“Inspiring change initiative wants to impact young girls positively”
Sunmbo Ajaba Adeoye is a multi-passionate Entrepreneur, a Goldman Sachs scholar and an Alumna of Lagos business School. She is a multiple award winner with impeccable result in the events planning industry. She is the CEO at Esobevents and the founder, Esob Academy, where she trains budding event managers, the events planning and styling business.
What is inspiring change initiative all about?
The Inspiring change initiative is a vision born out of my ceaseless desires to support entrepreneurial ideas, through mentorship, Advisory services, Free Trainings, and capacity building.
This initiative was established in 2013 as a platform where women can interact, learn, grow and those striving to take the lead in their respective businesses and career can be well informed and empowered.
Throughout the year, we offer a variety of free programmes that enhances knowledge; impact lives and ensures the girl child is educated deliberately.
What was your vision as a young woman and how did you to get to where you are today? As a young lady, with close to a decade of active service in the banking industry, my dream was to further become a successful business owner. In 2011 I resigned from banking and applied for scholarship at Lagos Business School, under the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women initiative. I was awarded the scholarship and graduated with a certificate in entrepreneurial management.
This experience did not only change my life, but it also improved how I do and structure my business. Having benefitted from such a huge opportunity, I purposed in my heart to pay it forward and that’s how I got to where I am today.
What prompted the idea and
What special benefit does your initiative bring?
Over the centuries, It’s been observed that only a very few women ruled the entrepreneurial frontier. And history hasn’t been fair enough to celebrate the ones who have stood out with impeccable results in their male dominated industries, especially the pioneers. Haven’t realized this, the initiative not only celebrates this women but also brings the knowledge of their achievement to others who are most definitely going to be inspired by their success stories. We’ seek to fill the gap between the leading female entrepreneurs, and the common woman who sees them as mentors but from afar. This we achieve with the annual conference that allows attendees the privilege of meeting these great inspirations in person, listen to them share from their vast knowledge and ask questions based on the areas of their expertise, all for Free.
Your vision is centered on empowering women and educating the girl child. Are there programs you have in place to empower women and how do you go about educating girls deliberately?
Yes, apart from the Inspiring change annual conference that seeks to inspire women, we also offer several outstanding programs, to further intensify our impact. Programs such as:
Mentor Meets Mentee: A Bi-Annual mentorship programme that was introduced in September 2015, with the aim of educating undergraduate’s about entrepreneurship and its many stages and intricacies. We have since, reached out to students in polytechnics, college of educations and university of Lagos, in January and September 2016 respectively.
GCE & JAMB SCHEME: A program that pays for the procurement of forms and tuition for young school leavers, to encourage their pursuit towards achieving their dreams of becoming successful female graduates.
Inspire Me Deliberately: A movement that offers series of free trainings by experts in various fields and sectors, teaching entrepreneurship and donating free educative items to pupils at various public schools in Agege and her environs.
What was the feedback like during the first year?
During our first year, the turnout was remarkable. It was as if, many had been longing for such a program as this, where women can interact, learn and grow. The goal was surpassed and the impact of the conference, either via our free seminars or active online engagements, cannot be overemphasized.
This year’s conference with the theme ‘Rethink’, holds on Saturday March 4th What’s the aim of the theme and what issue are you trying to address with it?
It’s been observed that many people do not understand the concept of entrepreneurship, the risks involved and the hurdles they will cross to achieve outstanding success. Many believe it’s in just starting something for the sake of making a living, and they venture into it without adequate preparations against the challenges that may occur along the journey. The aim of this year’s conference is to balance the knowledge of entrepreneurship and inform attendees about how to generate ideas, recognize opportunities, and understands the need to manage the business of their talents; ideas and innovations for investors buy in and to ensure it is sustained beyond a livelihood.
What prompted the choice of your guest’s speaker/panelist?
Every year, the initiative invites female guest speakers and panelists, all of whom have bridged gender gap in their respective fields, dominated by male counterpart. These women are leading female entrepreneurs with proven track records of impeccable achievements in their various fields. We’ve had in conference, women like Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, Ibukun Awosika, Kemi Adetiba, Toke Makinwa, to mention a few. This year, we have invited Mrs Jumoke Adenowo, a multiple award-winning architect with over 3 decades of experience in the field of architecture; she’s also the pioneer recipient of the New African Woman, Business Woman of the year 2016 award.
What’s your projection for the future of the initiative?
We are looking at setting up an entrepreneurial centre in Lagos Nigeria. That will cater to the increasing need of globalized education in information and communication technology. A go to place for programs that will inform students about how to manage their talents/idea/innovation and pitch it for exportation /investors. Many budding entrepreneurs face the problem of Market Entry, infrastructure and finance; we hope to build an institution that will fill that gap.
Is the empowerment package limited to only women in Lagos?
No it’s not limited to only the women in Lagos. Several female entrepreneurs, irrespective of their religion, state of origin or location has benefitted from the free empowerment packages, which comes in form of Cash, work Tools, Free Trainings and Mentorship. We’ve had beneficiaries from outside of Lagos, like the fish seller from Kaduna, who was flown in to Lagos last year alongside her “corper” son and given some funds to acquire a deep freezer and scaling machine to further enhance her business, and several other women from other states including Lagos. Apart from these donations, we believe the knowledge impacted and continuous mentorship benefits received by beneficiaries of the grants, is much more valuable and it keeps them on track and ahead always.
Are you looking at partnering with government agencies and supporting entrepreneurs?
Yes. We are also looking at partnering with the Lagos state chamber of commerce as well as other state agencies, to further increase our impact and achieve our future goal.
Tell us about how you fund the initiative. – The initiative has solely been funded from my personal savings, and of course funds from my ever-supportive Family and friends.
Do you think the Nigerian economy encourages entrepreneurship?
The Nigerian economy as we grew to know has depended so long on Oil, and recently Agriculture. The increasing need to diversify from its dependency on oil has now caused the government to support entrepreneurship with initiatives such as “YouWIN” Youth enterprise with innovation in Nigeria that encourages and supports aspiring entrepreneurial youths in Nigeria to develop and executive business idea. I am also aware that Lagos state through the Lagos state employment trust fund is also trying her best to encourage indigenous businesses.
What is the toughest part of your services and how do you overcome it?
The toughest part of this service is convincing some people that there’s no political agenda backing the initiative. For example, some top leaders of public schools, with this opinion about social initiatives, deprive their pupils the privilege of some of our educative materials within rural communities in Lagos. We are often subjected to writing several letters and moving from one desk to another for approval. This process sometimes takes forever and it can be frustrating, but we remain committed till it gets to the hand of the intended beneficiaries.
What will you say is your biggest achievement so far?
We haven’t yet attained where we long to be but I’m most grateful to God almighty, for where we are, the several lives that has been transformed. The many businesses that the inspiring change initiative has given hope to, and the common woman on the street that now believes she can be anything she wants to be against all odds.
Who are the women that inspire you?
First on the list would be my ever-industrious Mother, who at 78 is still very active in the trading business. She taught us by example, at a very tender age, the need to be independent and always have something doing even as a girl child. The truth we later grew to discover is the way forward in life. My Mentor, Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, an educationist and life coach. Her wisdom, mentorship and shared influence, has helped me a great deal. Other women who inspire me include The former first lady of the united states of America, Michelle Obama, Chimamanda Adichie, Oprah Winfrey, and most recently Hilary Clinton, who broke the glass ceiling by winning the democratic presidential candidate slot and running relentlessly against Donald Trump, who eventually became the 45th President of the united state. This shows that there’s great hope for more female leaders to emerge and take their place in destiny.