Africa, AACE Foods, Fairfax Africa Fund, Sahel Capital, Godrej Group, DSM Sustainability Advisory Board, Nestle Nigeria Plc, and Nigerian Breweries Plc. Previously, she participated in the World Economic Forum as a committee member on the Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership from 2011-2014.
She is the winner of the Harvard Business School Nigeria Business Club 2013 Leading Social Entrepreneur Award, Forbes 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa, 2011 and Honoree of the Global Fund for Women during their 25th Anniversary Celebration in San Francisco – 2013 to name a few.
When I asked her what advice she had for young female entrepreneurs, this is what she said:
“I would like to encourage women entrepreneurs to recognize three things:
First to be recognized as an equal and to receive your fair share of the income and profits, manage your time and resources effectively. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others – stay in your own lane in life! Put in your best and ensure that your voice is heard, loud and clear. You must never use your role as a wife, mother, sister, or daughter, as an excuse for under-performance. Invest in life-long learning, always upgrade your skills and surround yourself with at least three critical people – a mentor, a champion and a critic. A champion serves as your biggest cheerleader, encouraging you to dream big and achieve results. A critic tells you the truth about your short-comings and provides constructive feedback. A mentor shows you what is possible through his/her life example.
Second, women are natural givers. Giving opens your heart to the needs of the world and also takes your eyes off your own lack. However, you also have to be prepared to ask for help when you need it, especially as you embark on the journey of marriage and motherhood. Your vulnerability makes you human and does not detract in any way from your self-worth.
Third, as you rise in your journey as an entrepreneur, leave the door open for other women to enter. Be the first woman to have achieved one feat or the other, but never the last one. Ensure that you are mentoring and grooming other women to take over from you. Fight against the stereotype that women do not support other women. Instead, be recognized as an individual who supports others. Madeline Albright has a quote which I love – “There is a special place in hell for women do not support other women!” I know you want to go to heaven…so start today to serve as an advocate and champion for other women“.