Special Features (Inspirational Interviews)

Journey To The Spark

Ayotola Jagun on Achieving Your Full Potential.

Ayotola Jagun on Achieving Your Full Potential.

As co-founder and CEO of Owoafara, I am bridging the financing gap for African MSMEs.

From a very young age, information and technology have sat in a special place in my mind. This love came from constant exposure to computers from a young age. I eventually took up a career in tech, almost shoving my accounting degree into a back seat. 

I got my first job in tech during the early days of technology, working in a software company. The demand for my tech expertise would blend with the need for my degree in Accounting. And although I enjoyed my role in back-end technology, I only kept it for a short time. 

I decided to get an MBA and change my career to a position at the front end of product creation. I got a job with a Management consulting firm that focused on outsourcing technology to small businesses and knew it was where I was supposed to be.

This new role brought me into close contact with small-scale business owners. I would always get more immediate and engage some of them in conversations. I offered help with my business knowledge and dished out advice on how they could structure their business, build systems that work, and leverage human talent. And I fell in love with entrepreneurship, with the spirit of it.


Memorable Milestones

When business coaching was still new, I took steps to see that top banks began to consider MSMEs. 

Many MSMEs needed help to meet the general criteria for financial support and were therefore excluded from access. Some of these banks went on to create inclusive systems by creating departments that focused on MSMEs’ needs. 

As a result of this gap between MSMEs and finance opportunities, I took it upon myself to bridge it. I founded a firm that seeks to bridge the “access to finance” gap.


Her Spark

I am driven by something more than myself. It has always been about fulfilling a purpose. And purpose to me is empowering and improving lives. That is what drives me. 

Vision and resilience are two values that have kept my Spark alive over the years. Seeing the future of a project, a goal is crucial to me because then, I can dive in with an I-am-never-giving-up-until-it-is-done grit.


Life Lessons

One thing I have learned in my career is that relationships are essential. Building relationships and networking are opportunities I have learned to grip with tight fists. Prioritize skills over money because with the right skills; money will come.

When you have something you know how to do well, it takes you into the circle of the top 5% in that space.


Owenize Odia on Achieving Success in the Digital Money Space

Like most people, I have always wanted to be successful. Luckily, growing up, I had my parents to look up to for inspiration. I bagged a degree in Computer Engineering and a Master of Science in Mobile Computing from the University of Hertfordshire. I worked with Zenith Bank as Mobile Payment Lead and, currently, as the Manager of Luno Nigeria.

Personal growth is my primary force, followed by solid passion. Women’s struggle in male-dominated spaces drives me to be better and be more. I graduated as one of the two distinction graduates in my class. The reality of being the only female student in my Masters class shook me slightly. However, since, I have let this drive me to put in work. 


Memorable Milestones

A memorable milestone in my life was launching mobile money for Zenith Bank. Another is migrating from the traditional banking system to blockchain technology and heading the biggest exchange brand in Nigeria.


On Women Empowerment

Being a woman, women’s empowerment is at the core of my choices. The truth is women are not judged fairly. The world would be a better place if organizations would employ based on merit.


Her Spark

The most important value to me is determination. Determination is the fuel to reach the peak. Women need to be confident, understand their worth, and have no fear. Eventually, success boils down to interest and passion.


Oyeyemi Aderibigbe on her Two Ingredient Recipe to Success

Only some people start with a map of where they are headed, including stopovers. 

 I consistently explored every talent, gift, and path that life tossed my way. If I had a feeling that something was right, I pursued it.

Over the years, I have discovered how much effect purposeful living, clarity, and deep insights have on business and career success. I decided to equip people with one opportunity, one contribution at a time.

Success is not a destination; it is a journey with milestones. On the journey to success, a strong belief in vision and preparation are two ingredients that have preserved me.

My mindset stretches enough to allow me to dream of being so much more. I constantly ask myself — what is next? My colleagues’ and friends’ blazing trails inspire me. 


