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Mercy Makinde: Overcoming challenges

By Guardian Woman
12 November 2016   |   4:30 am
Mercy Makinde is a seasoned entrepreneur, writer, speaker and enterprise advocate. She is the CEO of IASPIRE RADIO – Nigeria’s first Motivational Radio Station.
Makinde

Makinde

Mercy Makinde is a seasoned entrepreneur, writer, speaker and enterprise advocate. She is the CEO of IASPIRE RADIO – Nigeria’s first Motivational Radio Station. She also mentors and expresses her thoughts, knowledge and experience through her blog, the IASPIRE BLOG. She helped to preach the message of change and reawakening to the present generation in dire need of motivation and empowerment with the Iaspire Radio and Iaspire Blog.

She is the MD/CEO of Crested Crane Tours and Travels, a renowned travel agency affiliated to Radius Travel Group, one of the world’s leading travel management companies. She represents the Oxford International Education Group, U.K in Africa. She has the franchise to run the British English Olympics Competition for Schools in Africa. Mercy sits on the Advisory Board of TechieFarmer Limited, an agric-tech company that focuses on inspiring a green revolution. She is also on the Board of Team Funding Coop, U.K an international co-operative alliance company that helps SMEs with funding.

She shares her story with Guardian woman.

As an Internet entrepreneur, what do you find most challenging in running your businesses, especially with regards to your online radio station, Iaspire Radio?
The most challenging has been the Internet Service Provider and the epileptic service we sometime get. But we have chosen to look beyond the challenge because if we had to dwell on that we would not have started this in the first place. And rising above this earned us the place as the first real talk 24-hour online station in this part of the world. Most online stations here do Music and a good number of the do not run 24/7.

Another challenge is the reception of the general public to online radio because of the erroneous perception that it consumes a lot of data. Unknown to them, their Facebook/ Instagram Videos and SnapChat takes much more data than the Online Radio, which thrives on the Loss-Less audio file compression technology. That way it consumes very little data.
Yet another challenge for Online Radio is the Media Buyers who aren’t very receptive to this medium. Little or no part of their budget goes to this aspect of the media. Yet online Radio is the Future of Radio. Online Radio gives you wider reach as it is accessible by a global audience and you can listen conveniently from your device anywhere, anytime!

You started out as a Travel Agent and Tour Operator before other endeavors. How has the current economic situation affected that business?
Basically travel and tour is luxury except if it is corporate travel and naturally the first sector that suffers a decline in an economic downturn are the luxury business. Even before the infamous recession as we have it now, the industry was hard hit by the exchange rate. So a trip that cost a certain sum tripled in cost and so many people and even organizations had to cut down on frivolous trips. I suppose the Travel industry in Nigeria was the first and one of the worst casualties of the forex issues in the country’s financial sector.
But we are still in business and we have found other innovative ways to transact and keep our head above water.

How can more women use technology as means of economic independence?
Women or perhaps the girl child particularly in Africa is consciously raised to be technologically obtuse. While her male counterpart is privileged to have toys that they can dismantle and re-integrate, the girls are sentenced to a life of hair braiding for baby dolls. So these women grow up not being technologically savvy to say the least! Therefore we find them incessantly diminished in the STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics) discipline. Just as we have very few of them as Tech Entrepreneurs, the number of Male Directors far outnumber that of Female Directors, hence more males control the content produced using Technology. But we can change the narrative.

Whether through the mobile phone, Internet use, new career and tech business opportunities, the Nigerian woman can explores ways to utilize technology in order to facilitate their empowerment and better their lives and we have a few practical ways.

One is Economic Empowerment. Even stay-home Mums or Full Time House Wives can make money while at it taking advantage of technology. With the advent of Internet and Social Media, they can sell their good and services even more than the woman that has a high street store because they have the capacity to reach out to millions of people world wide at the same time without stepping an inch! Also with technology, personal develop-ment classes are at their fingertips! Women can learn so much from the “how to” and “do-it-yourself’ sites all over the internet with formal and informal activities that can help them improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. Technology can help them become a better version of themselves. In terms of educational advancement, there are several online degree programmes at all levels for women to take advantage of. A woman who is saddled with the responsibility of looking after her husband, kids and other dependents and properly keeps a job can actually earn a foreign degree from the comfort of her home or office. Thanks to technology! And when it comes to Employment Opportunities: Technology has resulted in more jobs across all industries…in telecoms, banking and manufacturing etc.

Technology has simplified the task and made it easier for women to get jobs that would otherwise have been an uphill task for a feminine gender.

You once remarked that you fought against early dastardly marriage that nearly claimed your life. As a founder of a women-centric NGO, are there programmes you have to create awareness about the dangers early, forced marriages cause and Domestic Violence?
Interestingly my NGO, Amazing Amazon Initiative is one of the first if not the very first to introduce online Seminars on Chat groups to enhance the lives of Women and on these chat group where we have formal Seminars where we bring in Facilitators to train women, we have daily in-house exhortation sessions where we discuss real issues affecting women from all walks of life and these includes early marriage, Domestic violence and others. Besides our virtually held programmes, We also have physical events held on a regular basis on various aspects of a woman’s life to impart vital knowledge and information. We recently held the first edition of the Lagos and The Woman Conference, which we intend to make it an annual event and propose to take to it to as many states in the Federation as possible. This programmes aims at enlightening women and exposing the dangers of Early Marriage, Domestic Violence and other issues affecting the women folk.

In an era where women felt a Hillary Clinton presidency would signify their arrival in world politics, what lessons does her defeat in the US presidential election teach you?
Hhhmmm…that defeat was a hard blow for many women and me. Having said that, there are plenty lessons therefor the women folk. First of all if all the women ensured they living in the United States came out to vote for Hilary, I think the outcome of this election would have been different. Sad that a lot of them voted only on social media with the #istandwithher tag line and they believed that was good enough. Women need to get up and out to fight for what they want. We should never sit back and expect anything to fall on our lap…we must work for anything we want.

Granted there could be other political/party issues and perhaps racial undertone but I’m one of those who believe her shocking defeat is a gender issue as no one was seen to stand with trump…from the living past Presidents to even top celebrities, not to mention his party’s top power brokers. Yet the populace chose to vote for him rather than have a female president! The lesson there is that we must never allow public or popular define us. A lot of women don’t aspire to certain heights because of what the society will say, think or do hence we limit ourselves.

A victory for Hilary would have put women globally on another pedestal but with this lose it’s like a stamp saying “no matter how hard you try, it’s a patriarchal society, it’s a man’s world…deal with it!” Now women would need to fight twice as hard to prove themselves and get whatever or to wherever we want. A Hilary win would have helped change the perception about women and we lost that chance. Very Painful! We need to learn this fast and double our efforts in changing the narratives.