To say Mrs Gladness Ojo is a busy lady would be to make the biggest understatement. Gladness spins so many plates at the same time, it’s hard to believe that she keeps them spinning with only one pair of hands. She has founded ‘IAMWOMANPRENEUR,’a platform for female entrepreneurs, The ‘African World Business Associates’, a Pan-African business development organisation; written a book and as we learn from the interview, continues to twirl more plates by opening new ventures in pursuit of her highest ambitions. The following passage reveals how all these enterprises fit into her great plan to connect and support women attain their goals on a global scale.
I tend to be busy working on my businesses which include; ‘The African World Business Associates’ (TAWBA) which is an organisation that supports business development in Africa with the aim of encouraging the diaspora in “Doing Business in Africa, Making Global Impact”. The Vision is to bridge the gap in doing business between the diaspora community overseas and Africa. Our mission is to have subsidiary organisations in the continent; we have started with my home country Tanzania by launching ‘Tanzania Business Club’. These are my two businesses alongside ‘GSO Business Solutions East Africa Limited’ which is the administrative body in Africa that hosts events, ‘Introducing the African World Business Associates’ and its subsidiaries. Last but not least is my personal brand IAMWOMANPRENEUR which is a coaching and mentoring business I started to support female entrepreneurs. The IAMWOMANPRENEUR Network empowers female entrepreneurs to fulfil their purpose in life by learning how to harmonise life, family and business successfully, a life of purpose, passion and profit in their businesses.
You have recently come back from a trade fair in Tanzania, East Africa called ‘Saba Saba’. What did you hope to achieve by going. What new insights did you discover?
‘Saba Saba’ is the ‘Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair’, it’s one of the biggest annual business convention in East Africa and I was there to support my team in Tanzania as we exhibited at the event, it was a great experience.
My aim was to get exposure of “Doing Business in Africa & Making Global Impact”, as my company had just newly launched in Tanzania. I also wanted to network with entrepreneurs and businesses and learn more about the business ethics and values in Tanzania. I got a lot more than I expected from the trip, it was a success.
The event was about networking, showcasing of businesses in Africa as participants (exhibitors) and alone included organisations from over 25 countries. People visited from all over the world. ‘Saba Saba’ itself is a celebration of the founding of Tanzania’s political party known as TANU which is on the 7th of July so we had a lot more people attend on that particular day; generally it was a successful event for Tanzania Business Club and we hope to participate in the next event.
Whilst I was there, I gained a lot of insight into the need for IAMWOMANPRRNEUR in Africa as well as my other organisations as I saw great opportunities for doing business in Africa. I met many female entrepreneurs with passion for business expansion but limited by their resources, capital and capacity to build & grow their businesses amongst other things. So this was a great opportunity for me to introduce my personal brand as I know there is a demand for IAMWOMANPRENEUR in Tanzania and across the globe.
What challenges do they face as women entrepreneurs?
The challenge they face as female entrepreneurs is one that most womanpreneurs face, which is the struggle of juggling business with children, family duties, ministry and other day to day responsibilities and life in general. Moreover, they face other issues limiting the capacity to build their businesses that we in the UK & abroad may not face such as access to advanced technological facilities to run our businesses.
Being a womanpreneur is not easy but it’s worth the journey and these women in Africa are passionate for business & making it work despite their limitations and personal challenges because they see the joy in it. If I use myself as an example, being a female entrepreneur allows me to have a career and still enjoy motherhood and family life. I am able to work from home, work when I want and when I don’t want (lol) but it’s the flexible lifestyle that makes it worth it as it allows me to be involved in my kid’s everyday life but still chase my dreams and live a purposeful life.
One challenge female entrepreneurs face is the lack of good support network and appreciation of their hard work that comes with being a mumpreneur, especially in Africa. One of the main reasons for establishing IAMWOMANPRENEUR in Tanzania is to provide solutions and strategies to tackle these challenges.
I always tell my clients the key to overcoming challenges of juggling business and family life is learning to harmonise the different areas of your life instead of splitting them up. The balance struggle happens when women are separating their entrepreneurial life from their family life when they actually should be in oneness; these are the things I will discuss at my upcoming seminar on 7th Dec 2018 in Dar es Salaam at The National Museum & House of Culture, more information is on my website: http://www.iamwomanpreneur.com
You have a mission to empower women through your coaching business in UK. Is that just in business?
I have a mission to empower women to live a purposeful life. I have seen a lot of women give up on their dreams, desires, goals and aspirations due to what seems like barriers that show up after marriage or life commitments. This is often after becoming a mother as they tend to loose themselves and will quit their wish of becoming entrepreneurs or fulfil their hearts desires in life. So I started a coaching and mentoring service through The IAMWOMANPRENEUR brand which works with clients in the UK & everywhere in the world, teaching them how to successfully harmonise the different areas of life.
We recently appeared on the Women in radio Business Show. You spoke so well. Did you enjoy the experience? Have you thought about other forms of media to get your message across?
Yes, I enjoyed myself very much at the Women in Business Show that was my second time on UK Radio. I have thought of various forms of media to get my message across such as Television (I appeared on TV whilst in Tanzania), I have been on Business Magazines articles in the UK and I have few other things on the pipeline coming up soon so keep a look out on my social media platforms @iamwomanpreneur.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt so far? How do you apply it to life or business?
I have learnt that everything happens for a reason, whether it’s a good or bad experience you are going through in business or personal life, take a look at the lesson you can learn from it. There will always be something for you to learn from a bad situation just as much as a good situation. The lesson can only be acknowledged if you are living a purposeful life as your experiences will be in alignment with your destiny. Hence, you have to be a student ready to learn from every situation you are going through in life as these experiences will shape your future.
Things happen so you have the opportunity to gain knowledge about a particular area of life but the problem is people take bad experiences to heart and their emotions get in the way of the truth behind the situation, which is the lesson to be learnt. So how I apply this to my life and business is by looking out for lessons to be learnt in any situation I go through in life, good or bad I know it will help me along the journey of pursuing my purpose in life.
What can we expect from Gladness Ojo in the coming months or years?
There is a lot to expect from me in the coming months and years. Currently, l am preparing to travel to host my first international IAMWOMANPRENEUR Seminar on 7th December 2018 in Tanzania and scheduling an online programme for female entrepreneurs for early 2019. Also, I have a business convention planned in UK for The African World Business Associates & a retreat for IAMWOMANPRENEUR next year plus much more.
Moreover, we are working on launching the UK Membership platform for The African World Business Associates and an event for Tanzania Business Club in 2019. Whilst I am in Tanzania we will be having another seminar for The African World Business Associates and seeking to branch out to other East African countries in establishing our subsidiaries for our organisation.
So I have lots on planned for the future as I really just want to ensure I serve my purpose in life which is to empower women and support entrepreneurship development in the world.
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