Rashida Nasamu, Shamima Muslim And Others Share Inspiring Stories At Young Zongo Women Forum
The Initiative for Youth Development on Saturday, 10th March, 2018 organized its maiden Young Zongo Women Empowerment Forum at the Accra International Conference Centre. Under the theme “Empowering Young Zongo Women for Community and National Development”, the forum aimed at empowering young Zongo women to take up entrepreneurial initiatives. The forum was divided into three sessions. The first session moderated by Fauziatu Adam was an interactive one with young Muslim entrepreneurs sharing their entrepreneurial journeys and challenges thus far.
Panel of young entrepreneurs
The panelists, Bilqis Ishaq of Bils Collection, Zakiyah Suleiman of Zacky Food Processing, Aesha Adam, Director at Iqra Educational Centre and Hadija Era Sung Ahmed of Myda Foods. During this session, the entrepreneurs talked about their journeys and challenges and how they overcame those challenges. The CEO of Bil’s Collections, Bilqis Ishaq spoke about the challenges she’s had to deal with regards to providing designs to meet the current and changing market demands. She however stated that she doesn’t see herself to be in competition with other persons in the same business because her clothes are produced here in Ghana unlike many others who import theirs from other countries. “I have no challenges with regards to competitors; I produce my clothes right here in Ghana”. She emphasized.
Again she shared her dream of growing her business so she can employ a lot more people as she believes that, as an entrepreneur, one should be able to create jobs for others.
Zakiya Suleiman, CEO of Zacky Food Processing also told the audience she decided to go into entrepreneurship after applying for so many jobs without response. She tried to solve the problem of people queuing for Hausa koko every morning and that’s how her product was birthed. She confessed that even though there have been times she felt challenged, she has never been discouraged not to talk of quitting. “I studied my environment very well before venturing into this business, so no matter the challenges I face daily; quitting has never been an option”. She said.
Aesha Adam, Director of Iqra Educational Centre also spoke on how she diverted from producing fresh yogurt into establishing an Islamic Educational Centre and currently combining both. Aesha Adam narrated her story of having to quit her first business, a yoghurt production business which suffered severely from frequent power outages. It was during that same time that she came up with the idea of solving the long-term problem Muslim children face when it comes to Islamic education. She discovered that, some Muslims, especially the elite, did not want to enroll their children in the regular Islamic School (Makaranta) as a result of the challenges faced by most of such schools. As a result, she founded what has become a modern blend of both secular and Islamic education, Iqra Educational Centre which has now grown into several branches.
Hadija Era Sung Ahmed, CEO of Myda Foods Limited also recounted to the audience, her challenges and success in her entrepreneurial journey. After Hadija gave birth, she was faced with the difficulty of finding the right kind of meal for her children. Her babies did not eat well as a result of which their growth was being hindered and she had to find a solution. Thus, she created her own food mix composed of cereal and fruits and vegetables. She observed how her babies fell in love with the mix and she adopted it as a long term solution. Other parents began to request for her food mix and that led to her setting Myda Foods. Hadija who is a professional accountant said she’s had lots of challenges to the point of almost quitting but what kept her going was her family particularly, her husband. “I have a very strong support system in my husband and mom. Anytime I feel like quitting; they give me the reasons not to”. She said.
Rashida Nasamu sheds tears
The Second segment of the forum was a presentation on “How to start and manage your business as a Young Entrepreneur” and it was delivered by Rashida Saani Nasamu of iZar Group. She said the first key to being a successful entrepreneur is to identify one’s self and interest. “Identifying one’s self when it comes to entrepreneurship is key. Once you are able to identify yourself, you are able to tell what you are able to embark on”. Rashida said.
She added that to be a successful entrepreneur, one needs to do a SWOT analysis. That is, to always look out for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat with regards to the kind of business one wants to embark on. She added that an entrepreneur always needs to be ready to learn and seek knowledge in order to expand one’s knowledge base. “There’s no overdose in seeking knowledge”. She added.
Rashida could not hold back her tears as she narrated the difficulty she faced when she first started her business and had to go for interviews in search of contracts. At the time, she said she was breastfeeding her baby and that almost hindered all her chances of securing a contract.
Personal development of the young Zongo woman
During the final session of the program, Asmaa Bint Ayub spoke on “Personal Development of the Young Zongo Woman”. She said there’s a need for personal growth which she defines as the ability to learn to be better with the lessons of yesterday. She told the audience never to let their challenges hold them down. “Be ready to learn, keep soaring and keep going”. She advised.
Hajia Adiza Baba Issah followed with a submission on “Economic Empowerment of the Young Zongo Woman”. She emphasized the need for parents to realize the dream of their kids for economic empowerment and skills acquisition. She advised young women to have goals and stay focused at achieving them. “Identify yourself, liberate yourself through education, develop a vision and go for your dreams”. She said.
The Deputy Communications Director at the Office of the President of Ghana, Fatimatu Abubakar, also led the discussion into politics where she advised on how young Zongo women can prepare themselves for national politics. She advised that the basic meaning of politics is to serve and contribute to humanity. She emphasized the need for young women to change the negative perceptions they have about politics and join to change narratives. “The more women we have in politics and in parliament, the more there will be reflections on how women issues are dealt with”. She said.
Shamima Muslim, formerly of Citi 99.7 FM, and now a Communications Consultant and Women Development Advocate, was the final speaker for the day. Advising young Muslim women, she said it was necessary for Muslim women to seek economic empowerment and financial independence. She charged the participants to step up and stop making excuses. “In order to tell our own stories, we need to step up and stop making excuses for failure”. She said.
In all, the forum was successful and attendance was impressive. Although a women-related event, a number of young Muslim men including, the founder and coordinator of IYD, Mahmud Jahjah were present at the event. Participants shared their thoughts on how beneficial they have found the event the fact that, they are charged to implement the ideas and lessons learnt.
Photography: Africa Eye Focus, Ninche Shot It, OP Studios