“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams ” – Hillary Clinton
Empowerment comes in different forms. People of all age ranges, social and cultural background have been empowered differently. Some have been trained to go to school so they can become a doctor or lawyer etc so they can trade their expertise for a decent income. Some have been trained as artisans to trade their skills for money, while some rely on their natural talents to earn a living. The bottom line is, at the end of the day, money in most cases is the sole motivator for being in business or a profession. Very few rely on intrinsic motivation to be in business.
It is extremely crucial to empower our next generation with adequate knowledge about entrepreneurship and how they can play a pivotal role in changing the face of commerce for their generation. With the direction the world is heading, some profession and skills will become obsolete or will be replaced by technology in the near future and many more will be born. The industry that may not be heavily impacted are the ones that serve the crucial needs of humanity. That has been established in light of the recent covid-19 lock-down where only businesses mandated to operate are the ones that fall within the essential service market. What that should reiterate to us is to carve our niche in areas of essential service industry and also encourage our children to do the same.
Going back memory lane due to Covid-19 lock-down, I was reflecting on my trajectories as an Entrepreneur. As a young child in primary 4 at Army Children School in Ikeja Cantonment, I was selling jotter to my classmates because they liked the one I was using at the time. I can’t remember exactly what led up to that decision but my younger self could have thought of how to turn N10 to N20. That small business venture was short lived when my father was invited to school, he was informed of my “trading”. I remember being called to the headmaster’s office and was asked if I wanted to be a business woman when I grow up in a way that discredits Entrepreneurship. I said yes and the headmaster looked at my father in total amazement. Luckily, I come from a background that encourages entrepreneurship.
My ancestors were Entrepreneur and I believe Entrepreneurship in emerging economies will positively shape the future of the girl child if encouraged. It is pertinent to state here that I’m also of the opinion that not everyone is wired to be an Entrepreneur just like not everyone is wired to be a doctor. However, one incontrovertible fact is, women are underrepresented in top leadership positions. That can be eliminated when it becomes socially “acceptable” to tell our children to go to school to learn the rudiments of business as opposed to going to school with the sole intention of getting a job that pays well in exchange for their time and skill-sets. My reasoning is, their time and skills can be used to create much more value unlimited to an allotted time and without any hindrances for their creative mind and spirit to manifest and flourish.
There’s been a lot of misconceptions about Entrepreneurship. The truth is, there’s no better time in history as such a time as this to start shifting our paradigm most especially for the next generation of the African child.
With our generation of African women experiencing subliminal sexism, age, gender and racial discrimination in the workplaces around the world. it is high time we shielded the next generation of the girl child from experiencing those biases either from the workplaces or in the society.
We live at a time when biases are formed based on pigmentation, antecedents and our socioeconomic status. Our girl child will be at a disadvantage if they aren’t enlightened, prepared and trained to face the world that awaits them. We as parents must help them develop a boss’s mindset right from their teenage years. They should be trained to think as a producer rather than a consumer.
It is vital that they understand the differences between trading their time, skills and intelligence for money and having their money work for money. Also, they should be encouraged to be a contributing member of the society as well as be a high performer irrespective of who their competitor is.
This can happen when we begin empowering them to start taking steps in the right direction. Instead of struggling to get a sit at the table, we should own the table so our girl child can dream of owning their own table, chair and conference room. We are their biggest role model and as such, it will enable them function and reason at an optimal level thereby bringing nothing short of excellence to the table when the time is right.
Educating a girl child is the gateway to poverty alleviation. When girls are armed with the right tool to succeed, they are given a leveled playing field to compete with the opposite sex i.e they are given equal opportunity to succeed. Even though it may not seem like it, sexism is real and we as women must develop an impregnable psychology to succeed in today’s world.
There’s been a lot of advocacy in recent times for the need for government to close the gender pay gap. Our girl child must be trained to create real value by discovering what makes them valuable to the society. Recognizing their values eliminate mediocrity, enhances productivity and set them up for success. Our values are what makes us Unique as individuals. They are our strength and it is essential for our girls to get trained in their areas of strength as well as set up their practice in those areas. That will enable them work meaningfully, impact more lives positively and work on their own terms. That value is what will earn them respect and ultimately create wealth.