The WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT hosted over one hundred and twenty women working in civil societies, NGOs, social enterprises, government as well as female entrepreneurs 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 Executive Director of Ideation Hub Africa, Debola Deji-Kurunmi expressed great pleasure about the growing role of women on the continent to spur global development and prosperity through social innovation, and the choice to solve pressing problems in our communities.

Ideation Hub Africa is also the host of Development Dialogue, which is Nigeria’s foremost thought-leadership conference for it’s social/ development practitioners. 

The WID Summit featured a Keynote Speech by Osayi Alile (CEO ACT Foundation). There was also a Mentorship Roundtable as well as 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 (Women Technology Empowerment Center),  Toyin Adesola (Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management Initiative), Nneka Okonkwo (Productivity Insights) and Katja Schiller Nwafor (Philanthropy Circuit).

Here are some of the key lessons from the conference.

The Business of Social Innovation

Each speaker reiterated that the need for social enterprises to run with a business mindset. Your social enterprise should move past the passion to create impact on to operating as an entity that master how to harness its resources to make profits or sustainable revenue.

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 women working in the development sector must find a merge between their passion for impact and the willingness to build a career for the long term. 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 2018. We all agreed that Collaborations would be significant to accelerate the impact of our work, as well as that of the sector as a whole. NO more working in silos.

Indeed, the sector would gain a stronger voice and be able to affect policies and major decisions in nation building, when we leverage the power of our number.

Speakers emphasized the 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 smaller scale; they can collaborate to have more organization(s) creating massive change on a larger scale.

Katja Schiller Nwafor pointed 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 shared the criticality for businesses 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 grow the skills to get the job done! We can all leverage stronger understanding of the art of storytelling, measuring and evaluating impact, data gathering and analysis, regulatory and legal requirements for an enterprise etc.

Delegates shared in networking sessions, and the Summit’s activities were significantly educative for the attendees. Women made commitments to show up with skills and strength, build networks, and tell their stories without fear or shame.