“Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you deserve less” – Olushola Pacheco, CEO Whootafrica
Olushola Pacheco is a visionary young Nigerian woman passionate about illuminating the business growth of Africa through inspirational business conversations and interviews. She is a business graduate from the University of Wales and Founder of Whoot Africa. Shola hasn’t had it all rosy. Her parents separated when she was just 17 years old. This made her get a grip on life and shaped her outlook towards life. Her unpleasant life stories have contributed to making her a woman of rubies who is passionate about telling the business success stories of Africa.
Growing up through some tough situations surely had its impact both positively and negatively. Negatively because I wish things were a lot easier, but positively without a doubt; I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today. I learnt how to be determined and resilient even in the face of challenges, I learnt how to not expect anything from anyone, especially when it came to things and decisions that affect me and where I see myself in the future and most of all I am grateful for how a tough life birth my compassionate side, I never miss out on the opportunity to encourage anyone going through tough times, that was something I didn’t have much of during my struggles.
My parents separated in my teenage years, so I understood that one of the constant things in life is change, whether we like or accept it, change happens to everyone and just how well you handle these changes determine just how far you are willing to go to rise above your circumstances. I Picked up my first job at 17, a cleaning job for an amazing woman whose career life inspired me to push for the best I could ever be, and I realized how much of what you get out of life is what you are willing to fight and work hard for. So, yes these events influenced me a lot. Also, I have seen people’s lives change and that helps me to stay grounded because nothing is promised. And the fact that your decisions will always be your cross to carry whether someone made the decision for you or not, you get to live with it. I am also not easily influenced; I do what I want irrespective of what anyone thinks.
Discovering my passion for business and online marketing
It is amazing how they say your worst times often birth the best journey of your life, right from an early age, I wanted to be an accountant, I was good at it and it was everything I knew. In fact, I was already helping out university students with financial accounting assignments as at my 5th year in secondary school. Unfortunately for me, life happened and I struggled to get into the university here in Nigeria because of the nepotism in the system at the time. I was heartbroken about it, but never gave up on what I truly wanted. I got into marketing from an early age out of necessity, but somehow I found my true passion. When I finally got university admission, I quit accounting for a business degree because I enjoyed strategic management courses and the likes. I owe this passion of mine to my best friend, Ladi Tokosi. He was such a brilliant man who knew something about every business topic you could mention, he taught me almost everything I now know about the business world, he not only mentored me, he helped shape me and I am ever so grateful to him.
The birth of WhootAfrica.com
While I was a student at the London college of Accountancy, I ran into financial difficulty at some point and had to talk to my school’s accounting officer. While at the office, the Asian lady who headed the accounting office made a statement about how beautiful I looked for an African, compared to the others she had come across, accompanied by a few more distasteful remarks; while offering me an affordable payment plan and discount. As condescending as she sounded I had two choices, defend Africa from her distasteful comment or take her discount and let mother Africa defend herself. Unfortunately, I chose the latter; I walked out with a good discount on my fees, but failed to defend my own. With that guilt in one hand and my degree in the other, even though Africa hadn’t given me much in terms of opportunities; I still felt guilty. Six years later with the emergence of E-commerce and start-up opportunities, I decided to find one good thing about Africa via the business world of start-ups and inspirational CEO conversations. Whoot Africa was born out of a need to right a wrong and to also convince myself that there was an important story to tell about Africa, beside the scams, financial aid and the poverty in the continent. In my quest to find one, I found many inspirational stories. And somewhere along my discoveries, my journey was born and my life continues to take shape towards my vision everyday.
I am not sure I have challenges with running Whoot Africa or maybe I just don’t see my challenges anymore. I am doing something I absolutely love and walking through doors I never thought I’d ever be able to walk through and sitting down to interview people I am constantly learning from. I would say, I am exactly where we need to be right now, every stage is a lesson and how well I learn determines how much growth I get to experience. As cliché as this answer sounds, it is the absolute truth. I have since stopped chasing those I thought would help push my dreams and vision of telling the African story; now I am telling the stories that I can and ensuring to enjoy the process. It took me a long time to understand that my rewards and everything I hoped for come in the little jigsaws pieces that are adding up every day towards the bigger picture. Would I like for bigger organisations to support me in telling the inspirational stories out there? Off course yes, but I am not waiting for anyone anymore, those who need to support this vision, can feel free to catch up with me when they are ready. 2017 is about pushing entrepreneurship education by sharing the best voices that will inspire the next generation of Nigerians and African’s, we have started on a great note and we plan to keep pushing.
Temptation to give up on the cause
Oh, every day. I am tempted to give up, dust my certificate and find something with steady monthly rewards. But one of my best qualities remains my determination; without sounding cocky, I am a very dogged and determined person. I don’t stay down for too long, irrespective of how I feel or how bleak things look; I wake up, hope and try again. When you have a vision and not just a wagon you jumped on because it felt cool, and you play your part, when you want something, the universe conspires to make things happen for you. From one person referring you to someone else for an interview or related opportunities, to someone emailing you to say “great job and that you inspire them” on your worst day, nothing great comes easy and I have such a beautiful and vivid imagination of where I see myself and my dreams, so what’s there to give up for? Besides I have the greatest support ever, my immediate family. And an inspirational story being birth to tell my daughter someday.
Testimonies of changed lives
Whoot Africa will never be just about me and doing business interviews, I believe that for every door opened to me, I am not meant to walk in alone. I make sure that I always have CV’s of people in need of jobs, especially for those who are currently unemployed, having someone’s life and story change because they got something through a door that was opened for you is everything, to go to bed knowing you are not hoarding your opportunities means the world to me. I went through some of the worst times of my life growing up. If one person gets to smile and be inspired from my work, then I am a fulfilled woman.
Nigerian women and enterprise
Nigerian women are some of the most enterprising women you will ever meet, from the woman who sells tomatoes in the market to the corporate CEO, Nigerian women are phenomenal. Despite our challenges and cultural barriers as a result of the hierarchical system we were used to, women who are determined to succeed are pushing through every day. A good percentage of Nigerian women are not waiting for handouts, they go out and try to make things work, and those are the women who daily inspire me and whose stories I am daily seeking to share.
I am a rare ruby
I am a rare ruby; I understand what it means to first believe in myself, believe so passionate that I don’t bother anymore with what anyone has to say. I focus on my focus and try to do my best. I am not perfect and I don’t plan to be, but I will always do my best and try to ensure that my quest to be a better version of me every day means more to me than anything else.
Find the people who inspire you in ways that are unique to you, don’t ever let anyone convince you that you deserve less, those who think so little of your efforts and all you stand for today, will one day have no choice than to acknowledge how awesome you are, if you keep working hard and smart. The only validation needed are yours and those who truly deserve the front row seat in your life, those who see so much greatness in you that you are forced to start believing in you too. Keep oiling the squeaky wheels of your life, and soon your ride will be effortlessly smooth.