Good morning Africa,
How delightful it is to always celebrate our dear continent and the amazing species that make her prosperous through their path breaking ideas, contributions and commitments.
To get you off to an outstanding start this beautiful Tuesday morning, we bring you an exclusive interview with one of Africa’s finest change agents, the delectable Uhanan Mimi Musa, a social entrepreneur and founder of Young Women’s leadership Initiative, A non-profit organization that provides empowerment and leadership development for young women and girls from all backgrounds.
In this interview, the change activist talks about her journey, mission, life lessons and passion for youth development and empowerment.
Sit back and drink from this stream of inspiration…
Kindly tell us about Uhanan Musa. Her roots, age, hobbies Educational and professional background…
Miss Uhanan Mimi Musa is 28 years old, a social entrepreneur from Nigeria. She is the founder of Young Women’s leadership Initiative, A non-profit organization that provides empowerment and leadership development for young women and girls from all backgrounds. She is also a self-improvement blogger.
She helps people create fulfilling and spiritual lives with her blog posts, products and personal advice. Her tips & tools can be applied immediately to bring meaningful change to one’s business, personal life or organization. Her goal is to motivate, inspire and help others achieve. She has a passion for change and leadership.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the American University of Cyprus. A master’s in Business (MBA) from the University of Wales UK and a project management certificate from Villanova University USA. She is a prospective candidate for a doctorate in strategic Leadership. Mimi enjoys having a healthy active lifestyle, reading, writing and listening to inspiring messages and documentaries.
You Founded the Young Women’s Leadership Initiative (YWLI). Why did you take this step?
Young Woman’s Leadership was founded in order to provide young women with the tips, tools and resources to live a meaningful, purposeful and impactful life. Our goal is to spread passion, raise awareness and offer solutions to and for young women.
Young Woman’s leadership Initiative provides mentorship opportunities, women empowerment conferences, resources and opportunities to give back. I am passionate about women and youth empowerment.
As a woman I have a natural desire to see other women succeed and do better for themselves. I wanted to make sure that young women had chance especially young women in African countries. I am Nigerian and I feel like my responsibility in to make sure that young girls are given the same opportunities I was afforded. This is my way of giving back to society.
What specific steps are you taking to actualize your vision for YWLI and what has been your experience so far?
I have created 3 major projects at YWLI. First is the School leadership workshop for High school students which takes place every summer in Nigeria. This project is a combination of interpersonal dialogue, lectures and experiential learning which includes activities that help young girls clarify and concentrate their focus in life.
The girl talk project on the other hand is a uniquely designed project to utilize the experience of leaders to inspire and nurture the next generation by linking determined young women with outstanding potential and influential / professional women leaders with experience necessary for inspiring the younger generation.
The last project is the YWLI book club, which will come into full effect before the end of the year. YWLI will provide educative and inspiring self-help books to young women and girls, these books will help them gain better understanding of themselves and others. Afterwards we will review, discuss and share our thoughts on these books.
You have been a board member with the United Nations UK for a year. How has this experience prepared you for what you are doing now?
It’s been amazing to be a part of such acclaimed organization. Being on Board with UNA-UK has provided me an opportunity to have firsthand experience on international development and foreign policies.
Women empowerment is one of the UN’s post-2015 MDG’s which is mainly what I am doing right now. I have mastered youth and women empowerment strategies under the training and guidance of UN women UK. I have also participated in some of the UN’s major conferences, events and school workshops. Being a board member provides me with the position to create real impactful change on level that I am satisfied with.
You have a huge project going on; how do you fund your activities? Are you in partnership with any organization?
Not currently in partnership with any organization but the United Nations Association UK has been very helpful and supportive. They funded one of our school workshop projects in Abuja last year and provided some educative materials as well.
The communications department of Institute of Human Virology Nigeria also provided YWLI with some educative resources to educate young girls on sexual health and the importance of abstinence.
What major challenges have you faced in your journey so far and how have you been able to surmount them?
I won’t call them challenges; I call them life lessons because all of life is a challenge. The major challenge for YWLI is funding. Young Women’s Leadership Initiative relies on the generosity of Organizations and individuals to sustain our innovative programs for young women.
Your contributions and donations enable us to provide life changing leadership and empowerment services to develop young women through our innovative leadership programs. It hasn’t been easy to be honest but against all odds, the journey has been wonderful and worthwhile. It took a lot of hard work, commitment and prioritization.
Today, as I reflect back I see that life is all about going to the next level. It is all about finishing one phase in your life and moving forward to write the next and it takes consistency to achieve that.
KA: In your opinion, what definite measures must be put in place to ensure effective empowerment of women in Africa?
First, is education, In the words of Nelson Mandela.” Education is a powerful weapon in which we can change the world”. With more education in women comes improved health, economic growth & food security.
The Governments’ Of African Nations must ensure that the girl child receives adequate education, provide quality healthcare especially sexual and reproductive health for all women and girls, Security measures must be put in place to ensure the safety of women and girls. African leaders must abolish cruel Traditional /cultural practices like Female genital mutilation (FGM) and deploy strategies and laws to end Child marriage, rape, violence and discrimination against women.
Lastly, Governments of African Nations must also provide their citizens basic social services and make sure that young Africans have the opportunities to live out their dreams and achieve their goals.
Growing up, did you ever imagine or dream that someday, you would be charting the life path you are on now?
