KEY LESSONS FROM THE WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT
The WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT hosted over a hundred women in the development sector across board to a one-day high octane conference on the 29th of March 2018 in Lagos Nigeria, focused on the theme Women: Envisioning and Enabling Africa’s Future. The event was hosted by Ideation Hub Africa, a Social accelerator focused on building capacity in the social development space by providing NGO’s and Social Entrepreneurs with high impact education, enterprise advisory, thought leadership, and a robust network of resources and organizations to draw from.
This was their first female focused conference and was born from the need to see more women play at the highest level of their capacity in the space. Ideation Hub Africa already hosts several successful events, one of which is the Development Dialogue, billed to happen later this year.
The WID Summit featured a Keynote Speech by Osayi Alile (CEO ACT Foundation). There was also a Mentorship Roundtable and a Panel discussion with Adepeju Jaiyeoba (Mother’s Delivery Kit), Bekeme Masade (CEO CSR-n-Action), Seyi Oyebisi(Nigerian Networks of NGO’s), Toyosi Akerele Ogunsiji(Rise Network), Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi(W.TEC), Toyin Adesola (Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management),Nneka Okonkwo (Productivity Insights) and Katja Schiller Nwafor (Philanthropy Circuit).
Here are some of the key lessons from the conference.
The Business of your Social Innovation
Each speaker reiterated that Social entrepreneurship must be treated as a business. It should move past the passion to create impact to operating as an entity seeking harness its resources to make profits.
And for a Social enterprise to be relevant and successful among its industry competitors, the social innovator must be willing to pay attention to hiring and training right, proper book keeping and financial management, crafting compelling stories etc .
The keynote speaker Ms Osayi stated, that a woman should work in this sector only if it’s her passion but must also realize that, passion is simply not enough for her impact to be relevant. Social entrepreneurship is the combination of social impact and a business venture; hence it is a serious business and should be treated as such.
Collaboration For Growth
Conversations about the need for Collaborations in the sector were a recurring theme at the WID Summit. We will continue to experience and witness mediocrity and shallowness of impact if social organizations work in siloes.
However, on the other hand, the sector would gain a stronger voice and be able to affect policies and major decisions in Nation building, if its players collaborate for change.
Speakers emphasized the theory of strength in agreement and numbers, in the sense that, rather than having many similar small social organizations with identical impact areas and key objectives, working on a small scale, they can collaborate to have one or two organization(s) creating massive change on a larger scale.
Katja Schiller Nwafor, further explored this point by pointing out the fact that not everyone needed to be CEOs or founders and that it was okay to collaborate in the sector by working for or with someone whose vision you agree with to ensure its success.
Building To Last.
The concept of an entity is incomplete without the right business structure to support its sustainability. Nneka Okonkwo pointed out these needs in order for social enterprises to build structure into their work from the beginning. She emphasized that social innovators do not pay enough attention to record keeping, data gathering and other important business ethics that would make their work relevant long after they are gone.
Social innovators should focus on getting education (and paying for it where necessary) to understand the art of Storytelling, to measure and replicate their impact, for data gathering and analysis, outsourcing key legal issues and more importantly, document processes and provide framework for scaling up.
Light bulb Lessons
The sessions came to an end with each of the speakers giving at least one key piece of advice that had helped them.
They encouraged women to leverage on their skills, build networks, and tell their stories without fear or shame.
That, it was okay to fail but also to fail forward, as grit and character can make a major difference between an average and a thriving social enterprise.
Technology is a powerful tool that can and should be leveraged to solve Africa’s giant problems as well as to build and develop capacity.