What inspired this walk today? Holding walks is a Vital Voices tradition and this is being done to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day. Vital Voices Fellowship was initiated by Hilary Clinton in Washington DC and the organization is involved in empowering women to reach great heights. It trains and empowers women on developing their businesses, leadership skills and to do a lot of other things, because it believes developing a woman is like growing the society for all of us.As we are doing the walk in Abuja, Nigeria, 75 other cities in the world are doing it too. It was started in the 1980’s by woman named Caroline who is a CEO of a very big company. She used to take morning walks everyday and a lot of women wanted to learn from her in order to achieve the great things she has achieved as one of the leading software companies in the United States then. So she gave the suggestion that anyone that wants to talk to her, and learn from her, should join her in her morning walks. That was how she initiated the mentorship walk which spread to other states and countries.
What is your message to women as they commemorate the day?Just as the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day “Make it happen” our message to Nigerian women is “yes, we can make it happen” and there is no glass ceiling to what a woman can achieve or what she can be. All women need do is to have the vision and learn to know how. Meet the people who have been there and have achieved those things and learn. It is achievable.No matter what you believe is the challenge, it is achievable and it also has a solution the woman way because our situations as women is different from others. As we are caretakers of our families , children, parents, husbands and many more . So we can achieve while still catering for the home front. So many women have like the President of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a woman.
What issues about women give you concern?Well it is the area of women and leadership. Women are natural leaders. God made us to be leaders but in Africa so many women underplay that trait that God has given us. We are the leaders that lead in the slow lowly way. In every aspect every person must have been led by his mother, no matter who you are she made you who you are. She ingrained whatever capacity is in you.So I believe as women we should put more energy in that capacity to make changes in our homes, community and the society.Women in Nigeria in particular should start believing that we should be given positions and leadership roles by virtue of our capabilities and not by virtue of our gender. It is time women in Nigeria believe I am going to be so and so minister because I merit it and not because there must be an allocation of 35 percent women in government. For instance like our minister of finance who occupies the position because she is capable and not just because she is a woman.
Tell us about your business organization?We started in 2008 and we are involved in the designing and installing of external works. External works means everything outdoor of a property. We beautify the outdoors in properties, hotels, residencies, and schools among others.
Using flowers?Flowers is just a little part of what we do to make you maximize your outdoors and to make it beautiful. Like where we are now (Millennium Park) it wouldn’t have been so beautiful without proper planning for the road networks, water fountain and flowers.Beautifying the home with flowers is one common chore women do but there are a few women doing professional flower decorations and landscaping Landscaping falls within the purview of the building industry and the environmental industry. It is actually a growing sector in the country. We are in a business that is not widely known but it is actually something everyone should take seriously. Because world over there are environmental issues like global warming. We have to take care of our environment and make it better as that is the most important gift we can give to our society. Because we are making it more habitable and the landscaping we do improves the atmosphere, purifies the air we breathe and makes us to live healthier and longer while beautifying the environment.
What are the challenges you face in your business?Landscaping is an emerging field in Nigeria. It is not something that is known and easily sold. A lot of people do not know about it in the country so the primary challenge we are facing is awareness. If people are not aware of the concept of what you do bringing them to patronize you or pay for what it is worth is difficult. But we believe that as with everything that is new, it takes time for them to know the impact and relevance of what you are doing. We intend to be the leading brand for landscaping in Nigeria, it is going to be a very slow process but one day we will get there.
Business tips for women entrepreneurs?Every woman should know her onions of finances. Many women just love the idea of having business without taking the financial aspect of it into cognisance. You have to be sure that whatever you are doing, many years down the line you will make money that will impact your life and in your society. Without knowing finances you would be able to ensure the following: Is this business worth doing? Will this business be there in the next 10 years, will my children be able to inherit this business? Women should be concerned about these things because we are putting so much energy into it. We should be conscious of where the business is going to be tomorrow not just doing it because of doing it. Advice for women? Women should be environment conscious. We hear about natural disasters and just turn our faces, and believe it is not something that can affect us. It can affect us. We are already experiencing global warming. At this time of the year, we cannot differentiate whether it is harmattan, raining or heat period. Every one of us can contribute. We can learn on how to plant trees in our houses. As Nigerian women we should be able to have fruit trees and vegetables in our homes. By doing that we are improving our life span with the good fruits and foods that we are eating.Secondly we are instilling knowledge in our children that they can grow up to do these things themselves.These are things women of this generation should take seriously.
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