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‘The society has placed too much responsibility on women’ – Weyinmi Eribo

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Weyinmi Eribo

Weyinmi is a Geologist by background and has worked in the joint venture of the government of Nigeria and Sao-tome and Principe, her interest in the extractive sector led her to volunteer with Global Rights Nigeria. Her personal life experiences further led her to creating a health and wellness brand, Roots and Brew, where she provides healthy alternative products and services in Abuja and beyond.

Given her recent interest in social enterprises, she worked briefly in a short term role with Acumen, a foremost impact investment company. Through her entrepreneurial journey, Weyinmi has seen the gap of gender based investment and she has launched Wevvo, a resource and impact investment platform for single female breadwinners. Weyinmi shares her inspiring story with me in this mind blowing interview

Childhood Influence
I am the 2nd female and last of 6 children, my family has always been a close knit nuclear family. My parents were civil servants and so we were an average middle class family. My dad is an English language scholar and so from a young age instilled the love of reading in us, coupled with my attending Nazareth Nursery and primary school in Festac where reading was a great culture. Developing a strong reading culture early in my life has definitely helped me in my work now at it helps keep my curiosity strong and encourages my continuous love for learning. Unfortunately, none of my parents were entrepreneurs or business people so I didn’t really grow up with any form of exposure to that but my mum is the definition of resilience and tenacity. Those two values have kept me going in every aspect of my life and those are definitely values any entrepreneur needs.

Entrepreneurial Journey
My venture into entrepreneurship was as a result of the experience I gained handling family and personal health challenges. My dad had a stroke years ago, I was the only female child at home at the time and so it became my responsibility to handle his diet and lifestyle change. As a reader, my first instinct was to research as I had no clue about what a healthy lifestyle entailed at the time and then I got sucked in completely. My dad is alive today and there’s no evidence that he ever suffered a stroke. After that, I became like the resident unofficial doctor and nutritionist in the house.

Impact of being a world bank womenx scholar and Intel she will connect recipient
The Intel she-will-connect programme gives basic digital literacy training and this has helped me immensely in my business. The training covered several areas including building a website and how to build graphics for your business. This has helped me till now as I handle the social media graphics for my business, design my complementary cards, fliers and more. The worldbank womenX scholarship was for a certificate in entrepreneurial management from the Enterprise development centre, Pan Atlantic University. I gained so much value from that program in terms of what to do in my business, what to look out for and how to avoid some of these pitfall mistakes entrepreneurs make. It further exposed me to a large network of entrepreneurs who keep you accountable and offer help when you need it.

Inspiration behind Wevvo
Roots and Brew, my health and wellness brand, was built out of a passion to share with people like me and my father all the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. I wasn’t keen on being an entrepreneur or making profit, I just wanted to share my knowledge to help people live healthier happier lives.

Wevvo is very dear to my heart. It is my story of finding my voice and my dignity. Let me share my experience, which is basically what has shaped my Wevvo journey – I got married, gave birth and separated from my daughter’s father- all within an incredible 2 years frame but it has become part of my story of change, my story of strength. Those 2 years and a few years after that were tough but I was privileged to have my family support. Being a single mum isn’t something anyone really plans for and so I had to grow up grow up quickly to take care of my child and face the stigmatization that comes with that. Women struggle in many ways, and for female breadwinners its worse – it’s a full circle of negligence and lack of appreciation for the struggles we undergo. This is why I set up Wevvo – to enable women facing what I had to deal with have access to finance, support one another, change the narrative and thrive as a community.

Wevvo funding initiative and how it can be accessed
Wevvo is a resource and impact investment platform for single female breadwinners, that is, for women who are divorced, single mothers and female siblings who are responsible for their families. The idea is to empower these women with skills and finances to enable them make better decisions and improve the economies both for themselves and their children. Wevvo will provide seed funding (Wevvo Seed), business acceleration programs (Wevvo Speed) and micro credit loans (Wevvo Credit) at single digit interest rates for one year. Wevvo community seeks to create a safe space for these women to connect and support each other to navigate the struggles and challenges of being single female breadwinners and to know that they are not alone.

We are hopeful that Wevvo will spread to other African countries and the world as the stigma is prevalent everywhere, some countries more than others.

We have just launched our first business acceleration program to give business training, mentoring and access to $1000, Application portal is available on our website www.wevvo.ng. Our social media handles, Instagram/Facebook: @wevvo.ng, twitter: @wevvo_ng.

Challenges
I am not insulated from the typical Nigerian challenges entrepreneurs’ face – high energy cost, infrastructure deficiency and access to finance. However, there are other layers peculiar to the wellness sector. A lot of us are yet to understand that the cost of living a healthy lifestyle is almost negligible when compared to the cost of treating illnesses. If you have experienced some health challenges, you would understand that sometimes one illness can wipe your whole account away. I find that we have to constantly educate our customers on the benefits of healthy alternative products we sell retail.

Changing the societal perception of single mums
The society has placed too much responsibility on us women. When a marriage fails, society says it’s the woman who didn’t try enough, when a woman gives birth outside of marriage, society says she is loose. If you were not raised by a single mother, you know at least one woman who is, a large number of these women are the most hardworking, resilient women you will ever come across. For too long, the society has looked at single female breadwinners through the wrong lens, I think it’s time that a lot of these narratives are changed in order to de-stigmatize single motherhood and create a shift in the standard of values placed on one sex and not on the other. As a society, we fail to acknowledge that beyond the women, there are lives of children involved. If we fail to support these women and provide growth opportunities, how do we then ensure that the children they cater for are given a bright future? There are so many success stories of single female breadwinners, we just need to create an environment for more of these women to thrive.

Being a Woman of Rubies
I failed the first time I tried to ride a bicycle, till today, I can’t ride a bicycle. It doesn’t make me a failure as a person, I just failed at something I tried. I am a consultant, an entrepreneur, a health and wellness advocate and a single female breadwinner who didn’t let a divorce define her and limit her dreams but instead used that as my motivation to build, to grow, to flourish and now to help other women like me thrive. I believe that a woman of rubies is one who uses the bricks thrown at her to build stairways for her and other women to climb up.

Dear Single Moms…
Do not let your past or current situation define the course of the rest of your life. Being a single female breadwinner is not a life sentence, it doesn’t change who you are or Gods calling on your life. Any woman who is providing for her family alone should be proud of herself, the shame and stigmatization remains a social construct and we cannot allow the opinions of people who are not wearing our shoes continue to dictate how we live our lives. The only limits are those we place on ourselves through our thoughts, beliefs and doubts. Marriage is a beautiful institution, it didn’t work out once doesn’t mean that it’s bad or not for you and it doesn’t make you a failure, it also doesn’t mean that it won’t work out again.

Please join our Facebook group: Wevvo-community of female breadwinners to connect with other women in a safe space.

 


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