From food trucks bringing local fresh healthy foods to underprivileged communities in Vermont, to providing education for girls in Afghanistan, the 52 nominations for Oxfam’s first-ever International Women’s Day Challenge on GOOD Maker highlighted the power that women have to make the world a better place.
But once the public had spoken, and the voting period was closed, the African Women Power Network (AWP), based in Nigeria, was announced as the winner. With her $1,000 winnings from Oxfam, AWP’s administrator, Mary Olushoga has started offering online business trainings geared towards women and youth.
With her trainings officially underway, we thought we’d talk with Olushoga, hear more about how the AWP Network got started, and what her vision is for the future.
Here’s an excerpt from our interview with her:
What is the AWP Network and how did you come to start it?
The African Women Power (AWP) network is a credible platform that showcases and shares the entrepreneurial stories, business challenges, and success of African women and youth entrepreneurs. The big picture goal is to promote a positive image of Africa.
With the [money from the GOOD Maker Challenge], I plan to create business education content for entrepreneurs. I hope that this will encourage business growth and expansion. Information will be shared through Twitter, the blog, and webinar platforms. I also plan to start a YouTube channel – for information, support, and inspiration.
What inspires you to help African women entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurial solutions can eradicate poverty. Support for small business owners especially women, will create jobs for communities. African women will show that they have a vital role to play in Africa’s economic transformation by hiring. Hiring will take place if these women have access to business support services that can help them to strategize, grow, and expand. I think that many African women face hidden cultural and sexist barriers but they can overcome them by working together, creating a strong network, and community. This is what the AWP network hopes to achieve. Also, my father was an entrepreneur, and although not a woman, he struggled with his enterprises because of the lack of business support services. Once again, the challenges exist but opportunities abound and change is possible.
If you had a message for other women who want to make a difference, what would you tell them?
I will tell women and girls to have a plan and set goals. Do not be afraid to fail – No one is too small to make a difference. Follow your passion, find a solution to a problem, and change the world.
Check out Mary’s social venture at www.awpnetwork.com and on Twitter at @AfricWomenPower.