Memorable Milestones

A significant milestone was debated before one of the most prominent women’s networks. Competing at the Women in Management Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) annual conference was elating.

I believe that the effect of society boxing the woman is a form of mind imprisonment. The years of being told that the woman can not do, be it limits how much she can dream and, eventually, how far she can go.


Her Spark

The spark is the woman’s all-encompassing personality — natural abilities, intellectual capacity, and experiences —because it is these that spark up her life.

To find her spark, it is vital that the woman takes her destiny into her hands and exercises her liberty. An apparent social construct clamps the woman’s wings, but she needs to find her spark and fly.

Special Features (Inspirational Interviews)

Eloho Omame on Advancing Equity, Capital and Leadership for African Women

Eloho Omame on Advancing Equity, Capital and Leadership for African Women

As the Country Director for Empretec Nigeria foundation, a United Nations conference for Trade and Development programs on Entrepreneurship across thirty-six countries, and the Chairman of the Child Survival and Development Organisation of Nigeria, I am passionate about business sustainability.

I bring out the spark in Business Sustainability as I teach business owners how to run their businesses, make a profit and still make an impact.


Starting Out

 In 1999, the National Agency for the control of AIDS, NACA, pronounced Cross River as the state with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. However, because of their firm belief that mass awareness is the best approach to health education and intervention, I put together a couple of women who went across the states educating the populace about this scourge. 

I had to create projects in three states for orphaned and vulnerable children. Our efforts paid off, and within 18 months, the prevalence of the rates of HIV/AIDS dropped from 12.5% to 6%. This earned usy a recommendation from the World Health Organization and also attracted a grant from the World Bank. This experience grew into my dream, and I was able to appreciate extremely well the co-dependency that people have towards each other and the environment.

As a result, I could register three non-profit organizations on the same day. Twenty years down the line, all three are very successful and of international standards. 


Understanding Business Sustainability

Sustainability is the fulcrum on which everything we do rests. I approach almost everything I do from that lens. Come to think of it, by the beginning of creation, we were created on planet Earth. By the very nature of man, we assemble to live together. It is that essence of living together, of identifying the needs that each other has, and trying to meet those needs that developed into businesses. 

To run a sustainable business as an entrepreneur, it is essential for your stakeholders, your customers, and the business environment where you’re operating to see you as a business that solves a social problem or an environmental problem.

It is also important for the sincerity and integrity to be evident in your value statement. The sense of justice that you bring to your business is also key. You do not want your customers to doubt you, lose their confidence in you, or be suspicious of your intentions. There are certain things that enhance customer retention. Seeing yourself as being personally responsible for your business is very important and serves the common good for everyone.


The Triple ‘P’ Perspective

I have emphasized the necessity for every business that wants to be sustainable to approach it from the triple P perspective – People, Profit and Planet. I try to balance it on that lever. I know that it is important while running a particular business that I carry along all of my stakeholders as well as employees. So one key quality I had to quickly cultivate over the years is resilience. I had to also ensure that there was trust and integrity while ensuring that I kept the business going.


Lessons Learned

From running three non-profit organizations, I have learned that the social impact made on the communities they’re operating out of is significant. But, beyond that, profits matter too. Except a business is sustainable, in a short while, everything would crumble, and the company would go under; that’s why sustainability is so vital. Therefore, for entrepreneurs, to ensure the sustainability of your business, please continue to remember that inventing, reinventing, imaging, and re-branding your product’s image is very key. You must emphasize the need for you to continue to innovate your business.


Your Role As An Entrepreneur

If you are to continue and stay in business. You must remember that sustainable business operation is not a destination; it’s a journey — continuous. Perhaps the easy way to start is to start today and do it incrementally, which means reinventing and innovating constantly. However, what is essential is that you are constantly improving on whatever product or service you’re offering.

Also, I want to encourage every entrepreneur to never underestimate their organization’s power or capability to stay focused, believe in sustainability, and develop sustainability practices.

