Welcome to ‘Women We Love’ – our weekly column where we celebrate women doing amazing things in their areas of influence. From the tech & the fashion world to social activism & politics, these women, we think, are definitely crush-worthy. Catch up on all our crushes here!
Today, we shine the light on the business mogul – Folawe Omikunle!
… joined Teach For Nigeria as the Program Manager in its early stages. She quickly transitioned to become the CEO in 2016, leading the start-up, planning, and development of the organization. She is also the head of cultivating relationships with key stakeholders, fundraising and driving organizational development. In 2017, Folawe was named among the 100 most influential young Nigerians, an honour that recognizes her experience and commitment to social development. And she has dedicated her professional life to tackling the challenges in the education sector in Nigeria.
We had a chat with Folawe on how she started her business and what’s next;
How did you start in your line of business?
My background is in International Law and Diplomacy. I never believed I would work in Education. My dream was to become a Diplomat and I was aspiring to become an ambassador someday. My career began as a school administrator in a school in Lekki. Taking up this role was a means to passing time while waiting to get into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, something happened in that school that completely changed the trajectory of my life. A little girl named Udoamaka was enrolled in the school. This girl was brought in from an orphanage somewhere in South-East Nigeria. She couldn’t speak English. She was completely different from every other child. However, in six months, she completely changed and could speak better. This made me feel a great sense of responsibility to do so much more for kids who didn’t have access to education like Udoamaka and that was how the journey started.
What challenges have you faced so far?
The biggest challenge that jump-started my growth was hearing No. I remember the first state we approached with a program we now do which involves recruiting fresh graduates to teach in public schools for 2 years but this state declined our offer. This experience taught me that entrepreneurship is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time for people to buy into your vision.
What advice would you give to the budding entrepreneur?
Research is very important. Find out about the field you are going into. Make sure you leverage your relationships and build your network as well.
What factors are there to consider in scaling your business?
Building relationships is very important to scale your business. Human and financial resources are also equally important to help grow your business. You need to also be able to stay focused on your vision.
What success tips can you give us?
Nothing is impossible. The process might be challenging but just keep going. As long as you are focused on your goal and you carry people along, nothing is impossible.
What lessons have you learnt from 2020?
The biggest lesson I have learnt from 2020 is being alive and staying alive. Ensure that you are able to stay alive. 2020 has taught me dynamism and more innovation. It has also taught me the importance of self-care.
How do you balance your work and your life?
I have burnt out a few times. I was one of those people that used to think that work-life balance was just impossible and that rest will only come when we eventually retire. However, these days I feel that work-life balance is very important. We need to be intentional about finding balance in our lives.
Do you believe entrepreneurship is for everyone?
I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone. I believe that some people are meant to be builders of an enterprise. Different people are built in different ways. Everyone has a role to play. Find your role and your purpose and execute.
What is the reason for your existence?
My purpose is to impact lives. I believe no child should be limited due to the background they are born into. My purpose here is to change that narrative.
There’s no doubt that Folawe Omikunle is definitely worthy of our love and much more!