Afua Osei is the Co-Founder of She Leads Africa; a community that helps young African women achieve their professional goals and aspirations with engaging online content and pan-African events.
Before focusing on She Leads Africa full time, Afua worked as a Management Consultant with McKinsey & Company. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago with Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Public Policy, studied international management at the London School of Economics, and graduated cum laude from Allegheny College.
Afua started her professional career at EMILY’s List, traveling across the United States providing strategy and communications expertise to political campaigns. Her other professional experiences include creating community engagement programs as a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia, assisting the White House research and writing teams in the Office of the First Lady, and examining housing tax credit programs as a Baltimore Mayoral Fellow in the Office of CitiStat.
Less than a year after the establishment of She Leads Africa, Afua alongside her co-founder launched an entrepreneurship showcase competition which drew close to 400 applications from 27 countries and multiple industries, which is intended to be an annual pitches competition.
Today, after barely two years of existence, She Leads Africa has made landmark achievements. They hosted the first all-female pan-African pitch contest, sponsored eight entrepreneurs attending an Investor Demo Day in Washington, D.C., started their accelerator program, established a partnership with Intel to conduct workshops for tech entrepreneurs, begun negotiations with Nigeria’s largest bank to create a low-interest lending program for female entrepreneurs, and started work on an online education platform that will feature African case studies taught by business experts. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, has even earmarked $1m in low-cost loans for start-ups under the SLA umbrella.
3 Practical Lessons We Can Learn From Afua Osei
YES to Winning Partnerships!
Long before She Leads Africa, in 2013 Afua launched “The Savvy Madam”; an online platform full of tips and advice and local events that help women form professional connections.
By the time Afua settled in Lagos, she started going to pitch events, but she noticed that there were never any women on stage. ‘I knew that these smart and ambitious women had to be somewhere, so I made it my mission to find young women who had great business ideas or were launching early stage startups.’
Within a few months, she had built up a small team, as an attempt to kick start a new version of her platform idea. One day, she ran into a McKinsey colleague; Yasmin Belo-Osagie, at an event where she was volunteering. They started discussing the idea of a pitch competition that would be entirely focused on African female entrepreneurs. Yasmin joined the small team shortly after their chance encounter, and the two women found that they got along very well.
Pretty soon, they became co-founders of the company that would become She Leads Africa.
Notice how similar the vision of “the savvy madam” and She Leads Africa is? Afua could have decided to shun a winning partnership with Yasmin, hoard her idea and try to implement her own. If she did, will The Savvy Madam have been as wildly successful as She Leads Africa at the same speed? I highly doubt it… Just like Afua did with Yasmin, we need to embrace synergy! The cooperation of two entities always produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects (1+1 = 3).
Pick Your Partners Wisely
Also important to note from the above point is the fact that Afua did not just pick anybody to partner with. According to her, within the small team she built, she and Yasmin found that they got along very well. They must have shared similar visions and values I believe. Remember the story of Jonah and the sinking boat? We really can’t afford Jonah’s in our boat, they’re going to make us loose valuables and sink us! Choose wisely.
P.s This lesson applies not only to you extending offers for other to partner with you, it also extends to the kind of offers you accept.
Find New Ways To Reach Your Goals
Do you know Afua Osei is also a retired beauty queen? In 2013, Afua Osei was crowned Miss Ghana USA 2013.
Through that platform, Afua was afforded the opportunity to empower and connect the next generation of African female business leaders; offer them an avenue to achieve their goals and carry out social and humanitarian initiatives in Ghanaian communities across the United States.
There are so many seemingly “leisurely” opportunities that you and I can take advantage of to pursue our passion and accomplish set goals. Find them and take advantage, that’s wisdom.
Afua has presented at the Harvard African Business Conference on “Empowering Women in Business” and contributed business and entrepreneurship articles to Ventures Africa and Bella Naija. Alongside her co-founder Yasmin Belo-Osagie, she was named amongst Forbes’ 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa with features in a number of reputable media channels including CNN, CNBC, BBC, Forbes, Black Enterprise, Fox Small Business, Fast Company, and Ventures Africa.
There’s so much we can learn from Afua Osei. Interestingly, she probably wouldn’t have gotten all this recognition and honor if she didn’t go out on a limb to quit her job in one of the top 3 consulting firms in the world to pursue her passion. There’s so much more you and I can become if only we pay attention to what our hearts are drawn to.
I would love to hear from you, what was your most striking lesson? And lesson learnt outside this? Please share it in the comment box below. As usual don’t forget to pay it forward by sharing with someone else.
This post was culled from the Thresh woman WCW Column. The ThreshWoman WCW is a column I manage with the goal to celebrate and encourage the successes of women all around the world while inspiring other women to chase their dreams fiercely.