Well, Yes. Because I always had and still have big dreams for my life. I believe that from a young age the exposure to resources and opportunities engulfed me and shaped who I am. While growing up I was fortunate to attend seminars and read books that motivated me. I realised quite early my passion for helping, serving humanity and being able to lead was a unique trait for me.
I also have a burning desire to make a difference, to use my opportunities and resources to give back and the other is my purpose. I realized that I cannot run or hide from my God given purpose and I must do all that I can so at the end of the day every talent and skill that I have been blessed with will be used in a positive and impactful way. I also understand that to whom much is given much is required.
Any laurels, recognitions or personal achievements so far?
I was selected to participate in the World Bank youth summit and social policy program in Washington DC last year alongside representatives from all over the world, I was also invited by Friends of Africa as a delegate for the women and youth summit last year in Abuja Nigeria where I also had a brief workshop with students of Model secondary school Maitama, Abuja.
The students were empowered on the importance of social value and inspired to make their lives count. I was recently invited to speak in the Houses of Parliament London on the Bring back Our Girls campaign.
What words of advice will you give to young people who are interested in starting an Initiative like yours?
Always believe in yourself. Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.
Where do you see Uhanan Musa and Young Women’s Leadership Initiative in the next decade?
I see myself as Dr. Uhanan Mimi Musa, working in the arena of Economic and social development, a highly sought after Leadership consultant, a women and youth development advocate, a loving wife and mother.
I see myself building and expanding YWLI making it an international initiative that provides mentorship and education opportunities for girls. It will also be a platform for expanding other business projects. I see myself a bigger yet humble Uhanan.
You are a firm believer in social advocacy. How powerful is this medium as a means of creating social good and making an impact?
Yes I am. When it comes to issues and causes I care about, I won’t hesitate to take the lead. Social advocacy is our new means of promoting and communicating our views and philosophies in the globalized world that we live, it’s a way of inspiring positive change and supporting and helping others who haven’t the opportunity I had. And it’s important to utilize this tool.
People need supporters for a cause they believe in especially young people and they need it now more than ever. The Bring back our girl’s campaign is a very good example of the power social advocacy. We saw the impact that made all around the world
You blog at mimeeinspiration.blogspot.com. What informed your decision to venture into blogging?
I started blogging in 2009 during my graduate year of study in London. I was bored so I thought I could use time to do something creative that will add value to my life and others.
The personal growth blog was designed to inspire others to cultivate self-awareness to reach their full potential and give people solutions to their everyday personal challenges-immediately. It was the blog that inspired me to create YWLI.
You are one visionary and focused young lady. Are there any life guiding principles you live by?
It’s great to be considered and regarded visionary and focused. I believe that being passionate and disciplined has truly served me well. I always knew what academic subject reflected the best of my professional and personal goals and what business project was right for me. The only way I was able to do that was to understand who I am.
Two guiding principles I live By:
Every day I remember this quote which pushes me to continue using the gifts God gave me for His glory. “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.
The second principle that inspires me to be visionary is from Proverbs 29:18 “My People perish for lack of vision” Where there is no vision, there is no direction. Everyone needs to have a definite goal for their lives. Some sort of plan that propels you to keep moving forward.
What/Who is your greatest motivation and influence?
God First, Then my mum. God is the reason I live to do what I do. His word inspires me, gives me direction and guidance in life. My Christian faith has also been a major driving force for me. It has provided me with the power, strength, and grace to accomplish all the goals set before me.
My mum has taught me to be creative and has supported any action tending towards my personal development from buying me motivational books to getting me to attend seminars, workshops and programs. And also my background, my parents sacrificed so much to provide me with a better life. That continues to motivate me.
My influences come from achievers like Barack Obama for his inspiring success story, Oprah for her philanthropic endeavours, Nelson Mandela, for his commitment and strong will to ensure an end to apartheid and his determination to devote his life to uniting South Africa.
In general, successful People that have touched lives in different ways. There are so many more inspiring leaders who continue to inspire me and serve as role models for my life. I have been blessed to come across people who have supported me, so it is my responsibility to do the same. I want to make my family, my community, the United Kingdom and Nigeria proud. I want to make sure that my life contributes to the betterment of humanity.
What five (5) books would you recommend for young women in Africa who are seeking purpose, empowerment and leadership development?
Real Woman– By Nike Adeyemi
Knowing Your Value– By MIka Brzezinski
Tapping The power Within -By Inyanla vazant
How Remarkable Women Lead-By Joanna Barsh
Purpose Driven Life-By Rick Warren
If you could change one thing about your life/past, what would it be?
I love everything about me and all that has happened in my life whether good or bad has shaped me into who I am today. I wouldn’t change anything. No regrets.
5 things most people don’t know about you.
I read a lot.
I love having alone time. Peace and quiet is very important to me.
I am very much a lady so I take pleasure in beauty and fashion.
I am very passionate about Jesus; I love everything about the person of Christ.
I am inspired by life. I am inspired to write a different generational legacy for young women.
Bonus: My head is attracted to intellect, creativity, wit, & exposure. My heart needs kindness, depth, sensitivity & regard for the divine
What would be your counsel to that young African girl who is unsure of how best to approach life?
Always know that “No Matter where you’re from, your dreams are Valid”- Lupita Nyongo. Know that you have a mission and your purpose on earth is very important. Find your passion, Dare to dream big, Keep the dream alive and don’t give up. Finally, Remember where you came from and don’t lose sight of your homeland.
You can connect with Miss Uhanan Mimi on Twitter @Mimeediva or via her Facebook page: Mimee’s Inspiration. Cheers.