Enrichment Grant Report: Ibironke Otusile ’15

Ibironke Otusile ’15 was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. This funding helped support her work with The Savvy Madam network. Read Ibironke’s story below, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about our Enrichment Grants.

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TheSavvyMadamThis summer, with the financial assistance of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, I set out to help make a change in African women’s lives, in Africa and in the diaspora. I was awarded the Student Enrichment Grant in June and was able to begin a summer-long internship with The Savvy Madam, “a network of women who mean and talk business.” The Savvy Madam is a platform designed to inspire, support, and empower women interested in business to advance in their field. The mission of the organization is to establish a network of African businesswomen, in Africa and abroad, who assist each other and mentor one another with their gained knowledge and connections.  This mission emerged from the great need of direction for young African businesswomen and the insufficient number of women in leadership and power in Africa; women were unable to help other women.

I was appointed the Community and Content Manager of the website, www.thesavvymadam.com.  My responsibilities included managing the different content verticals, managing social media accounts and developing strategies to increase followers and user engagement, creating content series for each vertical, identifying prominent individuals for interviews and collaboration, designing and creating the weekly newsletter, recruiting writers, coordinating the screening, onboarding, and submission process, amongst other tasks.

Focusing on the online platform and attending networking events, stirred in me a desire to attend even more networks and research and interview even more prominent African businesswomen. It has become evident to me that many African businesswomen, mainly in Africa, establish businesses not to occupy time or create a name for themselves, but to support the masses. This goes for the African businessmen as well. It is a survival tactic to shield themselves from hunger and abject poverty. Hawkers feed their families on less that minimum wage and immigrant business owners send money home to their families and neighbors. Man must whack! Or simply put, one needs to work in order to survive.

These women are working but not realizing their optimal profit. This can, of course, be improved with the simple tool of networking.  This way different types of businesswomen with different backgrounds can mentor each other and help one another achieve their envisioned accomplishment. My job, in regards to this spectrum, was to introduce these different women on different ends of the spectrum and ensure that they attained a level of success that they would have otherwise not realized. My job was also to mentor young girls who have an interest in the business world and encourage them that they could achieve success just like the African women before them. I am more than grateful to have been awarded such an opportunity. A smile on a little girl’s face or a thank you from an established businesswoman is the greatest reward that I could’ve received from this experience.

I can confidently say this past summer has been the most productive and interesting summer of my life thus far. I will continue to work with The Savvy Madam until I go abroad in the spring. I am grateful that such a networking system exists and I hope that it continues to flourish for aspiring businesswomen and social entrepreneurs, like myself.

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