I think I started attending WIMBIZ conferences in 2011 and even then, it wasn’t by choice. As far as I knew, my office was sending me and my colleagues on one of the many training sessions we attended from time to time. I’m thankful they did, thanks to Mrs Bunmi Oke (our then COO) because, even before I realized it, WIMBIZ had become a force in life.
I have only missed a year or two since that first time, most of the time, opting to attend on my own.
I have 3 key reasons for attending Wimbiz Annual Conferences each year.
These three components are guaranteed at every conference. Spending those two days with women from different works of life usually with different philosophies, levels of success and sectors is the much-needed catalyst to set the tone for year-end reviews and strategies as the new year beckons.
I NEVER set out to be an entrepreneur, but WIMBIZ stirred my dreams, the fully formed ones, the latent ones. For every achieving or accomplished individual who mounted the stage as a speaker, every thought-provoking conversation, aspirations usually buried under the monotony of life came alive each year, every event even more overwhelming than the last.
Here are 4 solid things I have learnt through the years:
1. You’re a woman, get over it and get to what you need to do. There are women like you in mining, agriculture, making waves in Tech. Focus on your skill, and impact and claim your place. Do not depend on playing the gender card to get a seat at the table.
2. Another thing I learnt from the many panel sessions and even lunch break chats at the conferences is our concerns are relative, the same. Issues such as mom guilt as we build careers and businesses, cultural idiosyncrasies, women naturally taking the back seat and other similar issues plague women, from the Corporate world to Public Service. You are not alone and your challenges are valid but surmountable.
3. No idea is new under the sun. Think of the craziest concept or business idea, you know that one you have been toying with and your self-doubt has been getting in the way? You will meet a woman at the conference who had the same idea and is already successfully executing it. I think it was at the 2017 conference I heard that women were actively involved in mining!
4. The world is a much bigger place than your own company or business. Just when you thought you had seen it all, you learn of an industry or sector issue you were totally oblivious about, which reminds me of that saying: If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
In all, each annual conference and indeed WIMBIZ, in general, brings me and thousands of other women to a place of refreshment, re-motivation because you need that every so often, not to mention it’s a place to harvest business opportunities. I can tell you for a fact that most of my biggest clients have come from WIMBIZ. My very first client when I started business came from a simple conversation at a WIMBIZ event. The numerous relationships I have gained and the sisterhood therein have proven to be the foundation for my evolving business-like mind-set.
If you are still thinking about it, WIMBIZ conferences are a must attend and as a community, it is a must-join for any African woman seeking to make their mark.
I leave you with an excerpt from my notes from one of those years, paraphrased from what a speaker said:
“When you are the only woman at the table please do not celebrate that. Do all you can to bring other women to the table as well. There is strength in numbers!”
Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa, is founder Lifestyle Hues Brand Consulting. Lifestyle Hues started brand consulting operations in August 2016, providing Brand/Marketing consulting services to Small, Medium and Large Scale Enterprises.