When Viva Naija was invited along to the 4th annual business summit held by the Great Business Platforms and Women4Africa, I have to confess that I simply went along as a friend and supporter with no idea on what to expect.
I needn’t have been afraid or worried. What Sam has done alongside his multi-skilled wife, Tola ‘Wise Tola’ Onigbanjo is to create a small but formidable army of business people, visionaries and entrepreneurs who don’t simply want to talk the talk, but are passionate about walking the walk.
We have heard so much about the cohesion within the Asian and Jewish communities: how they help each other, trust each other, stick together, and build economic world powers in the process. We have also heard a lot about the distrust within the African community: how we don’t help our brothers, how we’re scared of our ideas being stolen, of being betrayed.
This meeting was speakers who had also worked hard to overcome adversity to become strong brands themselves encouraging those in the room – all entrepreneurs or budding business people – to make a connection, to take a leap of faith, to shake a hand on that day that may change their lives.
The gathering was small and intimate – no more than seventy people sat down to change their lives – but the buzz in the air was palpable. I’m used to Nigerians liking ‘church’ – a great gathering of people who catch the spirit and whoop and holler whilst listening to some motivational speaker say all the right words, and then they leave and do absolutely NOTHING with the information they just learnt.
This felt like a select group of destiny changers, decision makers, and fortune alterers. In truth, I felt like I was in a secret Ogboni meeting, and I liked it. Enough talking, time to start doing!
Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis (Global Director, Diversity, British Council) started off with an introduction on how diversity is changing the world, and a concerted effort in alleviating poverty for women of the world is a fight for economic growth.
Otunba (Dr.) Wanle Akinboboye (President of La Campagne Tropicana & passionate African continent builder) spoke on the importance for Africans at home and abroad to re-invest in their continent and enrich, empower and embolden their homeland with their own hands.
Dr Monica Alabi (MD, Monica Alabi Healthcare Consultancy) spoke on her vision to make Africa a world class healthcare destination. No more going to India for treatment when we have the intellectual savvy, know-how, and capital that can be invested into the Nigerian health care industry.
Mayowa Oluyede (Founder, MS Estates) was a personal highlight of the day! A man who shows that if you know your onions and set yourself apart as an expert in your field; not accent, not years within the country nor any other shortcoming can stop you! An inspirational lecture chock-full of action points.
Mo Wellington (CEO, Job Trolley) a high end recruitment consultancy firm that focuses on helping skilled Nigerians out here in finding their dream jobs back home and vice versa. Nigeria has evolved, and the intellectual/vocational resource pool is phenomenal.
Eryca Freemantle (international makeup artist, global beauty ambassador) spoke for 5 minutes – not on her specialities (and Lord knows she wears MANY hats!), but to thank Sam Onigbanjo for his continued support of her through her most trying times. This touched me so deeply – firstly to know that there is a beating heart inside even the most dynamic entrepreneur, but secondly, for her insistence on giving praise where it is due. Sweet dreams are indeed made of these!
Lunch was going to be a feast of sandwiches, but Ijeshopcame to the rescue and brought the most awesome taste platters of jollof and meat you’ve ever tasted!
An excellent event expertly put together by the Onigbanjos, Great business Platforms, and Women4Africa. It was worth every penny and then some.
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