To assure the sustainability of any business, it is key to pay close attention to the supply chain process and this is because irrespective of how careful the internal processes might be if there is a challenge or a shortcoming in the supply of raw materials from the suppliers’ end, that could tarnish the quality of the end product.



The future will be brighter for business sustainability because there’s a lot more awareness now about the need for companies and organizations to run their affairs and operate sustainably. A lot of attention has come into play, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has made many organizations, big and small, realize that they have to be more environmentally conscious and anticipate any change in the market.

The Spark Spotlight

Rwand Air First Officer, Captain Joan Obasi, On Being A Pacesetter In Your Own Right.

Rwand Air First Officer, Captain Joan Obasi, On Being A Pacesetter In Your Own Right.

Her Aviation Spark is no other than Captain Joan Obasi, a First Officer at RwandAir, who moved from being a Cabin Crew Official to becoming a first-rate Pilot. She was recognized by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2017 and was also included in the FAA Airmen Certification Database. Before joining RwandAir, she was a Senior First Officer at Arik Air.


Launching Out

Launching out into the aviation world for me, my career in the aviation industry was born out of curiosity. I was in my twenties and fresh out of university with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, and I was ready to conquer the world. 

I still needed to figure out everything, but I was intrigued by what the future held for me. I knew very well that I didn’t want to do a routine job, so I stayed away from some jobs.

Out of curiosity, I took the advice of a friend and applied for a job as a Cabin Crew member and that became a perfect job fit for my personality. I had always wanted a job that would allow me to travel the world, go to new places and meet people. This job gave me all of that and more. 


From Cabin Crew Official To Pilot

When I kicked off my role as a Cabin Crew official, I immediately knew this was a perfect job fit for me. It was like a match made in heaven. I got to travel and meet a lot of new people from countries all over the world. It was completely different from what I had studied in school, but I loved every bit of it. Over a ten-year period, I grew steadily at it and rose to become a Senior Cabin Crew member. But then, I began to yearn for more.

As a result of my quest for more, during my time as a Cabin Crew member, I worked closely with some female pilots, and seeing them do what they do fuel a bigger desire in me. I wanted to become a pilot, and that is how the journey began. 

I went to Phoenix East Aviation School in Florida USA, where I got my initial PPL, CPL, and Instrument Ratings. After that, I went on to the Pan Am International Flight AAcademy, also in Florida, for a type rating on Boeing. Today, I am an FAA ATPL Boeing 737-rated pilot and have flown to numerous countries in Africa, Europe, and Asia.  


My Driving Force

My driving force has always been to be the best version of myself. I want to constantly prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do. As humans, we can attain the best version of ourselves. We can always do more. 

I want always to keep evolving and getting better. This is what drives me daily. An important lesson I have learnt in building my career is the power of the mind. If you can master control of your mind, you will conquer fear and fight off all limitations. 

A major lesson I have learned in the course of building my career is the power of the mind. If you can master control of your mind, “you will conquer fear and fight off all limitations”.


On Women Empowerment

On women’s empowerment, as a woman in a male-dominated job. Things have greatly improved over the years, and women are comfortably doing jobs that were seen only for men some years back. Today. I would like to see more women in the aviation industry.  It is not surprising to find women in the engineering departments of Airlines with greasy palms working on airplane engines. Women are taking the bull by the horn and blazing the trail. A perfect example is Mrs 

Yvonne Makolo, the CEO of RwandAir, is a pacesetter in her own right. She has been CEO of RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, since 2018. Before that she was the company’s Deputy CEO responsible for corporate affairs, a position she has held since April 2017. She is a perfect ideal of woman taking charge.



To girls and young women out there trying to make career decisions, my advice to you is to ensure you do not put a limit on yourself. 

Age, gender, family background, or even educational status should not stop you from dreaming big and chasing after your dreams, do not stop working on yourself. Change should be constant. Keep on building capacity and climbing the ladder. Success is sure to come by.