09 December 2012

WSYA Power 2 Women: the African Women Power Network / Mary

As you should know by now, I ♥ Being a Girl received one of the 2012 World Summit Youth Awards. The award showcases the best ICT solutions made by young people that moves us closer to achieving the MDGs. Ours is - obviously - in the category Power to Women.
As we are far from being the only ones doing things around gender via the internets and such, here you have some more:    

Name: Mary Olushoga, the African Women Power Network / @Africwomenpower 

I enjoy meeting people, traveling to new places, and watching performance art. 

I am a small business advocate and founder of www.awpnetwork.com an enterprise given honorable distinction at the 2012 World Summit Youth Award (WSYA). I am the first-ever GOOD Maker/Oxfam America International Women’s Day Challenge Winner, a Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) Associate, and an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet Ambassador.

I hold a bachelor's degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York and a master's of science degree from Baruch College. She also served as a Public Policy Fellow at the University at Albany, Center for Women in Government and Civil Society and most recently participated in the Sub-Saharan African Women In Public Service Fall Institute.

The awpnetwork.com is a small business blog that provides business education content and showcases the work of African women and youth entrepreneurs. We tell their entrepreneurial stories, discuss the business challenges, and successes of African women and youth entrepreneurs. As a start-up organization, I am proud to say that we have engaged over 150 African small business women and youth entrepreneurs through our online trainings and webinars. Participants signed in from Lagos, Abuja, and throughout the United States.
The webinar topics were selected based on small business trends, and included conversations regarding (1) how to use mobile technology to start, expand, and move business ideas forward (2) how to use marketing, branding, and PR tools to start, grow, and expand business ideas (3) how to build one's personal development brand - based on feedback, participants found these topics very useful.
The AWP Network will continue to provide small business support services to help African women and youth entrepreneurs be better positioned for success.

The big picture goal of my organization is to promote a positive image of Africa. The AWP network began with a tweet in 2011. I started simply by tweeting out business related information about news or sources of funding. To date, I have over 500 followers. It began with the idea to provide business related content to African entrepreneurs anywhere in the world, with a particular focus, on women and youths. Not long after I started, I was invited to speak on BBC about the fuel subsidy strike in Nigeria and since then, things have really taken off – in a good way. With the exposure, I felt something was right. I began to think about how to expand beyond twitter, so I started a wordpress blog that would feature and profile African women and youth entrepreneurs – both in the U.S. and throughout the continent. It has been a very exciting year.

The whole idea of AWP began after working in the small business industry for a number of years. I saw how business support services could really help entrepreneurs grow and expand. I know that Africa has a different set of challenges than the United States, but I think that free and available business support services would help the small business industry. African women have always been entrepreneurial, so I am not promoting anything new. I think that supporting them can help many to grow and expand quickly, which in turn will enable them to hire and create jobs for the millions of unemployed.

The world would be a better place if everybody would:
  - Watch A Beautiful Mind (2001), American biographical drama film based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics.
  - Listen to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
  - Read awpnetwork.com interviews and visit our website.
  - Travel around the world more often (the more you see, the clearer your vision becomes)

I try as much as possible to live in the present. I am presently living my dreams so I don't think much about the future but before I am 80 - I would like to start a company, sell it, and make money. At 80, I would like to be home with my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Also, travel occasionally.


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